Unofficial Darden Get Together in Tel Aviv: 27 May 2015

Our alumni sometimes host unofficial get-togethers to share their Darden experience with prospective students. Please see below for an invite to one of these events on 27 May in Tel Aviv, hosted by a group of alumni from the Class of 2006:

Get Together in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, 27 May

Three American Darden alumni, and one Israeli Darden alum, all from the class of 2006, are visiting Israel from New York at the end of May.

These alumni would like to invite prospective MBA applicants to join them in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, 27 May, from 6-830pm.

There will be no official program or presentation, and the dress code is casual. Simply stop by for refreshments and chat with Darden alumni who are happy to talk about their Darden experiences and what they’ve been up to since graduating. Two of the alumni are running digital startups, and two are in senior roles in private equity/banking.

To RSVP please email:

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Application Feedback Appointments Now Available

If you will be reapplying to Darden in the fall and would like to receive feedback on your application, you can schedule one 15-minute feedback session with a member of the Admissions Committee during the month of June.

At this time, we are not offering feedback appointments to applicants on the waitlist. 

This is an opportunity to find out how you can improve your candidacy for your Darden application for the coming year. Please note that reconsideration for the current admission cycle is not an option.

To schedule a phone appointment, please go to our Application Feedback page and select a time slot in June. Within 48 hours of signing up for an appointment, you will receive an e-mail with the name and phone number for the Admissions Committee member you are to call at the designated time.

We look forward to talking with those of you that sign up!

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From Combat in Iraq to Investment Banking

Poets & Quants wrote a great article about Derek Rey (MBA ’15) and his experience at Darden as a military veteran. The original article, by Ethan Baron, can be found here, and is also copied below. 


It’s not every MBA student who can list “combat” and “counterterrorism” along with “leveraged finance” and “investment banking” under the skills and knowledge sections of his LinkedIn profile.

Derek Rey, it should be said, is more experienced at warfare than he is at investment banking. For now.

During seven years in the Marine Corps, with deployments in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and southeast Asia, Rey built up a substantial skill set in high-stakes environments. He left the Marines in 2013, took aim at a career in financial services, and enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Virginia Darden School.

Like many U.S. military veterans, Rey has discovered that abilities forged in fields of fire have tremendous value in the business world. “You never quite know what the situation is you’re getting into,” he says. “Let’s say you’re doing a security patrol and you have an idea of where the enemy is located. You’ve received your intelligence reports. You know generally were they are but you don’t have any idea of what their exact position is, you don’t know how they’re arrayed. Are they ready for you or not? Or maybe there’s nothing there at all and it’s some kind of humanitarian crisis that you weren’t really prepared for.


“Once you get out on the ground you have to adjust on the fly and do the best that you can with the information that you have, and just get the mission done. That’s kind of a great skill to have.”

Across the U.S., military veterans make up nearly 13% of the graduate student population in business schools, according to the Military Times, a news outlet run by Gannett. Darden vigorously recruits veterans – they make up seven to nine per cent of each incoming class – in part because having students from diverse backgrounds facilitates learning under the case method, says assistant professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne. “That external perspective we really seek and build on,” says Grushka-Cockayne, who served as a lieutenant in an ordinance division of the Israel Defense Forces about 20 years ago. Additionally, veterans in the classroom model behaviors that are valued in business, Grushka-Cockayne says. “They are leaders, and so they are comfortable stepping out, they know what it is . . . to be decisive, and handle ambiguity. Those are good traits to demonstrate to some of the other students who aren’t as comfortable taking those roles.”

While veterans come into Darden with a range of abilities, they tend to share the ability to make hard choices, a key skill in business, Grushka-Cockayne says. However, she adds, students coming out of the insular world of the military “might struggle at the beginning in terms of the language and using the right terms and understanding the objectives when you’re making a decision.”

