Durham, Days 4-5: Each conversation/speaker provides new perspective


James Davlin - VP & Treasurer - Deere & Company

One of the best things about the international residencies as part of the CCMBA program was getting a different perspective on the world, that the problems and concerns in the U.S. don’t necessarily continue on when you are outside of the country.  Or, to put it another way, the problems that are faced in the world (poverty, disease, government corruption, etc.) aren’t limited to what is observable in the major metropolitan areas of the U.S.

Coming to Durham, I wasn’t expecting to gain any additional perspective shift relative to these larger world issues.  What has changed my views on business and the world, however, are the conversations and guest speakers I’ve participated in.  I’ve met with students from the Goethe MBA program, with Fuqua Admissions staff, listened to speeches from leaders in the business world, and entrepreneurs and venture capitalists almost hourly.  Even my conversations with CCMBA classmates have been relatively fresh, which is pretty tough to do after all this time together…

Goethe MBA

In my Fuqua Friday post, I referenced in passing how there are several Fuqua MBA programs on-campus this week, one of which is the Goethe program.  Based on Frankfurt Germany, the Goethe Business School has a partnership with Fuqua, and as such, are having their own residency in Durham and taking classes along with the CCMBA program.

Mitch Mumma - Intersouth Partners

One thing that has surprised me about the Goethe program is the intensity of the student body.  Not that I assumed that the program was somehow going to be dramatically different in quality from the CCMBA program, but the attention to detail is definitely something I wasn’t expecting.  I’ve actually stepped my game up quite a bit this residencies, really trying to focus on every last detail in the case studies, because it’s clear my German counterparts don’t skip a word!

Fuqua Admissions

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet for coffee with Connie Swarts from the CCMBA admissions office.  Like meeting with Dan McCleary at Fuqua Friday, it was great to meet with another person from Fuqua Admissions who’ve I’ve talked with in the past but never actually met in-person.

For what was supposed to be a coffee’s worth of conversation turned into two hours, talking about everything from how the program has turned out, the value of this blog in recruiting future CCMBA’s, what I would change about the program (mostly from the admissions standpoint)…and even an impromptu prospective student interview/information session.  That’s a lot of conversation!

(FWIW CCMBA’er present and future…I’ve been assured that Fuqua is providing the legal maximum amount of free beer.  Perhaps if I had gotten into Negotiations like I wanted to, I could’ve had a better result)

Guest Speakers and Entrepreneurship

If I’ve counted correctly, I’ve heard 9 speeches/pitches in the 5 class days since I’ve been in Durham, with each speaker having at least some affiliation with the Fuqua School of Business.  It’s been extremely impressive listening to each of these speakers, from Greg Jones (Vice President and Vice Provost, Global Strategy at Duke), to James Davlin (Vice President, Treasurer at John Deere), to Mitch Mumma (Venture Capitalist/Partner at Intersouth Partners).  In every case, Fuqua has shown how much influence the school has had in such a short period, and how graduates from Fuqua have moved on to being true leaders in the business world.

Michael Sherman - Boston Consulting Group

Perhaps the funniest lesson/takeaway I’ve gotten from the Entrepreneurship/Venture Capital discussions is how cut-and-dry the venture capital business operates.  It’s almost comical how every speaker or entrepreneur relays the same ‘I’ve-got-money-you-want-money-I-want-60%-percent-ownership’ attitude.  I never figured that you could get VC money for an idea and give up 5% of your equity, but the near mafia precision of separating the equity from the entrepreneur is something I’ll keep in mind if I ever have a brilliant idea.  As soon as you invite new sources of money in, you *really* invite a lot of hands into the pot.

But then again, as all of the venture capitalists have stressed, 100% of nothing is still nothing.  Keeping 40% of a company that goes public is probably a better deal…


From a conversation I had last night, at least one new company is in the works in the CCMBA Class of 2010d.  It’s the epitome of bootstrapping at this point (selling merch out of the hotel room), so it’s a bit premature for further details.  I’m assured that there will be a bigger release in about six months or so, so until that time, good look bro…for free merchandise, I’m willing to expose you to all my web traffic ;)

Related Posts:

  • Tucker Blair and the Duke MBA
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  • Rethinking the boundaries
  • Competing with China
  • My Interview with Delta Sky Magazine

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