A New Resource for Solving Global Challenges: Design Thinking for the Greater Good



Facing especially wicked problems, social sector organizations are searching for powerful new methods to understand and address them. Design Thinking for the Greater Good goes in depth on both the how of using new tools and the why. As a way to reframe problems, ideate solutions, and iterate toward better answers, design thinking is already well established in the commercial world. Through ten stories of struggles and successes in fields such as health care, education, agriculture, transportation, social services, and security, the authors show how collaborative creativity can shake up even the most entrenched bureaucracies–and provide a practical roadmap for readers to implement these tools.

The design thinkers Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman, and Daisy Azer explore how major agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Transportation and Security Administration in the United States, as well as organizations in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, have instituted principles of design thinking. In each case, these groups have used the tools of design thinking to reduce risk, manage change, use resources more effectively, bridge the communication gap between parties, and manage the competing demands of diverse stakeholders. Along the way, they have improved the quality of their products and enhanced the experiences of those they serve. These strategies are accessible to analytical and creative types alike, and their benefits extend throughout an organization. This book will help today’s leaders and thinkers implement these practices in their own pursuit of creative solutions that are both innovative and achievable.

Design Thinking for the Greater Good will be published September 5, and is available for pre-order now from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and your local bookstore.

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Darden’s Dean Speaks at AmCham Shanghai

Dean Scott Beardsley spent time in Asia in June, with visits to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo. He engaged alumni at various events, met prospective students, had discussions with corporate partners and also shared his own expertise.  Beardsley presented “What does it take to be a modern, effective leader?” at AmCham Shanghai on 8 June. He discussed what today’s leaders need to be capable of in order to navigate and succeed in today’s complex environment.

Read more about the Dean’s management approach in this Q&A story, compiled after his talk at AmCham.


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Christopher Smith (MBA ’01) Shares His Global Leadership Story and Offers Advice to Future Leaders

With a clear desire to better understand global business, Christopher Smith (MBA ’01) jumped into work in China with both feet when his employer, Intel Corp., needed someone with his background and skillset to lead a finance team overseas. The risk of accepting the new role without any prior experience in China paid off, rewarding Smith with an expanded worldview and humbling leadership lessons. During his 15-year tenure at Intel, which he joined immediately following graduation from Darden, Smith has held various positions within the finance organization, leading strategic risk management, financial planning and analysis, and capital management functions. He has been in China with Intel since 2012 and currently serves as the finance director for Intel Semiconductor (Dalian) Ltd. Prior to his time at Darden and with Intel, Smith worked as a civil engineer, focused on hazardous waste site remediation.

Please describe your time working with Intel in China. What interested you in working globally?

I moved to Dalian, China, with my wife, two boys and our dog in the summer of 2012. If you’re not familiar with Dalian, I wasn’t either before this opportunity came up. Dalian is a tier 2 city in northeast China with about 7 million people. It’s a beautiful city, sitting along the Yellow Sea.

I had an interest in working overseas for quite a while. As more and more of our business growth was coming from overseas, it seemed to me vitally important to have a better, first-hand understanding of how markets were evolving and how business is actually done overseas. I put on my development plan — which most of us in Intel finance have — a goal to get that global experience. As I had frequently been working with our European offices, I had in my mind something in England or Germany. Then, an opportunity opened up in Dalian that was almost tailor-made for me in that much of my prior experience at Intel is what was needed for this role. The problem was I had never set foot in China. But the overseas opportunity was there, and it was a good fit for me. I figured I could do anything for two years. I literally took the job sight unseen, and I’m now in my fifth year of a two-year assignment.

In Dalian, I’m the finance director for our semiconductor factory operations in northeast China. We manufacture 3D NAND, the memory that goes into solid-state drives that most of us have in our laptops today. I am responsible for all of the finance function at the site, leading a team of mostly local finance professionals covering financial planning and analysis, capital investments, trade, and tax functions. I also play a part in people and organizational development as part of the site leadership team in Dalian and the finance leadership team for the greater Asia region.

How has working overseas influenced your worldview?

My worldview has been broadened by this experience, for sure. I have a better understanding of the governments and politics of this region and associated policy drivers. We have the American dream in the U.S. Why would it be a foreign concept that there wouldn’t be a Chinese dream as well? The rest of the world aspires to continue to grow and develop just like we do in the U.S. And as the rest of the world continues to grow and develop, the need for strong trading partnerships continues to grow as well.

In my day-to-day working with our local team, I’ve gained a greater appreciation that there are many ways to get work done. Those of us from the West may be more direct at times than we should be; that was an early lesson for me that westerners do have a reputation for being too loud and too direct. Understanding that either my style or the local culture would need to change, it was an easy choice.

