Patti Tenenbaum joined the Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning (EELL) team in June of 2022 as Senior Director of Client Solutions. In her role, she is responsible for nurturing and cultivating relationships with clients and identifying further opportunities for partnership, working closely with Darden’s business development team, program managers, program operations and faculty. Here, Patti shares her journey to Darden, her favorite part of the role, most memorable moment to date and what makes Darden unique.

How long have you been at Darden and what led you here?

I recently hit my one-year mark at Darden! Prior to Darden, I worked at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas for almost 11 years in executive education. During the last three years of my tenure, I established a client solutions position that bridged the gap between Managing Directors and the Operations team, building upon the interface of client relations, business development, and best practices in program implementation.

Darden has a great reputation as a business school and as an executive education provider, so I wanted to apply my expertise to a new challenge that was available at EELL. Also, my son had recently moved to Washington, D.C., so knew I’d be spending more time in the area and could contribute to the Darden brand.

What has been your favorite part of your job?

I’d have to say it’s meeting all the stakeholders – faculty, colleagues within EELL, and establishing relationships with clients. The fun part is seeing how we can transform organizations with these resources and our brand. It’s been great to get to know everyone, understand the importance of UVA and gain a sense of how Darden EELL operates in the region.

Why is lifelong learning important to you?

There’s no such thing as never learning. You’re always learning, especially in today’s work environment. Nothing stays the same. Everything changes. The core topics of leadership and executive development might stay the same, but how we the approach the context of why it’s important is the differentiator. I think we can see that COVID changed how we view work and now, post-pandemic it’s a totally different world. How we look at leadership and how we lead people during uncertain times – that’s always going to be important. Understanding and implementing how we offer new learning approaches to our clients with those options and solutions is the key to our success.

What would you say makes Darden unique from its competitors?

The Darden Business School and Foundation are committed to investing in Executive Education AND Lifelong Learning. That added highlight sets the tone for expanded learning to those at various levels of their careers. It also relates to skill-building beyond leadership, capturing today’s technology advancements, promoting digital learning and offering the best platforms for learning in online, in-person or hybrid modes.  Darden is positioned well locally in Charlottesville with the new Forum Hotel and conference center, as well as the versatile UVA Darden DC Metro location in Rosslyn, Virginia.

Additionally, we have world-class faculty as our subject matter experts, who partner with the EELL team in working with our corporate, association, and military/government clients. There are no lectures as Darden utilizes the Socratic method of learning – setting the standard for adult and executive learning.

Together with Darden’s highly-ranked MBA degree programs, EELL offers many options and opportunities that differentiate us from our competition. We don’t provide “training,” Darden provides exceptional “development.”

Is there a particularly memorable moment of impact or story that you’d like to share from your first year?

In several programs, it has been so inspiring and uplifting to see how people from across an enterprise who didn’t know each other, come together. They become an action-oriented team to solve capstone challenges including green initiatives, cost-saving endeavors or innovative approaches like Design Thinking. Most memorably, the CEO from one organization went out of his way to compliment the impactful nature of the program we had just completed.