Natasha Collins MBA ’96 has no doubt that her success today is because of the challenges she navigated and overcame during her Fuqua education. Now Senior Vice President, Market Planning and Operations at Fiserv, it is her goal to unlock that same transformational experience for future students.
“I feel that I owe the school for all of the opportunities it has afforded me. Not a day goes by that I am not using the critical thinking, presentation delivery, or financial analysis skills that I honed over my two years there,” Natasha says. Balancing coursework with leadership opportunities in clubs and activities pushed Natasha to her limits, but these opportunities also bolstered her confidence.
“As a student, Team Fuqua meant that my success was not dependent on ensuring someone else did badly, but that we’d all work to find a way to succeed together. Other business schools talked about how they developed collaborative leaders, but only Fuqua made it core to the way it operates. There was never a sense of competition or selfishness—we all wanted to succeed together, and my strongest friendships were created during those times,” Natasha says. “It sounds cliché, but I do think I emerged from the experience as a more skilled and well-rounded business leader.”
And that’s just the fulfilling experience Natasha wants to enable for future students. Natasha knows her experience was made possible by investments by those who came before her, including in the merit scholarship she received. “A large portion of my tuition was covered by a scholarship made possible through the Annual Fund. Fuqua was the only school with such a generous program. I want to help ensure those scholarships continue, especially for minority applicants like myself,” Natasha says.
After many years of being a leadership donor to Fuqua, Natasha recently stepped up her commitment by making a generous multi-year pledge to the Fuqua Annual Fund. The Fuqua Annual Fund enhances many areas at Fuqua, including minority student programs and minority faculty recruitment and development. “Fuqua’s student body and administration need to continue to reflect the diversity found in the business world,” says Natasha. “An inclusive staff and extracurricular programs dedicated to minorities can help to ensure that these students feel supported, not intimidated, and that they can build networks in order to maximize the benefits of the Fuqua experience.”
For Natasha, being a part of that ongoing growth means contributing to Fuqua’s development of future business leaders. “The relevance and necessity of an MBA education seems to be questioned more and more,” Natasha says. “As a result, I think it’s critical that alumni who have benefited from such an education vouch for the important role that a business school plays in identifying and cultivating talent for the workforce by continuing to fund its programs.”
In the future, Natasha also seeks to increase her involvement with current and prospective minority students as another important path to pay it forward. “Alumni who visited campus and discussed the practicalities of working in corporate America were a hugely important part of my education,” Natasha says. “It’s our obligation as alumni to do this for the next generation of Fuqua scholars.” Doing her part also means participating in events hosted by the Black and Latino MBA Organization and supporting student outreach organized by Fuqua’s Minority Alumni Advisory Board.
“Now, as an alumna, I define Team Fuqua as the commitment and spirit across the broader community that we all participate in to make the school a success,” Natasha says. “It describes the efforts of professors, administrators, alumni, donors, corporate recruiters, and others who are invested in ensuring Fuqua and its students continue to be leaders in the global business environment.”