Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning’s (EELL) Learning Solutions Directors, Allison Stratton and Lauren Shifflett hosted a virtual coffee chat with recent participants, Debby Martin from Delta Dental and Bobbie Terry with the U.S. Army. They discussed how Darden EELL’s Certificate in Leadership & Management helps leaders meet their unique career goals, revealing five key ways that this certificate program is a perfect fit for every leader.

1. Earn Your Certificate at Your Own Pace

Darden gives participants up to seven years to complete their Certificate in Leadership & Management, which requires the completion of four EELL open programs. Some participants complete their certificate in one year, while others may take longer. Go at the pace that works well for you and your schedule. At Darden, we understand that life happens, and we’re here to help you find a way to make professional development fit into your life.

2. Choose Programs That Are Relevant and Timely

One of the benefits of a Certificate in Leadership & Management is that it’s customized to meet your unique career goals and needs. Both Debby and Bobbie started by choosing programs that were relevant to where they were at in their careers at the time of starting their certificate. We can map out your timeline by selecting one program at a time as you discover what you need in your leadership journey or choose multiple programs at once.

Debby shared, “I chose courses that were relevant to where I felt like I needed some professional growth at the time, and that worked with my schedule. I started with the Women in Leadership Program.”

I was changing leadership roles at the time and had a new team. I wanted the team to see me as a teammate, and so Servant Leadership stood out.

- Bobbie Terry, Supervisory Procurement Analyst, Department of the Army Civilian

3. Multiple Formats Offered to Fit Your Schedule

Darden offers three different program formats for participants to choose from:

  • In-Person: In-person programs take place in either Charlottesville, Virginia or the UVA Darden DC Metro location. Programs are typically about one week in length, and program costs include materials and most meals.
  • Live Virtual: This online format provides live interaction with the faculty and classmates, along with self-paced assignments and discussion boards. Programs are typically four weeks in length. This format is perfect if you need flexibility but also want face time with the professor(s) and program participants.
  • Self-Paced Online: This format allows you to work through the program material in your own time and provides the most flexibility. These programs run anywhere from 5 weeks to 5 months, typically with extra time built-in so you can work while you learn without stress. You are able to interact with the faculty and participants through discussion boards and peer reviews.

Having taken multiple formats, Debby shared the following, “After completing Women in Leadership, an in-person program, first, I did not have high expectations for the online programs. I had completed virtual programs elsewhere in the past, and they had been a so-so experience. However, after completing three online programs for my certificate, I have to say that no one does it like Darden. They were very interactive and well-paced, and time-wise it worked out better for me. With everyone being virtual, it did not take away from the collaboration and the discussions. It was all done in a way that, honestly, only Darden can do.”

She also added, “Professor Bobby Parmar had videos laid out for Collaboration and Influence that were easy to follow, interesting and had scenarios depicted that helped to grasp concepts. I also found the program to be very interactive. Participants would talk with each other through the program chat and discuss resources.”

4. See Benefits for You and Your Organization Immediately

Debby and Bobbie agreed that Darden was different from other professional development programs they have taken because of the caliber of teaching and the learning experience that Darden professors create. Regardless of format, programs are highly interactive and you’re able to apply teachings immediately to make an impact.

When asked what sets Darden apart from other programs, Bobbie shared, “Darden is premier. I think the thing that Darden does well is include you. A lot of other programs that I’ve taken are taught at you, but at Darden you become a part of the program. They not only teach us new skills and perspectives, but they also help us teach each other. Darden allows you to take what you’re learning and put it into practice. They make it real and impactful, and because these programs are so impactful on you as an individual, it’s a memory. When you encounter a situation as a leader, you know how to apply what you learned immediately or down the road.”

The caliber of the professors teaching in the programs is incredible. I attend a lot of seminars every year for professional growth, and they were usually technical. These programs are leadership focused, which challenges me because these soft skills require a lot of self-reflection and understanding how to apply what’s being taught in how you lead. Darden’s programs were the best I’ve ever taken, and that’s in any setting over my 30 years of attending courses of some sort.

- Debby Martin, Controller, Delta Dental

5. Different Financing Options Are Available

There are many different ways to pay for your Darden EELL experience. Research if your company offers a professional development benefit that would cover the cost of your programs. There are also discounts offered for individuals who work for a non-profit or government organization, are active military, or are a University of Virginia or Darden School of Business alumni. While the full cost of a program is due before starting the program, you can pay in installments before the program start date. For questions about financing your Certificate in Leadership & Management, we strongly encourage you to schedule a call with Allison or Lauren.

Learn more about Darden EELL’s Certificate in Leadership & Management.

Programs completed by Debby Martin include Women in Leadership Program, Managing Organizational and Individual Change, Leading Mindfully, and Collaboration and Influence.

Programs completed by Bobbie Terry include Servant Leadership: Leading With Humanity, Managing Organizational and Individual Change, Strategic Negotiation, and Leading Teams for Growth and Change.