Q&A with Rising Second Year Molly Deale

by Sydney Sfreddo

Molly Deale, a rising Second Year and Forté Fellow at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, came with the goal of making a major career change. From managing a millinery studio in New York City and creating hats for film, television, and Broadway clients like Hamilton and Wicked to landing a summer internship in investment banking at Credit Suisse, Deale shares how the Darden journey has helped her work towards obtaining her career goals.


Why did you choose to pursue your MBA at Darden?

After going to NYU for my undergraduate degree, I knew it would be beneficial to gain an alternative experience in a place like UVA. When I started researching MBA programs, Darden’s case method was a huge selling point for me. I knew that I wanted to make a career change from fine arts to financial services and that gaining a strong business vernacular quickly was critical if I was going to succeed. I didn’t want to be sitting in the back of a lecture hall and I knew the case method would require me to stay on my feet and jump right in during class. Darden also has a very strong community mindset – I wanted an environment that would support me throughout my career switch. Both of these proved true and I was able to hit the ground running when I got here in the fall. Darden’s beautiful campus in Charlottesville was the perfect cherry on top of it all!

What will be your summer internship role at Credit Suisse?

I will be an investment banking summer associate at Credit Suisse in their Global Industrials Group. I will be joining their current deal teams working on projects that involve financial modeling and developing pitch books, along with other various tasks. I will also be supporting their senior leadership and learning about the company and its environment.

What tools and resources did you use at Darden to have a successful recruitment process?

My classmates, Darden alumni and our core classes proved to be some of the most valuable resources in the recruitment process. Many of my classmates came from corporate finance and investment banking backgrounds and proved to be a great sounding board for working on my story and prepping before interviews. I also leveraged Darden’s strong alumni network throughout the process. From job advice to mock interviews, I could tell alumni were committed to growing the Darden network at their companies. Additionally, my classes in finance, economics, and accounting proved to be extremely valuable as I was able to take the content I was learning in the classroom and apply it to the technical part of the interview process. Our professors are incredibly accessible in and out of the classroom and are always available if I ever have a question or even just to talk about life.

What is your favorite club that you are involved with at Darden?

Hands down Darden Capital Management (DCM)! We are a student run investment club with five different funds totaling about $11 million assets under management (AUM). Next year, I am excited to be a part of our leadership team as CFO after spending this year as the VP of Corporate Relations. As I’ve always been interested in investing and markets, DCM has been a great way for me to get involved and learn more about it before I even got to our first finance class. We welcome members from all backgrounds and though we always love beating our benchmarks, the club was created to provide a hands-on asset management learning experience for any Darden student. This year I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to go to Omaha with a group of 20 club members in January to attend a Q&A session and lunch with Warren Buffet, and tour a few of the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries. It was a surreal to hear Mr. Buffet discuss his story and investment philosophy in person and then see how his companies are implementing those philosophies. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity!

What words would you use to describe the Darden community?

Supportive, intelligent, fun, and diverse.

What do you do in your spare time to remain balanced?

I joined the Darden Racquets Association in the fall and enjoy playing tennis a couple times a week in addition to learning how to play squash. I also enjoy the Charlottesville restaurant scene, local wineries, and hiking.

What advice would you give to the future students joining the Darden community this summer?

Be yourself. As you begin the recruiting process, it is so important to stay true to yourself in order to find the right company that’s the best fit for you. Don’t be scared to put yourself on the front line and know that your story is what makes you stand out as the interesting candidate they want on their team.

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Future Year Admissions: Recommendation Letters

When you are applying through the Future Year Admissions process, deciding who should write your recommendations can be a surprisingly tricky matter. Senior Associate Director of Admissions Katherine Alford is here to give you some tips on what kind of recommendations Darden looks for when you apply.

Watch: Future Year Recommendation Letters

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Meet Darden’s Dean of Career Services, Jeff McNish

Have you been following along with Sara Neher’s Admissions Talk Show? Sara uses her Admissions Talk Show to introduce you to different members of the Darden community. She recently sat down with Jeff McNish, the new Assistant Dean of the Career Development Center, to chat about what’s next for the CDC.

