Attend a GEMBA Roundtable on 22 August

Maybe you’ve thought about getting your MBA, but you don’t want to take two years off of work. Or maybe you’re feeling stuck in your career or company, and you want to see what an international perspective could bring to your work. If so, Darden’s Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) format might be the right fit for you. Continue reading

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For Admitted Students: Your Career Guide 101

This is the fourth and final post in a series for admitted students by the Career Development Center.

With Darden, you can achieve your career goals – whether you want to transition to a new career path, accelerate on your current path, or start a business. In fact, the majority of executive MBAs – more than 50% of students – advanced their careers prior to graduation, with several more reaching their goals shortly thereafter.

Your Career Guide 101 will support you in achieving your career goals. Consult the Guide for information about:

  • The MBA Job Market
  • The MBA Job Search
  • The MBA Student Perspective
  • A Checklist for Getting Started

Reading Your Career Guide 101 is one of four activities that we recommend you complete prior to your first meeting with a Career Advisor. In previous blog posts, we have described three additional activities: (1) setting your expectations, (2) taking CareerLeader, and (3) crafting your resume.

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What to Expect From Your Learning Team

Peter Vanderloo, a 2012 graduate of Darden’s EMBA format, called learning teams “one of the most generous gifts an MBA experience can give you”. In a blog post for Poets & Quants, Peter reflects on how his learning team – composed of professionals with backgrounds in finance, medicine, law, IT and engineering – created an environment for “real world” learning that defined his time at Darden. His learning team was a “lifeboat,” a “brain trust,” a “network-within-a-network” and ultimately, a “friendship for life.”

That is lofty praise, but it is not unusual among Darden students. Learning teams are the foundation of the case study method that Darden is renowned for, and one of the most fundamental building blocks of our MBA experience. If you choose to join the Darden community, your learning team will play a defining role in your experience.

What to Expect:

  • A small, closely-knit team: Executive MBA students will be assigned learning teams of five to six peers and remain with the same team from the first leadership residency in August through the following March. At that point, teams are reshuffled to help keep perspectives fresh.
  • Careful selection: Our learning teams are not randomized. In his blog, Peter remarked, “Darden seems to have some secret sauce that it uses to combine the learning teams,” and we do indeed work very hard to make sure that each team is selected to represent outstanding leadership across a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.
  • Frequent meetings: Learning teams typically meet every evening during on-Grounds residencies and virtually 2-3 times per week. These meetings are not mandated by Darden. Each learning team is free to devise a schedule that works best for the group. Students typically prioritize weekly meetings because they derive great benefit from them.
  • Refreshing perspectives: Learning teams are not designed to be echo chambers. Your teammates will offer fresh perspectives stemming from different backgrounds, and this new information will often help you to think about a case or business problem from a different angle.
  • Consistent support: Your classmates want to see you succeed, and every year, we see students go out of their way to help others. If you find one class or subject more difficult, odds are someone on your learning team will excel in that class and be able to help you. Similarly, if you excel in a particular subject, you can help members of your learning team who might not take to it quite as naturally. This is the norm at Darden, both within learning teams and in the program as a whole.

For more information about learning teams in Darden’s executive formats, visit EMBA and GEMBA pages on our website. You can also read more about Peter Vanderloo’s personal experience at Darden in his many insightful blog posts for Poets & Quants.


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For Admitted Students: Craft Your MBA Resume

This is the third post in a series for admitted students by the Career Development Center. For the previous post, please click here

Revise your resume so that it sails through the arduous screening processes of selection software, recruiters, and hiring managers everywhere.

A winning resume speaks directly to your target audience, describing your most relevant achievements in a way that differentiates you from the crowd. A winning resume also follows a rigorous set of formatting guidelines for school consistency and recruiter convenience.

Format your resume according to the preferred Darden style.

Sound tricky? Darden offers a number of resources to help you get started. You can find that information on your Admitted Student Website (EMBA; GEMBA).

Crafting your resume is one of four activities that we recommend you complete prior to your first meeting with a Career Advisor. In the next blog post, we’ll describe the last activity: reading Your Career Guide 101.

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An Interview with Jeff Leopold, EMBA Career Advisor

Jeff Leopold is an associate director of Career Education and Advising at Darden and serves as a career advisor to EMBA students (he is also the mastermind behind the CDC career posts you’ve been reading). For more information about Jeff, you can read about his career and background.

If you could only offer one piece of career search advice to EMBAs, what would it be?

J.L.: Use your time in the EMBA program to learn and explore as much as you can, so that you can bring fresh insights back to your current job and create valuable connections for the future. Your classmates and professors will have so much to offer, so make sure that you take the time to learn as much as you can from them, explore different industries and careers and think carefully about how you want to advance your career.

What feedback have you received from companies and how can current EMBAs use that?

J.L.: Company representatives often tell us that they wish students had done a bit more research before talking with the company. Students should carefully research the needs, financials and culture of any company they are interested in and use that research to justify their interest. Students should also network with people working at companies of interest to learn more. Focus on conducting a diligent and targeted search, rather than simply contacting any company that slightly interests you.

What CDC resources should EMBAs know about?

J.L.:  I am fortunate to be surrounded by a team of truly talented and experienced career advisors, and I would encourage every EMBA to use our team as an honest and confidential resource for advancing career goals. We also offer Career Education resources tailored to EMBA students, with seminars focusing on various stages of the career search process.. EMBA students can also take advantage of many of the career fairs and interview forums that Darden participates in throughout the year, as well as student clubs and on-Grounds recruiting events in the fall of the program’s second year.

