Recent EMBA Happenings

A few weeks ago, the EMBA Class of 2016 went on a field trip for their Operations class. Because the students had a choice of a couple different businesses to visit, we asked two students who went to different locations to answer a few questions about their respective trips. Here is what Jessica Pearson (EMBA ’16) and Wes Blackwell (EMBA ’16) had to say:

  1. Which field trip did you take?

Jessica Pearson: Wal-Mart Distribution Center (Gordonsville, Virginia)

Wes Blackwell: MicroAire (Charlottesville, Virginia)

2. What did you learn from Friday’s field trip?

JP: How technology is improving information flow from each part of the process inside the entire Wal-Mart system of stores and distribution centers.  When customers buy things at the store, the point-of-sale generates information that can later automatically create an order from that store to the Distribution Center when a product reaches a predetermined inventory level.

It was also interesting to see how cost reduction with quality standards form major cultural values for Wal-Mart.  They stopped getting bananas from Chiquita when they could not meet demand and now source bananas directly from Cost Rica. This reduces the time to market for bananas and gives Wal-Mart more control on the ripening process so bananas arrive at the store at the optimal quality.

WB: First, I expected there to be a focus on “lean” operations at MicroAire.  After all, we were visiting there for Operations class, but I was shocked at how focused the leadership of the organization was on taking care of their people.  The President, George Saiz, hardly spoke of “lean” manufacturing techniques.  Instead he talked about “teamwork” and “empowering employees.”  These focus points were really evident as you walked the floor.  The lowest level employees really spoke the lingo of “lean management” because their leadership had delegated to them the ability to make decisions and put better processes in place.  It was just really refreshing to see firsthand.

  1. How did the field trip fit with your class? Or more specifically, how did the field trip help you better understand what you are learning in class?

JP: In Operations we are learning about Lean Thinking.  One key concept is “gemba” which means to observe and learn.  The Wal-Mart tour was a great way to go see for ourselves how a process can work, ask questions about bottlenecks (also known as capacity constraints), discover the challenges they face in delivering their products to customers and find out management’s top priorities.

WB: The field trip fit in perfectly with this class and also where we are as a cohort in our Darden journey.  There were the obvious examples on the manufacturing floor of lean management techniques.  A few different spaces in the factory were being re-designed and the employees were using the “kaizen” technique of analyzing their processes to improve them.  It was great to see all of the employees using the kaizen terminology.

  1. How do you feel this exercise is reflective of how students learn at Darden?

JP: Learning at Darden is very interactive.  The tour of Wal-mart is yet another opportunity to discuss business concepts in a real business setting.  Meeting with the General Manager for the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Gordonsville Virginia opened my eyes to the challenges he faces in balancing employee needs with their customers (the stores) and the corporate mission to “Save money. Live better.”

WB: What really struck me was how strong the company’s leadership philosophies were evident around the factory floor.  You could tell the whole plant had “buy-in” to the great things happening there.  This made me really reflect on Darden’s emphasis across all courses on “leading with an enterprise perspective”.  We were there for operations class, but there were some real key take-aways for other core Darden courses.  This echoes the Darden teaching method and how faculty really integrates multiple topics into every class.

  1. Anything else you would like to add?

JP: It was also fun!  Spending time outside the classroom with half the cohort gave me the opportunity to interact with people in new ways and learn more about them as people.

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GEMBA Student Webinar Now Available to Watch Online


Last week, we held a webinar with three of the students from our Global MBA for Executives program, so that they could tell prospective students about their experiences in the program, as well as answer any questions participants had. If you missed it, you can now watch the webinar here.

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EMBA Guest Post: Digging Up a Little Goodness in April

This past weekend, several members of our Executive MBA format participated in Building Goodness in April, and annual partnership between Darden students and the Building Goodness Foundation. Brendan Miniter (EMBA ’16) shares a few words about his experience being a part of the work:

“What we need is a sledgehammer.” And there it was, six words I thought I would never hear in earnest at Darden.

We were a few hours into a volunteer project at the Barrett Early Learning Center — an institution in Charlottesville that provides essential day-care and educational services to local kids – and in the process of putting in posts for a new fence, we came across a chunk of concrete. We knew it had to go, but it was the size of a small engine block and likely outweighed any one of us.

The project was part of an annual event called Building Goodness in April (BGiA), which is a partnership between Darden students and the Building Goodness Foundation. This year BGiA adopted nine projects around Charlottesville (seven private residences and two non-profits). Each section at Darden adopts one project, so the event is an opportunity for everyone within the Darden community (whether in the full-time or executive format) to form new friendships while giving back.IMG_3967.JPG

For us – the six representatives from the EMBA program – giving back meant taking out a concrete impediment. Someone had the great idea of trying to break the block into pieces, so with a large hammer we delivered our best blows.

Somewhere along the way – digging fence posts by hand, painting a fence in the blazing hot sun, and, yes, hammering away at a seemingly immovable object – it became clear that BGiA is aptly named. What started as a project to help a day-care center turned into an opportunity to build other forms of goodness. We had three full-timers join our efforts to paint a never ending stretch of fence, and we knew we were part of a larger Darden initiative to help the community. But what we didn’t consider was that we would also learn a few things about ourselves. There is an inherent goodness in the human soul, and seeing it come out allows for strong friendships to form. In the process, you feel yourself grow closer to each other, to Darden, and to the community at large.

IMG_6694I would like to say that cracking open that concrete opened a window into ourselves and unleashed good things for the kids at the day-care center. But on this day, the shovel proved mightier than the hammer — we never did crack the block apart, so we just kept digging until we could roll it away. But perhaps that is a better metaphor. Sometimes to build, you need to dig deep. The kids at the day-care center are building a brighter future every day through education. Fortunately, Darden gave us an opportunity to perhaps help them along while learning a few things along the way.


You can learn more about the Building Goodness in April club at Darden by clicking here.

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Enhance Your Brand to Propel Your Career: Webinar Available


Last month, Jack Oakes, from Darden’s Career Development Center, and Connie English, of Alumni Career Services, participated in a very useful webinar about propelling your career through your personal brand. For those who missed the live webinar, or those who want to listen again, the webinar is now available online here. We hope you enjoy it!


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Upcoming Webinar: Thursday, 23 April 2015

Join us for a Q&A session with a panel of Global MBA for Executive (GEMBA) students who will share why they chose to pursue the MBA and why they chose Darden. They will also share how the Darden MBA is helping them accelerate their careers and make an impact within their organizations.

You are welcome to submit your questions in advance of the webinar by emailing us at  You can also ask your questions during the session. Please note the webinar time is eastern standard.

We look forward to answering your questions about Darden’s Global MBA for Executives program!

GEMBA Student Q&A
Thursday, 23 April, 2015
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

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Upcoming Admissions Events: Boston and New York

Are you interested in learning more about Darden’s MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives? Here is your chance to do so in person at two upcoming events.

The Darden School of Business is pleased to partner with several business schools as well as Kaplan Test Prep for two upcoming admissions events in the Boston and New York City areas. At these events, you will have an opportunity to meet with admissions officers and alumni from top MBA programs and learn more about different MBA formats, admissions requirements, and unique program features. We hope you will join us.

Working Professionals/Executive MBA Forums
Sponsored by Kaplan Test Prep

Tuesday, 21 April 2015
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

MIT Sloan School of Management
100 Main Street
2n Floor, Room 233
Cambridge, MA 02142

REGISTER for Boston

Thursday, 7 May 2015
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

NYU Stern School of Business
Kauffman Management Center, Room 2-60
44 West 4th Street (at Greene Street)
New York, NY 10012
Reception to Follow in Room 5-50

REGISTER for New York

Host Schools:
University of Virginia – Darden School of Business
Duke University—The Fuqua School of Business
Georgetown University—McDonough School of Business
MIT – Sloan School of Management
New York University—Stern School of Business
University of Chicago Booth School of Business

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GEMBA Round Table Discussion

Rio de Janeiro. Shanghai. Mumbai. Paris. Berlin. San Francisco. A list of dream vacation destinations? Maybe. But at Darden, they are all places where you will live and learn in our Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) format.

As a GEMBA student, you will travel the globe while earning your MBA. You will fully immerse yourself in the social, political and economic realities of some of the world’s most dynamic markets. You will learn what it takes to thrive in the global economy. And you will gain a solid general management foundation – learning from both your accomplished classmates and a faculty consistently recognized for its excellence in teaching.

And with GEMBA’s unique structure – online classes coupled with six, two-week residencies spread over 21 months – you will only have 60 total days out of the office as you pursue your MBA.

Interested in learning more? On Saturday, 18 April 2015 from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm ET, we will host a GEMBA Round Table Discussion and Class Visit. Participants will have the opportunity to:

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

To sign up, go to GEMBA Roundtable Registration page. Current students and alumni consistently report that their visit was critical to their decision to attend Darden. We hope you will join us to find out why!

Not able to attend? As always, you are welcome to schedule a conversation with a member of our admissions team.

We hope to see you soon!

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Women’s Event in Washington D.C.

Darden is pleased to host a special women-only event for prospective students interested in learning about the executive MBA formats of the Darden MBA: MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives:

Darden Women’s Event
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a lively mini case discussion led by Professor Lynn Isabella designed to give you a sense of how you will learn as a Darden student. At Darden, students learn through the case method – a collaborative and experiential learning approach whereby students discuss organizational problems and challenges similar to those they encounter in their jobs.

Following the case, Darden students and alumnae will share how they balanced their professional and personal lives while pursuing their MBA, as well as the impact the Darden MBA has had on their careers. Guests are welcome for the reception at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

We hope you join us for this special event. If you are unable to attend, we invite you to speak with a member of our admissions team to learn how Darden can help you achieve your goals. To set up a call, please email us at In addition, we offer class visits and other on-campus events here in Charlottesville.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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March Executive Open House

Darden offers two executive MBA open house programs in Charlottesville during the year, and we invite you to experience the learning environment as it is every day — open, engaging and proactive. This Open House is for prospective students interested in the executive formats of the Darden MBA – Global MBA for Executives and MBA for Executives.

The day begins with an actual case method discussion, as taught by Yiorgos Allayannis, a member of Darden’s top-ranked faculty. Following class, you’ll eat lunch with current executive MBA students. You’ll then learn more about Darden’s GEMBA and EMBA formats and hear from leaders in Career Development, Financial Aid, Admissions, and Operations. Afterwards you’ll get your questions answered at an interactive panel discussion with alumni and end the day with a tour of the Darden Grounds.

Students tell us that attending a Darden Open House was critical to their executive MBA research process and to understanding what makes Darden different.

Your spouse or significant other is welcome to attend. Prior to this event, registrants will be sent class preparation materials. Materials will be made available to late registrants upon check-in.

Executive MBA Open House
Saturday, 4 March, 2015
Register Now

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Upcoming Career Services Webinar

Defining your brand is essential to your career advancement. At Darden, we believe effective personal brand management requires self-awareness and reflection, a keen understanding of your target audience and the ability to expertly leverage core competencies, experiences and resources to achieve your goals.

Darden will host a webinar for prospective executive MBA students exploring these themes and ideas during a session entitled “Enhance Your Brand to Propel Your Career.”

Enhance Your Brand to Propel Your Career
Friday, 27 February, 2015
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.

In this webinar, Connie English, Executive Director of Alumni Career Services, and Jack Oakes, Assistant Dean for Career Development, will share with you some of the same hands-on tools and resources available to Darden MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives students and alumni. They will also explore the reach and impact of Darden’s powerful alumni network and the supportive community that defines the Darden experience.  Connie, Jack and a member of the admissions team will address your questions at the end of the presentation.

You are welcome to submit questions in advance by emailing us at or by typing them in to the chat box during the presentation.

We hope you will be able to join us for this discussion!

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