Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Beth Sanchez

Class of 2014

Elizabeth Sanchez

"My classmates were my biggest cheerleaders and enabled me to focus on my dream of getting an internship with Disney. In the Team Fuqua spirit of collaboration, my classmates introduced me to their contacts at Disney, which helped me get my foot in the door and ultimately led to an interview."

My Background

Growing up, home was (and always will be in my heart) the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA. My parents served as my first role models, with their dedication to family and a strong work ethic. When people at Fuqua think of me, the first thing that often comes to mind is my strong passion for The Walt Disney Company. My dad will tell you that my passion for Disney started with a Minnie Mouse doll he bought me as a baby. I would not leave home without it. While I have outgrown carrying around my Minnie Mouse, Disney was definitely a cherished part of my childhood.

Like most Fuquans, I already enjoyed a great career prior to starting school. I began my career as a process consultant for Accenture. While at Accenture, I was first exposed to supply chain management and became a Sourcing Market Maker at Ariba. I was hired as a consultant for a start-up company within a large health system, where I was later hired full-time and promoted to the role of Senior Manager. Most recently, I worked in project and portfolio management for a government contractor to the Air Force Medical Service Modernization Directorate.

I owe much of my success to my friends and family, who provided me with a source of strength and inspiration throughout the years. When I am not busy working or studying, I enjoy catching up with friends. Spending time with my friends and family is one of the most important elements of my life.

One of my favorite ways to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy time with my friends is an annual trip to the Hershey Spa. In my free time, I also enjoy curling up with a good book or catching a movie or Broadway musical.

Why I Chose Fuqua

In returning to graduate school to pursue my MBA, I had 3 primary goals:

  1. Pursue professional opportunities with The Walt Disney Company
  2. Strengthen my business skill set
  3. Build my professional and social network

While most MBA programs could have easily fulfilled these goals, Fuqua was the best fit for me. I attended The Duke MBA Weekend for Women, which solidified Fuqua as my top choice. Prior to attending the weekend, I was a bit hesitant to apply to a full-time program. Most people with my level of experience pursue MBA programs for working professionals. During the women's weekend, I spent time getting to know the extraordinary candidates who might share my MBA experience, and I quickly saw how much I could learn from their diverse experiences, passion, and energy. In fact, some of the women I met during the weekend have become great friends and colleagues.

During the Weekend for Women, I was introduced to the Media, Entertainment and Sports (MES) Club. My involvement with the club has been instrumental in both securing my internship with Disney as well as building great friendships and working relationships. In fact, I have received so much support, that I have chosen to "pay it forward" by serving as a member of the MES cabinet.

Academically, I have been working to close the gaps in my business skillset. While I have the option of concentrating on a specific area, I enjoy the ability to choose classes that will best meet my personal development needs. For me these needs include developing stronger financial and quantitative skills while strengthening softer skills such as negotiation and communications.

Fuqua has already helped me to achieve my primary goals as well as provide me with the inspiration and infrastructure to build larger goals in the future as my leadership skills continue to evolve.

Leadership Attribute: Team

There is an old proverb that "two heads are better than one." Throughout my career, my willingness to collaborate as a team player has on more than one occasion led to better results. While I have worked with many great teams, one team comes to mind which demonstrated both extremes of the teamwork spectrum. A team of colleagues with different professional backgrounds was assembled to start a new project. The team became so mired in politics and personal agendas that our senior leadership made plans to formally shut down our project. During the closeout interviews, a few of us demonstrated a genuine passion for the project and provided actionable suggestions for turning the situation around. One of the suggestions was to become more involved with a Congressional exhibition in order to help gain awareness and credibility for our project with external stakeholders. Our leadership recognized our desire to collaborate on a successful project and gave the project a second chance.

Our team then focused on leveraging the strengths of each individual. Through teamwork, we delivered the results necessary to continue the project into the next phase and gained the opportunity to partner with other teams to have a larger impact on the overall organization.

Although my career has had many successes, keeping this project alive is the effort of which I am the most proud. In other roles, I often had significant contributions to teams, but in this effort, my ability to remain objective and to champion both the work and my fellow teammates created a more collaborative environment for the entire team leading to the development of a better solution than originally planned.

Beyond the business results, collaboration has enabled me to form very deep connections with my colleagues. Being in the trenches on a project allowed me to really get to know my teammates. These relationships have led to recommendations for additional positions as well as cherished personal friendships.

Five Random Things about Me

  1. In college, I was a synchronized swimmer (although never achieving Olympic quality). It was a great deal of fun and I have never been in better shape in my life.
  2. I was a Girl Scout for 12 years. Through scouting, I learned valuable lessons on leadership and community service. As a Girl Scout, I also developed my passion for travel. In fact, my first airplane trip was a visit to Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low's Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia. 
  3. Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance. A few years back, I worked up the courage to take private lessons even though I did not have a partner. Although it has been awhile, I hope to one day resume my lessons and possibly even compete in an amateur competition.
  4. I learned how to say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" backwards as a teenager by listening to Julie Andrews' portrayal of Mary Poppins. The original movie version pronounces the syllables backwards and not the actual word. I have yet to master the proper backward pronunciation as performed in the Broadway version of Mary Poppins.
  5. Christmas has always been a favorite time of the year. When I was about 4 years old, my mom took me on our annual visit to see Santa Claus. Santa told my mom that he had heard a lot of requests, but never before had a child asked him to bring the "most beautiful Christmas tree like the one I had last year." To this day, I always need to have a Christmas tree to help me celebrate the holidays.

What I Love About Durham

After spending 4 years stuck in the gridlock of the Washington, D.C. region, I really appreciate the lack of traffic around Durham. During the few times I do get stuck in "rush hour," the traffic is still moving at a constant pace, there are just more cars on the road. It is so much easier to predict how long it will take for me to get to school or meet up with friends.

My favorite part of living in Durham is my house. I choose to rent a house about 15 minutes from campus. Almost equidistant between Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh, the location of my house has been ideal for me to explore shopping areas, movie theaters, and cities. During my first two terms at Fuqua, I didn't have much time to visit the area, but I am looking forward to visiting many of North Carolina's historical sites such as Kitty Hawk and the Biltmore before graduating.

The Impact of 'Team Fuqua'

When I introduced myself to my section, I described my lifelong dream to work for The Walt Disney Company. Over the coming weeks, my passion for the company was very evident and I quickly became known as "the Disney girl."

My classmates were my biggest cheerleaders and enabled me to focus on my dream of getting an internship with Disney. In the Team Fuqua spirit of collaboration, my classmates introduced me to their contacts at Disney, which opened doors for me and ultimately led to an interview. One of my second-year mentors completed her internship with Disney, and she provided great insight that helped me to customize my job search. In fact, it was an introduction from her that led to the formal recruiting process.

I will never forget the day I received my offer from Disney for my internship. One of my section mates greeted me in class with a huge hug and raised my arm like Rocky Balboa while shouting to the class "Beth got Disney!" The entire section erupted with clapping and cheers. I knew my class fully supported me, but never imagined their level of excitement. In many ways, I feel they shared the journey with me. Whenever I think about this moment, I still get emotional. It exemplifies what Team Fuqua means to me.