One of the many benefits of hosting our Executive MBA format students at UVA Darden DC Metro is the regular opportunity for class-wide extracurricular programming. 

Over the past few months, our program team has offered a number of different activities for students in the Class of 2022, including a partner/plus one dinner, a student organization fair, speaker events, a bowling night and more. 

One of the exciting additions to the programming calendar is a new speaker series called Friday Night Live. This semi-regular offering features conversations with C-suite executives and senior business leaders in a casual setting. 

Here’s how it works: After class on Friday evening, students catch up with their classmates over drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres, followed by remarks and a Q&A with the featured speaker.

The series is off to a strong start. Last week, students were joined by Dick Raines, CEO of Carfax, the vehicle history company, and late last year Leidos CEO Roger Krone shared lessons learned from his 30-plus-year career in the aerospace industry.  

The months ahead feature a slate of speakers including:

Students mingle during a Friday Night Live event in January.

We recently caught up with Executive MBA Director of Student Affairs and Engagement Laura Bordoni, to learn more about this initiative. 

Q: What was the inspiration for Friday Night Live?

A: In the past, we’ve provided casual social events or meal options for our students during on Grounds evenings, but we felt that there was an opportunity to do even more. We have a beautiful space in Rosslyn; a great network of business leaders interested in partnering with Darden; and students clamoring for opportunities to socialize, network and learn. What better way to enhance our student experience than by offering food, drinks, time with friends and valuable lessons from senior executives. Thus came Friday Night Live. 

Q: How do you feel these events complement the in-class, curricular experience? 

A: Darden’s faculty instructs using the case method, so students spend a lot of time analyzing real-world business challenges. Friday Night Live gives them the opportunity to hear from leaders who have faced many of those exact challenges, so it truly brings the classroom experience to life. Moreover, this event series creates a space to talk about important issues that may not necessarily be covered in the classroom, like work-life balance, personal journeys, career paths, etc.  

Q: What have enjoyed about working with our executive format students? 

A: I’ve been amazed by our students’ deep commitment to learning and personal development. Our students bring years of work and life experience to the program, but still demonstrate humility, open mindedness and genuine enthusiasm, both in and outside of the classroom. I’ve most enjoyed seeing how supportive students are of one another and of the broader Darden community. Everyone is balancing this demanding program with busy professional and personal lives, and I’ve loved watching the students cheer each other on, pick each other up, work as a team and have fun along the way!  

Q: Any spoilers for the spring/summer lineup? 

A: We have so many fantastic speakers coming up. It’s hard to choose! Our students will have the opportunity to hear from speakers across a range of industries and experiences, from senior military officials to pharmaceutical company executives. We’re also handing over the event reins to our newly elected Class Representatives, so that the students have a voice in the upcoming speakers for Friday Night Live. I’m looking forward to their ideas!  


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