From India to the U.K. to Charlottesville: Ann Joseph (Class of 2021) and Her Progressive Path to Darden
By Abigail Quinn
Ann Joseph (top row, far left in above photo with Section E classmates) is a Class of 2021 MBA student who brings and fosters global perspectives in the Darden community. Ann’s life experiences began in rural South India and, over time, she gained exposure to global investment banking followed by international development in the United Kingdom before moving to the U.S. As a Second Year Darden student, Ann served as president of the Global Business and Culture Club and participated on a Global Consulting Project in Uganda.
Ann grew up in a small coastal town in the south of India and did her undergrad studies in Economics. She began her career in investment banking operations at Goldman Sachs. Her time at the company was especially valuable: “I got to work closely with the traders in the syndicate desk from Europe, Middle East, and South East Asia, and observed their unique and cultural influences at work. I was fascinated at how the diversity of regional perspectives, although complex when brought together at the start, improved the ways of working in international settings,” she said. “Working with different cultures at Goldman Sachs exposed me to new ways of thinking and new methods for collaboration.” After gaining key process management skills, she decided to take what she had learned and apply these tools in a new context.
Ann launched a handloom retail social venture during the early days of India’s ecommerce boom. A proud daughter and granddaughter of social workers, Ann always knew she wanted to give back to her local community. Her startup, called Anneha, collaborated with women tailors and weavers in rural India where there were heavy restrictions on women’s social mobility for work. Ann effectively engaged with stakeholders, from local government to the city’s entrepreneurial networks, and created sustainable at-home tailoring and weaving businesses for these women. The venture upskilled women and facilitated business development with the goal to financially empower women to run their own businesses within the comfort of their own homes. Ann sees this as her most valuable life experience; “I partnered these women with local garment factories for production and, eventually, they were able to run their own tailoring businesses taking outsourced work from nearby factories that were running at capacity,” she said.
In 2015, Ann was invited to study in the United Kingdom through the U.K. government’s Commonwealth Scholarship. There, she pursued her master’s degree in International Development at the University of Bath. While in Bath, she studied with people from all over the world and began to think about a critical question: who has the most influence to affect change in communities? Her answer: corporations. “Major businesses,” she shared, “have the power to restructure operations in such a way that it can benefit both the businesses and communities in the long term.”
Ann moved to Charlottesville in early 2017 after marrying her partner, Ryan Manacheril (MBA ’18), who was then a First Year student at Darden. Through the Darden Partners Association, Ann connected with Darden human resources to explore opportunities to work as a partner at Darden. Ann initially worked as the global business analyst with the Darden Center for Global Initiatives, wherein she analyzed the impact of global learning opportunities for students and provide recommendations on ways increase the diversity of students attending global courses. Six months in, Ann took over the role as the lead business analyst managing cross-functional workstreams on one of Darden’s key performance indicators – business school rankings.
Ann considered pursuing an MBA since her time in social entrepreneurship, and as she immersed herself in the Darden community, she began to feel more inspired to take the leap. “The people of Darden and Charlottesville became my network and encouraged me to apply. I saw the Darden community as facilitating a safe space for learning and growing,” she said. At her work, the outside-in approach of looking at Darden’s competitive position among top U.S. business schools affirmed her interest in studying at Darden.
As a Darden student, Ann served on the board of the Global Business and Culture Club (GBCC) as club president. “I identify as a global citizen and believe we can benefit from diverse regional perspectives as well in order to grow,” she said. In 2020, GBCC decided to approach this unique virtual environment as a growth opportunity and introduced a new initiative. The Global Screening provides a platform for all regional affinity clubs at Darden to showcase their location through the lens of a movie, documentary, TV show, advertisements, or any other video recording. GBCC collaborated with various affinity groups and facilitated discussions on key regional topics through the Global Screening series. Ann is also a member of the Darden Christian Fellowship, which allowed her to get to know her peers on a more personal level and ask questions at the intersection of business and faith. Ann is involved in a Global Consulting Project that works with a university business incubation center in Uganda to develop best practices for startups. “Even in these challenging times, Darden has done a great job ensuring global learning opportunities abound by using new technology at our disposal,” she said.
A global element threaded all phases of Ann’s career journey and will continue to guide her as she takes her next steps. “At Darden, I have improved my leadership and communication skills as a student, and I know I will take the valuable lessons I have learned here with me, no matter where on the globe I might be.” Her combination of a range of experiences and her eagerness to learn will continue to make her a leader as her career progresses.