2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Daylin Russo, University of Maryland (Smith)

Daylin Russo

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith Business School

“Empathetic change agent driven to maximize the potential in everyone I interact with.”

Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Fun fact about yourself: I have two historically intractable passions: music and football. For example, in high school, I was part of our State Championship-winning football team and led the team in tackles. Three months later, I played Danny in “Grease.”

Undergraduate School and Degree: Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. Chemical Engineering & B.S. Biomedical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Destination XL Group; Leadership Development Store Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021?): Eaton Corporation; Asheville, North Carolina

Where will you be working after graduation? Eaton Corporation; HR Leadership Development Participant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:


  • Smith Fellow (2020-2022)
  • Smith Rising Star Award (2021)
  • Net Impact Case Competition Finalist (2021)

Community Work & Leadership Roles:

  • MBA Association Vice President of Student Affairs (2021-2022)
  • Graduate Assistant – Office of Career Services Leadership Fellow (2021-2022)
  • Teaching Assistant – Managerial Economics and Public Policy, Ethical Leadership (2021-2022)
  • First Year Track Representative (2020-2021)
  • Graduate Assistant – Department of Management & Organization (2020-2021)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As Vice President of Student Affairs, I have been responsible for coordinating and facilitating a student-led orientation for the incoming MBA class. A significant part of this position includes choosing and leading our orientation committee: a group of five students who apply to take on certain roles and responsibilities (i.e., teambuilding, social, case competition, communications, and faculty liaison chairs) and are passionate about providing an impactful, transformative, and informative experience for our first-year MBA students. As our own orientation experience in 2020 was virtual, a profound challenge that we had to overcome was planning an in-person event. Through our hard work, passion for the Smith community, and ability to work cohesively and effectively as a team, we successfully brought the incoming students together by connecting them with each other, current students, and alumni. We also created and implemented innovative ways to ease their transition into a rigorous full-time MBA program. The accomplishments of our orientation committee before and during orientation, especially given the circumstances, are my proudest achievements: hearing the positive comments from our team and from first-year MBA students; seeing our Smith community engage in the activities we worked so hard to create and implement; and continuing the legacy of student-led orientations to excite and energize the incoming class.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my internship at Eaton Corporation, I coordinated and hosted Eaton Asheville’s annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summit. I am most proud of the impact that this summit has shown to have within Eaton and the community, both immediately and in the long-term. Typically, the annual Summit is an on-site event. However, considering the current political climate (especially the need to implement equitable, inclusive, and diverse hiring practices), I advocated for this event to be held off-site in a central location.

My intention behind this was to increase participation and thus, recruit employees that reflected Eaton’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This shift in venue was a huge success! By altering the Summit to its new location, we were able to include five additional divisions of Eaton from across the state and 14 external community organizations. The expanded participation across Eaton and within the community subsequently fostered partnerships that resulted in many underrepresented individuals gaining employment. Not only was this event successful for Eaton (and showcased Eaton’s dedication to diversity initiatives), but it also reflected my personal commitment to DEI efforts—not just paying lip-service to these values, but actually putting in place steps to change the status quo and enact real, systemic change.

Why did you choose this business school? My focus has always been on people. This manifested in the career I chose, the relationships I have developed, and the leadership roles to which I dedicated myself. Beginning with my initial research into MBA programs, it was clear that Smith sincerely valued creating networks, both for those who are currently in the MBA program and after graduation. The importance placed on fostering these connections to truly create a community of MBAs has been a core component of my MBA journey. Indeed, it is the primary reason why I decided to attend Smith.

During one of my first conversations with the admissions team (which was around the first peak of COVID-19 in spring 2020), I asked how students were able to maintain a close community while physically separated and isolated. The answer was simple and honest: when you have so many individuals who are committed to building meaningful networks, you make the necessary adjustments to allow these connections to grow and thrive. These efforts can take on multiple forms, from virtual socials to alumni networking events to weekly coffee chats. During my first year in the program when our classes were still virtual and opportunities to meet in-person were limited, our community remained strong (and in some ways, became even stronger). This exemplified the genuine care and compassion that we have for each other and for the Smith community.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite Smith tradition is celebrating cultural and individual diversity through a multitude of ways. For instance, we have many events throughout the year (Diwali Night, International Night, Bradford Banquet, Smith’s Got Talent, etc.) that give students the opportunity to showcase a range of cultures and talents. To me, these experiences reflect the importance that Smith places on staying true to yourself and to your culture. We cherish and value the opportunity to learn and engage with other students from diverse backgrounds, so it is only fitting that we also make time and space to collectively celebrate all our traditions.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Maryland Smith is that its small cohort sizes are a sign of a less prestigious or rigorous MBA program. On the contrary, I think that the number of strong MBAs with incredible potential in our program is higher because of our smaller cohorts and the close networks developed between students and faculty, staff, and alumni. One of our signature phrases at the University of Maryland is “Terps helping Terps.” I have never met someone associated with the Smith MBA program who is not willing to help a fellow Terp. I am proud to be a Terp, regardless of how small or large our cohorts are!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? While I was looking at potential MBA programs, I reflected on what I valued and needed to succeed in this next stage of my career. During my application process, I was transparent with Maryland admissions with what these were: people who care about one another, faculty who teach us how to apply the concepts learned in our future careers, and the opportunity to be involved. While MBA programs are looking to recruit the best potential MBA students, we are also looking for our “home” for the next two (plus) years. I believe that being true to myself and honest about what I needed from the program gave me an edge in the admissions process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a really difficult question because I admire everyone in our program for their own unique reason. That being said, I think I admire our international students the most. This is a challenging program to begin with and domestic students can struggle understanding necessary concepts in their native language! To be able to do this in a non-native language, in a foreign place, away from your family and friends who you have grown up with your whole life contributes an extra and seemingly insurmountable academic layer. Add in the challenges of traveling during a pandemic and finding internships, and it is even more strenuous. Our international students not only succeed academically and professionally, but they also navigate the social and cultural challenges with such grace and poise. Their dedication to the program and to the community are two of the many reasons I have the utmost admiration for our international students.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Without a doubt, the most influential and inspiring person in my decision to attend business school was Anna Posbergh, my life partner. (Soon-to-be-doctor) Anna’s continuous pursuit of knowledge and excitement in bettering society are just two of her many qualities that persuaded me to take the leap and go back to school. Seeing how many people she is able to impact amazes me. Before business school, I never understood the excitement that Anna derives from learning something new and sharing her insights with me. I wanted to understand this intellectual stimulation and share this passion with others. I loved the idea of business, but I did not understand the academic rigor of it. This curiosity, stemming from Anna’s excitement for learning, led me to pursue my MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? 

  1. Launch a new site within a corporation, developing the strategy and culture from the ground up.
  2. Mentor young professionals to help in their journey of personal and professional growth.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has given me appreciation for how much I value in-person experiences, whether it is working on group projects or attending social events. Having a spontaneous conversation with a colleague in the kitchen about their weekend has never been more satisfying than this year. Prior to the pandemic, I took these daily interactions for granted, but I am so much more appreciative now of how intrinsic these interactions are to my happiness and success.

What made Daylin such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Daylin Russo’s leadership has been outstanding during his time as a Maryland Smith student. Daylin was elected as a Track Representative by his classmates during his first year and was critical in communications between students and administration. His first year was mostly virtual through the 2020-2021 academic year, and he went above-and-beyond to connect with his classmates virtually and engage with those who otherwise may not have participated in events. This was formally recognized at the end of his first year, when he was awarded the “Smith Rising Star” – nominated and voted on by his classmates in recognition of the contributions he had made that year. He was elected VP of Student Affairs of the MBA Association and spent the summer leading a committee to plan and execute an in-person Orientation for the next incoming class. He navigated added challenges of changing COVID-related policies and restrictions as the university returned to fully in-person operations, and was successful in welcoming and onboarding the next class of MBAs to Smith.

During his second year, he also worked as a Leadership Fellow for the Office of Career Services and assisted his classmates with their career searches and job preparations. In addition, he was a TA for a first-year core class, tutoring many students one on one beyond his required hours. In his role as VP of Student Affairs, Daylin has focused on encouraging mental health wellness and physical wellness by encouraging workshops and classes for his classmates. He has created a safe space for students to address personal, academic, and career-related concerns. He has also been instrumental in helping the Academic Director create a rewarding experiential capstone class by socializing project ideas with his classmates and creating a process for identifying team leads and staffing teams in a way that is inclusive and student-friendly. Daylin interned at Eaton as a Human Resources intern and will join them full-time after graduation in the HR Leadership Development Program. We look forward to seeing him continue to grow in his career and leave a positive impact along the way.”

Dr. Nicole Coomber
Assistant Dean, Full-Time MBA Program


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