A glimpse into the life of Eric Rosato (M.S. in Commerce ’14), Junior Analyst at McKinsey & Company

Interview with Eric Rosato M.S. in Commerce ’14

Eric in front of Machu Picchu on his Global Immersion Experience
Eric in front of Machu Picchu on his Global Immersion Experience

Describe your interview process with McKinsey & Company.

Mirroring McKinsey’s global reach and impact as a firm, my interview process took place in three different countries on two different continents as I traveled with 25 classmates and three fearless professors throughout Latin America on McIntire’s Global Immersion Experience (GIE). I first participated in a phone interview in Panama that consisted mainly of basic analytic-based questions (“describe factor analysis”), and completed my second round in McKinsey’s Buenos Aires office. There, I took the McKinsey Problem Solving Test and had three 60-minute interviews that were half personality/leadership interviews and half case interviews with a focus on analytics.

After passing that round and completing my travels abroad, I finished up in the Summit, N.J., McKinsey office to sit face-to-face with members of the team I had at that point hoped to join. The GIE travel added an interesting element to the interview experience, but my McIntire professors were extremely flexible and supportive while abroad in allowing me time to prepare and to interview.

How have the skills you learned at McIntire helped you in your current job?

I’d bucket the skills into two categories: team-based work and analytic/consulting preparation. The way the McIntire M.S. in Commerce Program is designed—with heavy emphasis on working in groups, managing team dynamics, and delivering high-quality work in teams—provided a year for me to learn how to become the most effective, value-adding team member before even stepping foot into the McKinsey team room. I’m finding that both the successes and failures I experienced while working in teams at McIntire helped me to hit the ground running at McKinsey.

Secondly, without the coursework in Marketing and Quantitative Analysis and Consulting to Management, I simply wouldn’t have been prepared to have the position I currently do. The three-month Kate Spade New York project that we completed for Marketing and Quantitative Analysis was a truly valuable experience that taught me many skills I use quite often in my role at McKinsey. I learned not only how to run meaningful analysis (cue Professor Netemeyer yelling, “Analyze!”), but also how to both think about the analytics with a “business mind” and work comfortably and confidently with a client’s C-level team to drive strategy. To be able to work alongside a company’s CEO and then turn around and present your team’s work to him, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, and Senior Marketing Director—all while still in graduate school—was not only a unique McIntire experience, but it also gave me the skills and confidence needed in my current role at McKinsey.

What is your favorite part about working in analytics at McKinsey?

What I love about working in analytics at McKinsey is being able to work with some of the best national and global companies to help solve tangible, interesting issues and drive innovation for the consumer. While doing this, I get to work alongside some of the most driven, intelligent, and fun people I’ve ever been around—well, that is, since my time not so long ago on Grounds in the M.S. in Commerce Program.


Written By: Ellie Reed

McKinsey & Company Representatives visit M.S. in Commerce students


M.S. in Commerce students recently had the wonderful opportunity to meet McKinsey & Company Solution Manager Janet Gessner Alford and Client Service Senior Manager Doug McElhaney. The two visited the McIntire School of Commerce to discuss opportunities in analytics and complete a mock analytics case with students in the Marketing & Management concentration. I asked Janet and Doug about the field of big data and the qualities they are looking for in M.S. in Commerce students.

Why do you like to hire UVA’s M.S. in Commerce students?

Doug: By way of background, Janet has been working with Professors Netemeyer, Maxham, and Abbasi since the inception of the McIntire School’s new Center for Business Analytics and serves on its Advisory Board. As part of that effort, Janet visited the M.S. in Commerce’s Consumer Analytics class last year to learn more about the new Business Analytics concentration in the M.S. in Commerce Program and led McKinsey’s first effort to recruit several M.S. in Commerce students for analytics consulting roles. So, this is our second year recruiting M.S. in Commerce students. And, full disclosure: Janet graduated from the McIntire School (B.S.), and I graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences (B.A.), so we are pretty sold on recruiting from the University of Virginia!

