Meet Darden’s EMBA & GEMBA: Sarah Rand, EMBA ’18
Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.
Name: Sarah Rand
City: Washington, DC
Employer: National Retail Federation
Years of Experience: 12
Format/Section: EMBA ROS
- What is your current job?
I’m the vice president, digital communications at the National Retail Federation. I spend my days figuring out how to use the digital tools (websites, social media, advertising, etc.) to activate our grassroots base, share research and news with retailers, promote educational opportunities, reach policymakers and tell the industry’s story. That sounds like a lot, but at the end of the day, I’m simply helping retailers – small and large – by making sure they have the tools and information they need, as well as the support of their representatives, so they can focus on what they do best.
- Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I love what my organization does and why. We support an industry that supports 1 in 4 American jobs. I was looking for an opportunity to make a bigger contribution to our mission and realized an MBA would give me the skills to do that.
- Why did you choose Darden?
This is my second master’s degree, and I know a good professor makes all the difference. Darden’s faculty are really highly regarded. I knew that learning from them would be a challenging, fruitful and more-than-worthwhile experience.
- What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?
At this point in my life, being a residential student wasn’t an option. I have two young kids, commitments in my community and a job that I can’t quit. The executive format fits into the parts of my life that I wasn’t willing to step away from.
- What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?
Hands down, the diversity. I expected an EMBA program in DC to be a lot of “Beltway” types tied to the government in one way or another. I was surprised to find that there are scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, non-profit professionals, engineers, active military and many more in my class. Listening to their experiences has immediately broadened my perspective.
It’s also an incredibly supportive group. We are a team, not competitors. When a classmate was especially nervous about a short speech, the entire class rallied around that individual. When someone shares something very personal to illustrate a concept, there’s a feeling of safety and an immediate show of support for that classmate.
- What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?
Putting what I learn into action immediately. I found myself on day one rethinking how I am approaching various challenges at work. I’m learning how to see things from different perspectives in order to find the best way forward. I’m thrilled that I don’t have to wait two years to benefit from the program.
- What advice do you have for prospective students?
Don’t hesitate. Don’t hesitate to do research the program – watch Darden’s videos, read testimonials, seek out the information that paints a picture of life as an executive student. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions team – they are a wealth of information. Don’t hesitate to talk to friends (especially Darden alumni) who have been through an EMBA program – wrapping your head around life as a student gets easier with their insights. And absolutely don’t hesitate to bounce the idea of your boss, your family, your friends – getting support from square one is critical.