May 3, 2009

Darden Days 2009

I returned yesterday from Darden Days 2009. In short, it was an amazing few days. I stayed with a student host, met with future classmates, faculty, and listened to school officials welcome our class. It was all fantastic fun and it was all amazing.

For me, the weekend also marked a clear dispelling of any remaining reservations I had about enrolling back in school. It was evident that I will be studying and working with some amazing people in the next two years that can not be priced. It was also evident that the next two years will be very fun and challenging, and will present the kind of break from the rut I experienced at my current employment. Strictly speaking from monetary perspective, it's also clear that the financial rewards of the MBA degree will far exceed the near term costs. Finally, I'm convinced that this is absolutely the right thing for me to do and will allow me to focus on my talents and skills that I will allow me to become a person of impact. To be that consequential person in the world, remaining in my current job simply would not do.

Apart from all that took place, points from two keynote addresses particularly come to mind.

1. Peter Kiernan - His speech was reassuring because he delivered it with such charisma and assurance. Basically, his gist was that coming to Darden is a good decision and is the right choice. Don't worry about the cost (I recalled the math that I performed a few days ago) - the degree will pay for itself. What the naysayers note about the program or MBA is hogwash. Don't listen to them. You're all special and great; you'll all have a chance to be great leaders. Welcome to the ranks.

2. Rob Bruner (Dean) - Dean Bruner's speech was more academic and philosophical. He started by painting a picture of 1907 - he co-wrote a book called "The Panic of 1907" - and compared the challenges of the day to those of today. Again, he was driving at the need for leadership. However, I think the real point of his speech was that we have an opportunity to become people of importance and of impact in the world. I liked that. His sentiments articulate what's on my mind. That is, in the end, going to Darden is not about the six figure salaries or even the networks, but rather what you'll do with those. Will you help an organization become great? Will you help address some of the corporate issues that challenge the world today? Will you make people's lives better? Will you matter in the world?

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