Admissions, Executive MBA, Executive Student Profile

Meet Darden GEMBA Student, Katrin Kempiners

By Susannah Fuller-

Katrin Kempiners is a Class of 2019 Darden Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) student in our Charlottesville section. She recently wrote to us about her experience so far in Darden’s executive formats.

What is your current job?
I currently wear a lot of different hats. While my title is Information Officer for the DAAD, German Consulate New York, I not only manage our IT and related projects and acquisitions, but I am also responsible for our outgoing marketing and communications, for example our web presence and press releases. In addition, I serve as a policy analyst on US higher education and as an expert on panels for study abroad and international education. My last business trip involved laying the foundations for an institutional partnership between a top US university and German universities.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
Juggling all these different areas of responsibility, my job ranges from operations to communications and strategic advising. I decided to pursue an MBA to switch careers and apply this experience in a corporate setting and one day even start my own business. Overall, I am hoping to challenge myself and grow professionally.

Why did you choose Darden?
A friend of mine told me about Darden. When I heard of the wealth of opportunities the school offers, including its expertise in entrepreneurship and the success rates of career changers, I was convinced it was the right choice for me. Once I visited in person, my gut feeling was confirmed by how excellent the faculty and staff are and how welcoming the school is. On my first day, Whitney, the admissions officer who interviewed me, saw me walking up to Saunders Hall, stopped her car in the middle of the road, jumped out and gave me a welcome hug. That kind of culture made Darden the perfect choice for me.

What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?
Living in Manhattan, I have come to really appreciate the ‘retreat quality’ the on-grounds residencies have for me. For three days I get to come to Charlottesville to do nothing but learn and spend time with my classmates. The same holds true for the global residencies, having just returned from our first one in South Africa. What our time together lacks in sleep, it makes up for in unforgettable shared experiences and insights.

What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?
My favorite thing is that my classmates have let their guard down from day one. We have come together as a group that does not fear making themselves vulnerable, in order to learn and grow together. While we are only a few months in, we are already working with the ‘18s to set up Executive Clubs for Women in Business and Entrepreneurship. It’s this can-do attitude of my classmates that I really admire, and that pushes me to give it my all. Everyone wants to see each other succeed and while we all have to balance work and families, the support we give each other is tremendous.

What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?
I am excited to see where my path takes me and am exploring several options. It helps to know that others are navigating similar transitions, which is why I also got involved as First Year Representative for the Darden Network for Executive Women and the Entrepreneurship Club for Executive students, to ensure that future generations of executive MBA students can benefit from our network as well.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Keep an open heart and an open mind. If you are not prepared to be challenged, you may not enjoy the Darden environment as much. But if you are willing to grow and question your perspective while engaging with others you will have the time of your life. Also, trust the process. In the beginning it may feel like you want or need to do everything, but there is time for each step of the transition. And of course, you are in the same boat as 130 others – enjoy the ride together!