Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Heather Hoffman, University of Virginia (Darden)

Heather Hoffman

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Crossword puzzle and running enthusiast with four nephews, one niece, and an irrepressible sweet tooth.”

Hometown: Pennington, New Jersey

Fun Fact About Yourself: I sang in Carnegie Hall.

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University, Public Policy Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Business Development Coordinator

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager?
The case method is problem-solving in action and allows students to apply, rather than memorize, core business concepts. It also encourages participants to hear alternate perspectives and build on each other’s insights in order to make a decision.  Real-life business problems faced by managers rarely have a clear right solution, but the case method provides an opportunity to become comfortable navigating the gray area.

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? During my visits to Grounds, I was extremely impressed with the involvement of professors in the Darden community and their commitment to the success of their students. Though I anticipate gaining key business knowledge through my coursework, I expect to learn just as much outside of the classroom, not only from my fellow classmates but my professors as well.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?  Enthusiastic. From Admitted Students’ Weekend to a virtual poetry reading and trivia night, the energy of Darden students has been consistent in each interaction. I am very excited to be a part of such a lively, inclusive community.

What makes you most excited about starting business school here? What makes you most nervous?
In addition to joining the Darden community, I am really looking forward to exploring the Charlottesville area. Outdoor interactions have become even more important during the COVID pandemic, and there seems to be no better place to spend time outside than Charlottesville. I think that the biggest challenge for me will be to find the time to commit to everything that I want to during business school.  Between coursework, career development, and forming meaningful relationships with my peers, I will be juggling a lot, so I am appreciative of all that Darden does to support its students.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my time as a legal assistant, I was part of an intellectual property case team that went to trial.  We were met with challenges and surprises throughout the two-year litigation that required both individual effort as well as teamwork, but we ultimately achieved a favorable settlement for our client.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Following college, I worked as a legal assistant at a large corporate law firm in a program geared toward preparing recent graduates for law school. However, a few months into my role I realized that being a lawyer would not align well with my strengths or my interests. I finished my two-year commitment in the position before switching into the firm’s business development department, where I supported partners by preparing pitch books and RFP responses, as well as working to create long-term practice group plans. I enjoyed working on the strategy side of the firm, but ultimately did not want to stay in the legal industry. I hope that my MBA will help me to pivot into my next role and set me up for success throughout my career.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process?
In the Darden application, I mentioned that I was a member of a tap dancing group in college. During my interview, I was asked the name of my favorite tap dancer. I truly do not know a single famous tap dancer, having joined the group as a fun way to get to know different people and not take myself too seriously. Although I didn’t have an answer, the interviewer and I were able to laugh about it before moving onto more serious questions.

Since being accepted, what have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? In addition to the suggested pre-MBA coursework and getting a jump start on the recruiting process, I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on where I see myself in the next five, ten, and even 30 years to determine what I can do in the short term to meet those long-term goals. I have also been able to spend time with family and recharge my batteries before the whirlwind of business school begins.

What is your favorite company and why? Warby Parker is one of my favorite companies because of its mission to blend positive social impact with true business success. Having worn glasses since the fourth grade, I do not take for granted the importance of vision and access to eye care.  Warby Parker has reimagined the formerly rigid eyewear industry and has made glasses more accessible to consumers and people in need.


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