Although the ambiguity of combat operations strengthened Rey’s capacity to act effectively in uncertain situations, he did his best to minimize the unknowns before starting at Darden. For the former Marine captain, there were a lot of those unknowns, and he discovered that other veterans going to business school shared his mix of military expertise and business ignorance.


“What we really lacked going into the business world was those hard business skills – accounting, finance, operations, marketing,” Rey says.

Rey knew that at Darden, most of his peers would have much stronger familiarity with those fundamental skills, and even if he excelled at soft skills such as strategy, leadership, and communication, he’d enter school at a disadvantage.

“In order to operate in the business world and in business school you need to be able to speak the language,” he says. Though he was living in a remote area of Virginia before starting at Darden, he took online classes in financial accounting and business calculus from the UCLA extension program, “to just sort of sharpen my pencils before going into class.”


Rey had been born and raised in Vallejo, California, a half-hour’s drive east of San Francisco. “I’d always kind of been drawn to the military,” he says. But until the fall of his senior year, he’d made no moves toward service. Then the planes hit the Twin Towers. “That was kind of one of the catalysts in my life. It’s hard to explain, it was very moving. I remember that being the turning point.”

It wasn’t so much the attacks themselves that motivated Rey to choose military service – it was the nation’s response to the attack. “The images we were seeing on TV, everyone was kind of pitching in to help. I wanted to do kind of anything to be able to help, and if that meant helping prevent something like this from happening again, as a member of the armed forces, that would be a good cause.”

He enrolled at the University of Southern California, and joined the ROTC. Next stop was the Marine Corps. In his seven years as a Marine, he developed skills in areas including leading teams, communicating, and managing resources. As a captain in Iraq, he led a platoon of 40 soldiers. “These are your guys and it’s your job using the men that you have and the resources at your disposal to get the job done,” he says. “You’re managing from the ground right from the start. You learn the managing skills by managing. You learn communication by communicating with the men you’re with.”

As his service was ending, he was thinking about his strategy for reintegrating with non-military life – how to leverage the abilities he’d developed as a Marine. “Where does this kind of translate to in the civilian world?” he wondered.


Rey started reaching out to officers and former officers who were in business school. He researched business education, schools, and business in general. “I took kind of a full dive into it,” he says, and came to a conclusion about B-school: “OK, this is absolutely what I want to do.”

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business attracted a lot of veterans, as did Darden. Rey and his wife were expecting a baby. He liked both schools’ tight communities, and Darden’s small-town feel, he says. Darden’s focus on the case method tipped him toward the Virginia school.

“What I found really awesome about the case method was it was a daily engagement activity,” Rey says. “You’re breaking down the case in so many different ways that you wouldn’t have done if it was just one professor lecturing.”

Rey found that the case method also offered something else: an education into various industries he was not knowledgeable about previously. “Every case is from a different industry,” he says.

And he’s discovered that his experience with ambiguity gives him an edge in B-school work. “You never really have all the details that you would like, but you have to go with it,” he says.


In his personal life, Rey had managed his own investments and retirement funds, and found the work interesting. More conversations with veterans led Rey to focus on a career in investment banking, a field that appealed to him not only because he enjoyed working with numbers, but because it also involved skills he’d refined during his military career: communicating, analyzing and interpreting data, managing processes, paying attention to detail, and carrying projects through from start to finish. At Darden, finance courses firmed up his knowledge base, along with core accounting classes. The Financial Institutions and Markets course was particularly helpful for providing specialized knowledge about how financial institutions operate, he says. And he especially benefited from strategy classes, he says. “It’s good to know finance, it’s good to know marketing, it’s good to know accounting. Strategy drives pretty much everything.”

He received an internship last summer as an investment banking associate with Barclays, in the Technology, Media & Telecoms group. This school year, his second in the program, he was a portfolio manager in Darden Capital Management, a student group that manages money for the Darden School Foundation board.

In business school, he’s built relationships as close as those he developed as a Marine. “There was a lot of camaraderie in the military,” he says. “There’s just as strong or not stronger camaraderie with the people you’ve gone to business school with.”

