UVA Darden Executive MBA Alumni Named to ‘Best and Brightest’ List

08 September 2021

By Dave Hendrick

Two alumni from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business have been named to the Poets & Quants “Best & Brightest Executive MBAs of 2021” list.

“They’ve fought and fallen, but they remain committed to making a difference,” the publication wrote of the Executive MBA students. “In the classroom, these students summon the courage to ask the questions and share the experiences that bring a sigh of relief from their peers.”

From the Darden Class of 2021, the publication cited Corinne Bishop and Michael Long.

A former middle school teacher who studied dance and environmental studies as an undergraduate, Bishop said she was struck by the collaborative nature of the Darden MBA, even in an environment where most peers are juggling multiple responsibilities.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I learned how important it is to truly understand your own strengths and weaknesses and to build teams around that. When bringing together a group of people at work, I find myself seeking out others who have different skills and perspectives than me to solve problems and challenges. This leads to much better results than bringing together like-minded people.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Early in the program (prior to the pandemic), I was traveling for work ~30% of the time. I swapped driving to and from meetings for taking Amtrak so I could tune into our virtual evening weekday classes from the train, and I set a rigorous rule for myself: anytime I was on an airplane, I had to be a reading a case for class. This ensured that when I came home from a trip, I was ready for our weekend classes.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Understand your ‘why’ for getting an MBA. It is a huge commitment and you will find yourself juggling a lot at once. Knowing why you are doing it will help you stay grounded.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I had the impression that doing a master’s program later in life would be a more independent experience, and that you wouldn’t build as many close relationships as you do in undergraduate school. I was totally wrong about that. I could not have made it through the program without the support of my classmates, and I am honored to call them close friends.

Long, an engineer working in cyber-security, said the decision to attend Darden was made easier by its location in the Washington, D.C., area.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I needed the support of my wife to go back to school for my MBA. However, quitting my job was not an option. When I discovered Darden had a presence in Arlington, VA, that sealed the deal for me. Residing in the National Capital Region, Darden’s presence allowed me to be close to home and work. Then, when you add Darden’s teaching style, ranking, and general management approach, it was an easy choice.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Confidence is the biggest lesson I was able to truly gain from my experience in the program. Not just sitting in a meeting and finally understanding the financial jargon being thrown around, but being able to speak up and share my thoughts and not second-guessing myself and the value of my input. At the same time, I learned to be able to listen to others and the feedback they provide. Those two things may seem trivial, but for me it was a huge lesson and tool gained.

For example, I had an idea for my organization. Prior to Darden, I might have just sat on the thought. Now, I have been able to strategically deliver my idea and pitch it to my leadership. The response to me speaking up and presentation in an effective way was resounding and allowed my idea to move forward – from thought to action!

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Every person I spoke to about joining any program told me not go in with a mindset of what the program “will do for me.” Instead, I needed to find ways to be intentional in what you can do for the program. Our experiences do not need to be a one-way experience, but can be two-way.

Lastly, they told me it will be hard to do an EMBA by yourself in isolation, so engaging with your peers in your program and being able to lean on them and contribute with them is key. I learned in one of my courses how effective teaming can be, especially when all members feel apart of something. The program is tough, but it does not have to be a challenge faced alone.

Read the full Q&A of Bishop and Long at Poets & Quants.


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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