Kelly Sullivan (Class of 2018) Shares Experience from Global Internship in Israel

By Iqra Razzaq

Kelly Sullivan, a native of the D.C. area, is currently a rising second year at Darden. After graduating in 2011 from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, Kelly worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for five years before applying to Darden. She ultimately decided to pursue an MBA at Darden because it embodies all the qualities she values in an MBA program – a tight-knit community whose students somehow strike the perfect balance between relentless ambition and unwavering support and collaboration, as well as exceptionally engaged and invested professors.

Kelly with members of Section B on the Japan DWC in May

This past May, Kelly traveled to Japan on a Darden Worldwide Global Immersion Course. She spent a week and a half traveling to across Japan, exploring technological innovation, and observing business practices specific to Japan. “I knew I definitely wanted to do one of the Darden Worldwide Courses. I really like traveling and I’m also interested in international business,” Kelly stated regarding her decision on the course. Kelly ultimately decided on Japan because it focused heavily on innovation and technology, an industry she plans to pursue after graduation.

Kelly chose to further develop her international business experiences by accepting an internship with Beverage Analytics™ by WeissBeerger in Tel Aviv, Israel. This summer, Kelly has incorporated lessons learned from her course in Japan into her current internship work. “One of the key themes from the Japan course I found was that business norms are very subjective to [the local] culture,” Kelly stated as one her major takeaways. She learned firsthand that the Japanese business culture and U.S. business culture are different from one another. For example, Japanese culture focuses more on consensus and agreement than what Kelly has seen and experienced in the U.S. “Having that perspective coming into my internship in Israel already had me in that mindset of thinking, ‘What’s the culture? How does it tie into the workstyle here? And how may it be different from the U.S.?’” Kelly explained.

Kelly at the Weissbeerger office in Tel Aviv

Kelly reflected on the importance and need for having such global experiences incorporated in an MBA program. “I think as much as professors can teach concepts in the classroom about nuances of other countries and the value of cross-cultural leadership, you really don’t understand it until you see it for yourself. All of that is resonating with me now,” Kelly explained regarding her global experiences during her time at Darden so far. Kelly found the differences between the classroom and working abroad quite distinctive and eye-opening. She explained, “You really get to see how things actually get done [working abroad]. I’m working in a startup and things change every day. Also, how you get things done one day can change the next. It’s important to see and understand the limitations and capabilities companies have in different environments and cultures.” She further stressed how this experience can sometimes be lost in a classroom where everything is slightly more idealistic, controlled, and different from actually drafting a plan and executing it in a foreign country.

Kelly spoke about her transition to a different lifestyle in Tel Aviv. She connected to a few people in Israel before she even arrived; however, she found herself pleasantly surprised at her own ability to navigate independently and integrate into the new culture. “People in Israel are really warm and very inclusive. From the very first day, colleagues in my office were inviting me to get dinner with their friends and setting up a girls’ trip to go see Wonder Woman.” Although Israel quickly felt familiar and comfortable for Kelly, she did notice some differences that made her internship experience distinct. Although most of the company speaks English and language didn’t hold Kelly back, she quickly realized that you miss the opportunity to learn from the conversations and debates happening around her when people spoke in their native tongue, Hebrew. It is a learning opportunity she took for granted previously. Another unique aspect of the work culture in Israel is that the work week is Sunday through Thursday, due to Shabbat (Sabbath) being celebrated Friday evening through Saturday evening. These and other nuances of the Israeli culture reinforced the message she had taken away from Japan – the local culture has a huge impact on the business norms and values of any country.

Kelly maintains her commitment to global experiences as a CGI Ambassador for Darden. She took on this role to encourage more students to enroll in global experiences – whether through Darden courses or international internships/careers.

Post-Darden, Kelly hopes to pursue her interests in both technology and international business by joining a U.S.-based technology product company with a global footprint. She would love to continue to travel to international locations, gain an understanding of their unique cultures, and use that understanding to shape and develop products for diverse market audiences.

