By Christina Xu

Name: Ling (Linda) Long (D’17)

Hometown: Mianyang, China

Pre-Darden University and Major: University of International Business and Economics, Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting

Pre-Darden Employment: McGraw Hill Financial, Senior Specialist, Strategy and Corporate Development; PwC, Senior Associate

After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Beijing, China, Ling (Linda) Long worked as an Associate and Senior Associate at PwC. Through the process, she developed an interest in strategy through Mergers & Acquisitions cases she worked on, and later went into in-house Strategy and Corporate Development at McGraw Hill. At both PwC and McGraw Hill, Linda discovered that the employment market’s demand for transnational talent was rapidly growing. “Foreign companies who seek development in China and Chinese companies who seek expansion overseas both depend on talented people who have bi-cultural backgrounds, business understanding and cultural adaptability,” Linda said.

Linda wanted to pursue her MBA degree in the U.S. and the close-knit community of Darden really stood out to her. Linda attended a few Darden alumni and admissions events in Beijing, where she felt extremely welcomed at Darden alumni receptions. “Some of the Darden alumni who had graduated more than ten years ago shared their experience with me and willingly connected current Darden students to job and internship opportunities,” Linda shared.

Linda reflected on the process of adjusting her learning style to get the most from the case-method at Darden. “In the first few weeks after coming to Darden, I had to read three cases each day. Like most international students I felt the pressure from the workload and different learning environment than in China. However, the close-knit community of Darden has been extremely supportive and offered many resources.” In Linda’s first year learning team, six students from different sections with a diversity of backgrounds, including military, banking, accounting, and consulting, would meet up to share ideas and prepare for in-class discussions. “The case method at Darden is vastly different from the lecture-based teaching style in China. In comparison, the case method better assists students in expressing their individual ideas. Through the discussion, students are able to understand the thought process of individuals with different professional and cultural backgrounds, which results in an exchange of diversity in perspectives,” Linda explained. “In addition, the case method helps students practice decision-making under uncertain or ambiguous situations. There is no fixed solution to any case.”

Linda has been impressed by Darden’s multiple approaches to assisting students in finding their ideal job or internship. “Firstly, Darden has a powerful alumni network. Each of the alumni that I’ve reached out to have gotten back to me and have been extremely helpful.” In addition, Linda participated in the tech trek organized by the Tech Club at Darden. During the trip, she visited major tech companies in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. It also connected her with the company she ended up interning for the summer. “In addition, Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC) offers much support in helping students find their ideal job or internship.”

Over the winter break, Linda participated in the Darden. Worldwide. Courses (DWC) in Russia and one of the two Global Consulting Projects (GCP) in Mbarara, Uganda. The GCP project team consisted of 3 people tasked with guiding the Kamukuzi Division of Mbarara Municipal Council in facilitating the empowerment of selected community groups. The team developed a coordinated mechanism for guiding community-based groups in entrepreneur skills and book-keeping. While the GCP required her team to go deep with one client, the DWC in Russia provided her exposure to a wide range of industries and companies.

According to Linda, the DWC and GCP global academic programs have different emphases: “The GCP helps you practice your thought process in a real business context in addition to honing the problem-solving skills that we learn through case studies in a hypothesis-driven process. The GCP experience provides students with an opportunity to have a supportive, comfortable and immersive experience in a foreign country,” Linda stated. Opportunities like this are “important because Darden aims to cultivate global business leaders.”

“As for the DWC program in Russia, Professor Elena Loutskina arranged for students to visit local enterprises and hear from guest speakers. These experiences allowed students to gain an intuitive understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the Russian economy, including the challenges for multinational enterprises entering Russia,” Linda shared.  Additionally, “Professor Loutskina was also able to provide a unique cultural context given her bi-cultural background for American students to better understand the Russian businesses and the economy.”

After her global experiences through Darden, Linda sees huge opportunities in future economic development in countries like Russia and Uganda. “It is crucial for MBA students to understand the customs of the various countries in the world in order to meet the challenges of future business development.”

Linda (center) with her clients in Uganda during the Global Consulting Project onsite visit last December.
Linda with her classmates on the Darden Worldwide Course to Russia this January.