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Student Wins International Essay Contest: Next Stop, Cape Town

By Elizabeth Michalka

June 15, 2010
Joint degree MEM/MBA student Willem Fadrhonc
Willem "Will" Fadrhonc

With a background in investment banking, Will Fadrhonc has come a long way in the last year, grasping complex environmental issues to develop a potential solution to the world's energy crisis. Will crafted his idea into an essay that recently won the TIME & Fortune Energy for Tomorrow competition, edging out 9 other finalists from top business schools around the world.

Will's winning essay — with strong supporting data and analysis — proposes using heat as an efficient energy source. It will be featured in TIME & Fortune (Europe & Asia edition) in June. And as winner of the inaugural essay competition, Will will attend the Global Forum, hosted by Fortune, TIME, and CNN in Cape Town, South Africa, from June 26 - 28, 2010. As a top 10 finalist in the essay competition, Will also competed for the Reader's Choice award (determined by online voting) and his essay finished fourth.

"I came to school last August without any understanding of the energy industry beyond what you hear in the news. My success in this competition is a direct result of the things I've learned from great professors and my incredibly talented fellow students," Will said.  

Will, a rising second-year student, is pursuing an MEM/MBA joint degree at The Fuqua School of Business and Nicholas School of the Environment. He credits his Duke education with helping him generate the ideas behind his essay, and he is looking forward to learning more about energy and the environment at the Global Forum.

The forum brings together Fortune 500 CEOs, heads of state, journalists, and other influential leaders to discuss globalization, and the challenges and opportunities within the developing world. This year's impressive list of participants includes:

  • His Excellency Jacob G. Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa
  • Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa
  • Former US President Bill Clinton
  • Tom Albanese, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Group (Fuqua Board of Visitors member)
  • L. Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Heidrick & Struggles (Fuqua Board of Visitors member & Global Executive MBA '99)
  • Charlie Rose, Executive Editor and Host of CHARLIE ROSE  (Duke AB '64, JD '68)

Will has the opportunity to meet some of these participants during an exclusive dinner at the home of a notable South African on July 26. He'll also participate in Shell’s Energy for Tomorrow session.

"I can't wait to get to Cape Town," Will said. "The forum is a pretty spectacular event, and I'm very flattered to have been invited." Will's father, Tom Fadrhonc, will also be in Cape Town at the same time, he's teaching an inter-cultural management class through the Royal Dutch Soccer Federation and the University of Cape Town. Will plans to see his father in action for the first time. They'll also see the action on the field — they're planning to attend some of the World Cup games together.