By UVA - Darden March 2, 2017 Leave a Comment

Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.

Name: Jess Ching
City: Washington, DC
Employer: Raytheon Company
Years of Experience: 5
Format/Section: Rosslyn EMBA Class of 2018

1. What is your current job?
I currently work in Strategy Development for Raytheon Company’s Corporate Strategy office. Raytheon is a defense contractor in the Aerospace & Defense industry.  In this role, I help to develop company-wide strategies, analyze the Department of Defense (DoD) budget, perform competitor and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) assessments, and develop strategy and global environment presentations for the Board of Directors and senior leadership.

2. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
My undergraduate studies focused in the liberal arts. While I feel that education prepared me for several roles and provided a great foundation in areas such as critical thinking, writing , among several other skills, I knew that in order for me to continue accelerating my career within my company, I would need to strengthen my business finance understanding. I knew that a MBA would provide me with a solid basis on the mechanics of finance, operations, and accounting so that I could supplement my qualitative skills with more quantitative ones.  My next step in my career trajectory is to take on an International Program Manager role and being well-versed in financials will only make me more prepared and competitive for the position.

3. Why did you choose Darden?
I chose Darden immediately after I attended a class for prospective students. The one-hour class was a case study led by a Darden Marketing professor. Having never taken a Marketing class, I was excited by practical elements we were taught and even more impressed by the peers in the class who engaged in such a dynamic discussion. In just that short 60 minutes, I left feeling that I gained tremendous value—not just from the professor and the case we analyzed, but from the intellectual students surrounding me. I knew that Darden would provide me with an academically challenging environment in which my peers would also challenge me and add to my learning experience.  At Darden, there’s an emphasis on learning through your fellow classmates. You’re assigned smaller learning teams that act as real-life scenarios when you are placed into diverse groups and expected to produce team products / get each other through tough courses. It is the caliber of students and the highly collaborative learning environment that sealed the deal for me.

4. What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?
The executive formats of Darden attracted me for two main reasons. First, the flexibility of the program allows me to continue accelerating my career while simultaneously completing a MBA. I am able to demonstrate to my business leaders and to myself that I can handle a challenging coursework while also continuing to perform at work. Secondly, I can immediately put into practice what I learn from my classes into my day-to-day job. When I see this happening, I can tell that I am receiving immediate value from the courses at Darden to be able to apply it to real situations in the office or in my personal life.

5. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?
My favorite thing about my classmates is seeing how we are able to become such a closely knit unit in a quick amount of time besides coming from vastly different backgrounds and juggling the difficulties of balancing families, full-time jobs, and a full-time MBA. I’ve seen classmates go out of their way to provide additional tutoring to those who need it or help each other with job interviews or introductions for classmates trying to switch careers, companies, and industries. It is this camaraderie that has made me the most excited about the program. You realize very quickly that you cannot succeed alone on an island and your classmates become your Darden Lifeline. A special example was one time I needed to give a speech in front of my classmates. As someone who is terrified of public speaking, I faltered a little because of my nerves. However, my classmates cheered me on and got me to finish my presentation with a standing ovation. The Darden Family is not easily replicated.

6. What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?
I’m most excited about going to South Africa and India with my classmates. I think both countries are vastly different from one another, and I’m excited to see how business operates outside of the United States while also soaking up the culture, sights, and sounds of the foreign places. It will also be a different experience to see emerging markets in action and also understand how the country’s political environment plays a role in shaping industry.

7. What advice do you have for prospective students?
A MBA is a huge investment, both in terms of money and in time. Knowing this, make sure to find a program that’s the best fit for you. Take the time to go to the events hosted by Darden Admissions and meet current students, faculty, and alumni. Going to class visits and seeing the dynamics among the students will give you a better idea if this is the type of program/environment in which you will thrive. Ultimately, this decision is a highly personal one, but I found that any Darden student or alum will be willing to chat with you and help you with making the most informed decision you can make!

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