Lauren Strayhorn ’15

1.  What was your major/minor and when did you graduate?

Double major in Business Administration and English. Graduated in 2015.

2.  What is your current position (title, company, location)?  Can you describe a typical day?

My current position is Senior Analyst at Easy Dynamics, headquartered in Tyson’s Corner, VA. I recently started working for one of our commercial clients providing program management support to build a digital identity product. I work across several different workstreams, so my typical day involves attending their weekly status meetings to provide a holistic view into the product’s development. When I’m not identifying gaps, risks, and dependencies, I’m building an integrated project plan that accounts for everyone’s major tasks and communicating high impact product updates to the entire team. When I’m not on client delivery, I support the internal business development team in proposal management, market research, and strategic initiatives.

3.  How did your major prepare you for your current job?

Market research, marketing, business communication, and negotiation helped prepare me the most for my current job. The two marketing classes provided a foundation for me to understand how to build content that is valuable and interesting, plus diving into multiple resources to provide clients and internal teams with critical analysis to support any initiative. The Business Communication course should be required for any major to graduate because knowing how, what, and when to properly and strategically communicate with people from all layers of your organization is paramount to your success, just as much as your high quality work product. Negotiation gave me insight and perspective into how to effectively state your value and create win-win situations for both sides, which has served me many times in my current position in salary and promotion discussions, as well as advising friends on how to do the same.

4.  How did you become interested in your field?

I pursued marketing because it combines business, research, and people, three things that I find the most interesting and am good at. My entry-level marketing position for an IT government contractor transformed into business development, focused on growing the company strategically in new agencies, components, and programs. This involved communication, market research, and project management skills, all in a fast-paced, complex environment, which I’ve always thrived in. My success there drew me to program management for a client building a digital identity product supporting multiple functional workstreams. I’ve found my stride here because every day is new and exciting as I work with personnel in different scopes like data, fraud, and technology, and help them understand the bigger picture and details in order to best work together to create a successful product.

5.  What’s the best career advice you ever received?

If you’re uncomfortable, that means you’re growing, and that’s a good thing.

6.  Was there a professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you or helped you when you were at UMW?

I had two outstanding professors and one advisor that had a major impact on me at UMW. Professors Smita Oxford and Kashef Majid were the two professors and Eileen Adenan was my mentor through the College of Business’s mentor program 2014-2015. Professor Oxford and Majid were incredible teachers, both through engaging dialogue and thought-provoking content in their classrooms and meaningful help they provided outside. By taking multiple classes and working closely outside on project-related questions, I built relationships with both that I still maintain today and go to for advice. Eileen has been my go-to professional and career mentor since fall 2014, mentoring me on my resume, job search, and interview prep as a senior and has continued providing me with valuable insight during our dinners we have about once/quarter. She has also been a speaker at multiple professional development events I’ve organized in the past year and won everyone over with her sharp wit and warm personality.

7.  What’s your fondest memory of UMW?

A couple big ones stick out to me. Being part of the team that organized and executed the Relay For Life event for three years, meeting and working with incredible people to build a successful event that raised thousands of dollars and gathered hundreds of students and community members to support cancer survivors and their caregivers. The second is being on the women’s varsity soccer team, beating a major rival in a tough conference game my freshman year and the thrill, excitement, and happiness our team experienced and celebrated together in the locker room after the win, among many other moments with my teammates.

8.  How would your family or friends describe you in seven words or less?

Driven, confident, funny, compassionate, intelligent, loyal, adventurous

9. In one sentence, what advice would you give current business students? 

Build strong relationships with your professors and faculty and they’ll help you grow both in your career and as a person.