Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Valery Fomenko

Class of 2014

Valery Fomenko

"This culture is a significant differentiator for me. A sense of community and support is what I was looking for in an MBA program, as I tend to thrive in groups and teams that work closely together and emphasize collaborative leadership."

My Background

My background, values, and non-work related activities encompass a wide range of experiences such as oil expert, international student, professional in the U.S. and in France, swimmer with an international career, and actor. I was born and raised in Paris by Ukrainian and second-generation Italian immigrant parents. I also lived in Washington, D.C., from 2003 to 2007. I love travelling and being exposed to different environments and cultures, and have therefore travelled to 25 countries—China and Portugal being the next on the list! I very much like swimming, but after injuring my back last year, I finally decided to start yoga classes. I am a wine and gourmet-food enthusiast—always ready to eat out and try new restaurants—and also enjoy theater, operas, and 1970s soul music.

Why I Chose Fuqua

One of the main characteristics of Duke's MBA program is its community-centric environment. The relatively small size of the school encourages close interaction between students, and opportunities to closely engage with professors. The notion of "Team Fuqua" is built on a strong emphasis of teams and collaboration. All aspects of my Fuqua experience have been affected by the Team Fuqua culture. This culture is a significant differentiator for me. A sense of community and support is what I was looking for in an MBA program, as I tend to thrive in groups and teams that work closely together and emphasize collaborative leadership.

Another aspect that really excited me about the Duke MBA were the global experiences and perspectives gained in the program. The Global Academic Travel Experience and the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) are notably the most attractive international experiences, offering a unique opportunity to study a global perspective, while allowing unprecedented exchanges of ideas and a truly genuine on-ground experience. I actually participated in the FCCP, working on a project for GE China and travelling to Shanghai and Beijing to meet GE's team as well as to conduct primary research that completed our analysis.

Finally, I thought the program would be the ideal place for me to develop my skills in strategy, finance, and entrepreneurship. Classes such as Decision Models or Entrepreneurial Finance will expose me to new practices and will help me gain wider, more creative perspectives that I am sure will help me in my career plans, whether in a consulting or an entrepreneurial role.

Leadership Attribute: Collaborative

In my academic, sport, and professional careers, I have always strived to excel and instill a collaborative group dynamic, which I believe is critical to achieving the most impactful and transformative results. In my previous consulting job, I actively participated in the development of a service covering the downstream oil markets of Africa and the Middle East. I devoted a considerable amount of time to motivating and challenging the analysts I supervised. I communicated my openness to new ideas, insights, and constructive criticism, in order to not alienate them and make them understand that their participation was critical to deliver the best possible insights and analysis to our clients. Additionally, my objective was to transmit key lessons such as ambition, accountability, and a constant effort to support and help each member of the team. The results far exceeded our expectations: the service more than tripled revenues in 3 years, became one of the most profitable services of the company, and a reference in the industry in terms of coverage of the African and Middle Eastern regions. Beyond the financial perspective, what I truly value is the genuine collaborative dimension of the endeavor, which led to exponential gains that far exceeded the number of heads and hands involved.

Five Random Things About Me

  1. I had a long career as a competitive swimmer and won titles in France (French Junior National Champion and 2-time semi-finalist at French Nationals), in the U.S. (American University Most Valuable Athlete; Patriot League Men's Scholar Athlete of the Year); and even in Switzerland (National Champion)!
  2. I started theater classes in 2009 to live an experience that is truly physical, emotional, brave, human, and social. I performed in several theaters in Paris in front of audiences of up to 300 people. My stomach still twists each time I reminisce about these nights!
  3. My family gave me the gift of loving and knowing wine. There is a lot of joy that comes from a great wine selection, and I regret not being able to bring to Durham the 250 bottles my sister and I have collected over the years.
  4. The best breakfast I have ever had was in Tokyo's fish market: nothing beats toro tuna sushi, tempora udon, and a cold beer at 8:00 in the morning!
  5. I went paragliding on several occasions and recommend it to anybody. It provides a unique feeling of freedom and lightness!

Advice for a Prospective Student

Being accepted to Fuqua means being committed to learning. Thanks to Fuqua's unique diversity of instruction and the interdisciplinary aspect of the teaching, the program truly helps distill the analysis and opinions from professors and students and provide the most creative insights. It is, of course, challenging and sometimes frustrating to be confronted by new ways of thinking; however, the flexibility of the program, the support from professors, help from classmates, and participation in seminars, presentations, and club activities help overcome these difficulties. Being accepted to Fuqua also means being part of an eclectic and strong community and diverse environment, where you have the opportunity to build unique relationships. The FCCP consulting course, Campout, volcano climbing, ski trip, the Blue Devils' basketball games, and Fuqua Fridays all are perfect occasions to build genuine friendships that go well beyond the classroom!