Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Kelly Okun, University of Virginia (Darden)

Kelly Okun

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“A retired professional golfer, I hope to grow the women’s game through creativity and collaboration.”

Hometown: Bristol, CT / West Palm Beach, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love learning languages and speak Russian and Spanish.

Undergraduate School and Major: College of William & Mary, Marketing and History

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Buffalo Groupe; Manager, SEO & Content

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? Storytelling is important because it makes facts more memorable. Take fables in the Bible, for example; those learning may only remember the story itself at first, but eventually they’ll take away valuable lessons as well. As students, we can internalize best practices from the case studies and pull from them as managers. Having examples of success can also support our initiatives when deciding direction with a group of colleagues.

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? The Batten Institute’s resources and programming to assist entrepreneurs were the main reason I applied to Darden and ultimately chose to attend. With Darden behind my business idea, I truly believe I have the best chance at success.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? The Darden Golf Club immediately stands out, and I’ve also heard great things about the iLab. It’d be incredible to spend the summer in the Incubator building out my business idea with brilliant minds.

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. Everyone is so kind and welcoming. My favorite Darden story thus far is being invited to play in the Executive MBA’s monthly golf event in D.C. (with monuments in the background!). I really enjoyed that despite our different program structures, MBA candidates and professors alike want to connect and support one another.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While I enjoyed working with my former clients in the golf industry, my favorite accomplishment was building up our company’s media property and ultimately selling it to Sports Illustrated to become SI Golf.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? After graduation, I hope to continue working on my business and growing visibility and funding around women’s golf.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? As a late round applicant, I would advise you to take your shot no matter how close to the deadline you are. Express your different passions in the essay questions and be your authentic self. Your story and background could be the missing puzzle piece in the next class at Darden.


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