2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Katie Gerber, University of Pittsburgh

Katie Gerber

University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration

5’1” woman who walks and talks with a 6’ attitude.”

Fun fact about yourself: I won a Physical Education Department Award in high school because I am super competitive when it comes to recreational sports.

Hometown: Fairview, PA

High School: Fairview High School

Major: Accounting and Business Information Systems

Minor: n/a

Favorite Business Course: Anything accounting! I loved my auditing course, though.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: I am a founder of Pitt’s chapter of Smart Woman Securities, which is a national organization that focuses on financial literacy and investment education for undergraduate women. I served as the President of the organization for the 2020 calendar year. Now, I remain in the organization as a Sector Analyst to pitch stocks for the organization to invest in our endowment fund.

I am also an active member in the professional business organization Phi Beta Lambda, engaging in professional and volunteer activities.

I have received a University Merit Scholarship to support my education, as well as scholarships to attend study abroad programs (including the Haller Global Honors Fellowship in 2018 and Plus3 Italy in 2019), and I have also made the Dean’s List for each semester.

Where have you interned during your college career? During the spring semester of 2020, I interned at BDO’s Pittsburgh office as a Tax Intern where I aided professionals in the preparation of tax returns and extensions. I returned to BDO as a Tax Intern during the spring semester of 2021. Over the summer of 2020, I interned at Deloitte’s Pittsburgh office as a Discovery Intern and was given the opportunity to explore their different service lines.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Deloitte as an Audit & Assurance Staff Intern at the Pittsburgh office. Starting in August 2021, I will be continuing my education at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business for the full-time BSBA/MAcc (3+1) program.

What company do you admire most? I had the amazing opportunity to visit Airbnb’s European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland on my study abroad trip and was able to learn more about their company and their values. First and foremost, I admire Airbnb for being a pioneer of the sharing economy. Their groundbreaking platform delivers unique stays and experiences, allowing anyone the chance to earn their own money as well. From the tour of their offices, I also learned about their strong focus on people, including their guests, their employees, and their community members, which I greatly respect.

Who is your favorite professor? All of Pitt’s accounting staff is amazing, and they really bring the content to life. If I had to choose one, I would say Heidi Bartholomew, who was my auditing professor. She was always happy to be there with all the students, and she taught an extremely thoughtful yet extensive course. Her enthusiasm and passion made me feel even more excited to jumpstart my career in accounting.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have learned is that the only way to grow is by pushing ourselves to perform at the next level. This could be in the classroom on a group project, stepping into an executive role in a student organization, or proving you are ready for a promotion in the workplace. Even when I have felt like I couldn’t handle the responsibilities or get the job done, I still managed to do it.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was most surprised that I learned as much about myself as I did about business. In business, it is just as important to know yourself and build your personal brand as it is to know the companies you want to work for. I was not expecting to grow as much as I did. I surprised myself in what I was capable of doing, and I was able to realize and lean into my passions and values.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? The one thing I would’ve done differently is to be more involved in research, such as joining a research project led by a faculty member. Research would have allowed me to learn something new, to hone my problem-solving skills and challenge myself in new ways.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being apart of the foundation of Smart Woman Securities (SWS). I wanted to introduce this organization to campus because I wanted to create a strong community of women — fellow business majors and non-business majors alike –  to support one another in the path of understanding our financial independences. The organization serves as a safe space for undergraduate women to learn about investing, explore careers in finance, and ask questions. In a male-dominated field, SWS eliminates any intimidation that women face as they enter the field and begin to learn and work. All I have ever wanted to do is make a difference and leave an impact. With SWS specifically, I feel that the organization will do this for a long time to come.

Which classmate do you most admire? My good friend, Gemma Skidmore, is one of the most humble and hardworking future businesswoman I have met here at Pitt. She is triple majoring in accounting, business information systems, and supply chain management, along with completing a certificate in leadership and ethics. She can always be found spending hours on campus in the library or a nook somewhere studying. Gemma is a force to be reckoned with in and out of the classroom, and she makes a positive difference in people’s lives without even realizing it.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My academic advisor, Liz Adams, was critical in my success at Pitt Business. Every meeting, I would come in with new goals, and she was always supportive and willing to help me make it happen. She led me down the right path and would refer me to right people at the right times. Without her, I would not have been able to graduate in three years.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First and foremost, I will earn my CPA license. I am hoping to check this one off the list before I start a full-time job in 2022. Additionally, I would like to make it to the C-Suite of an organization where I can represent women in leadership roles and make thoughtful and effective change.

What are your hobbies? I am a huge fan of card games and board games, basically all types of games. I am also a Netflix fanatic and love to binge the newest shows.

What made Katie such an invaluable member of the Class of 2021?

“I have known Katie for several years and would characterize her as a well-rounded, bright, and energetic young lady. Katie’s outstanding academic record illustrates her passion for education. This characteristic has been further evidenced by planning to complete her undergraduate degree in 3 years, and immediately moving into a master’s program in accounting to meet the 150-credit hour requirement for the CPA certification.

Katie was one of the founding members of the University of Pittsburgh’s Chapter of Smart Women Securities, as a freshman! As part of this endeavor, Katie prepared and presented a 10-week seminar on investment topics, such as understanding financial statements and the value of using financial metrics in investment decision making. Those individuals that completed the seminar subsequently invested the funds held in the Chapter’s portfolio. The initial investment of $50,000 grew to $59,000 in the first semester of the Chapter’s activities, quite a feat for any investor, much less someone who is “just learning the ropes.” The goal of the Chapter is to increase the portfolio and use the returns to fund scholarships and other essential resources to support female student applicants. This is an exceptional example of how Katie takes on a leadership role. Currently, she is serving the organization as its president.

Katie has the drive to loom large given any endeavor she takes on. As an example, during her spring 2020 term, Katie successfully completed a 17-credit course load and worked as a tax intern with BDO. The course load, in and of itself was demanding but, January through April is the “busy season” for any tax professional, including interns. I congratulate Katie on assuming both of these responsibilities concurrently.

Katie also seeks out opportunities for personal and professional growth. She developed a more astute awareness of the global economy when she took on research in Milan and Dublin while completing her study abroad program. Katie has had many valuable experiences in life, largely since she searches for new activities that support others as well as herself. She has fully embraced the opportunities available to her. I applaud and congratulate her for all that she has done.”

Dr. Karen Shastri, Ph.D., CPA


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