Nathan Parlee

Nathan Parlee, MBA ’05

Department Manager at U.S. Steel

Nathan Parlee, MBA ’05 has advanced through the ranks at U.S. Steel because of his excellence in both technical and interpersonal skillsHe now manages inventory teams, who track materials from the mines and throughout the manufacturing and delivery process, but the job is not all about numbers and data. “We have to know the process and track inventory accurately in order to execute good business decisions,” Nathan says. “We advise and deal with a variety of people. To be successful, you have to learn when to be assertive, when to relent, and when to adjust accordingly.” He says that Valpo’s MBA program — which he completed while working full-time — equipped him with the perfect blend of the kind of hard and soft skills he needs in his work. Nathan’s job involves teaching these types of skills to others. For example, in 2009, many of his more experienced colleagues opted to retire. Suddenly, he was called on to teach younger hires about the production process and the interpersonal dynamics around it. For him, that type of work is a joy. “I like to be in situations where what I am doing is making a difference, that what I’m doing matters to people,” Nathan says. “The steel industry is a fast-paced, complicated environment. When I can help young people understand the environment and build their own skills, then they can feel like they’re doing something that matters.” Nathan’s mentees remember his help years later. Some are now earning their MBAs, and they come back to him for feedback on projects and papers. He encourages colleagues to consider Valparaiso University’s program. “What Valpo calls ‘values-based leadership’ has really helped me resolve conflicts and see what’s important to the people I’m working with,” he says. “From that perspective, I’d say that anyone could benefit from getting their MBA at Valpo.”