Alumni Stories: Stella Gonzales Vigil, Duke Fuqua

Alumni Stories: Stella Gonzales Vigil, Duke Fuqua main image

Over 80 percent of employers look to hire graduates who’ve studied overseas. It’s a fact: international experience can make the difference when it comes to an ultra-competitive MBA jobs market.

Stella Gonzales Vigil studied economics before starting her first full-time job in banking in Peru. She knew finance was her thing, but she’d never worked outside her native country. In 2010, she decided to take a leap out of her comfort zone and join the full-time MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina, in the US.

Duke hands international experiences to its MBA students on a plate, as the school has exchange links with universities across 27 countries. The Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum sees students lead real-life consulting projects in emerging markets like Brazil, China, or South Africa.

Coming from abroad only added to Stella’s profile. During her MBA, she nabbed a summer internship at Deutsche Bank in New York. After the internship, she was offered a full-time job. Today, Stella is a vice president at Deutsche Asset Management, a world-leading investment management firm which manages a massive $700 billion in assets.

In 2017, 20 percent of Duke Fuqua’s graduating class went into finance, 89 percent stayed in the US and 80 percent got jobs thanks to the school. Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are just two keen recruiters of Fuqua MBAs, but Fuqua is about more than just finance. The biggest employers of Fuqua MBAs also include Deloitte (hired 26 MBA students from the class of 2017), McKinsey (21) and Amazon (15).

BusinessBecause caught up with Stella to find out more.

How did the job at Deutsche Bank come about?

When I started at Fuqua, I was immediately immersed in an environment that inspires you to try new things. After a few weeks, I decided my MBA was not only my opportunity to live abroad but also the perfect time to try something different. I decided to pursue two concentrations: Investments and Strategy.

When I saw the post for the internship at Deutsche Bank, I knew that was it. It was literally a combination of my background and my current concentrations. I applied and was lucky to be offered a position that turned into a full-time offer at the end at the summer. Six years later, it’s still a place I like to go every morning.

What advice do you have for Latin American MBA students looking to start new careers in the US?

My main bit of advice, and what I wish someone had told me before starting my MBA, is to get out of your comfort zone. It personally took me some time to do it. It was easier to spend time with people that shared my culture and language.

I changed that and have no words to describe what came next. Don’t hold yourself back, try new things, meet new people and cultures, and don’t be afraid.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Duke Fuqua?

I always knew I would do a MBA abroad. After spending all my life and career without any international exposure, I knew studying abroad would give me that perspective.

Initially, I thought of Germany or the United Kingdom, but later decided to apply to a business school in the United States for three main reasons: the schools I liked were better ranked in the US than in Europe, the alumni of US schools are stronger in Peru, and I was looking to do a two-year program.

At the beginning, Fuqua wasn’t my first choice since I didn’t know alumni. I am so glad someone mentioned it to me though. After doing some research, I decided to apply and after visiting the campus for my interview, I knew I belonged there.

Would you be where you are today without it?

Without it, I would be probably back in Peru. I thought I had my life all planned out—that changed when I got to Fuqua. The constant search to move out of your comfort zone is a highly appreciated strength that employers look for in today’s work environment.

How useful are websites like BusinessBecause for MBA applicants?

When I decided to do my MBA, I had no clue where to start. When I was done with GMAT and TOEFL, and I started thinking about where I should apply to, I only considered options where I had friends or knew alumni.

Websites like BusinessBecause share useful stories and provide insights from people outside of your inner circle. Because stories are based on first-hand accounts of students and graduates, you know there’s no bias.

Marco De Novellis
Written by Marco De Novellis

Marco De Novellis is a business journalist and editor of BusinessBecause. BusinessBecause is a trusted source of business school news, with punchy daily editorial about the lives of MBAs and the career paths they choose, as well as practical resources for b-school applicants.

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