There was no single “aha” moment that convinced Kim Parlett, MBA’04, to leave her job at a marketing firm and embrace a more rustic way of life. Rather, she says, it was a series of realizations during a 2009 horse-packing trip through Yellowstone Park that helped her make up her mind.
“I was continually struck by the beauty around me,” Parlett says. “It reminded me just how small my problems really were. You go for a hike under the big sky, and everything gets put into perspective.”
Today that big sky country is playing a big role in her career. As Manager of Lone Mountain Ranch, a Montana ranch specializing in family vacations, Parlett is responsible for helping guests enjoy the best that nature has to offer, including Nordic and downhill skiing, fly-fishing, horseback riding and tours of nearby Yellowstone.
“Out here they say you eat the scenery. That’s your salary,” she says. “You may not make a lot of money, but the real payment comes from being able to live in such an amazing place.”
While the setting for her new job is undoubtedly different from that of her corporate experience, which included stints at both General Motors Corp. and Miller Brewing Co., Parlett says there are a surprising number of similarities when it comes to the business itself. “Budgeting, forecasting, marketing and operations are a lot of what I do at Lone Mountain Ranch,” she says. “The frameworks you apply are the same whether you’re at a Fortune 500 company or a small mom-and-pop shop.”
Parlett credits Vanderbilt with helping her understand those frameworks more fully. In fact, her experience at Owen opened her eyes in much the same way that her Yellowstone trip did. “Before business school I felt like I was just a small piece of the pie at my company,” she says. “Vanderbilt sparked my interest in being more involved in all aspects of business.
“It really helped me see the bigger picture.”