Connor Allen

Connor Allen

M.S. in Commerce 2010 (Marketing & Management), University of Virginia

B.A. in Civil Engineering 2008, Duke University

After: Red Ventures, Analyst (Charlotte, NC)

Now: Walmart, Senior Manager (Bentonville, AR)


Leveraging engineering with business

I chose the M.S. in Commerce Program because of the opportunity to apply analytical skills to more open-ended problems. McIntire’s curriculum required more creativity than engineering, and it seemed really interesting. I never used to speak up in class or participate in group discussions during my undergrad years, and McIntire helped refine my verbal and written communication skills while complementing my engineering background. The courses were my first introduction to thinking critically about business problems.

Career after McIntire

After graduating from the program, I applied my newly developed problem-solving skills as a Marketing Analyst for Red Ventures. This job consisted of figuring out how to most efficiently spend marketing dollars online and acquire customers for a variety of clients. I worked on the digital marketing funnel: the process of converting a customer’s engagement with an ad into a sale. Because of McIntire, I felt better prepared earlier on in my career. After Red Ventures, I accepted an offer from in the Netherlands. This opportunity was similar to my previous position but was more data-intensive and on an even larger scale. After earning my M.B.A. from Northwestern, I'm now a Senior Manager at Walmart completing a rotational program focused on strategy and finance.

Why an M.B.A.

My decision to pursue an M.B.A. stemmed from a critical question: Do I remain a digital marketing expert, or do I pursue a more generalist role in the broader technology world? Continuing to narrow my niche had a high demand, but the M.B.A. would provide me with a few more options since I’d now be leveraging an additional career services department and alumni network. The M.S.C. helped me acquire an M.B.A. by providing me with the necessary prerequisite courses and foundation in business.

Comparing an M.B.A. with the M.S. in Commerce

The Kellogg program was a one-year M.B.A. consisting of general classes over the summer, followed by the option to drill into areas of interest during the academic year. Most M.B.A. students have 5-6 years of work experience, and the Kellogg program revolves around experiential learning, consisting of “labs” that allow students to have direct and frequent interaction with companies and industries. The M.S. in Commerce Program has evolved since I graduated and currently involves even more project-based learning. McIntire students work strategically with local and national companies who act as “clients” for the school through a similar experiential approach.

Advice for future students

Spend time abroad during your careers. The Global Immersion Experience (GIE) gave me a global perspective; I spent my time in China, and the experience helped my eventual transition to in the Netherlands. I also advise prospective students to network as much as possible at McIntire. My UVA connections and their assistance in my evolving career goals are a lifetime asset.