2021 Best & Brightest Business Majors: Sydney Dixon, Indiana University (Kelley)

Sydney Dixon

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“How to be non-stereotypically yet completely stereotypically Type A with a heart five times too big.”

Fun fact about yourself: In 2017 I received a letter congratulating me on my high school philanthropy efforts signed by President Barack Obama!

Hometown: Houston, TX

High School: Oak Ridge High School

Major: Economic Consulting and Public Policy Analysis

Minor: NA

Favorite Business Course: Public Policy and the International Economy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Kelley Professional Fraternity Council, Chairperson
  • Phi Gamma Nu-Delta Psi Chapter, Standards Board, Director of Corporate Relations, Fundraising Chair, Professional Mentor
  • Students for Equity in Public Affairs, Undergraduate Board Member
  • IU Student Academic Center, Finite Mathematics Teaching Intern
  • Barcelona, Spain KSG IES Semester Study Abroad Program
  • Meet, Educate, Experience, Transition to Kelley, Student Counselor
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Career Prep Program Fellow
  • Kelley Undergraduate Chair’s Advisory Board, Chair Representative
  • Accenture Student Empowerment Program, Program Fellow
  • KPMG Future Diversity Leaders, Student Leader
  • Deutsche Bank-Rise into Success, 2nd Annual Class
  • William R Fry Scholarship Program, Peer Mentor
  • Hudson & Holland Scholar
  • Hutton Honors Scholar
  • Indiana University Dean’s Scholarship
  • Case Competitions:
    • 1st Place out of 23 teams in the 2019 KPMG Houston Intern Innovation Challenge
    • 1st Place among 25 teams in Kelley’s Diversity Case Competition hosted by GE
    • 1st Place out of 20 teams in the 2019 Kelley School of Business Honors Program
    • 1st Place out of 8 teams in EnVista’s Supply Chain/Operations Case Competition
    • 2nd among 16 teams in the IU Global Scholars Competition
    • 4th Place out of 35 schools in Target’s National Diversity Case Competition

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • KPMG, Houston, TX, Tax-Economics and Valuations Services Intern
  • Accenture, Chicago, IL, Summer Consulting Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte, Austin, TX, Government and Public Services Consulting Analyst

What company do you admire most? I am going to give the most Generation-Z answer ever and say TikTok. In the past year, TikTok has dominated the social media scene, constantly flexing to and introducing trends. In addition to me being in awe of their control and hold over people in quarantine, their platform has enabled Gen-Z and Gen-X to be increasingly knowledgeable about mental health resources, U.S. political decisions, the stock market, and countless other important news that these generations would not have been privy to. Icing on the cake for me is when they pledged $4 million to the Black Lives Matter movement, almost 3 percent of their 2019 gross revenue, and one of the highest percentages of companies in the USA to do so.

Who is your favorite professor? Business, Government and Society” was the first class I was able to take by a professor in my major’s department, Business Economics and Public Policy. This is still one of the biggest classes I have been in with over 180 students in class and Steve Kreft managed to engage all of us. With the effort he so clearly put into making the subject matter so tangible and realistic, you couldn’t help but become invested in class. He worked so hard on his lectures and had them down to such a science that the upperclassmen who had taken his class previously were able to know exactly what jokes he would be telling us that day based on the case we were reviewing that week.

Being trained in acting for 12 years myself, this is what truly made me smile: a professor with an economics doctorate could be such an incredible performer while explaining how public policy affects business strategy and the economy. This class solidified to me that my majors were right for me. Steve Kreft ended up nominating me for a Deloitte Consulting Simulation Program (the very company I will be working for next year) and even wrote my Spain Study Abroad letter of recommendation. When I look back on my classes in Kelley – and who of my professors saw in me what I saw in myself without even knowing it – Steve Kreft is #1 on my list.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?  Retain and connect. Retain as much information as possible. This may seem obvious given that you go to college to learn. Still, I encourage you to truly try to remember the information from your classes, especially in the classes that are not your direct interests: what sides do debits and credits belong on, setting up basic demand forecasting, and the 4 P’s of marketing. This information will serve to help offset that imposter syndrome that all students feel at least once in their internships and jobs because you will, in general, understand what your team is discussing (fingers crossed).

Connect with as many visiting lecturers, professors, upperclassmen, underclassmen and staff as possible. College is the one time in your life where you will quite literally be surrounded by thousands of people for four years straight. These are people I have met who have become my formal and informal shopping buddies, application editors, study abroad advisors, vacation group, roommates, case competition teammates, best friends, and realtors. The list truly goes on and on. If I hadn’t made the extra effort to text, call, follow on Instagram, or email these people, I am 100 percent certain my life would feel considerably empty.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? How much you need to embrace and not be fearful of mistakes. I can think of so many instances when the terror of rejection or publically answering a question wrong (or even people knowing I didn’t get a certain position) made me not even try. As a freshman, I thought that all aspects of business school would be technical, cut-and-dry, win-or-lose. And there are some parts of the experience that are like that. However, there are umpteenth more that are the opposite — where just because you get something wrong doesn’t mean you yourself are a failure. I learned this lesson a little later in college. However, it really started to sink in for me sophomore year when my parents said, after I complained for 30 minutes straight about being embarrassed about only getting three internships offers instead of four. Their response: “Sydney, are you kidding me.”

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Is it too overarching to say my entire senior year of college? I have always been someone energized by school, learning and engaging in my extracurricular involvements. However, when my amazing Dad unexpectedly passed away a few months before my senior year, I was so lost. I found myself completely overwhelmed by my grief, anger, confusion, my sadness, lack of concentration, tiredness and pain. I have had to fight every day to have even 10 percent of that excitement for life nevertheless college.

However, jointly with the support from my Mom and sister, I found joy in being the first chairperson of the Kelley Professional Fraternity Council because this position enabled me to feel as though I was bettering the experience of Kelley students. I worked to make the rush process of professional fraternities as transparent as possible by starting a master calendar, writing a Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement after the Black Lives Matter protests swept the country, and establishing an internal reporting system for hate speech/actions to further hold students accountable. While I am not healed from my grief — because I will never not feel the absence of my dad my biggest supporter — I am proud to know now for sure that my drive and power to positively impact others will always be there no matter my pain.

Which classmate do you most admire? Going to such a top-tier school, there are truly about 15 students, actually friends of mine, who inspire me daily because they have the qualities that I strive to have myself: empathy, brilliance, kindness and inventiveness. Sydney Kemme-Nash has all these qualities and more.

She is 100 percent the person you want to have on your team, to hang out with, and to be in your life. I admire Sydney not only because she is so graceful and sweet, but her work ethic is truly unmatched. I am thankful to have worked with her on many case competitions, so much so that our team name was changed to “Sydney & Company.” I know that being Sydney’s friend and teammate has made me a faster and more ingenious worker and I am so grateful to know her. The fact that we share the same name is just the cherry on top for me.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? The main people in my life who have been integral to my success, my Mom, Dad and sister, I have been able to express to them just how much their constant support has literally held me up throughout my entire life but especially the last four years. So, I would like to thank someone whom I probably will not be able to: Oprah Winfrey. When I was eight years old, my church did a wax museum for Black History Month and my mom and I worked together to choose Oprah Winfrey. We both thought my love for acting and speaking made Oprah a great icon for me to embody. My admiration for Oprah was solidified that year but has only grown by ten-fold. Her rise to be so indisputably amazing in her field, grace when faced with awfulness, and business acumen is why I look to her with my other role models: Madam CJ Walker, Dr, Dorothy Brown Dixon, and Michelle Obama. I love to randomly read biographical articles about her life and career to be once again in awe. She has inspired black women around the world and paved the way for so many. For that, I thank you Oprah Winfrey.

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

  1. Meet a past or current president and/or vice president that I admire
  2. Start an acting program for adolescent girls where they can learn confidence and speaking skills

What are your hobbies? Buying as many blankets as I can, cooking Korean and Japanese dishes, reading sci-fi romance novels (it is an actual genre I promise!), traveling internationally with my family, writing to-do lists, looking at cat TikToks, starting puzzles, organizing and then reorganizing everything, and walking and hiking in Texas

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

“Sydney is an invaluable member of the Class of 2021 not only because of who she is but also because of how much of herself she is willing to bring to everything she does. One of my first responsibilities when I came to the Office of Diversity Initiatives was to travel to Texas to recruit Sydney. I met her amazing family and was immediately impressed by Sydney and everything that she brought to the table. I can say, without question, that Sydney is the same person that I met more than four years ago, just as dedicated, and now more accomplished, just as resolute, and now more informed, and just as wholly present as she was then. I know that Sydney Dixon has brought that same presence to everything she has done inside and outside of the classroom since she arrived in Bloomington in August 2017. The Kelley School is a better place because of Sydney’s presence and the effect of all that she has done will last long after she has graduated.”

Carmund White
Associate Director, Undergraduate Program & Director of Diversity Initiatives



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