In November 2015 I had the good fortune of becoming the new Executive Director of The Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services (ACS).  After receiving my MBA from Kellogg , I joined the Equities division at Goldman Sachs where I spent the next nine years in sales and trading. I left Goldman in 2008 for a stint on the buy-side, but after a clean decade in the business I decided to make a major career and life change. It was the hardest, the easiest, and the best decision of my life all rolled into one. I am an MBA alumna, a two-time industry and function career switcher, and for the last 7 years, a career coach. For obvious reasons, the concept of ACS means a great deal to me both personally and professionally. In my first Career Corner Blog entry, I’d like to offer my hope for what ACS means to you.

In my first few months at Darden, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the mission of ACS: to provide quality career management services to all Darden School alumni throughout their lives. As I read and re-read that statement, the one word that keeps popping in my head is change. To provide career management services throughout one’s life is to essentially help one manage inevitable change.

There are two kinds of change. There is the kind of change that you drive, that you initiate, that you control. This is arguably the desirable kind of change. It is certainly the type of change you feel best about, even if it is a little scary. For many of us, the decision to go to business school is the first significant change we initiate in our careers. The second kind of change is change that you cannot control, change that is driven by external forces – market crashes, competition, reorganizations, unplanned life events, etc. This is the kind of change that makes most of us uneasy, especially when it comes to our careers. The good news is that even unplanned change can lead to enormously positive results.

As alumni  of Darden, you are leaders and managers of change. As entrepreneurs, consultants, bankers, product managers, etc., you are helping your organizations, or other organizations, to both initiate positive change and mitigate the detriments of unexpected change. As MBAs, this is our sweet spot. This is what we get paid to do. However, for many MBAs, we manage change so well for our employers that we neglect change management for ourselves. Some of us work for or lead companies that do a superb job of career management – setting goals, rewarding performance, encouraging learning and development, and providing lateral and upward mobility. Most of us, on the other hand, need to take these matters into our own hands. Enter ACS.

Whether you have experienced unplanned change or you are looking to create change in your career, ACS strives to be your change management consultant. We aim to support you as you make the absolute most of your career, regardless of industry, function, employment status or life-stage. We want to be another reason that you engage with Darden and leverage its vast resources.

Darden’s alumni are its most prized asset. You are benefactors, mentors, leaders, volunteers, and protectors of the Darden brand. You comprise the network that makes the Darden MBA so highly valued. Thanks to the leadership and generosity of alums that fit this very description, ACS exists free of charge …and we are humbly at your service.

If you are interested in learning more about ACS, please visit the ACS web site and feel free to reach out for an appointment:

Wishing you the very best in 2016 and looking forward to hearing from you soon.


Jen Coleman