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Real Humans of the Fuqua MBA Class of 2019

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Griffin Mueller, Fuqua MBA Class of 2019

Fuqua MBA Class of 2019
Griffin Mueller, Fuqua MBA Class of 2019

Age: 29

Hometown: I consider Durham, NC, to be my home. I’ve lived here for 3.5 years and my husband and I bought our first home seven minutes away from Fuqua. I love talking all things Durham!

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Stanford University, BA American Studies, MA African Studies

Pre-MBA Work Experience: 5 years as a program manager for Cisco Systems Inc.

Why business school? Why now? I attended the Cisco Women of Impact conference, where the chief of staff to Cisco’s CEO shared her career journey. She explained how she became the youngest member of Cisco’s Executive Leadership team, as Cisco’s VP of Growth and Strategy. I remember learning about how her background in management consulting prepared her to be a trusted advisor to C-suite level executives at an early stage in her career. That moment inspired me to pursue a similar career path. Since management consultants are recruited from business school programs, I decided to pursue my MBA.

Why Fuqua? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? I knew I wanted to pursue a career in management consulting, so Fuqua was at the top of my list, as Duke has an exceptional track record of job placement in the consulting industry. Since consulting requires heavy teamwork, firms uniquely value Fuqua graduates for their ability to immediately become collaborative and effective team members. Additionally, I knew that the Fuqua Consulting Club’s rigorous weekly roadmap sessions would walk me through the consulting application process, preparing me every step of the way to submit a strong application. Lastly, I knew that the “Team Fuqua” environment would support me after the application process was over, since the extensive consulting alumni network is always willing to set up coffee chats with interns and new hires, providing advice, insights, and guidance that enable the next generation of consultants to thrive in their new roles.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2019? I’m very passionate about leveraging the discipline of design thinking to create innovative solutions for complex problems in the social impact space. I’ve been working with a team of Fuqua students and the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative to determine the opportunities to increase the applied design thinking learning opportunities at Duke. We are currently developing a proposal for an academic course, where students learn about design thinking and then use their new skills to solve a real-world social impact problem for an organization.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I was the three-time Kentucky Junior Historical Society middle school state champion in oral history—I was not vying for the title of “most popular.”

Post-MBA career interests? Management consulting

Fuqua MBA Class of 2019
Mueller and her husband and dog

Advice to current prospective applicants:

  –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I would encourage prospective applicants to talk to as many current students as possible and schedule school visits. My school visit to Duke was the turning point where I discovered Duke was the community that I wanted to be a part of.

  –One thing you would change or do differently? I would have started my GMAT preparation earlier, so that I wasn’t as rushed. It all turned out fine, but it could have been a less stressful process if I had started sooner.

  –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? The first set of finals is challenging. Most of us haven’t been students for years, so re-learning how to approach three-hour tests successfully is daunting, and I had to brush up on my test-taking strategies. I was able to be successful because of the network of family, friends, tutors, and professors that helped me to prepare. Second-year students from the Black and Latino MBA Organization (BLMBAO) led tutoring sessions, which were widely attended and incredibly helpful. Everyone at Duke is rooting for you to succeed and is willing to go above and beyond to help.

Greatest highlight so far at Fuqua? I am loving my Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) class, where I’m working with a team of first-year students to help a Chilean bike, wine, and walking tour company increase its profitability. Learning about international business, consulting, and brushing up on my Spanish skills has been an incredible experience. I’m really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Chile, where we’ll present our recommendations to the CEO and also get to explore Patagonia!

One thing about Fuqua that you didn’t expect before arriving? The classroom environment is incredible. Fuqua has a set of classroom norms which help everyone to take advantage of our amazing opportunity to learn from our professors and from each other. At first, I was skeptical about the technology-free classrooms, but soon I realized how much more productive you are when you’re not distracted. Our Fuqua classroom norms even extend beyond school. And at case competitions, recruiting events, and conferences, firms commented on how considerate, timely, and attentive we were as a cohort. In the competitive world of recruiting, I deeply appreciated how the Fuqua norms helped us to stand out in a positive way.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? I am so excited about my summer consulting internship, and I am proud of all the hard work that went into the recruitment process. At this point, I am looking forward to experiencing life as a management consultant and am not anxious at all. At Duke, I am especially looking forward to traveling through study abroad programs, attempting to develop fluency in Spanish, and working out with the Duke Outdoor Leadership club (BOLD) to prepare for a backpacking trip in Patagonia.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? See above.