Monday, May 27, 2013

My New Blog Home!

I am so excited to announce that I have moved my blog to a new home!  Soon, this site will redirect to the new site, but for now, you can wonder over there yourself:

Blogger was a great place for me to start my blog, but I was looking for more ways to customize the site, and I think Weebly offers that a little better than Blogger.

I hope you'll keep visiting the blog.  I'm very excited about the posts I have planned for the next few weeks!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why I Chose Darden

Admitted students for the Class of 2015 are starting to arrive on grounds for Darden Days, our admitted students weekend.  It's so strange to think that it was only a year ago this week that I made the decision to come here.  I was trying to find my pictures from my visit to show you why it was so easy to chose Darden, but they're lost somewhere in facebook/my phone/my external hard drive.  Sorry!  Regardless, each year at Darden Days, the entire school (all current students and their partners, faculty, and staff) are invited out to King Family Vineyards to welcome all the admitted students with a really good southern meal and lots of flowing wine.  Last year, it was an idyllic late spring evening with clear blue skies, sunshine, and warm breezes.  We mingled over wine out on the vineyard's lawn as the sun set on the Blue Ridge Mountains behind us.  I mean seriously, it was impossible to say no to this place.

So for those admitted students that are still trying to make the decision, or to reinforce the decision that some have already made, let me tell you the advice that I followed to choose the best school for me:

1) Choose a school that will challenge you intellectually.  Coming into Darden, I had zero finance, accounting, marketing, or operations experience either in the classroom or in my job.  I knew that the core curriculum (which includes all those subjects) would really push me in areas I hadn't experienced before and that was both exciting and what I thought would be critical for my long-term career.

2) Choose a school that will keep you happy.  I know that I'm really affected by the aesthetics of my surroundings.  I know that I really like seeing people I know every day, and working in teams.  So the beauty of the Darden grounds and the strength of its community were key to my decision to come here.

3) Choose a school you want to build a long-term relationship with (and will make you proud to be associated with).  Darden's alumni network is really strong and very proud.  And on top of that, everyone I've met, from current students to alums, is always willing to help.  It's great to be a part of such a supportive network.

So that's what I thought about.  I also polled a bunch of current students, and this is why they chose Darden:
  • "People.  Every person I met made me feel like I was at home."
  • "Have you seen the place?"
  • "Case method, academically rigorous, inviting environment/people, smaller class size than some of the bigger schools. DPA [Darden Partners' Association] was a strong component. Also, the food options in Cville. I'm easily swayed by food."
  • "Darden's first name was Colgate, and I went to Colgate! It was fate."
  • "world class professors"
  • "I knew a really successful alum who started their own business."
  • "Plus, same colors (orange/blue) as our undergrad and the Denver Broncos. Made the transition easy, no need for new clothes."
  • "Dean Bruner's awesome information session in Bangalore!"
  • "We really appreciated how welcoming the Darden community is to partners and families."

Admitted students, have you already made the decision to come to Darden?  Current students and alums, why did you choose Darden?  Post a comment below or tweet #WhyIChoseDarden to @rollingship.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring! (Finally!)

Virginia has one of the most beautiful springs around.  And it's been teasing us for weeks with a glimpse of warm weather, only to replace it with freezing temperatures the next day.  Well it seems as though spring has finally come for real.  (Very bad timing for the cold I seem to have caught over the weekend...)

The pools in Ivy Gardens and Huntington are open and as soon as I'm feeling better, I'm looking forward to relaxing out there while doing my reading for class.  I even got to warm up a bit this afternoon between classes with a club meeting we held outside.  I think what I'm most excited about this spring, though, is the golf clinics sponsored by the Graduate Women in Business club that I tweeted a preview of on Friday.

I've been playing a variety of sports for most of my life (some competitive and some not so much), but I've never tried golf.  Unless, I suppose, you count the time that I found some awesome plaid pants and played caddy for a friend.  Last Friday, we had our first lesson on pitch shots.  I kinda went into it thinking, "well how hard could this be? I'm a relatively athletic person..."  Um, yeah.  I think we know how that story goes.  I mean, I wasn't horrendous, but let's just say I'm looking forward to practicing more.  It's pretty fun to learn a new sport, though, and the beautiful weather and views we had made up for any frustrations with my lousy swing.

As the first year wraps up over the next month, I'm hoping I'll be able to get out there more and keep practicing.  (Maybe next year we can even get a few ladies' games going so it's not just the second year guys out there at Birdwood every day.)  Of course, the nice weather also brings other, more passive forms of outdoor entertainment, like enjoying a glass of wine on the sunny porch at Pippin Hill Vineyards.