Watch: Admissions Talk Show with Jeff McNish

Want to see more from the Admissions Talk Show, as well as admissions updates from Sara? You can find a playlist of videos here.

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Executive MBA Reflections on Charlottesville

In the executive formats of the Darden MBA, students choose whether they would like to attend in person residencies in Charlottesville, VA, or in the DC area in Rosslyn, VA. We asked two members of the Charlottesville cohort to reflect on why C-ville was the right choice for them.

Why did I choose Charlottesville for my Executive MBA location? For me, I wanted to separate my personal and professional life from my school time and really immerse in the Darden experience. Since I live in the DC area, I personally felt the Charlottesville section would give me the best opportunity to achieve these goals.

When I arrive in Charlottesville for a weekend residency, I automatically turn on school mode, and I try to eliminate as many work distractions as possible. Because of this approach, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my classmates incredibly well and deeply experience being a Darden student. I believe it’s important to make every moment in the program count from the classroom to networking to more informal social opportunities.

Another important aspect of choosing to be part of the Charlottesville section was the schedule. The Charlottesville section holds its monthly residencies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. After three days of high energy and continuous engagement in and out of the classroom, having Sunday to regroup and reset before jumping back into the work week has been vital. The day off between classes and work has allowed me to consider how I can use the concepts and lessons from each On Grounds and provide my organization with the immediate benefit of my time at Darden.

Being in Charlottesville gives me the opportunity to spend a few days on the beautiful Darden Grounds and experience the greater Charlottesville community.  Charlottesville has so much to offer outside of the University – wineries, breweries, hiking, sporting events, and restaurants- and I always look forward to a weekend in Charlottesville and On Grounds.

-Sarah Belna

Charlottesville works for me for several reasons, the first of which is timing. The Executive MBA Program came at the perfect moment in my career. As I was considering pursuing my MBA, I started a new division at my company, and I just couldn’t afford to take two years off for a full-time program. However, I knew I wanted to be in Charlottesville for my MBA experience, and the Executive MBA Program gave me the flexibility to continue advancing my career while enjoying all that Charlottesville has to offer.

I’m also based in Los Angeles, and while I have to fly in an out for residencies, I have found the commute very manageable and the travel time has actually proven to be a great opportunity for me to transition out of work mode and into school mode. It also has given me a chance to catch up on sleep, on classwork, or on regular work. Because of the program design, I have also been able to spend some of my weekend residencies in Rosslyn*, and I have built relationships with students in the Rosslyn section, even though I’m based in Charlottesville. In fact, because of this design feature, many of us think Charlottesville EMBA offers “the best of both worlds” – 12 weekend residencies in Charlottesville and 6 weekend residencies in Rosslyn. I speak with my classmates in the Rosslyn section at least a couple days a week despite our vastly different schedules, and I have really appreciated the opportunity to build my network across both program sections.

In class, my perspective on business is a little different than that of many of my peers. If you’ve been to southern California, you likely know that the business environment and lifestyle in Los Angeles is distinct from what one encounters on the east coast. I have really benefited from spending time with classmates whose backgrounds and perspectives differ from my own as well as those I typically encounter in the course of my everyday work and life in California.

Lastly, I have found that the feel of Charlottesville helps me further separate from work. Just setting foot on the main grounds of the Darden School puts me in an academic mindset. All of my classmates eagerly look forward to each of our weekend residencies together, and there is a genuine enthusiasm each time we return to Charlottesville to learn, to work through problems, and to talk about our lives beyond work.

Bottom line is you can’t go wrong with either location – Charlottesville or Rosslyn. As you think about this decision, you have to ask yourself what you’re personally looking for in an MBA experience and setting. For me, Charlottesville offered everything I was looking for.

-Reid Lathan

*Editor’s Note: During the global quarters, all EMBA format students who are not participating in that quarter’s global residency combine in Rosslyn for the two corresponding weekend residencies. For additional information about the program design and structure, please see: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/emba/admissions/faq/#general



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CLASS OF 2017: How Darden Helped This Cameroon Native Find Her Voice

When asked what she liked the most about her Darden experience, Gaelle Mawadjou Tchokoua said, “Darden’s teaching method was transformative for me. My daily exposure to the case study teaching format trained me to rapidly learn on the spot, quickly process the information learned to participate in class, and contribute to the class discussion advancement and the holistic learning experience.”

