Darden’s Full-Time MBA student organizations are an integral part of the student-centric community. One student-led organization in particular gives the leadership team a unique hands-on experience. Darden Capital Management (DCM) is “a student-run club focused on promoting the interest and experience of its members in the investment management industry. One of the main responsibilities of the Club is managing the Darden Fund, Jefferson Fund, Cavalier Fund, Rotunda Fund and Monticello Fund. The five Funds have approximately $30 million in assets and are part of the school’s endowment, which has been set-aside for Darden students to manage.” Samantha Richman (Class of 2022) is the organization’s current CEO, and is the second female to hold the position. She recently shared insights on her Darden experience and the legacy she’s hoping to leave as DCM CEO.

Q: Tell us a little about your background pre-Darden.

A: I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science. Prior to Darden, I was a Product Specialist at Man Group, a global active investment manager, covering an array of hedge fund strategies across commingled, customized/advisory, and dedicated managed account solutions. In this role, I worked with Portfolio Managers and Relationship Managers to support capital raising, investment strategy, and portfolio construction.

Darden Capital Management
Samantha Richman, Class of 2022

Q: What attracted you to investment management?

A: One of the key attributes of investment management that initially drew me to the industry is that it is, by nature, a learning business. Both investing successes and failures (and if we’re being honest, probably more so the failures than successes) help to build muscle memory and pattern recognition that can alert us to what might unfold next. I find I am most engaged and excited about my work when I am challenged by fast-paced environments with steep learning curves and strongly believe that investment management is one of the best platforms for this.

Q: What section were you in? What section traditions were your favorite?

A: I am in Darden’s one and only Section J! Darden launched the first-ever January cohort for those who faced challenges making the traditional August start due to the pandemic. Because our academic year started in January, our core curriculum was accelerated to ensure we wouldn’t have too much overlap with our internship start dates. This made our group particularly tight-knit and was an integral part of my Darden experience. I am grateful for my Section J peers who have challenged me to embrace the vulnerability and discomfort that comes from the type personal, academic, and professional development that Darden cultivates.

One of my favorite traditions shared with my Section J family was the Champagne Fund, which was an on-going effort throughout the year where students would donate a small amount of money every time someone made a notable contribution during class. This was a great way for us to stay connected and bring a fun element to a rigorous Core program when we were operating in a hybrid model and couldn’t be in the classroom together. At the end of the year, we used the money raised to throw a celebration of our accomplishment and reflect on how far we had come as a group.

Q: What has been your favorite Darden experience and/or class so far?

A: My favorite Darden class thus far has been Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity with Elena Loutskina. Simply put, Elena is an absolute force to be reckoned with. She fosters a classroom environment that is fun and engaging no matter what your prior experience with the material is. Her passion for the subject matter really shines through in her teaching style and it was great to be able to draw upon her extensive experience in the space to augment class discussions. This class was instrumental in helping refine my career aspirations post-Darden and is a testament to how student-focused the faculty are here, which I believe is a true differentiator for the program.

I am also really excited about my Darden Worldwide Course in March, where I’ll be heading to Iceland to learn about renewable energy.

Q: What is Darden Capital Management? What makes it unique among other student organizations?

A: Darden Capital Management (DCM) is a student-run organization with a dual mandate. First and foremost, DCM operates as an investment management entity tasked with managing approximately $30 million of the Darden School Foundation’s endowment. Assets are invested across five separate funds with strategies ranging from Small Cap to Equity Long/Short. Second, DCM functions as a training and educational platform through which students can develop skills in investment analysis and portfolio management, as well as receive support for recruiting opportunities within financial markets. This includes events like industry and markets overview sessions, valuation and stock pitch training, sponsored trips to compete at MBA stock pitch competitions, speaker series with alumni, and drop-in office hours for resume and cover letter review as well as mock technical interview preparation.

While the club consists of about 200 students in the Darden community, DCM as a class is limited to 24 Second Year students that undergo a rigorous application process in the spring of their First Year to serve as a portfolio manager, senior portfolio manager, or member of the executive team. These students receive academic credit for their work, which differentiates DCM relative to other student organizations at Darden.

Q: What were some goals and plans/accomplishments for DCM this year?

A: This has been a historic year for DCM and I’m so proud of this team for facilitating these achievements. Outside of working diligently to navigate a tricky market environment as of late, our team recently received approval from the Board of Trustees to launch DCM’s 6th fund, a real-estate focused strategy. This the first fund launch in over ten years and was something we had been working hard on since last year, so we are thrilled to be able to lead the group through this exciting inflection point.

We have also doubled down on our commitment to enhancing the diversity of background, experience, and thinking in our community at Darden. As only the second female CEO of Darden Capital Management in the program’s history, it was important to me to take meaningful steps towards improving opportunities for women and minorities in asset management. Through partnerships with Darden’s Graduate Women in Business (GWIB) and Black Business Students Association (BBSA), we have been actively working to address gaps in our community’s financial literacy and encourage students from all backgrounds to consider investment management as a career path.

Lastly, from a club perspective, we’ve focused on institutionalizing our training and events agenda. After a tumultuous year of virtual and hybrid teaching, students were thrilled to be welcomed back to grounds for classes this academic year. We have made the most of these opportunities to engage in-person by building out a robust pipeline of events for First Years and have seen record-level event attendance and engagement in response, nearly doubling numbers of the prior year.

Q: Favorite thing to do around town?

A: There are a ton of great opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature close to C’ville. Some of my favorite spots to trail run include Ragged Mountain and the Monticello Trail.

Q: What are some ways you’ve put ideas into practice from the classroom to DCM?

A: Darden does a great job of developing purpose-driven leaders who put their “why” to work. I found that Core really forced me to practice noticing – noticing when I’m distracted, noticing how stress affects me, noticing when my actions don’t align with my purpose, and noticing when others are in need, just to give a few examples. Ultimately, we cannot change things we are not aware of, so checking in and assessing myself often has been an important lesson in honing my core values. Culture is created by those who lead by example and care about others. It is created by those who lead with integrity, ask the tough questions, and keep an open mind focused on getting things right rather than being right. When it came time to lead the DCM team of 23 students on top of managing relationships with alumni and other key stakeholders for the program, it was already clear to me what kind of culture I wanted to cultivate and legacy I wanted to leave.

I also found myself thinking much more holistically about what it means to be a leader outside of the day-to-day operations of the role. How am I making people feel? How am I embracing feedback? What can I learn from pain points in the group? How can I lead in a way that inspires my team to embrace challenges? These are all vital questions to consider that I wouldn’t have been as thoughtful about had I not gone through Core.

Learn more about the Darden’s Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management, and School initiatives supporting career development in Venture Capital