Ukrainian neighbors discover shared Fuqua connections

Sometimes we have more in common with our neighbors than we think.

Sergey Glushakov, who earned his MBA from Fuqua in 2011, has lived in the same neighborhood in Ukraine for more than 15 years.

Sergey has kept close ties with Fuqua since graduating—he currently represents Ukraine on one of Fuqua's regional advisory boards.

But he never imagined that one of his closest neighbors would also have connections to Fuqua.

The discovery was made during a casual neighborly conversation; Alex Beck, Sergey’s neighbor, had inquired about where Sergey’s son was accepted to college.

His eyes lit up when Sergey mentioned Duke.

Alex knew Duke well, and more specifically, he knew Fuqua. He’d spent time in Durham during his participation in one of Fuqua’s former offerings, the Duke Program for Manager Development in the Soviet Union.

The program, which was offered for more than 25 years starting in 1989, was the brainchild of Fuqua’s namesake, J.B. Fuqua, who had a global mindset and knew that the institution should engage in the region.

For individuals like Alex, that program made all the difference.

In the early 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many firms were struggling to adapt as newly-independent Ukraine transitioned from a centralized economy enforced by Soviet leadership to a free-market economy. At Alex’s company, he was appointed the head of a committee to deal with this transition. He had to add business knowledge to his engineering background quickly.

He was able to do this with the program imagined by J.B. Fuqua. Alex helped see the company through the transformation from a state-owned enterprise to a public company, splitting its main divisions into financially-independent business units and entering new markets.

Sergey, who graduated from Fuqua’s Global Executive MBA program in 2011, saw similar benefits from his MBA. Although he was doing business in a different time than Alex, he too was feeling repercussions from the 2008 financial crisis after starting his own software engineering and IT consulting company in 2007.

But what he learned at Fuqua helped him shape a strategy to determine the company’s next steps. Now more than a decade old, his company is still successful.

Recently, the two men met for dinner to learn more about each other’s Fuqua experiences.

“I must admit, our transformation was a real success and I personally feel very proud of the pivotal role I played in helping my organization to transform and thrive in such a tough climate,” Alex told Sergey.

Sergey also discussed what he enjoyed most about his Fuqua experience.

“Fuqua did a fantastic job equipping us with global experience,” he said. “As we traveled to our different residency locations, they integrated local and international business, history, and culture as we learned about different economies.”

Alex even was able to correspond with J.B. Fuqua himself. When he heard from a friend that J.B. Fuqua was disappointed in the program’s success, Alex worried he’d gotten the wrong impression of the program. He wrote to J.B. Fuqua to share his story, explaining that many smart and hard-working people at his company were able to keep their jobs during a difficult transition thanks to the knowledge and skills he’d gained at Fuqua.

Alex received a response a few weeks later in which J.B. Fuqua seemed pleased to hear about his experience and his success.

Although the Duke Program for Manager Development in the Soviet Union no longer exists, Alex’s memories of the program endure—and now he has a Fuqua neighbor with whom he can reminisce.

“It’s hard to believe we ended up as neighbors,” Alex said. “But I believe that things happen for a reason, and my experience with Fuqua itself is evidence of that. The Fuqua School of Business came into my life when I most needed it and it helped me to successfully transition into a new and critical role in my career.”