Daniel Lee and his family celebrate a birthday.

Alumni Career Services coach Daniel Lee (MBA ‘98) has more than 20 years of management consulting and operations leadership experience. He was previously employed by McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group and Accenture. Currently, he is vice president of business strategy and operations at Ellucian, a private equity-backed higher education cloud / software company. In his spare time, he coaches Darden alumni.

You majored in mechanical engineering as an undergrad and went on to get your masters in engineering. What interested you in getting your MBA?

I actually did the master’s in engineering/MBA dual-degree program because I wanted to be in analytics and technology-focused fields. One additional personal benefit of getting my MBA:  I met my future wife while at Darden; she was a UVA Law student and the two schools were right next to one another at that time.

You switched from management consulting to a role in the private sector with Ellucian. Why the switch?

One of the common sayings at McKinsey is, “it’s not a matter of whether but a matter when” to leave McKinsey and management consulting. My “when” came about two years ago. A recruiter called me, and he was looking for a vice president of business strategy and operations at a private equity-backed, higher education cloud / software company. I liked the industry, technology solutions and the company leadership, so I made my move. I would say the business tool sets I acquired at McKinsey and in management consulting still serve me well today.

How did you get interested in career coaching?

My long-term career goal used to be teaching at one of the business schools. Well, I do have a Ph.D., but that career path didn’t quite work out. I wanted to maintain academic ties in whatever way possible, so career coaching was a great fit. I enjoy meeting Darden alums and learning about incredible things they do.

What advice would you give a client who is searching for a job during the pandemic?

Be patient. Start with “warm introduction” contacts and pick their brains about your career paths of interest. It’s always easier for them to return your calls or e-mails if they know you simply want to engage in no pressure, exploratory conversations (than to ask for an opportunity or job).

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my four kids and doing service-oriented projects together. Every summer, my older children and I go to a Native American reservation, fix and repaint houses, help children’s summer programs, etc.

What career-related books do you recommend?

  • The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins (classic for any career/job switchers)
  • Quiet Leadership by David Rock  (incredible book if you want to be a better coach or manager)
  • Goliath’s Revenge by Todd Hewlin and Scott Snyder (on how to navigate your career through current and future digital disruptions and transformations)

If you’re interested in scheduling a time to meet with Daniel, please contact Alumni Career Services.