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History at Work: Business Management

Travis Coberly, on research

Travis Coberly’s first job out of college was working as an operations manager with one foot in North America and the other in Europe: he managed a hydraulic hose factory in the U.S. that supplies manufacturers of agricultural machinery, for a small family-owned firm based in Germany. Travis had already talked about his job in his alumnus profile, but he also paid a visit to LeConte to say more about the nature of his work. He said that one of the most obvious ways his major has helped him out is that it has made the research process almost second nature. As it turns out, writing a research paper for a history class is surprisingly similar to writing a good report in the business world. Let’s say, not at all hypothetically, that you have two days to learn the fire codes of Virginia in order to develop a presentation for your boss that recommends how to set up an alarm system. “That is very historical: go to the library, get the legal codes, sit down and look through it, cross-reference with another company in the area, ask them what they have — that’s two primary sources right there — write it into a paper, cut through the fat, show up, present it, it’s all great, you get your ‘A.’” New situation, new culture, new stakes, same trusty analytical process. 

(Back to History at Work Speaker Series)

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