Spring 2017 Exchange Students at Darden

Five of Darden’s nine Spring 2017 exchange students from leading business schools around the world are now on grounds!  The remaining four spring exchange students will arrive in the next quarter.

The spring exchange students join the Darden community from the following schools and countries:

  • IAE (Argentina)
  • IESE and ESADE (Spain)
  • SSE (Sweden)
  • St. Gallen (Switzerland)
  • ISB (India)
  • MBS (Australia)

Please join CGI in welcoming them to Darden!

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Darden Worldwide Course: Data Science and Technology in India 2017

By Kristen Egan

Last week, a group of students from Darden’s Full-Time MBA format had the opportunity to experience India’s vibrant culture while digging deeper into the challenges of doing business in this developing country. The group was comprised of First Year and Second Year students and mirrored Darden’s global community with students coming from Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, and the United States.

While the Darden Worldwide Course focused on data science and technology and the role these disciplines play, students received a much broader perspective on business in India and its impact on commerce across the globe. “I think the biggest takeaway for students was the opportunity to see India’s thriving entrepreneurial spirit and to gain a better understanding of the complexity of demographics throughout the country – a country that is ranked 130th in terms of ease of doing business, “ said Casey Lichtendahl, faculty lead for the course.

Throughout the week students had the opportunity to hear from top executives at Nasscom’s Startup Warehouse, Walmart e-Commerce, Coca Cola, Times of India, EXL Service and the U.S. Embassy. Additionally, Darden alumni and entrepreneurs at Integra Connect, ZipGo and Yatra.com shared detailed insight on their companies and how their Darden experience has contributed to their success. Cultural visits throughout the week included the Taj Mahal, a Hindu temple and the Red Fort in Agra, and Humayun’s Tomb, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and a Sikh temple in Delhi.

Students from both the full-time and Global Executive MBA formats reconvened in Delhi for case discussions and were welcomed by VN Dalmia D’84 and Alumni Chapter President Akash Premsen D’08 to the Dalmia House for a networking reception with Darden alumni, faculty, and recently admitted and prospective students.

Second Year student Sarah Grothaus reflected, “While Darden consistently encourages us to be globally-minded, this trip illuminated the fact that there’s truly no substitute for witnessing and experiencing a culture on the ground, person-to-person. I was blown away by the forward-looking spirit and innovative ideas that India has to offer, and our trip gave me great insight into both the challenges and opportunities inherent in doing business here.”

Darden students hear from Guarav Agarwal D’10, Co-Founder of ZipGo – a smart bus app aiming to change the urban commute.

Darden students learn about India’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem at Nasscom’s Startup Warehouse.

DWC India group enjoying Tandoor-cooked Indian dishes at Bukhara in Delhi.

Darden students hear from Jitendra Gupta D’08, President of Global Operations at Integra Connect.

Darden students at the Red Fort in Agra.

Darden students at the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Darden students jumping in to help at the Community Kitchen at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi.

Darden students hear from Darden alum Alok Vaish D’97, CFO of travel site Yatra.com.

Darden students visiting Gurudwara Bangla Sahib – a Sikh house of worship.

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Darden Students Explore Cuba’s Economy in Transition

Darden students wait in a courtyard prior to a reception with Cuban students and faculty.

By Lauren Wallace (text) and Lisa Stewart (photos)

Thirty Darden students are on Day 5 of a week-long immersion course in Cuba. Since their first day in Havana on 9 January, the group has attended sessions on U.S.-Cuba economic relations and foreign investment law; networked with students and faculty at the University of Havana; toured the sites of Havana in vintage cars; visited the Museum of Revolucion; and attended a tourist artist workshop. The theme of this Darden.Worldwide Course in Cuba is Economy in Transition—designed to give students a deeper understanding of foreign business in the context of Cuban history, politics, economics, and culture, as well as to explore deeper insights into the transition of Cuba’s economy from isolated to emerging.

