2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Upasana Barot, College of William & Mary (Mason)

Upasana Barot

College of William & Mary, Raymond A. Mason School of Business

“Strong believer of optimism and discipline transforming the impossible into possible.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am on a mission to try every pancake place in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Hometown: Suffolk, Virginia

High School: Nansemond Suffolk Academy

Major: Accounting

Minor: Finance Concentration

Favorite Business Course: Federal Taxation

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurriculars and Leadership Roles:

  • Member, Women in Business Club: Former AVP of Mentorship
  • Member, Gibbs Accounting Society
  • Tutor for Tribe TutorZone
  • Member, South Asian Student Association (SASA): Co-Director of Expressions (annual cultural showcase)
  • Member, Afsana competitive Bollywood-Fusion Dance team: Former Finance Chair
  • Member, Alma Mater Productions (AMP)
  • Former Teaching Assistant for Principles: Microeconomics
  • Former Accounting Research Assistant

School Awards and Honors:

  • James Monroe Scholar
  • Dean’s List for all semesters
  • Recipient of Peterson Research Fellowship

Where have you interned during your college career?


Business Tax Services Intern in Norfolk, Virginia   

Through KPMG’s virtual internship experience (VIE), I learned about data analytics and professional judgement; engaged in mentoring sessions; and networked with practice-specific employees. At the conclusion of the VIE, I was selected as a W&M Campus Ambassador, and I accepted my offer to start as a Business Tax Services Associate in Fall 2022.


Accounting Intern in Suffolk, Virginia

Throughout the internship, I prepared the bank’s daily and federal cash reconciliations. I also assisted with a deferred tax project and regulatory project concerning the bank’s Board of Directors. Towards to end, I analyzed expense forecast reports and tied-in details of the quarterly financial statements.

Farmers Bank

Clerical Assistant in Windsor, Virginia

I assisted with the extra workload during the bank’s transitional period by scanning, labeling, and updating customer profiles. I also organized and filed various bank documents as needed.

Where will you be working after graduation? After pursuing my Master’s in Accounting next year, I will be starting as a Business Tax Services Associate at KPMG LLP.

What company do you admire most? I admire Starbucks because of its strong business model, its compassion for its employees, and of course, its delicious menu. It always amazes me how Starbucks is able to generate such a high profit margin, maintain a strong customer loyalty, and remain at the forefront of innovation in such a saturated industry. The company exemplifies the importance of branding.

Who is your favorite professor? I have been very fortunate to be taught by several brilliant professors at W&M. One of my favorites has been Professor Alexander Woods. Due to the pandemic, I took his Strategic Cost Management class remotely; however, he did not let this mode of learning take away from the academic experience.

Professor Woods always guided his students through the rationale behind accounting concepts so they could be equipped with the foundation and analytical skills to succeed in unprecedented situations. He was also incredibly eager to help his students outside of class if they were struggling with a topic. His passion for the course and compassion for his students were visible through his teaching. Overall, his enthusiastic, witty personality made even the most mechanical topics more enjoyable.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business?The biggest lesson I gained is to be eager to learn and adapt. Since classroom problems are often simplified for instructional purposes, students are wired to presume that there is only one correct solution; however, real-world scenarios are not so straightforward. Through case studies, I have learned to be comfortable with not initially knowing this “correct” answer, but then I have to be willing to research and apply the pertinent analysis to make an informed decision.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would advise the student to intern or shadow in their field of interest. Internships provide a practical setting to see the concepts learned in class at play. By talking with professionals in the field and seeing their day-to-day tasks, students can envision themselves in their position and sense whether the industry or career path seems interesting to them.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was surprised to see how interrelated all of the individual business disciplines are. As an accounting major, I did not think business analytics or marketing information would have much of an impact on my analysis and decision-making. However, through my courses, I learned that knowledge about the other disciplines allows me to remain future-oriented and make a more informed decision.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would have taken more elective business courses. These classes are a great way to step outside of your comfort zone and learn a skill that may not be directly related to your major, but will eventually be useful to you.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am extremely proud of creating and launching a peer mentorship program in the business school. When freshmen and sophomores think about majoring in business, they are often curious about potential career paths and are seeking an informal mentor or “buddy” to guide them through the recruiting process. Therefore, my peers and I created a 6-module curriculum that covered career preparatory basics. Our program matched upperclassmen with internship experience to students seeking to follow in similar career footsteps. After testing and revising the curriculum over the span of two semesters, this program has now become the official mentorship program of W&M’s business school. Moreover, it always makes my day when mentees reach out about their positive experience with the program. It’s nice to know that I was able to help out my peers and make a difference in their lives.

Which classmate do you most admire? I really admire my classmate Madison Lee. I have been in several classes with Madison, and she has been always diligent, intellectually curious, and eager to help. If Madison sees a peer struggling with a concept, she will go out of way to explain the material until the peer fully understands the concept. She is also always a friendly face to see in the business school. She takes the time to reach out to her peers and connect them with other professionals. As President of the Gibbs Accounting Society, she has been very successful in inviting a variety of professionals, improving the structure of the club, and creating a resourceful community for accounting majors.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I sit on the shoulders of several individuals because of whom I have been afforded the unique opportunities at my disposal. While there are too many individuals to name, I am the most grateful to my parents, Shyam and Monika Barot. My parents have sacrificed their own happiness and pleasures to love and support me unconditionally. My father’s relentless work ethic and perseverance have inspired me to embrace the grind, never looking backward. My mother’s encouraging words have pulled me through the toughest of situations. I owe my entire success to them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items on my professional bucket list are to pursue my MBA degree at an Ivy League school and to become a C-suite executive at a company that I love.

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include dancing, cooking new dishes, trying different restaurants and coffee shops, and playing tennis.

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

“Upasana was a consistent positive force in the classroom, enriching the experience for her classmates and me.  Throughout the semester, she impressed me with her intelligence and insight, engaging with the material even beyond my high expectations for the class.  Given my experience with Upasana, I am unsurprised by her current success and expect great things of her in the future.”

Margot Howard
Assistant Professor, Accounting

“Upasana elevated everyone’s classroom engagement, learning and preparation by repeatedly asking insightful and penetrating questions and expressing insightful and thoughtful comments.”

Alex Woods
KPMG Professor of Accounting
College of William & Mary (Mason)


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