Duke - The Fuqua School of Business
MMS student

Fabian Piira

Class of 2013

Fuqua has an excellent reputation for finance and accounting, two academic areas that I thought were essential to succeed in my desired field of investment banking. However, in contrast to specialized master's degrees in accounting or finance, the MMS program also includes courses in other business disciplines, thereby broadening my perspective with more interdisciplinary experiences.

Broadening a Financial Focus

During undergrad, I developed an interest in finance and financial economics. To find out whether a career in finance was really for me, I interned with several financial services companies in Europe. It was during an internship in investment banking that I realized it was the job for me, and I began looking for graduate school options. I wanted to eventually work internationally, but I had no knowledge of business practices outside of Europe, so I felt that a master's degree from an American university would enable me to one day work outside of Germany. Amongst the many programs that I considered, MMS seemed best suited to prepare me for my future career.

Fuqua has an excellent reputation for finance and accounting, two academic areas that I thought were essential to succeed in my desired field of investment banking. However, in contrast to specialized master's degrees in accounting or finance, the MMS program also includes courses in other business disciplines, thereby broadening my perspective with more interdisciplinary experiences.

I also found that my experience at Fuqua was the ideal complement and extension to my undergraduate education, which was very theoretical. Having obtained my bachelor's degree from a German school, I had a strong methodological and technical foundation. However, I sometimes missed the applicability of what I had learned in class. The MMS program's emphasis on case-based learning and teamwork allowed me to build upon the methods I had learned in undergrad and to apply them in real-world business settings.

Team Structure Impacts More than Academics

Outside of school, I enjoy travelling and playing sports. Actually, one of the memories that best depicts my Fuqua experience involves playing soccer with my classmates. We met at least once a week on one of Duke's fields for a friendly match. Many of the lessons that I learned on the playing field could be transferred directly to the classroom environment. For example, when playing with different personalities who are assigned different roles in the game, you have to adapt to each other and learn how to help one another, and to play to each other's strengths. This was similar to what happened in our MMS teams when we worked through assignments and case studies.

Just as on the soccer field, different team members had different areas of interest and expertise. To come up with a satisfying solution, you had to learn from each other and share the workload effectively. The MMS team environment was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and it really sharpened my sensitivity to others and to my own behavior. I learned that preparing for and working toward a common goal is one of the best ways to overcome stereotypes, appreciate diversity, and grow together as a team. The MMS program helped me substantially in learning how to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I collaborated with students from many different countries, and I became more aware of cultural differences and how to work through misunderstandings

Wide Range of Activities

Although Durham can hardly be called a metropolis, the town grew on me over the course of the MMS program. With many different bars and restaurants, the food scene is surprisingly good, and fans of craft beer will enjoy the proximity to numerous micro-breweries and brew-pubs. Nevertheless, what impressed me the most were the rich cultural offerings, both on- and off-campus. From the various sporting events to concerts and theatre, there is hardly anything that Duke and the surrounding community does not offer.

Being part of such an active community was a very unique experience for me. At Fuqua, there is a great emphasis on extracurricular activities, which was unlike anything I had experienced in Germany. Given my professional interests, I was President of the MMS Finance Club and I was also a board member of the MBA Finance Club. It was a great way to engage with classmates who had similar interests and to learn more about the industry. No matter where your interests lie, you can find almost everything here, and I had a great time in Durham and at Fuqua.

Landing at an International Finance Company

I can say that my year at Fuqua held up to my high expectations, both in terms of the classroom experience and building up a professional network. Looking back I am glad that I made the decision to participate in the MMS program, and I think that it prepared me well for my chosen career. After graduating from Fuqua, I joined Morgan Stanley's M&A advisory division in Frankfurt. In this position, I collaborate a lot with colleagues in other international offices, especially the London office. Teamwork is an essential component—in the end, you have to be able to communicate your ideas to others and I think my experiences in MMS helped me a lot in this.

One of the primary reasons I accepted the offer from Morgan Stanley, apart from the firm's unique culture and my very positive impression during the interviews, is because of the potential to work for the company internationally. It was an opportunity I couldn't turn down, especially since the position took me back to Germany, so that I have been able to catch up with my family and friends after being in Durham for a year. As part of their Global Investment Banking and Capital Markets Program, in a couple of years I will have the option of going abroad to work at another office—maybe London, Sydney, New York or Shanghai, which is very exciting.