Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.
Name: Albert Mirzoyan
City: Washington, DC
Employer: Corning, Inc.
Years of Experience: 7
1. What is your current job?
Business Development for Corning, Inc.
2. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I wanted an MBA for several reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to advance my career and I knew that there would be limitations for growth within my corporation without this degree. I also wanted to strengthen my business acumen in areas such as accounting, finance, corporate strategy, and analytics.
3. Why did you choose Darden?
The case method. In my opinion, it is simply the best way to learn and push yourself professionally and personally. Though it might be intimidating at first, I feel it is, by far, the most effective method of learning. Yet an effective case method would not be possible without a world class faculty and that is exactly what you get with Darden. Additionally, the Darden community has a way of making you feel at home and part of a very large family. As an example, I reached out to several alumni, via email, for program feedback and their own take on Darden. Out of the 7 inquires, 6 of them replied within a day with highly insightful advice and perspective. Prior to becoming a student, I was also invited to a dinner party where I had a chance to meet several alumni that provided another layer of perspective of what to anticipate and how to prepare for success in this program.
4. What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?
The level of experience of the section along with the flexibility that the format offers. Classes with a seasoned group of students gives you a unique advantage to learn through their deep experience and knowledge. During the first leadership residency, it was captivating to hear perspectives on diverse issues such as ethics in business, leadership, accounting methodology, and financial reporting from an individual working as a Forensic Accountant at SEC, a physicist and a physician, to name just a few of the professions represented in the class.
As a full time employee, the executive formats were a perfect match for me because I do not have to pause my career. At this point, taking two years off to go back to school would cause me to lose some of the momentum, mentors, and opportunities I’ve been working towards at my current company. Additionally, I really liked that I would be able to apply everything I would learn in class to my day to day operations at work.
5. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?
The level of diversity in experience, job functions, accomplishments, and drive to make a difference in their companies as well as the world. A particular story that really stood out to me involved one of the students recalling his interview experience, which may I add, differed vastly from mine. Given his military background, he described how it was conducted in a tent via Skype during one of his missions while being deployed overseas, in what sounded like a fairly hostile environment. Another involved a cardiac surgeon recalling an emotional story that he experienced on the job. It’s not every day that you have the opportunity learn alongside attorneys, physicians, navy seals, consultants and a nuclear physicist.
6. What advice do you have for prospective students?
Really evaluate what you are looking to get out of your MBA experience. I found it helpful to list top 10 priorities that I needed in a program and compare it to a particular program I was considering. Make sure to talk it through with your partner/significant other and ensure they understand the time and commitment the program will take. You will spend, on average, 25-30 hours a week preparing for class on top of your full time job. As such, you need to be extremely open with those that are close to you so that they are not blindsided by the nature of this new commitment. You will need their full support and help over the next two years, so it’s important that they are fully onboard.
Time management is also critical and I highly recommend planning your week or even month ahead of time to ensure you carve out slots for those that are important in your life.
I encourage every prospective student to sit in on a class, talk to the admissions staff and current students. This is important because literature, websites, or any other type of reading only provides you a fraction of what this program entails. Prior to becoming a student, I was able to sit down with several alumni that gave me really great advice about the school and the community, further solidifying my desire to join Darden. Additionally, you might have an idea of what teaching via case method means, but it will never give you a full perspective if you don’t experience it for yourself. I thought I knew all there is to know about this type of teaching style until I actually sat on one of Professor Ron Wilcox’ marketing classes. It was transformative. In just 60 minutes, and not having read the case, I felt extremely captivated by the classroom discussion. Up to that point, I have never experienced a classroom that provided this type of excitement and interactivity while learning about very important business topics.