Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Jasmine Ai

Class of 2013

Jasmine Ai

"Fuqua alumni in the tech industry are a very close-knit community, a continuation of Team Fuqua. I received a lot of useful career and personal development advice from alumni on the West Coast."

My Background

I have always dreamed of being a businesswoman who can grow a local, small, or medium-sized company into a large or even a global company. As a child, I witnessed my grandmother run a small factory and my mother supervise a local government office in China's southwest Sichuan province. Because of gender discrimination and a closed economy in the earlier days in China, they never went further in their careers; however, their strong management power and business ambition triggered me to always work hard and enrich my professional experiences.

While I attended university in Beijing and majored in computer science, I was a top student, winning scholarships for excellent academic performance for 4 years. During my 7-year sales career at Cisco, I was dedicated to driving the fast adoption of Cisco's leading-edge technology among Chinese companies. As one of the fastest promoted employees in Cisco China, I still had ambitions to make a bigger impact. I'm the local organizer of Cisco's Women's Association, helping to bring together female professionals across different teams and organizations. I also worked as the Cisco lead in organizing Junior Achievement's university workshops, inviting hundreds of Cisco employees, including many Cisco leaders, to spread business skills to college students. Now in the States, I'm passionate about enriching my professional and personal experiences through immersing myself in a more global and fast-changing environment.

Why I Chose Fuqua

My 7 years of IT sales experience are just pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that create a larger picture of my career.

Working for Cisco, I often interacted with small- to medium-sized tech firms, and I discovered problems that plagued their business development. As a result, I became determined to lead changes in the Small and Medium Business (SMB) sector. For example, I had found that inconsistent product strategies hindered many companies' growth. I became interested in helping to solve these problems and wished to transition my career from sales to product management. This would allow me to develop strategic thinking and gain product development experience while leveraging my past customer experience in the China and U.S. markets. In the long term, I aspire to be a driving force in bringing larger success to the SMB sector and becoming an influential professional in the tech sector. A leading MBA education is exactly what I needed to fulfill both of my career goals. Fuqua's balanced curriculum and focus on leadership immediately caught my attention when I researched business schools.

Fuqua's curriculum fully addresses my needs while providing great flexibility. I chose to pursue two concentrations: Marketing and Product Management. Fuqua's signature marketing curriculum is critical to the development of my product management career track. The electives such as Business Ethics and Supply Chain Management provide the groundwork to prepare me to tackle the challenges of working in a very global and complex environment.

I also took advantage of Fuqua's extra-curricular activities. In the company-sponsored trip to India offered by the Global Consulting Practicum (now FCCP) last spring, I had the chance to learn about the best practices of India's outsourcing industry. Being part of the Fuqua High Tech Club and Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club, I was able to build regional connections with some of the most awesome entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size tech firms in the Triangle area.

Last but not least, Fuqua alumni in the tech industry are a very close-knit community, a continuation of Team Fuqua. I received a lot of useful career and personal development advice from alumni on the West Coast. As Fuqua's presence in the tech industry continues to grow, this will offer numerous opportunities and resources to the students and alumni.

Leadership Attribute: Team

During my 7-year sales career, I was never an individual player. I proposed cooperation between my peers when collaboration could bring 300%+ revenue. Then later as a team leader, I persisted in team building and motivating the whole team with shared honors. That was how my team was awarded Best Team in 2009. I always believe that a good leader is a good team player first.

After joining Fuqua, I found that I fit seamlessly into the acclaimed teamwork culture and collaborative spirit. What also continues to amaze me is that even though we are so busy with many priorities in school and life, we view teamwork and commitment to club work as a very serious matter. For example, as an Admissions Fellow, the recruiting season is one of the busiest times of the year because so many prospective students come to visit the school. Admissions Fellows provide tours and meet with visitors. Despite how busy we are with our class work and other activities, we always make sure that the potential students all have a great Fuqua visit. During another occasion, my fellow leader of the High Tech Club stayed very late with me one night to perfect a career coaching session that we were preparing for the first years, even though we both had finals the next day.

In my previous job, I learned to work on teams to achieve goals; here at Fuqua, I learned to be a better person by working on teams.

Five Random Things about Me

  1. My Chinese name is Su Ai, which is the combination of my father and mother's last names.
  2. People assume that because I am from the city which is known for spicy food, that I must like eating spicy food. However, I'm an exception—I burst into tears when eating anything spicy.
  3. I like acting, not as a career but as a hobby. I directed and acted in the promotional videos for my previous employer.
  4. When my mother signed me up for violin lessons at the age of 5, the violin teacher told me that my little finger is too short to play some notes. But I insisted on learning anyway, played the violin for 6 years, and was on stage a few times. I also didn't pass the physical education test in primary school, but then I started long distance running. I won several medals during high school and university. Those endeavors taught me perseverance.
  5. I was a re-applicant to Fuqua. I view my additional one year of application as an opportunity to reflect on my career path and choices. I reflected on my end goals, received a promotion, and gained a deeper commitment to the MBA. Most importantly, I have seen the power of reflection.

The Impact of Team Fuqua

Section Two Pride will stay with me forever. Not just because section competitions helped mold me into a better, more committed Fuqua student, but also because the experiences I continue to share are making these 2 years more meaningful.

It was Team Challenge day, and it was raining heavily. One of my Section Two classmates made his last attempt to scale the wall before time ran out. Because of the bad weather, he did not make it. There was a long silence, and at that moment we knew we were the only section of the Class of 2013 that did not conquer the wall. That silence became our defining moment. From that moment on, section pride started to grow within us because we knew that our unsuccessful attempt would make us closer and stronger as a section. We knew everyone gave their best and that we would be more humble in the future as we built our skills. Section pride was born in that moment, bound us together, and became a driving force for us in our future endeavors.

All year, our section has worked hard to enrich our shared experiences through things like our humorous and enlightening section newsletter, Section Two happy hours, academic help sessions for core courses, career search groups, and international culture-sharing lunches. These efforts make us a great section, but also teach us about building resilience and strength while having fun. This is the Fuqua spirit.