Janet: We like to hire M.S. in Commerce students because we find that the program prepares them to excel in two areas, among others. We call these areas the “analytics spike” and “consulting toolkit.” First, a successful candidate has to be able to do the work—and that work is all about being able to “hit the ground running” in analytics. Second, and equally as important, are all the skills necessary to perform well in a client-facing environment: structured problem solving, business acumen, working with a team, being able to transform analytics outputs into business insights. We find that the M.S. in Commerce curriculum and case-based team-learning environment produce and train the kind of candidates we are looking to hire.

What tangible skills do M.S. in Commerce students bring to McKinsey?

Doug and Janet: We look for three key skills in our candidates. The first is problem solving and problem structuring. This is fundamental to being a successful consultant regardless of the firm you join or the client you serve. You must be able to take an ambiguous problem and create structure around it that will enable a team to make efficient progress in identifying a set of potential answers or recommendations.

The second is business acumen. We describe this as being able to translate analytical or quantitative insights into relevant business implications. This is the classic “so what” challenge. Having identified a trend during your analysis can you a) determine if it is relevant in the context of the overall project and b) identify and explain the implications of this trend on your client’s business.

The third key skill is analytics. Candidates need to be comfortable utilizing a variety of analytic approaches to explore and understand the client’s data environment and what that data can unlock in terms of relevant insights. Different parts of McKinsey require this skill in different degrees, yet the common theme across McKinsey is that analytics is more and more a key component of how we deliver for our clients.

What we like about the M.S. in Commerce Program is that students are focused on building all three of these key skills.

What was your favorite part about your visit to UVA?

Doug: My favorite part of the trip was my time visiting with the students and working through the “Big Bank” case. I was impressed by the proposed solutions the teams came up with as to how to get started with a complicated problem for which they had very little to go on. I was also impressed by the fact that several of the teams took some risks in their answers by proposing analyses and relatively detailed work plans without the benefit of data or additional context.

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What insights did you gain after working through an analytics case with the M.S. in Commerce students?

Doug: I left Rouss & Robertson Halls generally impressed by both the aptitude and the inquisitiveness of the students I worked with. Success in analytics requires both technical abilities and a natural curiosity. Analytics is all about the intersection of technical know-how (e.g., how to build a model, how to apply algorithms) and a desire to try new things and dig into new and different kinds of data. This is especially true in the application of analytics in consulting. It was great to interact with students who seemed to have this combination of skills and curiosity.

What is the most important thing for a student who wants to break into the analytics industry to know?

Doug: I think there are two “most important” things to focus on. One is that you must build a strong foundation in the application of analytics. Knowing a dozen different data modeling approaches will not be very helpful if you don’t really understand which types of situations/problems they should be applied in.

The other “most important” thing is to be able to apply structure to the problems you are working on. The ability to thoughtfully and efficiently structure a problem is a must-have for those who want to pursue a career in analytics. There are so many ways to quantitatively pursue business problems and an overwhelming amount of data. It is because of this that many people suffer “analysis paralysis.” Success in analytics requires a structured approach that will allow you and/or a team to nimbly test a series of hypotheses to identify the most fruitful avenues of analysis.

Stay tuned for an update from M.S. in Commerce ’14 alum Eric Rosato, a Category Strategy Consultant at McKinsey.

By Ellie Reed

A Typical Schedule: M.S. in Commerce Spring Edition

During the fall semester, the Marketing & Management and Finance tracks took mostly the same classes. When we began the spring semester, Marketing & Management and Finance diverged down two different paths. Both tracks participate in the Foundations of Global Commerce course that runs from January-March and the Global Immersion Experience track specific course in April. However, the rest of our schedules are very different. Take a look at the typical week of a Marketing & Management student and Finance student in the spring semester. The Business Analytics track will be offered as a new third track option for the M.S. Commerce Class of 2016.

Marketing & Managementmarketing3

Financefinance 3

Written By: Kaylee Lucas

A Day on the Slopes at Wintergreen

With the recent snow, a group of M.S. in Commerce students took a day trip to Wintergreen Resort for a much-needed study break and opportunity to spend time outdoors.

Everyone in the group was at a different level of skill—some skied frequently, some had never skied, and one student had even spent a year as a ski instructor in Colorado. Everyone came together, however, to help those who were not as experienced learn how to stand up on skis and navigate the beginner slopes on the mountain. Jon, the former ski instructor, spent hours helping the beginners.

The ski trip was fun but it also demonstrated how the students in the M.S. in Commerce Program trust each other, enjoy working together as a team, pull together, and help each other, whether on the slopes or in the classroom.

Ellie, Colleen, and Kaylee getting ready to get on the ski lift
Ellie, Colleen, and Kaylee getting ready to get on the ski lift
The whole ski group!
The whole ski group!

Written By: Ellie Reed

Entrepreneurship in the McIntire & Charlottesville Community

As the semester rolls along, many exciting events are happening around the McIntire community.  Here are two entrepreneurship events that will take place both on and off grounds supported in part by the Galant Center.


Super Demo—hosted by the Entrepreneurship Group at UVA and HackCville—is a regional showcase of and competition for the coolest and most innovative student-developed projects, tech demos, apps, and businesses.  Alexis Ohanian, UVA alum, co-founder of Reddit, and active investor, alongside Peter Rojas, founder of Gizmodo, Engadget, GDGT, and now VP of Strategy at AOL, will be in Charlottesville to judge and give away $3000 in prize money to the best demo!

Applications are due March 1st, and the Super Demo day is April 18th!


Featuring the founders of reddit, Gizmodo, 1776, Maker Faire, The Container Store, Lockn’ Music Festival, and more. The Founders Summit is a day-long exploration into the art and science of entrepreneurship. Hear how leading innovators founded their companies. Meet friends and potential collaborators from across the region at this day of keynotes and panels.

The Summit is April 17 at the Paramount Theater and is integrated into the Tom Tom Founders Festival, an event with over 150 bands on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall!

Charlottesville community enjoying a sunny day on the downtown mall
Charlottesville community enjoying a sunny day on the downtown mall

Each of these events is open to M.S. in Commerce students.  They are great opportunities to test our innovative thinking and explore the Charlottesville community!

Written By: Joseph Labetti

What Have We Learned in 6 Months?


Professor Maillet helping students understand Global Economic Trends
Professor Maillet helping students understand Global Economic Trends

Coming into the M.S. in Commerce Program at the University of Virginia, I really had no idea what to expect when it came to the actual, tangible skills I would learn. From statistical software to strategic theory, so many skills and techniques have been ingrained in my head.  It’s staggering! Consider these questions, for example, and see what tools a M.S. in Commerce student uses to analyze business problems and determine solutions:

  • How many of our customers bought a particular product during a specific time period?
    • SQL: A Structured Query Language, is a way to ask a data set for a specific piece of information. It’s great for looking at purchase data and understanding individual customer purchases.  Through this technique, a company can understand, at least on the surface, basic patterns in customer purchases. It also allows companies to keep better track of inventory and see which products are selling well or poorly. We learned this in Global Strategy and Systems during the Integrated Core Experience.
  • Can we define the different clusters that our customers occupy?
    • SPSS is a statistics engine provided by IBM. I can now take a data set of thousands of pieces and analyze it to see how variables interrelate. Analysis of this data gives companies an understanding of what their customers think of a product and how to implement a marketing strategy and brand their products to customer needs. We learned this technique in Marketing & Quantitative Analytics!
  • What is our strategic advantage?
    • Corporate ecosystem, activity system, and value chain: Each of these tools allows a company to look below the surface and understand the value they bring for the customer and where they sit in a particular industry or market. They are a graphical representation of a company’s strategic position, and the use and creation of each was hammered into us during Global Strategy and Systems.
  • Why is our competition acting this way?
    • Michael Porter’s Five Forces Analysis: Michael Porter , the godfather of modern strategy, identified five forces that shape competition: (1) rivalry among competitors, (2) threat of substitutes, (3) threat of new entrants, (4) bargaining power of suppliers, and (5) bargaining power of buyers. We learned this in our Global Strategy and Systems class.

So what is the big takeaway from the fact that we learn everything from computer coding to marketing analysis and business strategy?  During the M.S. in Commerce Program at U.Va., we are taught in incredible set of skills that allow us to hit the ground running when we start our careers. We are taught to think in different ways, look at problems from multiple angles, and then use a plethora of tools to provide the best solutions possible. Because of this, the program truly sets us up to become the next group of business leaders.