On a visit to the North of Israel

A segway tour of Jerusalem with coworkers

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Ari Katz (Class of 2018) Shares Insights About His Career Transition

By Sydney Chakalos

Ari Katz (’18) spent his summer interning at Barclays in New York City as an investment banking summer associate on the Natural Resources team. Katz, who was born in Israel and grew up in Canada, came to Darden with a strong sense of what he wanted to do next in his career and how he wanted to leverage the Darden MBA. Katz took some time to share what drew him to Darden and how his experience has helped him take his career to the next level.

Prior to Darden, Katz worked for an executive search firm in Toronto and wanted to switch careers into banking. He always knew he wanted to pursue his MBA. When he began looking at programs, he wanted a diverse international experience. “Darden held a great reputation for banking recruiting, and I knew that was what I wanted to go into,” said Katz.

He worked to get a jump-start on preparing for recruiting early. “I spoke with the Career Development Center (CDC) over the summer in my career kickoff meeting, and got tips for what I could be doing in the summer to get prepared,” Katz recalls. Once he arrived on Grounds in the fall, he continued to receive support from his CDC Second Year Coach and the Darden Finance Club. “The banking recruiting process is a very structured and proven path at Darden, and with the Second Years and the Finance Club guiding you through it, it was pretty easy to pick up on what we needed to be successful.”

Training sessions from the Finance Club on skills that are valuable to have for banking and the rigor of academics at Darden, helped Katz feel prepared to tackle his internship.

Katz offered a few pieces of advice to the incoming First Years, after going through the recruiting process this past year. “If you’re not sure what you want to do early on, go to the industry briefings, as there are a lot of common misconceptions about what it’s like to work in different industries. Also there are Second Years, CDC Second Year coaches, student clubs and the CDC that are all valuable resources and here to help you.”

Learn more about the career support offered at Darden here.

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Lois M. McEntyre (MBA ’95) on Global Leadership and Impact

Lois McEntyre (MBA ’95) has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the airline, automotive, banking and consulting industries, including three years living and working in Shanghai. Driven by a desire to bridge the world, help people and make a difference both personally and professionally, McEntyre currently directs General Motors North America Contact Center Operations and oversees contact center operations for GM Customer Care, Dealer Assistance and OnStar for multiple sites in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Philippines. Her team delivers OnStar safety and navigation solutions in vehicles as well as customer assistance — nearly six million customer interactions each month. During her time leading the Shanghai OnStar customer service organization, McEntyre’s team won multiple awards, including top honors for call center service and customer service management from the China Service Trade Association. While living in Shanghai, McEntyre also contributed to the local community through a literacy and English language program.

What interested you in working/volunteering globally?

I was appointed as the director of subscriber services at OnStar-Shanghai, a division of General Motors in China, in 2011. One of the main reasons I accepted the role is because of the increased scope of work and level of autonomy that would allow me to develop my leadership capabilities. I felt that the experience would be beneficial for my long-term career at General Motors. The decision to accept the role was not difficult because in addition to the professional benefits, the benefits for my daughters were my primary motivation to pursue the position in the first place. I knew my daughters would get to experience new cultures, see new and exciting things, go to beautiful places and make new friends with children from all over the world. These experiences are invaluable in terms of the contribution to their education and to their relationship with the world. It has positively changed their lives forever.

Please describe your involvement in the Sunflowers literacy program in Shanghai.  How did you hear of the program and what made you decide to take part?

I learned about the Sunflowers during a conversation with one of my employees at General Motors China. I had been living in Shanghai for about six months, and I was talking to her about how I really wanted to find a way to work with the local community in a way that would allow me learn more about Chinese culture, while at the same time giving me the chance to share American culture. The lady I was speaking with told me about this community initiative she was involved in where she and other Chinese people were mentors to children of migrant farmers and that they really wanted to teach them English, but needed someone who spoke English as their primary language to help. This was my introduction to Sunflowers and I seized the opportunity because I have a passion for helping people.

