This week, we’re excited to feature Sarah Rumbaugh, Founder and CEO of Relish MBA. Sarah is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia (Darden) and began working on Relish MBA while a first year MBA student at Darden. During our interview, Sarah talks to us about Relish MBA, her own growth as an entrepreneur, and her experience building a business while at Darden.
Name: Sarah Rumbaugh
School: University of Virginia (Darden)
Previous Work Experience:Management Consulting, Booz Allen Hamilton, Information Security Engineer, Associate
Undergraduate: University of Pittsburgh, Dual Degree – BS: Business Management, BA: Communications, Rhetorical Process
Darden Clubs & Activities: Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital (EVC) Club VP of Communication & Careers, Graduate Women in Business (GWIB), Technology Club, General Management & Operations Club, Outdoors Club, Darden Tour Guides
MBASchooled: Why did you choose Darden?
Sarah: Many of the typical reasons why people choose Darden – the Case Method, the faculty, the rigorous education/experience, and the tight knit community – are all reasons why I chose Darden, but the driving factor was Darden’s entrepreneurial environment. When applying to MBA programs I focused on schools with strong entrepreneurial communities and resources. I felt that Darden’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was superior than that of other schools.
MBASchooled: What was your best experience at Darden?
Sarah: Asking me to pick just one experience is cruel! So I’ll go with what will probably be the most memorable experience 5 to 10+ plus years from now — meeting my cofounder, Zach. Zach and I were in the same section first year, which meant we had all of our classes together. Zach came on board the venture I started in first year, RelishMBA, as an intern the summer between our first and second year. We’ve been co-founders ever since. Our complementary skills and the fact that we make a great team and will probably start more ventures together in the future, all make the experience very memorable and one of my best experiences at Darden.
MBASchooled: What’s been the most challenging aspect of your MBA experience?
Sarah: Starting a business while simultaneously completing a rigorous, full-time academic program! By graduation, I wanted to be in the best position I could be in to pursue the venture I started, RelishMBA, full-time, so I worked on the venture as much as I could, leveraging the resources available at Darden. It was a lot of work, but also very rewarding.
MBASchooled: What’s a change that you’ve noticed about yourself compared to when you began your MBA two years ago?
Sarah: I know it sounds so cheesy, but I truly feel that it was just yesterday that I started at Darden, yet I feel so far away from where I was before Darden — it truly was a transformative experience. The biggest change is probably a feeling, a feeling that hard work and execution are the principal factors contributing to where you want to be in life.
MBASchooled: What is Relish MBA, and how did it start?
Sarah: RelishMBA is the online marketplace for MBA hiring, connecting MBA students and companies who hire them. The venture started in the first two weeks of being a first year at Darden when I was A) immersed in the MBA recruiting process (as all top MBAs are nowadays) and, B) realized that MBA recruiting is more like a lengthy, drawn-out, marketing and sales process than a traditional recruiting process. And that the users in the process, MBA students, employers, and Career Services Offices at MBA schools lacked the tools to track and improve this process and they needed tools that marketing and sales professionals depend on. To proof concept, RelishMBA launched a 2014 pilot at Darden and we’re successful in signing up the majority of our classmates, 30 major MBA employers, and forming a client relationship with the Darden Career Officer.
MBASchooled: What are some of the challenges and pain points of the MBA Recruiting Process?
Sarah: For students, easy access to relevant company information as it relates to MBA Careers, a streamlined approach for resources and tools, and relationship management tools that enable them to be more efficient in the lengthy and time consuming networking process of MBA recruiting. For employers, branding and marketing channels to present their value proposition to MBA students, networking tools to help them engage with students, and metric driven tools to help them increase their recruiting return on investment and improve applicant/acceptance yield.
MBASchooled: What would an ideal MBA recruiting process look like?
Sarah: Students have easy and relevant access to company information before companies come to campus. Employers have the ability and assurance that this relevant information is delivered to students. Students and employers have the networking and relationship management tools to be most efficient and to generate the most qualified leads during the lengthy MBA recruiting networking process. Students and employers have interviews and job offers with the respective party where they will have the most fulfilled career next steps and the best candidates for their company, respectively.
MBASchooled: What have you learned about recruiting and career management as a result of creating Relish MBA?
Sarah: Probably that MBA recruiting is more like a lengthy marketing and sales process than a traditional recruiting process. And in general, the future of online hiring and recruiting tools should cater to specific recruiting markets, offering different tools for different environments, depending on the optimal process for independent recruiting markets.
MBASchooled: What advice do you have for prospective MBA applicants?
Sarah: A masters degree in business is one of few graduate degrees that actually expands the opportunity of work you could do after graduating. An MBA is valuable to any type of career you may pursue.
MBASchooled: What are some of your top lessons learned from your time at Darden?
Sarah: As it relates to entrepreneurship (where I probably learned the most since I started a venture during my time at Darden), starting a business has less to do with having a good idea than your ability to execute on that idea. You can’t predict a good idea. Good ideas frequently fail and bad ideas are often successful. It’s easier to start a business beginning with a problem (even if you don’t know the solution yet), then it is with an idea. You’ll figure out the best solution along the way; your customers will give you the best solution because it’s what they’re willing to pay for and/or use. Not having a good idea should never be a reason to not start a business.
To be successful in business, understanding context and the strengths of the people around you is more important than your personal ability to complete a task in the best way possible. Effective delegation, understanding people, and the the ability to enable others to work on their best work are essential components to productive leadership and successful businesses.