2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Lillie Bridges, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Lillie Bridges

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“A Tar Heel girl with global ambitions to make business more sustainable for everyone.”

Fun fact about yourself: I enjoy buying and selling secondhand fashion. Wherever I travel, I am eager to visit a new consignment shop to search for new items.

Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina

High School: Asheville School

Major: Business Administration

Minor: Sustainability and Spanish for the Business Profession

Favorite Business Course: Sustainable Business and Social Enterprise with Professor Jeffery Mittelstadt

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • UNC Business Technology Club: Helping students from diverse academic backgrounds break into the technology industry.

President (2021-2022)

Vice President of Events & Programming (2020-2021)

  • Carolina Women in Business: Empowering future female leaders by providing personal and career development.

Vice President of Finance (2020-2021)

Vice President of Recruitment (2019-2020)

  • Tar Heel Table: Addressing childhood hunger and poverty in Central North Carolina.

Director of Membership (2019-2020)

  • Awards

Donald Christopher Scholarship Recipient (Merit Scholarship)

Dean’s List (All Semesters)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • LinkedIn: Global Business Organization Intern (New York City, New York)
  • UNC Institute for the Environment: Sustainability Program Development Intern (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
  • Joseph Studios Marketing Agency: Business Development Intern (Atlanta, Georgia)

Where will you be working after graduation? Strategy Associate at Capital One

Who is your favorite professor? Stuart Pearman. While in his class Leadership in Action, Professor Pearman taught me much about leadership and personal development – namely, that leadership is a skill rather than a gift. To help students build these skills, Professor Pearman shared personal stories and lessons that made our material highly accessible.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Before beginning my business coursework, I narrowly defined business as the study of finance, marketing, and operations. As I have learned, the study of business equips us with strategies to leverage the private sector to drive progress and innovation in society. Whatever your passion or calling may be, you can use expertise in functional business areas to build an organization around that passion.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Don’t be afraid to switch career paths multiple times throughout your undergraduate education. While some students may enter college determined to work as a project marketing manager at Google or a consultant at BCG in four years’ time, most of your classmates will have no idea where they hope to start their careers. Embrace the uncertainty that accompanies the undergraduate experience: explore several industries and roles before deciding on a career path.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? It was the incorporation of current events. I’ve enjoyed examining modern social phenomena and political discourse through the lens of business strategy, management, and ethics during my time at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? If I were to do it again, I would seek more professional advice from my professors. As business students, we have the unique privilege to learn from seasoned industry professionals. I wish I had spent more time in my professors’ office hours asking about their experiences across industries as I explored various career paths.

What business executive do you admire most? Marc Benioff, the chair, co-CEO and co-founder of Salesforce. Benioff balances financial incentives with societal well-being through his commitment to stakeholder capitalism. I hope to mirror his responsible leadership style in the future.

Which academic, extracurricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of? While working at LinkedIn, I initiated the company-wide “Interns for Education” fundraiser. My intern cohort and I collaborated to raise over $4,000 for The Education Trust, a nonprofit addressing educational opportunity gaps primarily affecting low-income students and students of color. LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for all. I was proud to advance LinkedIn’s mission by supporting The Education Trust, as the organization creates opportunity for members of my own cohort of students.

Which classmate do you most admire? Anyone who interacts with Bella Church knows her as a supportive classmate and a friend to all. Bella’s superpower? Active listening. While classmates, she would often reference a peer’s comment from previous class sessions, demonstrating her deep respect for the ideas of others. I admire her kindness and ability to make others feel heard.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents are my biggest cheerleaders, and I would not be here without their love and guidance.

My dad always told me, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” His advice and eternal optimism have guided me through success and failure throughout my undergraduate career. I strive to emulate his calm demeaner and commitment to his community.

My mom is the most empathetic person I have ever met. She makes everyone who she meets feel important. Her unwavering kindness and support give me the confidence face anxieties and step outside of my comfort zone.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

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

  1. Become a leader in corporate sustainability, leveraging the private sector to meet global environmental targets.
  2. Serve as a role model for young women working in business, namely, my two younger sisters.

What are your hobbies? The pandemic, and subsequent cancellation of my university meal plan, provided a great opportunity to learn to cook. Over the past two years, I have enjoyed trying new recipes and cooking techniques. Outside of the kitchen, I enjoy listening to podcasts (You’re Wrong About with Sarah Marshall and How I Built This with Guy Raz are my current favorites) and hiking in my home of Western North Carolina.

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

“When I learned that Lillie was nominated for the Poets & Quants’ Best & Brightest series, I cannot say it was a surprise.

UNC Kenan-Flagler is a business school built on the core values of integrity, inclusion, innovation and impact and Lillie has used these principles as a driving force to improve opportunities at the school not only for herself, but also for her fellow classmates through her leadership and involvement inside and outside of the classroom. Over the years, students have often remarked there is a pull to focus on more traditional business routes – finance, consulting, marketing – but from the start Lillie has followed her own path and in doing so has helped others see the wide array of possibilities that can be achieved through business.

From growing up in Western North Carolina and seeing the impact coal plants can have on a community, Lillie’s interests revolved around sustainability and the intersection of business and technology. Her drive to get involved in these spaces started in her first years at UNC by joining organizations including Carolina Women in Business, the Business Technology Club and the UNC Institute for the Environment. Holding multiple leadership positions throughout the years, she is known as not only a leader, but also as a mentor who helps other students establish professional goals and engage with the business school community.

A legacy Lillie will leave behind after her graduation is founding the now-annual Busi-Tech Boot Camp. As COVID took away students’ ability to not only connect with each other, but also discover opportunities from employer engagements, Lillie spearheaded the development, planning and execution of this event that in its inaugural year connected 114 diverse students with six company partners in a day of virtual workshops to learn about possible career paths in the tech industry.

All of the work she put in during her time as student has culminated in serving as the first female president of the Business Technology Club in her senior year. In this role Lillie has continued to push the organization to grow and innovate. Through her leadership the club improved female diversity on the executive board by 20% after diversifying the advertising channels and conducting structured interviews to remove bias.=

Lastly, not only has Lillie opened these opportunities for fellow students by creating the space for education in networking on campus, but her internship last summer at LinkedIn made clear that even students from the piedmont region of North Carolina with drive and passion can make their mark on Silicon Valley.”

Sarah Crockett, Associate Director for Career Development
Undergraduate Business Program, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School






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