Executive MBA student Robert Crosby III (Class of 2021) is based in Washington, D.C., where he works for the Flamboyan Foundation, a private family foundation focused on solving complex societal challenges. The former teacher continues to work in education, and shares his efforts to improve inner-city schools and how Darden fits into his plans to advance his professional purpose.

What is your current job?

I am an educator at my core. I have spent the last 10 years as a teacher, school administrator and nonprofit leader working to understand and address the injustices that plague inner-city schools. I currently serve as one of the managing directors of partnerships for a local education nonprofit in D.C. Our work focuses on bridging the gap between school and home, through building authentic partnerships grounded in trust, and consistent two-way communication between families and educators.

This requires managing system-level change at both the school and district levels, applying technical and adaptive capacity building to key school personnel. I oversee our program strategy and manage our team of program staff that provides coaching and skill-building for school and district leaders in family engagement that improves academic outcomes for students across D.C.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

Through my 10 years working in education for better educational opportunities for inner-city students, I have realized ineffective strategy, systems and management fail our city’s most marginalized children. There is a dearth of education leaders with business acumen, and this can sometimes result in ineffective education initiatives lacking a clear ROI. I want to focus on ensuring education sector leaders have the necessary financial, operational and managerial skills to develop effective strategies, implementation plans and clear measures that track outcomes and address inefficiencies from program launch through implementation and closeout. Too often, good intentions and passion override strategy, leading to unsustainable programs, ineffective execution and wasted resources.

Why did you choose Darden?

In the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity to attend a weeklong program at Harvard Business School. And since that moment, I knew two things: I wanted my MBA, and I was obsessed with the case-based method of teaching. At that point, I had experienced about 17 years of schooling and had never experienced anything like the rigor and engagement of the the case method of instruction.

The quality of the teaching and student support offered at Darden made the School the obvious choice for me. Darden’s Executive MBA program is one of the most rigorous programs you can find, and its commitment to a high-quality student experience overall was incredibly compelling.

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

I actually went to observe both the full-time and executive formats, and ultimately chose the executive format for the experience of my classmates. I wanted to build a network of other seasoned professionals who were leading and directing teams, as that’s most relevant for my current career stage.

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

I’m blown away by the commitment and work ethic of my classmates. It’s truly inspiring. Many classmates are managing demanding full-time jobs, families, community commitments, and they are still completing full-time Darden course work and offering significant contributions to our cohort. The breadth of experiences, knowledge and skills of my classmates are incredible.

What are you most excited about doing during the program?  

I’m most excited about the global learning experience. I’ll be participating in the Brazil global residency. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to visit, and I’ll have the opportunity not only to visit but get an insider view of how business works in the country.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

It took me 11 years from the time I knew I wanted an MBA to the time I applied! Every year, I took time to reflect on what was most important to me and ask myself how does an MBA align with my personal and career goals at this moment?

I experienced a lot of leadership growth and success without an MBA, and the degree simply didn’t make sense for me for many years. I share that to say, an MBA is a huge time and financial investment. Knowing that this is the right moment for you personally and professionally to pursue this education is important.

I would also encourage you to do your homework, look into multiple programs by going on class visits and talk to alumni so you can choose the best program for your learning style and goals.