After his graduation from Darden this month, Rey will return to Barclays in a full-time investment banking position in the firm’s Atlanta office.

Grushka-Cockayne describes Rey as “very clever” and believes his attitude toward learning has been a prime factor behind his success as a student and budding investment banker. Never afraid to ask for help, he takes a positive attitude into problem solving, she says. “Maybe it’s his (military) experience that puts it into perspective,” she says. “Maybe it’s having a new family.”

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Visiting Darden: Fridays in July 2015

If you’re interested in visiting Darden and Charlottesville over the summer, we have three opportunities in July.

At Fridays in July, you will meet current students and faculty, tour the Darden Grounds, and have lunch with members of the Admissions Committee. Although class is not in session, this event provides a great introduction to Darden and its tight-knit community.

Register for Fridays in July:

Friday, 10 July 2015
Friday, 17 July 2015
Friday, 31 July 2015

Open Houses and Class Visits will begin in August and September. Please go to our website for more information on Visiting Darden.

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Entrepreneurship at Darden: 10Thoughts

The internet is full of content to read – but how does an MBA student know what content is worth his or her time? That’s the problem that Jack Mara’s (MBA ’15) new venture, 10Thoughts, aims to solve. Through user recommendations, 10Thoughts curates a list of current articles worth reading and delivers them to you via email once a week (or through a visit to their website), allowing MBA students to easily target well-written, thought-provoking articles in their spare time, rather than wading through the sea of content that comes to them through various channels.

Mara, who is originally from Boston, MA, really wanted to take advantage of the entrepreneurship classes offered in the second year at Darden. In his Starting New Ventures class with Professor Saras Sarasvathy, he decided that his project was going to be helping fellow second years achieve whatever goals they had for the year. This broad idea led him to create plans for people trying to accomplish things such as running every day, quitting smoking, or reading more. Of the plans that he worked on, Mara felt that he was having the most success helping his classmates read more: he was recommending five articles a week, and his classmates were reading and enjoying them. A desire for more variety led him to ask several other MBA students for article recommendations, and when that took off – at the time, over 30 people were signed up for his manual email updates – he decided to make it an automated service. And thus, 10Thoughts was born.

After establishing his idea in Starting New Ventures, Mara went on to take Developing New Products and Services with Professor Raul Chao, where he continued to refine and develop 10Thoughts. From there, he began a Darden Venture Project (DVP) so that he could focus on 10Thoughts full-time — another perk of Darden’s second year curriculum. Professor Chao serves as his advisor for this project.

Mara credits Darden’s strong entrepreneurial curriculum and faculty with the success of 10Thoughts. Professors Sarasvathy and Chao were key in instilling the mindset of constant experimentation in him, and teaching him that true entrepreneurship is about the process of getting something to succeed. He learned that the idea for a start-up is irrelevant – you never know what ideas are going to work, but success comes from experimenting over and over. The more tests you can run, says Mara, the faster you can figure out what works and what does not.

Now, with its easy-to-navigate website (built by Mara’s younger brother, Jeffrey, a student at Lehigh University), 10Thoughts has over 800 subscribers from a variety of business schools. Users can sign up for weekly updates of the most popular articles, follow up to five friends for a more finely curated list of content they want to see, and even make their own article recommendations. And, it’s just going to keep getting better: Mara and business partner Jerome Hughes (MBA ’15) will be in Darden’s iLab this summer. Mara tells us his summer goals include developing an app so that 10Thoughts can be mobile, improving article curation and delivery timing, and perhaps getting some members of larger companies to recommend articles. He is also looking to grow his customer base and garner more feedback, so he encourages you to sign up for the service ( and send him your thoughts on your experience (

Best of luck to Jack, Jerome, and Jeffrey as they continue their adventure with 10Thoughts!

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Jacob Shmukler (MBA ’15) Chosen as 2015 FASPE Business Fellow

Jacob Shmukler (MBA ’15), was chosen by FASPE (Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) to be one of 12 business fellows who will participate in a two-week program in Germany this summer.

FASPE, a unique international ethics program now in its sixth year, explores the history of the Holocaust as a way to engage graduate students across five different fields (business, journalism, law, medicine, and religion) in an intensive study of contemporary ethics in their discipline. FASPE provides fellows with the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and travel in Germany and Poland, and helps them learn how to apply the lessons of history to the current ethical challenges they will confront in their own professions today and into the future.

Congratulations, Jacob!

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Forté Foundation Conferences for New & Returning Women at Darden

In previous blog posts, we have introduced you to the Forté Foundation, a group we partner with in their mission of launching women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities, and a community of successful women. Whether you are a newly admitted MBA student, or you are already part of the way through your degree, the Forté Foundation has a few events coming up in June:

For women newly admitted to the program, Forté’s Financial Services Fast Track is taking place in New York, NY, on 2–3 June 2015. An introduction for newly admitted MBA students interested in financial services, it provides an opportunity to learn more about the endless financial career possibilities for. The application deadline is 8 May 2015.

All MBA women are invited to attend The Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, on 19–20 June 2015. This year’s theme is “Let’s Power Up!” and will have thought-provoking speakers, customized sessions, and one-of-a-kind networking. The early-bird rate of $199 is available until 15 April 2015.

Darden student Rachel Penny (MBA ’15), who attended one of Forté’s conferences prior to her first year at Darden, tells us,

“What I loved most about attending the Forté Women’s Conference was being surrounded by so many intelligent, motivated women. Coming from a predominantly male-dominated industry, it was impressive to see the support system that women truly have in business through Forté and our schools.”

The conferences also provide new Darden students an opportunity to connect with classmates. Rachel adds, “I especially enjoyed meeting the other Darden women prior to coming to school, being able to build a foundation of friendship a few months prior to arriving.”

You can find more information about opportunities for women at Darden, including more about our partnership with the Forté Foundation, here.

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Alumna Profile: Hillary Lewis & LUMI Juice

When she enrolled at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in 2011, Hillary Lewis was no stranger to eating on the go. Already a Wall Street veteran, she was committed to both a healthier lifestyle and to gaining the tools needed to help her become an entrepreneur.

But what was she going to sell?

It was at a local grocery store where Lewis got the idea for Lumi, a cold-pressed, organic juice made from fruit, vegetables and an extremely high-pressure system. She’d read the label of a juice manufactured in New York that used high-pressure processing, and she decided to bring the method to Charlottesville and create a completely organic juice product.

“You drink Lumi today and you’re like, ‘Whoa, it’s really intense,’ because it’s so much nutrition and so much flavor. It tastes the way food is supposed to taste,” she said.

Lewis began the business process while still at Darden. After the idea sparked, she built a plan alongside her co-founder, associate professor of business Kenneth Lichtendahl, who had robust experience in the beverage industry.

Mentor and assistant professor of business Yael Grushka-Cockayne was also integral in making the idea a reality, Lewis said. “I’m really bad at organizing, but really good at implementing – and [Grushka-Cockayne] made me sit down and think about all the steps I needed to do to make this happen, from the start to down the line. … Support across the board from Darden has been completely amazing.”

This post is an excerpt from a news story originally published by the University of Virginia. You can read the whole article on the UVA Today website.

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Round 3 Application Due Today

Darden’s Round 3 application to the full-time format of our MBA program is due today.

If you encounter technical difficulties, please simply sign-out and log back in. If this does not solve your issue, contact us at or call us at 1-434-924-7281.  Please note that after 5:00 pm EDT we prefer that you email us with any technical difficulties. We will respond as soon as possible.

Good luck and we look forward to reading your application!

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Round 2 Decisions are Out!

Round 2 decisions have been released! Please check your e-mail for a message indicating a change in your application status, or you can log into the application system to view your decision.

Congratulations to the newly admitted students to the Class of 2017!

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