2019 Best & Brightest: Riley Doherty, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Foisie)

Riley Doherty

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Foisie Business School

Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.”

Fun fact about yourself: I was on the Bozo the clown show

Hometown: Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

High School: Worcester Academy

Major: Industrial Engineering and Economics

Favorite Business Course: Practical Optimization

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Varsity Soccer – Scholar All-American (2018), Captain (2018), All-Region (2018), Academic All-Region (2017, 2018), All-Conference (2017, 2018), Academic All-Conference (2016, 2017, 2018), Conference Rookie of the Year (2015)
  • Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity
  • Tau Beta Pi Honors Society
  • Mathematics Peer Learning Assistant
  • Financial Executives International Scholar
  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Travelers Insurance – Hartford, CT – Business Intelligence Intern in Bond and Specialty Insurance
  • Dell Technologies – Hopkinton, MA – Associate Program Manager Intern
  • EMC – Hopkinton, MA – Associate Program Manager Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Wayfair as a Business Intelligence Analyst.

Who is your favorite professor? I have had a number of great professor’s during my time at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but Professor Andrew Trapp has influenced me the most. Professor Trapp opened my eyes to uses of Industrial Engineering that I never knew existed and inspired me to look for ways to use the skills I have learned at WPI not just to find ways to increase profits, but to improve my community.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? WPI differs from many other business schools with their commitment to a project-based curriculum. The project-based curriculum begins in your freshman year and continues throughout all four years. These projects present you with the opportunity to spend time solving problems that you are passionate about. Living in New England, I have seen first-hand the impact of the opioid epidemic in the United States. My senior project has focused on the effects of opioid use on the foster care system. I have been able to take what I have learned in the classroom to decrease the time that children spend in the foster care system and make a meaningful impact on my community.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? If you are planning on majoring in business, and have the opportunity, you should spend the time to improve your technical skills. Many people will choose to either major in business or major in a more technical field. If you wish to set yourself apart incorporate both of these. There will always be a demand for people that are able to understand and contribute to both the technical side of a company as well as the business side.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? During my years at WPI, I was surprised by the way that the business majors could complement the engineering students in the projects we worked on together. These groups tended to approach issues in different ways, but the end result was better than if tackled by like-minded people. As I started my job search, I was surprised at the many different directions that my education could take me in.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…mathematics. Throughout high school, I always enjoyed math and sciences more than any other classes. I went to WPI with the intention of studying mathematics, but once I learned that I could combine my passion for math and science with a business background I knew that Industrial Engineering was the perfect fit for me.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The person who most influenced my decision to pursue a business degree was my older sister, Emily Doherty. For as long as I can remember, she has set an example and set a high bar for me to reach. She started in the business program in WPI while I was still in high school. I saw the success that she had and knew this was something I was definitely interested in. I was accepted at two prestigious business programs that were more traditional, but my ultimate decision to attend WPI was due to her enthusiasm for the program and the opportunities offered to her.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of being named a Scholar All-American by the United Soccer Coaches Association. Growing up my parents always stressed the importance of a well-balanced life, and as a student-athlete, it can be difficult to balance the demands of playing a collegiate sport and your work in the classroom. Being recognized for my performance on the field as well as my successes in the classroom was an amazing honor to receive.

Which classmate do you most admire? I have had the opportunity to share the classroom with many amazing students. With that being said, Tyler Weiss stands out amongst all of the people I have met at WPI. He is a fellow fraternity brother and a double major in two of the most difficult majors at WPI; Aerospace Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Over the years, we have developed a friendly competition in regards to our academic performance and used this to push ourselves to be the best we could be.   I thank him for the encouragement over the years and admire his success.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? As cliché as it may sound, I can’t thank my family enough for the many successes I have enjoyed. My parents have always stressed that you need to try everything, do it to the best of your ability and remain humble throughout. My sister Emily has been there to set the standard and one of my proudest moments was when I walked across the stage to accept my All-American award, knowing that she had accepted the same award three years prior.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Visit New Zealand

What are your hobbies? I enjoy playing soccer, competing in Crossfit, and reading.

What made Riley such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“I have been asked to comment as to why Riley Doherty is such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019. I have served as Riley Doherty’s academic advisor, his professor in two courses, and also his senior design project (known as the MQP, at WPI). While I could expand on the many athletic accolades that Riley has racked up over his years at WPI (including the First-Ever United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-American and All-New England), I’ll stick to his academic work. Riley was at the top his class in his coursework, earning solid “A” grades for both courses, and likely an “A” grade on his MQP experience (while not yet complete, it is certainly on track). I think what’s especially powerful about the MQP, is that the students (truly led by Riley), on their own volition, pursued an atypical path of applying their industrial engineering skillsets to improving not a manufacturing process, but that of the foster care system. Specifically, they are investigating predictive and prescriptive models to estimate which foster care services have the most impact on reducing the overall days in the foster care system, and the proposing a model to allocate those services where there is most need, to minimize the overall time in the system. Rarely have I seen the blend of strong leadership and academic talent that Riley embodies – let alone his athletic abilities.”

Andrew Trapp, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Operations and Industrial Engineering
Foisie Business School
Worcester Polytechnic Institute