Duke - The Fuqua School of Business
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Ellen Falbo, '11

Vice President, Business Analysis, Capital One Financial


Nationality: American

"As a leader, I’m much more open now. I have the ability to listen and understand people’s cultures and see the effect that has on the individual and their decision making."

The Case for Getting an MBA

Coming to Fuqua was a gradual decision as I weighed the pros and cons of pursuing an MBA. Ultimately, I decided that it was worth it for me as it gave me more long-term career options. I chose the Global Executive MBA program because I didn't want to stop working and I've always loved traveling and meeting people from different countries. Duke's Global Executive MBA seemed like the right format at the right time -- just a perfect fit.

A New Perspective

The diversity among my classmates and their global business experiences were very impactful and gave me a new global perspective. While in their native countries, I had classmates who answered my cultural questions and explained why people behaved in certain ways. The program provided me with insights that I never had before, and I now see how a person's culture influences how they work. But most importantly, it has given me a better view on how businesses operate in other countries.

Navigating Leadership Roles

The Duke network strengthened my leadership skills. I was able to observe other leaders in my class, their styles and how they handled challenging situations. When working, you rely on a defined leadership hierarchy, but in our team, no one had true authority and different leaders would emerge based on the task at hand. For example, in one course, a team member asked to serve as team leader for a particular project, even though that project was in a space where he had limited experience. I happened to have more experience in that area, and had to learn (through trial and error) how to give the team the benefit of my expertise while still allowing my team member to lead that project.

Mentoring Coworkers

I've been able to share what I learned at Fuqua with coworkers who I mentor. For example, an associate was having trouble deciding whether a settlement offer was appropriate. I showed her how to complete a decision tree and Monte Carlo simulation, a scenario analysis tool we learned in our Decision Models class. She was able to quantitatively evaluate different options, which allowed her to make a more informed recommendation.