Check out this 60 second video of students travelling all over the world on their spring 2017 Darden Worldwide Courses!
Check out this 60 second video of students travelling all over the world on their spring 2017 Darden Worldwide Courses!
By Iqra Razzaq
The past two Decembers, small teams of Darden students visited their Global Consulting Project clients in Uganda. Building on successful past engagements, the Center for Global Initiatives offered the first Darden Worldwide Global Immersion Course to Uganda this May. Twenty-six students participated in the new course offering which explored education, healthcare, and business development across the nation. Michael Koenig led this course and accompanied the students throughout their stay in Uganda. He shared thoughts on the course:
“As the first foray for a Darden Worldwide Course into East Africa, the Uganda DWC elective far surpassed all expectations. Our participants in this inaugural program in East Africa had the opportunity to delve deeply into the core themes of the program entrepreneurship, education and health care. Most importantly, the program offered opportunities to meet with and get to know many members of each of these communities in Uganda, offering a much deeper appreciation of the interrelated challenges and opportunities that face this fast growing country. Finally, our students had multiple opportunities to experience the rare natural beauty of this country with game ride safaris in both Lake Mburo and Murchison Falls National Parks, capped off with a boat tour on the Victoria Nile river and a view of one of nature’s most spectacular views, Murchison Falls Uganda.”
In advance of departure, self-formed teams selected topics relevant to the themes of the course, conducted research, summarized findings and insights for integration into an overall briefing book, shared with the entire class before departure. This briefing book served as background reading and preparation for the trip.
On the ground, students developed a thorough understanding of an entrepreneur’s obstacles and opportunities in Uganda through first hand meetings. Additionally, they interacted with local leaders and many cultural festivities. Students had opportunities to visit the Uganda Cultural Museum, Nile Brewery, and the MUST Medical School. Dr. Chris Moore, from the UVA School of Medicine, co-led the program and shared insights on healthcare and innovation in the region. The snapshots below capture just a few parts of the memorable course!
Xin “Matt” Tao (Class of 2018)
Pre-Darden University and Major: Fudan University, Electrical Engineering
Pre-Darden Employment: IBM, PwC Consulting
Why did you choose the University of Virginia Darden School of Business for your MBA?
Darden is a school that cultivates true business leaders, not just consultants or managers, which is the most important reason why I chose Darden. I talked to many alumni when I attended Darden’s information session in Shanghai, and I found that many alumni are successful leaders in different companies. Those alumni were all talented and humble, and I was convinced that Darden would help me become a great leader like them.
As a non-native English speaker, how have you adjusted to the case method and life at Darden? First of all, my learning team helped me a lot in terms of case preparation. Every time I had some trouble understanding the cases, they would explain and help me gain insights through discussion. Second, the faculty is always there to help. I learned a lot from my professors after class when I had questions. They would also inspire me to think deeply during class when I expressed my opinions. Last but not least, Darden has the best students, who were all willing to help me adjust to studying and life at Darden. I often hang out with them to get more used to the life in United States.
How did Darden help you find and prepare for your internship? I focused on the consulting industry. The Career Development Center and the Consulting Club offered to help me prepare for recruiting. They organized events to teach students how to do networking and how to prepare for interviews. For example, they set up many workshops to help us learn how to do case interviews, which was really helpful.
What advice do you have for prospective students? Think through your future career path before going to B-school. A prospective student can get the best out of Darden as long as he or she is clear about the goal and is prepared to be a leader.
How did living in Charlottesville impact your MBA experience? Charlottesville is a peaceful and beautiful city. I can focus on studying and recruiting while still having lots of fun traveling around Charlottesville. I’ve been to many different cities in the U.S., but Charlottesville is my favorite place.
Paige Hurlbut (Class of 2018) returned to Charlottesville to attend Darden six years after earning her B.A. in Economics and Environmental Thought and Practice from the University of Virginia in 2010. Paige hails from Richmond, VA and has been involved with Retail and Luxury Goods, Outdoors, WACC, GWIB, and Golf clubs at Darden. After first year classes ended, Paige joined her classmates and Darden Professor Marc Modica on the Darden Worldwide Course (DWC) to Sweden to explore entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability. In her own words:
Getting to travel to Stockholm, Sweden for a DWC course just a few weeks ago was a highlight of my first year at Darden and was one of the first times that I really began to understand how much I’ve learned since starting at Darden last August. The icing on the cake was the wonderful group of fellow first years I had with me, the beautiful country we explored and the innovative companies and leaders we visited and spoke with.
Over the course of about 6 days, we had the chance to visit several incredible companies including Digiplex, Tobii, Scania, and the Royal Seaport Development. We learned about how these companies operate, what strategies they’re employing to compete in the future, including design thinking, technological advances they are making, and how they think about and incorporate sustainability into their work. We learned about trucking and transportation and the future of autonomous vehicles, sustainable development, data storage and eye tracking software, just to name a few. I am personally very interested in sustainability so it was fascinating to see how they think about sustainability, in that they actually don’t think about it. It’s so ingrained in their culture and it’s beautiful to see a country collectively agree that preserving the natural world is important for everyone.
We also got to know the city, take a ferry around some of many islands that make up Stockholm, see a Viking ship that sank on its maiden voyage, go to an amusement park, and meet fellow graduate students at the Stockholm School of Economics. We also enjoyed traditional Swedish meatballs and lots of incredible seafood. It was really amazing to see how businesses are flourishing in Sweden while making large investments in the future and in sustainability.
By Iqra Razzaq
The Japan Global Immersion Course focused on the nation’s unique project management activities and specialized planning within professional organizations wrapped up its final days in Tokyo. The forty-eight Darden students enrolled finished their course with journeys to leading enterprises, engaging discussions with Darden alumni, and cultural experiences, such as authentic dining at Momij-itei and interaction with the fast-paced Japanese technological world. Students gained exposure to the multifaceted business world while absorbing the diverse, vibrant societies of Japan. For a closer look at the first few days of the course in Kyoto check out the last blog post!
Day 6 began with a morning discussion with Satoko Takahashi Kagawa (MBA ’04) who currently works in the Ministry of Finance. Satoko shared her work in counter terrorism affairs, cooperation strategies, and negotiation tactics alongside border and custom agencies in other countries. Satoko also emphasized the role of women in leadership positions within the Japanese government. She further discussed the change management involving tourist customs clearance in airports towards the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The students then heard from Mitch Slape, the Chief Operating Officer of Walmart Japan. Mitch delved into the Japanese retail market and the specialization approach Walmart employed in the Japanese market. Mitch also highlighted the global footprint and effects of Walmart.
The day finished off with a visit to e-Jan, the developer of CACHATTO. This service supports remote connection to internal corporate file services from an individual’s devices while providing high-level security and application support. Shiro Sakamoto (MBA ’95) leads the company as Founder and CEO. Sakamoto discussed the ongoing trends within IT and how his company specifically works ahead of these trends. Sakamoto also hosted a reception for the students that involved direct interaction with the e-Jan staff.
Day 7 involved a company visit to Coca Cola Japan during which Hiromi Koizumi (MBA ’92) Senior Manager of Strategy & Insights, provided insight on Coca Cola marketing in Japan. She discussed the recent marketing strategies towards the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics and presented the latest product, Coke Plus. The government has approved this drink and validated its health benefits. Hiromi generously provided the students Coke products to sample!
The students also visited SoftBank, a multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation. Kane Nakamura, Deputy Manager of SoftBank, introduced the students to Pepper, the first humanoid robot capable of recognizing principal human emotions and adapting his behavior to the mood of his interlocutor. Kane discussed the background research, production strategies, and marketing directed towards the development of Pepper.
Day 8 marked the final day for the students’ stay in Japan. The morning began with a visit to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), created in response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Students learned about the NDF’s response to the Fukushima disaster and the relevant stakeholders involved. Shigehiro Yoshino, NDF Managing Director, spoke about the state of energy policy in Japan today.
The afternoon involved a visit to Nissan in Yokohama. The students heard from multiple UVA and Darden alumni regarding Nissan’s history, current state, and future predictions. The students saw a showcase of the latest GT-R engine and witnessed its production in a manufacturing plant tour.
