Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Genny Cook

Class of 2010

My classmates had such a diverse range of talents and experiences that the final product of our teamwork was always better than if any of us were to do the work individually.

Igniting My Activist Side

My global interests are an important part of who I am. Growing up, my parents took my siblings and me all over the world because they thought it was important that we have a global perspective. I also studied abroad in Argentina during high school and stayed with a beautiful family, living a very traditional and modest lifestyle.

I went abroad again during my junior year at UCSB. I spent 6 months in Chile and 4 months in Spain. While in Chile, I interned at Fondo Esperanza, the country's largest microfinance and community development organization. There, I learned about economic development by working with communal banks. I aspired to work in international economic development for an NGO; however, through my work in Chile, I realized I needed to build my business acumen.

Learning the Language of Business

I learned about the MMS program through my sister, a Duke PhD student. At the time, I was finishing up college, but I found myself unable to articulate my career interests in "business language" despite my desire for a career in business. My parents are both MBAs and always talk about business school as being a transformative time in their lives, so I was excited about going through something similar and acquiring that common language.

When I got in, I knew the MMS program would be challenging because everything would be new … I'm not a quantitative person. In fact, I was pretty proud about the fact that I never took calculus! So, I was intimidated by courses like financial accounting and economics, but also excited because I saw it as a way to fill some of the gaps in my background.

Having an Impact

My proudest accomplishment in the MMS program was spearheading a spring break service learning trip to the Dole Food Company in Ecuador. Five of us went, learned about the whole supply chain from seed to shipment, and worked projects ranging from finance to operations to corporate social responsibility. We also learned that bananas aren't trees at all; they are actually the world's largest herb!

My project focused on an eyeglass program for Dole employees. Employees received glasses that were donated to Dole, but they didn't wear the glasses at work. We learned that employees were worried that wearing the glasses would slow them down by sliding off or becoming dirty. Additionally, these glasses were often the only pair a worker owned, and most chose not to take the risk of damaging them at work. In a place where workers use razor-sharp knives to quickly separate banana clusters, that's a big safety hazard. We suggested Dole include optical health within their overall health program, including regular eye exams and education to reduce the concerns about wearing glasses at work. It was great to apply our newly learned business skills in the field to make a social impact.

Team Mentality

Athletics are part of my family culture. I played soccer for 14 years and softball for 11. I decided to try something new in college, and played club Ultimate Frisbee. I even played Frisbee while studying abroad in Spain and Chile. The club team I played on in Madrid went to the Spanish nationals, which I got to play in. Then, I made my college team and we won the 2009 Collegiate National Championship.

Since I was 4 years old, I've been in a team environment and learned to rely on others. Being both self-motivated and team-oriented helped me a lot at Fuqua because it's central to the learning experience. My classmates had such a diverse range of talents and experiences that the final product of our teamwork was always better than if any of us were to do the work individually. Fuqua's collaborative environment also helped me know what to expect in the workplace.