John Gasparine '01
Mid-Atlantic Director of Planning and Strategic Consulting
An Alumnae/i Q&A
While at Goucher I was active with the Ultimate Frisbee Team and House Council, where I helped plan Get Into Goucher (GIG) and several other events across the campus. I graduated from Goucher in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and have since applied the scientific method to all areas of business. I now manage a multi-disciplinary team of business consultants for STV, Incorporated. As a hobby, I provide consulting services to the beer industry.
Describe one experience, course, or person from your time at Goucher that influenced your career path.
Dr. Bill Johnson taught an ecology course. He was a great professor, and part of being a great professor is extracting the maximum potential from each student. Dr. Johnson was always hard on me. I always felt he demanded more from me than other students in the class, and this was his way of extracting my maximum potential.
One time I prepared a presentation for his class on how certain fish use electric fields for navigation. I stayed up all night working on it — to the point of delirium. The morning of the presentation, I was acting a bit goofy due to the sleep deprivation. When I finished my presentation, Dr. Johnson said, “From a standpoint of content, this is the best presentation I have ever seen on the subject. I would have given you an A+, but due to your silly antics, I’m giving you a B+.” At the time, I was upset. But this was a big lesson in professionalism that I’ve carried with me throughout my career.
What advice would you offer others who are interested in your line of work or industry?
I would say that who you know is just as important as what you know. Put time and effort into building and maintaining your relationships and seek extracurricular networking opportunities to build new relationships. This will help you go far in any line of work.
Also, I would say that the most important qualifications to me, as an employer, are a strong work ethic, basic communication (reading, writing, speaking) skills, and attention to detail. These sound like very simple things, but they’re far more important to me than a degree from a fancy school or a bunch of years in the industry.
If you could go back to college, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?
If I could go back to college, the only thing I would do differently is work on getting better grades. I didn’t pay much attention to my GPA until junior year, when I realized that my GPA is something a prospective employer would consider. I think all college students should be mindful of how their decisions will impact their careers from day one.
I would do everything else the same.
What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
For a while, I was most proud of my business accomplishments. While business accomplishments are still very important to me, I have more recently found greater value in personal accomplishments.
I look back at when I proposed to my wife (also a Goucher alum). I developed a fairy-tale plan for this proposal and was able to execute it flawlessly. My wife and I have been happily married for almost eight years now, and our family and friends still talk about our engagement when we get together. Every now and again, I catch a friend telling a complete stranger about our engagement, and when people hear this story for the first time, they often don’t believe it!
My engagement to my wife is certainly my proudest accomplishment; I can only see this being eclipsed by bringing a child into our lives.
What do you know now that you wish you knew as a student?
That the sooner you start striving for success, the quicker you will achieve it.
For my first two years of college, I took for granted that a college degree would be my guaranteed ticket to a successful career. Had I begun college with a hunger for success, I think I would be even further ahead than I am today.
I would add that Goucher provided me with a number of opportunities, and I was smart enough to take advantage of them. I watched many of my colleagues take a more apathetic approach to these opportunities, often passing them up. The point is that your experience at Goucher is what you make of it — very much like the real world!
How has your Goucher education prepared you professionally?
It has prepared me in many ways. Mostly, the liberal arts education equipped me with a variety of tools that made me a well-rounded candidate in the job market. My professors at Goucher helped me hone my reading, writing, and speaking skills, and these basic skills have carried me very far.
How has your Goucher connection helped you after graduation?
I have kept in touch with several of my friends and former professors. These relationships have come in handy in a variety of ways post-graduation. In fact, I have my career with STV Incorporated today because of my friendship and experiences with another Goucher alum!
How has your experience at Goucher changed the way you look at the world?
Goucher nurtured the basic skills I needed to excel in the real world. I met my wife at Goucher. I met my best friends at Goucher and have succeeded in business due to my relationships developed at Goucher.
While I always appreciated my experience at Goucher, I have found my appreciation has grown as more time goes by.
What is your favorite Goucher memory?
Completing the restoration of the springhouse behind the Psychology Annex with the help of three dozen colleagues.