Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Wade Clement, University of Virginia (Darden)

Wade Clement

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“I am an enthusiastic leader focused on creating strong communities and empowering those around me.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve played sports my whole life, and played goalkeeper on the Duke Men’s Soccer Team. Go Blue Devils!

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University: B.A. Cultural Anthropology; Certificate in Political Science, Philosophy, Economics; Certificate in Markets and Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Team Prime Time, Inc. – Program Director

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The case method ensures that you practice public speaking, active listening, and mental agility – all extremely important skills at the disposal of a successful manager. You learn how to deliver comments with confidence and clarity, and even get the invaluable experience of making (and recovering from) mistakes! I think it develops more humble, open-minded, and articulate leaders.

My favorite part about the case method is that it is a truly collaborative learning style, driven by students and facilitated by professors. Darden has an incredibly diverse student body, and each student brings their unique perspective and experiences to the classroom – every comment contributes to the class experience. It’s energizing to learn from others and their approach to cases.

What word best describes the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? “Compassionate”

Darden MBA students and alumni approach every interaction with empathy and good intentions. They genuinely seek to understand diverse perspectives, and then take action to support each other. You find students staying after class to explain the case, take on mentorship roles, or help

Off grounds, students participate in activities like Net Impact, Building Goodness in April, Resilience Education, and Community Consultants of Darden, where students work together to lift up the local Charlottesville community. I think these opportunities ingrain a culture of service that remains with Darden Students throughout their careers.

Aside from cases and classmates, what was the key part of Virginia Darden’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One of the main reasons that I chose Darden was its commitment to creating community. For First Year (FY) students, this often begins with the Learning Team, a group of 6 students who meet to discuss their classes and cases. Darden structures these groups to include students from a variety of backgrounds – my team has members from 3 different countries and experience in architecture, consulting, industrial design, finance, and accounting! This mix provides the chance for us to share our strengths, cultivate trust, and feel confident as we strengthen our weaknesses. We learn with and from each other, becoming closer as we do so.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? Darden presents a cornucopia of opportunities within and outside of the classroom. If I had to choose one, I’d choose the Community Consultants of Darden. Members of this club complete consulting projects for local non-profit organizations and social enterprises and gain practical experience in the process. I’m excited to collaborate with individuals who are united by their desire to harness their strengths to benefit small businesses in the Charlottesville community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As one of 6 full-time employees at Team Prime Time, Inc., it was my job to design and scale our mentorship-based after school programs. I am proud to have built win-win partnerships with school districts, research institutions, professional sports teams, corporations and foundations with the shared goal of providing incredible opportunities for at-risk students.

One of my biggest accomplishments was successfully expanding the Prime Time Games inclusive sports league from 7 to 70 schools. The program’s unique peer-mentor model pairs at-risk students and their classmates with disabilities and created an opportunity for more than 2000 students to participate in school-based sports together.

I believe strongly in the power of teams, not just as an instrument for collective achievement, but as a catalyst for individuals to develop a sense of purpose and self-worth. Participating in sports did that for me, and I am determined to provide youth with access to similar transformational experiences.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? I am grateful and fortunate that my family has remained safe and healthy, and recognize that many others are not as lucky. COVID-19 gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and career, and fueled to my desire to continue developing the skills necessary to increase the scope of my impact. To me, COVID-19 highlighted the importance of community and connection – and the downside of having it disappear.

COVID-19 forced me to be creative and resourceful at work, and we developed curricula for virtual instruction so that we could continue serving our students and schools. Our programs, ranging from the Prime Time Games to Mock Trial with Loyola Law School to Art competitions, were crucial for students and often accounted for a majority of their social interaction.

This feeling – on the one hand glad we could have continuity of service, and on the other hand devastated for the loss incurred by students and their families – only made me more determined to attend Darden, where I intend to develop the skillset necessary to lead teams and (ultimately) companies to increase their social impact.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I am pursuing an MBA so that I can enhance my ability to drive positive and collaborative change as a leader. At Darden, I intend to improve my business acumen, to cultivate my leadership style, and to develop life-long relationships. My goal is to align the resources and expertise of a business to make lasting social impact by tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems (Education, Poverty, Climate).

While I am still exploring a variety of opportunities following graduation (internship first!), I am currently targeting brand management roles. This will give me experience owning and driving a piece of the business, the opportunity to manage teams, and the chance to flex my creativity and problem-solving abilities.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, USC Marshall, UCLA Anderson, Yale School of Management

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program?

 1. Do your research: I would recommend identifying the top 5 characteristics that YOU want from your MBA experience and use that list to compare schools. You’ll get incredible insight from digging into Poets&Quants. Particularly for specific questions, I would also recommend going straight to the source – current MBA students and alumni.

During my application process, I reached out to a handful of Darden students and alumni. Not only did they respond and offer to speak with me, but they also connected me with their friends who shared my interests. They were welcoming before I even arrived on Grounds, and I’ve only become more impressed since.

2. Trust The Process: Spend time thinking carefully about the purpose of your MBA pursuit and crafting authentic essays. It’s ok to not be a perfect fit for every school. At Darden, it’s important to have the desire to work hard, listen well, and learn from others. Our school is full of ambitious people who know how much they don’t know, and the MBA experience is designed for people who are ready and willing to grow together.