Video Blog: DC Classroom Space

We were thrilled to see so many new and familiar faces at last night’s event at the Waterview Conference Center in Rosslyn, Virginia. If you weren’t able to make it, Brett Twitty shot the latest episode of his video blog while he was there – watch the video below to get an idea of our classroom space for the Rosslyn cohort!


Watch: DC Area Classroom Update

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Reminder: Join Darden in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, 4 May

Darden is thrilled to be hosting an Executive MBA mock case discussion and networking reception at the Waterview Conference Center in Rosslyn, Virginia, on Wednesday, 4 May 2016.

Waterview will be the classroom for our Rosslyn-based EMBA and GEMBA students, and we are pleased to offer you this opportunity to experience this setting first-hand in advance of the launch of our Rosslyn cohort this August. Associate Dean Ron Wilcox will lead the case, and there will be time to ask questions, socialize and connect with members of Darden’s dynamic network afterward.

For more information and to register, please click here. We hope to see you on Wednesday!

Not in DC? Bookmark our Events page to see when we’ll be coming to your area.

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Video Blog: Intro to Executive Format Innovations

As you may know, Darden announced some exciting innovations to its Executive formats (MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives) earlier this year. The Class of 2018 will be the first class to experience these updates, and we can’t wait to welcome them in August.

In the below video blog, Brett Twitty shares some updates on the admissions process and the new innovations. This video is the first in a series of videos and blog posts that will go into more detail about the format updates.

Click on the image or the link below it to watch the video.


Watch: 2016 Format Updates

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UVA Darden Executive MBAs Leave Legacy Through New Student Investment Fund

Story by Dave Hendrick

University of Virginia Darden School of Business students Phillip St. Ours (Class of 2016) and Brendan Miniter (Class of 2016) call the MBA for Executives (EMBA) experience a transformational one, a two-year program that has led to lifelong friendships, an expanded skill set and new professional opportunities.

As Miniter and St. Ours approach the transition to Darden alumni, they and many of their Class of 2016 colleagues are leaving their imprint on the Executive MBA, as well, establishing a first-of-its-kind Executive MBA Student Investment Fund (ESIF) that aims to be a permanent addition to EMBA’s offerings.

Although the fund will be a practical outlet for professionals interested in researching investment opportunities, managing assets and trading, there’s also an explicit attempt to more closely bind the students in the executive format to future EMBA classes and the Darden community as a whole.

“In your second year, you not only recognize the mark the MBA program is having on you, but also the drive to leave a mark on the program itself. A drive to build a legacy,” said St. Ours, a Charlottesville-based developer with a background in asset management. “Ten years from now, this will be a bridge to connect to the future cohort. That’s what the extracurricular experience is all about.”

The Darden Capital Management course is a well-known aspect of the residential MBA experience, allowing students to gain hands-on asset management experience among five funds with roughly $10 million in assets. However, there has never been an analogous option for the EMBA format, which was launched in 2006. The discrepancy is an understandable one, as EMBA students are only on Grounds intermittently and balance their Darden workload with full-time jobs and often families.

St. Ours said he found broad support and enthusiasm when pitching the idea to his EMBA colleagues, with a majority quickly expressing interest in the concept. Indeed, out of a class of 61,  more than 40 EMBAs began to meet regularly over the course of First Year to discuss the potential new initiative.

Given the widespread interest, the EMBAs realized they likely needed to think beyond Darden Capital Management, which isn’t structured to accommodate a large number of executive students with much different schedules than their residential MBA counterparts. Setting out to explore options for an extracurricular program geared exclusively toward executive students, the EMBAs met encouragement from EMBA Associate Dean Ron Wilcox and Assistant Dean Barbara Millar, who supported the twin goals of enhancements to the program and greater connections between EMBA students and Darden.

Wilcox alerted the group to endowment funds from the EMBA Classes of 2008 and 2010 earmarked for innovation in the EMBA program and tasked the group with forming an independent study group to formulate the nuts and bolts of such an offering.

Although setting up the new program was clearly going to be a significant time commitment, Miniter said he and his classmates were reminded of Darden Dean Emeritus Bob Bruner’s imploring of the EMBAs to “say yes” to the new and unexpected opportunities that would be coming their way.

“The question of ‘do you have time to do this’ comes up a lot,” said Miniter, a former journalist and policy advisor at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “Why are you going to Darden? You come here to do something different and make a change and do something that’s not normally done. You have to jump at opportunities like this that come along.”

A group of nine EMBAs took part in the independent study, doing the unglamorous work of devising policies and guidelines and soliciting support and feedback from faculty, administrators and alumni.

St. Ours stressed the work of a number of EMBA classmates that brought the fund from idea to fruition in such a short period of time. The inaugural leadership team includes St. Ours as CEO, Miniter as COO, Mac Livingston (Class of 2016) as chief investment officer, Generra Peck (Class of 2016) as chief communications officer and Andrew Zasowski (Class of 2016) as portfolio manager.

Eventually, the group settled on what seemed like three reasonable goals for the investment fund to achieve before the 2016 EMBAs graduated:

  1. Raise at least $1 in additional funding to grow the funds for investment.
  2. Make at least one trade.
  3. Develop a leadership team in the next class of EMBAs who could “take the baton.”

Any profits generated will remain in investments for now, and the ESIF team expects that members of a future cohort may devise policies and procedures around the use of returns.

“For this to survive, we have to manage that first transition,” said St. Ours, noting the complications of coordinating with a class with which they have almost no overlap. And yet, the groundwork for a smooth handoff appears to be in place, and St. Ours said roughly a dozen members of the EMBA Class of 2017 are interested in the program.

As they contemplated their first trade, the group of interested EMBAs recently engaged in their first stock pitch night, with a group of students offering a deep dive into an oil refining company. Such activities allow the fund members to both share potential expertise in their professional sphere — as well as skills developed or honed at Darden — while demystifying the mechanics of asset management.

Indeed, the fund’s backers believe the diversity of backgrounds among the EMBAs will make the fund a strong, nimble vehicle. Moreover, engagement with the fund could encourage future EMBAs to broaden their outlook regarding the sorts of professional opportunities available to them.

“The point in all of this isn’t necessarily to make this fund huge,” said Miniter. “There are two potential profits here: there’s the money, but the other is what you’re actually gaining from the experience. If you bring that kind of perspective to it, it brings a lot of clarity.”

With a foundation in place and the outlook for the fund secured as a credit-garnering elective for future EMBAS, the ESIF backers hope they are leaving a program that can be built on and enhanced by future Darden Executive MBA classes.

“We see this as an opportunity to continually improve and continually apply lessons learned,” said St. Ours. “We hope we can grow the asset base, but also every year grow the community.”

Although in its infancy, Wilcox said he had little doubt that the fund would be a long-term contributor to the EMBA program.

“I absolutely see this as something that’s going to continue,” Wilcox said, noting that his only concern will be finding enough course spots for all of the interested students. “It’s going to work because these guys did a lot of work.”

This story originally appeared on Darden’s News & Events page. To stay up to date on all current Darden happenings, we encourage you to bookmark that site and visit it often!

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A First-Hand Look at Darden’s Executive Formats

Over the next few weeks, Darden will offer several opportunities to get an insider’s perspective on the executive formats of the Darden MBA.

On Tuesday, 12 April, we invite you to join us for a networking breakfast at Waterview Conference Center in Rosslyn, Virginia, where our D.C. area cohort will hold classes starting in August.

Then, on Wednesday, 4 May, we will host a mock case discussion with Associate Dean Ron Wilcox in the evening, also at Waterview.

Brett Twitty, Director of Admissions for the executive formats, will be at both of these events, along with current EMBA and GEMBA students and alumni, to share more about our executive formats. If you would like to attend the breakfast, please register here. If you would like to attend the mock case, please register here.

We also will offer several opportunities to observe a class with Darden’s executive formats throughout the month of April. Sitting in on a class is a great way to get a feel for the program, so we also encourage you to visit Charlottesville to experience the case method and our learning community first hand. To see a schedule and to sign up, please visit our website.

We hope to see you in Rosslyn or in Charlottesville!

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Reminder: Join Darden in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, 2 March

Darden is thrilled to be hosting an Executive MBA networking reception at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, DC, this Wednesday, 2 March 2016.

This reception is designed to give you the unique opportunity to delve deeper into the Executive MBA formats of Darden’s MBA degree and to learn more about the exciting innovations that we announced recently.

Come to the reception ready to ask questions, socialize and connect with members of Darden’s dynamic network. You will be able to personally speak with students, alumni and admissions representatives, as well as hear brief remarks from Ron Wilcox, Associate Dean of The Darden School.

For more information and to register, please click here. We hope to see you on Wednesday!

Not in DC? Bookmark our Events page to see when we’ll be coming to your area.

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How Entrepreneurship Blooms: Learning How to Grow a Start-Up

Today’s guest post is by Elizabeth Goldstein (EMBA ’16). To learn more about Entrepreneurship offerings for EMBA students, please visit our website.

As part of my last term in the EMBA program, I am taking Starting New Ventures with Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy.  The class requires students to start a new company. Professor Sarasvathy serves as an advisor to the students.  She has a great deal of expertise to offer students as she is one of the leading scholars on the cognitive basis for high-performance entrepreneurship.

Professor Sarasvathy is a vocal proponent of “effectuation”, which is described as “a logic of thinking, discovered through scientific research, used by expert entrepreneurs to build successful ventures.”[i]   The idea can be thought of as the reverse of starting with a pre-determined goal.  The entrepreneur instead determines what goals can be accomplished with the resources available to the entrepreneur.  These resources include not only those directly controlled by the entrepreneur but also those of people among whom the entrepreneur can generate excitement about the project and who will agree to collaborate on the endeavor.  Partnerships with others adds capabilities and financial support the entrepreneur cannot usually obtain on his or her own.  This additional support allows the entrepreneur to formulate better strategies. It also provides the entrepreneur a bigger cushion to fail, but then to retain enough resources to pivot to a more profitable strategy.

Professor Sarasvathy encouraged my partner on my new venture, a fellow student in the class, to talk to people who have already successfully launched a start-up in the area in which we are interested.  We were thinking of working in the natural beauty space, so the Professor encouraged us to find someone who is already selling natural beauty products.

I looked on the Internet for a successful natural beauty company and found Farmacy (, which is headquartered in New York.  The company offers a line of skin serum, exfoliating cleansers, and lip balms made with Green Envy, a patented Echinacea variety. In response to my email inquiry, the co-founder of the company, Mark Veeder, agreed to meet with me at his Soho offices.  Before meeting with him, I went ahead and ordered on-line one of the Farmacy moisturizers.  I received the moisturizer a couple of days before meeting with Mark.  The product packaging explained that the moisturizer was, “farmer cultivated and science activated”.  It also told the story of how Mark discovered a new Echinacea plant variant.  I later learned that he had patented the plant 16 years before starting Farmacy.  The patented plant contains the highest known concentration of Cichoric Acid, which provides restorative properties.  Mark partnered with a farmer in New York to grow his patented Echinacea variety.

When I met with Mark, he told me about all of the partnerships he had successfully forged to build a meteoric brand.  The company started selling its product in September of 2015 and is on track to have $6 million in sales in 2016.[ii] Farmacy

One of Farmacy’s most important partnerships was with Sephora, which provided him advice as he developed the products with his co-founder.  Executives at Sephora were enthusiastic about the final products and agreed to offer them in all of its United States stores.  Once in Sephora, the products have become a favorite with customers.  Mark is now working with his co-founder on how to grow smartly.

Meeting with Mark, who was very generous to share his time with me, was an invaluable experience.  I was able to learn directly from a successful entrepreneur.  My one hour spent with Mark was more illuminating than all the start-up books I had read combined.  I was thankful to Mark and Professor Sarasvathy for suggesting the idea.

The meeting with Mark is one of the many experiences that I have found transformative in the Darden experience. It will be bittersweet when I graduate in May.  I will miss the camaraderie of my EMBA cohort and Darden’s fantastic courses and professors (the professors are as good as everyone boasts), but will be excited to put all my Darden learning to good use as I explore all the opportunities which opened up to me with my Darden MBA.



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Reminder: Join Darden in Chicago on Thursday, 11 February

As a reminder, Darden will be in Chicago this Thursday, 11 February, for a multi-school event. At this event, attendees will have an opportunity to meet with admissions officers and alumni from top MBA programs and learn more about different executive MBA formats, admissions requirements and unique program features.

This is also a great opportunity to talk with us about the exciting innovations that Darden will be bringing to its Executive formats in the coming year.

We hope to see you there!

Working Professionals/Executive MBA Forum
Sponsored by Kaplan Test Prep

Thursday, 11 February 2016
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Chicago Booth
Gleacher Center (downtown Chicago)
450 North Cityfront Plaza Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60611

REGISTER for Chicago

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
University of Michigan–Ross School of Business

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Guest Post: Wading in the New Oil


Today’s post is by Darden student Liz Goldstein (EMBA ’16), who attended a Global Business Experience in India this winter. For information on all of Darden’s global offerings for the executive formats, please visit our website.

I was one of two executive MBA students who joined approximately 20 residential MBA students on Darden’s Global Business Experience (“GBE”) to India which commenced on 6 January, 2016.  The GBE, led by Professor Casey Lichtendahl, allowed students to visit with Indian companies on the cutting-edge of data analytics.

One of the speakers on the trip, Rahul Kansal, was from the English language newspaper, the Times of India, which is engaging its readers both with a print newspaper and on-line.  Kansal spoke about several of the campaigns the Times had done.  In 2014, it initiated a campaign called, “Lead India”.  The speaker shared a video created to promote the campaign, which starts with a young boy with a cherubic face looking out a bus window to see why traffic is at a standstill.  When the boy leaves the bus, the viewer sees that he is dressed for school in a button-down shirt and khaki shorts with a matching backpack. The boy keeps walking until he sees that a tree has fallen and its trunk blocks the road.  It then begins to rain. While adults honk their horns and two government employees appear to sleep in their truck, the boy tries to move the trunk out of the way.  Some other kids quickly join him in the effort.  Despite the bad weather, adults leave their cars and auto rickshaws to help the kids with the tree.  When the group reaches a critical mass, they are able to push the tree trunk out of the way.  Traffic begins to move and the government employees wake-up.  The rain stops, the sun comes out, and the group that moved the tree begins to celebrate.  Most are dressed in Western clothes, but some are wearing more traditional clothing.  During the celebration, a Hindi song plays in the background with a line that repeats, “If you go, India goes.”

This advertisement can be seen as a good allegory for India’s future economic growth. If India is to succeed, the younger generation must be willing to lead a diverse group.  This is because one-quarter of India’s population are under 18 years old and 50% are under 35 years old.  India has over 22 official languages and a vast number of ethnic groups.

As we learned from a speaker from Vodofone, the government is often slow and dysfunctional.  The Vodofone speaker further explained, government efforts often consist of three steps forward and two steps back.  The video’s focus on a traffic jam is not surprising as India’s lack of infrastructure is often the constraint to further economic growth.  India’s roads are inadequate, electricity can be unreliable, and not all Indians have access to indoor plumbing.

Several of the data analytics companies that we met with as part of the GBE sought to turn these infrastructure challenges into opportunities with the use of data analytics.  As there is a plethora of traffic in Indian cities, two of the companies we visited, Flipkart and Amazon India, deliver goods directly to consumers.  Both Flipkart and Amazon manage their supply chain and establish the routes for deliveries through data analytics.

We also visited with Ola Cabs, a fierce competitor of Uber’s in India.  As the traffic in Delhi was becoming unmanageable and pollution a significant problem, the city has recently instituted, for a trial period, a rule where private vehicles are allowed to run on the streets on alternate days depending on whether their license plates end in even or odd numbers.  The head of Ola Cabs’ shuttle service explained to the Darden students that he saw the automobile restrictions as a boon to Ola’s shuttle business.  Ola uses analytics to develop the routes for its private bus service.  Ola also uses data science to provide dynamic, surge pricing for its taxi service.  One of the Ola speakers explained to students how Ola derives this algorithm from raw data.

One of the professors at the Indian Institute for Management Bangalore spoke to Darden students about working with a bank to use analytics to determine how to make credit decisions for businesses that have no credit rating, loan payment history, or substantial documentation to establish annual income and costs.

While we visited data science companies spanning many different industries, the data scientists who shared their basic methodology shared a similar approach.  Our speaker from EXL identified four steps in the process of using data to solve a business problem.  These were:

  1. Gather and Manage the Data
  2. Analyze and Monitor the Data
  3. Build a Predictive Model
  4. Incorporate the Predictive Model into Business Strategy.

With all the power that analytics can provide, our Amazon India speaker reminded us that not everything is predictable.  Thus, no matter how powerful your analytics tools are, they cannot be employed in every business situation.

I was interested to learn from our data science speaker at Flipkart, who was in charge of analytics, what separated the best data scientists from the mediocre ones.  He said that the best data scientists were the best listeners.  They carefully listened to what the internal client needed and crafted a solution to meet these specific needs.

Our first speaker at EXL, a data analytics company headquartered in New York City with a large office in Delhi, proclaimed that data is the new oil.  While India does not have the greatest supply of this new valuable commodity, I learned that they do have many of the top wildcatters, who know just where to search in unproven ground.


Liz Goldstein and Matt Frenier (EMBA ’16)


Darden visits EXL in Delhi

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Upcoming Events in DC and Chicago

We are pleased to let you know that Darden will be attending two upcoming multi-school Executive MBA events – in Washington, DC, and in Chicago, IL. We hope you’ll join us at one of these events. We’ll be sharing some exciting news about our Executive Formats in the next few weeks, and we would love to chat about what’s coming up in person!

Event details and registration links are below. We look forward to seeing you there!

Washington, DC

Thursday, 4 February 2016
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Register Here


Thursday, 11 February 2016
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Register Here

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