Erika Keough is a student in the Executive MBA Class of 2023, and she recently joined the ExecMBA podcast to share insights about her decision to pursue an MBA, what led her to Darden, what she loves about her classmates and how the program ultimately pushed her to explore an entrepreneurial path. Keough discussed her new venture, Le Breton Group, a People and Talent advisory and consulting services firm for Early Stage startups.

Keough shared, “The program has re-energized me professionally, in ways I would have never believed. It hasn’t just been about what I’ve learned, which is obviously a huge piece of it, but it’s also given me an opportunity to share the many professional stories and experiences that I’ve had, which my classmates have valued. It’s not just the conversations inside of the classroom, but it’s also the discussions that take place on the breaks or the dinners later that evening, where there’s a continuation of the experience and further introspection.”

Keough highlighted her new company, Le Breton Group, and why she’s excited about helping startups with the People and Talent aspect of their growth.

“The business I started has a very niche market, which supports startups, specifically Seed to Series B, which don’t have a full-time resource on the People and Talent side. As the startups take on additional funding and have different needs, they are being asked to make decisions around Talent. They’re either replacing talent or aggressively growing headcount for scale, and these startups cannot necessarily afford a full-time resource. What I’m doing now is serving as a fractional Chief People Officer. I handle everything from talent acquisition, talent management, talent development, employee relations and help them grow and scale from wherever they are. The challenging story for startups can be understanding what’s appropriate for them at their stage, how to make sense of how much to invest in, especially in systems and processes and, of course, talent. It has been joyful and energizing. When you support a startup, every day is different and every day brings something new.”