MBA for Executives

A Message From the Program Director: Executive MBA


Barbara Millar
MBA for Executives

Prospective EMBA Student,

I congratulate you on beginning the journey toward graduate business school. Since you’re looking at Darden’s MBA for Executives program, I assume you are seeking an experience that will help you advance and enhance your career. I applaud your initiative and thank you for your interest in the Darden School.

While all executive MBA programs are different from one another, my observations about Darden are that we offer a truly transformational experience to students who are open-minded and seek to examine their pre-existing assumptions and perspectives.

  • Darden’s mission is “to develop principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.” In the MBA Exec program, we successfully recruit individuals who have already demonstrated strong leadership skills. And they are interested in taking it up a notch.

    Our strength as an institution is that we believe the student is at the center of the learning experience. We have designed a highly integrated general management/cross-functional curriculum and deliver that through the case method. This means you learn how to connect what you’re learning across the various business functions — and you do it by examining and debating solutions to business problems.

    Applicable and relevant — two words I believe define the Executive MBA curriculum. Our promise is to help you develop an "enterprise perspective" because we believe great leaders are ones who drive business decisions across the organization — not just by examining the individual functions of finance, marketing, operations, etc..

    Darden’s case-method classroom relies on students leading discussions by communication a solution to a business problem and being willing to debate, influence, persuade and listen as others in the classroom take a different position. This process of learning and sharing your learning across the cohort is a hallmark of the Darden School.
  • You can well imagine that in this high-engagement environment, people are known to one another. Day in and day out, in class and online, you are articulating your leadership point of view. You are listening to one another and thus, getting to know each other. This helps build an extremely strong personal and professional network.

    The program is challenging: academically and personally. Students rely on each other for intellectual, emotional and social support. A level of intimacy is created among the student body — and the faculty members who teach them — that I think is unparalleled in most graduate school experiences. With personal integrity, the building of trust and a willingness to take risks, the class unifies around meeting their individual and group goals. Our environment — both in the classroom and during distance — is one that is built on deep personal connections. Students build the strong community while they are enrolled and stay connected to each other, to the faculty and staff and to the School once they become alumni.
  • Having interviewed hundreds of prospective Executive MBA students, my sense is that you will come to Darden because you want to sharpen your understanding of business fundamentals and build on your strength as a leader. Our high-engagement style of learning is well suited for students who are actively engaged every day in solving business problems that come across their desks. While students report that these goals are met during the program, they also report that they undergo changes they did not expect.

    Many use the word "transformational" when asked to give us a word that best describes their Darden experience. They arrive with a set of personal, academic and professional experiences that have helped them develop their unique perspective on the world.

    After spending time in an academic environment with peers who think about, and solve, problems differently, you realize how much you have to learn. If you are open to it, I believe you will experience a transformative change while you are here. Students leave Darden dreaming of possibilities they didn’t before they came. I believe the Darden experience has the possibility to change you on all manner of levels — some of which you may be expecting and planning for, others that I think will surprise you.

I congratulate you on the journey you are beginning. I would be happy to help you any way I am able. I have been in the MBA industry for over 30 years and am happy to help you sort out what you’re seeking in a program, how an MBA can help you reach your goals and what it takes to fully commit to a rigorous — and highly transformational — experience.


Barbara Millar Signature


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