I was surprised, initially, how similar we all are. I had never been to China before I took this role, and so I had preconceptions and misconceptions about China and Asia. But as I sit here doing this interview from a Starbucks in Dalian in a development owned by the same Chinese company that owns AMC theaters and Legendary entertainment, it reinforces for me the idea that the world is flat and continues to get flatter.

What were some early leadership lessons you learned?  What, in your opinion, makes someone a global leader?

As a foreigner working in China for a U.S.-based multinational corporation, I view my role a bit like a goodwill ambassador. For many, I may be the face of the West. As such, I think I need to hold myself to a higher standard. That mindset has influenced my leadership style in that I’m not just representing myself or even my company, but I’m representing the U.S. and the West. I do think about the impression I want to leave with the Chinese of a westerner.

As a global leader, understanding what the cultural barriers may be to developing the future leaders around the world is an important skillset to have. One of the things I found working in Asia is that local management styles can sometimes be more hierarchical and top-down. I work to ensure the teams I work with know it is not just OK to have a different point of view than me, but it’s expected. We continue to work on expanding critical thinking skills and candor so that we’re helping to build future leaders. That’s one of the important roles of any leader: Build the future leaders.

Describe a time when you realized the true value of your Darden education.

The general management focus at Darden was such a great fit for a job in finance at Intel. At Intel, finance is embedded with the different business units in the company. So our manufacturing organization has a manufacturing finance team. Our sales and marketing group has a sales and marketing finance group. And so on and so on. In these roles, the finance teams are typically not the decision makers. We are the CFOs to the decision makers. That’s where the Darden MBA is such a great fit. We’re expected to provide recommendations to our business partners to maximize shareholder value. Having that broad, general management perspective helps you build broader insights to make better business recommendations.

When I think about the components of the Darden MBA, one thing that I’ve found stands out is the quantitative analysis (QA) skills of Darden MBAs. My experience has been that other MBA programs just don’t have the rigor of quantitative analysis that Darden does. In a role where your success is largely based on your ability to make and drive business recommendations, those QA skills are invaluable in enabling high-quality decision making.

And one of the basic, but oh-so important lessons, that I learned from Darden was that you have to have a point of view. That’s something I try to instill in my team all the time: If you don’t have a point of view, someone else at the table will, and that’s the point of view that’s going to win the day. But the simple thought of “you have to have a point of view” is a great starting point for critical thinking and developing some unique perspectives. It’s been especially valuable as I’ve worked with my teams here in China to have the conversations on what they would challenge and why.

What advice would you give aspiring MBA students or recent MBA graduates?

Another of those important lessons that I took away from Darden was from Professor Alec Horniman’s leadership course: That a definition of leadership is a consistency and quality of action. The Darden MBA is the equivalent of a Disney FastPass to becoming a leader in the business world. With that fast pass to leadership comes responsibility. My advice is to think about the kind of leader you want to be and then be deliberate about becoming that leader. What is the quality of leadership you’re going to deliver every day?  How will you demonstrate consistent leadership every day?

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Executive Students Complete South Africa Residency

By Iqra Razzaq

This year Darden introduced a new Global Residency location to its fast growing Executive MBA Program. Students traveled to South Africa to explore leadership, business operations, and global economics over the course of a week. Students met with local business leaders in Johannesburg and attended meetings with corporate executives and discussions about the local business practices and infrastructure of South Africa. They analyzed the developing areas of Cape Town and discussed business systems used to combat the social challenges presented.

The South Africa Residency program additionally allowed students to actively engage with the history of the country. They toured of Nelson Mandela’s home, the Apartheid Museum, and visited Spice Route Destination and Fairview Winery. Through these interactions, students celebrated the diversity of both the country and unique business practices. Take a look at their learning opportunities and adventures below!

Classroom work in Johannesburg

Apartheid Museum

Presentation at South Africa Reserve Bank in Pretoria

Visit to DRDGOLD – South African gold producer and a specialist in the recovery of the metal from the retreatment of surface tailings

Fairview vinery – paring wine and goat cheese –local specialty

Classroom work at Cape Town

Closing dinner at Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town




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A Look into Leadership in Normandy

By Iqra Razzaq

This past May, Darden students visited Normandy, France to take part in a Darden Worldwide Global Topic course. In these global topic courses, students take a deep dive into a particular topic, using the setting to enhance their understanding of a particular business concept. Gordon Rudd, Professor of Strategic Studies of the U.S. Marine School of Advanced Warfighting, and Professor Jared Harris led the Normandy course, which allowed students to apply the broad leadership lessons from the Normandy invasion to their own understandings of leading a complex organization, collaboration across units, and cross-cultural leadership. Students spent a week visiting different battle sites, analyzing the invasion, and applying their skills in evaluating effective leadership.

The students participating in this program practiced cross-cultural leadership by examining the relationship between Allied planning and German response. They witnessed how complex teams collaborated to ensure missions were executed regardless of changes in the environment. They engaged in discussions at historically significant Normandy invasion sites such as Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, and Sword Beach. Students also visited additional sites of historical and cultural value to add to their learning. Below is a look into the engaging and experiential course!


