We continue our spotlight on Executive MBA students with a Q&A with First Year student Matthew Vann (Class of 2023). Vann is based in the Washington, D.C. area, where he works as a Senior Producer for ABC News and Good Morning America in Washington, D.C. As is the case for many Darden students and alumni, Matthew’s introduction to the program came via a familiar channel: A conversation with a Darden alumnus.
Fun fact: Matthew is a Batten Media Fellow. The Batten Media Fellowship is a competitive scholarship award focused on full-time news media professionals, and the fellowship covers full tuition and fees for both years of the Darden MBA. Learn more about the fellowship.
Interested in even more student interviews? Be sure to check out The ExecMBA Podcast for weekly conversations with members of our Executive MBA community.
Q: What is your current role? What is your professional/academic background?
A: I work as a Senior Producer for ABC News and Good Morning America in Washington. A lot of what I do in this role involves working with our newsgathering teams across the country and around the world to share the most compelling stories with our audience. I have always had an abiding passion for storytelling from my earliest days growing up in Brooklyn, New York, where, as you can imagine, I was always learning something new and was eager to share that with anyone who would care to listen!
I actually began my career in public policy and communications before transitioning into journalism. I completed my undergraduate studies at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College and received my Master’s degree from the Columbia Journalism School.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
A: There is a lot of uncertainty within the news industry right now. It centers around how television news organizations can remain relevant during a time when many viewers are cutting the cord and migrating over to streaming services like Hulu or Netflix. This is very much a time when TV news executives are asking how their organizations are going to survive this great wave of disruption that is streaming.
What’s happening now is very similar to so many years ago when the dawn of the Internet posed the same question to the publishers of legacy newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. So, to become a part of a new class of media leaders finding viable solutions to securing the future of meaningful television journalism in the digital space, I decided that I needed to become a storyteller who can confidently speak and understand the language of business. And for me, the MBA is the best possible way of achieving this goal.
Q: What led you to Darden?
A: It’s an interesting story! I discovered Darden through a conversation with a newsroom colleague who is a Darden alumnus and cared about the future of the television news business just as much as I did. He shared his experience as a student while working and managing a team of journalists, and being able to apply those concepts in the classroom immediately. I wanted to have an MBA experience that was similar but also accessible to non-traditional students like myself who don’t have a business or finance background.
Additionally, as someone who is used to asking questions for a living, Darden’s Socratic method of having the professor occasionally turn the questions in the discussion back on the students was fascinating to me!
Q: What has been the impact of your Darden experience so far?
A: Darden has opened my eyes to the possibilities and great outcomes that can arise when challenging the status quo. I believe I’m developing the core competencies that I need to point out ways in which my organization and the media industry can put itself on the path of consistent self-improvement. I also hope that the impact of my experience will inspire other journalists to think seriously about a formal business education at Darden!
Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?
A: Know your story. And once you know it, lean into it. Don’t feel the need to transform into someone you are not. Darden is looking for whip-smart, unique voices that will not only contribute diverse perspectives to a dynamic classroom conversation, but will also inspire their students to bring the best version of themselves to each out-of-classroom encounter long after the program concludes.