UVA Darden Paris Leadership Forum Explores Luxury Business With Darden’s Global Network

18 September 2015

By Julie Daum

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business Paris Leadership Forum on Saturday, 12 September convened members of the Darden network from more than 20 countries to explore luxury business in Paris.

The day-long event assembled more than 100 people, including Darden alumni from Europe and locations across the globe; Class of 2016 students on the Western European residency of Darden’s Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) format of the MBA program; members of Darden’s faculty and leadership team; and friends of the University of Virginia.

Dean Beardsley and alumni in Paris

The leadership forum coincided with a meeting of Darden’s Global Advisory Council, whose members — hailing from such far-flung locations as Argentina, Switzerland, India and Indonesia — help shape Darden’s global strategy and expand its global influence and reputation.

Darden Dean Scott Beardsley, who holds dual citizenship from the U.S. and France, expressed his delight at joining Darden 1 August as the School’s ninth dean and at being in Europe for his first official international event. Over the course of the day, he reflected on global business, on UVA founder Thomas Jefferson’s time in France and on Darden’s future.

“There is no better place than Paris to study luxury business,” he said. “In his day, Jefferson, too, was captivated by Parisian luxury. One historian writes of him ‘shopping for a lifetime’ while in France. Evidently, he shipped 86 crates with all manner of goods back to Virginia. Including wine. And the recipe for ice cream.”

“As your dean, I want you to know that I come into my role asking, ‘What would Thomas Jefferson ask Darden to aspire to?’” said Beardsley. He thanked the audience for their role in helping to build the University of Virginia and Darden’s growing global footprint.

“When the Darden Class of 2016 graduates in May, 36 percent of our new graduates will be international,” he said. “That’s incredible.”

Darden Alumni in Paris

The Paris Leadership Forum kicked off at the InterContinental Le Grand Hotel with the Darden tradition of First Coffee, followed by a case study discussion about the Four Seasons Paris hotel. Guided by Professor Lynn Isabella, participants explored the entry of the Canadian luxury hotel chain into Paris at the iconic 18th century palace, George V.

The day’s capstone event was an evening soirée at the Four Seasons George V, where participants experienced firsthand learnings from the morning’s case study.

Prior to the soirée, and despite rain, participants embarked on a themed tour of Paris: “Power, Luxury and Business in Paris: An Insiders’ Walking and Metro Tour.”

The group departed from the opulent Palais Garnier, or Opéra de Paris, built in the 19th century, which served as a showcase for not only opera and ballet but for power in Paris: It was the place to see, be seen and conduct business.

The group then visited Place Vendôme, home to some of France’s high-end luxury brands and then passed through the Tuileries Gardens and to the Left Bank. There, they stopped to visit the statue of Thomas Jefferson by the Pont Solferino footbridge over the River Seine. Jefferson lived in a nearby neighborhood, the 7th arrondissement, for five years, from 1784 to 1789, while on a diplomatic appointment.

The statue stands near Hôtel de Salm, which inspired the design of Monticello, Jefferson’s home outside of Charlottesville. When the Jefferson statue was erected in 2006, it was the culmination of 10 years of effort from University of Virginia alumni and friends.

To celebrate the role of global innovation in improving lives, the first Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Global Innovation, awarded by UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, and hosted by the Darden School, will be awarded on Jefferson’s birthday, 13 April 2016.


“I am deeply inspired by Jefferson because he thought big,” said Beardsley. “He innovated. He took risks.”

“Darden’s global potential is very exciting, and I believe that — if we work together — anything is possible.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia