Michael R. Parra is a current MBA candidate at the University of Maryland—Smith School of Business. Born right outside of the nation's capital, Michael has always called Washington, D.C. his home. The core of Michael's postgraduate experience and tenure has been in international and experiential marketing working alongside some of the best marketers and minds of this generation within the travel industry. Michael's experiences have allowed him to work with many stakeholders, agencies, in-market representation firms and marketing committees, all ranging from small-sized entities to multi-million dollar enterprises and corporations. Michael has worked abroad in both Argentina at an international consulting firm, and in Chile working as a product developer within the travel industry. In his most recent role, Michael was working for Brand USA, the nation's destination marketing organization, managing an active portfolio with over 70 destination, regional and attraction partners handling the strategic planning and execution of marketing proposals through co-operative campaigns across multi-channel platforms. Because of his international focus, Michael has made sure to utilize his fluent Spanish language skills in the workforce and is continuing to develop his conversational Portuguese skills.
What made you consider business school?
During my tenure at Brand USA, I had the pleasure to work on strategic and collaborative marketing campaigns that launched across Europe, Asia, Oceania and within emerging markets such as China, India, Mexico and Brazil. Thus, my goal to pursue an MBA is to further refine my skillset as a global marketing professional so that I can tap into the trends on how people consume and interact with internationally recognized brands. I believe my time at the Smith School will enhance my analytical, problem-solving and leadership skills from a global perspective. In addition, I have been thinking about getting an MBA for years and the timing feels right, after gaining years of work experience and knowing that I can contribute an alternate perspective to classroom discussions.
What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
This was a critical element within my MBA search: the people and the opportunities for collaboration. I am very much looking forward to connecting with my peers and cohort that I will be spending my next two developmental years with. I will be surrounded by a diverse student body that will add onto the conversation; whether it be from a new industry perspective, or a cultural approach. I am excited about broadening my business horizon and knowledge from the faculty and peers to better understand the global marketplace upon the completion of my MBA.
Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?
Andy Warhol for his bold visual pop art pieces bringing drag queens, intellectuals, celebrities, and scenes of the LGBTQ world to light; all from an artist's perspective even before the gay rights movement was brought to mainstream attention. Additionally, recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York's 14th congressional district. It is inspiring to see someone close to my age launch a grassroots campaign garnering media attention and sharing her voice in the coming term.
What's one thing everyone should know about you?
I used to be part of a competitive Peruvian folkloric dance group traveling around the country. Because I spent most of my youth in dance competitions, you’ll most likely find me on the dance floor.