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Real Humans of Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2022

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Sharon Obami, Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2022

Age: 29
Hometown: Kogi State, Nigeria. Migrated to Texas in 2008 and relocated from Texas to North Carolina in July 2020.
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Midwestern State University, Nursing Major.
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Pre-MBA, I worked in the health care delivery sector. I started out as a staff nurse in 2013, advanced in management through the years, and my last position prior to joining Fuqua was Chief Nursing Officer at a Physical Rehabilitation Hospital.

Why business school? Why now?
I have always been passionate about healthcare, and the main challenges of healthcare, like access to care, quality care, and cost. As a Chief Nursing Officer, I was exposed to the challenges at the executive level; combining clinical and economic outcomes to ensure quality care. A favorite part of my job was seeing how operations and strategy drove change management and the quality of care we provided. After joining the Centers for Healthcare Innovation, I was further exposed to other stakeholders in the health care industry. I was exposed to how they address the challenges of healthcare and saw the impact of their innovative ideas on the healthcare industry. I felt that my learning curve had flattened in clinical practice, and my interest in innovative healthcare had ignited. Business School is the ideal platform to enable me to transition from the healthcare delivery sector as a clinical leader into the value-based healthcare sector in strategy and business development. Business school would give me strong foundational knowledge, business acumen, and skills to be more impactful in the healthcare sector. I look forward to learning more about corporate finance, market structure analysis, and how to develop strategic behaviors that can help increase market share, decrease cost, and improve customer service.

Why Fuqua? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose to attend Fuqua because of the comprehensive curriculum in the health sector management program, the experimental learning opportunities offered, and the unparalleled community culture that is team Fuqua.

The comprehensive and diverse curriculum of the HSM program would broaden my knowledge of the health care sector and expose me to the deeper workings of the other stakeholders of the healthcare industry. I was particularly excited about learning about the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and health IT companies. I was thrilled that Fuqua had courses in operations strategy and a course focused on innovation in business practices. I look forward to taking healthcare markets and other courses in the HSM program.

The experimental electives like Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum, and especially the Duke University Hospital Experimental Learning Program would provide meaningful learning opportunities outside of the classroom and where I can begin making an impact in the health care industry.

As a clinician, I have seen the positive impact of a cohesive team on patient outcomes as well as the team’s success. It takes the whole team of attentive and compassionate nurses and doctors to serve our patients. As a clinical leader, it takes a cohesive interdisciplinary team to support and provide the right environment for the patients and staff to thrive. Team Fuqua exudes all these attributes, the support I received through my application process from current students to alumni’s of over 10 years was astonishing. It was very evident that they were all interested and invested in my success even as a prospective student. Team Fuqua felt like home.

If it means anything, the school is breathtaking, the gothic and Georgian style architecture is very inviting.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
So far, I would say my background and experience in my previous roles have been my most valuable contribution to the class of 2022. I am able to say this because Fuqua provides an environment that encourages our uniqueness and diversity. The professors want to hear your perspective and my classmates are receptive to my ideas.

Additionally, I have equally benefited from learning alongside others, from my classmates’ perspectives, anecdotes, and experiences. Taking the 2 years to immerse myself in business study and orienting myself to take the next step in my career has definitely been one of the best decisions I made in 2020.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I was such a tomboy growing up I wore matching bandanas and sneakers all the time.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
  –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? The interview. I had my interview with an admission staff Sharon Thompson. I thoroughly enjoyed my interview because it was conversational. I learned about Sharon, I learned about specific values and groups I was interested in and I felt that my unique and different background and identity would be highly accepted.

–One thing you would change or do differently? 
I would start earlier so I could thoroughly enjoy the process. I could visit the campus during activities, engage with more current students, faculty, and prospective students.

  –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? 
The waiting time. I was so nervous and scared. My faith, belief, and support from friends and family helped me get through it.

What is your initial impression of Fuqua’s students/culture/community?

One thing you have learned about Fuqua that has surprised you?
One surprising and impressive thing I learned about Fuqua is that students actually have a lot of autonomy and every student’s perspective is counted. As a student, your perspective is so important. The faculty want to hear and learn from you and support your thoughts. The student leaders want to lead and serve based on your input and perspective.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Balancing recruiting and academic work successfully

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Meeting my classmates, getting to know them, and forming those long-term relationships with them.

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.