What are some of your favorite job search resources around the web?

J.L.:  LinkedIn is an incredible resource that is often underused. Make sure you profile is not just up-to-date, but compelling and indicative of who you are and where you want to go. Then, use LinkedIn to connect with Darden or U.Va. alumni, monitor companies of interest to you, and generally grow your network.

I would also suggest CareeerLeader as an excellent self-assessment tool (available to Darden students at a reduced price) and job forums such as Glassdoor or Vault for company research and background information.

What do you love most about your job?

J.L.:  I love helping students discover and achieve their career goals, and along the way, meeting some truly interesting people. Darden attracts talented, accomplished and driven students, and I really enjoy getting to know them.

Can you recommend a favorite Charlottesville spot?

J.L.:  I actually commute to Charlottesville from Richmond, VA, much like many EMBA students (though they often come from much further afield). So, that means that most of my Charlottesville dining experiences are in Darden’s own dining room, Abbott Hall. However, when I do make it out and about in Charlottesville, I enjoy getting a great hamburger at Boylan Heights, near the central University campus, and catching a U.Va. basketball game at John Paul Jones Arena. The team has gotten very good, and it’s always a packed house.

Any other parting advice?

J.L.:  One of the best things about Darden is the tremendous quality of its students, faculty and staff. It’s a first-class program that attracts first-class people, and I would advise to students be open to how being around such people can transform their career and their life.

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For Admitted Students: Validate Your Fit

This is the second post in a series for admitted students by the Career Development Center. For the first post, please click here.

Now is the time to explore your career goals, get smart about your skills and passions, and determine your post-MBA career path.

Are you a strong fit for:

  • Management Consulting;
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Marketing;
  • Corporate Finance;
  • Or more than 25 additional MBA career paths?

Take CareerLeader today. The CareerLeader self-assessment identifies the career paths and work cultures which are best aligned with your interests, skills, and motivators.

  1. Go to and click “Sign in” in the top right corner.
  2. Under NEW USERS, enter your email address and the registration key (virginia-snapshot).
  3. Enter your contact information and billing information to purchase CareerLeader for a discounted rate of $30.
  4. Complete the assessment.

CareerLeader is one of four activities that we recommend you complete prior to your first meeting with a Career Advisor. In the next blog post, we’ll describe the next activity: formatting your resume.


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For Admitted Students: Set Your Expectations

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing several blog posts written by the Career Development Center for the EMBA and GEMBA classes of 2017. This is the first in the series.

We know it…..You are attending business school to advance your career.  And, we hope you know that Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC) is dedicated to enabling career success, one opportunity at a time.

The CDC takes a unique approach by delivering an integrated, relevant slate of career education and resources to meet MBA students’ needs. We offer resources that are personalized and flexible. We also provide active learning and career counsel, including one-on-one career advising, workshops, and recruiting preparation and support to help you prepare for employment opportunities. Together we partner with you to help you make the most of your time and your search at Darden.

Take a few minutes to watch this video and discover:

  • What you can expect from the Career Development Center;
  • And what the Career Development Center expects from you.

Watching the video is one of four activities that we recommend you complete prior to your first meeting with a Career Advisor. In the next blog post, we’ll describe the next activity: taking CareerLeader.

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4 Things You Should Do To Prepare for an Executive MBA Program

An executive MBA can be a transformative time and a catalyst for professional success. It can also be an extremely hectic time, as you balance your classwork, your career and your personal right. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that the benefits outweigh the stressors.

  1. Set aside time for self-assessment

Beginning the self-assessment process before the start of classes will help you to maximize the resources that offered to Darden executive MBAs. Darden provides several self-assessment resources for admitted executive MBA students, including the CareerLeader assessment, used by top MBA programs worldwide to identify aptitude and suitability for MBA-level career paths. Even if you are not considering changing jobs, you should use this test and other assessment tools to identify and evaluate:

  • Your leadership style
  • Your academic strengths and weaknesses
  • Your role in teams
  • Your passions
  • Your long-term goals

If you can reflect on these factors prior to matriculating at Darden, you will be better able to add value to your learning teams, build relationships with your classmates and tailor Darden’s many resources to your own needs.

  1. Establish career objectives

Whether you are looking to advance your career within your current company or find opportunities elsewhere, you should have a clear, specific career objective in mind as you begin your executive MBA. Think about your long-term goals, and work backwards to establish the short-term goals that you will need to accomplish.

Darden’s Career Development Center provides career education workshops and one-on-one career advising, led by career advisors with significant corporate experience in a range of industries. Executive MBA students will also have access to job postings and can attend interview forums and other networking events to make contacts in their industry.

  1. Set expectations with your company

Begin thinking of issues within your company that could benefit from the executive MBA perspective and how you will prioritize those issues.

You should also prepare your boss for the occasional absences required by the program and ask for his or her input on issues that you should be focusing on. While the program is primarily focused on your personal career, it is certainly an investment for your company as well, as you can regularly apply what you have learned to your workplace.

  1. Prepare those important to you

An executive program will require occasional absences from your family and friends, as well as more time spent attending and preparing for class. Take the time now to talk with those who are important to you about how you can best juggle your priorities. Determine what you might have to miss, and what you do not want to miss.

Don’t make the mistake of putting these tasks off until you begin the program. The executive MBA at Darden is built to be a transformative experience, and transformative experiences require your full effort and focus. The more reflection and preparation you do before the program, the more focused, energized and intentional you will be once you arrive.

If you are interested in Darden executive MBA formats, learn more about our MBA for Executives and our Global MBA for Executives.

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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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