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Darden Worldwide Travelogue

Check out this 60 second video of students travelling all over the world on their spring 2017 Darden Worldwide Courses!


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Exploring and Experiencing Uganda: Darden Global Immersion Course

By Iqra Razzaq

The past two Decembers, small teams of Darden students visited their Global Consulting Project clients in Uganda. Building on successful past engagements, the Center for Global Initiatives offered the first Darden Worldwide Global Immersion Course to Uganda this May.  Twenty-six students participated in the new course offering which explored education, healthcare, and business development across the nation. Michael Koenig led this course and accompanied the students throughout their stay in Uganda. He shared thoughts on the course:

“As the first foray for a Darden Worldwide Course into East Africa, the Uganda DWC elective far surpassed all expectations.  Our participants in this inaugural program in East Africa had the opportunity to delve deeply into the core themes of the program entrepreneurship, education and health care.  Most importantly, the program offered opportunities to meet with and get to know many members of each of these communities in Uganda, offering a much deeper appreciation of the interrelated challenges and opportunities that face this fast growing country.  Finally, our students had multiple opportunities to experience the rare natural beauty of this country with game ride safaris in both Lake Mburo and Murchison Falls National Parks, capped off with a boat tour on the Victoria Nile river and a view of one of nature’s most spectacular views, Murchison Falls Uganda.”

In advance of departure, self-formed teams selected topics relevant to the themes of the course, conducted research, summarized findings and insights for integration into an overall briefing book, shared with the entire class before departure. This briefing book served as background reading and preparation for the trip.

On the ground, students developed a thorough understanding of an entrepreneur’s obstacles and opportunities in Uganda through first hand meetings. Additionally, they interacted with local leaders and many cultural festivities. Students had opportunities to visit the Uganda Cultural Museum, Nile Brewery, and the MUST Medical School. Dr. Chris Moore, from the UVA School of Medicine, co-led the program and shared insights on healthcare and innovation in the region. The snapshots below capture just a few parts of the memorable course!


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Question and Answer with Matt Tao (Class of 2018)

Xin “Matt” Tao (Class of 2018)

Hometown: Shanghai

Pre-Darden University and Major: Fudan University, Electrical Engineering

Pre-Darden Employment: IBM, PwC Consulting


Why did you choose the University of Virginia Darden School of Business for your MBA?

Darden is a school that cultivates true business leaders, not just consultants or managers, which is the most important reason why I chose Darden. I talked to many alumni when I attended Darden’s information session in Shanghai, and I found that many alumni are successful leaders in different companies. Those alumni were all talented and humble, and I was convinced that Darden would help me become a great leader like them.

As a non-native English speaker, how have you adjusted to the case method and life at Darden?  First of all, my learning team helped me a lot in terms of case preparation. Every time I had some trouble understanding the cases, they would explain and help me gain insights through discussion. Second, the faculty is always there to help. I learned a lot from my professors after class when I had questions. They would also inspire me to think deeply during class when I expressed my opinions. Last but not least, Darden has the best students, who were all willing to help me adjust to studying and life at Darden. I often hang out with them to get more used to the life in United States.

How did Darden help you find and prepare for your internship? I focused on the consulting industry. The Career Development Center and the Consulting Club offered to help me prepare for recruiting. They organized events to teach students how to do networking and how to prepare for interviews. For example, they set up many workshops to help us learn how to do case interviews, which was really helpful.

What advice do you have for prospective students? Think through your future career path before going to B-school. A prospective student can get the best out of Darden as long as he or she is clear about the goal and is prepared to be a leader.

How did living in Charlottesville impact your MBA experience? Charlottesville is a peaceful and beautiful city. I can focus on studying and recruiting while still having lots of fun traveling around Charlottesville. I’ve been to many different cities in the U.S., but Charlottesville is my favorite place.

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Paige Hurlbut Reflects on Darden’s Worldwide Course to Sweden

Paige Hurlbut (Class of 2018) returned to Charlottesville to attend Darden six years after earning her B.A. in Economics and Environmental Thought and Practice from the University of Virginia in 2010. Paige hails from Richmond, VA and has been involved with Retail and Luxury Goods, Outdoors, WACC, GWIB, and Golf clubs at Darden. After first year classes ended, Paige joined her classmates and Darden Professor Marc Modica on the Darden Worldwide Course (DWC) to Sweden to explore entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability. In her own words:

Getting to travel to Stockholm, Sweden for a DWC course just a few weeks ago was a highlight of my first year at Darden and was one of the first times that I really began to understand how much I’ve learned since starting at Darden last August. The icing on the cake was the wonderful group of fellow first years I had with me, the beautiful country we explored and the innovative companies and leaders we visited and spoke with.

