Why Fuqua, WEMBA, and HSM?

Matt Westcott, Candidate for MBA, class of 2020

I first considered pursing an MBA about six years ago. Since then my career path has felt more like a moving target than a static roadmap. After deciding the timing was right for an MBA, I chose the Weekend Executive (WEMBA) program at Fuqua – primarily because of Fuqua’s reputation and the WEMBA program format. Now, having just passed the half-way mark of the program, I’m pleased to say that not only has the experience validated my original reasons for choosing Fuqua, but I’ve also added more to the list. Before I share these reasons, let me provide some background.

I spent the last ten years in the health care provider world – first as a practicing physical therapist and then in various leadership roles within physical therapy and orthopedic medicine. Along the way I discovered a passion for leadership and, with the help of gifted supervisors and gracious direct reports, I developed some helpful soft skills. Unfortunately, physical therapy school provided little in the way of hard management skills and as my leadership responsibilities grew I became more aware of my skill gaps. Even from my small corner of healthcare I could see the need for change and I wanted to be part of it. When I started the WEMBA program, my intent was to remain in health care. I hoped to leverage new knowledge and connections to become a more effective and well-rounded health care leader.

But why Fuqua you may ask? And why the WEMBA program?

Great questions! Thanks for asking. If I was going to invest the time and money to get an MBA, I wanted one with a solid reputation and a strong alumni network. I also wanted to find a program that would allow me to maintain my current job without an inordinate amount of travel to and from class.

Matt and classmates in Washington DC, January 2020.

The WEMBA program at Fuqua checked all the boxes. Fuqua’s strong reputation combined with the flexibility of the WEMBA program meant I could get an MBA from a top tier program without spending every other weekend on the road. I live in Georgia, so the combination of monthly residencies in Durham and hybrid virtual sessions gives me the valuable in-person interaction with classmates and professors with a manageable travel requirement.

With half of the program under my belt, I now add Fuqua’s culture to the plus column. I prefer to learn in a collaborative environment around people who are intelligent, curious and open. From the first time I heard Dean Boulding speak about ‘Decency Quotient,’ I knew I had made the right decision. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn and interact with a group of talented and accomplished professionals who care not only about success but also about having fun and doing the right thing.

The ‘WEMBA experience’ is also worth mentioning. It is obvious a lot of thought and care have gone into creating the experience for WEMBA students. Program staff work tirelessly to make sure we have what we need to succeed – from great accommodations to shared meals, activities and consistent communication. It is all very thoughtfully put together to ensure we get the most out of our time together in Durham.

Great, I’m sold on Fuqua and WEMBA! Anything else I should know?

Matt with Professor Ridley and classmates

Yes. Another aspect of the WEMBA program that I found particularly appealing was the Health Sector Management (HSM) Certificate. As I mentioned above, I intend to continue in health care after completing my MBA. The HSM Certificate offers the opportunity to expand my health care knowledge and to help me better understand the health system as a whole. I am now two classes in to the HSM coursework and have found the content and connections incredibly enlightening. With so many challenges facing our health care system, I am confident I will leave Fuqua far better equipped to lead positive change.

So, there you have it. The decision to pursue an MBA is a significant investment and every person’s journey is unique. I am pleased to say that with the first half of the program behind me I am even more confident in my decision to pursue an MBA at Fuqua. As the program continues, I look forward to finding additional reasons to validate my Fuqua, WEMBA and HSM decisions.