A Liberal Arts Resume: By Gerry Boyle '78, Illustrations by Leo Pando

 

Colby Magazine: Winter 2003

Underhill is executive vice president and co-head of the Capital Transactions Group of the national real estate investment firm Shorenstein Company, L.P. Working from an office 20 stories above the restaurant, he is responsible for "sourcing, underwriting, negotiating and closing capital transactions nationwide." Translation: buying and selling $100-million-plus skyscrapers.

But that morning Underhill wasn't talking about multi-million-dollar deals. He was talking about writing--concise writing that conveys ideas clearly. "People say to me, "What were you, an English major?'" Underhill said. "Because I say to them, "You can't write that. That's atrocious.'"

He wasn't an English major. He majored in economics but also studied chemistry and went on to get his M.B.A. at Northwestern University. But Underhill has vivid memories of his initial conference freshman year with his professor in English composition, R. Mark Benbow. Bearded and austere, Benbow looked up from Underhill's first attempt at an essay and said, "Is English your native language?" It was, and Underhill, only momentarily stunned, redoubled his efforts at writing that year, under Benbow's tutelage. Now, after more than 20 years in the real-estate investment business, including stints in Chicago and London, it's Underhill who stresses to colleagues the importance of good writing in their work. "They might say, "That's not important,' but it is important," he said. "It's how you convey your intelligence."

The preceding anecdote might state the obvious: you go to college to learn to be a better writer, thinker, problem solver. Later the experience, knowledge and problem-solving skills are brought to bear no matter what career you choose.

As news of alumni filters back to Mayflower Hill, from Wall Street or Silicon Valley, the number and variety of business careers that have followed four years at Colby is striking. What follows is an entirely unscientific sampling of Colbians in business. One year they're studying Melville and the next . . .

 

 

 

   
   


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