Today on the blog, we catch up with Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) format graduate, Chris Barchet, ’18! This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with members of our Class of 2018 on how the executive formats of the Darden MBA impacted their careers. Read our earlier interview with Jess Ching, ’18, and be sure to check back for updates in the coming weeks! 

What have you been up to since graduation?

Professionally, I left JPMorgan Chase about two months before graduation and accepted an offer to move out west and join Tesla. I started in May as the Fremont Service Center Manager, and it’s been a wild but rewarding ride ever since. It’s been a year of relentless headlines, defined odds and some truly incredible milestones.

In addition, I was promoted to Regional Service Manager in January, and I now run Tesla Service for the Peninsula (Palo Alto to San Rafael), overseeing four service centers and two mobile service hubs. It’s been a great challenge and a chance to help drive strategic change as we scale at ludicrous speed. The days and weeks are long but time flies. All-in-all it’s been great, and I’m excited for the road ahead!

Personally, we moved from Philadelphia to California and settled in San Jose. West Coast life fits us just fine, but I definitely miss friends and family. We’ve done plenty of exploring in Sonoma, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea but have so much still on the list. Tahoe, Big Sur, and Yosemite are up next. Very happy to be out here and no plans yet to head back East… but Charlottesville’s always calling.

How do you feel like your Darden experience prepared you for what you are currently doing?

Darden bridged a big professional gap for me. My time in the Army gave me a tremendous breadth of leadership experience but I had no formal education in business (I studied Foreign Affairs as an undergraduate). Working for JPMorgan Chase was great, but it was really Darden that gave me the professional baseline and skillset I needed to thrive at Tesla. It’s been perfect for my current role.

As a Regional Service Manager, I oversee Automotive Service so operations plays a key part. I’m also heavily involved in strategy, analytics and leadership. The Darden curriculum and educational format really helped me grow as a general manager. The case method holds its own value in that it taught me to be an active part of the conversation; it forced me to engage with a range of problems and work with peers and professors to move the discussion forward to a solution. I honestly could not be happier with my Darden experience.

For you, what was the biggest takeaway from the program?

Aside from the relationships I built, I think my biggest takeaways are a general confidence as well as an understanding of the nuances of business. This reinforces the point I made earlier; Darden provided me a necessary professional baseline and skillset to thrive at Tesla.

Now that you are out of school, what do you miss the most about the program?

My classmates, without question! I miss the excitement of every On-Grounds residency and every trip abroad. I looked forward to every minute at Darden and smiled from ear-to-ear when I arrived on Grounds and was able to connect with classmates, staff and professors. Truly an experience I will cherish forever.

What is your best advice for prospective students?

Enjoy every second of it and don’t exhaust yourself chasing every assignment and grade. Take it seriously but also take the time to look around and have fun. You all will meet some incredible people, build lifelong relationships, process a wealth of knowledge and relish in unforgettable experiences. The time will fly by, and you’ll absolutely wish you could do it all over again. I certainly wish I could!