As a volunteer with Sunflowers, I facilitated the design of the English curriculum for school age children from the ages of 8-12. Every week for several months, we had volunteers from the Girl Scouts of America, Shanghai chapter, read to the children and teach them an English lesson and some aspect of American culture. The work was extremely fulfilling because I was working with children of families who were in need and had minimal resources. I knew that I was helping to enhance their skillset so that they would have more personal, education and ultimately professional opportunities in their future. In addition, I was helping them build bridges globally.

What were some early leadership lessons you learned?  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Some of the early leadership lessons I learned during my assignment in Shanghai were about truly understanding the Chinese culture and on the realization that it is critically important to learn the culture in order to work successfully in China. As a non-Mandarin speaking American in China, I had to approach my Chinese partners with humility and demonstrate my best efforts to learn their culture in order to show that I care about their way of life and the way they do business.

Generally speaking, one of the best leadership lessons I learned during my career is that everyone has their own way of doing things, and that it is important to understand and respect others styles. The more one understands how others operate and what’s important to them, the more it can lead to greater and better outcomes. It is important to be able to utilize situational leadership in order to build strong working relationships and highly effective teams.

The best advice I’ve ever received is that the people that I manage and work with are my best assets. It’s important to invest time in building relationships with colleagues and in developing individuals on my team because its take the entire team to be successful.

Describe a time when you realized the true value of your Darden education.

I realized the value of my Darden education when I initiated the conversation with my manager about my interest in working in China. At the time, OnStar in China was about two years old. I explained to him why I felt I was qualified, how I thought I could contribute and why I was interested in working overseas. During the conversation, he asked if I understood that the scope of the role would require me to have knowledge of different business functions because Shanghai OnStar was still in startup mode.  When I explained to him that I had received my MBA from the Darden School and that my degree was in general management, he was pleased. That was when I realized the value of my education.

What advice would you give aspiring MBA students or recent MBA graduates?

Based of my global experience, the advice I would give an aspiring MBA student or recent graduate would be to find an opportunity to study or work abroad. The business world is truly global and you will not get a true appreciation for how other parts of the world operate — which in some cases is in a manner even more advanced than in the U.S. — if your perspective is only from U.S. soil.

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Paloma Bengoechea (Class of 2018) Reflects on Darden Worldwide Course to China

Paloma enjoys her time exploring China with Darden.

By Iqra Razzaq

Paloma Bengoechea is a rising second year at Darden from North Bethesda, Maryland. For her undergraduate degree, Paloma earned her B.A. in Art History and minored in both psychology and Italian at Georgetown University. She additionally worked as the Operations Manager at Atlantic Media Strategies before enrolling at Darden. Paloma fully involves herself in both academics and extra-curricular activities, serving as the Vice President for Technology for the Darden Student Association, Vice President of Finance for the Hispanic American Network at Darden, and plays soccer through a student club at Darden. Currently, Paloma is interning with Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a Strategy & Planning intern in Houston, Texas.

Paloma traveled to China in May, participating in a Darden Global Immersion Course alongside classmates and professors. She studied both the culture and business practices of China through meetings, company visits, and interactions with alumni. Paloma, who traveled often growing up due to her dad’s employment at The World Bank, knew she always wanted to travel globally as part of her MBA and had been considering a trip to China for some time. Paloma found global interactions very transformative at Georgetown, so finding global opportunities at Darden played a huge factor in her enrollment at the school. The course to China appealed strongly to Paloma.

“I wasn’t expecting to feel the culture shock as much as I did,” Paloma said. Paloma comes from a Spanish and Puerto-Rican background and lived in South America for a few years in her childhood. She previously visited many countries where she couldn’t speak the language, however her time in China felt different from her prior experiences, where she found even ordering food to be a complicated task due to communication barriers. Paloma reflected that Darden alums, who were involved throughout the program, helped to bridge the divide as they became like cultural translators in conversations and meetings. She stressed “strength in numbers” also helped and stated, “I was always with at least one other classmate exploring Shanghai.”

When comparing her experience learning inside the classrooms at Darden and learning in an experiential setting abroad, Paloma found her trip an enlightening complement to her time at Darden especially in regard to the case-method curriculum. “I thought [the teaching methodology] would be different going into the field, but it’s funny how it just felt like a natural extension of the case experience.” Paloma shared that classmates often assumed the role of  case protagonists as they determined what they gained from conversations at the companies they visited.

Paloma and a classmate enjoy the visit to Shanghai Daily.

Due to her previous experiences working in the media industry, Paloma found the company visit to Shanghai Daily, an English language newspaper in Shanghai founded in 1999, to be personally valuable and interesting. She also noted how even a social excursion, such as the one on her last day to the markets, ended up being a great opportunity for learning as well. Along with course staff coordinator, Angie Simonetti, and some of her classmates, Paloma said the trip to the markets was an excellent crash course in negotiation as they haggled with sellers for better prices, which she said involved heavy group work and visits to multiple stores. Paloma also recently found parallels from the course in China to her current internship at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, as the manufacturing floor at her office reminds her of the visit to TE Connectivity in China.

“I learned a lot of different facts and figures in China, but the main lesson I took away on a personal level is the incredible caliber of the people I go to school with,” Paloma said. Paloma witnessed her classmates in action in a global setting and she found it enlightening to view their dynamics outside of the classroom. She developed a new appreciation for her classmates and enjoyed the ability to really know them outside of the classroom.

Paloma stated the entire course, running for its fourth consecutive year, went smoothly, like a “tight-ship”.  Paloma found the trip unlike any other as it truly showed her how businesses run in China, takeaways she determined would have been difficult to grasp so completely without this trip. She urges present and future classmates, regardless of their decision to partake in a Darden Worldwide Course or not, to look to their international Darden friends and professors as resources for gaining insight into global business.

The course to China served as a jumping off point for Paloma to Asia and she can’t wait to continue exploring.  She stated, “While I hope to continue visiting different parts of the world, I feel lucky to have gone while at Darden and with a program that has been tried and tested…I hope it’s the first of many such applied business experiences.”

(Photos below provided by Angie Simonetti; photos above provided by Paloma)

All of the China Global Immersion students on location!

Darden classroom experience in China

A visit to partner school CEIBS in Shanghai

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A New Resource for Solving Global Challenges: Design Thinking for the Greater Good



Facing especially wicked problems, social sector organizations are searching for powerful new methods to understand and address them. Design Thinking for the Greater Good goes in depth on both the how of using new tools and the why. As a way to reframe problems, ideate solutions, and iterate toward better answers, design thinking is already well established in the commercial world. Through ten stories of struggles and successes in fields such as health care, education, agriculture, transportation, social services, and security, the authors show how collaborative creativity can shake up even the most entrenched bureaucracies–and provide a practical roadmap for readers to implement these tools.

The design thinkers Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman, and Daisy Azer explore how major agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Transportation and Security Administration in the United States, as well as organizations in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, have instituted principles of design thinking. In each case, these groups have used the tools of design thinking to reduce risk, manage change, use resources more effectively, bridge the communication gap between parties, and manage the competing demands of diverse stakeholders. Along the way, they have improved the quality of their products and enhanced the experiences of those they serve. These strategies are accessible to analytical and creative types alike, and their benefits extend throughout an organization. This book will help today’s leaders and thinkers implement these practices in their own pursuit of creative solutions that are both innovative and achievable.

Design Thinking for the Greater Good will be published September 5, and is available for pre-order now from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and your local bookstore.

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Darden’s Dean Speaks at AmCham Shanghai

Dean Scott Beardsley spent time in Asia in June, with visits to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo. He engaged alumni at various events, met prospective students, had discussions with corporate partners and also shared his own expertise.  Beardsley presented “What does it take to be a modern, effective leader?” at AmCham Shanghai on 8 June. He discussed what today’s leaders need to be capable of in order to navigate and succeed in today’s complex environment.

Read more about the Dean’s management approach in this Q&A story, compiled after his talk at AmCham.


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Christopher Smith (MBA ’01) Shares His Global Leadership Story and Offers Advice to Future Leaders

With a clear desire to better understand global business, Christopher Smith (MBA ’01) jumped into work in China with both feet when his employer, Intel Corp., needed someone with his background and skillset to lead a finance team overseas. The risk of accepting the new role without any prior experience in China paid off, rewarding Smith with an expanded worldview and humbling leadership lessons. During his 15-year tenure at Intel, which he joined immediately following graduation from Darden, Smith has held various positions within the finance organization, leading strategic risk management, financial planning and analysis, and capital management functions. He has been in China with Intel since 2012 and currently serves as the finance director for Intel Semiconductor (Dalian) Ltd. Prior to his time at Darden and with Intel, Smith worked as a civil engineer, focused on hazardous waste site remediation.

Please describe your time working with Intel in China. What interested you in working globally?

I moved to Dalian, China, with my wife, two boys and our dog in the summer of 2012. If you’re not familiar with Dalian, I wasn’t either before this opportunity came up. Dalian is a tier 2 city in northeast China with about 7 million people. It’s a beautiful city, sitting along the Yellow Sea.

I had an interest in working overseas for quite a while. As more and more of our business growth was coming from overseas, it seemed to me vitally important to have a better, first-hand understanding of how markets were evolving and how business is actually done overseas. I put on my development plan — which most of us in Intel finance have — a goal to get that global experience. As I had frequently been working with our European offices, I had in my mind something in England or Germany. Then, an opportunity opened up in Dalian that was almost tailor-made for me in that much of my prior experience at Intel is what was needed for this role. The problem was I had never set foot in China. But the overseas opportunity was there, and it was a good fit for me. I figured I could do anything for two years. I literally took the job sight unseen, and I’m now in my fifth year of a two-year assignment.

In Dalian, I’m the finance director for our semiconductor factory operations in northeast China. We manufacture 3D NAND, the memory that goes into solid-state drives that most of us have in our laptops today. I am responsible for all of the finance function at the site, leading a team of mostly local finance professionals covering financial planning and analysis, capital investments, trade, and tax functions. I also play a part in people and organizational development as part of the site leadership team in Dalian and the finance leadership team for the greater Asia region.

How has working overseas influenced your worldview?

My worldview has been broadened by this experience, for sure. I have a better understanding of the governments and politics of this region and associated policy drivers. We have the American dream in the U.S. Why would it be a foreign concept that there wouldn’t be a Chinese dream as well? The rest of the world aspires to continue to grow and develop just like we do in the U.S. And as the rest of the world continues to grow and develop, the need for strong trading partnerships continues to grow as well.

In my day-to-day working with our local team, I’ve gained a greater appreciation that there are many ways to get work done. Those of us from the West may be more direct at times than we should be; that was an early lesson for me that westerners do have a reputation for being too loud and too direct. Understanding that either my style or the local culture would need to change, it was an easy choice.

I was surprised, initially, how similar we all are. I had never been to China before I took this role, and so I had preconceptions and misconceptions about China and Asia. But as I sit here doing this interview from a Starbucks in Dalian in a development owned by the same Chinese company that owns AMC theaters and Legendary entertainment, it reinforces for me the idea that the world is flat and continues to get flatter.

What were some early leadership lessons you learned?  What, in your opinion, makes someone a global leader?

As a foreigner working in China for a U.S.-based multinational corporation, I view my role a bit like a goodwill ambassador. For many, I may be the face of the West. As such, I think I need to hold myself to a higher standard. That mindset has influenced my leadership style in that I’m not just representing myself or even my company, but I’m representing the U.S. and the West. I do think about the impression I want to leave with the Chinese of a westerner.

As a global leader, understanding what the cultural barriers may be to developing the future leaders around the world is an important skillset to have. One of the things I found working in Asia is that local management styles can sometimes be more hierarchical and top-down. I work to ensure the teams I work with know it is not just OK to have a different point of view than me, but it’s expected. We continue to work on expanding critical thinking skills and candor so that we’re helping to build future leaders. That’s one of the important roles of any leader: Build the future leaders.

Describe a time when you realized the true value of your Darden education.

