Joe Zaccaria (2010 BS in Health and Exercise Science)
Vice President at EY-Parthenon in Boston, MA
Tell us about your current job role/employer and what you’re currently working on.
In my role, I manage complex strategy projects for clients within the Life Sciences, Healthcare, and Consumer Health industries. Projects range from launch strategy (i.e. which customers/physicians should we target), growth strategy (which new countries/regions should we enter), and transaction strategy (which products/companies should we acquire). In my role, I manage a team of Consultants and Analysts to create an independent point of view to help companies grow and deliver innovative products to market to improve the lives of patients and consumers worldwide.
What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?
During my undergrad experience at Wake Forest, I was a science major through and through. I was pre-med, an anatomy T.A. for Dr. Marsh, and worked two research-based summer internships in Winston Salem for Dr. King in Chemistry and Dr. Miller in HES. I love science and medicine, but realized I didn’t want to practice or pursue a PhD. I realized I wanted to explore a career that blended business and science and allowed me to focus on problem-solving and analytics, and so I pursued opportunities in consulting. I took a job out of Wake Forest as an Analyst at a small life sciences consulting group in Boston, and have moved around the industry since then.
What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?
After an academic career in science, the transition to business was challenging. I had never analyzed P&Ls, built forecasting models, or analyzed company growth strategies. But Wake’s small classroom experience and focus on teamwork led me to learn from my peers and managers to pick things up quickly.
What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college?
Keep asking questions! When you come out of undergrad, you might think you know what you want to do, but you definitely don’t know all of the potential options and outlets that exist. Continuing to develop your professional network and really understand all of the potential options is necessary. Also – it’s incredibly important to focus on your health. Making time for exercising and eating right can be tough when you’re working long hours at your first job, but it helps you to think more clearly and get into a disciplined routine.
How have you made personal and professional relationships in your city, company, or community?
When moving to Boston, my initial personal and professional network was very alumni driven! One colleague at my first company, Rick Sullivan (’09) graduated a year ahead of me and helped introduce me to a variety of folks in the Boston area. I also attended a variety of Wake Forest alumni networking events and happy hours to meet more people in the area, which is actually where I met my now wife (Alyson Cooper, ’08).
What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional job?
Work hard and ask for help! Coming out of undergrad, I had some challenges asking for help at first, because I didn’t want to be perceived as not knowing how to accomplish basic tasks. But it’s a lot easier to ask a question early, than it is to try to do something new for 5 hours only to ask for help when you’re stuck later on. It’s also important to always be thinking about how what you’re doing now is helping you achieve your goals – keeping focused on where you want to go and who you want to be will help you stay focused on your development.
What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?
I want to help build innovative, global companies in the Life Sciences and Consumer Health industries. There are such interesting technologies being developed across genome editing, machine learning, and data analytics that will forever change the way we think about healthcare and wellness. I want to work on the front-lines, meeting with scientists, entrepreneurs, and executives that are helping to bring these ideas to market, and working in Life Sciences strategy consulting with EY-Parthenon lets me do that every day.
Story published in January 2018. For current updates about Joe, visit his LinkedIn page.