Our Executive MBA profile series continues with a Q&A with first year student Kelsie Chaudoin (Class of 2022). Kelsie is based in Charlottesville, Virginia where she serves as one of the coaches for University of Virginia women’s rowing team. Like many of our Executive MBA program students, Kelsie came to Darden to learn about new industries and expand her potential opportunities.

Catch up on our earlier Executive MBA student profiles.

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

I recently returned to my alma mater, UVA, as the Associate Head Coach of the Women’s Rowing Team. It is particularly special for me because I’m working with my college coach, Kevin Sauer, who had a huge impact on my life, and the lives of many other Virginia rowers. Before UVA, I spent five years coaching at Stanford and the prior seven years training full-time as an Olympic hopeful and coaching high school rowing to support the dream.

Redwood City, CA – April 11, 2018: Stanford Women’s Rowing Team during practice on Redwood Creek.

How did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I have been singularly focused on rowing for so long, that there are many other industries I know nothing about. Watching the young women I coach grow as athletes — and more importantly people — is inspiring but I want impact that change on a larger scale, likely on the business side of college sports. I am at a place where I am looking for my next challenge or pivoting to something completely different and Darden has been helpful in making that shift.

What led you to Darden?

Two things: the community and the diversity of the students’ experiences. From my first conversations with the Admissions team, as well as Darden alumni, the message was clear — the Darden Executive MBA program is a group of supportive people who are invested in your success, even before you begin classes.  The diversity of students’ experience was a big part of it for me, too! My classmates are physicians, sportswriters, Navy SEALs, and come from a wide range of business, experiences as well. This makes for dynamic classroom discussions!

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

After years of competing in what some consider to be the ultimate team sport, my time at Darden has made me an even better teammate. The way our Learning Team functions as a unit to hold one another accountable, meet deadlines, prepare cases and lend a listening ear goes beyond anything I could have imagined. This is something I’ve found translates in a helpful way to my work as a coach.

What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?

Reach out to current students and alumni! I think I speak for all of my classmates when I say we will be more than happy to share our experiences, answer questions and ease concerns you might have about the demands of earning and MBA while working full time. It’s no doubt a challenging program with some “I don’t know how I’m going to survive” moments, but with the support of your classmates and professors you can accomplish far more than you imagined.

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