Today on the blog we’re excited to feature a Q&A with Christy Sisko, a GEMBA format student in the Executive MBA Class of 2022. New to the series? Check out our earlier profile of Washington Chorus Executive Director Stephen Beaudoin and be sure to keep an eye on the blog for additional student profiles in the coming weeks. Interested in even more student interviews? Add The ExecMBA Podcast to your weekly download. New episodes are published every Friday! 

What is your current role? What is your professional/academic background?

Currently, I am a Project Director for Chemonics International in our Middle East and North Africa region. I oversee our economic growth project portfolio focusing primarily in Tunisia and Jordan. I have been in international development for the past 10 years working primarily in Afghanistan, throughout Europe and Eurasia and most recently in the Middle East to develop and implement programs focused on access to finance, women’s economic empowerment and business competitiveness.

Christy Sisko (GEMBA ’22) in Afghanistan

I studied international business as my undergraduate major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and I always knew I wanted to work globally and help others to the greatest extent that I could. My mission is to give the opportunity to grow and prosper to those who need it most.

How did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I knew in undergrad that I wanted to get my MBA one day. The biggest investment I have and will ever make in myself is my education, and I am always seeking ways to grow and learn. The journey to actually applying for school spanned several years as I battled competing priorities at the office and at home and discovered what I needed from the program I would eventually attend. I also reached a point in my career that I knew I would benefit from gaining diverse perspectives outside of international development, new skills that would strengthen my leadership capabilities in my current role and an opportunity to expand my network. The return on investment became very clear.

What led you to Darden?

Christy Sisko (GEMBA ’22)

The case method and the feeling I got every time I interacted with someone from Darden is what brought me here. I was introduced to the case method in undergrad and those cases are what I remember most from my four years. I knew that style of learning worked for me and I was (and am) 100% dedicated to learning in this program, not just memorizing information, or getting a certain GPA.

I keep saying to myself, “I need this brain of mine to grow as much as possible over these next 21 months,” and this meant case-style learning for me. When I interacted with anyone from Darden, it always felt like I had known them for years and I could feel their genuine connection to the larger Darden community – it was a family and I wanted in. I knew that I wanted to be a part of an active and interconnected community that shares a common purpose of making a positive impact in the world. After a few months in the program, I could not describe the Darden community in a better way.

What has been the impact of your Darden experience so far?

It is difficult to put into words the amount of growth you experience in such a short amount of time. It is intimidating at first, especially if you have been in the same industry or the same role for some time, but it is incredibly rewarding. I am using different, yet critical, skills that my current role has not demanded but a future role most certainly will. I am meeting new, amazing people that I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I am developing opinions that I have not had the chance to voice before. I am finding a new confidence in myself that comes from being challenged, stretched, and vulnerable. It is all thanks to Darden. I feel myself becoming someone I am really excited about and I get to bring that evolution of me to my job every day.

What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?

Stop thinking about it and go for it. There will never be a perfect time. You will have the support and encouragement you need to succeed. You will grow in ways that did not seem possible and your eyes will be open to things you never thought of before. Darden gives you the full package of top-quality education, remarkable people, opportunities to stretch, and the opportunity to truly enjoy the journey you are on.

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