The general management focus at Darden was such a great fit for a job in finance at Intel. At Intel, finance is embedded with the different business units in the company. So our manufacturing organization has a manufacturing finance team. Our sales and marketing group has a sales and marketing finance group. And so on and so on. In these roles, the finance teams are typically not the decision makers. We are the CFOs to the decision makers. That’s where the Darden MBA is such a great fit. We’re expected to provide recommendations to our business partners to maximize shareholder value. Having that broad, general management perspective helps you build broader insights to make better business recommendations.

When I think about the components of the Darden MBA, one thing that I’ve found stands out is the quantitative analysis (QA) skills of Darden MBAs. My experience has been that other MBA programs just don’t have the rigor of quantitative analysis that Darden does. In a role where your success is largely based on your ability to make and drive business recommendations, those QA skills are invaluable in enabling high-quality decision making.

And one of the basic, but oh-so important lessons, that I learned from Darden was that you have to have a point of view. That’s something I try to instill in my team all the time: If you don’t have a point of view, someone else at the table will, and that’s the point of view that’s going to win the day. But the simple thought of “you have to have a point of view” is a great starting point for critical thinking and developing some unique perspectives. It’s been especially valuable as I’ve worked with my teams here in China to have the conversations on what they would challenge and why.

What advice would you give aspiring MBA students or recent MBA graduates?

Another of those important lessons that I took away from Darden was from Professor Alec Horniman’s leadership course: That a definition of leadership is a consistency and quality of action. The Darden MBA is the equivalent of a Disney FastPass to becoming a leader in the business world. With that fast pass to leadership comes responsibility. My advice is to think about the kind of leader you want to be and then be deliberate about becoming that leader. What is the quality of leadership you’re going to deliver every day?  How will you demonstrate consistent leadership every day?

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Executive Students Complete South Africa Residency

By Iqra Razzaq

This year Darden introduced a new Global Residency location to its fast growing Executive MBA Program. Students traveled to South Africa to explore leadership, business operations, and global economics over the course of a week. Students met with local business leaders in Johannesburg and attended meetings with corporate executives and discussions about the local business practices and infrastructure of South Africa. They analyzed the developing areas of Cape Town and discussed business systems used to combat the social challenges presented.

The South Africa Residency program additionally allowed students to actively engage with the history of the country. They toured of Nelson Mandela’s home, the Apartheid Museum, and visited Spice Route Destination and Fairview Winery. Through these interactions, students celebrated the diversity of both the country and unique business practices. Take a look at their learning opportunities and adventures below!

Classroom work in Johannesburg

Apartheid Museum

Presentation at South Africa Reserve Bank in Pretoria

Visit to DRDGOLD – South African gold producer and a specialist in the recovery of the metal from the retreatment of surface tailings

Fairview vinery – paring wine and goat cheese –local specialty

Classroom work at Cape Town

Closing dinner at Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town




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A Look into Leadership in Normandy

By Iqra Razzaq

This past May, Darden students visited Normandy, France to take part in a Darden Worldwide Global Topic course. In these global topic courses, students take a deep dive into a particular topic, using the setting to enhance their understanding of a particular business concept. Gordon Rudd, Professor of Strategic Studies of the U.S. Marine School of Advanced Warfighting, and Professor Jared Harris led the Normandy course, which allowed students to apply the broad leadership lessons from the Normandy invasion to their own understandings of leading a complex organization, collaboration across units, and cross-cultural leadership. Students spent a week visiting different battle sites, analyzing the invasion, and applying their skills in evaluating effective leadership.

The students participating in this program practiced cross-cultural leadership by examining the relationship between Allied planning and German response. They witnessed how complex teams collaborated to ensure missions were executed regardless of changes in the environment. They engaged in discussions at historically significant Normandy invasion sites such as Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, and Sword Beach. Students also visited additional sites of historical and cultural value to add to their learning. Below is a look into the engaging and experiential course!


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Darden Worldwide Travelogue

Check out this 60 second video of students travelling all over the world on their spring 2017 Darden Worldwide Courses!


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