This week is a very exciting one for women at Darden. We kicked off the week with the Women at Darden Open House, where prospective students got to visit classes, talk with current students, and hear from Senior Associate Dean and Global Chief Diversity Officer Melissa Thomas-Hunt. Later this week, Darden’s Graduate Women in Business club will host its annual conference.
Leading GWIB this year is President Maeve McGilloway (MBA ’17). Prior to her time at Darden, Maeve worked in Financial Services at JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, and after graduation she will be join Deloitte for consulting. We asked Maeve a few questions about her time at Darden, her experience with GWIB, and more. We hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about our community through Maeve’s eyes.
During the application process, when did you know that Darden was going to be the place for you?
Having gone to a smaller school in a non-urban location for undergrad I knew I thrived in smaller settings and communities where I could get to know my classmates and professors and where there was more of an on campus (or I guess I should say on “grounds”) experience, so I was pretty targeted on smaller, tight-knit schools like a Darden, Fuqua or Tuck.
When I first visited Darden I went on a tour of grounds and my tour guide could barely walk down the hallway or finish a sentence without a section mate, friend or faculty member stopping by to chat or say hello. In retrospect this was a brief moment in passing, but it really embodied the community at Darden and it became so obvious that this was the very tight-knit and intimate group that I wanted to be part of. People always say business school is about networking and I think we should be aware of getting to know, and networking with, our own classmates and peers too, as those are the people I will probably be calling for jobs and career advice 10 to 15 years from now!
Once you got here, what was one thing that surprised you about Darden?
This may seem cliché, but honestly it is the people. I won’t do this justice, but never before have I met such talented, supportive and helpful classmates and friends. I remember during my second week of school one of my classmates, on his own merit and free time, volunteered on his Saturday to tutor our class on a Decision Analysis problem set. I never felt that people are cutthroat at Darden – if anything they have been more friendly and cooperative than I could have ever imagined. From practicing cases to planning section events, the typical Darden student is so willing to embrace this community and give back on so many different levels. While I had always heard about this, witnessing the people and the student-run environment is way more surprising and impressive than I could have ever imagined. I wish I knew Admissions’ secret!
Tell me more about GWIB and your role. What sort of things does the club do throughout the year? How does your position play a role in that?
I am the President of the Graduate Women in Business Club and while I am not in charge of one specific component of the club, like Academics or Corporate Relations, I act as a program manager who oversees all the moving parts to make sure everything is cohesive and that we address all part of women’s and our members’ experience at Darden.
My role is to support the entire GWIB community to make sure we all are empowering and rallying Darden women to succeed academically, professional and socially to be effective both during and after their time at Darden!
What I love about the student-run atmosphere is that it is really up to us (i.e., club leadership) to determine our scope and set the direction for the year – we really have such autonomy to do what we think will be most impactful at Darden. This year we plan to continue all of the awesome programming from year’s past including our annual conference, spring formal, First and Second Year mentoring and alumni leadership speaker series. That said, we also want to change things up; one example is having more social interactions across classes or building out better relationships with our male members (i.e., “men-bers”) to have more open dialogues that brings more awareness to gender-equity issues.
As President of the club I have a lot of high-level ideas and try to have a cohesive strategy of what I think will be meaningful to our members. Then it is up to me and my fantastic leadership board to deliver and execute on it. In truth, my board is who makes things happen… they really deserve all of the credit!
What was it that initially drew you to pursue a leadership role in GWIB?
Admittedly, if this were a year ago I probably would have been too intimidated to assume a leadership position, but two of my classmates (who happen to be women) encouraged me to apply. This very act of my female classmates and colleagues encouraging and empowering me to get out of my comfort zone and assume this role is a testament to the strength of the GWIB network and community here at Darden. I really wanted to give back to this unbelievable support network that helped me this past year or so.
You have the GWIB conference coming up – this year’s theme is Chart Your Course. What did you enjoy most about planning the conference? What part of it are you most looking forward to?
I really enjoyed having the flexibility to design the conference programs and schedule as we see fit, which has made it easy for us to execute on our vision. For example, a lot of us did not want our kickoff dinner to feel too formal or forced and therefore decided to host the event at a local restaurant that seemed more intimate and casual. Little things like that where we get to set the direction and tone for the conference.
I am most looking forward to our keynote speakers who are both incredibly accomplished women in their respective fields and both happen to be UVa undergrads: Kristin von Ogtrop, the former editor of Real Simple, and Kate Moore, the Chief Equity Strategist at BlackRock. Having met or heard both of these women previously, I think they are the embodiment of successful women who did their own thing (i.e., “chart your course”) and I am encouraged to see what insights and advice they have to share to our members!
Now that you’re into your second year at Darden, what is one thing you wish you’d known during the application process?
Talk to as many Darden students as you can! When I applied I was looking for names to put on my application to simply list off people that I spoke to, but I think if I had more thoughtful conversations I would have had more data points to really understand the Darden student profile and what makes the Darden student so unique. I think the average Darden student’s willingness to make time for admitted and prospective students is a testament to just how helpful they are, and will be, when you come to Darden!
What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?
I really enjoy the restaurants and bars at both the corner and downtown mall areas, and I am now exploring the Belmont area too. I think the blend of the undergrad corner scene with the more sophisticated downtown mall makes Charlottesville the perfect home for a late twenty-something.
My favorite restaurants include: Public Fish & Oyster, C&O Restaurant, Ten Sushi, and Continental Divide!
Tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.
- Despite being in business school, I am a huge history (namely U.S. President) fanatic and I would be lying if I said that Thomas Jefferson was not a factor in my decision to attend University of Virginia.
- Although I am in a leadership position and really involved on grounds, I am actually pretty introverted.
This year we’re asking applicants to share their favorite film, book, or song on the application. What’s yours? (You only have to pick one!)
Good thing I did not have to apply when this was a question – it is hard to only pick one!
My favorite film is probably Forrest Gump, which I guess stems from my love for modern U.S. history. I also really like the film’s 1960s soundtrack (which I guess partially answers the song question too).
If you’d like to get in touch with Maeve or any of the members of GWIB’s leadership team, you can find contact information here.