Catchin’ Up with Peter Coats
Class Year: 2009
Major at MC: International Business
Senior Thesis Topic: The Recession and Its Effect on Dubai
Current Town/City of Residence: Salt Lake City, Utah
Occupation: Business Development for InsideOut Development, a leadership development company that provides management training solutions to increase engagement and accountability.
Family: Kathryn Coats; mom; Ken Tuck ’54 and Sara Tuck, grandparents
Describe your career path since graduating from MC.
One of the biggest reasons I chose Maryville College was because of the emphasis it places on international course work and humanitarian service. While there, I received the Bonner Scholarship and studied international business. I studied, worked and did thesis research in seven developing countries. Candidly, the opportunities to go abroad at Maryville College changed my life. Prior, I had no experience outside the country and could not imagine living in a foreign country, especially one where English was not spoken. After my freshman year, I took two years off where I learned Spanish and served a Spanish-speaking mission on the border of Texas and Mexico. Doing so prepared me for studying international business, and it was then that I grew to love working in developing countries.
After graduating, I leveraged my experience at Maryville by working with several nonprofits in a variety of roles: fundraising; shooting documentaries; and by taking 50 young professionals on multiple occasions to Kenya, Guatemala and Peru to provide sustainable humanitarian service in remote communities.
In 2009, I worked in Ghana with the Carter Center and Rotary International, shooting documentaries on the eradication of the Guinea Worm Disease in Ghana (it was eradicated from the country the next year) and providing training on water sanitation and well maintenance. I worked with a man named Walter Hughes, a Methodist pastor who worked at AOL until it was bought out and he decided to retire at age 39 to focus on humanitarian projects. The two of us worked in over 30 villages across Ghana, traveling in a UN vehicle and eating nothing but bread and water for weeks at a time.
There were some touching moments on the trip: Giving shoes to the shoeless; filling our SUV with 50 soccer balls to give at each well we worked on; giving medical supplies to the Ghanaian surgeons, and at one point seeing the cashflow from friends when I shared on Facebook that I had met a medical student with Hepatitis B in need of an expensive treatment in order to return to school. (We were able to fund all of his treatment.)
After returning from work with the Carter Center in Ghana, I was recruited by InsideOut Development, where I do consultative sales and marketing to Fortune 1000 companies. It’s been a great company with a phenomenal culture and has given me invaluable experience! After 3.5 years, I still love where I work!
Describe your job or a typical day “in the office.”
The bulk of most days at InsideOut are spent advising large organizations on leadership development strategies and methodologies for their teams. Most conversations revolve around increasing employee engagement, accountability and retention. Everyday, I help change the culture of some of the largest organizations in the country. It’s a lot of fun.
In the evenings, I volunteer for an NGO called Singular Humanitarian that takes young professionals to developing countries to provide sustainable humanitarian aid. I help plan expeditions to developing countries, as well as market to young professionals. Recently, I was invited to speak at Brigham Young University to discuss our organization, as well as work with some advertising students on strategies to target recent college grads.
What has been your most exciting/enjoyable professional experience to date?
Professionally, I’ve seen amazing changes in people and organizations while at InsideOut. One of my favorite experiences was watching a mid-level leader at a large credit card company have a positive experience with our content. She was able to successfully use it to help her kids and her colleagues. Over the course of a year, she shared these experiences with her superiors and because of her experiences, we ended up training thousands of her colleagues how to coach, motivate each other and address difficult conversations. The most exciting and enjoyable experiences in my life have come while giving back: Documenting the Guinea Worm Disease prevention effort and seeing cases of the disease reduced from 3,300 to 8; joining other young Americans (who were working on a reforestation project at the time) to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for a community in the Andes of Peru.
How did your MC experience prepare you for your vocation and/or life?
I cannot say “thank you” enough to the faculty and staff members at Maryville College who lead amazing programs that teach young people amazing skills in life. One of my favorites was Mountain Challenge, which uses outdoor recreation to teach leadership and communication skills. Honestly, it was as a student staff member at Mountain Challenge that I began to understand what it means to be a leader: Serving others and helping people go beyond what they think is possible. If not for Mountain Challenge, I would not have pursued a career in leadership development.
The Bonner Scholars program not only showed me the world, it changed the way I see it. Bonner Scholars who complete their service hours during the school year receive a stipend to cover travel and living expenses on an international trip of their choice each summer. I studied and did volunteer work in Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador Dubai, China and India.
Maryville prepared me for my vocation by giving me experiences to work abroad, serve abroad, study foreign cultures and economies, as well as provided phenomenal resources to make me feel safe leaving the country for the first time. I know for a fact that if I had not gone to Maryville, I would not be involved in so many international development initiatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America, nor would the focus of my career goals center on making a difference in the world.
Since graduating from MC, what has made you the most proud?
I’m an expedition leader for a couple NGOs, and I get to meet and work with phenomenal people from all over the United States and around the world. I find incredible joy and excitement working with others to overcome unbelievably difficult problems in developing countries. Watching others get jazzed up when they feel the spirit of giving back invigorates me and keeps me grounded on what is truly important in life.
What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
Sailing, snow skiing, wake surfing and scuba diving.
Professionally or personally, what’s still on your “bucket list”?
- I’d like to get my captain’s license and sail through the Panama Canal.
- Go salsa dancing in Cuba.
- Start a school or university in a developing country so that more young people can have access to better opportunities.
What’s your best memory from your years as a student at MC?
I have so many!
- Great practical jokes! I’ll never forget one April Fools… I put a note on my Cultural Anthropology class door, asking everyone to “Please remove your shoes before entering the classroom.” The students all assumed we were studying something in relationship to Indian culture, and so everyone took their shoes off. The professor was already in the class and couldn’t figure out why students were wiggling their toe socks at her and talking about feet.
- Studying nomadic yak herding life in Tibet with Dr. Scott Henson. I’ll never forget riding horseback on a wooden saddle to find our camp; watching Blake Chasteen ’10 and Blake Vandevender ’10 catch flies with chopsticks; eating food cooked over a “yak chip” fire; learning how to use a squatty potty; watching in fascination as the yak herders were able to make use of every part of a yak for clothes, leather, food, utensils and as a firewood substitute; riding the Mag Lev bullet train; and climbing the Great Wall of China.
- The many hours Dr. Lee Davis put in teaching me how to write. That man has more patience than Job… and I’ll never forget him.
- Getting private tutoring from Dr. John Gallagher on how to solve case studies and pitch ideas to venture capitalists at Princeton’s Business Today Conference.
- Studying in India with Dr. Robert Bonham. I enjoyed learning meditation techniques at an Ashram, playing cricket with the local kids, riding an elephant through the jungle, seeing wild tigers and elephants and experiencing the Taj Mahal.
Complete this sentence: I’m glad Maryville College …
still has professors who take their students to lunch. I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know my professors on a personal level and get involved with their projects. This past summer – four years after graduating – Dr. Scott Brunger found me on LinkedIn and while driving to California, he stopped in Utah and took me to lunch! My friends and family were shocked … and so was I!
Complete this sentence: My classmates may be surprised to learn that …
the “Mormon kid” on campus finally moved to the “mothership!” If you like to ski, come to Utah and check out the best snow on Earth! It would be fun to catch up and hit the slopes with a Maryville alum!