‘An Unreal Network of Growth-Oriented People’: Collins Marshall On His ExecMBA Experience
Our Executive MBA profile series continues with a Q&A with First Year Executive MBA student Collins Marshall (Class of 2022). Collins is currently the Director of Partnership Development at EAB in the Washington, D.C. area, and he decided to pursue an MBA thanks to a nudge from his wife as well as a self-recognized need to differentiate himself as he built a career in a new industry.
Catch up on our earlier profiles with Helen Yao (Class of 2022), Nate Scott (Class of 2022), Aisha Pridgen (Class of 2022), Jean Borno (EMBA ’17), Christy Sisko (Class of 2022) and Stephen Beaudoin (Class of 2022)
A: I’m currently the Director of Partnership Development at EAB, and my career has really had a couple distinct phases. After college, I spent ten years in finance, starting as an analyst, then moving to sales and sales management. Since then, two years in Technology, starting as a go-to-market territory lead for P&G and then leading Business Development efforts for a technology startup out of Seattle called Jobscan. Now, I’m working closely with colleges and universities to implement EAB’s proprietary Research and Services.
Q: How did you decide to pursue an MBA?
A: In finance, I had gotten to a level where I felt I didn’t need an MBA. When I pivoted into technology, I had to take a step back. I learned I lacked that little something to get the attention of major employers, as I felt employers looked at me as a “Finance Guy.” I knew I needed something to help me stand out from the crowd. My wife encouraged me to apply to the top-10 schools, of which I applied to five.
Q: What led you to Darden?
A: I was really impressed by how warm and personable the Darden staff was. Humility and community seemed the presiding values of the organization, two vital aspects of my life. The more I investigated the school and the outcomes surveys, I realized Darden is one of the best values (I used IRR based on the career trajectories of the alumni).
I reached out to several people of whom I think incredibly highly (all Senior Executives with MBAs) and each said Darden is one of the best schools for managers who aren’t just competent, but also very appealing.
Q: What has been the impact of your Darden experience so far?
A: Academically, I’ve been pushed. REALLY pushed. It’s been an incredible academic experience where I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose. I’ve felt more naturally connected to the professors, who do an excellent job of education in action (case study is live learning, to me, which is the way I learn best). While I’m challenged, I also feel rewarded with rich material that pushes me to be better.
Functionally, I’ve actually used a lot of what I’ve learned in class at work. Unbelievably, in my last organization, I changed how we did revenue accounting to make it easier to understand our revenue stream from different angles, and this change was the direct result of my Darden experience.
Socially, I’ve lived in four states over the last eight years and I can honestly say I have never had this high of a bar of people whom I’ve met and become friends with. I came to Washington, D.C. knowing a handful of people, and now I feel like I can call on 150 friends when I need to. I’ve started a club (the Jefferson Spirits Society – a whiskey enthusiasts’ club), created social get-togethers (COVID-appropriate) and built an unreal network. I’m blown away at the caliber of the people in the program, too. Everyone is impressive in very different ways.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?
A: Take the plunge. If my wife didn’t encourage me to really look at the opportunity, I’m not sure I’d be here. Thinking about that depresses me. You get a great name behind resume, an unreal network of motivated and growth-oriented people and a sense of accomplishment that is hard to describe. Take the search seriously and consider how an MBA from a top-ranked school can help you achieve your goals.
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