Dara Busman is a current Executive MBA student in the Class of 2024. As the Director of Product Strategy and Operations at Bluemercury, Busman brings important insight and knowledge into the classroom.  

Her work is all encompassing. From product development and operation functions to formulation, packaging and strategy, Busman oversees it all. Before her time at Bluemercury, she worked on product development for private label brands across multiple apparel categories at Macy’s Inc.  

How did you decide to pursue an MBA? 

I had been thinking about it for quite some time. It takes a lot of research and thought, but I was finally ready to make the time commitment an Executive MBA program requires. Bluemercury also started going through a growth and transformation period. Our founder exited the company and brand-new leadership came on board. With all the growth on the horizon, I knew getting an MBA would give me the tools, resources and education to evolve with the company. Plus, the timing was right for me, in my personal life. 

What is your advice for prospective students? What would you encourage them to think about? 

Many people would tell me, “Don’t go back to school unless you know exactly what you want.” And after going through the program, I completely disagree with that line of thought. The Darden journey will really surprise you. You’ll gain knowledge and insights both educationally and personally that you didn’t even know that you needed to learn. So, of course, take your time and do your research, but if you think it’s a good fit, just dive in. 

I’ve found that you can relate to so many different industries. I’m coming in from a bit of a niche industry – there are not many beauty product developers in the program. But there is so much to learn from everyone in the program – no matter their industry, career path or age.  

What led you to Darden? 

I have a dear friend and colleague who was in the Executive MBA program when I joined Bluemercury, and she really planted the seed in me back in 2017. I went with her to a bunch of different Darden events and after doing my own research, I thought Darden was truly the right fit for me.  

Logistically it made sense because I live in Washington DC, and, most importantly, from an education standpoint, I fell in love with the case method learning style. I sat in on a mock class with Greg Fairchild in 2017 and, based upon that experience, I knew I didn’t want an online only program. I knew being able to engage with students or networking in-person would be invaluable.

What do you enjoy about learning through the case method? 

I’m pretty outgoing but being in a room with 70 people and having to raise your hand and speak your mind can be intimidating. It has allowed me to be more confident and know that my voice is not only being heard but is valuable to the conversations. To me, it’s been more impactful than just sitting and reading a textbook or listening to a lecture. To be engaged in conversation, seeing the concepts be applied in real-time while hearing other people’s perspectives makes you learn about a particular topic in a very holistic way.

Do you have a favorite memory from the program thus far? 

There are so many in such a short period of time. The first Leadership Residency week in Charlottesville was amazing. Getting to know my classmates and seeing how intelligent everyone was, made me even more excited for the program. During one case discussion early on, we were discussing diversity. I had the opportunity to open up about my own journey, being born in Korea and adopted into a Caucasian family. That story resonated, and my classmates still come up to me sharing how impactful it was to hear my story, and how awesome it was just that I shared so early on. So that’s definitely a highlight for me. 

What do you think the impact of the program has been for you?

Overall, I would say the program renewed my passion for learning. I’ve actually been able to use accounting, strategy and leadership concepts in my day to day. Being able to take what you’re learning in class and applying it at work is one of the best things about the program – You get to see how useful and applicable everything you’re learning is.