International Guests at Darden

Chair of Aston Martin Visits Darden as Executive-in-Residence

By Kate Beach-

In late November, Darden welcomed Dr. Ulrich Bez, Chair and former CEO of Aston Martin, as a distinguished Executive-in-Residence. Darden first connected with Dr. Bez during a GEMBA residency in Europe last year.

Dr. Bez shares his perspectives on Aston Martin as a global brand with Darden students.
Dr. Bez shares his perspectives on Aston Martin as a global brand with Darden students.

While at Darden, Dr. Bez spent his time meeting with faculty and students. He had lunch with the Retail and Luxury Goods Club and discussed the topic of global business and branding with the International Business Society and the European Society. Jack Oakes, Assistant Dean for Career Development,  moderated a discussion between Dr. Bez and a small, selected group of students who had previously expressed interest in careers in the automotive industry.

Edward McDonnell (MBA ’16) shared “I was impressed with Aston Martin’s growth in recent years and Dr. Bez’s attention to detail and focus on differentiating from other luxury brands. For example, Aston Martin puts a lot of emphasis on having each part be beautiful in isolation. The result is fit and finish (gaps and symmetry of the vehicle) that are amazingly consistent and clean.”

Dr. Bez also addressed the community as part of the Leadership Speaker Series.   Some of his key tips for students as they embark upon their careers were:

  1. Fail, but only do it once the same way
  2. Make something new only when making it new makes it better
  3. Take small, but fast steps
  4. Evolution is better than revolution
  5. Manage unavoidable compromises to your advantage
Dean Bruner presents Dr. Bez with his Executive-in-Residence plaque.
Dean Bruner presents Dr. Bez with his Executive-in-Residence plaque.

Dr. Bez’s visit to Darden occurred during the same week as the regional Aston Martin Owner’s Club gathering in Keswick. Darden hosted an exclusive evening event to allow alumni, faculty, and a few selected students to meet and enjoy the company of the Aston Martin owners in town. Dr. Bez charmed the crowd with his remarks after dinner.

Professor Jay Bourgeois explained, “Darden and Aston Martin owners club had a unique opportunity to join forces and host Dr. Ulrich Bez, Chairman of Aston Martin Lagonda.  The combination of Dr. Bez’s insights in reviving a premier global brand and Darden’s world class students, faculty and facilities, provided the Aston Martin Owners Club and Darden alumni with a signature prestige event.  All involved were energized by what some owners described as a glamorous experience.  As one owner confided, “I’ve never seen anything like these facilities!  The food, the setting, and, most important, the quality of the experience was truly memorable.”

Throughout the day, six Aston Martins sat on display in Wilkinson Courtyard and they were lit up during the evening with special lighting for the joint Darden-Aston Martin Owner’s Club event.

Darden students listen to Aston Martin's Chair discuss an Aston Martin on display at Darden
Darden students listen to Aston Martin’s Chair discuss an Aston Martin on display at Darden
Admirers walk past Aston Martins on display in Wilkinson Court at Darden.
Admirers walk past Aston Martins on display in Wilkinson Court at Darden.