Catherine Isley

Feature Story
Catherine Isley
Degree: 
Agricultural Business
Year Graduated: 
2018

Current employment/job title: Business Analyst with The Context Network

Describe your position.

I am an analyst with a management and strategy consulting firm that focuses solely on food and agriculture. There are three parts to my job: quantitative work (modeling and quantitative analysis), qualitative work (secondary research, conducting surveys and interviews), and communicating recommendations and project findings (through client-facing PowerPoint presentations and public-facing reports).

What do you like about your job?

I like the huge variety I have in my work. I've worked on everything from international development projects to corporate mergers and acquisitions.

How did you choose to work at this job?

I was originally drawn to consulting because of the variety of work. Senior year I hadn't quite figured out what I wanted from my career, so I thought consulting would be a good way to try a bit of everything.

How did the ag business major prepare you for your position?

The economics and analysis classes I took as part of ag bus have been so helpful--farm business management (Econ 230), ag finance (Econ 466), and food market analysis (Econ 435) have been particularly useful.

What advice would you give to students looking for work in a similar position?

In consulting, critical thinking and structured thinking are key. I would recommend taking as many management classes as possible and learning the big strategy frameworks--PESTLE Analysis, Porter's Five Forces, BCG Growth-Share Matrix, and the like. Analysis skills--both quantitative and qualitative--are also essential.

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