This has to have been one of the coolest academic experiences I've had at Darden. And that's saying a lot given that we were stomping around the Gettysburg battlefields in driving rain and near freezing temperatures one day and even colder temperatures and high wind the next day.
The premise of the class is to learn about leadership from the decisions both Confederate and Federal generals made during the Battle of Gettysburg through 5 classroom sessions at Darden taught by a UVa undergrad history professor and a 2.5 day trip to the battlefields led by professors from the US Marine Corps University.
To start, the classroom sessions were fascinating. Our professor, Gary Gallagher
, is an amazing lecturer. His knowledge about the Civil War is just astounding and what's more, he tells a good story. I love the case method, but it was refreshing change of pace to sit back and hear this first lecture (which you can watch on YouTube). In true Darden style, though, we peppered him with quite a few questions. In subsequent classes (watch class 2, class 3, and class 4), we moved more to the case method, analyzing the leadership decisions of Lincoln, Meade, Lee, and several of their subordinates. In our last class before we left, Professor Gallagher brought in several artifacts to give us a better feel of what it was like to be in the battle: hardtack made from the original recipe (which was rock hard, true to its name), almost every type of ammunition, and a rifled musket (I believe) including its
bayonet, which we got to fire (blanks, that is). Pretty cool to see and touch these parts of the battle.
When we got to the battlefields this past Friday, the Marine professors took over. Equally well-versed in the battle, they gave us an additional perspective based on their military experience as we walked the fields and saw firsthand how the leadership on both sides made decisions--why was Little Round Top such critical ground to take and hold? Why did Sickles abandon the ground Meade told him to hold? What was it like to be part of Pickett's charge, walking 20 straight minutes from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Ridge while being fired on the whole time and why would a leader ask his people to do such a seemingly absurd thing?
Besides being an unusual and just plain cool experience, the class is actually supposed to teach us about leadership. I'm writing this post as a means of
procrastinating from writing my final paper for class, so I haven't fully formed my thoughts about the leadership lessons I've learned, but here's are some of the questions that I took away:
- When do you reward initiative? Dan Sickles moved his corps from where Meade had placed him to the higher ground in front of him. While this was better ground for his individual corps, this put the Union line in a vulnerable position. Long story short, serendipitously his move ended up helping the Union defense, but not without exposing them to significant risk. We argued a lot in the classroom and on the battlefield about whether Sickles' action and how Meade should have responded. On the one hand, you want to reward your subordinates for taking the initiative to react to changing conditions on the fly. But when they make bad decisions or directly defy an order they disagree with, do you hold them accountable for the outcomes? When should you give your subordinates the freedom to fail and when are the stakes just too high?
- How do you learn from success? At this point in the war, the Union's Army of the Potomac had lost several major battles. These losses, though, taught them several key lessons about how to handle different situations. It forced them to learn, to adapt, to evolve, which was critical to their eventual success in Gettysburg. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, though, had won battle after battle. Each victory fueled their confidence--a key part of their success to date. But it also obscured the fact that conditions around them were changing and that they needed to adapt. When you're successful, how do you make sure you're still learning and evolving?
- What is micro-managing and what is just necessary supervision? We talked a lot about the leadership styles of Meade versus Lee. Lee often trusted his subordinates' judgment and as a result, gave long, vague orders assuming they would do the right thing. Meade gave detailed, concise orders that clearly instructed his generals to execute specific actions. It seemed clear which of these was more effective in Gettysburg, as Lee's orders resulted in several major missteps by his generals for the first time. But how do you know when you can trust your subordinates' judgment enough to be able to lay out the high-level strategy and let them execute as they see fit versus giving them detailed step-by-step instructions?
- When have you sufficiently voiced your opinion? Longstreet opposed Lee's plans every day of the battle. Lee was open to hearing his opinion, but ultimately disagreed. Many have made arguments that Longstreet's resulting action lost the battle (and eventually the war) for the Confederate. Did Lee sufficiently consider Longstreet's dissenting opinion? As a leader, how do you make sure you're remaining open to opposing ideas? As a subordinate, if you feel strongly about a strategy being wrong, when do you know you've sufficiently made your case? When do you shut up and do what you're told and when do you pull the rip cord and use your "go to hell" fund to get out?
I don't have answers to these questions, but they've made me start thinking more--that's the mark of a great learning experience, in my mind. I'm looking forward to our debrief class tonight to continue discussing these. I'll leave you with some of the photos I took during the trip (click on the photos to see them in full size).
It dawned on me this weekend that I only have seven months left before I graduate. There is definitely a part of me that is ready to get back to having a full-time salary, but there's also a big part of me that's saying WAAAIIIITTTTT!!!! I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO DO HERE!
