Class of 2016 MBA Mamas: UVA Darden Edition

Mimi West showing off her “mommy muscles” on graduation day with her twin boys!

Mimi West and her husband, both Mormon, were raising twin boys in Utah before she applied to Darden’s MBA Program. West holds a Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance from Brigham Young University and was an opera singer and music teacher. According to a recent article on Darden’s blog, like many Mormon women, West was expected to work within the home, not outside of it. West says:

I expanded my vision of what I was capable of. Prior to MBA school, I was at home with my twin boys for three years. As the primary caregiver, I also worked as an opera singer and owner of two small businesses. I wrote articles for online publications and designed software programs during my boys’ naps. I taught music lessons and performed in stage productions at night. It was fun and exhausting. I knew the lifestyle wasn’t sustainable.

I discovered through building my ventures just how much I enjoyed business. I developed a dream to get an MBA “someday”, and my husband Michael was 100% supportive of this dream. In fact, he lovingly pushed me to apply to grad school many years sooner than my original plan. I surprised both of us when I got into a top business school, and so Michael quit his job at Adobe and we moved to Virginia.

After graduation, West’s family will move to Minneapolis, where she will begin a full-time role in Land O’Lakes Inc.’s marketing division.

West and her boys!
West’s boys showing love to this victorious Darden MBA Mama!

Pictured above is Darden MBA Mama graduate Kate Myers with her partner, Eric Benson, and her enthusiastic 5 year old Isaac Benson. Kate is a badass strategist with experience in media and technology. Her LinkedIn tagline is: Strategy, Execution, and Mischief.

Isaac wears mommy’s graduation cap!

She chose to get her MBA in her mid-thirties to gain additional skills and perspectives to lead innovation in the business of media. Kate is currently Vice President, Business Development, Inside Higher Ed and previously worked as a Product Manager and Director, Business Partnerships and Strategy for NPR. Kate says:

I wouldn’t have been able to get through the Executive MBA program at Darden, including receiving one of the faculty academic awards, without my amazing partner and my son.

Kate also contributes her years of expertise to the MBA Mama team as a Strategy Adviser to help our team grow and monetize our brand.

Darden MBA Mama Jessica Pearson

Jessica Pearson, pictured here with her two boys, Sam and Luke, graduated from Darden’s EMBA program along with Kate in the Class of 2016.

Jessica is a licensed architect with over 19 years of experience, and has spent her career delivering quality projects on time and on budget while building consensus among a wide variety of constituents. Her career has included time in construction, architecture practice and municipal planning.

I sought my MBA because I am passionate about expanding my effectiveness as a partner for my clients. Now I am interested in applying these new skills with my design abilities to assist companies with strategic planning, change management, operations and solving problems using tools like Design Thinking and Lean Principles. Sustainable practices in construction and real estate are also important to me as evidenced by my LEED AP certification.