William Brody ’12, MBA ’18 and Laura Haft Brody MBA ’20 bring mindfulness and holistic outlook to business school

William and Laura Brody

Both recent graduates, William and Laura Brody know a thing or two about the stresses of completing a rigorous MBA program. During his time at Fuqua, William placed an emphasis on extracurricular experiences as a student, serving as a section rep and co-president of the MBA Association (MBAA). Laura has taken a different path, immersing herself in social entrepreneurship programming. Despite their divergent experiences, each can attest to the emotional complexities of being a business school student – working through demanding coursework, managing one’s time, experiencing failure, balancing physical and emotional well-being with a busy schedule, and more.

Thus, when they had the opportunity to make a meaningful impact at Fuqua, it seemed logical to focus on a new way to improve the student experience. Laura and William established the Brody Resilient Leaders Fund, an endowed fund to support student wellness and resilience-building activities at Fuqua, with the aim of giving students the skills to be strong leaders who are best positioned to make an impact in their workplaces and communities.

“During my time at Fuqua, I gained perspective on what students go through during the full course of their MBA experience,” explains William. “Laura and I saw an opportunity to meet a need among the student body that would contribute to our classmates’ mental and physical well-being while on campus as well as their future success and leadership potential.”

Following graduation from Fuqua, William went on to found BlueDot Properties, a commercial real estate investment firm focused on properties in North Carolina. After graduation, Laura will take a position in product management at IBM in the NC Triangle area. Both entrepreneurship and a demanding corporate job require that leaders manage stress, make sound decisions, lead effectively, and move an organization and a team forward. Providing students an opportunity to hone those skills during business school sets them up for success as they embark on careers, new challenges, and busy lives.

“There are many ways to approach balance and mindfulness, but our goal is to take as holistic a view as possible,” says William. “Leaders who can maintain a sense of calm while performing at a high level, display grit during difficult situations, and recover from failure are the ones who will ultimately be the most successful and fulfilled.”

“William and Laura’s gift is a great addition to our programming and gives students the opportunity to develop and practice these skills in a supportive environment,” explains Russ Morgan, Senior Associate Dean, Full-Time Programs, and Professor of the Practice of Marketing. “We are grateful for their insightful leadership and willingness to invest in innovative programming at Fuqua.”

Programming under consideration includes engaging experts in physical and mental well-being, for example in nutrition and stress management, contracting with performance and executive coaches, and featuring specialists in relevant fields for experiential programming designed to motivate and teach students best practices in building long-term habits that will prepare them for careers of impactful leadership. Fuqua is also fortunate to have resources and expertise on Duke’s campus that can contribute to future programming.

Ultimately, William and Laura hope that mindfulness training can be a differentiator for the school and a reinforcement of its Team Fuqua values.

“Fuqua’s greatest asset is the people we have—highly intelligent individuals who support one another and value community,” William reflects. “We have built a culture that is replicable year after year because we place a strong emphasis on the values of the people who make up the community. Giving those individuals an opportunity to further develop skills that both center themselves and empower them to lead others effectively and compassionately will have a positive impact on Team Fuqua and its communities.