2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Rachel Perry, University of Richmond (Robins)

Rachel Perry

University of Richmond, Robins School of Business

As comfortable discussing life with a farmer as with a billionaire head of a conglomerate.”

Fun fact about yourself: My family has a tradition of naming our dogs after beverages! We’ve had Coke, Pepsi, OJ, Coco, Coffee, and now we have three dogs named Matcha, Mocha, and Latte. 

Hometown: Chiang Mai, Thailand

High School: Chiang Mai International School

Major: Business Administration, concentration in Finance

Minor: Anthropology

Favorite Business Course: Environmental Management

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: Dean’s List, Treasurer of CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls), ESG Manager for the Student Managed Investment Fund

Where have you interned during your college career? During my sophomore year, I had a rotating Internship in Finance, Marketing, and HR with Minor Hotels in Bangkok, Thailand. I was able to explore a plethora of opportunities that provided me with a wider skillset and led me to my interest in Finance. This shaped my decision in my junior year to pursue a Finance and Accounting internship with Maximus Inc. in their financial reporting division.

Where will you be working after graduation? Although I have a firm offer of employment, I am also considering other potential opportunities which have come my way and piqued my interest.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Maura Alexander–she changed my life. I took my first Finance class with her and she was one of the first female professors I had in the business school. She was patient and would break concepts down into digestible pieces that were applicable outside of the classroom. I formed connections between topics Professor Alexander was teaching and articles I read, which helped build my finance vocabulary and made me more well-versed across disciplines. Her mentorship has been invaluable to me. Her guidance, boundless support, and all-around phenomenal energy has shaped me into a more confident individual able to forge my own path.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Interconnectedness. Books and articles, music and podcasts, and topics learned in school are all integrated (except for abstract Calculus concepts–not sure if I will ever apply those in my lifetime!) are all integrated. Stretching your mind and linking activities and concepts to one another holds immense value. For example, if you are reading an article, try to reflect and think about how a word or phrase relates to a memory, book, or discussion you had. This contemplation has allowed me to form deeper connections within my own thought processes and has solidified topics and values I feel strongly about. I can’t express how many times I have been on calls with businesspeople and we end up talking about a topic that I reflected on or investigated months before. In the beginning, I kept saying to myself, “What a coincidence.” Now, I understand that it is not just coincidence. Everything happens for a reason, and everything is interconnected.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Business is so much broader than I ever could have imagined. Given its breadth and depth, you can never truly predict how your interests will evolve. I wasn’t initially intending on concentrating in Finance, but what drew me in was its power as a vehicle for allocating capital towards big ideas with the potential to positively impact the planet and its people.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Instead of operating like a machine and working because I “had” to (like I did my freshman and sophomore year), I shifted my perspective to be more sponge-like, soaking up as much knowledge as I could without pressuring myself. I remember the Sundays where I would walk into the library and think, “Oh no, I have to do this reading…not looking forward to this.” I’m not suggesting you have to always be positive, but a slight mindset shift incorporating gratitude to “Wow, I get to do this reading! I have the opportunity to receive a college education,” works wonders for your mind, body, soul, and grades.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am proud of my ability to transform my passion for exploring the interconnectedness between sustainability and business into an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) integration strategy for our student-run fund managing $1 million of the University endowment. Making this leap was daunting, but it also taught me that you never really stop being scared, you just get more comfortable with the fear and can even harness its energy in your favor.

Which classmate do you most admire? I admire my classmate and best friend Claire Burke. She is a ray of sunshine and I can’t help but smile when I am around her because of her contagious energy! She has been a close friend since freshman year, and I admire her perseverance and the way she cares for people. Her support for those around her makes me want to be a better friend and family member.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Dad, thank you. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t, nudging me out of my comfort zone and into the learning zone since I was little. You saw potential in me that I couldn’t grasp yet. I remember when we would pick fruit from our Longan trees at home and you would set up a table for Kelly (my sister) and me to sell fruit and advocate for organic food. Little did I know that was the first time my inner businesswoman made an appearance. I went up to strangers and sparked a conversation that would lead to a sales pitch. My grit held true to its core…I would stay out until I completed my sale, even if it took many tries. You taught me the importance of a long-term mindset. You are my hero, and I will be sure to carry our Perry Power with me forever.

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

  • I want to become a mentor, helping to guide and uplift younger students in following their passions.
  • Learn how to play golf!

What are your hobbies? I enjoy nature walks, listening and dancing to music, cooking, painting, and listening to podcasts.

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

“Rachel Perry’s passion for sustainable development will have an enduring impact on the Robins School long after she has graduated. I came to know Rachel through our work on the 2021 Sustainable Solutions Challenge. This cross-school Challenge presents a problem statement on an issue that directly impacts students and asks them to develop an environmentally and financially sustainable solution. Rachel is leading the student effort in developing the problem statement through background research and interviews with stakeholders across campus. Her energy and passion for sustainable development has made working with her on this Challenge one of the highlights of a very difficult COVID year.

While this accomplishment is noteworthy, even more impressive is Rachel’s ability to pair her business and liberal arts studies allowing her to connect her passion for sustainable development with her academic work in finance. Rachel is the first ESG manager in our Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF), a position she created by single-handedly spearheading an initiative to integrate ESG factors into the company evaluation process. Her work developing a well composed ESG scoring methodology and her ability to explain the intersection between financial performance and ESG risks convinced her team of SMIF managers to adopt her recommendations. Her work has been so successful that the position of ESG manager will continue after Rachel graduates this spring. This would not have happened without Rachel’s tireless work and dedication.”

Joyce van der Laan Smith
Associate Dean of Undergraduate programs
Associate Professor of Accounting


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