Joe Veverka is a senior program manager at Microsoft Advertising where he focuses on data strategy and incubation. Prior to beginning his career at Microsoft six years ago, he held various creative and digital positions over 13 years. Veverka views himself as a lifelong learner and chose to pursue the noncredit online Certificate in Business Strategy from Darden’s Executive Education & Lifelong Learning (EELL) last year to continue expanding his business knowledge and skillsets.

Why did you choose the Business Strategy program series?

As a senior program manager, I need to think strategically, build business cases and understand market dynamics for the products and services that my analysts provide. I can work on anything from product strategy for a new ad unit one week to understanding how to strategically link together brand narratives in a marketing thought leadership project the next week. I’m asked to have a broad range and although I’m not a strategist by role, my role is highly strategic. My role is one of the few that looks across the different businesses at Microsoft and needs to be able to connect the dots. I found this program to be the right fit for my professional goals.

Having previously earned your MBA, how did you know that this program would advance you?

For our group at Microsoft, being able to tell stories and communicate is super important to our business. Prior to the program, my team had story telling trainings and speakers come in on multiple occasions and I always took something new away from each training. You’re always at a different point in your career journey and there’s always something else you can learn. If you are really operating with a growth mindset, you are always thinking, “I can always learn something and there will be added value here.”

It’s important to do your homework and find a program that fits. For my career development, I wanted to get even more strategic than where I was at, which led me to Darden. During my MBA program, I was going through a career transition and didn’t get the opportunity to apply all of the concepts I was learning in my daily practice at my job. There’s always a spectrum of what you were able to learn and what you were able to apply. Strategy was a bucket that I had identified as an area where I was interested in learning more.

How would you describe your program experience?

From day one, I was impressed with the program series. What Darden professors have done is give you a comprehensive business strategy outlook. It was strategy presented with a different lens than in my MBA program as I concentrated in marketing. The program was a really great experience and I highly recommend it.

With the program being asynchronous, did you get the engagement and tools you were expecting?

Absolutely. I’m an adjunct faculty member at DePaul and teach marketing to my own students asynchronously. At the end of the day, it’s really on the learner to apply themselves. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to get away from that dynamic.

I will say that having the alumni sponsors and moderators for the program’s discussion board drove a lot of energy. I think Darden does a good job trying to provide the environment where those who want to engage, can engage. I also appreciated the peer reviews section of the course. Overall, it was a solid experience, and I would do it again. I used the some of the projects and case studies from the program to create a collection for myself that was relevant to the project I was working on at Microsoft and get it off to a running start.

Learn more about the Certificate in Business Strategy and how it may help you reach your career or organizational goals.