Corporate Partners Program Opportunities
- Host a First Coffee on Grounds: Engage with Darden students, faculty and staff over a cup of coffee at Darden’s longstanding tradition of First Coffee.
- Provide Speakers and Industry Insights: Invite a C-suite executive leader to share their personal journey in Darden’s Leadership Speaker Series or invite a senior leader to engage students in a candid conversation through our more intimate Darden Dialogues series.
- Expand Your Brand: Strengthen your brand presence on and off Grounds by having your company highlighted as a Darden Corporate Partner on our website, in our annual Investors Report and in branding opportunities throughout the academic year.
- Engage in Thought Leadership: Receive invitations to take advantage of exclusive webinars, global events and on-Grounds opportunities with Darden faculty.
- Access Darden Talent: Participate in a complimentary company briefing on Grounds as well as complimentary participation in our on-Grounds multicompany networking nights, hosted by Darden’s The Career Center.
- Partner on Student Projects: Work with faculty and students to develop curriculum-based projects designed to provide tangible outcomes and a business plan for your company.
Partnering with the Darden School of Business based on your company's goals provides strong return on investment. To learn more about corporate partnerships with Darden, please contact Kevin Kennedy, Managing Director for Employer Engagement, at KennedyK@darden.virginia.edu.
Read about how Darden has benefited your peers.
Partnerships & Stories
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), one of the world’s premier medical and consumer health companies, engages with Darden in numerous ways. In addition to identifying Darden as one of its primary recruiting schools, J&J provides the School with access to business issues for case writing opportunities, sends senior alumni to the classroom for speaking engagements, and supports Darden's Corporate Partners Program and student clubs.
Sarita Finnie (MBA ’01), Senior Director, Baby Care, is a Corporate Advisory Board member and is one of several Darden alumni who have returned to Grounds to speak at Darden events. Marguerite Longo (MBA ’08), Senior Director of Marketing/Commercial Leader, joined colleague Sandeep Makkar, Area Vice President of Sales, in the Darden Dialogues series in November 2018. Other past speakers include former Global Vice President of Marketing Excellence R. Scott Creighton (MBA ’82), former Global Franchise Director Coleman Bigelow (MBA ’05) and CEO Alex Gorsky.
Over the past decade, Danaher, a Fortune 200 global science and technology company, has sponsored nearly 150 Darden students for projects around the world. Danaher invites students to work closely with their employees in facilities as part of their 'kaizen' experience. Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement. Darden students focus on finding breakthrough process developments to improve productivity, safety and effectiveness. Students say it is a great opportunity to see continuous improvement in action. These projects take place within manufacturing, marketing, sales and R&D. “Danaher benefits from the energy, creativity and leadership that Darden students possess, and we continue to see it first hand during the kaizen weeks. Those attributes align well with Danaher’s culture, and keep us coming back to hire at Darden,” said Kevin Klau (MBA ‘02), president of Hach, a subsidiary of Danaher.
Danaher is also involved with the School through speaking engagements, student clubs and participation in the Corporate Partners Program. Executive Vice President William “Dan” Daniel II (MBA ’91) was featured in Darden’s Leadership Speaker Series in 2017. Klau served as a keynote speaker for the 2018 Darden GMO Forum and participated in Darden Dialogues in November 2018.
WestRock (formerly MeadWestvaco), a leading multinational packaging company, has been involved with Darden since 2006 and is a founding partner of Darden’s Institute for Business in Society, which aims to equip corporate leaders with necessary skills and strategies to capitalize on the increasingly complex intersection of business and society.
WestRock is a top recruiter of Darden MBA students and a participant in the Corporate Partners Program. Division Leader of Human Resources Lynnette Crowder (EMBA ’10) serves on Darden’s Corporate Advisory Board, and the company also supports student clubs and Darden Executive Education by enrolling its executives in The Executive Program and other courses. CEO John Luke has participated in the Leadership Speaker Series.
In 1995, Mastercard established its partnership with the Darden School. As a technology company and payments industry leader, Mastercard has been a long-standing supporter of Darden research and is particularly interested in the cutting-edge work and case writing the School’s professors are doing in the areas of big data, financial inclusion and strategy and payments. To date, Mastercard has funded cases written by several professors, including Professors Sam Bodily, Raj Venkatesan, Greg Fairchild, Frank Warnock and Veronica Warnock.
Research funded by Mastercard in the area of big data is focused within region-specific case studies throughout the world regarding global companies that have been successful in understanding the trade-off between privacy and the value that consumers are willing to make and executing against it. In the area of financial inclusion, the company has supported research on companies that have used innovation to drive financial inclusion beyond the traditional requirement of owning a bank account as well as case studies that demonstrate the benefit of financial inclusion. MasterCard is also currently funding Darden research regarding how companies are effectively managing the growing trend of convergence of channels (e.g., brick and mortar, mobile, online) for marketing offers and loyalty as well as diversifying into new businesses.
Sachin Mehra (MBA ’96), CFO of Mastercard International Inc., and Martina Hund-Mejean (MBA ’88), former CFO, serve on the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, and Nicole Lindsay (MBA ’99/JD ’00), vice president of strategy & operations for the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, serves on the Dean’s Diversity Advisory Council.
Darden recognizes that all corporate partnerships are unique. Companies have different needs and interests, as well as goals. Darden is incredibly fortunate to have a loyal, dedicated alumni base who champion the School within their own company, such as Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees member Bruce Thompson (MBA ’90), Corporate Advisory Board member Will Cohen (MBA ’07) and alumnus Court Nexsen (MBA ’13). Thompson, Cohen and Nexsen identified an opportunity and brought U.S. Trust and Darden together to discuss an important topic: family business.
Through collaboration, U.S. Trust and Darden produced a thought-leadership publication focused on family enterprise. The result is a 70-plus page whitepaper titled “Family Matters,” offering thought-leadership considerations for what today’s family businesses must consider to ensure survival and transfer to the next generation. Six faculty shared their knowledge and insights, and four original case studies highlight themes and lessons learned. Serving as faculty leader, Professor Greg Fairchild initiates a dialogue about creating a sustainable family business.
“All growing businesses face challenges as they build from their entrepreneurial beginnings — whether they are global conglomerates or successful local companies," Fairchild said. "Family business owners who wish to retain control through the generations face a distinct set of challenges and opportunities. This paper drills into the issues of intergenerational transfer and offers insights into what family business owners should consider as they work to create sustainable businesses and plan for the future. A series of original case studies also demonstrates hard-won lessons learned from family-owned businesses.”