Tom Licitra

M.S. in Commerce 2012 (Marketing & Management), University of Virginia

B.A. in Biomedical Engineering 2011, University of Virginia

After: Bain, Senior Associate Consultant (New York, NY)

Now: Chopt Creative Salad Company, Vice President of Strategy & Technology (New York, NY)

Leveraging engineering with business

I saw the value of combining a business education with my engineering degree almost immediately during my job search process. As a fourth-year biomedical engineering student, I had difficulty getting any interview, whether for a full-time or internship position, at major consulting firms. Instead, I spent the summer after earning my undergraduate degree working as a marketing intern at a consumer health care company. When the M.S. in Commerce Program began later that fall, I added the business-related internship and the McIntire name to my resume. As a result, I received an interview at four of the five consulting firms that had previously passed me over.

Most memorable class: Global Immersion Seminar

My most compelling class was the Global Immersion Seminar. Professor Peter Maillet distills an entire career’s worth of experience in global business into an engaging class rooted in stories from his own experience as well as cases and current headlines. I left every class feeling as though I had learned something new and had an enhanced global perspective because of it. The knowledge he imparted, whether it was the big numbers (e.g., populations, GDPs) or specific stories (e.g., how pizzas are delivered on scooters in Southeast Asia), benefits me today in my career.

Preparation for a career in consulting

From day one, the M.S. in Commerce Program did an amazing job of preparing me for the job I have now. Starting the program earlier than UVA undergraduate classes gives you a head start on the entire consulting recruiting process. It also allows you to develop a business vocabulary, build your repertoire of real-life examples for case interviews, and most importantly, practice case interviews with your classmates early in the process. Without my Strategy & Systems class and my Friday afternoon case practice sessions, I don’t think I would be where I am today. 

One of the biggest values of the M.S. in Commerce Program is that it exposes you to so many things that you are going to see at a top-tier consulting firm. My first case at Bain focused on cloud computing. Luckily, we had completed a Strategy & Systems project on a software-as-a-service re-seller, so I had a baseline familiarity with cloud computing. This same case required writing a lengthy survey designed for software developers, and fortunately, I had written and administered surveys several times in the Marketing track during my second semester. And knowing how to analyze survey data, and really any data, is perhaps an even more important requirement of consulting, so working with Excel, SPSS, and even SQL Server during the M.S. in Commerce Program benefited me greatly. I was never learning anything from scratch. 

Finally, I spent many weeks working with one of my client’s financial analysts, building a model that forecasted both an income statement and balance sheet for a specific credit card portfolio. Without the finance and accounting background I gained in the M.S. in Commerce Program, it would have been a very difficult several weeks while I tried to ramp up on the accounting terms.

Advice for future students
  1. Practice case interviews with your classmates as soon as the M.S. in Commerce Program begins. Practice as both the interviewee and interviewer, and give feedback after every case. 
  2. Build a diverse set of experiences. You will need to be analytical and a team player to work at a consulting firm, but having a diverse set of unique experiences will set your resume apart. 
  3. Take your communication class seriously. I think back on those classes very often during the workday.
Most memorable Global Immersion company visit

I loved our visit to the Rolls-Royce plant in Derby, United Kingdom. Coming from an engineering background, I thought it was exciting to get back into the more technical side of business. Learning about how jet engines work, about how they have evolved since the mid-1900s, and about the rigorous testing that goes into each tiny piece of a jet engine was fascinating. It was also interesting to think about how the company’s revenue streams are so tightly linked to the success of the airline industry, and in a broader sense, to globalization more generally.

What was your most memorable cultural experience and why? 

My favorite (organized) cultural experience was our tour of Istanbul. Visiting the royal palace, the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Grand Bazaar, and even a traditional Turkish rug weaver—experiencing things that were so new and different from anything I’d seen in the United States, as well as the history—was really incredible. My favorite cultural experiences from GIE came from the unorganized activities—throwing a Frisbee in a park in Stockholm at 10:15 p.m. because it was still light out, cheering on the German national soccer team at a beer garden in Berlin, watching fireworks from a rooftop lounge in Istanbul, and of course, the food! 

Biggest take-away

The key to success in the business world is to be well-rounded and hard-working. There will always be people who are exceptionally talented at a particular aspect of business, but without the ability to communicate well, a broad set of knowledge (e.g., branding, finance, globalization), and perhaps most importantly, a team player mentality, success will not come easy.

The best of Charlottesville

There are so many great things about the M.S. in Commerce Program, and one is often overlooked: It is a year (or for UVA undergrads, an extra year) in Charlottesville, which is honestly one of the best cities in the United States. Charlottesville has it all—history, restaurants, nature, architecture, academia, music, nightlife, vineyards, athletics, philanthropy, and beautiful weather. The UVA campus is amazing, but you should definitely take advantage of everything C’ville has to offer!

Life after graduate business school

I am volunteering for Inspire Inc., a nonprofit consulting firm made up of other recent graduates from major consulting firms in NYC. Right now, we are working on a growth strategy case with Reading Partners, a nonprofit aiming to eliminate the reading gap in inner-city schools through one-on-one tutoring sessions. I also play volleyball and flag football through some of the social leagues in New York. Other than that, I do my best to enjoy New York when I’m here, though I love traveling and always find time for fun vacations.