Today, we continue our ongoing series about women in the Darden Executive MBA program with a conversation with Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) student Olivia Zhou (Class of 2020).
Zhou was also a recent guest on The ExecMBA Podcast, where she shared more about her background; her decision to pursue an MBA; how the program has helped her grow as a leader; and how she has juggled the demands of work, school and being a new mom. Check out the podcast episode below and catch up on our earlier conversations with Alicia Braxton (EMBA ’20), Ashley Keating (EMBA ’20) and Tiffany Pillifant (EMBA ’20).
What part of your Darden experience has made the biggest impact?
The biggest impact this program has had on me is to give me an enterprise perspective. I am a controller working in accounting and finance. In my day-to-day job, I deal with numbers, accounting principles and technical details. As a result of my time at Darden, I am now able to think about things things holistically and see the big picture.
You became a mom right after starting the program. How did you navigate being a mom and the demands of the program?
The program is demanding, and it was very important for me to have the right support in place, both at home and at work, as I balanced the various demands on my time. I set expectations early for everyone around me, and time management was a critical skill as I navigated the program. I had to find the right balance between school, work and family, and I focused on making sure I had quality time with my son.
The general management approach Darden emphasizes was precisely what I needed to help me progress in my career. Darden fosters the development of a tight network during the program, and alumni and current students are so supportive of each other and invested in each other’s success. Although juggling the demands of the program, raising a family and working full time has been challenging to say the least, coming to Darden has been one of the best decisions of my life.