Darla Chapman Ripley, EMBA’97

Darla Ripley with horse
Darla with one of her horses.

Associate, Dave Perry-Miller & Associates Real Estate

Darla Chapman Ripley places a lot of importance on maintaining all networks, regardless of industry or location. A few years ago when her company expanded its global presence, she also wanted to expand her skill set and enhance her own knowledge working with global clients. An advocate for lifelong learning and entrepreneurial pursuits, she enrolled in the Jindal School’s Executive MBA Program. More than 15 years later, even as her career path has transitioned from owning a horse-racing business, serving as the executive publisher of Gallop Magazine and now to a role in luxury real estate, the skills she acquired while at the Jindal School continue to translate across industries and remain relevant.

Tell us a few highlights of your professional career.

Having owned and operated my own horse-racing and breeding program, Dreamfield Arabian Racehorses, Inc., since 1992, I was afforded a global network of colleagues and friends who spurred my entrance into several independent contractor and entrepreneurial opportunities. Although sounding disparate, all the companies with which I work were established directly or indirectly from my passion for and experience with horses.

What brought you to UT Dallas?

Owning and managing Dreamfield Arabian Racehorses, Inc, which was fast becoming known and respected within the global Arabian horse-racing community at that time, I needed to sharpen my business and management skill set. At the time, the UT Dallas Executive MBA Program was in my opinion, the most forward-thinking in the quickly expanding and changing world of technology. Plus the program was focused on learning from a global perspective. Both areas I needed, given the nature of my company’s growing global presence and thus, growing need to effectively communicate globally with a network of clients, friends and prospects.

What is your favorite UT Dallas memory?

My favorite UT Dallas memory was traveling to Japan and Shanghai with my classmates from the Comparative Management course. It was a fantastic learning experience and a great time.

Who was your favorite professor, and/or what was your favorite class and why?

Dr. David Springate taught my favorite classes in finance and strategy. He was also my favorite professor. As one of the creators of the Executive MBA Program, his personality, teaching skills, knowledge base and pure enthusiasm for what he taught and how he taught, were a delight. He made learning “stick,” but at the same time, fun and empowering. He truly engaged his students.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

At this time, my free time is sporadic. I’m a little too busy weaving together the new career threads of opportunities that have come my way over the past couple of years to resume what I enjoy in free time. Horseback riding was a favorite, but I have sold my horses as the market sought them, and entered a new entrepreneurial phase. I was beginning to play golf, and loved it, but as golfers know all too well, it is a game that demands practice. So both pastimes are on my soon to-do-again list.

What advice do you have for current students hoping to succeed in the business world?

Keep your network(s) active from every source as you acquire them. My 25 years in horse racing gave me the amazing opportunity to become the executive publisher for the North American edition of Gallop Magazine, an international, lifestyle magazine centered on the feel-good stories of the historic, global sport of horse racing. In June 2014, Gallop’s impressive and growing success, led me to another opportunity in publishing, as vice president of digital brand marketing for Core Publishing. A publisher of high-end, in-room city hotel magazines, Core Publishing, like Gallop, targets the high net worth travel market. Thus the common thread that brought together my involvement in publishing was initiated via my horse-industry network. I also hold a Series 65 investment advisor representative license affiliated with Oxbow Advisors, a small group of Texas portfolio managers with $1 billion in assets under management for a national and international client base. Thanks to Dr. Springate’s ability to help me gain a foothold in finance, I’ve held securities licenses and worked in financial services as an independent contractor since graduating from the EMBA program in 1997. Again, many clients hailed from my horse-industry network as well as my personal network, some going back to high school. Lastly, to make sure I am walking the talk here in giving current students advice, let me add, I just received my real estate agent license. Again, a good friend since high school, whose highly successful career boasts 30 years in residential real estate, encouraged me to team with her in her Dallas residential real estate career at Dave Perry-Miller & Associates. She was looking to add a specialty to her team — my real-life experience in farm and ranch markets. Again, my horse-industry experience and network continue to feed opportunity. Bottom line — keep all your networks active.

What makes an effective leader?

Listening and continual practice of self-evaluation are critical to effective leadership. Have confidence, but never overestimate what you know. And always strive to know what you do not know, then find out.

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