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    Meet Darden’s EMBA & GEMBA – Ery Zaidir (GEMBA ’18) and Julie Lasseter (EMBA ’18)

    July 20th, 2017

    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: Ery Rinaldi Zaidir
    City: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    Employer: National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia
    Years of Experience: 24 years
    Format/Section: Global Executive MBA / Rosslyn

    1. What is your current job?

    I am originally from Indonesia, but I have been living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the past eight years. I currently work at the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, the largest bank in Saudi Arabia, where I have worked since relocating to Jeddah. I’m currently the Senior Vice President of the Risk Management Group, responsible for managing the retail loans of the bank, i.e. personal Loans, auto leases, residential financing, and credit cards. Overall, I have 24 years in retail banking, mostly in collections and risk management.

    1. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

    I want to switch careers. I am almost 50 years old and would like to do something different and pursue my other passions, namely teaching and doing something for the greater good. I believe Darden will give me the courage, preparation and network to enable to start a new journey in my life.

    1. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

    Their stories, background, and experience. I also have really enjoyed how supportive everyone has been, in class, in our learning team meetings. Everyone is very open and willing to share ideas, information.

    1. What advice do you have for prospective students?

    To consider this as an investment for them, for their own future and benefit.

    Most of my friends, relatives and colleagues, especially who are my age, are working very hard for their family, just like me. We want to have enough money so that we can have enough food to eat, can pay all the bills, and can put our children in the best schools so they can get the best education and stand on their own in the future. However, I know I have to continue to learn. The world is changing fast, and I need to equip myself with all the skills and knowledge that will make me ready to face the future. So, you have to invest in yourself. You have to choose the best institution to study. And you have to keep learning.


    Name: Julie Lasseter
    City: Washington, D.C.
    Employer: Department of Defense
    Years of Experience: 12 years
    Format/Section: CHO Executive MBA

    1. What is your current job?

    I am currently an Obama Administration political appointee at the Department of Defense and my job title is Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment.

    1. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

    Many people in politics in Washington, D.C. have a JD or a Public Policy degree and while those are wonderful degrees I already had experience writing and interpreting laws and regulations, as well as making public policy. What I wanted was a degree that could help me quantify public policy and know if policies were good for the economy or not. I also enjoy managing people and I want to be the best executive I can be. Learning a new perspective will be key for my success and benefit those who report to me.

    1. Why did you choose Darden?

    I wanted to stay around the D.C. area and while I looked at several schools, I felt that Darden’s staff was unparalleled in professionalism and commitment to students. Adding a school program to an already busy life is a major decision and I wanted a program that had a proven track record of elevating students to new and exciting levels in their careers, whether that was with their current employer or a new one. My time is precious to me, and I felt Darden would not only respect my life commitments, but would also respect my time by making my school experience worthwhile. Finally, I am an experiential learner, so the case method approach of Darden was my preferred classroom style.

    1. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

    My favorite things about my classmates is the diversity and motivation they bring to the classes, assignments, and networking. I also have an incredible learning team. The depth of personal and professional knowledge is international and cross-industry. When we come together to solve case problems we are able to leverage the backgrounds of military, private industry, and government making our studying truly exceptional.

    1. What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?  

    I am most excited about completing Accounting! All joking aside, I am also excited about learning how to present ideas in a more analytical and compelling fashion. My jobs often contain an element of public speaking and salesmanship, so I am eager to incorporate this new analytical approach into my personal ability of persuasion. I think this will be really helpful in selling my ideas to clients, bosses, colleagues, and employees as I move up the leadership chain.

    1. What advice do you have for prospective students?

    Do your homework, it will always save you! Also, make sure you are coming to Darden with an expectation, and anticipation, of a challenging experience. While I would argue that is what makes Darden exceptional, if doing homework and reaping the benefits of challenging your norms and ideals is not something of interest to you, Darden is probably not the best fit. But, if you’re interested in business, how to improve your business approach, and want to expose yourself to many different kinds of people, Darden and the Executive MBA program will be your dream come true– the sweat will be worth it.

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    Recent Darden Graduate Adele Young (’17) Provides Insights on Changing Careers

    July 15th, 2017

    Adele Young, a recent graduate of the Class of 2017, came to Darden thinking that she knew what her next career move would be. However, after self-reflection and encountering numerous influencers throughout her journey at Darden, Young found her fit in consulting and recently moved to Los Angeles to begin working full-time at Parthenon.

