How has your liberal arts degree been influential throughout your career?
A liberal arts degree represents a love of learning and an opportunity to explore. It builds capacity in a variety of competencies that are vital to success: inquisitiveness and research capabilities, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication skills, and the ability to switch between a broad and narrow focus.
Two skills that I have found to be instrumental in my career are listening to understand and seeking context. Truly listening to understand (rather than waiting to speak or rehearsing what you are going to say next) can build connections, identify and close gaps in communication, resolve conflict, and offers an opportunity to learn in that moment. It serves you, your colleagues and your clients tremendously.
Seeking context has allowed for better solutions to the given problem and better business decisions. Taking data provided from a narrow focus and asking, “What is the broader context for this information?” allows you to take a step back, ensure you have all the data you need, and integrate across different areas of business to make a sound decision based on holistic analysis.
What is the value of the Penn network, and how has it played a role in your career?
I secured my first job out of school as a result of the alumni network. My employer was listed with career services as an alumni willing to accept resumes and my “cold calling” resume submission landed me an interview and a job. Coincidentally, I am with the same company still today, although my role as changed several times over since my first day. My liberal arts foundation support my evolving career path. Personally, I have made lifelong friends from my time at Penn that have diverse academic backgrounds and careers and I have leveraged their knowledge and skill sets to help me grow.
What advice would you give students at the College who are trying to decide what career path to pursue?
I will pass on the advice my father gave to me; you are going to be working for a long time—find something that you love to do. I would also add, that you should seek what is a good fit for you and what aligns with your values. Avoid getting stuck on how others define success.
What was your favorite course in the College and why?
My major was Design of the Environment (which has been superseded by Architecture) and I did thoroughly enjoy the studio-based coursework for its creative expression, conceptual design work, learning by doing approach, and the close-knit camaraderie that evolved among the students.