2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Lia Parker-Belfer, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Lia Parker-Belfer

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“An empathetic, inquisitive, and optimistic leader committed to solving problems and creating cultures of belonging.”

Hometown: Brookline, MA

Fun fact about yourself: This past October, I ran the 125th Boston Marathon. Running in the Boston Marathon was a dream come true, particularly because I ran with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Pediatric Cancer Team. Sadly, like so many others, my family has been affected by cancer—in August 2019, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I dedicated my run for my mom and my 6-year-old MGH patient partner who has leukemia. Their strength and resilience in their respective fights against cancer serve as my constant inspiration. It was an honor running for them and I’m grateful to my family, friends, peers, and former colleagues for helping raise $10,500 for the MGH Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Hamilton College, BA in Government

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Deloitte, Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Uber, Strategy & Planning MBA Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduating from Tuck, I will complete my final year of graduate school for my Master of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Ambassador, Tuck Admissions
  • Associate, Center for Business, Government, & Society
  • Board Member, West Central Behavioral Health
  • Co-Chair, 2022 Tuck Winter Carnival
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Co-Chair, Tuck Student Board
  • MBA Fellow, Center for Digital Strategies
  • Founding Peer Support Counselor, Peer Support Program
  • Founding Student Leader and Co-Master of Ceremonies, “DEI: Make It Your Business Summit” (2021 inaugural, cross-school MBA DEI Summit)
  • Podcast Founder and Host (Seasons 1-3), If You Knew Me
  • Tuck Community Consultant, Careers Connecting Learning in the Community (CLiC)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Starting grad school during the COVID-19 pandemic made meeting peers and building community challenging. Recognizing that doing so would require an extra level of intentionality and creativity, I created a podcast called If You Knew Me. Each episode starts with a current student finishing the statement, “If you knew me, you would know…” and involves them sharing something about themselves that their classmates may otherwise never uncover. If You Knew Me (IYKM) aims to deepen understandings, broaden perspectives, illuminate surprising connections, and spark meaningful conversation among Tuck’s diverse student body.

I was blown away by the classmates I interviewed and am proud of what IYKM has accomplished. Given the podcast’s mission to deepen student connections and foster a culture of belonging at Tuck, it’s incredibly rewarding to hear from classmates who say the podcast helped them connect with other Tuckies. This ranged  from prospective students who say it enabled them to get to know Tuck to graduate students in other programs who say they hope to start similar podcasts at their respective schools. I’m grateful for everyone who helped make IYKM a reality. If you want to check out the podcast, you can access episodes here.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I worked at Deloitte, the firm’s training and development program involved sending new hires to their Leadership Center to participate in a week-long training called Analyst Fundamentals. In 2019, I was nominated by firm leadership to serve as a peer coach for the February delivery of Analyst Fundamentals. As a peer coach, I supported 92 new hires’ transition to the firm and directly trained 19 new hires. At the end of the week, I received the Top Peer Coach award based on the new hires’ feedback.

While at Deloitte, I was blessed to work with numerous people who invested in my personal and professional development. For me, the Top Peer Coach award was rewarding, not just for the public recognition, but because it signified that I had made a difference in the lives of new hires. The award affirmed that I was living my commitment to helping others and beginning to pay forward the support others had given me.

Why did you choose this business school? I subscribe to the maxim, “It’s all about the people”. I let it guide my personal and professional decisions. When researching business schools, I was struck by the Tuck community. Throughout the application process, numerous Tuckies and Tuck alumni offered their time and networks to help me learn more about the program. Their generosity and our conversations illuminated what makes Tuck so special—the community. Tuck’s students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni are intelligent and kind. What’s more, they are equally committed to growing personally as they are to supporting others’ growth.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Emily Blanchard. Prior to coming to Tuck, I had taken one economics course in college, and I can confidently say it was not my best class. Starting business school, I was nervous about taking more economics classes. However, Professor Blanchard not only made studying economics approachable, but also enjoyable. While she is currently on academic leave to serve as Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of State (so exciting!), Tuck is beyond fortunate to have such a knowledgeable and skilled teacher educating students on global economics.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I had spent more time getting to know Tuck professors, staff, and administrators. These integral members of the Tuck community have fascinating backgrounds and interests—for example, by going on a walk with Professor Leslie Robinson, I learned more about her passion for cycling, hiking, and Lord Hobo beer. Tuck professors, staff, and administrators genuinely want to get to know students on a personal level, and I would highly recommend taking them up on their offer.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I sometimes hear the myth that small programs provide students with fewer opportunities to pursue their interests because of resource limitations. This has not been my experience at all. At Tuck, I have been offered countless opportunities to pursue my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Last spring, I wanted to partner with students from Darden, Harvard Business School, Kellogg, Ross, and Wharton to plan and host the DEI: Make It Your Business Summit, the inaugural MBA DEI Summit. Tuck supported the effort wholeheartedly. In addition to finding the financial resources to help make the Summit possible, Tuck’s communications team dedicated countless hours to set up the Summit website and develop marketing materials. With the power of Tuck behind the effort, 600 attendees from 20 different countries spent an evening answering the important question: “As an MBA student, how can I help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion—in my life and at my future organization?”

What surprised you the most about business school? Business school brought out my entrepreneurial spirit. Through initiatives I’ve led and classes I’ve taken, I’ve nourished my insatiable curiosity, love of asking questions, and passion for imagining future possibilities. Thanks to my time at Tuck, I intend to continue exploring and embracing my interest in intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? When I was applying, I found a plethora of information online about Tuck’s application. I took advantage of Tuck’s extensive, publicly available resources, particularly Tuck’s blog posts and videos, to better understand Tuck’s essay questions. Using these resources took the guesswork out of figuring out what stories I wanted to highlight in my application.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Elizabeth (Liz) Smith T’22. Liz was in my fall study group and one of the first people I met at Tuck. Through working together on countless assignments, I saw first-hand how Liz embodies Tuck’s mission. Liz is truly a wise and decisive leader, always thinking critically about problems, taking the time to thoughtfully develop and articulate solutions, and bringing others along throughout execution. Additionally, she has given so much to Tuck’s community as a TuckTalks co-chair, Adam Smith Society co-chair, Tuck mentor, and Tuck Admissions ambassador. I admire Liz’s intelligence, integrity, authenticity, and compassion. I strive to emulate the way Liz solves problems and stands up for what she believes in. I feel privileged to call Liz my former study group team member, classmate, and dear friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While working at Deloitte and debating whether to pursue an MBA, I reflected on the skillsets I had developed to date and my future professional aspirations. As I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do after graduate school, I started to doubt if I was ready to pursue an MBA. Winny Chen, a close mentor and friend, gave me the confidence and push I needed to submit my applications. She said something along the lines of, “As a woman of color, I always support other woman of color pursuing higher education to advance their careers.”

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Over the course of my career, I’d like to explore starting my own company and running for public office.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? Before the pandemic, when considering varied possible future career steps, I often thought, “I can always do that later.” However, the pandemic has changed my outlook. I now ask myself, as others have, “Why not now?” and “If not now, when?”. It was this questioning that persuaded me to enroll in business school, even as states began to issue stay-at-home orders.

What made Lia Parker-Belfer such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“It is an honor to recommend Lia Parker-Belfer. Lia embodies everything you hope to see in a leader. She is selfless, wise, and driven, while also being thoughtful, kind, and collaborative.

While at Tuck, Lia was elected by her classmates to serve as the DEI co-chair on the Tuck Student Board.  In this position, Lia worked tirelessly to promote inclusivity and belonging through tactical and strategic efforts. Tactically, Lia prepared numerous activities to build a more vibrant and welcoming community. These activities ranged from bringing Jerry Won to campus to speak about the Asian American Pacific Islander experience to designing creative MLK Jr. Day programming involving trivia and a winter-themed fundraiser. Strategically, as a member of the DEI Strategic Review Advisory Team, Lia worked with Dia Draper, Assistant Dean for DEI, to develop the Tuck DEI Action Plan. Lia was also a founding student leader and co-Master of Ceremonies of the inaugural, cross-school MBA DEI Summit. Students often say they want to leave Tuck in better shape than they found it. Lia has consistently shown this through her actions and can graduate knowing she has done just that.

Lia’s care of her fellow classmates and the larger community is unparalleled. Lia took deliberate action to foster connection and dialogue among her classmates, a quality that is more critical than ever given the state of the world. Lia founded and hosted the popular Tuck podcast If You Knew Me and served as a founding peer support counselor through Tuck’s Peer Support Program. Her commitment extended beyond Tuck as she served a board member for the West Central Behavioral Health, a nonprofit community mental health care provider in our area that works to ensure access to advanced counseling, treatment, and support for people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Lia and I have no doubt that Lia will make a positive impact on the world. Her passion and commitment to Tuck has been unmatched and we are truly lucky to have her as a leader in our community.”

Lauren Morse
Associate Director, MBA Program

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