Interview Conducted by Sophia Wu (Q18)
Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a QUEST alum from Cohort 14 and also a member of the QUEST Alumni board. I majored in Finance and Operations Management at UMD, and spent the first 2.5 years of my career working for Deloitte Consulting in Strategy & Operations. I’m now taking a turn in my career, and will be heading back to school to get my MBA from Kellogg in the fall.
I understand you are currently working in Kenya. What type of work are you doing?
I’m currently taking a break from corporate America to try to give back some of my skills to people who can really benefit! I’m working for TechnoServe on the East Africa Dairy Development program, which has been helping to stand up dairy farmer businesses in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda for the past few years; specifically, I’m working to improve the methodology for evaluating the dairy farmer co-ops. The goal is to build a tool so that the program can measure performance gaps, determine what needs to be done for the businesses to operate sustainably, and then to put together guidelines and materials for the process of the dairy businesses exiting from the program. I’m hoping to get it right so no farmer businesses fail without the program support.
Have the skills you’ve acquired from being in QUEST helped you in your career? If yes, how?
QUEST was great preparation for the working world. I was lucky enough to do a lot of work in my first few years in supply chain and manufacturing, so I actually used tools from the Quality Handbook at work. That being said, the experience in QUEST learning to working in teams, be accountable for deadlines, and present findings and recommendations provided me the most valuable skills I took from the program.
What is your favorite QUEST memory?
I had such a great time in QUEST it’s hard to pick one. But if you go through the archives of the QUEST 490 teams, I think my team’s photo shows what a great time we were having! The 490 experience made a lasting impact on my college career.
In your opinion, what was the most important lesson you learned in QUEST?
My most important lesson was that my way of approaching a problem, managing a project, and developing a solution differed greatly from my peers. I’m lucky to have learned how valuable it is to understand others’ perspectives early on, because my effort to take the time to ask my clients’ opinions and capitalize on their perspectives has set me apart in my career. Clients love to talk to me (and in doing so sometimes do my work for me!) because I listen and relate to them.
What advice would you give current QUEST students?
1. Take risks! College is a safe environment, so don’t be afraid to try something that isn’t on the syllabus, or use the time you have to seek out areas of interest. QUEST specifically is a safe academic environment, so you can use your QUEST projects to experiment, be creative, and really stretch your boundaries. If you’re not afraid to try and put in the effort, you really can do some amazing things!
2. Learn how to tell the story of your QUEST experience – and your story. What you’ve done in QUEST with your teamwork, project experience, and application of skills to a real-world problem will set you apart with any future employer if you can articulate it well.