Class of 2020 Exec MBA Graduate: Darden Felt Like Home

By Jay Hodgkins

Like most who pursue an MBA, Jaila Ingram Johnson (Class of 2020) was looking to develop new business skills and a network to boost her career. Ingram Johnson works at Harris Williams — an investment bank specializing in M&A advisory services — and she knew an executive MBA format would be the right choice for her to advance her education while she worked.

With her studies complete, Ingram Johnson will officially earn her MBA on 16 May when University of Virginia Darden School of Business Dean Scott Beardsley confers degrees to the Class of 2020 during a virtual graduation celebration.

It’s the culmination of a Darden Executive MBA experience she chose not just for the skills and network, but for something more, which she explained in a Q&A earlier this academic year on the Discover Darden admissions blog.

What led you to pursue an MBA?

I reached a point in my career that I felt things had become stagnant. I wanted more from my career and for my family. I knew that an MBA would offer me a new set of skills, business understanding and a powerful network of people whom I now recognize as friends.

Why did you choose Darden?

Darden was the school that felt the most like home. To me, it seemed like the staff and faculty genuinely cared about the success (academically, professionally, personally) of each student. In addition, I felt the case-study method would be greatly beneficial by taking these learned skills and placing them in real-life situations in a safe space.

What attracted you to Darden’s executive formats?

In all honesty, I could not afford to take two years off from working, but I knew I needed an MBA to take the next step in my career. Darden’s combination of on-Grounds and distance learning really drew me in because we get a chance to deeply engage with classmates and professors.

What’s your favorite thing about your classmates?

They are all extremely brilliant people doing incredible things, but at the end of the day, we are all here to learn and learn from each other. The environment is completely collaborative, and we are all rooting for each other’s success whether it is academic wins, professional wins or personal wins.

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