Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Devin Waddell, University of Virginia (Darden)

Devin Waddell

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“I am builder; I am problem solver; I am a hard worker. I get better every day.”

Hometown: Summerfield, NC

Fun Fact About Yourself: I maintained a 300-gallon saltwater reef aquarium growing up.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Dual bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Finance, Auburn University

Master’s degree in Management Studies, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: HSBC – Associate, Global Banking & Markets, Diversified Industrials and renewables coverage

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The ability to learn and solve business problems through collaboration with classmates and professors makes the case method an attractive way of learning. Darden does an excellent job constructing learning teams and class sections, placing at least one to two people with different industry experience in each section. Therefore, we can learn theoretical and current real-world practices for various industries during every class. The case method enhances our management skills by preparing us to navigate ambiguous situations, assess business challenges, and handle differing viewpoints.

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? Darden’s commitment to creating transformational experiences for its students was important. Darden allows every student to participate in one Darden Worldwide Course (international trek) at no additional fee through its new Batten Foundation Darden Worldwide Scholarship program. This opportunity was very attractive to me given my prior background at a global institution and goal to become an international business leader.

Additionally, this commitment was evident during my conversations with current students and alumni. Darden’s heightened focus on its community through events such as the Darden Cup, First Coffee, and support for student-driven organizations leads to strong relationships, unforgettable memories, and enhanced personal growth for its community members.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? I am excited to participate in Darden Capital Management (DCM). The club manages about $30 million of total assets of the Darden School Foundation endowment through 6 different funds. I have always been passionate about investing and enjoyed reading books about famous investors such as Warren Buffet and Ray Dalio. I can’t wait to participate in stock pitch competitions, the University of Virginia Investing Conference, and DCM fund meetings.

What has been your first impression of the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Darden story so far. Darden students and alumni are heavily invested in the Darden community and each other’s success. The second years have doubled down on their efforts to make sure the Darden experience is fun, inclusive, and supportive. Alumni in every industry and career phase have been willing to connect to share their experiences and help answer questions. Furthermore, my former direct manager, a Darden alumnus, recommended business as a next phase in my career even though our team was very lean and our organization was battling attrition at the time.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment is walking on to the Auburn basketball team and earning a full athletic scholarship after not being recruited in high school and getting cut my first year. This experience taught me the importance of persistence, continual self-development, and a positive mindset. While it is not a professional accomplishment, this experience has paid dividends in my professional career.

My collegiate basketball experience gave me the confidence to contribute to special projects such as setting group lending limits and streamlining the credit underwriting process while supporting more than 15 large multinational clients for HSBC. It also gave me time management skills and the abilities to excel in high-pressure situations and work on teams.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I would recommend prospective candidates read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss to learn the routines and habits of successful individuals. The author shares each Titan’s favorite book, movie, purchase, or quote that has impacted their life. “You must want to be a butterfly so badly, you are willing to give up being a caterpillar” is a quote from the book that has resonated with me the most as I begin my first year at Darden. That’s because my classmates and I have committed to 2 years to undergo a metamorphosis process that will make us better individuals and business leaders. I have used several tools from this book to enhance my daily productivity and achieve personal goals.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? In addition to UVA (Darden), I applied to UCLA (Anderson), Columbia, LBS, MIT (Sloan), Stanford, Dartmouth (Tuck), Wharton, Yale (SOM)

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? Be your authentic self. There is no one on Earth exactly like you and your unique experiences make you special. The case method and Darden experience are highly dependent upon contributions of its students, faculty, and alumni. Therefore, it is very important that your application tells the admission committee what makes you special, your story, and how Darden fits into the next chapter of your life.


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