Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Stanley Lu, University of Virginia (Darden)

Stanley Lu

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Forever a student of life and all the lessons I may learn.”

Hometown: Frisco, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a fermentation enthusiast. From my experience in biotech of fermenting cell cultures to my hobby of brewing beer, the magic of creating something completely different and complex from simple starters is captivating.

Undergraduate School and Major: Texas A&M University – Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Emerson Electric Senior Automation Engineer

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The first time I experienced the case method at Darden, I was astonished by the environment. The case method enables students to direct the learning experience with the professor who masterfully guides the class. Many of my classmates are subject matter experts in their own fields and the case method promotes the exchange of thought and learning from a plethora of experts. Additionally, the case method creates a simulation of the real world where deliberation, communication, and persuasion are key factors to the success of a great manager.

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? Upon entering Saunders Hall, you are immediately embraced into Darden’s community. From First Coffee to the Darden Cup, where each section competes to win various competitions, the sense of culture and community is powerful yet welcoming.  When I was searching for business schools, I wanted a top tier program that promoted this mentality because I believe that cultivating relationships is what makes not only businesses successful but also improves society.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Genuine. I was fortunate enough to meet some of my classmates before COVID-19 during our Darden Weekend. Every one of my classmates genuinely cared for my passion and interest. We bonded over an assortment of topics from hiking and cooking to the mock case we had participated in.

Presently, my classmates created “Darden Doubles” where fellow students are paired weekly to have a virtual happy hour. Many of us have capitalized on this opportunity to connect and bond over zoom hangouts with some lasting over 2hrs! Darden’s Class of 2022 was given a tough hand with COVID-19, but we are making the very best of it.

What makes you most excited about starting business school here? What makes you most nervous? Before COVID-19, I would have answered this question with bonding with my classmates over the strenuous course load and the opportunity to grow and learn together. However, the global change that is occurring somewhat dampens that excitement. I say this with the confidence and belief that, as a class, we will adapt and overcame to the situation at hand and undeniably be stronger from it. I would be remiss to say that this situation does not make me nervous. The semester will absolutely be different. Now, what I am most excited about is the day that we can all walk into class and be presently together. That will be a very sweet and long-awaited moment for all of us.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: About one year into my career, I was designated as a team lead with the responsibility to design, code, test, and deploy automation software for my client’s fermenters. These fermenters were essentially four story tall stainless-steel tanks that grew the cells that produce active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). It was a daunting task as I had zero team lead experience and let alone biomanufacturing experience. There were many setbacks such as an initial 3-month delay in the design phase and the limitations of our software requiring complex and creative solutions. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to lead a global team of brilliant engineers from Costa Rica, India, and the US throughout the two years. My team and I were able to deliver the fermenter software ahead of schedule and with excellent quality. These fermenters will now produce the API used for the world’s first oral version of a diabetic treatment. The experience of this project has profoundly shifted my views on the complexity of global leadership, the necessity of cultural awareness, and the power of creating camaraderie among disparate groups to create lasting success.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  In undergraduate, my goal was to use my engineering knowledge to have an impact on healthcare. With my biotech experiences, I had reached a point where I had achieved this goal, but still yearned to move the needle further. I recognized the limitations of remaining in a technical role and the impact I could have. Pursuing an MBA would enable me to address my limitations by providing me with fundamental yet profound business skills to have a greater impact on our society through the intersection of healthcare, technology, and business.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ross, Kellogg, Fuqua, Harvard, and Stanford

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? If your initial goal does not work out, what is your plan B?

Since being accepted, what have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? There are many subjects that we will learn and discuss at Darden. To prepare myself for the assortment of topics, I have engrossed myself into reading books about various subjects. These books have helped me scratch the surface on not only the serious business subjects such as the global economy, but also the fascinating ways that our brains function such as habits. I hope to be able to continue this reading if our intense curriculum permits it.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? During my senior year in high school, my favorite coach, Coach Fricke, passed away at 35 years old from colon cancer. He was not only my coach but also my mentor that pushed me on and off the field. He was a great man and always encouraged me to be even better. This shocking sorrow ignited my desire to utilize my education to contribute to healthcare. It had led me to learn biomedical engineering and ultimately has led me to learn the business behind healthcare at Darden. What I learned from this moment is that whatever you pursue in life, you must pursue it with determination and passion.

What is your favorite company and why? I have a tremendous amount of respect for Proctor & Gamble (P&G) because of their core values and innovation. I had an opportunity to intern with them during my undergraduate degree. It was a very rewarding experience not only because of the challenging project but also because of P&G’s commitment to diversity. Their recruiters and employees ran the entire spectrum because P&G believed that diversity creates a stronger culture and corporation.

Additionally, their willingness to reimagine and push their products past traditional lines is inspiring. For example, P&G recently transformed the classic diaper by incorporating sensors that could alert parents when a diaper needs changing. They dare to dream not only in their corporate responsibilities but also in their technology.


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