2020 Best & Brightest: TJ Tucker, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

TJ Tucker

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Otherwise known as DJ TJ and the exponential version of “work hard, play hard.”

Fun fact about yourself: I designed and cut a 2-acre corn maze that was featured on “Animal Planet”! Here’s a picture for reference.

Hometown: Monroe, North Carolina

High School: Union Academy Charter School

Major: Business Administration

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College

School Awards and Honors:

  • Wayland H. Cato Scholarship (Four-year, full-tuition merit scholarship)
  • Frank Erving Young Jr. and Mae T. Young Undergraduate Study Abroad Merit Scholarship (a UNC Kenan-Flagler scholarship)
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler Assured Admit
  • University of Navarra’s International Case Competition, 3rd Place Recipient
  • University of Georgia SMIF Stock Pitch Competition, 3rd Place Recipient
  • UNC’s Undergraduate Finance Society Stock Pitch Competition, 1st Place Recipient
  • Dean’s List, every semester

Leadership Roles:

  • Internal Operations Director, Carolina Case Challenge
  • VP of Investments, Portfolio Management Team (~$60k student-managed investment fund)
  • Media & Telecom Sector Analyst, Portfolio Management Team (~$60k student-managed investment fund)
  • Ambassador, UNC Kenan-Flagler Ambassadors
  • Special Projects Intern, UNC Kenan-Flagler Undergraduate Business Program

Community Work:

  • Tutor, Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment

Where have you interned during your college career?

 CompanyLocationRole
Summer 2017Rodgers BuildersCharlotte, NCAccounting Intern
Summer 2018Wells Fargo SecuritiesCharlotte, NCSummer Investment Banking Analyst (Regional Investment Banking and Mergers & Acquisitions Groups)
Summer 2019J.P. MorganNew York, New YorkSummer Investment Banking Analyst (Healthcare Coverage Group)

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for J.P. Morgan after graduation as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Healthcare Coverage Group in New York City.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Coming from a small charter school in rural North Carolina, I was both excited and worried about coming to a much larger, public university like UNC-Chapel Hill. The idea of going to football games and being surrounded by thousands of students thrilled me, but I was scared that I wouldn’t find that smaller, “homey” place on campus. However, my business school became that for me. With a smaller student body and its own building, UNC Kenan-Flagler supplied the best of both worlds – the big campus feeling from UNC and a more intimate setting from the business school. Additionally, the smaller student population allows faculty and staff to build close, more personal relationships with students.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? All business in the world is based on a continuous stream of personal relationships and interactions. As a result, you should aim to make strong relationships with people every day – you never know when they might be the person you’re talking to across the table.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Business is so applicable to every other industry in the world. Try to find that intersection of business and your personal passion because that is where you’ll thrive. Pair your business major with another major/minor or try to utilize your business knowledge in clubs/hobbies that cross with personal passions!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Networking is a term mentioned in business school presentations across the country and preached throughout your time as an undergraduate business student. In high school, I wasn’t able to see its value, but now as a college senior the most surprising part about majoring in business is the power of networking. I’ve met with Carolina alumni in all parts of the world – in China, Spain, and all across the U.S. They’re across the table from you in interviews, connecting with you on LinkedIn, trying to hire you for their latest startup, or messaging you on Facebook just to catch up and get coffee. UNC Kenan-Flagler’s alumni network has been phenomenal – they’re generous, kind, and love promoting the advancement of Carolina students. I’m so excited to join such a powerful network at the end of this year and continue to impact the UNC community!

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am extremely proud of being a first-generation college student who received UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Cato Award, the business school’s largest undergraduate scholarship. Growing up in rural North Carolina – and without parents who went to college – I didn’t know if continuing my education past high school was the route I’d take. An even bigger concern was determining how I would pay for it. However, after hard work, many late nights, and an intensive interview process, I became the Cato recipient. Now, as a senior, I look back on this generous gift and often say, “I am so lucky” to my advisor, Jackie Frisch. However, she always replies, “Not lucky, you earned it.” Hearing this empowers me to strive to be better every day and make my donor’s generosity worthwhile. This award is by far my proudest achievement, and I only hope one day to be in my donor’s shoes to create my own endowment at Kenan-Flagler.

Which classmate do you most admire? Over the last almost eight semesters, few people have impacted my life and college experience more than Dhvani Bhatia. Her endless selflessness lifts up those around her and brings people together to achieve a common goal. We became fast friends and a powerful team during our first semester at UNC. Dhvani pushed me to be better every day, held me accountable, and (when I needed it) supported me in any way that she could.

The first time I got really sick at college, to the point of being bedridden, Dhvani brought me soup and made sure I got any necessary assignments from professors. It was my first time being sick away from home and I was scared of falling behind in classes. That week, Dhvani got me through it demonstrating that she not only cared about my well-being but also my success. My mom and I still reflect on how relieved she felt to know I had a friend like that watching out for me.

To this day, Dhvani still shines to me as one of the most selfless, kind, and team-oriented people I know. Perhaps the most important testament to her sense of teamwork, even after long project hours or having to pick up any slack, I’ve never heard Dhvani say one bad thing about a co-worker, teammate, or group member. She approaches each challenge with a positive and supportive attitude that makes the long hours on a project or event that much more enjoyable. Dhvani defines loyalty in that once you’re a part of her team, she will go endless lengths to take care of you.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Bonnie Griffin hired me when I was 12 years old and, from that moment, molded many of the attributes that make me the person I am today. She taught me accountability, time-management and customer service. Above all, her management style and general persona made me eager to over deliver. After 5+ years of working for her, the concept of “over-delivering” became a part of me. I love people to be happy with my work, but more so I aim to go far beyond their expectations. This mindset and level of work ethic are the core of my success in everything that I do or have done, and I owe that all to Bonnie Griffin.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Be a judge on Shark Tank
  • Be the campaign manager of the first female president (if that hasn’t already happened)

What are your hobbies? Anything related to music! I love DJing parties, weddings, bars, etc. I actually owned my own DJ business in high school. I’ve taken a few classes at UNC related to music production and mixing. If I’m not making music, I love listening to it, whether festivals, concerts or local bands playing in Carrboro (town next to Chapel Hill). To this day, I’ve gone to music festivals in more than six states and two countries!

What made TJ such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“TJ is the kind of student who changes the chemistry of the class. His curiosity and enthusiasm energize fellow students, and he elevates discussion with his insights. I’ve taught TJ in two different subjects, which has allowed me to see how thoughtful and bright he is in very different settings. In my ethics class, TJ took seriously the task of positioning himself as a business leader faced with difficult ethical choices. In the face of these hard choices, he was always willing to speak up and share his values with classmates, a contribution that takes a great deal of maturity and willingness to be vulnerable. In my strategy class, which is much more analytical, he is willing to ask the tough questions and share his reasoning, something that the rest of the class always benefits from. In both settings, he builds up the students around him and leads by example. I feel lucky to have known him here at UNC and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for TJ!”

Kristin Wilson
Clinical Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE TOP 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST BUSINESS MAJORS OF 2020