Meet Darden’s EMBA & GEMBA – Ery Zaidir (GEMBA ’18) and Julie Lasseter (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: Ery Rinaldi Zaidir
City: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Employer: National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia
Years of Experience: 24 years
Format/Section: Global Executive MBA / Rosslyn

  1. What is your current job?

I am originally from Indonesia, but I have been living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the past eight years. I currently work at the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, the largest bank in Saudi Arabia, where I have worked since relocating to Jeddah. I’m currently the Senior Vice President of the Risk Management Group, responsible for managing the retail loans of the bank, i.e. personal Loans, auto leases, residential financing, and credit cards. Overall, I have 24 years in retail banking, mostly in collections and risk management.

  1. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I want to switch careers. I am almost 50 years old and would like to do something different and pursue my other passions, namely teaching and doing something for the greater good. I believe Darden will give me the courage, preparation and network to enable to start a new journey in my life.

  1. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

Their stories, background, and experience. I also have really enjoyed how supportive everyone has been, in class, in our learning team meetings. Everyone is very open and willing to share ideas, information.

  1. What advice do you have for prospective students?

To consider this as an investment for them, for their own future and benefit.

Most of my friends, relatives and colleagues, especially who are my age, are working very hard for their family, just like me. We want to have enough money so that we can have enough food to eat, can pay all the bills, and can put our children in the best schools so they can get the best education and stand on their own in the future. However, I know I have to continue to learn. The world is changing fast, and I need to equip myself with all the skills and knowledge that will make me ready to face the future. So, you have to invest in yourself. You have to choose the best institution to study. And you have to keep learning.


Name: Julie Lasseter
City: Washington, D.C.
Employer: Department of Defense
Years of Experience: 12 years
Format/Section: CHO Executive MBA

  1. What is your current job?

I am currently an Obama Administration political appointee at the Department of Defense and my job title is Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment.

  1. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

Many people in politics in Washington, D.C. have a JD or a Public Policy degree and while those are wonderful degrees I already had experience writing and interpreting laws and regulations, as well as making public policy. What I wanted was a degree that could help me quantify public policy and know if policies were good for the economy or not. I also enjoy managing people and I want to be the best executive I can be. Learning a new perspective will be key for my success and benefit those who report to me.

  1. Why did you choose Darden?

I wanted to stay around the D.C. area and while I looked at several schools, I felt that Darden’s staff was unparalleled in professionalism and commitment to students. Adding a school program to an already busy life is a major decision and I wanted a program that had a proven track record of elevating students to new and exciting levels in their careers, whether that was with their current employer or a new one. My time is precious to me, and I felt Darden would not only respect my life commitments, but would also respect my time by making my school experience worthwhile. Finally, I am an experiential learner, so the case method approach of Darden was my preferred classroom style.

  1. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

My favorite things about my classmates is the diversity and motivation they bring to the classes, assignments, and networking. I also have an incredible learning team. The depth of personal and professional knowledge is international and cross-industry. When we come together to solve case problems we are able to leverage the backgrounds of military, private industry, and government making our studying truly exceptional.

  1. What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?  

I am most excited about completing Accounting! All joking aside, I am also excited about learning how to present ideas in a more analytical and compelling fashion. My jobs often contain an element of public speaking and salesmanship, so I am eager to incorporate this new analytical approach into my personal ability of persuasion. I think this will be really helpful in selling my ideas to clients, bosses, colleagues, and employees as I move up the leadership chain.

  1. What advice do you have for prospective students?

Do your homework, it will always save you! Also, make sure you are coming to Darden with an expectation, and anticipation, of a challenging experience. While I would argue that is what makes Darden exceptional, if doing homework and reaping the benefits of challenging your norms and ideals is not something of interest to you, Darden is probably not the best fit. But, if you’re interested in business, how to improve your business approach, and want to expose yourself to many different kinds of people, Darden and the Executive MBA program will be your dream come true– the sweat will be worth it.

This entry was posted in Executive Formats, Executive Student Profile, Student Profile or Feature. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *