Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Erhan Cetinkaya

Class of 2014

Erhan Cetinkaya

"My advice to any prospective student is that business school is hard. Don't make it harder on yourself by taking on more problems related to daily life. Choose a place where you can find quick ways to relieve your stress because you will always have things to be done for school and you won't have much time to relax."

My Background

I am from Turkey, am married, and have a young daughter, Serra. Before Fuqua, I worked for the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency in Turkey for about 6 years. It is the only authority that regulates and supervises all banks operating in Turkey. Before that, I worked for a year for an IT company that develops financial software for commercial banks. I graduated from college in 2004, with an industrial engineering degree. Since childhood, I've played soccer and basketball, and I played basketball in the local league in Istanbul.

During my 6 years as a banking regulator, I specialized in risk management. Then, I had the privilege to be sponsored by the Turkish government for my MBA journey, so that I can improve my management skills. Of course, there is competition for the sponsorship each year, but I think the Fuqua brand name helped me to get the sponsorship earlier than most of my colleagues. When I applied to Fuqua, I had almost 8 years of work experience, and I was at a critical point in my career. I needed to decide to either focus more on what I had been doing or take a break to explore my potential in a challenging, global, and friendly environment. At Fuqua, I want to sharpen my finance and strategy skills to transition into a management consulting role within the Turkish government, probably within banking. In addition to the academic and professional opportunities that Fuqua offers, there are other things that I enjoy including the basketball club, Fuqua Hoops, and the soccer club, Fuqua United.

Why I Chose Fuqua

There were a number of things that made me originally choose Fuqua, but now I understand that the list of things that differentiate Fuqua from other schools must be much longer. As an experienced student and as someone who has friends at other top business schools, I want to express what I think differentiates Fuqua.

Some of these qualities might also be possessed by other schools, but Fuqua has all of them together. Because of its term schedule, Fuqua is very fast-paced. In a relatively short amount of time, students are exposed to a variety of subjects that they can explore without making a 3- or 4-month commitment. On the other hand, if you've found your path, you can dive deeply into a topic to a very advanced level. In other words, Fuqua isn't a school that is only successful in marketing or health sector management or finance, but any specialty at Fuqua is top-notch. The quality of the faculty at Fuqua is much better than any other top 10 school, not only because the professors are well known in the academic and professional world, but also because they are differentiated by their teaching skills and efforts. The team spirit makes Fuqua a place where you can get help from anyone, rather than see your classmates as rivals. These 3 factors are only a small portion of the reasons that made me choose Fuqua because I knew I wouldn't find all those aspects together in any other school.

Leadership Attribute: Empathy

In 2011, I was part of a group of 10 regulators charged with implementing a new international regulatory framework in Turkey that was completely different from the previous system. The new framework was long and complex (more than 300 pages), and it had to be implemented in order to create a level playing field for the internationally operating banks.

We worked on the proposed regulations for more than 2 years, and there was more to be done. Our supervisors were worried about the confusion caused by the new regulation and wanted us to solve that. We decided to collect questions from the industry and answer them on our organization's website. However, my colleagues were unmotivated to answer those questions. I was given the task by my department head to motivate them. I understood that my colleagues' lack of motivation was because of the fact that they had a lot of work and they were seeing the job as trivial. I empathized with their situation. As a result, I came up with the idea to write an annotated book about the whole regulatory framework. I thought that this would motivate them because their answers would be converted into a concrete piece of work with their names on it. My colleagues liked the idea because the book would give them credit for their work and everyone would see and know that they did something valuable that could be used for future reference. As a result, we spent about 6 months writing a detailed book on the new regulatory framework, which included comparisons to the old frameworks. My colleagues worked voluntarily on the book, outside of work. It is supposed to be published in 2013, and it is more than 500 pages long.

Five Random Things about Me

  1. I ran track in secondary school, and I was the captain of the basketball and volleyball teams in high school. When my height didn't reach 6 feet at age 16, I realized that I should focus more on academics.
  2. During my mandatory military service in 2010, which lasted 6 months, I was given 3 unrelated duties at the same time: I was the trainer and janitor of the gym, I was the salesperson and the accountant of the canteen, and I was the guard of the VIP entrance of the base for 6 hours every day.
  3. I am in the legendary Section 5. During the first weekend at Fuqua, on August 5, we celebrated my daughter's first birthday, which was also my fifth wedding anniversary. I had also worn the number 5 in the local basketball team that I played on before I came to Fuqua. So I think I was meant to be in Section 5.
  4. I am a sponsored student, but my sponsorship wasn't going to be decided before Fuqua's tuition deposit deadline and my sponsorship was likely be postponed to next year, but I took the risk and paid the $1,500 tuition deposit from my own pocket. Things turned out well, but even if my sponsorship had been postponed, I wouldn't regret my decision.
  5. I met my first classmate in Istanbul, Turkey. He is from the U.S. and he happened to be in Turkey for a wedding, only a week before I moved to Durham from Turkey.

What I Love About Durham

Whether one is single or married, Fuqua's locational advantages are enormous compared to other business schools. Actually, it was one of the important reasons why I selected Fuqua. First of all, the weather is great and it is almost always suitable for any outside activity, which gives you a way to quickly relieve stress. The air is very clean, there is almost no traffic, people are very kind and friendly, and there are a lot of intellectual people around since the area includes 3 of the nicest research universities of the U.S.

It is true that Durham isn't as big as New York, Chicago, or Boston, but you also pay $2,000 or $3,000 less a month for rent and are not suffocated by polluted air while you are sitting in traffic because you have an hour-long drive home. Big cities are in very close proximity to Durham, and you won't miss anything other than the burdens of life that living in a metropolis brings.

My advice to any prospective student is that business school is hard. Don't make it harder on yourself by taking on more problems related to daily life. Choose a place where you can find quick ways to relieve your stress because you will always have things to be done for school and you won't have much time to relax.