Gaelle, who graduated this May as a member of Darden’s Class of 2017, will begin her post-MBA career at M&T Bank. She credits Darden with strengthening her public speaking ability and helping her achieve her career goals. You can read more about her Darden experience in this article from UVA Today.

Congratulations, Gaelle, and best of luck in your career!

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Future Year Admissions: Why Get an MBA?

If you just graduated with your undergraduate degree or are still in school, you may not be thinking about an MBA. But Katherine Alford, Senior Associate Director of Admissions and head of Darden’s Future Year Admissions Program, thinks you should be. Hear her reasons why in the below video.

Watch: Why MBA?

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Darden on the Road: Upcoming Events in Asia and the US

The Darden Admissions Committee is getting ready to kick off their travel season and can’t wait to meet future Darden students around the globe.

Dean Scott Beardsley will be joining our team for events in Asia in June and we couldn’t be more excited. If we are scheduled to be in a city near you, we hope you’ll mark your calendars to come to our event, meet the Dean of the Darden School and learn more about our top-ranked MBA.

1 June – Singapore – Register

6 June – Hong Kong – Register

7 June – Shanghai – Register

15 June – Beijing – Register

18 June – Tokyo – Register

We hope to see many of you there!

For those in the United States, we’re also participating in multi-school events around the country throughout the month of June. Please visit our website to see when we will be in a location near you. These multi-school events are a great way to learn more about the MBA application process and connect with Admissions Committee members and alumni.

We will add travel dates throughout the summer and fall, so be sure to bookmark our Events page and check back often. We look forward to meeting you in the coming months!

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Reflections on Darden – GEMBA ’17

As graduation approaches, we asked members of the EMBA and GEMBA Classes of 2017 to share their thoughts on the Darden experience. Below you will find reflections from two GEMBA students. You can find the EMBA reflections here.

I decided to spend the day after our last class walking around Darden, and UVA grounds, with my best friend (who deserves an honorary degree for all his support during the program). I showed him our classrooms, the art on the walls, the Abbott Dining center, the Rotunda, and the Lawn. I felt so proud to tell him that on May 21st, I’ll graduate from Darden and UVA. It is an amazing feeling to be part of the Darden community, to walk the hallways that amazing people have walked and will walk.

I still remember my first day of class 21 months ago (which was also my birthday). I was eager, excited, and ready for the adventure. But I was also skeptical about the amazing journey everybody described. I remember talking to a dear mentor, and Darden alum, when I was looking for a place to get my MBA. I will never forget her words: “Darden was a transformational experience for me”. I had read a lot about Darden, the accolades, the rankings, the amazing Faculty, and I had attended three classes to experience the case method; still… I was skeptical. I was expecting a great education, but transformational seemed like a marketing word. As I walked the beautiful corridors at Darden towards Jefferson’s statue enjoying the breeze of a beautiful spring morning in Charlottesville after that last class, I realized I am a different person. My experience was indeed transformational.

Over the last 21 months I’ve learned everything I wanted to learn about business and numbers. I’ve learned 100 Excel  and how to use Finance and Accounting to analyze a corporation or a project. I’ve also learned the about the complexity of Operations, and I can read the Wall Street Journal and the Economist and understand what’s going on. I can dive into a Corporation’s Annual Report and see beyond the basics. But most importantly, I discovered my passion for Decision Analysis and its application to everything business. This revelation led me to make a big shift at work, which has brought joy and immense personal and professional satisfaction. It’s the job I would do even if I didn’t get paid to do it.