The course ended with a farewell dinner at Momij-itei.
Alex Williams (MBA ’17) is a recent Darden graduate. He completed the Darden Worldwide Course (DWC) to Belgium and the Netherlands led by Dean Beardsley this March. In his own words (and photos), he shared reflections from the course:
I was excited when Darden offered the European Union (EU) DWC and I immediately registered for it. The course asked us, as future business leaders, to understand the context of the EU, and the issues facing it, such as Brexit, and also how Belgium and Holland fit into the dynamics of the region. I gained a strong appreciation for each country’s position within the EU, and was able to improve my understanding of the complexities surrounding business culture in Europe.
One of our major takeaways was history is always present in Europe. We saw it in our visits to the Grand Palace in Brussels, the trip to Waterloo where we walked the battlefield where Napoleon faced his greatest defeat, and listening to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra play Mozart. We could not escape the history of both countries and the many wars across the continent that have shaped the relationships and business world to this day.
This history also extends to Brussels’ cityscape, and the continent’s prominence. Our tour guide touched on Leopold’s colonization, but I gained a deeper appreciation for the colonization’s impact and magnitude during our tour in Brussels. The greenhouses and exotic structures built during this period included the Japanese Tower and the number of people in the Congo who disappeared during this period are a testament to the greed and the wealth present during the time. Large companies are located in Belgium and Holland because these two countries have historically been relatively peaceful and are centrally located.
The trip to Amsterdam and seeing the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra cemented the cultural significance of the Benelux region in my mind. When Robert Reibestein, former Senior Partner at McKinsey and Chair of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, spoke to our group, I realized we were seeing the top orchestra in the world. Robert provided an explanation of the issues facing orchestras in the modern era, which include funding and competition, which are easily extrapolated to a business context, but also helped me understand opportunities to get involved in non-profit and cultural organizations. On a personal note, I love Mozart as a special treat, but what struck me about the concert is how it seemed to be an everyday activity for the Dutch.
When we visited GSK, there were signs in four different languages, and this made me think of how many different languages are spoken in Europe and how many business customs and norms a company operating there would have to deal with. Thomas Breuer, SVP & Chief Medical Officer, Head of Vaccine Value & Health Science – GSK Vaccines, mentioned that multi-cultural relations are something any company operating in Europe has to manage. This made me think of how European society places a higher emphasis on the group than the individual, and the inherent diversity of opinion and thought that any company in Europe encounters in its everyday operations. It is astonishing that a company can grow as large as some of the companies that we saw, and have such a diffusive employee base, speaking multiple languages.
Another takeaway I had from GSK is the strength of apprentice culture in Europe. Even if a person does not graduate from college, there are opportunities to engage productively in society through strong training programs. During our tour of GSK, we heard that the employees who worked in the clean room where the vaccines are created did not have to be college educated, but they could work their way up through a strong training program. Again, these opportunities contrast starkly against those available to similarly educated individuals in the United States.
Europe currently faces questions of how it transforms itself to compete in a digital world. I learned a lot from this course on topics of how culture, business, and government intertwine in a different geographical settings. I gained a deeper appreciation for the size, complexity, problems, and potential solutions that EU member countries need to address to remain competitive. Belgium and Holland, while smaller than France and Germany, are critical to the future of Europe, and can position themselves as a bridge to the rest of the continent through their influence, but also their openness to change.
Some go to South Africa for the safaris, some go for the surfing, and then there’s Mike Messick (MBA ’76), who went as a member of the U.S. Peace Corps following a 29-year career at IBM in order to serve as an accounting specialist and teacher-trainer for eight secondary schools in the Jama Circuit in KwaZulu-Natal.
The young student who joined the Darden community straight out of undergrad at Northwestern University in 1974 at age 21 probably couldn’t have envisioned where his career would take him when he first stepped on Grounds. “I’m not certain, but I believe I was the youngest in our class and one of the few students in my class with no business experience of any kind,” Messick said.
