Meet Two of the ‘Best and Brightest’ UVA Darden Executive MBAs

01 August 2022

By Dave Hendrick

Two recent University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumni were among those honored by Poets & Quants on the recent “Best and Brightest Executive MBAs” list.

The annual accolade highlights students who “personify excellence” in a variety of metrics, including academics, extracurriculars and personal achievement.

“In top executive programs, every student is smart and accomplished — leaders in their companies as much as their fields,” the publication said. “However, the Best & Brightest are the standouts: the go-to student leaders who are admired — if not adored — by classmates and faculty alike. That’s because they are invested: they pour their hearts into everything — be it work, learning, or family.”

This year’s Darden honorees are Stephen Beaudoin (EMBA ’22), who serves as executive director of the Washington Chorus, and Catriona Stadtler-Ayer (EMBA ’22), who serves as a senior adviser with Universal Service Administrative Co.

Beaudoin and Stadtler-Ayer, who both served in a variety of leadership roles during their time at the Darden School, reflected on what they gained in their two-year Executive MBA journey.

Beaudoin, for instance, spoke of the way his time at Darden immediately influenced his professional work.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I specialize in organization and community transformation. Through that lens I’m proud of every time I have left an organization and community stronger, better, and more resilient than when I came in. I’m proud of our values, business, digital, and impact transformation at The Washington Chorus, and the Darden EMBA educational experience has in every way fueled this transformation: from the 485% improvement over two fiscal years to our net assets position to a comprehensive brand refresh; from our embrace of data analytics to fuel stronger customer acquisition, retention, and upgrading to creating and launching dynamic pricing models to maximize profitability of our concert productions – every part of The Washington Chorus’ work, and my leadership, has been impacted by the Darden EMBA experience.

Stadtler-Ayer said the experience opened her eyes to what might be possible.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? When I visited Darden and spoke with the students, I knew that it was the place for me. I wanted a top-tier business school with excellent teaching and was thrilled to find one where students supported each other. I was so impressed with the women I met and what they had achieved professionally. Most importantly, they all seemed to be friends instead of competitors.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? One of the most significant realizations from my MBA was that I am capable of much more than I previously thought. After working in the same professional community for 20 years, I initially believed I would continue in the same field, just at a higher level. Now I have the confidence to know that my skills are transferrable to many more areas and companies than I ever thought possible. My MBA opened the aperture of my future. I’m excited to explore more professional opportunities after graduation.

Currently celebrating five years of offering the Executive MBA in the Washington, D.C., area, Darden will soon release its application for admission to the Executive MBA Class of 2025.

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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