M.S. in Commerce 2011 (Marketing & Management), University of Virginia
B.A. in Foreign Affairs and African-American and African Studies 2010, University of Virginia
Now: Capgemini Consulting, Senior Consultant, Digital Customer Experience (New York, NY)
Leveraging liberal arts with business
My undergraduate studies in foreign affairs and African-American and African studies were interests, but I knew I wanted to do something in marketing and work with emerging technologies. The M.S. in Commerce Program allowed me to combine the skills and interests I acquired during my undergraduate studies with core business skills that translated directly into my consulting career. I like to think my undergraduate studies taught me how to learn and my graduate studies taught me how to market and apply my knowledge and skills in a practical setting, in the workplace.
Most memorable class: Marketing & Quantitative Analysis
One of my favorite classes was Marketing & Quantitative Analysis because it forced our team to be creative in designing a new product to launch, yet incredibly analytical and data-driven in our approach to launching the product into the marketplace. That process was extremely interesting, and I have used the skill set learned from this class in engagements with many clients.
More competitive in the job market
Before the M.S. in Commerce Program, I applied to many digital agencies and was often asked how foreign affairs or African-American and African studies translated into the business world. I had plenty of thoughtful answers, but was repeatedly told I did not have enough experience. After completing the M.S. in Commerce Program, I was better able to command and drive interviews, and was ultimately brought in as an experienced hire at Capgemini Consulting.
Importance of teamwork
Another important aspect of the M.S. in Commerce Program is the strong focus on teamwork. The program encourages you to learn how to work effectively and efficiently as part of a team, which is essential in consulting. It also provided me with the invaluable hands-on experience of how to effectively work with a diverse group of people, with unique skill sets, to achieve an end goal while having fun and learning along the way. My M.S. in Commerce teammates became some of my best friends, and now my project teammates become some of my best contacts because we achieve great things together and have a lot of fun in the process.
What makes the job great
The travel! I enjoy the opportunity to work with new people and new clients, on new projects, and in new places. Every project is a new opportunity to travel and get to know a client and their culture as well as a city and its culture. Every assignment is a different challenge with the opportunity to learn something new.
Typical work day as a consultant
Every day is different, but on my current project, a “typical” day involves status meetings for the various work streams. First, I attend a core team status meeting to discuss open actions, possible risks, and any issues that may have arisen within the project. Then, I attend individual work stream status update meetings with respective implementation leads. In each meeting, we discuss and capture recent accomplishments, next steps, and progress against tracked milestones. We also discuss open actions and deep dive into any issues that require further discussion. Between these meetings, actual project work must be completed, typically working to close the open actions discussed in the morning core team meeting. Also, there is always internal work and initiatives that require attention, so you squeeze those in wherever you are able to spare a moment. There is no typical day in consulting, as it varies daily and weekly. There could be a completely different set of tasks and end goal for each project or client.
Advice for future students
Network, practice interviewing, and be yourself. Networking is essential in consulting. I met a friend of a friend who introduced me to her husband, who then introduced me to my current vice president and boss. I was placed on an international project and had the opportunity to live in Switzerland for seven months because I kept in touch with a facilitator from a training session. True networking (making contacts and connections because you genuinely take interest in a person, what they do, and who they are) will provide you with opportunities that would otherwise not be possible. Finally, enjoy your team while in the M.S. in Commerce. Plan team events, and hang out outside the classroom and study rooms. You will make each other’s experience much, much more fun and enjoyable!
Most memorable Global Immersion company visit
The most memorable company visit was with Ernst & Young on a tour of London’s Olympic Park as it was under construction for the 2012 games. Watching the Olympics a year later was incredible, seeing how the park had changed since we were there.
Life after graduate business school
I serve on the Madison House Alumni Council and as a Class of 2010 Trustee, which has led me to join the Reunions Planning Committee. I also serve on the board of two not-for-profits—an LGBTQ youth organization in New York and a support group for fathers with special needs children in Hampton Roads, Va.
Favorite Charlottesville activity
EAT! I love to eat when I am in Charlottesville because the food rivals that of any major city (none of my New York friends understand this until they visit). I also love to visit wineries for tastings and picnics.