Since graduating from Darden in 1976, Messick has put his business education to work nonstop in various companies and countries. He served in the Peace Corps through two separate stints from 1976–78 and 2010–15, with numerous roles at IBM in between.
Tell us about your early career.
Upon my Darden graduation in 1976, I accepted a position as a small business advisor with the United States Peace Corps in the eastern Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia. I vividly remember leaving the U.S. for a month’s training in Bridgetown, Barbados, only six days after I graduated from Darden. I served in St. Lucia for 24 months, during which time I wore many hats, including assistant to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism; industrial loan officer for the St. Lucia Agricultural and Industrial Bank; and small business consultant for local business in St. Lucia.
Each of these positions was a great experience for me as a new Darden grad — young and looking to get my feet wet. During my time in St. Lucia, my responsibilities ranged from working with capitalists from the U.S., Canada, and England to set up manufacturing operations in St. Lucia to working with locals on how to manage loan applications and proposals as well as small business marketing, financing and operations.
What began your interest in working globally?
My wife, Gail, and I have always been strongly interested in other countries, cultures and ways of life. Gail graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Russian and lived in the Soviet Union for several months in 1972. We both really like to travel and to immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have always deeply believed that living and working abroad is exciting, fun and enriching.
How has working overseas impacted your worldview and how has your Darden education had an impact on your work overseas?
Since graduating from Darden, I have worked overseas for eight years total. Working in other countries has allowed me to realize that, at the end of the day, almost everyone has similar ambitions, goals and desires for their families, their children, their grandchildren. My time at Darden built the foundation upon which my overseas work could take place. Many, many times while struggling with my work abroad, I thought about lessons learned in Monroe Hall from Darden faculty including Almand Coleman, John Colley, Bob Fair, Chris Gale and others. I traveled with Coleman’s “Financial Accounting” textbook and carried [Professor Louis] “Rader’s Rules” with me everywhere — and still do to this day! The two rules that I’ve etched into memory are: “never run out of money or credit” and “if you don’t get the facts, the facts will get you.”
What were some early leadership lessons you learned?
Both early at Darden and early in my career path, I learned that reasoned, well-thought out decisions are founded on fact, analysis and reflection. Sometimes the “right” path is easy and sometimes it’s hard, but the decision is always sound if it is based on facts, analysis and reflection. That is another lesson Louis Rader taught us in his rules that I’ve taken to heart.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? How do you measure success?
I have had a lot of great opportunities since leaving Darden in May 1976. I think my greatest achievements are appreciating every challenge, enjoying a little success, learning from a little failure, and realizing that while scorekeeping is important, it is also important to enjoy the ride and to be passionate about your mission.
I measure success by looking at how much I am accomplishing with my time. Everyone needs some “coin of the realm,” as Almand Coleman would say, but I need to be in a situation where I am doing some good. Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to earn a few coins and to do a little good along the way.
Describe a moment when you realized the true value of your Darden education.
There are too many moments to describe, but one of them would be the four years I worked at the Pasture Valley Children’s Home helping to care for AIDS orphans in Swaziland. When I arrived at Pasture Valley, there were 22 orphans in this private home. By the end of 2014, we had 44 orphans. I was on board for about one week when I was asked to serve as general manager/general contractor for several construction projects on the grounds — work which involved operations, accounting, finance, project management, labor relations, etc. At the same time, we were creating internal management systems for all aspects of the children’s home — academic records, medical records, housekeeping, meal planning and more. We had ideas about what we needed to manage, but we had no templates. My Darden education was especially valuable to me as the Pasture Valley team and I worked on these critical projects.
What advice would you give new Darden MBA graduates?
This is easy for today’s grads in today’s world: Regardless of your career, your function, or where you start, think big and think global — the world really is flat.
By Anelle Mensah
Akane Fukuda is a recent Darden graduate (as of this last weekend!) from Tokyo, Japan. She attended Baruch College, and earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2012. Prior to enrolling at Darden, she worked at Krusen Capital Management as a Business Development Associate.
As a Darden student, Akane actively participated in a number of the global academic programs offered through the school, gaining insight into the global business practices and perspectives of various countries. During her first year she traveled to Brazil on a Darden Worldwide Course (DWC), and in her second year she participated in the India DWC in January. This past fall, she worked with Mbarara University in Uganda on a Global Consulting Project (GCP). Furthermore, in her role as an Ambassador for the Darden Center for Global Initiatives (CGI), she assisted in developing one of the newest global immersion courses to Japan.
Akane already had strong ties to Darden, several alumni served as sources of inspiration for her as she pursued business school options. As she sought out schools that had a close-knit community where she could get to know her peers as well as an educational experience with top faculty and programs, it became evident that Darden would be perfect for her.
During her time at Darden, Akane has been involved in many student organizations and initiatives including the Retail & Luxury Goods Club, where she served as the Vice-President for Conference and Alumni relations, and Net Impact as the Vice-President for Community Impact and Education. Furthermore, she worked with the Career Development Center (CDC), second year students, and alumni to design the marketing job trek to New York. Akane also served as a CGI Ambassador during her second year and recently worked with Professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne and the CGI team to develop the Japan DWC, one of the newest DWC offerings.
In her role as CGI Ambassador, Akane advertised many of these programs during First Coffee, as well as information sessions and events like Darden’s International Food Festival. “I started as an Ambassador at the end of my first year. I’m originally from Japan and I wanted to help create more opportunities for students to be exposed to international culture. The fact that I went to Brazil in my first year at Darden and was able to have that experience and simultaneously share it with my classmates was amazing. I really wanted to bring that excitement to students who have yet to explore different cultures,” she said.
Through being a CGI Ambassador, Akane further connected with her peers and built relationships with various members of the Darden community. “People would personally reach out to me and ask questions. Getting to know the school’s perspectives and the CGI team — it’s an aspect that students don’t always get to see. Darden students see the finished product but it was important for me to see the effort and work that happens behind the scenes,” she shared.
Her participation in the Brazil and India DWCs stemmed from a desire to learn more about those countries, engage in those cultures, and continue developing bonds with her classmates. “I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go by myself and experience these countries. Darden would offer me without the whole package. I have always been curious about developing countries and I wanted to be able to see the different energies that exist there. In Brazil, I formed meaningful friendships and had a learning experience that was really hands-on. In India, I saw how Indian companies function in comparison to U.S. companies and within a completely different cultural context than the U.S.,” she reflected.
In addition to Brazil and India, Akane participated in a global consulting project in Uganda working with Mbarara University Science and Technology (MUST). Her past global experiences at Darden influenced her decision to pursue this GCP, during which she learned important aspects of Ugandan culture and business. “Global consulting projects are more hands-on with a select group of people. It really seemed like something that was a one-of-a-kind experience. In Uganda, the people are entrepreneurial, open-minded, and curious. When you’re in a team that has completely different strengths and weaknesses, you can make a great final product. You develop a strong bond after working through these differences and you come out strong. This trip also made me appreciate the simple things a lot more,” she stated.
Akane credits Darden’s global offerings as key to helping her learn and understand different perspectives and viewpoints. “It gives you a broader perspective. People should take advantage of what Darden is offering and a big part of these programs is visiting the companies — you wouldn’t have those kinds of opportunities outside of the program.” she said.
Akane looks forward to learning more about her strengths, seeing the Japan course come together, and graduation. “My plan is to look more at what I want to do in the future and focus on the industries that I’m interested in—technology and marketing. I want to work on products that are meaningful. I enjoyed going back to Japan to see the DWC before graduating — a lot of the companies involved are those that I wanted to personally see — and I couldn’t wait to see my family,” she said.
By Lauren Wallace
When Schindler Elevator Corp. President Greg Ergenbright (MBA ’93) saw that a UVA team had made it to the final round of his company’s urban design competition in Sao Paulo in April 2017, he said he was “extremely proud” as a Darden alumnus.
Ergenbright describes his company as one with a commitment “to global urbanization and innovation in mobility and sustainability in the future.” As an extension of that commitment, the North American subsidiary of Switzerland-based Schindler Group established the Schindler Global Award urban design competition in 2003 to motivate students and future architects to take into consideration issues of mobility and sustainability in current and future urban cities.
