We recently caught up 2020 Executive MBA (EMBA) format student Joe Lawler to talk a little more about why he chose Darden and what he’s enjoyed about the program so far. Check out Joe’s answers below! 

City: Washington D.C.
Years of Experience: 15

What is your current job?

I’m a partner in a boutique pension consultancy. My company works with financial and strategic buyers to help them understand the impacts of acquiring companies that sponsor defined benefit pension plans. More specifically, we engage in negotiations with the Federal pension regulator (the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) on our client’s behalf when they’re executing an M&A transaction.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I decided to pursue an MBA to further develop my professional network while enhancing my technical skills. I felt an MBA would increase my professional credibility while also allowing me to apply new ideas and perspectives to grow my small business.

Why did you choose Darden?

I chose Darden because of the strength of its alumni network and its culture of community. I have friends that attended the residential program and they impressed upon me the responsiveness of alumni. The Executive MBA staff echoed those sentiments and demonstrated the culture of Darden with their timely and thoughtful responses to questions and willingness to put me in touch with current students.

I also valued Darden’s reputation for developing leaders that have a deep understanding of the interplay between business functions and their impact on the broader enterprise. As I continue in my career, I believe this holistic view of a firm will prove invaluable to my professional advancement.

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

The executive formats provided me the ability to continue working full time while maintaining my responsibilities at home to my two young daughters and working professional wife.

It would not have been realistic for me to uproot my family for a two-year residential program, and the thought of pursuing an MBA solely through online classes left me questioning whether I’d be able to develop meaningful personal and professional relationships. Darden’s Executive MBA format was a perfect hybrid solution for me. The blend of in-person residencies with synchronous online courses allows students to develop deep relationships with their classmates while reflecting the realities of a global business environment where it’s not always possible to be physically co-located with teammates.

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

The broad array of professional experiences they bring to the classroom environment. In my experience, it’s very easy to become insular in your particular field or industry, which can be limiting to the development of your career. My classmates come from many different backgrounds, including technology, military, consulting, investment management and politics, among others.  When all these viewpoints are shared in the classroom via the case method, the result is a unique learning experience unlike anything I’ve previously encountered.