MBI Student Profile: Henry Gaston (History ’21)

Transfer student Henry Gaston shares how MBI has better prepared him for a career in business analytics.

Henry Gaston

Henry Gaston

As a transfer student, what attracted you to the MBI program?
I transferred to the University of Virginia during my third year of college from the Virginia Military Institute and the University of Oxford. I studied History at both of these institutions but hoped to study Commerce here at UVA. However, I quickly realized that I lacked certain requirements needed to apply to the Commerce School as an incoming third-year. As such, I decided to continue studying History but wanted to integrate a business curriculum into my studies. The MBI program fit very well into that desire. MBI has given me the flexibility to learn transferable business skills as I continue to pursue my passion for history.

How has the MBI program complemented your History curriculum?
There is a surprising overlap between the two disciplines of history and business. History at its core is learning how to be an educated consumer of qualitative and quantitative data, which is then used to make inferences and arguments. To that end, history can be loosely compared to business analytics. Beyond my History curriculum, MBI has taught me countless business lessons that I would otherwise not have learned. My most important takeaways from MBI have been the lessons on financial mathematics, stocks and bonds, the stock market in general, and understanding the financial positions of corporations now and in the future, and so on. In summary, I would say that History has given me many of the analytical tools necessary in the business world, but they would be useless without the lessons I have learned through MBI.

Has MBI made you a more competitive candidate for job opportunities?
Having MBI on my resume has absolutely made me a more competitive candidate in the finance job market. Being a history major, it is very common for recruiters reviewing resumes in preparation for interview season to look a bit more closely at GPA, leadership experiences, work experiences, and the like. If these areas are lacking in any way, I would argue that nine times out of 10, the application will be turned down. MBI is excellent because with proper placement on your resume, coupled with a detailed description of the program itself, it will definitely catch the eye of review boards at major firms.

How has MBI helped you achieve your career goals?
MBI actually played a huge role in allowing me to pursue my career interests. Going into fourth year, I knew that I wanted to apply to management consulting firms to begin a consulting career in business analytics. Many applicants who apply for such positions are non-business majors like myself; however, I wanted to have a leg up on other non-business applicants by adding a business component to my resume. Therefore, participating in MBI was a calculated maneuver to show potential employers my drive for education and my experience with a business curriculum. As a result, I was able to land case interviews with some of the top consulting firms in the country, including McKinsey, Bain, and Guidehouse. After my second round of interviews with Guidehouse, I received an offer and a contract. This time next year, I will be working in Washington, DC, as a Project Manager in their office on Pennsylvania Avenue. My main area of focus with Guidehouse will be national security consulting, which I find to be a very interesting blend of both my experience as a history major and as an MBI student. I would argue that this achievement would not be possible without having MBI credentials.

How have MBI’s Finance and Accounting units better prepared you for a role in business analytics?
My most important takeaway from these two units has been that accounting and finance have a unique and separate language that is extremely difficult to understand at first. The vocabulary terms and their meanings can seem rather bewildering, and it takes time and patience to learn them. Once you get a handle on everything, it becomes clear that business is rather well-organized and straightforward. Business is demystified, so to speak!

How will you use the Excel skills taught in the Finance unit?
I was not trained in Excel before beginning MBI, so I had a lot to learn. My most important takeaway from this unit had to be personal finance. Throughout this unit, we discussed how Excel can be used as a tool to organize our finances based on our salary, location, taxes, rent, and so on. This will be especially important for me moving forward, largely because living in the DC area is so expensive.

Are you looking forward to our future units, such as Marketing and Strategy?
I am really looking forward to these units—especially Strategy. I believe that the Strategy unit will teach me how to apply the lessons learned in Finance and Accounting in real-life scenarios. This will be especially exciting for me because of the management role I will be carrying out in the future. I am also equally excited about the Organizational Behavior unit that is forthcoming. Learning how to effectively function as a group is an indispensable workplace skill, and I am excited to get a better handle on it for myself.

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