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Getting to Know UVA Darden Alumni Career Services Coach Stacey Milne (MBA ’87)

By Sallie Lesemann-
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Pictured above: Stacey and her family enjoying a hike in Acadia National Park

A global marketing expert, Stacey Milne (MBA ’87) joined Darden’s Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services coaching team in March 2020. Stacey had recently retired from Marriott after serving in multiple roles over the course of 30 years, including positions in B2C and B2B marketing, brand management, strategic planning, and business leadership with P&L responsibility. Read more about Stacey on our website.

What major changes did you witness in the marketing function during your career?

In my first marketing role for the Residence Inn by Marriott brand in the early ’90s, we had no website and no digital media in the marketing plan, just traditional advertising, PR, sales and loyalty marketing. That’s hard to believe now with digital, data-based marketing and sophisticated audience-led media planning leading today’s plans. What absolutely has not changed is the importance of a customer-led marketing strategy beginning with segmentation, targeting and positioning. It’s just that we have far deeper customer insights and data for informing our strategies than we did when I started my career after Darden. But, those foundational Darden marketing frameworks still are truly relevant!

What trends are you seeing in the hospitality industry?

The pandemic shut down travel all over the globe, resulting in many closed hotels and furloughs or layoffs for many in the hospitality industry. Travel started to rebound first with leisure road trips and “work-cations,” with remote workers traveling to get a change of scenery. Hospitality companies reorganized at the corporate levels and are hiring again for specific skill areas like ecommerce and data analytics. Larger city hotels are beginning to reopen. Yes, we will travel again!

How did you get interested in becoming a career coach?

After retiring from a 30-year career with Marriott in marketing, brand management and strategy a couple years ago, I began exploring “encore careers.” During this process, I realized what was most personally fulfilling to me during my career was leading teams and developing people, so I decided to explore career coaching. It is great to be back at Darden, and I am really enjoying meeting other alumni, learning about their amazing careers and helping them think about what’s possible next.

Do you have a favorite Darden memory?

Some of my favorite Darden memories are the feeling of support working with my study group to survive the First Year, dressing up with four friends as an HP-12C calculator for Halloween, and “Thursday Night Club” cocktails Second Year.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy being outdoors hiking, biking and skiing with my husband and daughter, as well as swinging a hammer as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I am also loving reconnecting in person with friends and family now that I am fully vaccinated!

What are the best things you have read or watched during the pandemic?

  • Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (and participating in the Darden ACS workshop!)
  • Caste by Isabella Wilkerson (for perspective in understanding our current times)
  • The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, Buffalo Bills football and Washington Nationals baseball (for pleasure)