Oliver Brooks ’07 developed a fascination for business in high school when a neighbor and mentor first explained the stock market to him. “I was intrigued by how business touches everything in our lives, from the big brands we all recognize to lesser-known companies that manufacture everything from plumbing products to playground equipment.”
Brooks now serves as general manager of the North Texas aggregates business for Martin Marietta, a leading supplier of heavy building materials in the United States. “Most people may not think about building materials every day,” Brooks says, “but they are absolutely essential to our everyday life by supporting the construction of roads, bridges, homes, schools, offices, and more.” At Martin Marietta, Brooks has worked on teams responsible for acquiring and integrating another publicly-traded company in a $2.7 billion deal, updating the company’s five-year strategic plan, and cultivating an immersive safety-first work culture.
Brooks says his time as a Park Scholar aided his personal and professional growth immensely. As a student at NC State, he initially wasn’t sure what path he wanted to pursue, but ultimately chose to study business with a concentration in finance. He credits strong mentors for encouraging him to aim high and cites his relationship with his faculty mentor, Bill Sloan, and internships at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln Financial for being instrumental in his professional development.
He describes a conversation with Dr. Laura Lunsford, then-director of Park Scholarships, that prompted him to broaden his horizons. “We were meeting in her office in Nelson Hall discussing career paths and academic interests. I expressed interest in eventually obtaining an MBA and rattled off a list of local programs I was considering. She deliberately stopped me and said, ‘You know, people from NC State DO go to Harvard.’ That one conversation flipped the script for me and gave me the vision to think beyond the borders of North Carolina, where I had lived my whole life. A few years later, I shared this anecdote when asking Dr. Lunsford to write one of my recommendations for admission to Harvard Business School. Thank you, Dr. Lunsford, for your wisdom, mentorship, and support in enabling a truly transformative experience.”
After graduation and a few years working in investment consulting at Cambridge Associates, Brooks attended Harvard Business School and earned an MBA. “The experience served to cement my interest in business, increase my appreciation for opportunities that exist globally, and significantly expand my professional network,” Brooks says. He recalls the advice offered by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at his MBA graduation in 2012: “She recommended business careers that look more like ‘jungle gyms’ than ‘ladders’ given the broader range of experiences you can have through a diverse career. That analogy resonated with me, and coincidentally, my career has benefitted from developing a wide range of skills and relationships.”
Brooks’ time at NC State also had a deep impact on his life. “The highlights of my experience at NC State include my friendships with classmates, especially those in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity; study abroad in Lima, Peru; service abroad in Sri Lanka; and of course, football tailgates at Carter-Finley Stadium. Most importantly though, was meeting my future wife, Beth, who was also a business major at NC State. Today, we have been married for nine years and have three sons – Everett, Anderson, and Gray.”
Brooks advises current NC State students and Park Scholars to “focus on developing transferable skills, develop meaningful social and professional relationships, take on leadership roles, gain experience in whatever professional or academic pursuits are of interest to you, and have a lot of fun and enjoy each day you have in college.”