Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Beau Muniz, University of Virginia (Darden)

Beau Muniz

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Energetic innovator, passionate about community building, home chef.”

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a patent for a dishwasher algorithm and another patent pending (fingers crossed) for a cooktop sensor.

Undergraduate School and Major:

University of Florida – Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

University of Louisville – Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: GE Appliances – Head of Operations, Chibo

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? Wrestling with ambiguity, conflict, and fast-paced decision making are some of the more challenging problems I’ve seen my managers face. Lectures will give you the knowledge and real-world examples of how to implement business strategies, but the case method allows you to work through the ambiguity of an unanswered issue with immediate feedback and input from other classmates’ perspectives. You get the opportunity to analyze and “unlock” the issues in ways other learning environments don’t fully support. The case method creates an environment in which classmates can challenge and learn from each other. It not only engages the entire class, but leaves you thinking about the problem long after you’ve left the classroom.

Aside from your classmates and the case method, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Darden provides an amazing scholarship to all students to complete a global academic experience. I wasn’t able to study abroad in college, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to take a course abroad after international travel restrictions are lifted.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Fascinating. In the short amount of time I’ve had to meet and interact with my classmates, I’ve found their backgrounds to be diverse and interesting. In previous cohort experiences, conversations are limited to the program or future ambitions. At Darden, I’ve spent more time learning and unpacking my classmates’ backgrounds because their lived experiences are so interesting and unique.

What makes you most excited about starting business school here? What makes you most nervous? I’m excited about diving into the case method and getting the opportunity to not only learn from the amazing faculty at Darden, but from my classmates as well. I was hooked on casing after my first visit to Darden, and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in a new method of learning.

In any other year, the academic rigor would be my biggest worry, but under the current circumstances, I’m nervous about connecting with classmates and faculty in a virtual setting. Darden is planning for hybrid courses when possible and some limited in-person activities, if they can safely conduct them. The community at Darden is such a big part of why I decided to come here, and I hope we can still build that sense of community in our class despite not all being in the same place.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At the beginning of last year, the CEO of GE Appliances gave our team a two-word directive to create a new digital product: interactive cooking. My first task was to evaluate the business landscape and look for opportunities to carve out space in the crowded cooking content market. Our team has always taken a lean product development approach, but this was the first time I was creating a strategy roadmap with such a high level of ambiguity. With little direction—and after many iterations and setbacks—my team and I created a live, interactive cooking platform called Chibo. I played a big role in developing the business model and strategy, and it’s been rewarding to see how successful the product has become.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After transitioning from engineering to business roles developing digital platforms, I realized pursuing an MBA would allow me grow professionally. I want to round out my business acumen and skills, but more importantly, take this time to reflect on how best to make an impact in my career moving forward and grow as a leader.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Wharton, Kenan-Flagler, and McDonough

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I felt a bit intimidated when asked how I planned to give back to my future classmates. There are so many amazing people coming to our program, and I’m still trying to figure out how to best contribute to the class.

Since being accepted, what have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? As a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management fellow, I began career preparation in late spring leading up to the organization’s Orientation Program and Career Forum. It was my first exposure to Darden outside of the application process, and I have been floored by the support and guidance I received through the process. I’ve also been taking online courses recommended by Darden to help prepare for the academic rigor of the core classes in the fall.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? When I first moved to Louisville to intern for GE Appliances, I loved the work and people I met, but really struggled to adjust to living outside of Florida for the first time. Being so far from family and friends was difficult, and I really struggled without being able to cook Cuban comfort dishes with the selection at our local grocery stores. Luckily, another intern organized a dinner at a local Cuban restaurant where I found a Cuban newsletter with ads for some Cuban shops and bakeries. After that dinner and my next-day trip to load up on Cuban essentials, I was able to really break out of pessimism and enjoy Louisville. By the summer, I was elected co-President of the intern class, and I ended up making some of my best memories and friendships so far. I’m not sure I would’ve returned to work in Louisville if it wasn’t for that serendipitous experience, but it set up the path I am on today, and I couldn’t be happier.

Especially during a global pandemic, moving and leaving stable employment can be difficult to stomach. It’s easy to second guess the decision or get discouraged about the ambiguity of the business school experience under the current circumstances. These next two years will go by fast though, and I’m leaning on that experience to make the most of the situation. I plan on taking full advantage of the opportunity to learn, grow, and meet my amazing classmates during my time at Darden.

What is your favorite company and why? I admire Patagonia for aligning its purpose so well with its products, customers, and values. The synergies between Patagonia’s corporate values and business incentives creates structure for sustainable revenue growth and impactful climate change advocacy.


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