2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Alanna Austin, Tulane University (Freeman)

Alanna Austin

Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business

“Friend to the friendless

Passionate about progress and

Unorthodox in the best ways.”

Fun fact about yourself: I pour my milk before my cereal.

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

High School: Ursuline Academy

Major: Marketing, International Relations

Favorite Business Course: Consumer Behavior with James Matherly

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Captain of Top 20 Co-ed Sailing Team, Fall 2019 – Present

  • Elected to the role by my peers for two consecutive years.
  • Community Sailing New Orleans Liaison: an organization that helps expose underprivileged and minority youth to the sport of sailing.

American Athletic Conference, Summer 2019 – Present: Tulane’s Representative for Women’s Sports

  • Participate in the deliberation of and the voting on proposed NCAA legislation.
  • Organized the Racial Equity Action Group ‘REAG’ Subcommittee: Wrote the guideline for diversity education training at the conference level.

Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association, Summer 2020 – Present: SEISA “South-Eastern” Conference Representative

  • Review and update ICSA bylaws.
  • Delegate a range of tasks to coaches and captains of member schools.
  • The Inclusion Diversity and Equity (TIDE) Task Force Member

Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Fall 2018- Present: Secretary and Sailing Team Representative

  • Connect with Campus Life Subcommittee Leader

Undergraduate Student Government: Athletic Liaison, Student Life Engagement Committee member

Business School Ambassadors, Fall 2019 – Present

Where have you interned during your college career?

President Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign, June 2019- January 2020: Benefit & Fundraising Intern- Southeastern Region, USA

  • Identified secure, intimate venues suitable for the Vice President to address donors in major cities throughout the United States.
  • Recruited donors in Republican states to attend fundraisers and followed-up with thank you calls.
  • Worked events in by welcoming top donors to the designated VIP event area.

The Amatory Condominiums, June 2018 – January 2020: Property Manager – New Orleans, LA

The Amatory opened as a short-term rental complex in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter. After zoning restrictions mandated a 6-month lease minimum in the Quarter, I helped the property transition from catering towards short to long term renters.

  • Conduct property tours, contract negotiations, and utility malfunction reports through resolution.
  • Successfully turned around a high delinquency rate by effectively communicating with tenants and advocating for certain property renovations.

Delisha Boyd Realty, August 2018 – Present: Licensed Real Estate Agent – New Orleans, LA

Specialize in lease and rental agreements for college students, ensuring accuracy and completion.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am attending law school after graduation. I have not committed to an institution.

What company do you admire most? As the daughter of two small business owners, I was taught the importance of shopping small, local, and sustainable. As an avid restauranteur, I developed an appreciation for the Ruby Slipper. The restaurant opened with the intent to revitalize part of Mid-City that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. 11 additional locations and 13 years later owners, Erich and Jennifer, never stopped carrying about the community. The Ruby Slipper hires those with criminal histories, organizes childcare, and will compensate employees for transportation costs. The company is often a sponsor and active participant in community service efforts across the Gulf South.

Who is your favorite professor? James Matherly knew me for less than two weeks before agreeing to go the extra mile for me. I requested guidance on the best data collection and analysis method for one of my extracurricular activities. The Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) wanted to survey every collegiate sailor in the country prior to updating its bylaws and its data storage system known as TechScore. The goal was to promote inclusive values in recruiting, racing, and retention through ICSA regulation. The organization then wanted to track progress on inclusive initiatives via TechScore by including more demographic variables on each sailor’s profile.

The committee working on this initiative including 6 undergraduates from Columbia, Bowdoin, Boston College, Harvard, and Tulane, and 2 coaches from Old Dominion and Bowdoin College. We reached out to professors from each of these institutions. However, Professor Matherly’s involvement was the most pivotal. He walked us through how to use several platforms and the implications of each. Throughout the entire process, he quickly replied to distressed emails. 

