Vivian (photographed with her husband and daughter above) arrived at Darden in August with the Class of 2020 and sat down with us to share a little bit about her experiences so far:

Would you mind sharing some highlights of your background?
I’m a globalist, an outdoor adventurist, a business professional as well as an entrepreneur. I was born in Chengdu, grew up in Shanghai, lived in Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. I’ve visited over 15 countries in the world. My global experience has provided me with a multi-cultural mindset which enables me to learn different cultures easily and make friends all over the world.

My professional life is composed of two parts: I’m a CPA with 4 years of working experiences at 2 international brands, PwC and Marriott. Working for those large organizations has taught me business acumen, professionalism and transferrable skills. Besides being a CPA, I’m also an entrepreneur running an e-commerce start-up with an average $3M annual revenue. I’m always eager to work on challenging issues with talented, energic, and creative people!

Outside of work, I’m an true adventurist, having visited 35 states and 20 national parks within U.S. via multiple cross-country road trips with friends. I enjoy being in nature, which always brings me inner peace and reminds me to be humble and respectful. Now, as a mother of a 3-month old, a wife, and an MBA student at Darden, I’m juggling multiple hats. Life is very challenging, but at the same time I’m pushing my boundaries to become a more capable person.

What drew you to Darden and what are your goals after graduation?
When I was thinking about an MBA program, I knew I wanted to go to a school with a small program because I wanted to get involved. I wanted to build personal relationships with classmates and professors. Additionally, I chose Darden because of the case method style of teaching here. This approach resonates with my style of learning; I prefer vivid discussions with classmates and professors to listening to a lecture. I also like that Darden prepares students to be overall business leaders, building solid fundamentals for future business growth. After graduation, I will return to Beijing, China where I hope to make an impact with my personal and professional experiences in the U.S. Hopefully, I can become a bridge that better connects China and U.S.

How are you balancing your academics and extracurriculars at Darden with your own personal and family life?
One of the biggest challenges I encountered so far was giving birth to my baby girl during my first semester – the busiest time of the year – at Darden. However, I was able to balance my academics and my life due to the extensive support I’ve received from my family and the Darden community. My classmates really helped me with my academics during my absent days. The Office of Student Affairs helped me plan out everything by recording the class discussions for me so that I didn’t have to worry about not being able to learn the materials. Besides all the support, prioritization really helped as well. Figuring out a plan and sticking to it is super helpful when I have to juggle among many things.

Any advice for individuals considering Darden or an MBA degree more generally?
Try to have a deep conversation with yourself  about “Why MBA? “ before pursuing an MBA degree. It is a big investment in your life in terms of money and time, and you want to make sure that it serves your end goal. The best MBA program in the world is the one that fits you. When picking the MBA school, please make sure to do your “homework”. You might want to attend information sessions, class visits hosted via school admissions. As I mentioned before, I chose Darden because of its case method and intimate size. Sitting in on several classes during the admissions process helped me to understand that I can learn best by interacting with classmates and the professor.