    After four years at a private equity firm, Young found herself feeling like she was plateauing in her current job and saw an MBA degree as an opportunity to take her career to the next level. The case method was a big selling point for choosing Darden. “I wanted to go somewhere that forced you to talk a lot and the case method was really important to me because I knew it would help me find my voice as someone who felt more introverted in a work setting,” said Young. She also valued the well-rounded curriculum at Darden that allowed her to expand her business knowledge in all subject areas, building on her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

    Young landed a summer internship in private wealth management at J.P. Morgan during her first year. Reflecting on her internship at the end of the summer, she realized that although she greatly enjoyed her experience, she missed strategizing for companies. Consulting presented a great opportunity to do that kind of strategy work.

    As Young looked to set herself up for a successful recruiting season and identify companies she may want to pursue, she turned to her peers for advice. “My peers were definitely my biggest influencers, particularly the ones who had interned at Parthenon. They were friends who I held in high esteem and enjoyed being around, and I began to see Parthenon as a great fit when they told me about the meaningful summer experiences that they had.”

    To prepare for the switch, Young recalls the preparation she took to have a successful recruiting season in her second year. “It was important to know my story and why I was interested in switching. If my story didn’t make sense, I knew a company wouldn’t understand or appreciate it,” said Young. “I also ensured I understood Parthenon, what they value, and what their interview process looked like.” Additionally, the Consulting Club held a “Crack the Case” workshop and the Career Development Center (CDC) brought in Darden alumni to help with case interview preparation, which proved to be valuable for her. Young’s preparation paid off, and she landed the role at Parthenon.

    In terms of advice for incoming Darden students and preparing for their career search, Young recommends researching early, self-reflection, and beginning to build your Darden network. “I did a lot of self-reflection during the summer before Darden and thinking about what I liked and didn’t like in my past job to figure out what I valued,” Young recalls. “I also recommend talking to as many Darden alums, current students or other incoming students as you can. Those conversations can be very helpful to figure out what a career in a particular industry looks like and they will be very transparent with you because they want to see you enter into a career where you will be successful.”

    Young feels confident that her time at Darden has adequately prepared her for her post MBA journey. “The curriculum at Darden and learning how to wade through the unknown or tackle a business challenge with imperfect information will be extremely valuable as I begin my new role.”

    To learn more about the Darden employment outcomes, view our most recent Employment Report or listen to other career stories.

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    Q&A with Patrick Weeks (EMBA ’18)

    July 13th, 2017

    We recently sat down with Patrick Weeks (EMBA ’18) to learn more about his experience as a student in Darden’s Executive MBA and how he’s making the program his own.

    Patrick, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    My name is Patrick Weeks and I’m in the Darden Executive MBA class of 2018. I live in Alexandria, VA and belong to the Rosslyn cohort. In my day job, I lead business development and business operations at Sandboxx, a military-focused social media startup. I’m a Marine Corps veteran, and father to two boys, 1 and 4.

    Why did you choose the Darden Executive MBA and what has the experience been like so far?

    As a leader at Sandboxx on the business side, my goal is to leverage the Darden EMBA to grow personally along with our company. Honestly, the experience has exceeded my expectations so far. The Rosslyn-based network and the executive format are an ideal fit for my work. Our faculty is more than available to us—they truly invest in coaching and building a relationship with the class. Happily, I’ve found our curriculum immediately useful to my personal development and across business functions.

    What sorts of leadership roles are available to students in the Executive formats?

    Whatever your interest or personality, you can find a way to serve in a leadership role here. Besides Section Representatives who liaise with administration, we have Social Chairs planning activities for our on-grounds weekends. Career Reps foster career search opportunities and development. Admissions Reps support recruiting activities and host visiting students. The Community Outreach representative engages the class in local service opportunities. Lastly, there’s the Honor Rep.

    You are the honor representative for the Rosslyn section of EMBA. Can you tell us a little bit about this role and why it was something you wanted to take on?

    As Honor Representative, I serve as a liaison between our class and the school on any Honor or disciplinary matters. I communicate Honor Code related matters to my classmates. As I got to know the University history and brand, I was impressed by the commitment to the Honor Code. With roots going back to Thomas Jefferson himself, the Honor Code still makes a significant impact at the school. With high expectations for student integrity, UVA lives a culture of generous trust in students and strict discipline in violations. Impressively, the entire Honor structure at Darden, and UVA more broadly, is student-led.

    Why is Darden’s Honor Code important to you? What role did the Honor Code play in your decision-making process (if any), and how has it shaped your time at Darden thus far?

    The Honor Code is very much a part of our common language and everyday culture. I remember how impressed I was with a campus tour the first week I visited Charlottesville. An underclassman ended the tour by sharing his belief and pride in the Honor Code. Today I’m proud to also serve in a small way by representing the Honor Code and contributing to the culture of integrity and trust here. It impacts us every time we work on a paper or quiz, or speak to ethical matters in classes. The self-policing take home tests, for example, immediately differentiate this program from other schools’.

    Any advice to prospective students as they think about going back to school?

    What do you want out of an MBA and what do you want to invest in it? In my opinion, the network and brand has been as valuable as advertised. However, I would encourage potential students not to underrate the value of the classes and peer learning. The leadership development classes have genuinely made me a better coach at work, and even the class many fear most (Accounting) has paid dividends. There’s nothing more exciting than leveraging new skillsets to make a positive impact on the people and processes around me.

    If you’re thinking about the Darden MBA, please feel free to reach out to me. Happy to share. It’s the Darden way!

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    Career Advisor Spotlight: Mike Stevens

    July 6th, 2017

    by Sydney Sfreddo

    The University of Virginia Darden School of Business consistently ranks in the top-tier for their career services among MBA programs. To continue introducing you to the career advisors at Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC), this week we are highlighting Mike Stevens, Senior Associate Director of Career Education and Advising. Read more about Darden’s Career Development Center in the news here.

    How long have you been a career advisor at Darden?

    I joined Darden’s Career Development Center in January of 2017.

    What drew you to Darden?

    I’ve been career coaching on a part-time basis for a long time. As I thought about making coaching a greater part of what I do, I was looking for the right mix of coachees; smart, motivated individuals who engage with and challenge the process. The MBA student and program naturally fit that criteria for me.

    What did you do prior to coming to Darden?

    I spent 25 years working in senior executive roles for a range of industries including aviation, financial services, medical servicing and career management, and functions including marketing, operations and risk. However, a majority of my career has been spent in consumer financial services within marketing and GM roles.

    What is your favorite part about serving as a career advisor?

    Seeing people get where they want to go and being a part of helping them get there.

    What career advice would you give to an incoming student to help them prepare for their career search before they arrive at Darden?

    Be open to all of the possibilities that may be out there and don’t be afraid to explore them. Take the time before arrival to think about the attributes of a future role that are really important to you and then research the types of roles that can deliver these attributes. Talk to others who are in these roles to better understand them and what it takes to be successful. There are so many different opportunities, I don’t think it’s good idea to be tied to one outcome before walking through the door at Darden.

    What are a couple of hobbies you like to do in your spare time outside of the office?

    I enjoying golfing, water sports, walking my dogs and hanging out with my family.

    What do think is one of the biggest strengths of Darden’s Career Development Center?

    Many of our career advisors have spent a significant amount of time working in corporate America and have a great deal of industry experience. We understand the theory, but we also know first-hand what companies are looking for in job candidates. We have sat on the other side of the desk and have interviewed and hired candidates for the kinds of jobs Darden students are applying for. This insight helps us to better prepare students for their career search and interviews.

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    Simonas Matulionis (MBA ’17) Discusses Career Change to Consulting

    June 28th, 2017

    By Sydney Sfreddo

    Simonas Matulionis, a recent Darden graduate of the Class of 2017, took time to reflect on his Darden experience and how it enabled him to change careers from equity research to consulting. This summer he will begin working full-time for Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Dallas.

    “An MBA was always a part of my game plan after completing my undergraduate education,” Matulionis said. “I learned about Darden through a co-worker, and when I came to visit I was blown away by the community, the people who were here, and how everyone was like a family. The class visits were amazing as well, and experiencing the case method made me realize how I needed to be in this environment where the students really cared in the classroom.”

    When Matulionis first arrived at Darden, he didn’t know what the next steps in his career looked like until he began researching different industries and learned more about consulting. “I started researching different consulting companies and fell in love with BCG from the beginning. It was my top company going into recruiting,” Matulionis recalled.

    There were a number of resources Matulionis utilized to work towards achieving his goal of working at BCG including his Career Development Center (CDC) Second Year Coach, CDC Career Education workshops, and the Darden alumni network at BCG. “My coach had advice that was very insightful since he had just gone through the same process I was about to go through. The CDC workshops were also helpful for learning what to expect in a consulting interview and how to reach out to people,” Matulionis said.

