At the start of January 2022, 14 global commerce majors had the chance to spend a week in San Francisco with Jane Palmer, associate director of global commerce, and Karen Spierling, director of global commerce. As students met with alumni and other local professionals, the skills acquired through their global commerce coursework gave them a strong framework to learn about different industries and professional career paths, as they honed their networking skills, and explored the Bay Area.

Here is a window into the action-packed itinerary:

Arriving safely on January 3, the adventure kicked off the next day with a great tour of the financial district with the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society’s Len Holmes. Company visits began as Alex Constantinople ‘91, CMO of Zendesk, shared her energy and insights, then Chris Sheldon ‘96 of KKR & Co. offered a window into the SF world of finance.

An evening speed-networking event at the University Club of San Francisco was full of high-energy conversations with recent alumni: Khalig Howard ‘19, Alex Green ‘06, Malhar Joshi ‘15, Madison Heher ‘19 and Samantha Haseltine ‘19.

Next, our seniors made some stops in Silicon Valley and learned from local entrepreneurs and start-up founders about the importance of storytelling, curiosity, flexibility, and persistence. Our wonderful hosts—Tobin Fisher of Vantage Robotics, Darren Lachtman ‘04 of Brat TV, and Leslie Trigg P ‘25 of Outset Medical made our day with their generosity and inspiration for our GC seniors.

As the week continued, we explored topics and industries ranging from fashion to real estate to nonprofit work. Erin Dempsey Lowenberg ‘93 shared the story of Rothy’s and her own post-Denison path with us, and Brad Vaughn ‘04 and John Lowenberg ‘93 shared advice and encouragement over an amazing dim sum lunch at Yank Sing.

When we had to pivot to an outside venue at the last minute, Chris Tsakalakis and Kath Tsakalakis P ‘25 met us on the steps of Grace Cathedral and talked about international careers, the nonprofit world, and successfully navigating dual-career relationships. Thanks to the generosity and warm hospitality of George Jackoboice ‘91 and Jenny Jackoboice ‘93, we ended our time in San Francisco with an amazing dinner at China Live.

Saturday was another opportunity to interact with highly engaged speakers. Hannibal George ‘18 of Industry Ventures shared his reflections on starting off his career, navigating the professional world as a recent grad, the importance of constant learning, and the big-picture critical thinking that sets the liberal arts apart.

And Meghan Vergara, creator of M Rosé & Veritas Consultants and member of the Napa Green team, hosted us at Husic Winery. She shared a deep dive into the complexity of the wine industry, her own journey from sommelier to industry consultant and wine producer, and her enthusiasm and extensive knowledge about the sustainability efforts and global connections of the modern wine industry.

In Sonoma County, we visited the Ketcham Estate Winery crew, where Allie Ketcham ‘96, Renee Graves, and Tammy Collins gave us an on-location tutorial on the process of winemaking, from soil to barrel construction to fermentation to label design. Building on our meeting with Meghan, our Ketcham Estate visit helped us think further about the complexity (and weather-dependency) of an agriculture-based industry and showed us yet another highly successful model of female leadership in the world of business!

We ended the trip with the warm and generous hospitality of Dave and Tori Kistler P ‘22, who hosted our final celebration lunch at the Mayacama Golf Club.

Good preparation made for success

All of the seniors who made the trip — Milam Saha, Ellen Sipe, Grant Noble, Sydney Kistler, Rosie DeWitt, Davis Kleen, Brendan Kazanjian, Ethan Horgan, Mijal Buchsbaum, Jamie Mitchell, Chunxi (Stephanie) Liu, Anne Karsten, Isabelle Brocato and Jenna Gevertz — prepared daily on background information on our visits, introductions of our hosts, and lots of thoughtful questions about our speakers’ industries and personal experiences.

Throughout the trip, our conversations reinforced the idea that any job, regardless of title, can be a valuable opportunity to learn, connect, and build your path into a successful career. Humility is always key. And the generalist approach of the liberal arts gives you a broad set of thinking and communication skills that are crucial for the work that needs to be done in the 21st century.

February 17, 2022