Class of 2014
"My husband also wanted to accelerate his career, so we applied to Fuqua together. Luckily, we were both admitted, so we became classmates. The great thing about coming to school with a partner is that we support each other and experience so many new things together."
I still remember the first day I arrived in Durham, which was also the first time I'd come to the U.S. After a long 20-hour flight, we arrived on a hot summer night. Starlight filled the sky and the smell of cut grass was in the air. The city was so quiet that we could even hear the subtle conversations between the birds. I woke up early the next morning, looking at the beautiful sunshine on my balcony. I felt so excited about starting my new adventure in such a gorgeous small city.
Born and raised in China, I attended Shanghai Jiao Tong University and then worked in Shanghai for 5 years before coming to Fuqua. I worked in the financial services industry in Shanghai, but I wanted broader career opportunities in a global environment, so I started to apply to business schools. My husband also wanted to accelerate his career, so we applied to Fuqua together. Luckily, we were both admitted, so we became classmates. The great thing about coming to school with a partner is that we support each other and experience so many new things together. It is interesting to get into debates in the same classroom, to discuss the same cases, and to make common friends. We've had some great shared experiences, like supporting each other to survive crazy Campout, and we've traveled together to different parts of the U.S. On the flipside, the pressure we experience is doubled, and it is critical to be patient and tolerant with each other. However, I strongly encourage married couples to consider the great life that they could enjoy in Durham while studying at Duke—it will be a memorable journey.
Why I Chose Fuqua
After attending information sessions, talking to alumni, and reading the student blogs, I was most impressed by the school's pervasive "Team Fuqua" culture. My previous work experiences involved a lot of teamwork, and I believe in the importance of team spirit. I also knew that team work would be required in my future roles in corporate finance. I strongly agree with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski that "People want to be part of something bigger than themselves," and l am doing just that at Fuqua within my section, first year core team, Finance Club team, Campout team, and more.
I was also excited about expanding my global perspective by coming to Fuqua, because after graduation, I see myself working in a global environment, collaborating with people from different countries. Fuqua has provided global exposure that will be beneficial in my career. Besides collaborating with diverse classmates who represent over 50 countries, I also enjoyed learning about "Chilecon Valley" during an Around-the-World dinner activity, and discussing Indian foreign direct investment during Global Institute classes. As a result of these Fuqua experiences, I am more confident and comfortable working in a cross-cultural environment.
Furthermore, I chose Fuqua because I thought the program would help me to develop into a stronger leader. Although I had some experience leading teams, I wanted to further develop my leadership skills so that I can head large and diverse teams as a future finance leader. At Fuqua, I have listened to speeches by leaders including former Colombian President Mr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez and Coach K, and I honed my leadership skills through taking cabinet positions in student clubs. As a result, I'm confident that I will be a better leader after Fuqua.
Leadership Attribute: Innovation
I am enthusiastic about trying new methods at work. At one of my previous companies, I felt uninspired by the data-entry requirements of financial reporting, and I decided to search for a better solution. Even after my colleagues, who were equally frustrated, relayed that the strict protocol was not negotiable, I remained undeterred. I researched potential software, sought feedback from IT, and finally located a tool that could automate the dreaded procedure. I enthusiastically pitched this handy tool as the solution to our collective headache. My colleagues were suspicious at first, but I didn't give up on demonstrating the benefit of the new tool whenever I could. I presented slides and a video, and encouraged them to try it. Once positive feedback poured in, I promoted the tool to our regional CFO and subsequently gave demonstrations to other global finance teams. Today, the tool is widely used within the company and has saved more than 3,000 man hours annually, while simultaneously decreasing manual errors.
In my opinion, innovation doesn't just refer to an evolutionary product or unprecedented technology. It is a spirit that motivates us to keep looking for better, faster ways of working. Starting from small things, we can make a big change in business. As a future leader of consequence, we are encouraged to turn the way it used to be, into the way it ought to be. We are also responsible for promoting innovation to the larger community.
Five Random Things About Me
- When I was 12 years old, my father changed my first name from "姝" (beauty) to "書" (academic). Although the Chinese pronunciation remained the same, this change aptly characterized his high hopes and motivated me to live up to them.
- From first grade to fourth grade, I assisted a classmate in a wheelchair with a variety of tasks from washing her hands to retrieving her textbooks, through which we developed a beautiful friendship. This experience taught me the joy of giving at an early age, and prompted me to continue helping others in need. Currently, through the Net Impact Club, I enjoy contributing back to the community.
- I love all kinds of food—Chinese, Mexican, Italian, French, etc. But I am not good at cooking. I prefer exploring restaurants to shopping in grocery stores.
- I have practiced Chinese Calligraphy since I was 7. I can still remember some of the movements and show off to my friends from time to time.
- Karaoke is my favorite entertainment. I held the record of staying in a Karaoke club, singing and dancing for over 8 hours. By the way, there is one good Karaoke club here in Durham—Star Karaoke!
What I Love About Durham
I love a lot of things about Durham—waking up in the southern sunshine with birds singing outside of my window, driving on University Drive during the gorgeous fall when all the leaves change color, and reading by a window in Fuqua's Ford Library with a view of the wonderful natural scenery outside. School life is intense, but I find the beauty of Durham very relaxing.
During the recruiting seasons, I am also so grateful that RDU is my home airport. I have flown through many different airports in the past 6 months. RDU is one of the most beautifully designed and one of the easiest to get through security quickly and efficiently. Once I had to do a Skype interview before my flight, and the free Wi-Fi in RDU saved me. It only takes 20 minutes to get to the airport from school and parking is pretty good, too. Thanks for making my recruiting life easier, RDU!