Over the course of about 6 days, we had the chance to visit several incredible companies including Digiplex, Tobii, Scania, and the Royal Seaport Development. We learned about how these companies operate, what strategies they’re employing to compete in the future, including design thinking, technological advances they are making, and how they think about and incorporate sustainability into their work. We learned about trucking and transportation and the future of autonomous vehicles, sustainable development, data storage and eye tracking software, just to name a few. I am personally very interested in sustainability so it was fascinating to see how they think about sustainability, in that they actually don’t think about it. It’s so ingrained in their culture and it’s beautiful to see a country collectively agree that preserving the natural world is important for everyone.

We also got to know the city, take a ferry around some of many islands that make up Stockholm, see a Viking ship that sank on its maiden voyage, go to an amusement park, and meet fellow graduate students at the Stockholm School of Economics. We also enjoyed traditional Swedish meatballs and lots of incredible seafood. It was really amazing to see how businesses are flourishing in Sweden while making large investments in the future and in sustainability.

Darden students explored one of the newest models of commercial trucks produced by Scania during a company visit in Sodertalje. Scania, a global manufacturer of commercial and heavy-duty vehicles, spoke to the students about the company’s operations, the future of the automotive industry, and autonomous vehicles.

Students met with leaders at the Stockholm Royal Seaport Visitor’s Center. Students enjoyed a presentation, walking tour, and lunch in the Royal Seaport, exploring the area’s growth, housing, sustainability efforts, and projected future plans.

Students pose with members of the Digiplex team outside of their headquarters in Upplands Vasby, Sweden. During their company visit, students toured the Digiplex data center, learned about the company’s profile, growth, sustainability, and goals.

Following their company visit, students were treated to a delicious dinner with members of the Digiplex team at the Grona Lund amusement park in Stockholm. Following dinner, students enjoyed the park’s many rides, games, and activities.





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A Farewell to Japan: Darden Worldwide Course Wraps up in Tokyo

By Iqra Razzaq

The Japan Global Immersion Course focused on the nation’s unique project management activities and specialized planning within professional organizations wrapped up its final days in Tokyo. The forty-eight Darden students enrolled finished their course with journeys to leading enterprises, engaging discussions with Darden alumni, and cultural experiences, such as authentic dining at Momij-itei and interaction with the fast-paced Japanese technological world. Students gained exposure to the multifaceted business world while absorbing the diverse, vibrant societies of Japan. For a closer look at the first few days of the course in Kyoto check out the last blog post!

Day 6 began with a morning discussion with Satoko Takahashi Kagawa (MBA ’04) who currently works in the Ministry of Finance. Satoko shared her work in counter terrorism affairs, cooperation strategies, and negotiation tactics alongside border and custom agencies in other countries. Satoko also emphasized the role of women in leadership positions within the Japanese government. She further discussed the change management involving tourist customs clearance in airports towards the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The students then heard from Mitch Slape, the Chief Operating Officer of Walmart Japan. Mitch delved into the Japanese retail market and the specialization approach Walmart employed in the Japanese market. Mitch also highlighted the global footprint and effects of Walmart.

The day finished off with a visit to e-Jan, the developer of CACHATTO. This service supports remote connection to internal corporate file services from an individual’s devices while providing high-level security and application support. Shiro Sakamoto (MBA ’95) leads the company as Founder and CEO. Sakamoto discussed the ongoing trends within IT and how his company specifically works ahead of these trends. Sakamoto also hosted a reception for the students that involved direct interaction with the e-Jan staff.

Day 7 involved a company visit to Coca Cola Japan during which Hiromi Koizumi (MBA ’92) Senior Manager of Strategy & Insights, provided insight on Coca Cola marketing in Japan. She discussed the recent marketing strategies towards the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics and presented the latest product, Coke Plus. The government has approved this drink and validated its health benefits. Hiromi generously provided the students Coke products to sample!

The students also visited SoftBank, a multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation. Kane Nakamura, Deputy Manager of SoftBank, introduced the students to Pepper, the first humanoid robot capable of recognizing principal human emotions and adapting his behavior to the mood of his interlocutor. Kane discussed the background research, production strategies, and marketing directed towards the development of Pepper.

Day 8 marked the final day for the students’ stay in Japan. The morning began with a visit to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), created in response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Students learned about the NDF’s response to the Fukushima disaster and the relevant stakeholders involved. Shigehiro Yoshino, NDF Managing Director, spoke about the state of energy policy in Japan today.

The afternoon involved a visit to Nissan in Yokohama. The students heard from multiple UVA and Darden alumni regarding Nissan’s history, current state, and future predictions. The students saw a showcase of the latest GT-R engine and witnessed its production in a manufacturing plant tour.

The course ended with a farewell dinner at Momij-itei.


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