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Eric Konovalov understands effective leadership. He saw what it looks like during his eight-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He learned core leadership skills as a business management student at University of Maryland University College (UMUC), and he developed and honed his expertise over the course of his career in sales, executive coaching and leadership training.

“When I walked into the recruiter’s office, I wasn’t sure which branch to join. I just wanted to give back to the U.S. for all they’ve offered me. I love this country,” Konovalov said. “I honestly didn’t know much about it, but the Marines looked the coolest! Not a great reason, I suppose, but it was the right choice.”

Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, Konovalov came to the United States with his family when he was eight years old. Russian is his native tongue. Because so many of those fighting in Afghanistan were from Uzbekistan and other Russian-speaking countries, his ability to translate served him well.

During his last year in the military, Konovalov enrolled at UMUC, keeping a promise he had made to his mother when she signed for him to join the Marines as he was only 17 at the time. She agreed to let him enter the military if he promised to get a college degree. He chose UMUC and earned a Bachelor of Science in business management in 2010.

“Literally, the day I got out, she said, ‘When are you signing up for classes?’ The degree [program] at UMUC developed an important skill in me that I didn’t have before: holding myself accountable,” Konovalov said.

“The military is wonderful, but the military is regimented. They tell you everything to do, and in the real world you don’t have that anymore. The way the courses are structured [at UMUC], it’s all on you. You have to be responsible and manage your time wisely.”

Upon graduating, Konovalov began a career in sales, first as a representative at the medical device company Stryker, then as Maryland sales manager at Capitol Office Solutions before moving to the document management service Swiss Post Solutions, where he became a national accounts sales executive.

“My passion is to help people grow. The days that make me feel the best are the ones where I can help people grow in their leadership, sales, and personal development,” said Konovalov. “I followed that yellow brick road and joined the John Maxwell Team and got certified as a

coach, leadership development trainer and speaker. Coaching C-level executives is interesting because most of them have higher degrees and more experience than I have, but it’s very gratifying.”

Today, Konovalov is director of sales at DCA Imaging Systems. He’s the busy father of two boys. He coaches his sons’ flag football team, has authored a book on sales that is slated for publication later this year, and is an avid reader who’s on pace to reach his goal of reading 52 books in one year.

“It’s always about challenging yourself,” said Konovalov. “Think through what you truly want, then do it.”

Also Featured During Military Appreciation Month

>In-depth profiles of UMUC Alumnus and retired U.S. Navy officer Gary Hayslip and UMUC Alumnus and retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Vernon Green, who both made successful transitions from military to civilian life. Read the UMUC Global Media Center posts:

>UMUC-Facebook Live interviews on the challenges facing veterans making the transition from military to civilian and student life—and the strategies and resources that can help them gain a strong foothold in the world beyond the military. The interviews featured Yvette Branson, clinical psychologist and coordinator of the U.S. Veterans Administration’s Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) initiative and UMUC Alumnus and retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Vernon Green. Watch the replays.