The attention and care he gave to an organization that does not affect him, was only a fraction of the energy he brought to the classroom.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The integration of technology into a business enhances the human moment – it is not a sufficient replacement. Therefore, data generated from research and sales should reinforce the known black of human psychology –people value trust community and personalization.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Invest in yourself by investing in others. Get involved with your community to enhance the knowledge you acquire in the classroom. The ability to think like a business professional with a wide range of perspectives will serve you in any discipline you choose to specialize in.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would not change a thing. Life is defined by how we decide to react to what happens to us. When I failed to secure an internship with John Deere, I immediately pivoted and pursued a potentially life-long career as a real estate agent. Entering college, I thought that I had to secure an internship with a major firm to be competitive for law school. However, being a realtor has proven to be invaluable. It offers me the flexibility I demand as a student-athlete, and the work experience I want to be competitive. Not to mention, it gave me the added benefits of constantly building inter-personal relationships in the city I love.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am insanely proud of being named captain of Tulane’s sailing team and cultivating the drive necessary to get my team ranked. At times, it seemed impossible for me to ignore my inadequacy or to decipher my place in college sailing as a Black female with less experience. However, when I consider the boundaries, I defied to get here I forget my fears.  I must note that I do not lead because I feel called to do so. I lead because it is the most natural progression of serving. I’m honored that my teammates value the competitive grit and empathy I brought to the team enough to elect me as their captain.

Which classmate do you most admire? Corey Dublin is an unassuming civil servant. He graduated in three years with honors and is pursuing his Master’s in real estate. At 6’4 and 300 ounds, he has started in every football game since coming to Tulane. His resume aside, he has outstanding character and confidence. He taught me how to be stern in negotiating, how to manage my time as an athlete, and how to always produce favorable results. He is a no nonsense, hard-working businessman who reminded me empathy could only bring me so far.

Dublin is always looking for in opportunity to help others. After a long day at practice, he immediately starts repairing equipment, building furniture, or helping an elderly family friend around the house. Lastly, he is like the unofficial football team therapist. He provides that stern reality check many football players need off the field.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? First, I’d like to acknowledge that all my success is a direct result of service. The determinant factor in my desire to aid was the tough love I received, and ultimately lost, from my late mother. My success is a result of two lessons she instilled in me. She taught me that growth, personally and professionally, depended on facing one’s complicity head-on. Secondly, she always said, “Vusiness is never just business because everyone comes to the table with a story.” That is why I am such an advocate for empathic transactions. The attention to detail empathy requires makes me an effective competitor, leader, and businesswoman.

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

  1. I hope to work with a developer and design my own eco-friendly neighborhood and sell self-sustaining homes to families.
  2. Circumstances permitting, I want to manage a United States presidential campaign.

What are your hobbies? It may seem counterintuitive because I spend so much time on the water but, I love kayak fishing. I can enjoy the benefits of silence and relative solitude. It is hard to think about work or assignments because it’s such a physically demanding activity.

What made Alanna such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Ms. Austin is an outstanding addition to the class of 2021 because of her bold leadership and her passion for service. Having only known her as a student in my class for a few weeks, she confidently and professionally approached me to work as an advisor on The Inclusion, Diversity and Equity task force that she was a member of. I readily agreed, and as I attended these meetings, it became clear that others in the TIDE task force were similarly impacted by her conviction. The clarity of purpose with which she pursues her service to the community affirms her boldness and becomes infectious to those around her.

However, this is only one component of what makes Ms. Austin such a remarkable leader. Equally importantly, she is mature enough to recognize she simply cannot play every role needed in her ambitious projects, and that to achieve her vision, she must rely on others. She is exceptional in her ability to recognize the strengths of the members of her network, and her focus on community service inspires those around her to commit to her vision, as well. That she does all of this, while also being a highly successful and decorated athlete and an excellent student, is a testament to her organization and discipline.”

Ted Matherly
Visiting Assistant Professor


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