2019 Best EMBAs: Jameelah Melton, Duke University (Fuqua)

Jameelah Melton

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“Driven physician strategist facilitating digital health initiatives.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Family Members: Husband—Mark

Fun fact about yourself: In 2000, I completed my undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in three years. I was 20 when I entered medical school at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. At that time, I was the youngest student to ever be admitted to the medical school.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BS Biology

East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, Medical Degree

Duke University School of Medicine, Pediatrics Residency

Where are you currently working? I am currently a consulting physician strategist for digital health companies.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

2019 Executive Leadership Council Case Competition Finalist and Scholarship Recipient

Volunteer for local women in health care organizations

Organizer for Fuqua’s Weekend Executive MBA ‘19 Women’s Events

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my team’s accomplishments in the Executive Leadership Council’s case competition. The competition requires teams to develop a 30-page proposal for recruitment and retention strategies in the oil and gas industry within a month. Most of us had no exposure to that industry. Additionally, we all hailed from different backgrounds (engineering, HR, marketing, non-profits, and health care) and had never worked together on a project prior to the case. In a short time, we were able to learn about the industry, develop a comprehensive proposal, and present an effective pitch that earned our team second place in the competition.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of completing my medical degree and pediatrics training. Like many parents, both my mother and father worked nights and weekends to ensure that my sisters and I were afforded better opportunities than they had growing up. Their only request of us was that we work just as hard to ensure that we rose to our potential.

The word elated does not begin to describe my parents’ emotions on the day that I received my white coat. I was so proud that I could make them that happy. The memory was bittersweet because my father died a few weeks later. I am grateful that he was able to see me in that capacity before he passed.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I have enjoyed all of my courses. However, Economics, Managerial Accounting, Operations Management, and the Fundamentals of Health Sector Management are the courses that have given me the most insights into the business of health care. Cumulatively, these subjects have helped me to think critically about the root causes and stakeholder accountability in health care delivery inefficiencies.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? There were two reasons why I chose Fuqua. The first reason is for their focus on leadership. I work in innovation, which requires proficiencies in change management. I wanted a program that would equip me with both the quantitative and management skills needed to succeed with my work. The second reason that I chose Fuqua was because of the Health Sector Management (HSM) certification. Fuqua’s HSM courses provide a unique opportunity to meet other individuals innovating in health care and discuss the evolving industry.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the opportunity to learn—not just from my professors, but also from my classmates. The breadth of industries and experience in our cohort is impressive and has significantly enhanced my education.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I don’t have one particular story. It is challenging to juggle everything. It helps to remember that your talents and determination have gotten you to this point. You have everything you need to succeed.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? “It’s too hard. I couldn’t do it.” I have seen people do some incredibly difficult things. I have worked with a single mom who put herself through law school while working as a nurse and raising a pre-teen boy. I have also worked with a pharmacist who traveled during the week as a medical liaison, worked weekends at a pharmacy, and raised two daughters. People already do incredible and difficult things every day. Business school is just a different challenge, but one that can be done.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not letting go and enjoying my Fuqua experience sooner. For the first two terms, I was very focused on getting my bearings and ensuring that I learned the material. My team for the Executive Leadership Council helped me to remember my reason for attending Fuqua—to learn and enjoy my time with my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There is something that I admire in every classmate that I have spent time with so far. Each of my classmates has demonstrated strengths that I hope to emulate. One group of people that I hold in high regard are the working mothers in our class. They are stellar examples of how to balance family, work, school, and life.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that my ability to be a change agent in health care was limited without the additional knowledge that an MBA could provide.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My goal is to grow into a leadership role within a digital health company. As health care continues to evolve, physicians and health teams will need more sophisticated digital health tools to scale care delivery. I plan to continue serving in capacities where I can facilitate the development of these tools.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A great teammate who helped her cohort reach team goals and personal bests.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Equitrekking in Argentina

Complete a day climb up Mount Whitney

What made Jameelahsuch an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Jameelah shines as a leader in her class.  On her own accord, she has organized a Women’s Dinner each term which includes a guest speaker to discuss women’s leadership. She is a positive force helping her classmates take full advantage of the opportunities for learning outside of the classroom including her recent participation in the 2nd place team in the Executive Leadership Council’s case competition. In my opinion, she represents the best of what I consider an ideal Fuqua Executive MBA student – juggling a demanding career, fully engaging the Fuqua education inside and out of the classroom, learning from her classmates and doing it all with composure and humility.”

Mohan Venkatachalam
Senior Associate Dean for Executive MBA Programs

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBAs OF 2019 or RANKING THE BEST EMBA PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.