Today, we continue our ongoing series about women in the Darden Executive MBA program with a conversation with Executive MBA (EMBA) format student, Anna Christen (Class of 2020).

Christen was also a recent guest on The ExecMBA Podcast, where she talked about her decision to pursue an MBA, how the experience is helping her at the nonprofit where she works, and how she managed the competing demands of school, work and being a new mom. Fun fact: Anna was an NCAA athlete, and she once shared a basketball court with WNBA star Candace Parker.

Check out the podcast episode below and catch up on our earlier conversations with Class of 2020 students Olivia Zhou, Alicia BraxtonAshley Keating and Tiffany Pillifant.

What has been the impact of your Darden experience? 

Darden has shifted the way that I approach challenges and opportunities at work. Instead of considering just my immediate lane, I find myself more naturally assessing the enterprise impact.

You became a mom right after starting the program. How did you navigate being a mom and the demands of the program?

My classmates have been so gracious with their time. Typically, I am an active team member, but there were times right after my daughter was born that I had to rely heavily on my Learning Team. We all want to contribute, but allowing myself to accept help from classmates allowed me to push through the first few months.

And it does take a village! Traveling in from Texas for on-Grounds weekends with a newborn was only possible with help from my family. My in-laws met me in D.C. and allowed me to focus on school. Now that my daughter is a little older, my husband rearranges his work schedule to ensure he can pick up at daycare.

Learning how to prioritize the workload has been key. All students have limited time ⁠—  balancing work, life, family ⁠— not just new parents. No matter where you are in life, prioritization and organization are vital skills.

What’s your best piece of advice for prospective students?

The Darden family is so willing to provide advice, work with your situation and go above and beyond to ensure you have everything you need for success. Be willing to ask for help when you need it, and in return, be willing to provide that support to someone else.

Why Darden?

There’s a certain combination at Darden that I find unique, and for me it goes back to the people involved. The staff is accessible and the professors present cases in an engaging manner. My classmates are phenomenal, with diverse experiences, and we always ready to support one another. The program provides a balanced learning experience, and I feel I gained useful knowledge in both quantitative skills as well as overall leadership.

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