Visiting Scholar Explores Connection between Artists and Entrepreneurs

By Courtney ZerrennerAntoni Olive Tomas

Antoni Olive Tomas, Ph.D., is a visiting scholar to Darden from the IQS School of Management at Universitat Ramon Llull in Barcelona, Spain. Before entering academia, Toni worked for twenty-five years as a manager and finance director for industrial firms in Spain. His career and background in business management became the experience that he drew from to teach future managers when he stepped down fifteen years ago.

Toni’s stint as a part-time professor was brief, as he was offered a full-time professorship at the EADA Business School in the Accounting, Finance, and Management Control department two years later, teaching both finance and non-finance students at a school “very similar to Darden with lots of graduate students from abroad.” As a full-time professor, Toni was required to obtain his Ph.D., so he began his studies in 2007 at the Unversitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC), receiving his doctorate in 2010. He is now the Senior Lecturer at IQS teaching strategic management and entrepreneurship.

While completing his thesis dissertation at UPC, Toni encountered Darden professor Saras D. Sarasvathy’s work on effectuation and included insights from Sarasvathy’s seminal article, “Causation and Effectuation: toward a Theoretical Shift from Economic Inevitability to Entrepreneurial Contingency” (2001) in his dissertation. Since his discovery of Sarasvathy in the late 2000s, “Sarasvathy has been my academic idol,” Toni explained. He now teaches the theory of effectuation in his strategic management and entrepreneurship courses in Spain, and Toni believes that “while I am not the only professor teaching effectuation in Spain, I was one of the first.”

Toni explained further that there are many ways to start a business, including the conventional method of following a prescribed set of steps. However, there is also the unconventional method of effectuation which encourages harnessing the power of one’s own current means to create an economic product. “Teaching effectuation is less shocking if taught from the angle of entrepreneurship,” Toni articulated. He hopes that by the end of his course in entrepreneurship, the students will be able to successfully outline a business plan, either through conventional methods or through effectuation, because while “[the students] are very clever – they know how to send a rocket to the moon – but not how to write a business plan.”

Because students occasionally express dissatisfaction with doing business for the sake of generating wealth, Toni tries to frame business and entrepreneurship as “not just a way to become rich; it can improve living conditions, address societal needs and wants, and create jobs. Business is not just dirty money.”

Teaching, “and good teaching at that” has become Toni’s priority, and he spends “more time teaching than researching.” He is constantly looking for new ways to introduce concepts to classrooms, and he participates in a research group on bringing gamification and effectuation to students through in-class activities. His participation in the research group prompted interest from his university, and Toni received an invitation to apply for a grant to work and research abroad from his institution and a bank in Spain. He applied, and Toni was shocked when he received the grant, saying that he “didn’t expect to receive the grant, because frankly, I haven’t done much research.”

Soon after obtaining the grant, Toni contacted Professor Sarasvathy, asking to conduct research at Darden this summer. Sarasvathy and Toni met briefly in Norway at a conference to discuss details of his possible fellowship and research goals. Following their meeting, Professor Sarasvathy welcomed him warmly, and Toni arrived at Darden June 17, 2016.

Toni’s goal this summer consists of three assignments dealing with simulation games in classroom settings, and he will be researching whether you “can apply effectuation to create artifacts other than economic artifacts, specifically whether Picasso participated in effectuation by creating the movement of Cubism.” Over the past month, Toni has been pouring over art history books and texts on Picasso, and he is starting “to make connections between the creation of movements and styles by artists and the creation that occurs when entrepreneurs start ventures.” His other assignment is to craft a game to instruct students on effectuation in entrepreneurship courses. He is hopeful that the time spent at Darden will “allow me to better explain the alternative way of business by examining your resources and the contingencies that may occur” in classroom settings.

Speaking of contingencies, or “small disasters” as Toni likes to call them, Toni has encountered his fair share of contingencies upon arrival in Charlottesville. Between learning “how to run an American washing machine, how to run appliances, and how to use the kitchen,” Toni has troubleshot his way through the past month, including identifying a Craigslist scam during his search for an apartment to sublet. He will return to his own university in Barcelona in mid-September, better equipped to both teach effectuation to his students and to run American appliances.

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Student Returns to China for Internship at Johnson & Johnson

By Courtney Zerrenner

Luda Cheng (Class of 2017) worked for five years in operations at Procter & Gamble China before deciding to pursue an MBA as the next step to his long-term professional goal: becoming a general manager. After five years working on the operations side of consumer goods, Luda wanted to see more of the commercial side of business. He met two Darden alumni in China, one of whom had worked with at Procter & Gamble in the past. “We had a lot in common, and he really explained to me how Darden could help me excel in the business world,” Luda added. As Luda met more Darden alumni, he found the network to be tight knit and supportive. Impressed by this alumni community, Luda researched and found that the general management education offered at Darden would perfectly prepare him for his future career goals. He laughed as he explained that he was so convinced Darden was the best fit that when he received an offer of admission, he accepted immediately without hesitation.

Before he arrived , students from the Darden Asia Business Club contacted Luda to relay essential information about finding housing in Charlottesville, traveling to Darden, and life as an MBA student. Luda arrived on Grounds, eager to join any organization from which he could learn and be challenged. His second year career mentor, another former Procter & Gamble employee, was indispensable during the intense first year class and recruiting schedule. Despite the seemingly never ending rounds of classes, case studies, and recruiting events, Luda explained that his favorite part of first year Darden was working on a project with other students from his section for attracting mid-level workers to LinkedIn. Through generating ideas, creating concept, and testing their results, they crafted a mock user interface to present to the LinkedIn sponsors. The sponsors were so impressed that Luda’s group won the competition!

Between Healthcare Club, General Management & Operations Club, and the Asia Business Club, Luda met other MBA students with different backgrounds, nationalities, and future goals. While working on more controversial cases concerning leadership and business ethics, students’ opinions varied depending on their nationality or upbringing. Luda emphasized that “In questions of math, there are right answers. But legality and morality are different across cultures. There are different standards.” In one particular case, students discussed the ethics of a company paying children to work at their factories in the mornings in exchange for free education in the afternoons. While Luda and many other students argued that child labor is always inexcusable, several students maintained that child labor in exchange for education might be the best situation available in the country or region.

This summer, Luda is back in China, interning for Johnson & Johnson in Shanghai as a part of their International Recruiting and Development Program, specifically in marketing. The country by country focus of Johnson & Johnson appealed to Luda, because it is allowing him to learn how to uniquely position a product within a national market. His prior work at Procter & Gamble was business to consumer, but at Johnson & Johnson, the model is business to business. As a result, Luda must completely understand the complex products that Johnson & Johnson are marketing. The medical devices, specifically ultrasonic devices in Luda’s internship, are used in cancer procedures. Luda must be familiar with cancer treatment and the product when speaking with the doctors that purchase from Johnson & Johnson. Because of the nature of the business model, Luda’s work is much more relationally and technically driven. While having conversations with leaders at Johnson & Johnson, Luda realized that “by the end of this internship, I will have a very holistic picture of the world of business.” Luda believes that his five years at Procter & Gamble focused on consumer goods operations, his general management education at Darden, and his internship at Johnson & Johnson focused on marketing technical medical devices to medical teams “will have completed his exposure to all sides of business, from production to operations and management to commercial.”

Luda will return to Charlottesville to complete his second year in August, and he is looking forward to more time exploring Virginia, specifically Shenandoah National Park to indulge in his newly discovered love of hiking. He will go on exchange to Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of Management and Commerce in his third quarter of second year, before returning for his final quarter at Darden. After Darden, Luda envisions returning to China with his experience in the country’s market, operations, and general management education to work for a globally focused company.

Luda (fourth from the left) and other leaders of the Asia Business Club at Darden

Luda (fourth from the left) and other student leaders of the Asia Business Club at Darden.


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“We Will Leave This Place Better Than We Found It”

By Courtney Zerrenner

Stanley Kovak (Class of 2017), a rising second year at Darden, is currently completing his summer internship at ExxonMobil in Qatar.

Before Darden, Stan studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan. Following graduation, he worked at Lockheed Martin, focusing on production support of Counter IED systems, testing prototype designs, and creating demonstrations for customer sell-offs. The breadth of his responsibilities grew the longer he worked, and his newly assigned tasks within his team sparked an interest in finance. Transitioning from day-to-day operations to lead engineer on his project, he began to interface frequently with the finance team at Lockheed Martin and pitching products to customers himself. Outside of work, he read books to educate himself on finance: its concepts, strategies, and buzzwords. When Stan realized that he was more interested by finance than by his work in engineering, he decided that the next step for him would be to return to school for his MBA.

Familiar with the DC area and Darden’s reputation within in it, Stan looked at several programs, including Darden. The small, tight knit alumni base appealed to Stan’s desire for a more community-based MBA experience. Stan cites, “Alumni base was forefront in my mind” as the reason he chose Darden, in addition to “Darden’s strong program in finance.”

For Stan, Darden is “one of the best MBA programs in the world in terms of diversity and preparing students to deal with diverse environments.” From the international makeup of each Darden class, to the globally focused courses and case studies, to the world renowned and traveled faculty, Stan believes that “having an eye on international affairs and diversity gives you an advantage in the globally focused business world and Darden has that edge.”

When Stan arrived on Grounds, he commented that Darden did “a great job of connecting students with the Charlottesville area.” One of the more memorable events for Stan at Darden was the Building Goodness in April (BGIA) event, when Stan and his section rebuilt a home in the Charlottesville area. He remarked that it is “really fulfilling to see the reactions of the homeowners” after their homes have been demoed and rebuilt. He has found Charlottesville and the UVA community to complement each other, rather than some college cities which embody the town vs. gown mentality. Stan says that “very few people” he knows “have walked away saying that they don’t love Charlottesville,” and has found it hard not to love the city and its community.

As a first year on Grounds, “being at Darden has helped to solidify my interest in finance. It’s a two-year program but the start of a lifelong process of learning,” he further explained. Unwilling to narrow down his future to just one career track, Stan hopes that this summer at ExxonMobil will help him identify his strengths and areas of opportunity, rather than confine him to a specific industry after graduation. Darden, in Stan’s opinion, “opens millions of doors” and rather than close any of them, Stan plans to “take the opportunity that Darden offers [me]. To not do so would be foolish.” One of several opportunities that Stan took advantage of this year was the Sweden Global Business Experience (GBE), which focused on Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Sustainability.

Sweden has experienced a recent spike in startups, including that of globally recognized

Stan and his peers on the Sweden Global Business Experience.

Stan and his peers on the Sweden Global Business Experience.

music provider, Spotify. “Capitalism dominates the Western Business mindset, but socialism and startups are not mutually exclusive,” Stan observed. On the GBE, we wanted to answer the question “why are startups and companies being created in Sweden if it’s a socialist business environment?” Stan explained. Witnessing the complexity of the Swedish economic policies and industries first hand was “interesting . . . specifically to see a different model work despite the capitalism only mindset many of us have been taught.” Only a few days after the end of his GBE, Stan headed to Qatar for his summer internship with ExxonMobil.

Stan originally pursued interning at ExxonMobil for its finance opportunities, but he has found a new passion: the blending of finance with “engineering in an industry that is crucial to world affairs.” The Darden alumni base at Exxon reached out to Stan when his application was received, and soon, the intern class was chosen. A month later, Exxon offered two possible international placements to the intern class: Budapest and Qatar. Realizing that “this is a rare opportunity, and Qatar is wildly important to Exxon,” Stan pursued the international placement opening. He has been stunned by the diversity and depth of knowledge amongst the staff in Qatar and credits Darden for preparing him to be successful working with the team saying “Exxon is a confirmation for [me] that [my] first year at Darden did a great job at preparing me for this environment.”

Stan cites welcoming the incoming class of 2018 by the classes of 2016 and 2017 as one of his favorite experiences at Darden, and he is ready to come back for another year of Darden. “This is where we begin the tight knit alumni network” that brought Stan to Darden, “it’s the person you sit next to in class, that you talk to, you form a bond with, you become friends.” Stan adds that “it’s not Kool-Aid, I promise . . . it’s a belief, an atmosphere that is unmistakably Darden.” As a second year, Stan will welcome the incoming class, passing along wisdom earlier Darden students imparted to him: “we’re a part of a bigger whole striving for something better than ourselves. We will leave this place better than we found it.”

Stan and Sachin Misra (MBA '09)  connect in Exxon Mobil's Doha office.

Stan and Sachin Misra (MBA ’09) connect in ExxonMobil’s Doha office.

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Student Leader Sets Vision for Second Year

By Courtney ZerrennerSachin-Dixit-portrait_750x750

Sachin Dixit (Class of 2017) has spent the majority of his life in India, and he is now entering his second year at Darden. Before Darden, Sachin completed his undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics at the Indian Institute for Technology, where he studied nuclear physics and quantum physics, specifically their implementation in medical diagnosis. Following the completion of his engineering degree, he worked for seven years at Futures First in Gurgaon, India, as a trader specializing in interest rate markets.

Sachin was drawn to Darden after making connections with several alumni. They sparked his interest in the Darden MBA program, which he then researched further. His undergraduate courses were taught using the lecture style method, and while researching Darden, he realized that the Darden uses the case study method. A strong supporter of the case study method, Sachin felt that Darden would be a good fit for his future goals and former work experience, in addition to his learning style preferences. Having completed his first year, he is currently interning at Jeffries in New York City as a Summer Associate, gaining valuable exposure to investment banking.

Although most parts of his first year at Darden were enjoyable, Sachin acknowledged that “it was like drinking from a fire hose” for the first six or seven months on Grounds. He explained that the intensity of the classes and the extracurricular activities forces Darden students to identify priorities, and by the middle of fall semester, Sachin learned to balance the activities that he had chosen. During the rush of first year at Darden, he chose to become involved in the Darden Photography Club and the Darden South Asia Society (DSAS). His involvement in the two clubs merged in the “Best of Darden Talent” event in April 2016. Next year, Sachin will serve as the president of the Darden Photography Club and hopes to continue several successful events and partnerships, including the relationship with Darden South Asia Society.

The Darden South Asia Society fosters relationships amongst Darden students of South Asian descent, students who are interested in the region, and showcases the culture of South Asia and its many variations to the greater Darden community. Sachin explained that the club is extremely diverse in representation, with students from Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries participating in events and programs. This past year, DSAS participated in the International Food Festival, put on an event for Holi in Flagler Court, and provided food for all of Darden at the “Diwali Cold Call” event.

For the coming year, Sachin will be serving as the Vice President for Marketing and Communications of DSAS, and he is looking forward to increasing involvement of current members, spreading the reach of DSAS events, and reaching other stakeholders, such as alumni and professors, who have formerly been uninvolved with DSAS. He acknowledged that his first year in DSAS, several events were under marketed yet were attended by a surprising number of students. Sachin hopes that effective planning and marketing with greatly expand the reach of DSAS, and he hopes to share the richness of experiences and cultures of the students in DSAS with more students, professors, and alumni of Darden.

Additionally, while at Darden, Sachin had the opportunity to attend the Cannes Film Festival through the American Pavilion Cannes Film and Business Program in May 2016. The program is associated with an elective at Darden, “The Business of Film,” and ten Darden students participated in the group of around 130 students in the American Pavilion program. While in Cannes, Sachin worked for a production house for the entirety of the two-week festival, and he also managed to fit in over fifteen movie screenings over the two-week period. Most of the movies are not released yet to the general public, and Sachin loved the chance to see films ahead of their distribution date. He said that this two-week global program, overseen by Professor Yael Grushka – Cockayne, was his favorite experience thus far at Darden. He laughed as he explained that “it’s fun to be able to talk about a movie that hasn’t come out yet with your friends.”

