2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Haley Parrin, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Haley Parrin

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Tenacious, compassionate and willing to get stuff done.”

Hometown: Edina, Minnesota

Fun fact about yourself: I have mastered the art of roasted chicken thanks to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

Undergraduate School and Degree:  University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), B.A. Business Communications & French

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  Optum Advisory Services, Consultant (Minneapolis and Charlotte)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Morgan Stanley, Investment Banking Summer Associate (New York)

Where will you be working after graduation?  Morgan Stanley, Investment Banking Associate (New York)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:  

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  Serving as the first female president of the Investment Banking Club allowed me to carry the torch of a time-tested recruiting tradition to guide the first-year class in their recruiting journeys while demonstrating that women have an important role in the future of financial services.

I am incredibly proud that my team and I helped place the Class of 2022 into internships at top firms including at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Evercore, as well as see a few of them earn firm-sponsored diversity fellowships to help fund their degrees.

Few moments made me prouder this year than hearing from a student that they were extended the offer that they worked so hard to receive and that the club was critical to getting them there.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  Working with a start-up clinic and health insurer while a consultant with Optum Advisory Services challenged me to learn quickly and demonstrate empathy and excellence in the work that I did. I started as a sales operations analyst and progressed to leading an initiative to make hundreds of member-facing communications more intuitive and accessible. Earning increasing responsibility, receiving consistent client recognition, and having a real impact on peoples’ lives in such a short period of time alongside one of the best teams in healthcare was incredibly gratifying.

Why did you choose this business school?  UNC Kenan-Flagler had the right combination of academic rigor and collegial community that I hoped to find in an MBA program. I wanted to be able to build my financial skillset while working alongside peers without sharp elbows. Recruiting for investment banking at UNC Kenan-Flagler produced some of the most meaningful friendships and professional relationships of my MBA career, which reaffirmed my decision that the UNC Kenan-Flagler community was the best fit for me.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Paige Ouimet, Professor of Finance, has a knack for illustrating corporate finance concepts in a non-exclusive way, truly demonstrating what it means to educate and include students of varied interests and backgrounds in the topics that she teaches.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? UNC Kenan-Flagler MBAs have our own version of “Cheers” at a downtown Chapel Hill establishment. Many of us elected to stay in Chapel Hill throughout the pandemic despite classes going online. It’s been great to have a home base to meet up with classmates in a socially distanced way since we aren’t able to connect in the same way on campus.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would engage more deeply in the Chapel Hill community. Living as a student in Chapel Hill is a fleeting gift, and I wish I would have given more back while still a student. So much of my experience focused on professional development, it would have been worthwhile to also spend more time in the community.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Gender parity at UNC Kenan-Flagler is lower than at peer schools, but I never found it to hinder my ability to exceed my goals and have a lasting impact on the community. In fact, the majority of student leaders in my class are incredibly capable and intelligent women. We lead clubs and organizations, manage student-run investment funds, initiate and guide necessary community conversations, and care deeply about how this program is working to be more inclusive of all members of our community.

What surprised you the most about business school? I had no idea how many professional opportunities would be accessible to me as a woman in this program. If I had been told before business school that I would be transitioning from healthcare consultant to investment banker at one of the top firms in the world, I would not have believed it. The UNC Kenan-Flagler program and alumni network allowed me to explore my interests in a decisive way to help me achieve professional goals that I did not believe were within reach prior to starting the program.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was myself – the most effective way to give yourself an edge is to know your story and be genuine in telling it an articulate and compelling way.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Je’nique Harewood is a courageous force who works tirelessly to make UNC Kenan-Flagler genuinely inclusive and leave this community better than she found it. She is one of the co-founders of the Black Business Student Association, which actively engages our community in necessary conversations about race and how we as a community can act to create change at UNC Kenan-Flagler. She is a warm, brilliant colleague who I am proud to call classmate and friend.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The shift to an online environment certainly was not ideal; however, the UNC Kenan-Flagler community demonstrated resilience in the face of an unprecedented challenge and leveraged its assets as a top online program to smooth the transition to online education. Students also found ways to strengthen relationships outside of the classroom, which made a world of difference.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Growing up I watched my dad make decisions as a business leader throughout the financial crisis and I experienced the impacts of many of those decisions as a member of his family. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp the gravity of the situation, but going to business school has put a lot of memories into context and given us lots to talk about. I am incredibly grateful that I have an opportunity to pursue an education because of the sacrifices my dad made throughout his life and career.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Work internationally (preferably somewhere that I can leverage my French skills) and be in a position where my career supports me in dedicating time and resources to causes that I care about such as education for women and Parkinson’s awareness and research.

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

“As Investment Banking Club president, Haley led the club through a pandemic, further complicated by a significantly larger cohort of interested students while investment banking internship spots were generally fewer. Evidence of the impact of her work is that we have a higher number of students securing investment banking internships than last year and we have students recruited to premier Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Evercore.

Haley went above and beyond typical Investment Banking club president duties and took the lead on collaborating with the other five finance clubs – Corporate Finance, Investment Management, Private Wealth Management, Private Equity and Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital – further bolstering our finance program. She also actively advocated on the behalf of her fellow career club presidents when needed.

She established a new relationship with the Undergraduate Finance Society to help support our MBA students with less work experience and worked with Carolina Women in Business (CWIB) to increase the pipeline of female talent in the Investment Banking arena.

She is such a wonderful role model and inspiration to all students, particularly career switchers and women looking to pursue investment banking. Being a business communications and French undergraduate major with no prior finance experience did not hold her back: She was a top performer in investment banking recruiting and will join Morgan Stanley post-graduation.

As club adviser, I found working with Haley was a true pleasure! She was very collaborative, has a strong moral compass, and always stayed calm and collected during stressful times. She earned my trust very early on and has exceeded my expectations as club president.”

Pramita Saha
Senior Associate Director, Coaching, Career & Leadership for MBA & Alumni
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School








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