Written by: Joseph Labetti

Applying to Non-Profit Jobs through M.S. in Commerce

kaylee headshotWhen I heard the University of Virginia was partnering with Georgetown University to launch a Government & Nonprofit Career Expo, I knew I had to go. This was a unique opportunity for M.S. in Commerce students to talk to employers from NGOs, nonprofits, think tanks, and government bureaus.

The expo was held at Georgetown University February 13, so fellow classmate Denisse Cortan and I decided to take a road trip up 29 North for the day. I picked Denisse up from McIntire at 8 a.m., where she had just finished printing off some extra resumes and waited with blueberry muffins for the road. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. and walked into the hall where several hundred students from UVA, Georgetown University, and University of Richmond were milling around, talking to the 96 companies that had come out to meet us.

The floor of the career expo at Georgetown’s Leavey Center

I made really great connections with a couple of companies, but one in particular caught my eye—UnBoundRVA. UnBoundRVA is a nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia (my hometown!) that helps catalyze high-potential entrepreneurs living below the poverty line. The company’s staff of three was looking to recruit two fellows to add to its team.

As I was learning about the fellows position, one of the co-founders asked me to describe a time when I had to complete a task for work that I didn’t enjoy. Luckily, I brought my A game. Just last week, in our Consulting to Management class in the Marketing & Management Track, Professor Boler had asked us to describe something we didn’t like but were good at. I launched into a story from my summer internship with a microfinance loan hub in Kenya about asking borrowers to repay defaulted loans. It was a great conversation starter! UnBoundRVA had considered various microfinance models when developing its own business development program. We began to discuss our insights about how to best empower entrepreneurs.

Kaylee in Africa
Kaylee Lucas and loan hub employees in Kenya

After leaving the career expo, I  reflected on my job hunt journey. This year, I have set up informational interviews with McIntire alums and attended multiple information sessions through Commerce Career Services. I’m continuing to meet with CCS Associate Director of Career Development Kelly Eddins as I map out my search for a job at a nonprofit. The career expo is an essential piece of the puzzle!

Written By: Kaylee Lucas


Celebrating the Lunar New Year!

The M.S. in Commerce students, faculty, and staff celebrated the Lunar New Year with traditional Chinese decorations, candy and delicious food, music, and games. 2015 marks the Year of the Sheep, according to the Chinese zodiac. The graduate lounge was festooned in red and gold banners, tables were decorated in red with festive centerpieces, and everyone enjoyed the buffet of rice, dumplings, egg rolls, oranges (for good luck), and fortune cookies.

sheepChinese: 羊 yáng
According to Chinese Astrology, the Sheep (Ram or Goat) is ranked eighth of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac and represents solidarity, harmony and calmness. People born in the year of the Sheep are polite, mild mannered, shy, imaginative, determined and have good taste. On the negative side, they are sometimes pessimistic, unrealistic, short-sighted and slow in behavior. Lucky numbers are 3, 9, and 4. Lucky Flowers are carnation, primrose, and Alice flower. Lucky Colors are green, red, and purple.

dhThis is the third year that Director of Graduate Life Sally Armentrout (far right) has organized Lunar New Year celebrations for graduate students at McIntire. This year’s efforts were successfully executed with the help of a student planning committee. Sally remarked, “While I have not had the opportunity to visit Asia, I have learned a great deal from speaking with Chinese students over the years. Their stories of family celebrations make me proud that we as a School recognize this special time for them . . . and it also helps me be sensitive to the homesickness they may be feeling. I am also proud that we take this opportunity to introduce our non-Chinese students to Lunar New Year. No matter our citizenship, I think we can all recognize the importance of family, community, and hope for prosperity!”

dStudents line up for dumplings, rice, egg rolls, oranges (for good luck), and fortune cookies.

FullSizeRender Emily, Cam, Libby, Sarah, and Vanessa celebrate the Lunar New Year.

10620496_1553156898294976_8632303099912597208_oMcIntire graduate students celebrate the Lunar New Year with an authentic Chinese dinner “family-style” at Peter Chang’s.



Student Spotlight: Cameron Boland

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Name: Cameron Boland
Concentration: Marketing & Management
Undergraduate Institution: University of Virginia
Undergraduate Major: Foreign Affairs
Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Why did you want to be a part of GCOM Council?
I was very interested in becoming Chair of the GCOM Council because it is a direct link to the faculty, staff, and students. I want to be engaged in our community and help create the most positive experience possible for everyone. One year is a sprint, and I want to be in a position to help everyone have a memorable time and get the most out of our year together.

How often do you meet with GCOM Council, and what do you work on during those meetings?
Our Council maintains fluid conversation through email, and we meet in person every two weeks or so. Oftentimes, there are smaller meetings with the point person of an upcoming event. We also meet with the M.S. in Accounting Council to collaborate on any events we are doing together.

What is your favorite part about being on GCOM Council?
I have really enjoyed spending time with the other members and working in a team environment. We all have similar goals for the class and work well together, so executing ideas has developed into a pretty seamless process. And, of course, it’s also really nice to see our efforts pay off when everyone has a great time at our events.

What is the most exciting event you have been able to work on and plan?
I would have to say that the Tacky Christmas Party has been my favorite event so far. Ugly sweaters are always hilarious, and I loved seeing the different outfits.

Why is GCOM Council so important for the students, faculty, and staff?
The GCOM Council is integral to building the McIntire community. The elected representatives have the ability to unite the class and faculty through events that encourage candid conversations and lasting relationships. At the beginning of the year, the staff did an exceptional job setting the pace of the program by creating a strong community. It is the Council’s job to maintain and to build on this foundation through planning a diverse spectrum of events. Plus, with the different sections and tracks, it is especially important to have events that bring the whole program together.

Do you have time to excel in your studies and chair the GCOM Council?
 The time I devote to the Council is time that I enjoy and is a welcome break from my studies.  I have found that time management and having reliable GCOM Council members to help share the workload have been essential to our success. We try to plan events around everyone’s deliverables, which has allowed us to have a lighter GCOM load when we have exams or presentations.

How was the transition (socially) from attending UVA as an undergraduate to now being in a graduate program?
Transitioning from being an undergraduate to a graduate student was a lot easier than I anticipated. In the beginning, I tried to embrace the program and everything it had to offer. I think a large reason I have enjoyed the program as much as I have is because of this willingness to treat the year as a fresh start, as an opportunity to try new things and to meet new people. I challenged myself to become involved in our new community, which has led to an invaluable experience.

What are your plans for next year?
At the conclusion of the M.S. in Commerce Program, I will move to New York City to work for a boutique executive search firm called Henkel Search Partners. HSP specializes in working with private equity firms, hedge funds, other alternative asset managers, and advisory firms across a broad set of geographies and functions.


Written by: Ellie Reed

Summer Internship before the M.S. in Commerce Program

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The summer before I began the M.S. in Commerce Program, I interned in the Fixed Income Division at Morgan Stanley in New York City. I spent half the summer on the commercial real estate lending desk in the Securitized Products Group and the other half of the summer on the foreign exchange sales desk. At the end of the internship, I received a full-time job offer with a start date of June 2015. I was very excited to accept the offer, but equally excited to be joining the McIntire School of Commerce for the year as part of the M.S. in Commerce Program. The summer had shown me just how much I still had to learn before I would be ready for a full-time job.


I applied to the M.S. in Commerce Program Finance Concentration in the fall of my senior year at Davidson College, where I studied economics as an undergrad. As soon as I heard that I had been admitted to the McIntire School, I began searching for an internship. I was able to list on my resume “Candidate for M.S. in Commerce 2015” and was amazed at how influential a connection to the University of Virginia can be when looking for internship positions. So many employers recognize UVA, and their knowing I was accepted to a graduate business program there was especially beneficial. Had I not been able to say I was attending McIntire for the coming year, I am not sure I would have been considered for the internship, given my lack of experience or knowledge about finance.

On an intern field trip to the New York Stock Exchange
On an intern field trip to the New York Stock Exchange

When I started work over the summer, I found that the connection to UVA was helpful in another way, as there are so many UVA graduates working at Morgan Stanley who were incredibly welcoming and eager to meet all of the UVA interns.

This semester, we started courses in our concentrations, and I am taking four finance classes as well as a seminar course to prepare for the Global Immersion Experience. I will be going to Southeast Asia and am so excited about the global opportunity before starting my full-time job at Morgan Stanley in late June.

Written by: Guest blogger Avery Bernert