Executive MBA, Executive Student Profile, Student Profile or Feature

Meet Darden’s EMBA and GEMBA – Erin Breitzka, Kristina Stepanek, Diogo Simas

By Isabel Adams-
meet-dardens-emba-and-gemba-erin-breitzka-kristina-stepanek-diogo-simas

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: Erin Breitzka (Pictured above)
Employer: Bluemercury
Cohort: EMBA ROS

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

My career has progressed quickly with many challenges and rewards. I find myself wanting that pace but I am aware that I have limited experience in some key functional business areas. It is my responsibility to make sure I have the capability to make well rounded decisions, develop employees, and lead a team. An MBA is the perfect way to supplement my underdeveloped areas as efficiently as possible to get me to the next steps.

What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?

I have an operations background so in general I like to change a process and see the results the next day! An executive format allows me to apply what I’m learning as I’m learning it. I’m able to test theories talked about in class and see what the results are for me as a leader very quickly. I also have experts available that can help when class material gets really challenging. I have already prepared the accounting department so they are ready for my many questions!

What advice do you have for prospective students?

My advice to prospective students is to listen. Business school will only develop you as much as you allow so put down your guard and listen to everyone around you. The diverse energy at Darden cannot be found anywhere else!


Name: Kristina Stepanek
Employer: Morgan Stanley
Cohort: EMBA ROS

Why did you choose Darden?

Darden has a phenomenal reputation, wonderful faculty, and the ability to attract creative, warm, intelligent students. I looked specifically for programs with an emph

asis on global business, and I was impressed with Darden’s curriculum and the international trips the students take.  Furthermore, Darden’s new campus in DC is very convenient to my location in Baltimore, which made the choice a no-brainer!

What’s your favorite thing about your classmates?

My classmates provide an atmosphere of friendly, supportive competition, which motivates everyone to truly engage with the material. They are inquisitive, ethical, creative, and diverse in their perspectives and professional backgrounds. The ability to engage with a doctor, lawyer, analyst, military veteran, entrepreneur, etc. all in the same class has broadened my understanding of many industries considerably.  I’m impressed with my learning team on a daily basis – our conversations about the material are insightful and invaluable. My learning team is comprised of six individuals that all complement each other well in skill sets. We meet weekly to discuss cases in depth in preparation for class and we take turns producing detailed outlines and reviews to help make the workload manageable. This process ensures that our larger class discussions can be truly insightful instead of being focused on a cursory understanding of the material.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

If you enjoy learning in a collaborative environment with top-notch classmates, then Darden is the place for you. Students considering the program should familiarize themselves with the case-method and try reading some cases to make sure that fits their learning style. I personally enjoy the case method because it draws from real-life examples. Not only am I learning principles of business in an interesting fashion, but I’m also developing a vast knowledge of companies from various industries. I highly recommend observing a class to get a good sense of the program.


Name: Diogo Simas
Employer: CEB
Format/Section: EMBA/ROS

Why did you choose Darden?

Darden’s case method was a strong draw for me. It fosters great management and decision-making skills through repeated practice. The case method continually puts students in the position of important stakeholders and decision-makers weighing challenging business problems.

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

At Darden, learning does not just happen between faculty and students. Here, learning is a very collaborative process where you depend upon and learn from your peers. My classmates have a broad array of experience and are some of the brightest people I have met.  This immersive, 360 experience is transformative – both professionally and personally.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Find out what you want to do and make sure the school you choose fills those personal aspirations. That doesn’t mean have an absolute goal in mind but have a general North Star.  It makes for a more enriching professional development experience.