2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Samuel R. Lisner, University of Virginia (McIntire)

Samuel R. Lisner

University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

I’ll get to the destination AND enjoy the journey along the way.”

Fun fact about yourself:  I’ve read over 50 books, fiction and non-fiction, during the past year.

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

High School:  Ocean Lakes High School

Major: Commerce (Concentrations in Marketing and IT) and Economics

Minor: Mathematics

Favorite Business Course:  GCI: IT Practicum in Argentina

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Director General & CFO of the Virginia International Crisis Simulation
  • Model UN Committee Chair & Director of Alumni Relations of the International Relations Organization
  • IRS Certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistant & Program Director with Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope
  • Undergraduate Teaching Fellow with the Department of Economics
  • Peer Mentor with the Virginia Case Club, McIntire Mentorship Program, and Echols Council
  • Member of the Raven and Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Societies
  • Recognized as an Echols and National Merit Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Sentara Healthcare, Chesapeake, Va., Summer Finance Intern
  • ZS Associates, New York, NY, Strategy Insights & Planning Associate Intern (Cancelled due to COVID-19)

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting, Analyst, McLean, Va.

What company do you admire most? Here, I have to go with my dad’s medical practice, which he and his partners appropriately call the Dedicated Care Center, in Norfolk, Va.  In the rapidly changing field of medicine, the Dedicated Care Center provides constant and personalized support at the highest levels. The entire staff works diligently to accommodate the patients, and the doctors frequently work late into the night—even off call—to take care of those in need.  The result is this practice being among the most sought after not only in the region, but across the country.  The practice exemplifies the importance of a company’s reputation, which can only be built through dedicated care.

Who is your favorite professor? I’ve been fortunate to have only had extraordinarily brilliant and dedicated professors, but the most impactful were the team who together taught the third-year integrated core experience (ICE) program to Block 1.  The coordination of lessons and projects across different aspects of business quickly developed a foundation for approaching business problems and the soft skills for addressing them.  Additionally, I would rarely participate in class discussions before my third year and dreaded presentations.  ICE, though rigorous, encouraged me to contribute even uncertain views and be comfortable presenting—thanks to the insight, leadership, and kindness of the professors.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The people.  Business school has a reputation for aggressive competitiveness that is largely unwarranted.  The shared academic challenges and frequent group projects forge strong connections that I haven’t found in my other classes, and the professors actively support students and encourage their success.  Where I was expecting a cutthroat environment, I found a welcoming home. I hope to remain in touch with many professors and peers long after graduation.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why?  There were many opportunities to explore the diverse aspects of business before enrolling in McIntire my third year. If I could change one thing about my business school experience, I would take greater advantage of those opportunities. While the resources at a business school once I started quickly eliminated any disadvantage, I have found that I have both enjoyed and learned a lot from activities such as case competitions, networking, and research. Who knows what invaluable experiences, opportunities, and memories would have happened had I discovered that sooner.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am proud of the work I have done so far for my thesis with the Global Commerce Scholars Program.  Beginning with a broad interest in the interaction of culture and healthcare, the GCS Program enabled me to work closely with Professors William Wilhelm and David Mick to plan a study exploring the effect of regional cultural differences across Northern and Southern Italy on willingness to adopt new innovations in healthcare.  After reviewing relevant literature and proposing methodology consisting of a survey of Italian citizens, I am excited to collect data and conduct analysis during my last semester. The thesis has allowed me to apply the skills learned in business classes in a relevant and interesting field, and made me realize that I hope to continue conducting research in my future career.

Which classmate do you most admire? One peer I particularly admire is Brent Davis, who has managed to epitomize dependability while pursuing awesome commitments. In addition to his business coursework, Brent, a distinguished music major, performs in chamber ensembles, the Charlottesville Symphony at UVA, and as a soloist. And he helped organize the first fourth year recital for a student chamber ensemble in the music department—all while also assisting with recruiting for the football team (which has coincidentally improved drastically since Brent started helping).  Despite these many commitments, Brent has always been the most reliable member of group project teams and a great friend.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?  My mother. For everything I’ve done, she has been there supporting me. Her brilliance and sacrifice and love and kindness and so much more every day inspire me to work as hard as I can and be the best version of myself. It is hard to find words that reflect my gratitude, as every alright thing I’ve done comes back to her. Thank you, mom. Thank you times 1,000.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Publish a research paper
  • Be my own boss

What are your hobbies? I enjoy reading a good book, walking my dog, and watching television with friends. I try to stay active, and actively support UVA sports and the NFL team that was formerly known as the Washington Redskins.

What made Sam such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“If you are building a team to solve a tough business problem, Sam should be your first pick. When you talk to him, you get a sense of a constantly engaged mind that is always striving to understand the world around him, figuring out how it all works together, and organizing it into a larger, coherent picture. Sam is the kind of rare student that will hand in his assigned work well in advance of the deadline, which is a sign of both a confidence in his abilities and a remarkable intellectual efficiency.

As a quant, he is unusual: he marries a talent for analytics that allowed him breeze through a minor in Math and a couple of semesters in Astrophysics, with a solidly grounded common sense that guides his thoughts and proposed solutions. He will bravely pose probing questions that many of his peers will not due to a fear of revealing a lack of knowledge.

When I asked him about his values, he mentioned trust and teamwork. “Of course,” I thought, “and that is why I would want him on my team.”

Professor Stefano Grazioli


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.