MBA-focused publication Poets & Quants recently named two Darden Executive MBA students to its 2020 Best & Brightest Executive MBAs list.

2020 graduates Jaila Ingram-DeBerry (pictured left) and Tiffany Pillifant were highlighted in the annual list, which features students for their “contributions to the class, academic performance, extracurricular involvement, personal intangibles and unique personal stories.”

Ingram-DeBerry, who followed an “unprecedented” professional path, breaking into more senior positions in the investment banking world after starting in an administrative assistant role, managed to balance work, school and a pregnant spouse during the program, and encouraged prospective students to be confident that they could effectively create the time and space for all of life’s demands. Read more about Ingram-DeBerry’s path to the Executive MBA program in her November 2019 Discover Darden profile.

What’s your favorite thing about your classmates?

They are all extremely brilliant people doing incredible things, but at the end of the day, we are all here to learn and learn from each other. The environment is completely collaborative, and we are all rooting for each other’s success whether it is academic wins, professional wins or personal wins.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Just do it. After my first residency, I knew I had made the perfect decision for my life. This program has truly been a game-changer for me. Do not let anything hold you back from applying because this program will be well worth the time and effort.

Pillifant said her proudest moment in business school was actually an extracurricular activity, detailing her work with Masks for Cville (check out the ExecMBA podcast episode), an organization she helped create with classmates that helped produced critical personal protective equipment to help local organizations through the coronavirus crisis. Like Ingram-DeBerry, Pillifant said the people in the Darden MBA program made the difference.

Learn more about Pillifant’s journey, including why she chose Darden and how she balanced the demands of family, work and school in her January 2019 Discover Darden profile.

Why did you choose Darden?

Darden was a no-brainer for me for so many reasons. Logistically, it was seamless – I live in Charlottesville, I attended UVA undergrad (I’ll be a double Hoo!), so I can attend classes and residencies and still remain connected with my family and community. But what really distinguished Darden for me was the case method.  Besides the fact that the case method situates your learning in real-world scenarios, it’s just more fun. It grounds class discussions in actual events but also leaves room for twists and exploration.

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

I love that the executive formats honor and respect each student’s unique experiences and perspectives. Our peers range from career executives managing crucial healthcare operations to high-ranking military officials, to daring journalists, programmers, finance gurus, the list goes on. The faculty understands that we are professionals, we each bring different backgrounds to the table, and we can both consume and contribute to learning.

Read the full story on Poets & Quants.

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