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Three young alumnae on how Terry shaped their career

Through the decades, successful Terry women have made a point to pay it forward
Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 3:09pm
Gabe Vodicka
Young alumnae

A century ago, Anne Ruth Moore Crawford became the first female graduate from UGA’s business school, then known as the School of Commerce. Thousands of women have followed in her footsteps, climbing the ranks at major corporations and starting companies of their own. Many of these graduates make a point to pay it forward, guiding and advising the Terry students who will become tomorrow's business leaders.

Three outstanding young alumnae explained how their Terry experience shaped how they approach their career.

‘Ask for what you want’

As an Institute for Leadership Advancement Leadership Fellow, Nina McCallie (BBA ’17, above left) helped organize and host lectures as part of the Terry Leadership Speaker Series. When the accomplished guests opened up about their lives and careers, McCallie was all ears. “I was a sponge,” she said.

“Terry taught me to think more critically about what it meant to show up as a leader and truly make an impact. I was constantly challenged to refine my leadership skills, to think bigger and to stretch beyond my comfort zone.”

McCallie, a client solutions manager for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, now makes a point to share with female business students two key lessons she learned at Terry and in the corporate world.

“The first is to be confident in who you are, what you value and why you’re here, because challenges will come and circumstances will change, but clear alignment on who you are and what’s most important to you will equip you to better face those challenges,” she said.

The other piece of advice? “Advocate for yourself, because no one will care about your career progression or your personal growth more than you. … Proactively seek out new opportunities to push yourself and ask for what you want, because if you don’t, no one else will.”

International inspiration

For Sonika Lakhwani (BBA ’17, above center), the most unforgettable experience during her time at Terry took place halfway around the world.

Selected to participate in a global internship program with KPMG the summer before her senior year, Lakhwani packed her bags for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and set out to soak up an international business adventure.

“Moving to a new country with a cohort of three other people and starting a new job was the most exciting and challenging experience of my career,” said Lakhwani, now a senior associate with the firm. “I was challenged to grow professionally and personally by learning new business norms, exploring a different and beautiful culture and establishing cross-border relationships.”

Back home, she used her status as a Terry Ambassador to encourage students to broaden their thinking about what possibilities their education could unlock. “I was able to share my experience with my peers and highlight how Terry had prepared me to excel not only in my internship but further into my career.”

As enthusiastically as Lakhwani shares advice, she welcomes it. “Rely on your mentors,” she said. “They are advisers you can go to for advice, lean on through challenges and celebrate big accomplishments with. Their experiences will help you grow exponentially.”

A great journey

At Terry, Melissa McDonald (BBA ’16, above right) discovered it wasn’t just about deciding what type of work she would pursue after graduation — it was how she chose to approach it.

“There are a number of folks who can be really good at the same role as you,” said McDonald, a product manager for Starbucks. “But are you a good teammate? Do people want to spend time with you? Is your attitude consistent? The intangibles that make you a good addition to your team are the qualities Terry nurtures in and out of the classroom.”

In developing those qualities, McDonald came to understand her life and career as intertwined journeys. She fondly recalled a classroom visit from ILA founder and former Coca-Cola executive Earl T. Leonard.

“He explained that although it is healthy to seek purpose, your purpose can evolve with you. We are always changing, and we can strive to live intentionally while giving ourselves the grace to learn, reflect and grow.”

That can take many forms, said McDonald, but the important thing is forward motion. “Just take the next step. Don’t worry about three steps down the road. You run the risk of talking yourself out of doing anything at all. Just take the next step and do your best from there.”

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