2019 Best & Brightest: Erica Hackett, University of Illinois (Gies)

Erica Hackett

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois

Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec crossed with Amy Santiago from Brooklyn 99.”

Fun fact about yourself: I studied abroad for two semesters—one in Milan, Italy and one in Sydney, Australia

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

High School: York Community High School

Major: Marketing and Management-International Business

Minor: Political Science

Favorite Business Course: BADM 300: Business Law—this course confirmed my interest in attending law school and I really enjoyed learning about how the law applies to business.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Girl Up UIUC, Co-Founder and Treasurer: We work through the United Nations Foundation to raise money to give women and girls around the world access to education and resources.
  • BUS 199 Business Honors Course Assistant: Help teach a class of 34 sophomores in the Business Honors Program, assisting with lesson planning and course administration.
  • Dean’s Student Advisory Board, Executive Board: We represent Gies students by serving as a liaison between students and faculty/administration, advising the deans and other stakeholders on strategies to improve the College.
  • Illinois Business Council, Active Member: Member of the premiere organization in Gies College of Business, which focuses on service, along with the professional development of its members.
  • 2018 Illinois Homecoming Court
  • ActGreen, VP-Marketing: Worked to promote Gies’ first green business organization.

Where have you interned during your college career?

Global Trade Controls Intern, The Boeing Company (Washington, DC)

Finance Intern, The Boeing Company (Seattle, WA)

Policy Advisor, Casten for Congress, US Congressional Campaign (Downers Grove, IL)

Finance Intern, Tammy for Illinois, US Senate Campaign (Chicago, IL)

Where will you be working after graduation? Currently recruiting in Washington, DC

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I’ve gained a new style of thinking—I now think much more deeply about business and its role in our society, and I find myself thinking about logistics and nuances that I never thought about before.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would tell them that you can’t go wrong with a business degree. It will teach you not just hard skills, like accounting and finance, but also so much about networking, people, and how the world works. Business majors are some of the coolest people I know. My classmates are interesting, worldly, and determined to make a difference, which is great energy to be surrounded by every day.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I’ve been surprised by the incredible opportunities majoring in business has given me. I knew that a business degree would open many doors for me, but the experiences I’ve had as a direct result of my business major have been beyond what I ever could have imagined. One such experience was when I got to travel with a small group of other Gies upperclassmen to Omaha, Nebraska to meet Warren Buffett. We had the chance to join business students from other schools to have a question and answer session with Warren Buffett, followed by a lunch. As part of the experience. we also got to tour the Nebraska Furniture Mart and Borsheim’s jewelry store. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I never could have imagined, and I even got to ask one of our group’s questions!

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Political Science. Ever since I took AP US Government and Politics in high school, I’ve had a passion for government and law, so if I wasn’t majoring in business, I would definitely be studying political science. In the coming years, I am looking forward to combining what I’ve learned from business school with my passion for political science to drive meaningful change in the world. I’m especially interested in the intersection of the public and private sectors and how the government interacts with business.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents strongly encouraged me to major in business, as they recognized what a practical degree it would be and how many new things it would teach me. They have both worked in business, and so they encouraged me to start out in business, and then if I didn’t like it, I could transfer to political science. Lo and behold, here I am four years later about to graduate with a business degree.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of serving for the past three years as the course assistant for the Business Honors Program freshman and sophomore classes. Serving in this capacity was an incredible opportunity to work with some of the most outstanding students coming into Gies, and it allowed me to get to know the students and learn from them. Over the past few semesters, I’ve had the chance to serve as a mentor to a few of the students, and I was able to share what I learned from my study abroad experiences to help them decide whether they should study abroad. I am happy to say that two of my mentees have already studied abroad, and more are planning on going abroad in the coming semesters! Course assisting was one of the most rewarding parts of my undergraduate experience, and I am proud that I was able to work with so many wonderful students.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Jack Lindquist. He is a fellow senior at Gies, and he has devoted the past three years to incoming Gies freshmen by serving as the student course manager for the Business 101 professional responsibility course. Every week, Jack and the other student course manager, Taylor Sledz, put in dozens of hours (at least 25 hours each, but probably more) to help run a course that every incoming Gies freshman takes. He would spend summers thinking of ways to improve the class, building Excel spreadsheets to improve the class’s final project, and coordinating logistics for the coming semester. In addition to his B101 responsibilities, he also devotes much of his time to his church, where he plays the organ and coordinates the music for the weekly masses. He gives 110% to everything he does, works hard to help others, and is one of the smartest people I know, and for this reason, Jack is the classmate I admire most.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most want to thank my parents for the successes that I’ve been fortunate enough to have. Nothing that I have achieved would have been possible without their love and support, from encouraging me to play sports while growing up to giving me access to a great education and phenomenal opportunities. I could not have asked for better parents, and I know they gave me the foundation for any success that I might have, both now and in the future.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Run for elected office
  2. Write and publish a book

What are your hobbies? Reading, writing, traveling, foreign languages, running, fitness, spending time with friends and family, and following a good TV show.

What made Erica such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“As a member of the Gies Business Honors Program, Erica Hackett is obviously a great student. I observed Erica in one-on-one, small group, and large classroom settings. Beyond raw intellect, Erica has the kind of poise and presence that brings people together. Her teammates loved and respected her. Erica has a great sense of humor. In every class session, she brought confidence that balanced thoughtful public contributions with grounded perspectives.

I encourage students to find ways to add value, and Erica demonstrated that well in the final group project. Going beyond the normal expectations of careful research and analysis, Erica visited the case company and produced a video with critical commentary that provided an insightful company update. This illustrated Erica’s personal touch that was both creative and thorough.

Overall, I see Erica as a natural leader and an outstanding representative of Gies College of Business.

Phil Anderson
Assistant Professor of Business Administration
Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign