Sheri Lucas — an EMBA Class of 2013 graduate and the vice president and strategic finance manager of Wells Fargo in San Francisco, California — shares several reasons why Darden’s Executive MBA format was a great fit for her:
“I was initially drawn to Darden for many reasons, including its reputation, the schedule and its use of the case method — all features I could find in many executive programs, notably those on my same coast. However, when I actually came to Grounds and ‘kicked the tires’ so to speak I was very quickly introduced to a sense of community that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Everyone — from the administration to the faculty to the students — is a friend. It’s a very warm and welcoming place, and a very tight-knit community. That was apparent right off the bat and it has been continually verified as I progress through this program.
I live in San Francisco which means I have quite the commute. I actually fly in once a month for every residency. As a frequent business traveler this is not a shock to my system and I often schedule meetings on the East Coast to coincide with my class schedule. Honestly, this is just the way of the world for many business people today — we’re often called to travel all parts of the country, and the world.
So the notion of flying 3000 miles to attend three days of class is not a major hurdle for me, physically or emotionally. What’s more important is my time here and all that Darden has to offer. That’s not to say the commute and the time zone difference are not a challenge. But the challenge is surmountable. I will say that one upside to the commute is the extra time I get to read cases!
In between our sessions on Grounds, we have both distance learning sessions and learning team meetings. In some cases, I’ve been able to attend the distance sessions but they’re also recorded so any of us can access them at a more convenient time. As for meetings, my learning teams have always been completely understanding and accommodating by scheduling our calls later in the evening for them so I have time to get home from the office.
But how different is this from business? We deal with time zone differences with co-workers, colleagues and customers all the time. This really isn’t any different. In fact, it’s easier because I’ve found my cohort to be so supportive and flexible in dealing with the ‘one in California.’
This takes me back to what drew me to Darden: the strong sense of community. After our very first few days together I felt a sense of fellowship that usually takes much longer to develop. How this school manages to generate that feeling of camaraderie is beyond me. I think this could be their secret sauce. Whenever the time draws near to our next on-Grounds residency, I get so excited because I get to see these people again. As if I didn’t just see them a couple weeks before!
You’re never an island here — your cohort is your support system, your net. Everyone here is invested in your development and success. They want to see you fly and this is a quality you don’t necessarily find everywhere you go. If I had to do it again, I would still choose Darden.”