2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Jaila Ingram-DeBerry, University of Virginia (Darden)

Jaila Ingram-DeBerry

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Compassionate, fun-loving mother, wife, and leader.”

Age: 32

Hometown: Meadville, PA

Family Members: Marva Ingram-DeBerry (Wife), Avram O. Ingram-DeBerry (son)

Fun fact about yourself: I’m afraid of butterflies (Their flight pattern is too unpredictable)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Virginia Commonwealth University, M.Ed; University of Richmond, BS in Business Administration

Where are you currently working? Harris Williams, Executive Operational Support

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Class Representative, tutoring grade school students and mentoring high school students

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being voted Class Rep for the Class of 2020. When entering the program with so many sensational and accomplished individuals, I felt unsure of what I could offer to my peers, but they placed their confidence in me to be their advocate and help create the best MBA experience Darden has to offer.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am the first person in my family to crack into the investment banking world, and I did so from an administrative assistant role, which is unheard of at my firm. I created an unprecedented path for myself and others to create the lifestyle we desire.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The moment I stepped on-grounds for a class visit, I felt like I was at home. From the admissions team to the students, faculty, and staff, everyone was happy to see me and made sure I was enjoying my experience. Now, 22 months later, nothing has changed.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The people, hands-down. The relationships I have been able to build with the people I engaged with are irreplaceable. I’ve cherished every encounter because of how genuine it has been.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Be my authentic self at all times. My peers, employers, managers, and (most of all) my family deserve to truest form of Jaila and I would be doing everyone a disservice to not offer that.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? During the summer of 2019, I participated in an investment banking summer internship while my wife was pregnant with our first child. As an EMBA, school doesn’t end during the summer nor does investment banking. I learned I had to be very intentional about my time and carve out time specifically for each aspect of my life because they all are very important for my present and future.  

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Go for it. You are capable of creating the time and space. It is just two years to push through, but what awaits you on the other side will make everything worth it.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? You have to have established free time before starting. As with anything in life, you will appropriately create the space necessary to be successful. Though, what is not a myth is you need to be able to be honest and clear about your needs with your partner or those who rely on your time, which was critical to my experience.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I spent the first couple of quarters anxious and stressed. It was new and I didn’t want to fail or be wrong, but school, especially in an MBA setting, is the perfect time to be wrong, so you can learn how to be correct in a safe space.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Dr. Taison Bell. While saving lives at UVA’s Critical Care unit, he also is a sensational father, husband, and philanthropist. He’s found a way to create balance to do many of the things that bring him joy.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I proposed to my wife. I wanted to create a better life for us and my MBA would be the beginning of that.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Being a member of upper management in a financial services organization while also assisting my wife with her early childhood education center.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A kind, thoughtful leader that is willing to offer support in any way I can.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Travel to 40 countries before 40 (still have 29 to go). Dine at Hell’s Kitchen.

What made Jaila such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Jaila Ingram-Johnson was a student in my Accounting class in the spring of the first year of her program. Class discussions at Darden are typically robust with many contributors, but Jaila always found ways to make contributions that were informed, relevant, and impactful. She is poised and articulate. She is skilled at framing a discussion in purposeful ways. Jaila was also elected by her classmates to be one of the two student representatives for her class, which speaks to the respect and trust that her classmates have in Jaila’s leadership abilities.

After completing her Accounting courses, Jaila initiated a proposal to complete an independent study, based on a not-for-profit setting. She felt that she had acquired tools in her Accounting courses that would not only allow her to learn more about the not-for-profit entity of interest to her but she felt that with a guided independent study she could make a difference to the strategic management of the entity. Given what I had seen in Jaila in class, I had no hesitation in approving her proposal.

Jaila has been a model student during the course of her independent study. She has consistently shown initiative, conducted interviews with key individuals, written up those interviews with great clarity and insight, and has ultimately developed a case that I believe could be taught in an MBA classroom. We met consistently over the course of a term and I found that her ability to process, understand, and accept advice in moving forward her project has been instrumental to a remarkable outcome.

In sum, I believe Jaila’s willingness to be curious, learn, adapt, and execute in a way that sets an example for others has made her an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020.”

Darden Professor Shane Dikolli


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.