UVA Darden Exec MBA Alumna Learns to Lead from ‘Crucible Moments’

10 August 2021

By Jay Hodgkins

University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumna Lynnette Crowder (EMBA ’10) decided early in her career to follow her curiosity and run toward challenges.

Crowder recently shared her story on Darden’s Alumni Spotlight, detailing how her Executive MBA experience helped her successfully pivot her career when the Great Recession hit and her then-employer GM declared bankruptcy.

She was in sales and enrolled in Darden’s Executive MBA when, midway through the program, the global financial crisis hit and GM declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At Darden, she found a place to pause and assess her next step. After graduating, she joined the general manager development program at MeadWestvaco to gain a high-level view of the business before choosing a specific path.

At a mentor’s urging, she moved into HR. She was leading HR for a large division in late 2019 when US Silica recruited her to be senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

“Years ago, HR was the personnel department. They figured out benefits, answered questions. It was very transactional,” she says. “But in the last decade or so, that’s really transformed. For a lot of business leaders, there has been this realization that achieving a business strategy is so dependent on the talent and organizational capability that you have.”

Within six months of starting the job, Crowder was overseeing layoffs forced by a downturn in the oil and gas sector, and then the pandemic hit. The experience proved to be one of her biggest tests yet.

“I call it one of those crucible moments that can really crystallize a team. Being in a new role in the C-suite, facing the challenges of the time, was one of those,” Crowder says. “Though it’s been really tough, it’s also been really valuable.”

Read the full profile on Darden’s Alumni Spotlight. 

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. 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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