Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

James Ray

Class of 2010

I looked at other programs similar to Fuqua's, but it seemed like the academics and training in the MMS program were the most rigorous. I was excited about really learning practical skills that I could use immediately and that would put me in a really good position to excel on the job. I thought I would get all that at Fuqua, and luckily, I was right.

Social Consciousness Reveals Knowledge Gap

Two common themes in my college years were activism and entrepreneurship―two of my passions.

I worked on the ground level in socially-oriented positions, like as the Domestic Violence Prevention Paralegal for Legal Aid of North Carolina, and also for Small Town Records, a student-run recording studio at Duke that was founded by students. I also co-authored a business plan for a healthcare start-up when I interned at Shepherd Research, run by Fuqua alumna, Nancy Shepherd (Weekend Executive MBA '03).

After working in both entrepreneurial ventures and non-profits, I learned that managers in both sectors need business skills to succeed. I saw a gap in my own knowledge and thought that business school would be a good way to fill that gap.

I looked at other programs similar to Fuqua's, but it seemed like the academics and training in the MMS program were the most rigorous. I was excited about really learning practical skills that I could use immediately and that would put me in a really good position to excel on the job. I thought I would get all that at Fuqua, and luckily, I was right.

Impacting the Job Search

While I was at Fuqua, I established and led a social impact job search team focused on finding non-traditional business jobs. About 6 - 10 of us met regularly to share ideas, job leads, and contacts. We also benefited from some career advice I received from Mary Beck White-Sutton, an associate director at Fuqua's Career Management Center (CMC).

We did a lot of networking—connecting each other to various people we knew so that we had a foot in the door at target companies. We were able to encourage each other and establish accountability during the job search process, which helped all of us hone our job searching skills. It became a great forum for those of us with a common interest to help each other, learn from one another, and develop a network. This is just one example of how "Team Fuqua" works at Duke.

Past Experiences Benefit New Job

My job now at Accenture leverages what I've learned in the MMS program like business writing skills, strategic analysis, and financial forecasting. However, I picked Accenture's Reston office because they focus on the public sector, which complements my passion.

Honestly, I wouldn't have even thought about this position before the MMS program. Although I knew I wanted a job that exposed me to many aspects of business, I didn't know much about management consulting or what a career in the industry would expose me to. In this way, the MMS program opened many doors for me, not just by virtue of networking opportunities and academic credentials, but also by virtue of how much I learned about business, in general, and the industries and career options available to me.

And I always have something to fall back on, too. I love cooking and my plan B in life is to be a pastry chef, I especially love French and Italian pastries!