    Matulionis landed an internship with BCG, where he embraced the consulting culture working with partners on business strategy, planning for potential client-facing work, and learning what being on a case team was like. His internship then converted into a full-time offer with BCG in Dallas. “The Darden classroom mixed teaching technical skills with thinking about problems broadly and being able to speak to those problems. My decision analysis courses were also very important for preparing me for consulting,” Matulionis said.

    Matulionis ended with sharing his advice for the incoming Class of 2019 and beginning their career search. “Really try to find where you resonate with the people that you talk to because it’s a two-way street. You have to make sure that you know you can appreciate the people that you work with and work well with them. Also, be natural in your conversations with people and don’t try to be too methodical in your approach to recruiting.”

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    Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference

    June 22nd, 2017

    We just returned from the annual Forte MBA Leadership Conference held at Amazon in Seattle this year. The conference was sold out with 633 women attending, a host of inspirational speakers, top companies looking to mingle with the Class of 2019 and a power pitch competition for aspiring entrepreneurs.

    Darden Forte Fellows

    Incoming Darden Forte Fellows supporting Second Year Meg Greenhalgh in the Power Pitch competition

    As you may know, the Forté Foundation is a non-profit consortium of leading companies and business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities and a network of successful women. Darden is proud to be a sponsor school, and we hope to see you at a future leadership conference or event!

    Check out the schedule for 2017 Forté Forums. Registration opens July 10.

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    Career Advisor Spotlight: Reid Thompson

    June 21st, 2017

    by Sydney Sfreddo

    The University of Virginia Darden School of Business consistently ranks in the top-tier for their career services among MBA programs. To continue introducing you to the career advisors at Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC), this week we are highlighting Reid Thompson (MBA ’09), assistant director of career education and advising. Read more about Darden’s Career Development Center in the news here.

    How long have you been a career advisor at Darden?

    I have been a career advisor since September of 2015.

    What did you do prior to coming to Darden?

    I graduated from Darden in 2009, and I always had a personal long-term goal to return to Charlottesville. After graduation, I worked in North Carolina for a bank in a leadership development program and held some interesting roles there. I then left to join a multicultural consulting firm in the Washington, D.C. area conducting market research. With my background in financial services and consumer insights, I decided to pursue entrepreneurial activity. A friend and I had an online start-up, and I also worked in marketing for a fintech start-up for a little over a year. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial way of working and that there was nothing holding you back except your own ideas and ambition. However, I was looking for something more steady and encountered the career advising role at Darden. I knew I liked being surrounded by the faculty and students, and I’m passionate about helping people meet their goals and ended up in my current role.

    What is your favorite part about serving as a career advisor?

    Seeing the variety of experiences that Darden students already have and the ambitions they have to go on to even greater things. It’s inspiring and really energizing to see that and be a part of that everyday.

    What career advice would you give to an incoming student to help them prepare for their career search before they arrive at Darden?

    Talk to people and network. While your personal network is about to grow exponentially, you’re coming into Darden with a tremendous asset with your existing network. As you move to a new city, you want to cultivate your network, but also keep your network alive and healthy to be able to go to them for advice, ideas and job search support while you’re here.

    What are a couple of hobbies you like to do in your spare time outside of the office?

    Right now with a newborn, everything that comes along with keeping the household running. My wife and I enjoy getting out in the countryside on the weekend, going for a hike, visiting wineries or going for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the couple years we’ve been back in Charlottesville, there’s no shortage of places to explore or things to do.

    What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?

    It’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. Charlottesville has the best of both worlds. It’s not overwhelming like a big city, but it has all of the amenities of a big city including concerts, cultural events, restaurants and much more. There’s also natural beauty coupled with the historical and architectural legacy that exists here, making it a really unique place when you put all of that together.

    What do you think makes Darden’s Career Development Center unique?

    The CDC is an extension of the Darden program in the sense that it’s high touch and individualized, and we form deep relationships with students and will meet as many times as you want. We meet one-on-one to understand your needs and desires, and we also live the highs and the lows with you. We know the job search process can be difficult, but the CDC team is your ally and we’re almost as happy as you are when you land that dream job. I think it’s a luxury that Darden allows this individualized support and that we can get as involved with the job search as we do.

