2018 Best & Brightest: Brianna Riggs, Lehigh University

Brianna Riggs

Lehigh University

“I am an intrinsically motivated extroverted introvert who loves to travel, learn, and eat.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been playing the clarinet for almost 14 years and have performed in Carnegie Hall.

Hometown: Levittown, New York

High School: W.T. Clarke High School

Major: Double Major in Finance and Marketing

Minor: Entrepreneurship

Favorite Business Course: FIN 336 – Real Estate Finance with Professor Price

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular activities: Lehigh University Marching 97, Lehigh University Wind Ensemble, Lehigh University Philharmonic Orchestra, Lehigh University TRAC Fellow, Women in Business
Leadership roles: Rank leader and Drill Writer for the Lehigh University Marching 97
School awards and honors: Deans List for Fall 2016, Spring 2017, and Fall 2017, and the 2016 Tauck Scholarship

Where have you interned during your college career?

Summer after Freshman Year (Summer 2015)
– Intern/Researcher at Lehigh University LaunchBayC Student Idea Accelerator in Bethlehem, PA – Conceptualized, designed, and built a handheld consumer device that determined the degree of spoilage and quality of meat. Gained valuable technical hands-on experience with SolidWorks software, 3D printing, and creating polymers in chemistry laboratory, as well as the business aspect of entrepreneurship and product development.

Summer after Sophomore Year (Summer 2016) – Intern at The European eCommerce and Omni-Channel Trade Association (EMOTA) in Brussels, Belgium – Participated in lobbying efforts at the 2016 European Union Plenary Session in Strasbourg, France. Met with members of the European Parliament to discuss and provide recommendations on their directives for the European Union (EU) Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy, specifically concerning geoblocking, parcel delivery, and consumer legislation. Researched and created the County Fact Sheet that provided an overview of digital economies, consumer legislations, and trustmarks for each country in the European Union. Reported directly to Head/ Secretary General of EMOTA. I was awarded the 2016 Lehigh University Tauck Scholarship to intern at EMOTA for 6 weeks and then take 4 weeks of marketing classes through the Lehigh in Belgium program.

Summer after Junior Year (Summer 2017) – Finance Intern at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, NJ – I worked for the Consumer sector of the company, but specifically as finance support for the GFO Marketing – WW OTC team. I developed a Global Costing Model to enable OTC Marketing Business Partners to better estimate COGS for global projects during the Pre-Course Screen phase of product innovation. Worked closely with interdisciplinary functional partners in supply chain, finance, and marketing to consolidate the data. Model provided marketing team with increased exposure to financial data that increased their finance capabilities and transparency to costs associated with projects. Created a Travel & Entertainment (T&E) Reporting Model to assist the GFO Marketing Senior Financial Analysts in capturing actual employee expenses from the NA, LATAM, EMEA, and APAC regions. Developed a novel way to track expenses and identify variances between FBP, quarterly, and Latest Thinking budgets. Site Lead for the Consumer Organizations’ Annual Backpack Drive. Organized and coordinated the event for the George Street New Brunswick Office by recruiting volunteers to distribute the fundraiser materials and coordinating weekly set-up with site facilities. Exceeded backpack distribution target within two days, so increased and achieved the new target.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I will be working for Johnson & Johnson as an Associate Financial Analyst in their two-year, rotational Financial Leadership Development Program.

