2018 Best & Brightest: Grace Cleland, Emory University (Goizueta)

Grace Cleland

Emory University (Goizueta)

High-energy business student armed with a color coded planner; respectful leader focused on helping others succeed.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve taken a slide down the Great Wall of China.

Hometown: Oakton, VA

High School: Flint Hill School

Major: Business Administration – Strategy & Management Consulting and Marketing 

Favorite Business Course: Marketing Consultancy Practicum, where students work on a consulting team to create an integrated marketing campaign for a real client

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society
  • Emory University 100 Senior Honorary
  • Mortar Board National Honor Society
  • Dean’s List
  • Student Body President, Goizueta BBA Council
  • President, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity
    • Regional President of the Year 2016, Chapter of the Year 2016
    • Carlton J. Siegler Scholarship
  • Lead Career Management Coach, Goizueta Career Management Center
  • Senior Marketing Fellow, Emory Office of Undergraduate Admission
  • honorCode ATL, Outreach Development Chair
  • Chief Financial Officer, Kappa Alpha Theta, Delta Zeta Chapter
    • Member of the Year 2016
  • Emory University Student Alumni Board

 Where have you interned during your college career?

Deloitte Consulting, Atlanta, GA, Strategy and Operations Consulting Summer Scholar

Cox Communications, Atlanta, GA, Sales Channel Strategy Intern

DCI Group, Washington, D. C., Public Affairs Research Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I am excited to join Deloitte Consulting as a Strategy and Operations Business Analyst in Atlanta after graduation.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I’ve learned to develop a sense of comfort with ambiguity. Before I started studying at Goizueta, I found the words “it depends” unsettling. Now, they’re part of my vocabulary as a product of the business school environment. Through coursework and client work and everything in between during my business studies, I’ve learned how to challenge myself to accept ambiguity and to trust that through initiative and insight, answers will come—and also to be comfortable when those answers change.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Know your strengths and seek out opportunities in business to build on them. I think too often people focus on improving their weak areas instead of investing in the things they love to do and are good at doing. Working to improve both areas is important. Ultimately, people are hired, promoted, and trusted with the “big stuff” because of what they can do well.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…English and creative writing, which is probably an uncommon answer here! I’ve always loved to write and think that quick writing requires clarity of thought that is critical to success in business. I also believe there is something very valuable to be learned from a liberal arts education; namely, it is the ability to take different types of learning in any subject (the decomposition of a chemical equation, the formula for a math problem, or the literary analysis of a novel, for example) and to apply those to real-world experiences and problems.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I’ve been surprised by the emphasis at Goizueta on social enterprise, and was encouraged by the idea coined by Goizueta professor Joey Reiman that companies can “do well by doing good,” and can have a purpose beyond the scope of the company’s revenue streams. The potential for businesses to create value beyond profit has been surprising and exciting to me as I prepare to join the professional workforce.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents were my greatest influences in my decision to pursue business. They encouraged me to be a self-starter and a resourceful problem solver, and affirmed my strengths in business. I also had a formative experience at age 15 when I got my first job at a neighborhood Hallmark franchise, and was able to learn customer relations and sales from a successful female entrepreneur. The opportunity to learn from her and the encouragement from my parents sparked my interest in business and my desire to study it at Goizueta.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my leadership as president of the Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, because it was such a growth experience for me at an early stage in my college career, and empowered me to pursue further leadership in college. As a sophomore, I was humbled to be named the regional President of the Year, and more importantly to bring our Goizueta chapter to national Chapter of the Year status. I’m proud because of the implications that it had for our chapter, in elevating our national ranking and setting a precedent for future success. It also helped me personally, in allowing me to realize that I was capable of strong leadership as a sophomore and inspiring me to pursue further leadership throughout my time at Goizueta.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? There’s truly not much I would change. If I had to choose something, I might focus on student giving, which is particularly salient to me as I prepare to graduate. I would try to prepare students in the program to give back earlier during their time here by teaching them why giving back to your alma mater is so important, and engaging them with ways to do so, financially and otherwise. I believe this might help younger members of the program to get into the habit of being active alums and of learning how and why students and alumni alike manifest their pride for Goizueta through giving.

Which classmate do you most admire? I have a classmate who does really well in school, is actively involved in the community, and is constantly giving of herself so that others at and beyond Goizueta can have a better university experience. She does so without fanfare and expectation of recognition. I admire and think that there is much to learn from that humble initiative and ability to quietly and selflessly make such a strong impact.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? There are too many to list here, but I’d mostly attribute any impact I’ve been fortunate to have on my family and the community at Goizueta. My family, through unconditional support and encouragement, has inspired me to adopt an others-oriented mindset and to believe in myself. At Goizueta, I so sincerely thank the administration, the Program Office staff, my professors, and my peers for creating an environment that is welcoming of both engagement and the potential for positive change. I learn from the Goizueta community every day and I am grateful for all that I can take past my undergraduate career as a result.

What would your theme song be? “Fast” by Luke Bryan. Especially as a senior this year, I’m experiencing the inevitable speediness of life and am encouraged to remember the importance of slowing down and investing in what matters.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Travel through South America
  2. Start my own business

Favorite book: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Favorite movie: McFarland, USA

Favorite vacation spot: South Africa

What are your hobbies? Writing, running, reading how-to books, travel, working with kids, gift giving

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

“I distinctly remember my first impressions of Grace.  I had the opportunity to interact with her via her role as president of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t already know this poised, dynamic woman who I assumed was a senior. Much to my surprise, I learned she was only a sophomore. Her extraordinary leadership ability was already in evidence as she deployed innate professionalism, unwavering energy and enduring diplomacy in guiding the organization to its selection as National Chapter of the Year. Since that time, Grace has become centrally involved in every stage of the student experience from helping applicants learn about Emory as an Admissions Fellow to assisting her peers with their job searches as a Lead Career Coach. This year, as President of the Goizueta BBA Council, she not only presided over the effective planning and successful execution of an unprecedented number of club programs and school-wide activities, but also led an effort to draft and ratify a student creed that articulates the core values that tie us together and drive us forward. In all she undertakes, she serves as an exemplar of our ideals and an embodiment of our aspirations, and always does so with Grace!”

Andrea Hershatter
Sr. Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Goizueta Business School, Emory University



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