As a part of this Darden.Worldwide Course, students were tasked with conducting small group research projects with local cuentapropistas, self-employed businesspeople, to gain a practical understanding of the challenges facing business owners in the current Cuban economic landscape. Before the group returns to the U.S. on 15 January, the students will experience one of the Caribbean’s largest resort towns, Varadero, where they will learn about and participate in Cuba’s tourism development sector.

Darden students visit a hospital to learn about the Cuban Healthcare system.

A Darden student team visits an organic farm co-op outside of Havana.

Darden students meet with a University of Havana faculty member over lunch to discuss their project.

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Visiting Scholar from Denmark: Kristian Nielsen

By Lauren Wallace

When asked how he first heard of Darden, Kristian Nielsen answered, “Well, that’s a funny story….” Kristian Nielsen is an associate professor at Aalborg University in Denmark, where he earned his MSc. in Macroeconomics and Economic Policy in 2007. While working towards his doctorate, Kristian was a little surprised when one of his Ph.D. professors encouraged him to go to a workshop on Effectuation and Entrepreneurship in Denmark. With his background in economics, he admits, “At first I was skeptical,” but ultimately he decided to attend the workshop. There he heard Darden faculty member Saras Sarasvathy speak on effectuation, entrepreneurial learning and decision making under uncertainty, and he was “so motivated and inspired” by her that he embarked into the world of business research soon thereafter.

By chance, Kristian was awarded a research grant that he did not apply for. At the time he didn’t know much about Darden, but he remembered the exiting conversations on entrepreneurial learning that he had with Professor Sarasvathy in Denmark and so he decided to reach out to her directly. He sent her an email detailing how he had been awarded a grant to do research, that he had been at the effectuation workshop and had had a brief conversation with her while there, and that he wanted to work with her on exploring entrepreneurial learning. Kristian knew the email was a long shot and that he might be “a big opportunity cost for her”, especially since he had just started his Ph.D. program, so he was really excited when her short response in an email was “‘Sure!’” Thus began Kristian’s affiliation with Darden.

Kristian moved to Charlottesville with his wife and six-month old daughter for the first six months of 2010 as a Visiting Scholar at Darden. Though inspired by Saras’ qualitative and people-focused research on entrepreneurship, he had always taken a quantitative approach to research and “wanted to do numbers” on entrepreneurial learning based on the highly detailed longitudinal register data managed by Statistics Denmark. Together, they researched entrepreneurial learning and what they later labelled Type 1 and Type 2 errors in the restart decision of entrepreneurs. That is, who makes the wrong decision not to re-enter entrepreneurship after failure (Type I error), and who makes the wrong decision to re-enter entrepreneurship after failure (Type II) given their probability of failure with a second venture. Their co-authored research paper on the topic titled “A Market for Lemons in Serial Entrepreneurship? Exploring Type I and Type II Errors in the Restart Decision” was accepted for publication in Academy of Management Discoveries this year. “You can’t help but be motivated by [Saras] both when it comes to her exiting research and insights but also her charming personality,” Kristian raved; “It was the best six months working with Saras at Darden.”

After “A Market for Lemons…” was published, Kristian returned to Darden to continue his research and be featured in some media interviews about the article. “We fell in love with the city,” he explained of Charlottesville, so returning to Darden in summer 2016 was an easy decision to make. Back in 2010 on his first venture to Darden, Kristian and his wife didn’t know what to expect of the city when driving through the farmlands from D.C. to Charlottesville. “It was in the middle of nowhere” and they had arrived in the snowy month of January, but they were soon charmed by the small town vibe and beauty of the city. The rich history, charisma, and community of Charlottesville pleasantly surprised Kristian, and he “was so inspired by all the student outdoor activities (running, football, soccer, etc.) on university grounds, even in the early morning and late evening”. He often enjoyed the walk or bike trip to Darden every morning in the warm sun— “That doesn’t happen here in Denmark!”

Kristian loved the open and welcoming community of Darden, where he would just sit in the library and work alongside students and chat with faculty. The “being in such and inspiring environment and the informality of it all allows you to get a lot more work done”, Kristian explained. He also became very inspired by the manner of case method teaching at Darden and is interested in utilizing a case method approach to teaching his macro- and microeconomics classes at Aalborg.

Kristian defended his Ph.D. thesis “Bringing the Person and Environment together in Explaining Successful Entrepreneurship: A Multidisciplinary and Quantitative Study” in January 2012 and now serves on the management team of the Danish Center for Entrepreneurship Research (DCER). Kristian hopes to continue returning to Darden on a regular basis and recommends that aspiring scholars and students run with opportunities that arise from chance. “This is still one of my main takeaways from the effectuation workshop in Denmark: careful planning and predicting the future might not be the best strategy when the future is uncertain”. Expanding on his chance encounter with Saras in Denmark six years ago, Kristian remarks, “You can plan a lot of things…but it was the best choice I made to go to Darden at that time.”

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2017 GEMBA Students on India Residency

By Lauren Wallace (text) and Ladi Carr (photos)

The 2017 Darden Global MBA for Executives cohort is finishing up their India residency this week after a full schedule of courses, company visits, and cultural experiences. In addition to their courses, the GEMBA students enjoyed receptions with alumni and prospective students in India as well as visits with local and global business leaders. This residency, which has already taken the GEMBA students through Mumbai and Agra to see sites like the India Gate, Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort, and allowed for discussions with top executives from UPS India, Oberoi, Eureka Forbers, Axis Bank, Udio, UpGrad, Coca Cola India, Times of India, Sciex and Dunia and more in addition to a full set of classes led by Darden faculty travelling with the group. The India residency will conclude in New Delhi this Friday, 13 January.

GEMBA students at the India Gate in Mumbai after taking a walking tour of the city.

President at Shell, Vineet Thakar (MBA ’08) speaks to the GEMBA group about his work in the oil and energy industry in India.

GEMBA students chat with EVP of Sales at The Oberoi Group, Sanjay Rai, at the reception at The Oberoi in Mumbai.

GEMBA students with members of the women’s social enterprise Lijjat Papad.

Foggy and cool day at the Taj Mahal.

Students enjoy a day of cultural site visits in Agra.

Students enjoy the optional traditional cooking class after business classes finished for the day!





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Darden Students Explore Business in Russia

By Anna Shakirova and Lauren Wallace

This week, 36 Darden students experienced the coldest day in Moscow in 120 years. On 7 January, the students braved the record-setting cold temperature at -15˚F (-26 ˚C) in the capital city on the first day of their Darden.Worldwide Course (DWC). “We are proud to say that everyone was prepared and we had a great time exploring Moscow through the city tour,” wrote Elena Loutskina, faculty leader of Darden’s inaugural DWC offered in the Russian Federation.

The theme of this week-long program, from 7-14 January, is “Adapting Products, Services and Business Models to an Emerging Market” in which Darden students are exploring Russian investment and financial processes, production systems, infrastructure projects, and economic growth. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the organization of its stock market in 1994, Russia is considered an emerging market only about a quarter century old. Being a multicultural, multi-religious, and multilingual state situated across Eurasia, Russia’s diversity and competing cultural and business traditions make successful entries and growth a great challenge in this market.

The Russia DWC is taking place in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, where students are currently attending lectures and receptions with Russian leaders and entrepreneurs; visiting major cultural sites like the Kremlin, Red Square, and the Tretyakov Gallery; and enjoying a performance of the famous Russian ballet. Students are studying firsthand the success, survival, failure, and contributing factors therein of multinational corporations entering and operating in the challenging, yet promising, emerging Russian market. The group will head to St. Petersburg to finish the program later this week.

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Q and A with Sophie Xiong (Class of 2017)

By Jacqui Lazo

Name: Sophie Xiong (Class of 2017)

Hometown: Nanchang, Jiangxi, China

Pre-Darden University and Major: Beijing Normal University (bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering) and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (master’s degree in economics)

Pre-Darden Employment: United Technologies, Corporate Finance

Post-Darden Employment: Credit Suisse, Investment Banking Associate


What motivated you to want to earn an MBA?

After graduating from college, I worked for United Technologies for six years. I really enjoyed the experience of moving to different countries and working with multinational teams. However, I also felt that I was missing out on the opportunity to work for and learn about different firms. I want to continue to work in finance, but I want to have greater exposure to other companies. Investment banking fits my pursuits, and earning an MBA degree is going to help me achieve my goals.

Why did you choose the University of Virginia Darden School of Business?

Darden has a strong presence on Wall Street. A lot of the alumni work in the financial service industry. I think these connections will be beneficial for my future career. Besides that, I really like the tight-knit community here. Students, faculty and staff know each other well. My classmates are just so brilliant and kind, and I want to learn from them and contribute to this community.

Describe your first week on Grounds.

I had never been to Charlottesville before my first week here. It is more convenient than I expected. I didn’t have a driver’s license when I arrived, so being able to walk to places and get chores done was important to me. I felt welcomed by the community, and I found Charlottesville to be beautiful and charming. Growing up in a congested and crowded city, I really appreciate the scenery here. I went on a hike during my first weekend here, and it was refreshing to me.

As a non-native English speaker, how have you adjusted to the case method and life at Darden?

It definitely takes time and effort to be able to speak in classes. My learning team helped me a lot. They encouraged me all the time and relied on my expertise a lot. I attended Darden before Darden, and it helped me get used to talking in front of people. It also showed me how to form my answers while talking instead of thinking ahead.

The professors are very helpful, as well. They often want to help non-native English speakers get into the discussion, and they do pay more attention to you if you speak less than expected. By the end of the first quarter, I really started enjoying the case method. First of all, it brings everyone’s expertise and experience into the classroom. I learned so much from my class. Second, the case method also helped me get to know my classmates better. We had fun in class. By listening to their comments, I understood them better. I would never be able to achieve this kind of connection with my class if it had been a lecture-based classroom experience.

How did Darden help you find and prepare for your internship?

My internship was with Credit Suisse in New York, and I am going back full time after graduation. The investment banking recruiting process was very structured. I think the most helpful things were the alumni and the Darden community. My target banks came to Grounds for recruiting. It wasn’t hard to gain access to alumni and network with them during the recruiting events and follow-up calls. I felt their true desire to help me understand the industry and prepare me for the interviews.

The Darden community was another huge factor for me to get the internship. I was never unprepared. I always had help when I needed it. My classmates helped me review my resume and cover letter. They prepped interview questions with me. The career advisors at the Career Development Center were always there for me, too. All of them were devoted to assisting me in achieving my goals. I am truly grateful for Darden and the support I received during this process.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

I recommend getting to know the community better before you make the decision about where to apply. Getting to know the faculty, spending some time with the current students and visiting classes will really show you what it would be like if you decide to attend Darden.

How did living in Charlottesville impact your MBA experience?

Because it is a less crowded city, I actually spend quality time with my classmates. I really enjoyed hiking with them, barbecuing with them and going to restaurants with them. If it had been a bigger city, I would have missed out on these activities.

What do you hope to do after you graduate from Darden?

Darden has provided me with an opportunity to switch careers and build connections. I would like to use all the things I’ve learned here to achieve more and all the connections I’ve built to learn more.


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CEIBS Students Explore Entrepreneurship at Darden and in D.C.

By Lauren Wallace

In December, Darden hosted its third International Partner Program with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Thirty-eight MBA students, two administrators and one professor from CEIBS made the trek from Shanghai to participate in 2016’s “Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Networks in the U.S.” international partner program in which they learned from Darden professors, guest speakers, and entrepreneurs from around the world.

The week-long program began in Charlottesville where participating students took part in class sessions led by Darden faculty and guest speakers, including Jerry Peng (MBA ‘03), CEO and founder of Vastly. Two of the class sessions involved “surprise” appearances from Tom Bandy, CEO of BandyWorks, and Manoj Sinha, co-founder of Husk Power Systems, both of whose respective businesses are subjects of case studies published by Darden. One student lauded the surprise guest appearance of Tom Bandy, who led the BandyWorks case study in a class session, saying it was “the most impressive case study I’ve ever seen.”