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    Future Year Admissions: Recommendation Letters

    June 15th, 2017

    When you are applying through the Future Year Admissions process, deciding who should write your recommendations can be a surprisingly tricky matter. Senior Associate Director of Admissions Katherine Alford is here to give you some tips on what kind of recommendations Darden looks for when you apply.

    Watch: Future Year Recommendation Letters

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    Q&A with Rising Second Year Molly Deale

    June 15th, 2017

    by Sydney Sfreddo

    Molly Deale, a rising Second Year and Forté Fellow at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, came with the goal of making a major career change. From managing a millinery studio in New York City and creating hats for film, television, and Broadway clients like Hamilton and Wicked to landing a summer internship in investment banking at Credit Suisse, Deale shares how the Darden journey has helped her work towards obtaining her career goals.

     

    Why did you choose to pursue your MBA at Darden?

    After going to NYU for my undergraduate degree, I knew it would be beneficial to gain an alternative experience in a place like UVA. When I started researching MBA programs, Darden’s case method was a huge selling point for me. I knew that I wanted to make a career change from fine arts to financial services and that gaining a strong business vernacular quickly was critical if I was going to succeed. I didn’t want to be sitting in the back of a lecture hall and I knew the case method would require me to stay on my feet and jump right in during class. Darden also has a very strong community mindset – I wanted an environment that would support me throughout my career switch. Both of these proved true and I was able to hit the ground running when I got here in the fall. Darden’s beautiful campus in Charlottesville was the perfect cherry on top of it all!

    What will be your summer internship role at Credit Suisse?

    I will be an investment banking summer associate at Credit Suisse in their Global Industrials Group. I will be joining their current deal teams working on projects that involve financial modeling and developing pitch books, along with other various tasks. I will also be supporting their senior leadership and learning about the company and its environment.

    What tools and resources did you use at Darden to have a successful recruitment process?

    My classmates, Darden alumni and our core classes proved to be some of the most valuable resources in the recruitment process. Many of my classmates came from corporate finance and investment banking backgrounds and proved to be a great sounding board for working on my story and prepping before interviews. I also leveraged Darden’s strong alumni network throughout the process. From job advice to mock interviews, I could tell alumni were committed to growing the Darden network at their companies. Additionally, my classes in finance, economics, and accounting proved to be extremely valuable as I was able to take the content I was learning in the classroom and apply it to the technical part of the interview process. Our professors are incredibly accessible in and out of the classroom and are always available if I ever have a question or even just to talk about life.

    What is your favorite club that you are involved with at Darden?

    Hands down Darden Capital Management (DCM)! We are a student run investment club with five different funds totaling about $11 million assets under management (AUM). Next year, I am excited to be a part of our leadership team as CFO after spending this year as the VP of Corporate Relations. As I’ve always been interested in investing and markets, DCM has been a great way for me to get involved and learn more about it before I even got to our first finance class. We welcome members from all backgrounds and though we always love beating our benchmarks, the club was created to provide a hands-on asset management learning experience for any Darden student. This year I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to go to Omaha with a group of 20 club members in January to attend a Q&A session and lunch with Warren Buffet, and tour a few of the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries. It was a surreal to hear Mr. Buffet discuss his story and investment philosophy in person and then see how his companies are implementing those philosophies. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity!

    What words would you use to describe the Darden community?

    Supportive, intelligent, fun, and diverse.

    What do you do in your spare time to remain balanced?

    I joined the Darden Racquets Association in the fall and enjoy playing tennis a couple times a week in addition to learning how to play squash. I also enjoy the Charlottesville restaurant scene, local wineries, and hiking.

    What advice would you give to the future students joining the Darden community this summer?

    Be yourself. As you begin the recruiting process, it is so important to stay true to yourself in order to find the right company that’s the best fit for you. Don’t be scared to put yourself on the front line and know that your story is what makes you stand out as the interesting candidate they want on their team.

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    Meet Darden’s Dean of Career Services, Jeff McNish

    June 14th, 2017

    Have you been following along with Sara Neher’s Admissions Talk Show? Sara uses her Admissions Talk Show to introduce you to different members of the Darden community. She recently sat down with Jeff McNish, the new Assistant Dean of the Career Development Center, to chat about what’s next for the CDC.

    Watch: Admissions Talk Show with Jeff McNish

    Want to see more from the Admissions Talk Show, as well as admissions updates from Sara? You can find a playlist of videos here.

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