It's that latter part of me that's been thinking about a Darden bucket list for a while. I first started thinking about it on the second year camping trip when I hiked Old Rag
for the first time since I was little. I then promptly forgot about it. Then it popped into my mind again this weekend when I visited Monticello
for the first time with some friends that came into town (practically a crime for a UVa student to have waited this long).
Monticello in the late afternoon
As I thought about it, there really are a lot of things that I'd like to do before I leave Charlottesville in May. My plan is to write through my progress on these and maybe add some more. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!Darden Bucket List(In case you're wondering, I've left the following off because I already crossed them off, but they're still pretty critical ones to hit in my opinion:
As the president of the Darden Bloggers, I had the privilege of choosing the bloggers for the class of 2015. I was very excited this year to not only be able to choose 7 bloggers from the first year MBA class, but also, for the first time, 1 blogger from the first year EMBA class and 4 bloggers who are partners of Darden students. They've all already been very busy on their blogs, which you can check out on the Darden MBA Bloggers and EMBA Bloggers landing pages. I hope you enjoy their posts as much as I have!
The week before school started, I took a week-long roadtrip with my boyfriend from DC to Charleston to Savannah to Asheville and then back to Charlottesville for the start of the first years' orientation week. After being an intern for 14 weeks at two different companies and having started working on the last day of spring exams, I needed a break.
We spent a lot of time on beaches and enjoying great restaurants, which recharged me to head back to school. There was lots of this:
Tybee Island Beach, Savannah, GA
I also came back with something else that put a spring in my step...on our first night in Charleston, my boyfriend proposed to me. After a nice meal, we took a walk along the water down to Battery Park, where he was "looking for a good place to take a picture." My mom is a painter
and so she had asked him to take some pictures of things she could paint. After a few spots, he finally found the right place.
Now to set the context, you should know that earlier in the spring I had told him that I wanted to get married after graduation in May and that I needed *at least* a year to plan a wedding. Yes, I'm direct. I tell myself that's just one of the reasons he loves me. Despite my bluntness, I wasn't sure the message got through. (To his credit, he's a very smart guy, so I'm not sure why I doubted that.)
So during the whole trip, and in particular that night after a nice meal and this very romantic walk, I kept thinking to myself, "well if my message got through and he's going to do it, this is when it's going to happen."
But oddly, when he bent down to "get his camera" out of his camera bag he'd been carrying all evening and came up with a ring instead, I was shocked. Speechless. And then, "really?!" was all that came out. I just stood there and stared as he was down on one knee waiting for me to respond. Poor guy even had to ask a second time. I said yes through a mixture of tears and laughter at having made him wait.
We decided to keep the news to ourselves for 24 hours to just enjoy the moment. It was a wonderful way to celebrate together, but also so hard to keep my mouth closed! Especially when at breakfast the next morning, my latte appeared with a heart in the foam. Man, that would have made a good Facebook announcement.
Black Tap Coffee, Charleston, SC
Ok so at this point, you're thinking, nice story (at least I hope), ...but what does this have to so with Darden??
I'm getting there. Thanks for your patience...geez.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we're looking at wedding venues in Baltimore, where I'm from. We're in a particularly beautiful venue that I would LOVE to get married in.
As you probably know, one of the tactics many good sales people use (and let me tell you, weddings are all about sales...), is getting to know you and building a relationship so it's harder for you to say no. So of course it came out that I'm getting my MBA at Darden.
After the sales pitch and the proposed prices, the venue owner asks, "how do those numbers look?"
I hesitate for a minute. "Well...they're a little high." I hadn't even meant to go down that path. We discuss numbers a bit and I'm starting to have some success getting them down. She then says, "Well you're in business school, so let me lay out the business. You can appreciate that I need to cover my fixed costs and still make an OK margin. Let me lay out what I need to cover and we can work something out from there."
Now would she have done this with someone who wasn't getting an MBA? Maybe? It did seem like an effective sales strategy to tell someone you were giving them the inside details. But the fact that she called that out really struck me and I've been turning it over in my mind for a while. Before school, I'm not sure I would have had the knowledge and confidence in my ability to handle a negotiation like that. Having to debate my point of view in relatively technical topics day in and day out for the last year seems to have made a difference, certainly in ways I didn't expect. Now if only I had the opportunity to register for Negotiations last year instead of 4th term this year...
After helping to hand out name badges to the new first year class earlier this week with some of my classmates, I sat in on the welcoming speeches. What a different point of view to have already been through first year and hear all that advice from faculty, staff, and other second years. As orientation comes to a close and classes start (for real) on Monday, I figured I'd throw my advice on the pile, as well:
Get really into Darden Cup, but don't let it create animosity between the sections. My section is one of my favorite parts about my Darden experience. Darden Cup events are a blast, especially when you win as much as we did. But losing will bring you all together just as much. So make sure you get to as many events as possible, but don't let the record affect you too much (says someone from a losing section). I think last year there were times when it got overly tense and we all (myself included) needed to take a step back and remember what the point of the Darden Cup is: friendly competition to create a stronger community. And when we argue incessantly with each other about rules violations or go above and beyond the friendly trash talk, it defeats the purpose. So let's try to remember why we're all out there.
It's ok to be stressed out. It's a stressful year and there's no point in hiding that. For some people recruiting will be the thing that breaks them down. For others it will be classes. For others it will be that long-distance relationship they're having trouble maintaining, or juggling family responsibilities in the midst of FY craziness. Learning how to handle the stress is why they throw it all at us. Make sure to reach out to your friends and classmates when you need help and keep an eye out for classmates that look like they just need a hug.
Don’t listen to too much advice from other people. It's gonna be an awesome, scary, wonderful, stressful, fun, growing-experience-full year no matter what you do. No one's going to be able to tell you how to do it best for what you want to accomplish, so just enjoy it.
So my office building started to shake on Monday. After experiencing the earthquake that hit the East coast in 2011 from the 21st floor of my office in DC, I very much did not want to experience one again. Not only were the vibrations magnified from being on a high floor, but being next to the State Department added to the fear--maybe it wasn't an earthquake, but something much worse, like a bomb, we all thought. So my adrenaline spiked when I felt my desk shake again.
Other people had similarly terrifying recollections rush back to them. A few women on my floor (according to a fellow intern sitting near them) started freaking out given their experiences being in New York for 9/11.
The lack of mention of an earthquake or terrorist attack on various news sites calmed us, but then we were just confused. The shaking was minor, but it was noticeable. It wasn't as if we had all imagined it.
Building engineers were called, who in turn called the city to confirm that there was no construction going on near the building. And the subway certainly didn't up and move closer to our building that morning. After a few hours of repeated trembles and still no answer, we got an email from the floor manager: the mystery had been solved.
Let me start by saying that my office is in Rockefeller Center, in a building that is connected to Radio City Music Hall. Normally, the only hassle associated with the location is the herds of tourists you have to navigate to get anywhere near the building. But yesterday, we discovered one more: it turns out that rehearsals for the Rockettes have started. And when 75 Rockettes dance all together on a platform suspended over the stage, the whole building shakes. They've promised to not do it again.
Radio City Music Hall
Biggest thing I've learned this week: my sense of direction is way worse than I thought. Even with the help of my phone, I've gotten lost probably once a day. That's just embarrassing. I'm going to chalk it up to NYC being a much more confusing place than DC, and certainly Charlottesville. Last night, I was supposed to go out downtown with two of the other interns, but my awesome navigation landed me and one of the other interns in Brooklyn. Oops. While we were standing in the pouring rain trying to figure out how to get to the bar, two of my old friends from DC walked by. SMALL WORLD. We ended up hanging out with them the rest of the night. Despite never making it to where we had originally planned, I had an awesome time. But that seems to be how the best nights end up happening.
Work-wise, I've had an awesome week. I'm interning at Bank of America in HR. Late last week, I got my placement in leadership development for Global Banking and Markets. It's a pretty exciting time to be working in financial services--so much is changing and it's cool to be part of that, even in a minor way. On Friday, my big project for the summer really started to get underway--one of the top talent priorities for the head of Global Banking and Markets. I think it'll be a great opportunity to actually help solve a challenge a company is facing that I researched in so much depth last year at my job before school.
I also got really lucky with my intern class. There are five other HR interns in New York in the program and they're all awesome--really fun, and smart, and from such different backgrounds and schools. Some are doing MBAs, some doing masters in org psych and other HR-y topics. And I'm actually the only one with an HR background; they're former lawyers, accountants, and other very non-HR backgrounds. Anyways, just an interesting group. Should be an awesome summer, if last night and this past week are any indication.
view of New York from Brooklyn's smorgasburg (http://www.smorgasburg.com/)
I am so excited to announce that I have moved my blog to a new home! The old site will soon redirect to here, so hopefully it won't be too inconvenient for you readers to keep following me. Just don't forget to change your RSS feeds!
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'd love to hear your comments about the changes I've made.
Sorry that I haven't been posting much (at all) in the last month, but I've been busily revamping the site. I have a bunch of new posts I'm working, on though, so look for those soon. I hope you'll keep visiting the blog!
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 choose 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
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.
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:
BY BILLY COLLINS
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).