Beyond the Darden grounds, the CEIBS students met at one of Charlottesville’s newest startup accelerators downtown where they heard from local entrepreneur and businesswoman Tracey Greene, Founder and Executive Director of Charlottesville Business Innovation Council and the Charlottesville Angel Network. While in Charlottesville, the group also toured Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and UVA’s iLab, a startup business incubator. At the iLab, UVA student entrepreneurs Keaton Wadzinski and Jacob Hardin (both Class of 2017) shared about ReinventED, a startup company that they co-founded together in their early years at UVA. “[I] enjoyed very much hearing firsthand from the student entrepreneurs,” stated CEIBS student Helen Chen. It’s “really useful to provide startup [resources] for young talent,” another student observed about the iLab.

After experiencing the local Charlottesville entrepreneurial ecosystem, the group travelled to the nation’s capital to explore more about startup networks in the U.S. During the last two days of the program, students conducted visits to companies and incubators in the DC area to learn from their founders, managers, directors, and employees. The CEIBS group visited multiple entrepreneurial environments—shared office spaces and incubators that promote collaboration, provide support, and enhance community for startup companies and their visionaries—including Make Offices, WeWork, and 1776. Incubators and shared office spaces are “really good place[s] for startup founders to share ideas with each other and help each other. [They’re a] great place to start a business,” one CEIBS student stated.

At each of these locations, a panel of entrepreneurs shared their experiences, offered advice, and answered questions about their work, life, and startup ventures. Shy Pahlevani of HUNGRY and Gautam Chowdhry of LeagueApps formed the panel at Make Offices, and at 1776, Mason Chenn, CEO of MicroBenefits, and Chadwyck Cobb, Lead User Experience Designer at Sandboxx, both presented to the group. At WeWork, five entrepreneurs, all of whom operate their startups from the WeWork ecosystem in Crystal City, formed a diverse panel of speakers—each sharing about their respective entrepreneurial journeys with Cover6 Solutions, Tradeversity, Sunniva, Kevin O’Connell, and Curated Table.

Additionally, the group heard from other experts in the startup field, including a panel of speakers from LiveSafe, a mobile security platform founded to improve safety and crime prevention efforts; Chris Cummings, CEO of Curiosity Media, the world’s largest online Spanish translation service and founder of its interactive e-learning program Fluencia; and angel investor John May, Managing Partner of New Vantage Group and co-author three books including his latest Angels Without Borders: Trends and Policies Shaping Angel Investment Worldwide (World Scientific: 2015). These sessions provided “awesome insights about success and failure in entrepreneurship” and great opportunities to interact with entrepreneurs and businesspeople, commented CEIBS student Anant Mithal.

Darden looks forward to welcoming CEIBS back for another international partner program in Charlottesville and DC in 2017.

CEIBS students on the steps of Darden’s Saunders Hall.

Fourth-year UVA students Jacob Hardin and Keaton Wadzinski share about their startup, ReinventED, in the iLab.

The CEIBS group at 1776 in Crystal City on the last day of the program.

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Darden.Worldwide. Updates

Darden is active in many locations and regions around the world throughout the year. We recently pulled together summaries of our activity in some of those areas, including what we’ve done recently, thought leadership focused on the region, profiles of current Darden students and alumni from the region, and upcoming events. Check out the areas that interest you to learn about what Darden is doing all around the world!

Darden in Europe

Darden in Latin America

Darden in China

Darden in India

Darden in the DC Area

Darden in the Bay Area




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Darden Fall 2016 Exchange Student Farewell Lunch

Earlier this fall, Darden welcomed a wonderful cohort of exchange students from around the world. Today, they met for a farewell lunch and will soon be heading back to their home institutions. We will miss having them at Darden and are so glad they joined us this fall!


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