Melanee Swanson is a 2nd Year MBA student at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School. A former intern with Deloitte Consulting LLP, she will be joining the organization full time upon conclusion of her MBA, in the Strategy & Operations practice in the Charlotte, NC office. In this, the first part of our interview, Melanee talks about her career journey from ticket sales for the Charlotte Hornets to the consulting industry. Be sure to check out for the second part of the interview, where Melanee goes into more depth about her experiences as a Deloitte intern.
Vault: Hi Melanee. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you start by telling us a little about your background?
Melanee: I am originally from Detroit, Michigan, but have lived in North Carolina since 2005, so I am practically a North Carolinian. I went to Davidson College where I majored in Political Science and played soccer, graduating in 2009. After graduation, I started working for the Charlotte Hornets in Corporate Ticket Sales, selling season ticket packages to corporations in the Charlotte area. After a couple years, I was looking for a more strategic role that kept me in front of clients, so I started working for Coleman Research, which is an expert network firm. For four years I helped match consulting firms and hedge funds with subject matter experts in order to get them up to speed on industry trends and help solve business problems. I ran the consulting business for Coleman Research and worked with many of the top consulting firms on a daily basis. Learning about the business problems they were solving for their clients piqued my interest in becoming a consultant. I knew the best way to become a consultant was to head to business school.
Vault: And you're in business school now, right?
Melanee: Yes, I am currently a 2nd year MBA student at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, where I am the President of the Consulting Club. I will be heading back to Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations practice in the Charlotte office after graduation.
Vault: Can you tell us a little about the kind of work you're hoping to do at Deloitte?
Melanee: In an ideal world, I would love to work in Deloitte’s Sports Consulting Practice like I did over the summer. I really enjoyed the people in the practice, and the work was extremely interesting. I would also be interested in other projects in the travel, hospitality, and services sector, as I also enjoyed a restaurant proposal I worked on over the summer. There are so many interesting projects at Deloitte, and I am excited to get started!
Vault: Can you elaborate on what you are looking for in an employer and career?
Melanee: Before business school, I had more than five years of work experience, which helped me realize what I did and didn’t want in a job after business school. One thing I really wanted was a place I could call home, ideally for the rest of my career. Therefore, when I started looking at consulting firms, I looked at firms in a different view than some of my classmates. I knew that across most of the firms, I would probably get similar types of projects and work with similar top companies, so I started focusing more on where I would fit culturally.
In addition, there are a number of women in leadership in various parts of the Deloitte organization: CEO, CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP, head of Strategy and Operations. Seeing those women in those positions was very inspiring to me. In addition, Deloitte’s emphasis on various initiatives was something that meant a lot to me. I greatly respect the effort that Deloitte’s professionals make in giving back -- either through recruiting or industry research, and that is something that made me feel at home.
My internship at Deloitte confirmed all my preconceived notions during the recruiting process. Every person I met at Deloitte encouraged me to be my best throughout the summer. My principal and senior manager gave me the flexibility to run my client work stream from start to finish, but also helped me meet their high expectations on a daily basis. I remember before my first client presentation, I had dinner with my principal and senior manager. The principal asked me, “What is your goal for this meeting? How do you want our client to view you after this meeting?” He may not have known it at the time, but by having me pause and reflect on these goals instead of just focusing on the actual deliverable took me completely out of my comfort zone. I think for the first time ever I was at a loss for words. He was asking for a reason, and I now know the importance of making sure you set an intention before every meeting, especially your first client meeting. Most importantly though, for the first time in my life, not a day of work felt like work, and I realized it was because I was loving the work I was doing and loved the people I was working with.
Vault: Do you have any advice for anyone who's thinking about applying to Deloitte?
Melanee: My first advice would be to do it! Other than that, I would say meet and talk to as many people as possible so you can get a sense for the vast array of opportunities at Deloitte. In addition to that – speak up and ask as many questions as possible! This is an amazing opportunity to drive your career – if you work hard and do good work, then doors may open for you and people are more than willing to help you get there. If I hadn’t mentioned I was interested in the Sports Consulting Practice, I likely would not have been staffed on the same summer project.
This post was sponsored by Deloitte. As used in this post, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte USA LLP, Deloitte LLP and their respective subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.
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