The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has announced that Omar Garriott will join the School as executive director of the Batten Institute. Garriott will formally begin the role 1 September.
A successful corporate intrapreneur, venture founder and author with leadership experience in a variety of major technology firms, Garriott will lead the institute in supporting Darden’s mission to improve the world by developing responsible leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences.
Founded in 1999 thanks to a transformative $60 million endowment gift from entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Batten Sr. that has since grown, the Batten Institute has become an integral part of the Darden School’s capabilities, helping the School become a global leader in the entrepreneurial economy through a focus on education and thought leadership in innovation and technology. Today, the Institute’s role is multifaceted, supporting world-class education and experiential learning for current Darden students and others in the community who aspire to grow as innovative and entrepreneurial leaders; supporting Darden students in pursuing careers in technology and innovation; advancing entrepreneurial leadership at Darden through rigorous and relevant research in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology; and transforming promising new ideas into value-creating new ventures.
“I’m deeply honored to be selected as the fifth executive director of the Batten Institute,” said Garriott, who holds an undergraduate degree from the UVA McIntire School of Commerce. “’Education has been my passion and professional through-line since graduating from UVA two decades ago, and I’m thrilled to return to the university I love in this capacity after many years in tech. I’m humbled to steward the Institute into its future as a major driver of innovation at Darden. It’s a massive opportunity at a critical time.”
Garriott has built his career at the intersecting pillars of business and education. After graduating from McIntire with distinction, he took a position in Washington, D.C., with Teach for America, teaching third grade in a public school in the city’s lowest-income community. The experience helped inform his outlook and career, which has included leadership roles with the education divisions at companies such as Adobe, Apple, LinkedIn and Salesforce.
Most recently, Garriott served as global head of education at Qualtrics, helping to transform a legacy research business serving universities into a leading student experience platform.
At each stop, Garriott worked closely with clients in both the K-12 and higher education spaces, and he is an expert on digital transformation and the rapidly shifting graduate business education landscape.
He holds an MBA from the UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business with a certificate in entrepreneurship and has worked with thousands of job-seekers and career starters and MBA career services staff through his venture, The Job Insiders.
Garriott’s new book, a best-seller in the category of career management, is Linked: Conquer LinkedIn. Get Your Dream Job. Own Your Future. (Workman/Hachette, 2022).
“As we searched for a new leader, Omar stood out for his passion for UVA, Darden, education and successful track record across Batten’s key focus areas,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “I’m confident he will be able to hit the ground running at Darden, playing a key role in fortifying and bolstering our efforts in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology — all critical areas for the leaders of today and tomorrow.”
In its more than two decades, Batten has been at the heart of much of the innovation at Darden, leading programs and initiatives such as the i.Lab Incubator, the Venture Capital Initiative, Colalboratory for Data Science in Business with the UVA School of Data Science, among others.
Professors Greg Fairchild, Saras Sarasvathy, and Sankaran "Venkat" Vekataraman serve as academic directors of the institute.
The Institute has also helped Darden attract top students, supporting a multiple scholarships for leaders in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship through the Batten Scholars program.
Through support from the Batten Institute and the Darden Career Center, approximately one-fifth of the graduating Darden Full-Time MBA students in recent classes landed positions with technology companies.