I'll leave you with the words of one of my favorite poets who seems to capture the feeling of today's weather:


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Source: Poetry (April 2000).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Well we've gotten about 7 inches of snow and counting. UVa canceled all classes across the university, so on the day before term 4 exams, when we really needed those last few classes for review, we're stuck on our own. It also didn't help that power went out for many of us at our apartments, and also across many parts of main and north grounds. Thankfully, I got power back after a few hours, but that didn't make it any easier to study when all I really wanted to do was go play in the snow and then curl up with a movie and some hot chocolate.

So I trudged over to Darden, which has had power for most of the day to try to force myself to study. Unfortunately, I've been here for two hours and haven't opened my books.

BUT...what I have gotten done is setting up a twitter account for this blog! Hopefully that will mean even more frequent updates about life here at Darden. Be sure to check it out! @rollingship

And here are some photos from my walk over in the snow:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What will your legacy be?

Business Ethics is one of those classes that most people expect to be a total fluff class, where you just talk about how business isn't all about making money because that's what you think you're expected to say.  What you say in Ethics class about a business decision may be very different from what you say about that same decision in Finance class.  But one of the reasons I came to Darden is the curriculum's focus on building an enterprise-wide perspective.  And that means not isolating decisions in one class, but considering any business decision we're faced with by bringing in the perspective of all of our classes.  

The first year Business Ethics course is a great example of how Darden operationalizes this.  Not only do our Ethics professors make guest appearances in our finance and decision analysis classes, but we're also pushed to develop a consistent point of view across the decisions we make in all of our classes.  So if you said you would pursue an oil drilling project in a finance class, it's because you've not only considered your shareholders' likely response to the outcomes of your decision, but also because you believe it will have a positive (or at least not negative) impact on your customers' perception of your brand, on your employees' trust in your management, and on your ability to act according to your own morals.

To that end, our most recent assignment for Ethics class was to answer the prompt below about what we hope our personal legacy will be.  At the end of our careers, what aspects of our characters will have governed our decision-making?  It wasn't until writing this paper out that I truly valued the fact that we were given the time (and accountability of a grade) to focus on this.  I wanted to share it for a few reasons: first, to show a little of who I believe I am; second, to spark some debate since I believe that a few of my goals are in opposition to each other; third, to create some public accountability for what I hope to hold myself to; and fourth, to encourage others (outside of other Darden FYs, like Kenny, Shaheli, Michael, Jenny, Jon, Rohan, Rachel, Genie, Gloria, or Yachna, who also had to write this same paper) to explicitly think about what legacy they hope to create for themselves.

What legacy of responsible leadership will you hopefully leave behind? What will those closest to you – your family, your trusted colleagues, your friends, your business associates – have learned from you?
When I look back at the end of my career, I want to be able to say that I stayed true to my core beliefs. That I wasn’t afraid to raise my voice when I saw something I didn’t agree with. That I didn’t just walk away from a situation I felt uncomfortable about, but stayed and fought to fix it. But that I would have walked away from a situation I did not believe was resolvable.

And I want to be able to say my opinion was sought after exactly because of that. That I was known for making the tough decisions, but for doing so only after carefully considering all possible angles and outcomes. That I was not known for rash decisions or blindly following my gut.

But I also want to be known for my moxie. That I took risks, had fun, was spontaneous, and truly enjoyed what I put my mind to achieving. That I inspired that excitement in others around me.

I want to be known for not being afraid of making mistakes and for always trying to learn from those ahead of and behind me.

I want to be respected for my compassion, and my desire to help others around me to learn and to improve. That I went out of my way to become a mentor to those who came after me.

And finally, I want to be known for being a successful business woman. Not a business person, but a business woman. That I found a way to challenge our societal and institutional norms that currently make being a successful mother and a successful business woman a trade-off.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snow Lessons

A few weeks ago I went on the Outdoors Club's ski trip to Snowshoe, West Virginia and when I got back, I knew I wanted to write a post about it.  I had a great time and met a bunch of fun people, but I failed to think this through because I didn't take ANY pictures.  Turns out no one else really did either, except for one person who had a GoPro camera on his helmet.  And his photos are a result of someone (I won't name names...) accidentally setting the camera to take photos every 5 seconds instead of taking a video.  So there are some awesome shots of waiting in the lift lines and riding the lifts, but not too much else.  To spice them up a bit, I played around with some filters (filters turn everyone into artists...) and you can see those lovely shots below.  But seeing as those really show nothing of the weekend, I'll have to rely on words to prove that even first year business students live and learn outside of spreadsheets.  This is what I learned:

  • Painfully cold below-zero temperatures were balanced out by pretty awesome conditions on our first day.  We woke up to ~10 inches of fresh snow, which made getting there the night before a little rough, but made for some pretty fun times that first day.  However, it also made my face raw for a solid week.  I need a face mask.
  • Yet another advantage to being short:  almost automatically get to be an inside penguin.  As we stood in that below-zero weather at 1 am outside the then-closed bar waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the hotel, somebody--in a stroke of pure genius--arranged a penguin huddle.  Along with the other girls, I was pushed to the middle and some poor, selfless tall guys (without hats, I might add) shielded us from the wind and snow.  Thanks for your sacrifice, guys.  I hope I never have to be an outside penguin...
  • The years of my brother complaining about snowboarders (i.e., me) slowing everyone else down paid off (although I hate to encourage him).  Armed with a one-strap binding and some hopping skills (I guess you could call me a snow bunny. ha.), I'm proud to say I held no one up while strapping in and out of my board and while navigating the flat parts of the runs.
  • West Virginia clubs attract very weird clientele.  I was glad we brought our own party.  Although to be fair, our neon/flannel theme and Lil Jon singing must have made us look a little strange, as well.
  • I should have gone on the club ski trip to Park year, I won't be missing any trips.  Or leaving my camera at home.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Slamming to a Stand Still

I finished my exams on Tuesday, December 4th.  Classes don't start again until January 22nd.  That's SEVEN full weeks of vacation.  I haven't had this long a break from school or work since the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college when I left finding a summer job until the last minute and ended up spending my time off learning to knit instead.  I'm close to being at a loss for what to do.  I even started reading my cases for next term.  (If anyone has suggestions for a good book to read, I am clearly in need...)  After barely having enough time to eat during the first three terms of school, having this much free time is just weird.  I've ended up getting a little slap happy.

But I'm aware that talking about how bored I am won't make for a very good blog post. Especially, I would imagine, for prospective students reading this who are still slaving away at work and feeling a bit murderous towards someone complaining about having too much free time.

So...I'll spare you the view into my internal dialogue in which I debate with myself about getting off the couch and going for a run or doing the myriad of life administration chores I've been putting off since August.

Instead, I'll tell you about the one week during this break when I was plenty busy.  During the second week of December, eleven other Darden first and second year students, one operations department professor, and I went down to Miami to Beckman Coulter, one of Danaher's operating companies.  Danaher invited us to participate in a kaizen event, as they have 12 other times in the past several years.  For the uninitiated, a kaizen event is a week long activity to analyze a process, come up with recommendations to improve it, and implement the changes, involving everyone from management to the people who perform the process on a daily basis.  (Check out wikipedia for a more comprehensive/eloquent explanation.)  This was a fantastic opportunity for us students to apply some of the concepts we had learned in our Operations class, and also learn more about managing and improving operations in real life. 

Beckman Coulter develops and manufactures blood testing machines for academic research and medical applications.  My team of five students, two operators, a team leader, and a few Danaher kaizen experts was tasked with analyzing and improving the assembly and testing of a sub-component within one of the blood testing machines.  I learned a ton during the week, but the biggest thing I learned really surprised me.  When an operator is performing a process over and over again, they don't have much time to stop and think about what the best way is to organize tools, parts, and process steps.  But when you  have a kaizen event, it gives everyone involved in the process the opportunity to think through how to do it best.  What I learned during this week is that small organizational changes like how you organize tools and parts at a work station can drastically improve productivity. Yeah, ok, seems simple, but I'm not talking about small changes to productivity.  I'm talking about massive increases. Like 50%-reduction-in-cycle-time increases.

And this is where my nerd-ness takes over.  I am OBSESSED with organizing.  No really.  I got binder clips for Christmas (one of my favorite presents).  I get beyond excited going to The Container Store.  At my last job, I created an organization system that a coworker told me was seizure-inducing it was so comprehensive.  My aunt used to invite me to her house just to clean her closets.  My family actually calls me the "Organizer Bunny"...

So when I had the opportunity to organize this assembly work station, I went for it.  I won't go into all the details of what we ended up doing, but I will tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it and that, as I mentioned before, it dramatically increased the operator's productivity.

I initially applied to participate because I felt that understanding operations better would make me a more effective HR professional.  However, the experience also made me realize that a career in operations would be really interesting, as well.  So all in all, it was a really fun and productive week.  And as a result, I want to be sure to thank the Danaher University Relations team and the team at Beckman Coulter for the time and energy they put into making this a learning experience for us so outstanding.