Tyler Will '03: "Crafting a Compelling Story is Vital for Getting Cients to Make Decisions or Take Action"

Tyler Will '03, now a manager at Bain & Company, reflects on the skills that he developed in the major:

During my senior year I researched the economic and social conditions that led to RTP, learned about the passionate individuals promoting its creation, and considered the public and private institutions that made it possible and shaped its character. The process of writing the thesis was incredibly rewarding both for learning the story of Research Triangle Park as well as experiencing the craft of historical research and writing.

Much of my history experience, particularly writing my thesis, has proven consistently valuable throughout my career in consulting. On a daily basis, my colleagues and I need to do three things:  gather information and identify what is relevant and not, construct a logical argument based on that information, and communicate it clearly and persuasively. All three are skills I learned or significantly improved as a history major. For example, historical research was immediately relevant in my first role as a Consultant at Bates White Economic Consulting. I spent a week at the Bureau of Labor Statistics library in Washington, DC, collecting and interpreting data about employment in California to understand how many people were potentially exposed to a toxic product. During my six years at Bates White I regularly found similar types of information, analyzed it, and wrote arguments based on the evidence gathered. Likewise at Bain, we regularly create case studies using these research methods to illuminate past experiences of companies and argue that a client should (or should not) pursue a particular course of action. In this process we read financial statements, third party research reports, business press, and white papers, as well as conduct interviews with experts – all sources regularly relied upon for history research. Perhaps most significantly, at both Bain and Bates White, crafting a compelling story is vital for getting clients to make decisions or take action. This skill is something I most learned as a history major and by writing an honors thesis.

In addition to the professionally relevant aspects of a history major, I have maintained my passion for studying and thinking about history since graduation. At Duke I gained depth of knowledge on certain topics and a much greater appreciation for a broader scope of history subjects. This is reflected today in my personal life as I consistently read about a variety of historical topics and provide my wife and friends history tours (which they kindly claim to appreciate) when traveling.

History made me both better prepared to find and succeed at my jobs and further encouraged my personal pursuit of reading and learning about history, I am and will always be extremely appreciative of my experience.

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