2020 Best & Brightest: Robert Mitchell, University of Illinois (Gies)

Robert Mitchell

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Honest, smart, ambitious, hard-working, thoughtful, and fun student who enjoys family, friends, and fitness.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have met President Obama and he called on me during a press conference where he was speaking.

Hometown: DeKalb, Illinois

High School: DeKalb High School

Major: Finance

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: Finance 300: Financial Markets

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities / Leadership Roles / Community Work

  • Phi Gamma Nu Professional Business Fraternity – A student organization that focuses on developing a professional, social, and philanthropic group of successful individuals. Through Phi Gamma Nu, I have helped give back to my community in a variety of ways, including volunteering at senior homes, homeless shelters, and after-school programs for elementary-age students of color. Also, every spring semester, as an organization, we raise thousands of dollars for cancer research through a semester-long event called Compete-for-a-Cure.
    • Fundraising Chair (Fall 2020)
    • Assistant Vice President of Finance (Spring 2017)
  • Investment Banking Academy – Student organization that develops and prepares its members to secure and succeed in investment banking internships and ultimately full-time careers
  • Campus Honors Advisory Committee – Group of students that provide advice to administrators in the Campus Honors Program to improve upon the student experience.


  • Stamps Foundation Scholar
  • Campus Honors Program (Chancellor’s Scholar)
  • Gies Business Honors Program
  • Dean’s List – Every semester
  • James Scholar – Academic honor for being in the top ~10% of my class

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers | Chicago, IL, Summer 2017 – Start Intern: Rotational program focused on exposure to the accounting and assurance practices at PwC
  • Goldman Sachs | Chicago, IL, Summer 2018 – Investment Banking Analyst
  • GTCR | Chicago, IL, Summer 2019 – Private Equity Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? I have accepted a position as a full-time private equity analyst at GTCR in Chicago, IL.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Robert Metzger from Gies College of Business. I have been fortunate to have Professor Metzger play an important role in my college career. He is also the director of the Gies Business Honors Program and Investment Banking Academy. Because of my involvement in these programs, I have been able to develop a strong relationship with him over my four years of college. I was a student in his Finance 463: Investment Banking course which was one of the most useful classes that I have taken in college. Professor Metzger has believed in my ability to be successful in the classroom and in a career in private equity since my freshman year of college. He has become my closest faculty mentor throughout my time at Gies. Professor Metzger helped me make connections with important business executives in the investment banking and private equity industries. His sound advice helped solidify my interest in finance and propel my professional pursuits. I am extremely grateful for his mentorship, friendship, and commitment to me and my future.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I enjoyed the collaborative nature of the students and faculty at Gies the most out of any aspect of the business school. As a freshman, one thing that I immediately noticed was that Gies College of Business proudly had a clear “pay it forward” mentality that every student and faculty member embodied. Everyone was willing to help each other in any capacity. Throughout my four years, my friends have happily reviewed my resume, helped me with mock interviews, and studied with me before exams. This collaborative culture inspired me to serve as a mentor in my various extracurricular engagements with the intent to continue to pave the way for driven Gies students like myself. People are willing to help each other because they know that the journey to success is not meant to be traveled alone. The generosity and air of camaraderie are unique parts about Gies that I think it makes it one of the best business schools in the world – and I plan to continue the tradition.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice would be to pursue a major and career that you are truly passionate about. My parents always taught me the importance of doing what you love, because then it doesn’t feel like work. It’s easier to put in long hours of work, study, and preparation into classes and interviews for a major and career that you greatly enjoy.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was surprised the most about business’ applicability toward a variety of other career fields. When I came into college, I thought about business rather narrowly, meaning accounting was mostly for accounting firms, finance for financial firms, etc. As I have progressed, I have learned that successful business doesn’t occur in siloed environments; business thrives when there is an environment of collaboration. I believe that is the beauty of business. With a business degree, I could be an executive of a technology firm, food production conglomerate, oil company, or President of the United States. Majoring in business opens multiple doors which can allow for a dynamic professional career.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? The achievement that I am the proudest of is being a recipient of the Stamps Foundation Scholarship. The Stamps Scholarship is a nationally-recognized, merit-based, full-ride scholarship to a four-year college or university that includes a $12,000 enrichment fund to enhance the educational experience. Stamps Scholars are selected based on their academic talent, leadership capabilities, and outstanding character.

I am most proud of this accomplishment because it is the most selective scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received by only eight people in my class out of about 7,300 students. I think this scholarship is a testament to years of love, hard work, and the planning by my family dedicated toward setting me up for success in college. From a very young age, my parents have continuously told me that anything is possible with hard work and I could turn my grades into currency. This scholarship proved that all of our hard work was warranted and that my grades were indeed turning into currency. The Stamps Scholarship has afforded me life-changing opportunities that I hope to provide to other top-tier, deserving students in the future.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I admire the most is Jason Schoo. He is a fellow senior in the Gies Business Honors Program, double majoring in Accounting and Finance. Over the past four years, he has grown to be one of my closest friends. I consider Jason to be the academic standard in terms of dedication and success in the classroom, as well as a great example of how to be an uplifting classmate.

Jason and I have been in business classes together since our freshman year. It was clear from the start that he had an intelligence unmatched by most of our peers. Being the driven students that we are, the bond Jason and I share is bred in part to our healthy spirit of academic competition, which has pushed both of us to earning honors such as being on the Dean’s List every semester of college. Outside of the professor, Jason was the person that I, along with many other students, would ask questions to about the material and study with to prepare for exams. This continued through every semester of college, and I have never heard Jason complain once about helping a fellow classmate. His patience and willingness to help are seemingly endless and should be shining examples for other students. My four years have been positively impacted by my relationship with Jason which I am immensely grateful for.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I most want to thank my parents for my success. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and have dedicated their lives to making sure that my siblings and I have everything we need to thrive and be successful. They have poured their love into me from the moment I was born and carefully created and followed a life plan that they knew would yield success for their kids. From the small moments like help on a homework assignment to being with me when I received the call that I earned a full-ride to the University of Illinois, my parents are the ones who have been with me every step of the way and made it possible for me to be in the position that I am today. College has been the best four years of my life and I owe it all to them. Because of their love, hard work and dedication, and life planning, I have not had to work in college. This has allowed me to be able to focus and succeed in my classes, enjoy my extracurricular activities to the fullest, and land my dream job in private equity directly after graduation. My parents have started a tradition of excellence for our family and I hope I can make them proud and carry on the tradition.

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

  1. Become the youngest Vice President at the firm I am going to work at after graduation, GTCR.
  2. Be featured in Forbes 30 under 30.

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include weightlifting and staying active by playing sports like basketball with my friends. I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends. When I relax, I like to watch shows on Netflix, Xfinity, and other streaming services.

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

“Robert Mitchell embodies everything that we want a Gies student to be — he is incredibly smart, very hard-working, a great friend to his classmates, and unbelievably humble. Since he arrived on campus, Robert has been a leader both inside and outside of the classroom – providing a great example for others to emulate. I was lucky to have Robert in two of my classes: Investment Banking and a senior honors leadership course that involved engaging with prominent Gies alumni and the University of Illinois leadership. In both environments, Robert was actively engaged, asked challenging and insightful questions, and collaborated with his peers. Given my professional experience in investment banking prior to my arrival at Gies, Robert sought my guidance as he navigated the terrific career alternatives available to him. He asked great questions, was focused on his ability to make an impact and build a purposeful career, and thoughtfully chose to enter the field of private equity. I know he will be a great success and I am excited for him to be an exemplary young alumnus.”

Robert Metzger
Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance
Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.