While he enjoyed the bustle of first year, Sachin is looking forward to returning to his second year at Darden in August, with hopes for more time to devote to life outside of class. He plans to take advantage of the lighter work load by contributing more the clubs that he is already involved in and in events with his Darden classmates. Whether participating with his section at the Darden Cup, choosing photos for the Darden Art Project (DART), or planning for the next DSAS event, Sachin is excited for the opportunities that second year at Darden brings!

Sachin and his peers in Cannes.

Sachin Dixit (Class of 2017) and his peers in Cannes.



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Global Business Experience Inspires Social Entrepreneurship Enterprise

During her time at Darden, Heather Hellwinkel (MBA ’15) participated in the South Africa Global Business Experience. Read more on The Fairtrade Blog about how her experiences on the GBE, coupled with work she was already exploring, led to the formation of Finch & Vail.

Photo courtesy of Rohan Gupta (MBA ’15). 2014 South Africa GBE students. Heather is in the top row, center.


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W.W. Yen’s Success Story

Watch this new video showcasing UVA’s first non-U.S. graduate, W.W. Yen, who played a remarkable role in China in the early 20th century.

This video features and is moderated by Jerry Peng (MBA ’03).


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Kayla Cartwright (MBA ’16) Shares Reflections on her Darden Global Business Experience

Check out this new post on MBA Schooled, featuring Kayla Cartwright (MBA ’16).  She shares that one of her favorite memories of business school was travelling with Darden on the Brazil Global Business Experience.

2015 Global Business Experience Students in Arena Amazonia in Manaus

2015 Brazil Global Business Experience Students in Arena Amazonia in Manaus


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Global Leadership Ride: Normandy

This May, Darden ran its Normandy Leadership Ride program for the third, consecutive year. This unique program allows students to apply broad leadership lessons from the Normandy invasion to their own reflections on leading large and complex organizations, collaboration across units within an organization, effective leadership, and cross-cultural leadership.  The program is led by Gordon Rudd, Professor of Strategic Studies, U.S. Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting, and Bill Utt (Darden MBA ’84), adjunct Darden lecturer.

Poets and Quants and UVA Today recently covered the Darden Normandy program. Read their stories and enjoy the photos below taken by Jocelyn Recht (Darden Class of 2017), who participated in the Leadership Ride.

Darden Normandy Leadership Ride students gather at Falaise.

Darden Normandy Leadership Ride students gather at Falaise.

Students discuss strategy at Falaise.

Students discuss strategy at Falaise.

On Omaha Beach

On Omaha Beach

Normandy Leadership Ride students gather in front of Mont Saint Michel.

Normandy Leadership Ride students gather in front of Mont Saint Michel.

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Leading Globally: Insights from Andrew Rose (MBA ’03)

Insights from Andrew Rose (MBA ’03) point to Darden fulfilling its mission of preparing students to lead globally.

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Darden Convenes in China in May

During the second week in May, Darden’s Global MBA for Executives students, residential MBA students on a China Global Business Experience, incoming Darden Class of 2018 students from China, Darden’s Global Advisory Council members, and ten leaders from across Darden, including the Dean, convened in Shanghai.

Read more about how Darden strengthened connections in China and key takeaways from the third annual Shanghai Investing Summit, and this interview with Professor Elliott Weiss on Disney’s new park in Shanghai.

Global MBA for Executives in Shanghai during their China residency.

Global MBA for Executives in Shanghai during their China residency.

Scott Beardsley, Dean of the Darden School of Business, opens the third annual Shanghai Investing Summit.

Scott Beardsley, Dean of the Darden School of Business, opens the third annual Shanghai Investing Summit.

Darden Professor Elliott Weiss leads a discussion of his case "The Walt Disney Company: Mickey Mouse Visits Shanghai."

Darden Professor Elliott Weiss leads a discussion of his case “The Walt Disney Company: Mickey Mouse Visits Shanghai.”


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