Robert Parrish

Robert Parrish

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

B.A. in Foreign Affairs and History 2011, University of Virginia

After: Navigant, Consultant (Washington, DC)

Now: KCIC, Senior Consultant (Washington, DC)

Leveraging liberal arts with business

I received my B.A. in History and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. The benefits of these studies are multifaceted. I have found myself better able to “think outside the box” without the bias of my own preconceptions as to how a client’s issue should be solved. When writing a history paper, one has to adopt the worldview of the people about which they are writing to accurately paint a picture and further the argument. Without understanding the context about which you are writing, you will fail to pinpoint a motive for certain actions. The same is true in business. Although you should have an understanding of the menu of options available to solve an issue, coming to the table with an open mind is vital.

Most memorable class: “Global Strategy and Systems”

My most compelling class at McIntire was “Global Strategy and Systems,” taught by Professor Ira Harris. It was one of the first classes I had at McIntire and allowed me to employ many of the softer skills learned in my undergraduate studies. The course required a lot of writing and reading and forced me to think critically about business contexts from the perspective of a decision maker.

Preparation for a job in consulting

The M.S. in Commerce Program prepared me in far too many ways to list here. I would not be doing what I do now had it not been for the wonderful professors who inspired me to study technology and the field of “big data.” A large part of my job is work with big data buzzword utilities such as SQL, Python, and PHP. A portion of the M.S. in Commerce curriculum is devoted to the study of this field and, as a liberal arts guy, I never had exposure to this field. The Program also molds students into presentable businesspeople. Being able to present oneself, whether it be in front of a large crowd or one-on-one in an interview with a client, is so important, especially in the consulting industry, where meetings with clients and superiors is an everyday occurrence.

Taking advantage of Commerce Career Services

Commerce Career Services was invaluable during my search. Members of the Career Services team were always available to assist with resume review, interview preparation, and helping me decide which companies to apply to. I tapped this resource far too many times to count during my job search process.

What makes the job great

I love the field of technology and the constant demands placed on consultants to hone new skills. Many times, a new project will require that we learn something completely different from anything we have learned before. We can then leverage those skills on future projects.

Challenges on the job

As with all consulting, the hours can be unpredictable. Personal flexibility is definitely an attribute I lean on relatively frequently.

Advice for future students interested in consulting

As a consultant in the technology sphere, my job demands not that I necessarily have a deep understandings of the inner workings of a computer, per se, but rather that I have an understanding of the types of tools we would use to complete a job. Thus, you need not be an expert in SQL as an applicant, but it is extremely beneficial to have an understanding of its potential applications. Bonus points if you have an awareness or understanding of other tools/languages! Also, the ability to effectively communicate is vital in the consulting industry.

Most memorable GIE company visit

My most memorable experience was visiting Vinatex, a large textile and garment company, in Hanoi, Vietnam. Nguyen Duy Khien of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and Vinatex’s Director for Business Development Tran Viet spoke about the business implications of the Vietnamese economy as it continues its transition from socialism to capitalism. I was able to leverage the knowledge I gained from my undergraduate “Political Economics” classes in the discussion, which was immensely rewarding.

Most memorable GIE cultural visit

My most memorable cultural experience was visiting Sunda Kelapa in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sunda Kelapa is a port as well as an area where the city’s poorest citizens live. The difference between the richest and the poorest in the city was absolutely astounding and forced me to reflect upon my own situation as a citizen of the globe.

Biggest take-away

Beyond the hard technical, financial, and marketing skills I took from the M.S. in Commerce Program, the most important skill I took from McIntire is an ability to effectively present myself. By this I mean presenting thoughts confidently and accurately and many times in front of multiple people. I look back fondly on the last project of the year that requires students to synthesize much of what we learned through the academic year. In this project students gather marketing data on a particular project launch, perform various statistical analyses on the data, draw conclusions, and present the data concisely and accurately. The skills gained throughout the school year and culminating in this project prepared me well for the business world.

Life after graduate business school

Outside of work you can usually find me running on nearby trails or taking photos around the area. I also enjoy taking day trips to local wineries with friends.

Favorite Charlottesville activity

My favorite activity in Charlottesville is definitely wine tasting. Some favorite spots include Veritas and King Family Vineyards. At King Family, they have polo on Sundays which is a lot of fun.