Today on the blog, we catch up with Executive MBA format student, Michael Jarvis, ’20! Michael currently works as Chief Development Officer with, a Silicon Valley based payment processing company. We caught up with him to talk more about his MBA journey and what he’s enjoyed about his Darden experience so far. Check out Michael’s answers below! 

What is your current role? 

As Chief Development Officer, my primary responsibilities include selling our technology to enterprises, raising series A capital and helping our founder build a talented team to achieve exponential growth. We’ve created one-sided, instant digital disbursements for businesses to make payments that require no recipient sign-up or download of an app.

How did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I spent more time than I care to admit convincing myself that I didn’t need to get an MBA. Eventually I realized two important things: the companies I was interested in working for mostly required applicants at my career stage to have an MBA. In addition, I have always wanted to launch my own venture, and, if I wanted to be an entrepreneur, there is no better starting place than Darden’s Executive MBA Program.

Lastly, I finally took the advice from several mentors who had repeatedly told me to get my MBA. My stubbornness delayed my career a bit, but there’s something to be said for feeling certain that you’re making the right career choice.

What attracted you to the executive formats?

The million-dollar question for young entrepreneurs is, “What are you passionate about?” I’ve spent many years considering this question and, thankfully, because of both this reflection and my career experiences, I can now say I have a much better understanding of my answer. I knew I wanted to be able to continue gaining real life work experience while earning my MBA, so Darden’s EMBA format made a lot of sense for me.

I believe I’ve found my ideal situation for the next several years with Checkbook, but the reality is I’ve made a few career changes in the past 24 months. The flexibility provided by the executive formats is perfect for someone like me, who values having multiple experiences before committing to something long-term.

How has the program experience been so far?

We just completed our third quarter, and I would say the curriculum directly aligns with what I hoped to learn while at Darden. I specifically enjoy the way in which we are exposed to investing at the enterprise level. Evaluating new products, potential acquisitions, outsourcing decisions and the like are the types of projects I was eager to learn about to round out my business acumen.

The relationships I’ve made with my classmates have also been refreshing. I’m amazed by everyone’s willingness to help others achieve their professional goals outside of the classroom.

How is what you’re learning in class shaping your work?

For me, one of the main draws to early-stage companies is the importance of having at least some understanding for every aspect of the business. I’ve been able to apply core lessons from each of my classes at work. I’m also looking forward to the elective period and taking FinTech-oriented classes and working closely with classmates who are on a similar career path.

I’ve also used case study materials from our marketing and financial planning classes to build template, go-to-market strategies for Checkbook. Having worked at big and small firms, I have a newfound respect for the ability to create sales and marketing collateral. Darden has greatly enhanced my ability to produce this type of material.

What advice do you have for prospective students considering Darden?

Identify two to three ideal situations for yourself post-MBA and begin evaluating the schools you’re considering through this lens. Which school will put you in the best position to reach your desired outcomes? My guess is you’ll find that Darden will help you achieve your goals, and, most importantly, you’ll be surrounded by inspiring and genuinely helpful people throughout your journey. Over my lifetime, I’ve witnessed the genuineness and depth of the school’s network, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the Darden community.