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 through the end 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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What’s the Big IDEA? Unique and Teachable Innovation Framework Enters the MBA Core Curriculum (Part 2)

This is the 2nd in a series of 3 multi-media posts chronicling a learning process which enables MBAs to make effective decisions when facing real-world ambiguity. By applying a unique innovation framework, MBAs and others can tackle the thorniest innovation challenges and create value.

The Challenge Is Made

On the second day of Darden’s new IDEA course (Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship in Action), five teams of students are listening closely as representatives from Capital One outline the challenge they’ll be tackling over the next seven weeks.

“Our competitors typically compete on the margins,” says senior manager Peter Olson (MBA ’14). “We want to compete on better experiences, which is a whole different way of thinking about it.”

Peter Olson and Amanda Lojewski Presenting Capital One's Challenge to Darden Students

Peter Olson and Amanda Lojewski Presenting Capital One’s Challenge to Darden Students

The question they pose is a broad one: “What is the future of rewards and financial services?”

The open-ended nature of the challenge is one that holds true across all 14 groups, from PBS (What is the best role for non-profit, public broadcast organizations to play in our increasingly connected world?) to Land O’Lakes (How would you increase understanding about GMOs and non-GMOs in the world food supply?).

This is intentional, says Professor Jeanne Liedtka, and it’s one of the aspects that makes the IDEA course such a contrast to the case method students have used so far. In a case, a question is framed, data is supplied, and the set of options for addressing the issue are relatively clear.

“This class gives them none of those,” Professor Liedtka said. “So they struggle with framing the problem, they struggle especially with getting the data, because the data is not easy to find, and then they struggle with the innovation part – to generate a set of solutions that’s not obvious from the outset.”

In helping students confront these difficulties, she says, “we create a set of expectations and beliefs about what decision-making looks like in the real world.”

In the Capital One room, the self-named “Dragons Team” (Stu Jansen, Eric Chen, Tim Brookins, and Gabriel Estrada) want more data. “We’re talking about incentivizing behaviors – it would be very helpful to have customer lifetime value statistics, spending statistics – do we have access to that?” Jansen asks.

Capital One Takes Student Questions

Capital One Takes Student Questions

Olson tells the group:

“I can hear in a lot of these questions, you guys are trying to hone in, get more specific. We actually want this to be very open-ended and broad. Because we want to challenge how things are being done.”

Afterwards, the Dragons debrief in the hallway.

“We’re going to have to get that data on our own,” Jansen concludes. “They were focused on the ideas component, but we want it to be executable.”

“But it’s a good point,” Chen adds, “that if you limit your scope, you lose out on potential ideas.”

The design-thinking mindset is sinking in.

Two weeks later…

Students have created design criteria and gathered research.

LISTEN as students tackle the challenge presented by LinkedIn with the Markle Foundation

In Section D, Professor Liedtka wants to hear from students about how the course is going. Rob Duggan, from the Land O’Lakes team (they’ve dubbed themselves “Team LOL”) raises his hand. “A lot of the work I’m doing feels very first drafty,” he says. Like most MBA students, accustomed to turning in a polished product, he’s a little uncomfortable with that.

It’s part of the challenge, Professor Liedtka reassures him, reminding them all that the corporate sponsors are not clients – they aren’t expecting perfection.

Later, strategy professor Mike Lenox, who is leading the faculty team, explains that this is how IDEA differs from the experiential learning courses typically offered at other schools, which often look like consulting projects. IDEA is a core course, taught by key faculty, and the set of tools and concepts it is attempting to impart are just as important as the final products.

3

In today’s session, each team will present their design criteria to a partner team, and then both will participate in a few rapid-fire rounds of brainstorming, building off each other’s ideas in successive rounds.

The Land O’Lakes team (Rob Duggan, Sydney Hartsock, Jenny Newton, Carrie Lemons, and Andrew Johnson) describes how they narrowed the focus of their challenge, which is to increase understanding of GMOs. “We’ve decided to focus on food consumers, and within that, soccer moms – because statistically they dislike GMOs more, and they have a lot of buying power,” Hartsock explains. The team wants to figure out how to get their message across through “trusted sources of communication that consumers already use.”

Ideas about grocery stores, celebrities, parenting groups and school curriculums spin out, each idea scrawled on a Post-It note that gets read aloud and tossed to the floor. Later, the teams will organize their notes into columns, then groups, trying to put ideas together into concepts. Brainstorming, Professor Liedtka tells the class, is for coming up with ideas, and concept generation is about putting those ideas together in interesting ways.

WATCH as students work through the anxiety and ambiguity of the process

This is the heart of innovation, explains Professor Marc Lipson, another member of the faculty team. “You have to hold off on thinking about solutions and then let the little observations that you gather guide you in unexpected ways,” he said. “And it’s hard to hold off.”

Over at the Capital One group, the Dragons have gathered ideas about harnessing the power of positive peer pressure via social media and tying rewards to financial responsibility, among other things.

4

“I feel much better after today than I did last week,” Stu Jansen confides.
In fact, all the teams seem energized. Over the next few days, they’ll build the research and ideas they gathered into short “napkin pitches” – their first chance to put together potential concepts, and the next step in their learning journey.


Writer: Laura Longhine
Audio Interviews: Emily Richardson-Lorente
Photography and Video: Ashley Twiggs
Public Relations: Sophie Zunz

This post first appeared in the The Batten Institute‘s newsletter. The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation seeks to improve society by creating knowledge about the transformative power of entrepreneurship and innovation and by cultivating principled, entrepreneurial leaders. We invite you to explore their section on our websitefollow them on social media, or join the IDEA network on LinkedIn.

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Meet Darden Admissions in DC and NYC in June

Have you been thinking about an MBA and how to approach the application process? Now is your chance to get the answers to your questions: The Darden School of Business will host multi-school events in New York City and Washington, D.C. with several other top MBA programs in early June. These events are a great way to get a jump start on your application and learn about our schools.

Darden will be in New York City on Tuesday, 7 June and in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, 8 June. These are our first events of the new admissions cycle and open to all prospective MBA students, so we hope you will join us and bring your questions.

You can register for New York City here and Washington D.C. here.

Darden will host a number of other networking receptions in the US and around the world later this summer and into the fall. We will also host Open Houses in Charlottesville in September and October. We’ll begin to add events to our website over the next few weeks, so be sure to bookmark the page and check back.

We look forward to meeting you out on the road and on the Darden Grounds soon!

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I Am Diversity Video Series: Diversity at Darden

This is the third and final video in a series of three that explores diversity at Darden by talking with several current students. You can view the first video here and the second video here.

A core part of the Darden School’s mission is to foster a diverse community that broadens understanding and elevates performance. Diversity comes in many forms, including race, ethnicity, thought, and professional background. In this video, learn more about how Darden has transformed some of the ways our students think about diversity.

patricia

Watch video: I Am Diversity – Diversity at Darden

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What’s the Big IDEA? Unique and Teachable Innovation Framework Enters Darden’s MBA Core Curriculum (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of 3 multi-media posts chronicling a learning process which enables MBAs to make effective decisions when facing real-world ambiguity. By applying a unique innovation framework, MBAs and others can tackle the thorniest innovation challenges and create value.

The series features Darden student teams addressing business challenges presented by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Capital One, Land O’Lakes Inc., and LinkedIn with the Markle Foundation.

To learn more about the IDEA course, please visit our website.

Writer: Laura Longhine
Audio Interviews: Emily Richardson-Lorente
Photography: Ashley Twiggs
Public Relations: Sophie Zunz

The students are buzzing with energy and laughter, grabbing leopard-print tape and shiny bits of paper as they busily cut and glue their projects together. No, this isn’t Design School — it’s the first day of Darden’s new IDEA course, and these driven first-year MBA students are getting a taste of what will be a very different kind of learning experience.

“Design thinking is not just about thinking,” Professor Jeanne Liedtka tells the class. “It’s about doing.”

The Learning Journey Begins: LISTEN

What the students are doing today is designing wallets – a task that the professors are using to help students get a feel for the design thinking process.

Over the course of an hour or so, students experience the difference between designing a generic “ideal wallet” (based only on their own conceptions) and designing one to meet the specific needs of their partners, based on gathering data, trying out ideas (including a physical prototype), and getting feedback.

“Think about the job to be done,” Professor Liedtka told them. “The wallet is just an artifact. Think about the role that it plays in the life of the person you are designing for.”

idea2

Students Roll Up Their Sleeves, Create Rapid Prototypes and Test Assumptions

IDEA (the acronym stands for Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship in Action) is an experiential learning course grounded in the approaches of design thinking, agile project management, data analytics, effectuation, and lean start-up. By introducing it into the final term of the first year core, faculty are looking to move beyond the case method learning students have become accustomed to and challenge them to confront real-world problems with a set of tools that are built for ambiguity and uncertainty.

Over the course of the next seven weeks, students will work in teams to solve open-ended challenges presented by corporate, non-profit, and government sponsors like Capital One and PBS.

“What’s very unique about IDEA is that it sits in between a client-focused project without any process around it, and the highly structured decisions that are typical in the classroom,” explains finance professor Marc Lipson, another member of the faculty team leading the course. “It’s both a class and an experience.”

“What we’ve created are real challenges with real sources of frustration and real ambiguity,” he added. “But the purpose is to teach you that there is a well-established set of steps you can take to make meaningful steps forward in that environment.”

idea3

Darden Professor Marc Lipson and 1 of 5 Student Sections on Day 1 of the IDEA Course

Tomorrow, students will be meeting with their sponsors. Today, the teams will get together for the first time to figure out how they will work together and create a design brief-a first pass at framing the problem they intend to address.

As they move from debriefing the wallet exercise to talking about the challenges ahead, the students get quiet. Professor Liedtka reminds them that they can still have fun.

“Get into your challenge,” she says, “and see where it takes you.”


This post first appeared in the The Batten Institute‘s newsletter. The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation seeks to improve society by creating knowledge about the transformative power of entrepreneurship and innovation and by cultivating principled, entrepreneurial leaders. We invite you to explore their section on our website, follow them on social media, or join the IDEA network on LinkedIn.

Leave a comment

I Am Diversity Video Series: My Darden

This is the second video in a series of three that explores diversity at Darden by talking with several current students. You can view the first video here.

A core part of the Darden School’s mission is to foster a diverse community that broadens understanding and elevates performance. Diversity comes in many forms, including race, ethnicity, thought, and professional background. In this video, Darden students discuss the contributions they made to Darden’s diverse culture, as well as the lessons they will be taking with them.

sohrab

Watch video: I Am Diversity – My Darden

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I Am Diversity Video Series: Meet Our Students

This is the first video in a series of three that explores diversity at Darden by talking with several current students. Check back next week for the second video!

A core part of the Darden School’s mission is to foster a diverse community that broadens understanding and elevates performance. Diversity comes in many forms, including race, ethnicity, thought, and professional background. In this video, meet some of Darden’s students and learn more about the unique perspectives they bring to the classroom.

video

Watch: I Am Diversity – Meet Our Students

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Upcoming Webinar: Diversity at Darden

Mark your calendars: Darden Admissions is back in the studio with a new webinar this week.

Diversity at Darden
Friday, 6 May 2016
1:30-2:30 pm
Register Here

Diversity comes in many forms, including race, ethnicity, thought, and professional background. During this webinar, Karen Ohen, Associate Director of Diversity Recruitment, will talk to two current Darden students about their business school experience so far, especially as it relates to all the different forms of diversity. This webinar will include a Q&A, so please bring your questions about the application process, business school, the job hunt, and more!

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Darden News Roundup – Week of 29 April

On Fridays, we round up some of the best Darden stories – from UVA and beyond! Check back each week to stay up to date on Darden’s highlights.

The Coke Bottle: The Plan to Use a Plant to Help the Planet
Darden Ideas to Action, 26 April 2016

Batten’s Innovators’ Roundtable Explores Role of Big Data Reshaping Industries
Darden News & Events, 25 April 2016

AHS students first high schoolers accepted to Darden i.Lab
Charlottesville Tomorrow, 21 April 2016

Cargill CEO Talks Sustainability, Ethics at UVA Darden
Darden News & Events, 21 April 2016

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Recruiting Tips for International Students

Admissions Dean Sara Neher is back in the studio with the Admissions Talk Show. In the latest edition, she chats with Denise Karaoli, Senior Associate Director of International Programs for the Career Development Center.

Sara’s interview with Denise is in two parts. In Part 1, Denise shares some information about the work she does to help international students get the jobs they want after graduation. In Part 2, she shares helpful tips for international students on how they can prepare for recruiting for their post-MBA career.

denise

Watch: Part 1

Watch: Part 2

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