2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Manish Dahal, University of Virginia (McIntire)

Manish Dahal

University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

“Pickleball enthusiast with interests in reading non-fiction and forging meaningful relationships.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have 50+ first cousins which makes family reunions always eventful!

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

High School: Albemarle High School

Major: Commerce (Concentrations in Accounting and Finance)

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: My favorite business course I’ve taken is Organizational Behavior, taught by Christi Lockwood. From team building exercises to case studies, Professor Lockwood did an excellent job in keeping the class engaged and energized. Studying the behavior of successful leaders and teams not only fascinated me but also offered practical insights into the strategies and dynamics that contributed to their success. Professor Lockwood’s teaching really resonated with me during the second semester as we delved deeper on how to negotiate. Negotiations not only brought an element of enjoyment to the class but also imparted a valuable skill, equipping us to become better business leaders.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (CASH) Volunteer Tax Filing Program: Head Program Director

UVA Housing and Residence Life: Resident Advisor

McIntire School of Commerce: Head Teaching Assistant

McIntire School of Commerce, Commerce Career Services: Career Peer Coach

One Generation Network: Co-Founder and Co-President

Business & AI Institute: Co-Founder and Advisor

Survivor @ UVA: Season 15 Contestant

Pickleball Club @ UVA: Social Team Member

Nepalese Student Association @ UVA: Member

Honors and Awards:

  • DeMouy Scholarship
  • VSCPA’s YHB Scholarship
  • Charles A. Ferguson Global Scholarship
  • Ring Scholarship
  • Dean’s List

Where have you interned during your college career?

TRAC VC, Venture Analyst (San Francisco, CA)

Quad-C, Private Equity Mentorship Program (Charlottesville, VA)

Clark Construction Group: Asset Solutions Group, Summer Associate (McLean, VA)

ScienceLogic, Summer Analyst (Reston, VA)

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have gained from studying business is that you must learn to adapt. Coming into UVA, I wanted to become a doctor and would have never thought I would be studying business. During my second year, I decided to pursue commerce instead of medicine as I realized how versatile business is. Making the switch has been the one of the hardest challenges I had ever faced as I had no background in business. At times, I questioned if I had made the right choice by switching. Looking back at it now, I am so grateful I did. I actively sought out opportunities to immerse myself in uncomfortable environments, catalyzing my growth as both a student and an individual. It is hard to say which field of business I will be contributing to 10 years from now, but wherever I end up, I will be sure to continue to adapt to its ever-evolving landscape.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? The best advice I would give to a student looking to major in business would be to seek mentors early on. Since high school, I have always gravitated towards befriending upperclassmen. The knowledge and insight they provide has helped me with everything from deciding which classes to enroll and which career opportunities to apply. Mentors and friends such as Mehdy Elouassi (A&S ’22), Barrett Wong (McIntire ’23), and Karl Shin (McIntire ’97) have played a pivotal role in shaping my UVA experience. Additionally, the alumni from UVA are some of the nicest people on earth and are always willing to make time to talk about their work experiences and time at UVA.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has surprised me the most about majoring in business is the emphasis on collaboration. Coming in, I understood that we would be working in teams all throughout the ICE curriculum third year. Outside of the core curriculum, I thought there would be a shift from teamwork to individual work, especially in subjects as quantitative as finance and accounting. To my surprise, the significance of group work remained persistent. Whether it was working through problem sets or case studies, I always found myself working and learning alongside my peers. Throughout the four semesters, McIntire has given me the opportunity to cultivate the critical skill of collaboration before entering the workforce.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Looking back, I wish I pursued new interests through extracurricular activities, research, or classes. There are so many opportunities to immerse yourself in new communities at UVA. If I could turn back the clock, I would pursue other non-business-related interests such as writing and teaching early on. The best business leaders are those who are knowledgeable in a wide range of fields. The more diverse experiences, interests, and skills you have, the more valuable you are to your team.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? By far, my proudest achievement has been leading more than 200 student volunteers to file taxes for the greater Charlottesville community as Head Program Director of Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (CASH). As volunteers, we provide free tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Charlottesville. In my second year, I actively sought opportunities that enabled me to create tangible impacts and explore an unfamiliar side of my hometown which led me to CASH.

My first year at CASH, I was able to work closely with an immigrant family and help them receive a $16,000 refund. Throughout the process, I was able to hear about their struggles adjusting to a new community and the language. Hearing their stories reminded me of my family’s own hardships when we first moved to the United States from Nepal. This encounter fueled my passion for the program, inspiring me to work my way up and take on greater responsibility as Head Program Director. Going into my last semester at UVA, this year’s tax filing season looks to be the most ambitious—albeit bittersweet—to date. While it saddens me that I will eventually have to step down from my role, I’m excited to implement initiatives that will maximize the impact CASH volunteers have on the greater Charlottesville community.

Which classmate do you most admire? “I have had the privilege of being surrounded by such smart and driven students during my time at McIntire but one classmate that stands out is Devin Willen. I met Devin during my first semester at McIntire when we were placed in the same ICE group. From the start, I could tell she had a strong desire to learn and hunger to see our group succeed. She is always the first one to take action and go out of her way to take on more responsibilities. From our countless hours at the library, I have come to learn that she is one of the most selfless and understanding students at McIntire. Devin Willen is a natural born leader and am excited to see what she will accomplish in the future. I also want to give a shoutout to Bella Bollini, another group member from the same semester. Bella is a genius marketer and one of the most brilliant marketing students at McIntire that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my family for my success. My mom and dad moved to the United States from Nepal when I was six years old. They have sacrificed so much for my sisters and I, and we would not be in the position we are today without them. My oldest sister, Durga, is the person I look up to the most. As the first person in our family to attend college and become a doctor, she is my biggest role model. My other older sister, Karuna, is my best friend. Karuna and I have gone to the same school since elementary school and she is the person that understands and knows me the best. I have always been able to go to her with any questions I have had, and she was the first person who convinced me to study Commerce at UVA. My family is my strongest support system, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at McIntire and am eager to continue studying business after a few years of work experience. I also have a love for teaching and the education space. I hope to pursue a dual degree and get my MBA and M.A. in Education, allowing me to combine both of my interests.

I also aspire to continue my passion for teaching and hope to one day become a guest lecturer or visiting professor at a prestigious university.

What made Manish such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Manish is one of the most engaged, dedicated, and motivated teaching assistants with whom I have ever worked. With his infectious positive attitude and genuine care for others, he developed new and innovative ways to support students and enhance their learning experience in the rigorous introductory accounting courses. Going well beyond the required duties, he organized targeted post-exam sessions to individually assist struggling students. I admire his initiative, not only in generating creative ideas but also in effectively implementing them, always with student success in mind. Possessing exceptional organizational, communication, and technical skills, he exemplifies the qualities of a successful and compassionate leader. Working with Manish at McIntire has been an honor, and his contributions to our learning support team significantly inspired and motivated countless accounting students to learn and thrive.”

Professor Jill Mitchell
McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia


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