“My hopes for the awards,” Ergenbright said, “are that they drive the next generation to think about urban settings, to design the cities of the future. When you think about all of the complexities and challenges of extremely dense populations, mobility impacts everything. It impacts people’s exposure to nature and how they move freely from building to building. Even crime rates are impacted by urban design. Whether people have the ability to move around and interact freely impacts how people socialize — it really impacts everything. This competition is to engage architects to be future thinkers, and this kind of engagement will change the face of the future.”
While the Schindler Global Award is a current highlight for Ergenbright, his history in the transportation and mobility sector goes back to his earliest days after Darden. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Roanoke College in Virginia and his MBA from Darden in 1993. After earning his MBA, Ergenbright worked with another key player in the vertical transportation industry for 15 years before a four-year period as president and CEO of a private equity portfolio company. He was then recruited back into the vertical transportation field by Schindler, where he has served as president since 2013.
When was a time you realized the true value of your Darden education?
I realized the value of my Darden education before I even went to Darden. I knew that it would unlock many doors in the future that might have remained locked otherwise. A few professors from Roanoke College who were mentors to me really encouraged me to continue my education at Darden. Darden was a great experience — there were people from all over the country and the world, and having grown up in Virginia, it opened my eyes and gave me great exposure to diverse people and different mindsets. Some of the opportunities I’ve had post-Darden would have been unlikely for me without my education there. I’m really proud of my connection to the Darden community. As I get older, I’m always looking for ways to give back to Darden.
What were some early leadership lessons you learned?
Leadership, for me, really boils down to two things: attitude and dependability. As a leader of an organization, you set the tone, and I believe you do that through your attitude and your consistency. If people know that they can depend on you, then they can trust you. Attitude and trust — it’s really that basic. I learned this through experience — through how I responded to people who have led me. The adage is true: “To be a good leader, you must first be a good follower.” Whom are you inspired to follow? I paid attention to and followed the people who inspired me, and the people who inspired me were the people with a positive attitude in whom I trusted.
What motivates you in life?
What motivates me is feeling like I’m the luckiest man in the world. Waking up thankful for the life that I have keeps me grounded and keeps me going.
How do you measure success? What makes people successful?
People who don’t quit. The relentless pursuit of a goal. Whatever you want to call it, success happens for those who don’t quit.
What advice would you give to recent MBA graduates?
Don’t get too big for your britches. Your expectations for your future should revolve around your expectations of yourself. Expect a future you, not a future job; don’t base your expectations for your life on your degree. Be hardworking and committed to your pursuit. Life is a marathon, not a sprint — and Darden is just the five-mile mark on a 100-mile race. You still have a lot of running to do so be focused on the path in front of you and how you can make a difference along the way.
Peilu “Jeffrey” Zheng (Class of 2017)
Hometown: Zaozhuang, Shandong, China
Pre-Darden University and Major: Zhejiang University, Material Science and Engineering
Pre-Darden Employment: Colgate; LG Chemical
Current Employment: Boston Scientific
What motivated you to want to earn an MBA degree? I worked in the sales industry for six years after college, and I wanted to gain more strategic training and a more global vision.
Why did you choose the University of Virginia Darden School of Business? I choose Darden because it offers the best educational experience and a close alumni network.
As a non-native English speaker, how have you adjusted to the case method and life at Darden? I’m glad I decided to come early for the language program. I have really enjoyed the case study method of listening and articulating my thoughts.
Describe one of your favorite moments at Darden thus far. I really enjoyed my managerial psychology class because we talked about a wide range of topics, including humanity, leadership and oneself.
What advice do you have for prospective students? If you have an offer from Darden, come! If you come to Darden, be ready for hard work and great fun. You will enjoy the hardest training in the United States, and you will have a true educational experience.
How did living in Charlottesville impact your MBA experience? I think Charlottesville is one of the best small towns to live in.
What do you hope to do with your life post-Darden? I hope to take part in a leadership program to grow into a leader that inspires others and adds value to the organization I’m serving