By Christina Xu

Name: Ben Meltzer

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

Pre-Darden Education: University of Southern California, B.S. in Business Administration with a Concentration in Cinematic Arts; 2006-2010

Work Experience: Strategy &, part of the PwC Network, Summer Senior Associate; June 2016 – Aug 2016

Insomniac Events, Business Development and Merchandise Coordinator; Jan 2015 – Aug 2015

Live Nation, Executive Assistant; Oct 2012 – Aug 2015

Ben has always had a passion for music and films, leading him to study cinematic arts as an undergrad as well as work in the industry following. After completing his MBA degree in a few short weeks, Ben (Class of 2017) is looking forward to contributing to the business side of the entertainment industry. Ben shared, “In my past education and work experience, I developed creative skills necessary for this career, but I wanted to strengthen my business skills in a business school with global reputation like Darden. Darden stands out among its peer schools with its close-knit community and strong student involvement. I knew I would be able to make an impact in a short period of time here. In addition, it is close to home and I could see my family often.”

According to Ben, Darden prepared him to find his ideal job by offering abundant resources. “I found my job through on-campus recruiting. I have a strong passion for consulting, and Darden offers case method teaching which is extremely beneficial to train students’ consulting mindset. In our mini-consulting sessions in class, we express our thoughts and exchange perspectives to solve problems and engage in discussions. These types of exercises give us distinct advantages over peers from other schools to be able to articulate our thoughts, and communicate with clients confidently in our interviews and jobs. It is totally different from the lecture-based method in my undergraduate business school, and the advantages are obvious.”

In addition to the case method, Ben has also been impressed by the rich global opportunities Darden offers. “I went on the Darden Worldwide Course (DWC) to Shanghai, China in my first year, and just came back from an exchange program in Melbourne, Australia.” Ben compared these two experiences and shared his reasons for choosing to do both. “My decision to do the DWC in China was a result of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, to overcome difficulties such as language barriers and cultural difference. I wanted to figure out how to work with clients in different parts of the world, and learn about one of the world’s major players in business as of today. The DWC program offers Darden MBA students access to companies, culture and other various opportunities that I couldn’t have planned and figured all of them out on my own.”

After the DWC experience in Shanghai, Ben decided that he would like more experience living in a different country for a longer period of time to truly immerse himself in the local culture. He decided to go on an exchange program in Melbourne, Australia. “You would think that Australian culture is not that different from the American culture, given that both are English-speaking countries. Nevertheless, I got to understand that the two countries face different issues, for example, immigration is huge point of contention for Australia, and they have very different cultures in general.” Ben also spoke to the life-long connections that he made with the local students at Melbourne Business School. “I became close with the students from MBS who studied at Darden in the Fall. Upon arriving in Melbourne, they showed me around the city, helped me settle in and introduced me to many of their peers. It was amazing to feel part of the community and I feel so fortunate to have lifelong professional and personal relationships in Australia now.”

Ben highly recommends MBA students participate in the global opportunities that Darden offers. “As globalization is becoming the world’s reality, the global perspectives are gaining increasing importance both on a personal and business level. My experience in China made me realize the serious air quality issue in the country, and made me think about the potential business opportunities with social impacts there. It also led to me appreciate the clean air that we have here in Virginia. I couldn’t have witnessed the pollution or gained any understanding of these issues if I had not gone to China. In Australia, I visited some indigenous people, who were heavily financed by the state, and faced alcohol, unemployment and many other issues. Seeing the life of the less fortunate made me appreciate more the life that I have today. My conversation with them made me realize that people from different backgrounds value different things, and understand culture from a broader perspective.”

Ben served as the Darden Center for Global Initiatives lead ambassador for the past year. He was extremely excited about this position because he wanted to help spread the word about Darden’s global opportunities. “When I first heard about the global programs at Darden, I thought everybody was just as excited to get on one of them as I was. But I found out later that this was not the case. People might get discouraged from going due to finance issues, or simply lack of interest. Luckily, Darden is doing excellent work in helping students overcome all these barriers, for example, lots of students received grants to go on global programs. It feels fulfilling and meaningful to help promote the global opportunities among my peers. For example, I was in touch with first year MBAs, introduced to them all the global resources and programs CGI offers, and answered any questions that they may have about the process. I was excited to see that the Darden Worldwide Courses were really popular this year and I hope that more students will hear about and fill in all of the spaces in upcoming years.”

Ben also shared his plans after graduation. “I will be working for a consulting company for media and technology clients, in the Seattle office. I will start in October and am excited to travel around the world as part of my job.”