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Real Humans of Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2022

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Charlie Sauter, Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2022

Age: 31
Hometown: Canandaigua, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major:  United States Military Academy B.S. Environmental Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 9.5 years U.S. Army Special Forces Officer

Why business school? Why now? 
Serving in the Army I had the opportunity to work with America’s sons and daughters to solve some of the most complex problems our nation has ever faced.  As a leader in the Army, my subordinates and mentors always pushed me to be a person of character and to strive for continual daily improvement.  After 9.5 years in the U.S. Army and multiple deployments, I realized that to be a better person, I needed to devote time to my family.  I decided to leave the military to start a new career in the civilian sector that would give me stability while pursuing a career that I am passionate about.  I chose to attend business school to gain analytical skills, continue my personal leadership development, and most importantly work together with my classmates to develop careers to make the world a better place.

Why Fuqua? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I believe in Fuqua’s mission statement of using business as a platform for change.  One of the unique aspects of Fuqua is the concept that a strong diverse team is better than an individual to solve complex problems in the world today.  I chose to attend Fuqua because I wanted an experience in the classroom as a member of a team where I could experiment with both failure and success to make myself a better person and leader.  During the application process, I realized that Fuqua was different from other graduate programs in that current and former students took time out of their busy lives to engage with me.  I felt like Fuqua was an organization and a culture that I wanted to join.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
I have had the opportunity to work and lead in a wide variety of operational environments in diverse teams around the world.  I think the most valuable contribution that I bring to the table is how to empower others to bring out their best performance and contribute to the team.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I typed my application to Fuqua with my computer connected to a solar panel because I did not have access to power or running water.

Post-MBA career interests?
After graduating Fuqua I would like to stay in the Raleigh/Durham area and pursue a career in operations management in the Technology sector.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? 
Attend Blue Devil Weekend.  I had the opportunity to meet future classmates, learn more about Fuqua, and most importantly enjoy watching the Blue Devils down the Tar Heels with good people.

  –One thing you would change or do differently?
I only applied to or visited one school for undergraduate and graduate school because I knew the institutions were right for me.  In hindsight, the strategy worked out but it was probably not a very good statistical decision.

  –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
During the application process, I had a tough time thinking about how I wanted to personally contribute to the Duke and Durham community.  I felt like I wanted and needed more exposure to clearly articulate how I wanted to contribute.  The question from the application stuck with me and is something that I constantly come back to and has helped me to focus my interests so that I can have a deeper impact.

What is your initial impression of Fuqua’s students/culture/community? 
I am very impressed with Fuqua’s students, culture, and community.  The aspect that most deeply resonates with me is acknowledging that everyone is different and leveraging these differences makes the strongest team.  The students, culture, and community recognize the COVID-19 environment and change the experience to optimize the environment.

One thing you have learned about Fuqua that has surprised you?
Students come from a mix of backgrounds and former Duke undergraduates and business majors are not a dominant subgroup of Fuqua MBA students.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Navigating the Virtual Environment.  I like to be able to shake a person’s hand and work with people in person.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? 
The opportunity to conduct a summer internship to find a career that I am passionate about.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.