On the fourth and final week of Duke in Silicon Valley, our group continued with visits to Accenture, Facebook, Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Instacart, and Carbon 3D. It’s baffling that in spite of the multiple visits and class sessions preceding this week, we are still learning something new. Many times the advice and guidance we hear from the alumni and guest lecturers go hand-in-hand with much of our class discussions. While visiting Accenture, we had a chance to perform sales pitches that would serve as practice for presenting our final projects later in the week. When speaking with Pamela Hawley of UniversalGiving, her career was uplifted from a passion she had when she was only twelve, an idea discussed frequently in past visits. It’s amazing to notice the patterns and similarities in so many great entrepreneurs that have ultimately laid the foundation for their successful companies today.
The companies that really attracted my attention were those that were immersive, and Accenture was one such corporation. The business itself is a global Fortune 500 company that provides services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operation. Our group visited the consulting firm, where we were able to learn about some of the work the business accomplishes on a day-to-day basis. The reason that I say day-to-day rather than monthly or yearly basis is that the firm is typically looking to take on a new challenge each day. Our class was challenged to solve health coverage for different personas, and this is where the immersive experience was in full effect. Rather than the speakers lecturing us on how their team would maneuver through the process, our group would try to solve the problems first and then be provided with feedback and guidance. I wish there was more time so we could have attempted other cases.
One of the visits that many of the students were looking forward to the most was Facebook, and it certainly did not disappoint. I am still baffled by the fact that a college student working in his dorm room nearly fifteen years ago could turn an idea into one of the largest social media platforms in the world. When reflecting on Mark Zuckerberg’s experience, however, it should not come as a surprise. Zuckerberg found a problem that millions of people wanted to be solved: a way to connect with friends in a simple manner, and this could be achieved as tech was escalating. Zuckerberg scaled the start-up into a successful enterprise by meeting people’s needs and by surrounding himself with other aspiring workers. One such partner was Deborah Liu, who is the current vice president of Facebook’s Marketplace. Marketplace is a convenient destination on Facebook to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. Facebook is about to launch their new cryptocurrency product, Libra, that will allow users to complete online transactions through the ‘Libra Wallet’. This new form of cryptocurrency was announced recently, and as can be expected with a large company, it received some backlash. When speaking with Deborah about this problem in particular, she emphasized the importance of always growing through how you take feedback. She said, “You can’t let negative comments crush you, and sometimes it’s actually what you need”. I think it’s fair to say that everyone has received negativity in one form or another in their life, but what separates the successful from the unsuccessful is what you do with it.
I chose to participate in the Duke in Silicon Valley program because I wanted to gain a better insight on Entrepreneurship not only through a classroom setting but also through our visits and guest speakers. In a typical class, there is so much information given that sometimes you don’t know which parts to take away from the experience. It was through the site visits where I noticed the similarities in what the alumni emphasized and the units we covered in class. I will take these connections with me and will know what points to draw back to in the near future. There are many people to thank for this one-of- a-kind journey, and I think I can speak for all my DSV peers when I say that I will be moving forward in my career with a new, ambitious head on my shoulders.
Ryan is a rising junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, a minor in Mathematics, and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Ryan anticipates gaining a vast amount of business insight from the companies in Silicon Valley that will supplement the Engineering degree he is working towards at Duke.
- “Accenture.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 June 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accenture.
- “Marketplace.” Buy and Sell Stuff Locally | Facebook Marketplace, http://www.facebook.com/marketplace/learn-more/.