Having completed their first degrees at Duke University, Laura Newman and Alexander van Dijk are the couple who returned to Durham, North Carolina to embark on the Daytime MBA at the Fuqua School of Business.
They graduated from Duke University in 2007, Alex with a BA in Econmics and History and Laura with a BA in Economics, and they have just finished the first year of the full time MBA (it's known as the Daytime MBA at Duke).
Laura, 26, is French-American and grew up in Paris, the South of France and Budapest while Alex, 27, has lived in several places including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Paris.
The couple have known each other since their high school days in Paris and they both wanted an elite MBA programme that would allow them to spend time together.
Right after college, the couple spent a year and a half apart and swore never to do it again. Alex headed to London to take up a role as an investment banking analyst at Credit Suisse, while Laura joined consulting firm Corporate Executive Board in Washington DC. She managed to get a transfer to London eventually, and the pair ran the Duke Alumni Club in the UK!
When the financial crisis hit in 2009, Alex left investment banking to do an internship at children's charity Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), focusing on improving the welfare of children in South Africa. He then moved into digital consulting, with a focus on start-ups.
At Corporate Executive Board, Laura advised leading European firms by aligning their areas of interest with best practice case studies that illustrated the ways other firms had overcome similar challenges. She loved her job because it combined best practice research with business advisory services but she wanted a more refined understanding of business as well as the chance to move her career in a different direction.
The Fuqua School of Business was an easy choice for the couple, since they'd already studied at Duke. They wanted to return to the US because it was an environment they were familiar with and their previous ties would make it easier to find a job after graduating. So far their hunch has proved correct. Alex has landed an internship with a Biotech firm called Biogen Idec, while Laura's will be at Management Consultancy Bain & Co.
So are they spending more time together, now that they've escaped the hectic London life? Laura says that “Incorporating time to spend together is definitely difficult but it's great that we understand that being on an MBA is demanding so we don’t feel torn when we can’t give as much time as we want to, to the other person”.
The most challenging thing about being on an MBA as a couple is trying to find time for a social life but “the best thing is coming home to each other and still being able to talk about our different classes and bounce ideas off each other”, says Alex.
They’ve both been busy with business school clubs and activities. Laura has been involved in the Consulting Club and working as a teaching assistant while Alex is active in the Healthcare Club, the Finance Club, and the student government, as well as giving campus tours.
The couple are also going on an organised trip to China with Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE), to see the sights and visit corporations and research and development facilities. In the long-term they would like to live in Asia, and this is a great opportunity to start building a network there.
Read more about the reasons people head to business school in the Why MBA section