We continue our spotlight on Executive MBA students with a Q&A with Second Year student Nicole Reyna (Class of 2022).

Reyna is based in the Washington, D.C. area where she works as a director for a global due diligence and investigations firm. Nicole recently joined us on The ExecMBA Podcast to talk about her MBA journey as well as her work leading her company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative.

Like previous student profiles featuring Lorchi “Chi” Lo and Briana Apgar, Reyna is a member of the Executive MBA program’s Diversity Committee. Read on for additional insights about her story and be sure to keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks for more Executive MBA student profiles.

Q: Who are you? What is your background?

A: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and , after earning  an undergraduate degree in journalism, I joined a corporate investigative research firm in San Francisco. After about four years, I moved across the country to Washington, D.C., for a change of scenery and an opportunity to widen my scope of work.

I have had the privilege of shifting my function over the years, including consulting for global executive search firms on the final step of the vetting process for C-Suite candidates, as well as assisting private equity firms on M&A due diligence. However, I am most excited about spending an increasing amount of time on the human side of business.

I am working to transition into a strategic human capital role, such as being part of an M&A people integration team or shaping a company’s overall approach to people operations. Currently, I am partnering with our Chief People Officer and general counsel on rolling out the company’s first Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative, which we hope to develop into a full-fledged continuing curriculum.

Q: How did you decide to pursue an MBA?

A: I decided to pursue an MBA first and foremost for myself. I had wanted to attend business school for years; For me, it was just about the right time and the right school. I wanted the opportunity to intentionally stop and reflect and be inspired by people with different ways of thinking.

Secondly, I knew that implementing any sustainable change with an organization would require me to widen my understanding of how various business components interact holistically. Also, to be completely candid, I wanted to strengthen my quantitative skills. Finally, I also knew that I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone to figure out who I wanted to be and strengthen my voice, which Darden’s case method forces you to do.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students? 

A: Believe in yourself and make sure the people in your support network are on board for the ride. While the support system is crucial, it is more important that you believe in investing in yourself. During the program, I think I was a little slow to come out of my shell, but my cohort has been wonderful, and they encouraged me so much to speak up and share. You have something of value to share — you just need to show yourself a little grace!

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