2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Gabi Marcus, Washington University (Olin)

Gabi Marcus

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“Frequent mentee and occasional mentor who somehow made a career out of a shopping addiction.”

Fun fact about yourself: I studied abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina after my freshman year. While there, I went on a tour of Srebrenica with the tour company I was consulting for and ended up having a meal with my tour guide’s parents!

Hometown: Natick, Massachusetts

High School: Natick High School

Major: Double majors in Marketing and Organization & Strategic Management

Minor: Spanish

Favorite Business Course: Women in Leadership

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Olin Peer Ambassadors: Co-Director of Events, VP of Mentorship
  • Gamma Phi Beta Sorority: Chapter President, Collegiate-Alumnae Relations Chairwoman
  • Student Tour Leaders
  • Campus Interview Team
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Dean’s List (all semesters)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Summer 2020: Talbots – Merchandising Intern – Hingham, MA

Summer 2021: Bloomingdale’s – Buying Intern – Remote (Based out of New York, NY)

Fall 2021 – spring 2022: Summersalt – Merchandising Intern – St. Louis, MO

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Summersalt as the Assistant Merchandiser, where I will be a part of building out the brand new merchandising team.

Who is your favorite professor? Dr. Hillary Anger Elfenbein. Her class, Women in Leadership, was only half semester long, yet it strongly impacted my view of myself as a woman in business. Her profound ability to network with others and form deep connections allowed us, as students, to benefit from some of the most accomplished guest speakers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. With diversity at the forefront of the selection process, the class’s guest speakers encompassed every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and background, leaving every student with the overwhelming belief that we too could be as successful as they are. Beyond the class’s unique format and guest speakers, Hillary is also one of the most empathetic and flexible professors I know, bending over backwards to ensure that her students get the most out of her class, regardless of what circumstances they might be facing outside of the classroom.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I have always valued relationships and enjoyed being a mentor to others. However, I don’t believe that I could have fully understood the meaning of the word “mentor” without my business education. Yes, business is about reading a balance sheet and knowing how to improve the bottom line. But more than that, it’s about relationships, empowering those around you, and working towards a common goal. As I am nearing graduation, my biggest takeaway is the value of relationships, and specifically mentor-mentee relationships. I discovered my love of retail through my first boss in high school, Julene Teixeira (NIC+ZOE). My mentor through Olin’s women’s mentorship program, Vicki Felker (Nestlé), then gave me the confidence to stray from the traditional path and pursue that passion. More recently, I was able to find my place in the industry through the mentorship of my team at Summersalt, who I am so grateful chose to take a chance on me. Now, as I enter my professional career, my single biggest takeaway from my undergraduate education is how crucial those mentorship relationships were to the start of my business career and how I would like to be that mentor for younger professionals going forward.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? From day one, I was surprised by how collaborative my undergraduate business curriculum was. One of my fears matriculating into a top business program was how I would stand out from my peers, given that I have never been particularly competitive and generally thrive in group contexts more so than individual ones. However, every class I have taken at Olin incorporated at least one element of collaboration. Even our accounting and finance classes utilized group case studies. I have found that the Olin curriculum is explicitly designed this way to mirror the experience of being a working business professional. Before college, I imagined myself sitting at a desk working on individualized tasks. Now, I have a greater understanding that a business professional is only as successful as the people they work with, and my image of business has shifted from one of individual work to one of collaboration.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would have taken the introductory Operations & Supply Chain Management course earlier. I am taking it now as a second semester senior and am finding countless direct connections to the career I am pursuing in retail. Operations is a commonly overlooked function (which is likely why I didn’t consider studying it earlier). If it’s done right, it can have such a profound impact on a business’s success. I am happy with the majors I chose but wonder what could have happened if I had discovered my interest in operations earlier.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of taking a leave of absence in fall 2020 to pursue a full-time internship and still being able to graduate with my class. Without a doubt, my leave of absence, and the internship opportunity I pursued at Summersalt, are some of the best decisions I made in my four years of college. The internship enabled me to learn things I could have never learned in the classroom and exposed me to so many innovative coworkers and mentors. It also led to three more semesters of a part-time internship and my full-time role after graduation. Yes, it required a few semesters with a heavy course load and strategic planning in terms of when I would be able to fulfill my major requirements, but it was entirely worth it. My level of responsibility and freedom to take initiative at Summersalt have been such pivotal parts of my career development and I am proud that I decided to take that risk last year.

Which classmate do you most admire? One peer that I tremendously admire is Danielle Sharabi, a senior in Olin studying Marketing with a minor in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) through the McKelvey School of Engineering. I often describe myself as operating at the intersection of creativity and analytics, but if I’m at the intersection, Danielle is smack dab in the middle. I admire how she has been able to find a niche way to combine her interests through the HCI minor and equally devote herself to both her engineering and business studies. Beyond her unique academic pursuits, Danielle is also one of the most thoughtful, caring, and selfless people I know. This year, when her students that she TAs made it to the final round of their case competition, she dropped everything to practice with them for hours. On a more personal note, when I need support, Danielle is the first to notice and offer to help. I feel so lucky to have fortuitously met her through our Management 100 case competition team my freshman year and cannot wait to see the incredible things she will accomplish throughout her professional career.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? This past week, I was able to reunite with Sandra Philius, my academic advisor for the first three years of college. While I was chatting with her and her other advisees, each updating her on our accomplishments from the last year, I realized how many of my accomplishments would not have been possible without her. From day one, when she first introduced me to her Funko Pop! figurine collection, I knew that Sandra was genuinely committed to my success and forming a lasting relationship. She helped me through my first round of class registration, freshman move-in, my first management midterm, and (most importantly) encouraged me to apply for an executive board position within Olin Peer Ambassadors (OPA). OPA helped me find my place in Olin and enabled me to pursue my passion for mentorship at the same time. Sandra cared so deeply about each of her advisees, going above and beyond to make time for us, even if it was just to talk about concerts or the best brunch spots. I am so grateful to have been able to form such a deep connection with my advisor and know that Sandra will continue to be a part of my life, even though we are no longer working together in a formal capacity.

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

  1. Utilize my love of languages (and 9 years of Spanish education) in a role that allows me to communicate with Latin-American colleagues and partners.
  2. Once I have a little bit of experience under my belt, return to Olin as a mentor in one or more of the incredible mentorship programs they offer.

What are your hobbies? Hiking (which I am thrilled to get back to this spring after recovering from an injury this fall), babysitting (I consider it more of a hobby than a job, given how much I love being around kids), and shopping (or as we like to call it in the retail industry, “competitive analysis”)

What made Gabi such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Since meeting Gabi during her first year at Olin, she has shown herself to be incredibly self-motivated and driven. In every phase of her career journey, Gabi put in the work to distinguish herself and her abilities. What makes Gabi an exceptional addition to the class of 2022 is not only her own achievements, but also her willingness to advocate for and mentor others. From a very early stage, Gabi has consistently made herself available to younger students pursuing careers in retail and merchandising to share advice and give support. It is no surprise that an up and coming company like Summersalt has recognized the value she brings to any organization. I have enjoyed getting to know Gabi throughout her time at WashU and will be excited to cheer on her continued success.”

Molly Sonderman
Associate Director of Undergraduate Career Development


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