Andrew Castrodale, a Class of 2019 Darden EMBA student, recently took time to tell us about what brought him to Darden and how his experience has been so far. Andrew is one of several entrepreneurs in our Executie MBA Program. You can get to know others through interviews on our podcast! Check out our conversations with Hanna DobbelsCorbin Norman, Erin Breitzka, Craig Van Bremen and Melissa Stefaniak, as well as our recent podcast episode with the Director of the UVA iLab’s summer incubator program, Jason Brewster. And be sure to review our previous post on entrepreneurship in the executive formats. Check out Andrew’s answers below!

What is your current job?

Founder & CEO of Nautilus Materials, where we’re developing a process to convert coal waste into concrete.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

My desire to pursue an MBA is rooted in something very simple – a belief that in order to accomplish my goals, good business instincts alone would not be enough. I knew I would need to deepen my knowledge (and sharpen my instincts) to maximize my effectiveness professionally and personally.

Why did you choose Darden?

People and culture. I served for seven years as a submarine officer in the Navy and spent the last 2.5 years at the Pentagon. While there, I met several current and former Darden students and visited the school a few times. Every interaction was positive, and it was clear that Darden was a good fit.

Also, Darden’s belief in the importance of understanding the “new story of business” – that the purpose of business must go beyond the bottom line – was probably the most significant differentiator for me. This concept aligns perfectly with my career aspirations and I wanted to meet faculty and students who shared a similar outlook on the role of business in society.

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

Variety and quality. My classmates come from organizations large and small and work in entrepreneurship, consulting, politics, engineering, medicine, government, military, non-profits, you name it. I’ve already leveraged their expertise in growing my business and look forward to doing so even more frequently in the future.

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

Running my own business is something that I’ve been dreaming of and working toward for 12 years, and the executive format at Darden gave me the flexibility that I needed to do that. Also, my wife and I have three young boys and after spending several years moving around in the Navy, we were ready to move back home to be closer to family in North Carolina. This was the best fit for my family and me.

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

Darden presents a remarkable opportunity not just to travel abroad, but to see how business is done abroad. I traveled to South Africa with the program and gained truly meaningful relationships and perspective. There’s a big difference between traveling abroad for education versus pleasure. It was an incredible learning experience.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

If you’re considering a school like Darden, you’ve undoubtedly done your research. You know that Darden, along with other top schools, will increase your earning potential and get you the job that you want. But if you want that and you want a transformational educational experience alongside classmates who are truly committed to making a positive impact, then Darden should be your top choice.