Poets & Quants Names Recent Graduates ‘MBAs to Watch’
By Dave Hendrick
Poets & Quants has named two 2019 graduates of the Darden full-time MBA program — Syed Uzair Ahsan and Jane Hannon — to its annual “MBAs to Watch” list.
The category is not clearly defined, according to the publication, but often includes “colorful career changers with high ceilings” with “a knack for seeing what’s possible and making it happen.”
Both descriptors could apply to Ahsan and Hannon, who are heading to JPMorgan Chase and 3M, respectively, following their time at Darden.
Ahsan, who worked as an accountant at a children’s hospital in Chicago before Darden, credited the School with helping him realize the impact he could have in the real world immediately.
What was your favorite MBA Course? Transforming Societies. I think the biggest insight I gained from this class was that we can start positively impacting society wherever we are, by working with the communities directly, with the business skills we already (i.e. we don’t need to wait to become C-suite executives or launch nonprofits to have a positive impact on society). It is something that I intend to implement post-Darden.
Why did you choose this business school? I was keen to expand my skill set and continue my learning. The MBA curriculum provided me with the opportunity to do both. Doing an MBA from a top school like Darden also opens up new career paths at prestigious employers. After working for four years as an accountant, I was ready to take on opportunities with more business ownership that would allow me to deliver more direct impact and progress in my career. Finally, I knew that I would be getting an opportunity to be part of a vibrant community and build meaningful relationships.
What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Know your goals and have at least a high-level plan to accomplish those goals – this will not just help you with the application process, but also with your business school experience itself.
What is the biggest myth about your school? I heard from a few people that the Darden learning experience is grueling and that students are cramming cases all the time. I don’t know if that’s a widespread myth, but it’s not true. Yes, the learning experience is rigorous; students do put in a lot of time with cases, but there’s also a lot else going on in both first year and second year. I wouldn’t change anything about the academic workload.
Hannon, who previously worked at the nonprofit science organization Addgene, served as president of Darden’s Graduate Women in Business club during her time at Darden, helping to “catalyze change within the Darden community and spark meaningful conversation around the role of women in the modern business world.”
Why did you choose this business school? The biggest draw for me was the case-based teaching method. I knew making decisions through cases would round out my non-traditional background with robust learning during core and expose me to topics of interest such as ethics and leadership. The collaborative structure of the school, with a heavy reliance on shared knowledge developed during learning team each night, meshed well with my desire for a close-knit community. On top of that, the professors at Darden are simply unbeatable and were a huge draw for me to come here. Being able to experience all of that while living in a vibrant college town surrounded by gorgeous wine country made Darden an easy choice!
What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Darden’s application is very quirky with lots of short essay questions, and the blind interview is a relatively unique format as well. My advice is to avoid doubling down on the same information in multiple places and instead use each touchpoint to convey something new about yourself. Having a case-based class structure, Darden works best if students bring extremely varied experiences and interests into the classroom, so let all sides of your personality shine.
What is the biggest myth about your school? Because Darden ranks so highly for training general managers and strategic thinkers, it earns the reputation that everyone here is a consultant. While there are many management consultants in our class, there is a large variety of other industries students can and do explore. People who are interested in marketing, finance, tech, operations, entrepreneurship, and venture capital, among other areas, will find extensive support through elective classes, student-run clubs, and access to a strong alumni network.
MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Darden sculpted and molded me in ways I would have never anticipated. Compared to two years ago, I’m more assertive, better at time management, and more literate in business vernacular than I ever imagined a former neuroscientist could be. The most notable difference, however, has been the growth I’ve experienced from finding my voice in tough conversations. To be clear, I’ve never been soft-spoken about issues that matter to me, but by being forced to take a stand on literally hundreds of (very tough) cases, I’m more confident than ever in my ability to voice my opinion and defend my reasoning.
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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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia