2022 MBA To Watch: Katie Winebarger, University of Virginia (Darden)

Katie Winebarger

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“An extreme extrovert searching for the balance between reading excessively and enjoying time with friends.”

Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina

Fun fact about yourself: I reread the complete The Lord of the Rings trilogy during every major life transition (moving to new +city, starting new job, etc.).

Undergraduate School and Degree: Vanderbilt University; double major in Psychology and Health; and English Literature

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Refinitiv, Account Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Bain & Co. Consulting, San Francisco, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Co., Consulting

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Thompson Scholarship Recipient

Genovese Fellowship Award Recipient

Dean’s Innovation Fellow

Section Representative (D)

President, FinTech Club

VP of Community, Graduate Women in Business Club

Student Admissions Committee Member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my FinTech Club launching Darden’s first ever FinTech Conference, with the theme of “Re-imagining Financial Equity.” My passion for financial access and democratization was a huge reason I pursued my MBA. The ability to work with such an aligned group of people, equally committed to equity within the financial services sector to realign our club and spread our shared passion with the entire Darden student body, has been an incredibly rewarding experience!

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Darden for personal and academic reasons. First, I wanted a school with a strong core curriculum and a case method classroom so that I could learn from my incredible classmates and strengthen my own communication skills and learning style. Second, after living in Germany and then San Francisco after undergrad, it is a huge perk to be within a 5-hour drive of my family for the first time in almost a decade.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I’ll be the cliché person who will say “nothing”! This experience has been the best 21 months of my professional journey thus far, and I can’t imagine doing anything differently – unless, of course, I had the ability to extend the hours in the day, in which case I would try to get to know more of my classmates and professors on a deeper level.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Darden is that the rigorous academics take away from the business school experience. Instead, it has been one of the most enriching aspects. I’ve walked away from every course with not only a ton of newly-acquired knowledge, but also an immense (and humbling) appreciation for how much I have yet to learn, and excitement for continuing that journey over the rest of my life.

What surprised you the most about business school? I talk to a lot of prospective students about “first order“ and “second order” learning at Darden. “First order” learning being the curriculum, and “second order” learning being all the skills that come along with the process – time management, resourcefulness, boundaries, etc. I expected that at Darden I’d maximize the “first order” learning as the most valuable part of the experience. But I’ve been surprised that the “second order” learning has been the most valuable and transformative part of this entire experience. They are the skills that will stick with me long after (I can always google “double-decline depreciation”, right?).

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was incredibly transparent about my personal journey, in addition to my academic and professional journey, and how that has informed my passions, interests, and perseverance. I had, prior to then, kept most of my personal journey to myself and a select few, and I believe that the authenticity helped round out my full person and what I had to contribute to a program like Darden.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This will be no surprise to the Darden community, but I most admire my classmate and friend Natalia Alvarez Diaz. In addition to being one of the most intelligent and hard-working individuals you’ll ever meet, Natalia is exceptionally compassionate, dedicated, and generous. She donates her time freely to Darden, her friends, potential students, her family, and anyone who needs an ear or a hug or a favor done to pull off an event. I truly believe she has a time-turner to accomplish so much in mere 24-hour days. Her commitment to championing inclusivity for historically marginalized communities and challenging the way myself and our classmates conceptualize and contextualize our privilege in society is truly transformative. She inspires me to be a better classmate, leader, and citizen of our society. Plus, her and her partner’s dog, Chuli (short for ‘Chuleta’), is my forever companion!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My boss at Refinitiv, Katie Parson, strongly encouraged me to go to business school. She loved her experience and learning from brilliant, successful peers, which also nurtured my commitment to a case method business school.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Work at a FinTech aimed at solving sustainable financial inclusion; and work abroad again – preferably back in Germany or South Africa!

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has changed my view of day-to-day structure and intentionality, but not my view of a career. I believe a career is the culmination of choosing, every day, a job that challenges you, brings you fulfillment, and affords you the lifestyle you want. A career is made by stringing together the sum-total of those days with the degree of introspection and intentionality that you are fortunate enough to be able to employ.

What makes Katie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“As Section Rep, Katie Winebarger was the glue that held FY Section D together in the difficult pandemic 2020/21 academic year. From my perspective, her management of the section – getting the section to agree on norms, enforcing them in an effective, good-natured way, etc. — was essential. This is in no way trivial; well-managed FY sections are essential to the success of the school. I deeply appreciate Katie for her management of Section D.”

Darden Professor Frank Warnock


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