Ben Holder

Ben Holder

M.S. in Commerce 2012 (Finance Track), University of Virginia

B.A. in Economics 2011, Trinity University

After: Accenture, Management Consulting Analyst (Dallas, TX)

Now: Greenbrier Development, Senior Associate (Dallas, TX)

Leveraging liberal arts with business

My undergraduate degrees were in Economics and Political Science. These gave me broad lenses to think about and evaluate various situations, problems, and decisions, but did not provide a deep set of hard skills. By adding a business-focused skill set to my broader abilities of understanding and synthesizing information, McIntire amplified my ability to make informed and valuable business decisions.

Most memorable class: Capital Markets

Identifying one stand-out course or professor is tough, but the course that first comes to mind is Mike Gallmeyer's “Capital Markets” course. Aside from the deep technical skills he taught, he gave incredible and insight into the way markets function. As challenging as the course and concepts were, Professor Gallmeyer was always helpful and entertaining in his delivery of the material in class and provided invaluable assistance outside of the classroom.

Preparation for a job in consulting

First and foremost, the M.S.in Commerce degree provided me with a high level of knowledge and confidence in the vernacular and culture of businesses. Working as a Management Consultant, I've been tossed into multiple new environments with clients and colleagues where I would be completely lost without the background McIntire provided. I also think the Program gave me credibility with coworkers and clients. People appreciate the skills required by the degree and know they can trust me to quickly learn new things.

The value of Commerce Career Services

Commerce Career Services was invaluable in my job search. I would never have guessed the amount of networking opportunities, resume submissions, interviews, and ultimately job offers I had because of the staff’s hard work with both students and employers.

What makes the job great

The best part of my job is that I'm always learning. I do something new every day and get an entirely new project multiple times a year. I've had the opportunity to succeed, fail, learn, and grow in multiple roles across different companies and industries. That kind of exposure was what initially attracted me to consulting and has definitely been a perk.

Challenges on the job

Weekly travel and long hours are tough. I've traveled to some great cities only to see the inside of the client's office and a local hotel. I also never realized how hard it was to sit in front of a computer for 12 hours—eye strain is a real thing.

Advice for future students

Learn to document and validate any assumptions you make in a business context. In both interviewing for and working in the consulting field, acting on assumptions is a quick way to get in trouble. In interviews, always call out your assumptions and provide thoughtful reasons for them (your interviewer will correct you if they are off base). In the day-to-day work, your job will be to understand your client so you can make useful recommendations. Nothing will frustrate a client faster than a consultant making recommendations without researching and validating any assumptions.

Importance of the Global Immersion Experience (GIE)

I've leveraged my GIE experience anecdotally by sharing travel experiences and cultural and business insights. People are always interested to hear how many places and companies we visited and cultural sights we saw. Sometimes it’s just a conversation, but it often brings out shared interests that help establish connections.

Most memorable company visit

I went to East Asia for GIE. I had an incredible experience meeting with the company 4Moms. We were lucky enough to meet with executives and tour their factory. There, we saw the full process of creating their complex and award-winning products. The amount of work and testing that went into each product we saw come off the line were astounding.

Most memorable cultural experience

Some of my fondest memories of GIE were our street food dinners. Professor Trey Maxham took us to markets that a typical tourist would never know about and point out all kinds of delicious food that I never would have tried without his recommendation. These cheap, vibrant, and frequently odd markets were not only some of the cheapest meals I've ever had, but also the most fun.

Biggest take-away

The most important thing I took from my McIntire experience was my relationship with the other students. With the Program’s rigorous curriculum, the School’s top-tier facilities, and the incredible town of Charlottesville, you bond closely with those around you. Working, socializing, and exploring Charlottesville with a diverse and impressive group of students was a great experience. Many of those connections have lasted years after school and into our professional lives.

Preparing for graduate business school

Prep for your job hunt over the summer. Do research on the industries you may be interested in and the companies that have recruited from McIntire in the past. Come into the Program with a resume and a good knowledge of the different types of interviews you may be going through. School is very busy during the first part of the year; the more prepared you are for interviews, the less stress you'll have managing school and the job hunt.

Life after school

Through work I was able to move back home to Texas, so recently I've been reconnecting with family and friends. I'm involved in my church. And, in an attempt to relive the GIE experience, I recently traveled back to Asia.

Favorite Charlottesville activity

An ideal day in Charlottesville would include a sandwich from Bellair Market, a round of golf at Birdwood golf course, a slop bucket from Belmont BBQ, and a few drinks on the Corner.