Executive MBA Alumni Profile: April Jones (EMBA ’10), Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications, Deloitte AG

April Jones EMBA' 10 Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications, Deloitte AG

April Jones
EMBA’ 10

Darden’s MBA for Executives (EMBA) offers business leaders an opportunity to pursue an MBA degree without requiring extensive time off from work.  Students get to experience the world renowned Darden case method of teaching and are able to immediately apply what they learn to their company or organization.

In the following interview, April Jones (EMBA ’10) discusses her view of the Darden EMBA program, balancing work, school and family and how she was able to apply what she learned in the classroom to the workplace.

April is currently the director of brand, marketing & communications for Deloitte AG in Zurich, Switzerland.

Why did you decide to get your MBA?

I decided to get an MBA for a couple of reasons. I noticed that many of my colleagues at work either had their MBAs or were pursuing them. I’ve been able to advance pretty rapidly in my career with hard work and determination, but I feel that having an MBA from a top-ranked MBA program will be critical in order to help keep me competitive for future professional opportunities.

How did you come to choose Darden’s MBA for Executives program?

I chose Darden because of its reputation, case study method, professors and the flexibility of the program format. Darden was one of the few programs I found that seemed like it would actually fit with the demands of my career and life.

What was your favorite part of the Darden experience?

The people in the program — both professors and students — have been my favorite part of the Darden experience. The professors are knowledgeable and engaging. The experiences of the other students are a great supplement to our case study discussions. Plus, many of the other students have become great friends.

Can you describe how you apply what you’ve learn in the program back in the workplace?

For me, there are two different types of applications for knowledge gained in the program. One is tactical skills. In my case, this is building on my accounting and finance skills. The second aspect is more of a mindset change, I think this is especially applicable for information discussed in our leadership, ethics, communication, and decision analysis courses. The case studies and the class discussions expand your mind on how you think about things or approach situations in the workplace.

Across the entire EMBA industry, there are far fewer female students than male. What’s it like being one of the few women in the program?

My entire career has been in organizations where the number of men has greatly outnumbered the number of women, so the gender split in our class doesn’t seem unusual. Our class is about 25% female and I think we are a very impressive group and have an equal place at the table.

How do you balance work, study and life as you pursue your Executive MBA at Darden?

It is a challenge balancing it all, but there are a number of things that help me. First off, both my employer and my family and friends have been very supportive of my participation in the program. They understand that right now I might not be able to do all of the things that I did before I started at Darden.

The format of the program is also really helpful for managing all of my commitments. Our distance sessions are all recorded, so if I can’t make the scheduled day and time, I can re-watch them later.

Also, since we have the full schedule for all of our on grounds date for the entire program, I can plan work and personal obligations around those dates. Also, my learning team is terrific! We share the workload and work through assignments together, we also help each other out when a team member has a work or life demand that pulls their attention away from school.

Learn more about Darden’s alumni network on our website.

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EMBA Career Support: 5 Ways to Avoid Disappointment

Deciding which MBA program is right for you can be a challenging, thought-provoking process. It requires evaluating where you are in your career, where you hope to be in the future and if you can make the time to pursue an MBA.

The MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives formats at Darden are great options if you have over seven years of professional experience and wish to advance your career by moving up in your company, switching jobs or starting your own business.  It is important when choosing a program to ensure that the stated goals of the program serve to bring you closer to your personal career goals.

In his article, “EMBA Career Support: 5 Ways to Avoid Disappointment,” Daniel Szpiro draws from his 18 years of experience with Executive MBA programs to provide a list of career-related questions to ask business schools when searching for the right MBA program for you.

His five major points are as follows:

  • Match your career goals to the MBA program
  • Understand hiring practices
  • Do your homework
  • Use the services you are provided
  • Accept that you own your career

Read the full article for additional information on career management support and visit the EMBA Career Advancement page on the Darden website to learn about the career resources provided at Darden.

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GEMBA Round Table Discussion and Class Visit Day

On Saturday, 23 August, you are invited to a special Class Visit Day in Charlottesville. Hosted by the Darden School of Business, the day will provide an opportunity to learn about our Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) format, get answers to your questions, and find out more about what makes Darden unique.

Join us for this Class Visit Day and you will:

  • Observe a Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) class led by a member of Darden’s top-ranked faculty (Financial Times and The Princeton Review)
  • Meet current GEMBA students at lunch
  • Engage in a Round Table discussion with GEMBA staff and faculty members
  • Tour the Darden Grounds

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Round Table Discussion with Darden GEMBA staff and faculty

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch with GEMBA Students

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.: Class Visit

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Tour of the Darden Grounds

Register for the GEMBA Round Table Discussion and Class Visit. We hope to see you soon!

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G.I. Bill Benefits for Veterans in Darden’s EMBA and GEMBA

The cost of in-state and out-of-state tuition is the same in Darden’s executive MBA formats. Depending on your level of eligibility, your benefits may include:

  • Tuition & Fees: Payments made directly to the University toward in-state tuition & fees (fees for room and board, transportation, books, laptop and supplies are not covered).
  • Monthly Allowance for Housing: A monthly housing allowance (MHA) paid directly to benefits recipients based on the basic allowance for housing for an E-5 with dependents for the Charlottesville zip code (22903). The MHA for recipients who are 100% eligible for benefits is $1,365 for 2013. Active duty members and their spouses do not qualify for this benefit.
  • Book Stipend: An annual books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year paid directly to benefits recipients.

Eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill is determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Over 20% of the MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives class of 2015 had prior military experience. We encourage you to learn more about the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits at Darden by watching MBA Admissions Dean Sara Neher’s video blog below or by contacting us directly at ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu.

Video: G.I. Bill Benefits for Military Veterans at Darden

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Developing Leaders in Darden’s GEMBA

Darden’s executive formats teach working professionals skills that they can apply immediately in their jobs, including how to tackle issues from an enterprise perspective and how to develop leaders with a global mindset. In the video below, Dana McNamara (GEMBA ’14) discusses how Darden’s Global MBA for Executives impacted her role at Sands Capital Management.

Video: Developing Leaders in Darden’s Global MBA for Executives

Learn more about Darden’s EMBA and GEMBA.

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Executive MBA Alumni Profile: Sean Flynn (EMBA ’09), Director, IBM

Whether you are seeking a promotion within your current company, planning to start a new business or thinking about a career switch, Darden supports you in advancing your career. Darden MBA for Executives alumnus Sean Flynn (EMBA ’09) received a significant promotion at IBM while enrolled in Darden’s EMBA format. Since graduating in 2009, Sean has since been promoted to director of a global sales team within IBM.

In the following interview, Sean discusses how Darden’s EMBA impacted his career and influenced him as a leader, businessperson and individual:

“Why did you choose Darden’s MBA for Executives Program?

When I applied to Darden, I had twelve years of professional experience. Nine of those had come as a military officer or working in the extended military community. I felt comfortable building and leading teams, but knew there were gaps in my skillset relative to corporate finance, marketing, global business and more.

In evaluating the elite EMBA programs, I felt Darden was distinguished by its focus on general management and leadership in practical affairs. I was attracted to a school that would deliver a rigorous curriculum through the lens of leadership. Darden appeared intent not just on challenging its students just to be better accountants or financiers, but to be leaders that make a positive impact on all around them.

What impact has the MBA for Executives program had on your career?

Sean Flynn, EMBA ’09

The program had an immediate and positive impact on my career. While still in the program, I was fortunate enough to be selected for a significant promotion. I applied lessons learned in the Darden classroom during a competitive interview process and apply those same lessons in leading my business unit on a daily basis.

Exposed to a myriad of challenges, industries and solutions during the program, Darden makes you comfortable in virtually any business situation. The Darden classroom offers perhaps the most rigorous training in the fundamentals of business available. The case method, however, is the essential ingredient. At Darden, the cases come at you with high volume and high intensity. Each case is analyzed individually, in a learning team and with the full cohort.

With its individual, team and class components, the case method builds hard-earned, deeply honed skills in working through business problems. While I certainly can’t predict the challenges ahead, there is comfort in knowing that I can draw on skills built in the Darden classroom in solving business problems as they arise.

How did the program change you as a leader, as a businessperson and as an individual?

I honestly feel that the entirety of my professional experience and education prior to Darden was focused on task excellence. I felt extraordinarily wellequipped to lead teams to the accomplishment of specific tasks in even the most resource constrained, time critical environment. While not short of rigor, Darden offered another critical skill in building an ability to analyze situations to the five-levels-of-why.

I rarely evaluate situations in binary, go/no-go terms anymore. I believe Darden builds a level of sophistication in one’s thinking where you look at the impact of business decisions on all stakeholders. You also learn to leverage this understanding into more effective communication with all parties and more elegant solutions.

Perhaps the defining moment for me in this transition was in ethics class when presented with what I felt was a bold, bright line ethical decision. The professor challenged me to articulate my beliefs in a way that would resonate with an extended group of stakeholders and could be applied to other situations with equal equanimity.

Twenty-one months of academic discipline and intellectual challenge of this sort ensure that students emerge from the classroom with an unmistakable comfort in analyzing and articulating the five-levels-of why in any context. It is an invaluable tool for leading in the practical world.

Are there specific courses / classes / program features that stick with you today? Which ones? Why?

For me, it was a pair of the elective courses that I think about on a daily basis. The first was Alec Horniman’s course on “Leading Strategic Change.” As leaders, we are all faced with enduring through or leading change in business. I often think of Alec’s passionate discourse that, “leadership without change isn’t interesting, and change without leadership isn’t possible.” I also often quote his teachings on effective leaders being engaged…physically, emotionally, spiritually engaged in the success or failure of their business and people. You cannot spend time in Alec’s classroom and not develop an appreciation for his definition of leadership. Alec’s visage is singed in my mind as is his mantra that leadership is the art of enabling others to do things that they would not have done without you.

Ed Hess’s course “Organic Growth” was equally impactful. With his rich background in investment banking and venture capital, Professor Hess had seen firsthand what works and does not work in business. Often the best ideas are the ones that you fight the most at first contact. Professor Hess challenged my beliefs on how and why organizations grow with his deeply researched Organic Growth Model. He then presented pragmatic techniques like his well-vetted Learning Launch as tools for leaders to build growth engines in their organizations. Calling on Professor Hess’ lessons, I teach, coach and mentor my team every day to be humble, passionate operators.

What do you see as the value of the Darden alumni network? How has it benefited you?

I was surprised by how immediate an impact the Darden alumni network had on my career.  The Exec MBA classroom is filled with contacts that I work with from federal systems integrators, government agencies and entrepreneurial ventures. In fact, I was fortunate enough to be invited to join Congressman Dutch Ruppersburger’s Service Academy Nomination Board by an alumni connection.

Although I didn’t know it heading into the program, one of the senior directors of my organization is a Darden alumnus. As it turns out, we shared many of the same professors and cases 15 years apart. We often share stories of common classroom experiences and found the opportunity to collaborate on a number of projects. The new business ventures and opportunities that ensued simply would not have been broached without the Darden connection.”

Learn more about other Darden Executive MBA alumni who have furthered their careers and learn how Darden helped them successfully make that change.

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Final Executive MBA Application Deadline: 15 June

The final application deadline for Darden’s MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives is a month away. Please submit your application by 15 June to be considered for admission into the Class of 2016 with studies beginning in August.

Sara Neher, assistant dean of MBA Admissions, offers some advice for executive MBA applicants in her most recent video blog:


Video:  Admissions Video Blog: Darden Executive MBA Updates 

You can learn more about Darden’s flexible executive MBA formats on our website or by watching this video.

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A Format That Fits Your Schedule: Darden’s EMBA and GEMBA

The executive formats of the Darden MBA program are designed for professionals with demanding schedules. With the Darden EMBA and GEMBA, you’ll find there are significantly fewer trips away from the home and office than you might expect. To provide a highly engaging learning experience between residencies, you will participate in live online classes, work on individual assignments, participate in small group projects and learning team meetings, and meet one-on-one with faculty. You have the flexibility to study on your own schedule, yet have sufficient time at the in-person residencies to establish a strong learning community and network.

In the video below, executive MBA students discuss how Darden’s convenient format enables them to balance work, life and school. Learn more about Darden’s MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives on our website.

Video: A Format That Fits Your Schedule

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EMBA and GEMBA Final Application Rounds Approaching

If you are interested in applying for one of Darden’s executive MBA formats — the MBA for Executives or the Global MBA for Executives— there are two application rounds remaining for admission into the Class of 2016 with studies beginning in August.

The next application deadline is on 15 May and the final deadline is on 15 June.

If you have any questions about our executive MBA formats or the admissions process, you can schedule a one-on-one conversation with an admissions committee member by emailing ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu. When requesting a conversation, you can also include your résumé to help us better understand your professional background.

We look forward to reading your application!

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Ready for the Next Step in Your Career?

Whether you are seeking a promotion within your current company, starting a new business or thinking about a career switch, Darden’s executive MBA formats support you in your career advancement.

Top ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist and Financial Times, Darden’s Career Development Center provides executive MBA students with exceptional career resources and service.

All students in Darden’s MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives have access to the following:

  • Executive Leadership Coaching: As an executive MBA student you’ll work one-on-one with an executive leadership coach, benefiting both you and your employer.
  • Career Transition Resources: Transition into a new career using comprehensive resources including individualized career coaching, a 12-week Job Search Launch Seminar and the opportunity to participate in recruiting activities with the hundreds of companies.
  • Entrepreneurship Resources: Start and grow your company with a school ranked #5 by Entrepreneur Magazine.
  • Professional Advancement Course: Darden is one of the few top business schools to integrate a career management course into the curriculum.
  • Darden’s Alumni Network: Ranked as one of the “best b-school networks” by Poets & Quants, our alumni are known for their accessibility to students.
  • Lifelong Alumni Career Services: Darden’s Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services offers lifelong, complimentary career services to all Darden alumni.

Learn more about how Darden helped executive MBA alumni advance their careers by reading our career profiles.

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