Darden exceeded my expectations. The global program exposed me to different cultures and perspectives. I’ve learned the importance of seeing people as people (sounds like a basic concept but it’s incredible how often we see others as pieces of a puzzle), and how all cultures (including those of organizations) are “flat and lumpy”.  When I changed roles, I realized that I had the tools to understand my new organizational culture. Many things were the same (flat) but others were not (lumpy). The art to navigating these twin realities is to become a cultural chameleon without losing who we are in the process. However, this concept goes beyond the organization. During our Leadership classes, we talked about the importance of learning some history to better understand culture. I’ve tried to apply that to my day to day, as a friend, a coworker, and a leader. I try to go beyond the superficial to truly understand each and every person with whom interact. This approach has allowed me see people as they are, to understand their objectives, and to appreciate what they bring to the table. In short, I’m a better leader, professional, and person because of everything I learned during the last 21 months.

I can talk for hours, and I’m happy to do so, about the experiences and lessons I’ve learned. But I also want to mention the fun. And the fun comes in the form of my classmates. I love my classmates, and I know we will be friends for life. I know I have the “six people we all need in our corners”. In fact, I have 29. I can’t even believe how much we’ve laughed together. We supported each other through countless cold calls, studied together until late at night, developed our own language to make fun of ourselves, and shared some beers around the world (well, wine in Paris). We explored the world together and supported each other when we got sick. We saw each other become a better version of ourselves.

My long walk around Darden finished in front of our pictures. I told my best friend. “These are my classmates. They are my friends and my family.” We talked about each one of them and what made them great. I know that I can pick up the phone and they will be there. I know the faculty will be there. I know Darden alumni network will be there.

-Janeth Gomez

Where do you want to go? Everywhere!

That’s how I felt in 2015 when I applied to join Darden’s GEMBA program. I’m not going to lie; I did not know what awaited me if I was honored with admission to this prestigious school. I only knew that it would be a journey worth taking.

I got the call that changed my life on my birthday.

Nearly two years later, I see the world differently. I’m in possession of skills that were previously unknown to me. I’m friends with people I never would have met otherwise and I’m part of a larger Darden family that spreads out from Charlottesville to São Paulo to San Francisco to Shanghai to Delhi to Paris and back again. I’d seen the world before. But I’d never seen it like this.

It all started with Thomas Jefferson, the intellectual visionary and foundational rock upon with the University of Virginia and, by extension, Darden School of Business is built upon. His spirit of boundless curiosity lives on through the school and fuels our drive to explore the world.

You would think that learning about economics, finance, accounting, decision analysis, marketing, operations, strategy, entrepreneurship and leadership from faculty who have lived the curriculum would be enough for a complete education. With GEMBA, however, you get more than you bargained for.

Theory and discussion are starting points. Talking with the president of Coca-Cola India in Delhi, McKinsey’s chairman for Latin America in São Paulo and the chief economist for the People’s Bank of China in Beijing, however, is an education without peer.

How do we meet the world and see it for what it is? How do we accept it, work with it and add value to it? These questions are best answered face-to-face with the reality of Mumbai and Shanghai. These questions are best answered on the Embraer factory floor in Brazil. These questions are best answered in a discussion about the business of luxury with executives at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. You will come out the other side of this education with a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing global executives. You will be better equipped to succeed.

I can’t promise that you’ll have my GEMBA experience – let’s not talk about what happened in Lapa – but I can promise that you will have an experience that is without parallel. Enjoy.

-Wright Bryan

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Application Feedback Appointments Now Available

If you will be reapplying to Darden in the fall and would like to receive feedback on your application, registration is now open for a one-on-one, 15-minute feedback session with a member of the Admissions Committee during the month of June. At this time, we are not offering feedback appointments to applicants on the waitlist. 

This is an opportunity to find out how you can improve your candidacy for your Darden application for the coming year. Please note that reconsideration for the current admission cycle is not an option.

To schedule a phone appointment, please go to our Application Feedback page and select a time slot. We currently have slots available throughout the month of June. Within 48 hours of signing up for an appointment, you will receive an e-mail with the name and phone number for the Admissions Committee member you are to call at the designated time.

We look forward to talking with those of you that sign up!

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Darden’s Future Year Admissions Program: New Deadline Announced

Attention all graduating college seniors! If you were thinking about applying to Darden’s Future Year Admissions program but missed the May deadline, we have good news. We are adding an additional deadline for the graduating class of 2017. Watch the video below to learn more, and when you’re ready, start your application here.

Watch the video: New Future Year Deadline

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