Who is your favorite professor? I’ve had so many great professors and it’s honestly very difficult to choose one, but I would have to say that the professor who has had the biggest impact on me was Professor Brennan. I had him for MGT 143 and he taught me so much about humanity when managing people. Managing people is all about knowing people’s incentives and motivations and knowing how to relate to them. I’ve been able to take what he’s taught me and apply it in all aspects of my life.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? My favorite aspects of Lehigh’s business school are the breadth of knowledge that you get in all areas of business as well as the opportunities to apply what you learned outside of the classroom. I really like how the first two years are spent learning about the basics in each of the business functions. So even though I am majoring in Finance and Marketing, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in areas like Supply Chain, Accounting, Management, Business Information Systems, and even Business Law. Additionally, Lehigh’s business school really encourages you to apply what you’ve learned in areas outside of the classroom, so they encourage and help all students to either study abroad, intern, participate in research, or get involved in other clubs and extracurricular activities.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My biggest advice is don’t get involved in business just to make money. Instead, get involved in business if you love to work hard and watch things grow. Making money is great, but there is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than seeing your hard work contribute to something even bigger than profits in the long run. Running a business is like playing a game, and strategy takes time. But watching it be put into place and grow is the best feeling.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Architecture. I’ve always loved houses and buildings and I find it to be a beautiful blend of art and engineering.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The people who influenced me the most to pursue business in college are my parents and one of my high school teachers, Mr. Joseph Pavia. Both of my parents started and grew their own businesses, so I’ve been around the entrepreneurial spirit my whole life. Since both of my parents’ businesses were small and self-run, I really learned to appreciate each business component and how they all interrelate with each other. My high school teacher also influenced me because he encouraged me to take my first marketing class in high school and join the business club called DECA. Although my parents introduced me to business, I wouldn’t have learned about my passion for business and my ability to become a business leader without him.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of receiving the Lehigh University Tauck Scholarship for the Summer of 2016. It is a very prestigious award that is only gifted to a few undergraduate business students each year, and I was lucky enough to have been awarded it. It was a $10,000 scholarship that I used to spend 10 weeks abroad (from end of May 2016 to beginning of August 2016) in Belgium. The first 4 weeks were spent in Leuven, Belgium in which I took two, 3-credit marketing classes through the Lehigh in Belgium program. The following 6 weeks were spent in Brussels, Belgium in which I lived alone in the city, without speaking the native languages, and interned at EMOTA. It was an incredible experience that helped me grow as a business person and human in general. I became more courageous and outgoing, and learned about my passion for international business and traveling. Without the Tauck Scholarship, I wouldn’t have had the money or support to experience what I experienced or become the business leader that I am today.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? This is a tough question because I am very happy with the education that I have received and the resources that are available to students. I think one thing that I would change about the business school is to help students learn more about managing their personal finances and investment decisions. Also, maybe more assignments or classes that focus on Excel. You can never get enough knowledge or practice with these things.

Which classmate do you most admire? I really admire one of my classmates and best friends, Rachel Gevirtz. Not only is she an amazing, loyal friend, but she is on of the most brilliant and hard-working people I know. Her diligence inspires me to always put my all into everything I do, and she has taught me a lot about perseverance.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d like to thank my parents the most for everything I’ve accomplished because they’ve dedicated their lives to helping me and giving me the resources I need to be successful. Rather than holding me back or telling me what to do, they’ve always supported me in everything I’ve done and have encouraged me to follow my dreams. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.

What would your theme song be? The Planets” by Holst because it has so many different movements which encapsulate the many highs and lows of life.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? To work and live abroad for a few years and to get my MBA.

Favorite book: Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

Favorite movie: (500) Days of Summer

Favorite vacation spot: Block Island, Rhode Island

What are your hobbies? I really enjoying playing the clarinet, playing tennis, travelling, and hiking. I also really enjoy the game Kan Jam, and you can usually find me playing it on the front lawn on a nice, sunny day.

What made Brianna such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“I had the good fortune of meeting Brianna during her sophomore year (Fall 2015) in my Principles of Marketing course. Brianna immediately stood out, due to her combination of intellect, curiosity and passion. She is an extremely well-rounded, thoughtful and humble person. Here at Lehigh University we often speak of our founder, Asa Packer, and his legacy of leadership with a strong moral compass. Brianna exemplifies Asa Packer’s legacy of leadership through hard work and determination coupled with being a well-rounded global citizen with a commitment to others. She truly leads by example.

From an academic perspective, she has excelled as a dual major in Finance and Marketing. Her outstanding academics, coupled with her humility, helped her land a coveted Associate Financial Analyst internship with Johnson & Johnson. She has pushed herself to better understand her world through our Lehigh in Belgium study abroad program, and then by interning in Brussels at the European Multi-channel and Online Trade Association. She has done all of this while maintaining a strong commitment to others. For example, she has undertaken a TRAC Writing Fellow here at Lehigh. In this role she shares her passion for writing with other students providing guidance on their writing. Most noteworthy, she approaches her role as an opportunity to help each student build confidence in their own writing skills. With all of this, it would be easy to wonder how she has time for anything else. However, Brianna is truly well-rounded, having a passion for music, being a part of Lehigh University’s philharmonic orchestra, wind ensemble and the pride of Lehigh, our Marching 97.

I am so thankful for having the opportunity of getting to know Brianna over these last few years. She is one of those special people, whose intellect, curiosity and passion is infectious.”

David A. Griffith, Ph.D.
Department Chair
Iacocca Chair and Professor of Marketing
Department of Marketing
College of Business and Economics
Lehigh University