2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Nicole Sofia Gonzalez Ong, Boston University (Questrom)

Nicole Sofia Gonzalez Ong

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

“Raised as a third culture kid to become a global leader.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived in six different countries so far: Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, and the US.

Hometown: Cairo, Egypt (at the moment)

High School: Cairo American College

Major: Business Administration with a triple concentrations in Finance, Strategy, and Global Business

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: SI432: Corporate Strategy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • President and Treasurer of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)
  • Member of Beta Gamma Sigma – International Business Honor Society
  • Accounting Research Assistant
  • Club Sports Athlete in the Equestrian Team
  • Sigma Chi Sweetheart at the Iota Upsilon Chapter
  • Dean’s List Recipient
  • Magna Cum Laude

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • BlackRock – New York, NY – Summer Analyst in Treasury Accounting
  • Pharos Holding – Cairo, Egypt – Summer Intern in Investment Banking and Equity Research

Where will you be working after graduation? BlackRock – Finance Analyst – New York, NY

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Professor John Kirks. I have taken two strategy classes with Professor Kirks. In both classes, I have been able to apply course concepts to internships and the recruiting process. He constantly challenged me to look beyond the course content. Professor Kirks also ensured that all his students understood that a class grade does not define your success or intelligence. There is more to life than the four walls of a classroom, so it’s important to take the lessons we learn in class and apply them in our lives. Professor Kirks also always went above-and-beyond to help me create connections to strengthen my professional network and guide my professional development.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Business is all about people and interpersonal skills. If you can empower others around you, their results will more likely exceed your expectations and create a better working environment. It’s also essential to learn how to work with people different from you. Learning from others can help you grow as a person and professional. Diversity in the workplace and the classroom creates a rich experience for all involved. That’s why I have enjoyed studying at Questrom because I am surrounded by people from all over the world. Teamwork within a diverse group of people can be challenging, but the result is always stronger, and the lessons you learn along the way are invaluable.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was most surprised by the value of soft skills in business education. Frequently, incoming students believe you need to know all the hard skills, such as financial modeling or data analytics. Although they are very important, soft skills are just as significant to creating a successful business career and sustainable network. While working at BlackRock as a Summer Analyst, I found that critical thinking, teamwork, and intercultural literacy were crucial to succeeding. My colleagues often mentioned that it’s very easy to teach someone how to use Excel, but it’s challenging to teach them how to work in a team. So never underestimate the value of your soft skills.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I wouldn’t make any radical changes to my undergrad career. Although it’s not perfect, it has made me the person I am today, and I am very proud of my hard work so far. However, if I could go back, I would have told myself to focus on my path more than others because we all have different experiences, so it’s okay not to be the same. Imposter syndrome is prevalent amongst business students because it’s easy to think everyone knows what they are doing and has everything figured out. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. We are all trying our best to learn and succeed, so comparing yourself to others will do more harm than good. That’s why I would love to go back to my freshman year self and tell her to stop looking around so much and redirect my attention to my journey.

What business executive do you admire most? The business executive I admire most is Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, from 2005 to 2020. As a student in Questrom, I often read many cases, but one, in particular, stood out to me: “The Walt Disney Company & Pixar Inc: To Acquire or Not to Acquire.” Learning about Disney’s background and Iger’s decision process on Pixar’s acquisition was very interesting because many of the childhood classics we know today wouldn’t have been possible without Iger. I also strive to have many of his 10 Principles for Great Leadership, such as optimism, decisiveness, and curiosity. As Iger has said, “The path to innovation begins with curiosity.”

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my work in the Association of Latino Professionals for America. During my two years as President, I have strived to create an environment where Latin students feel welcomed, supported, and inspired. My main goal has always been to build opportunities for members to be better equipped to succeed in their professional careers. Some of my favorite moments have been hosting a panel discussion about Building General Wealth with Santander Mexico’s CFO and creating an event about the importance of mental health in the workplace. Since my freshman year, I have been a part of ALPFA BU, and I am so grateful for the ALPFAmilia we have created. I look forward to joining the ALPFA New York chapter in the fall.

Which classmate do you most admire?  The classmate I admire the most is my friend Wyatt Greiner, a fellow Questrom senior. Unlike many undergraduate students, Wyatt founded a start-up in 2019 called CoStudy. CoStudy is “the next generation of peer evaluations that provide customizable, research-based insights for professors in higher education.” As Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Wyatt has helped grow the company from an idea to having contracts with higher education institutions. Wyatt has achieved tremendous success in this endeavour, all while being in the Questrom Honors School where he has been working part-time on campus and starting the Sigma Chi Iota Upsilon chapter at BU. Since sophomore year, he has been a loyal friend, and I wish him all the success as an analyst in Fixed Income Trading at PNC Bank.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would be most thankful for my parents, Carlos and Yvonne. They have supported me unconditionally throughout my education. Even though we were separated by an 11-hour flight and 6 hour time difference during my four years at Boston University, my parents always made sure I knew they were only one call away. They were always happy to help me with anything from difficult finance homework to making tacos mañaneros on Facetime. I will be forever grateful for their invaluable support throughout my undergraduate programs, and I can’t wait to see them again for graduation!

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

  • Work in multiple countries as an expatriate
  • Become a Fortune 500 CEO

What are your hobbies? My main hobbies include reading, horseback riding, and baking. My go to recipe at the moment is chocolate crinkle cookies with white chocolate chips!

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

Nicole represents everything positive that P&Q represents. I had the pleasure of having Nicole as a student in Spring 2021 as a remote student in SI422, and then again in my Fall 2021 SI432 class which was held in person. Across both modes of delivery, Nicole was so engaged as a student, and she made tremendous contributions to both classes through her enthusiastic engagement.

She and one other student anchored her SI432 project on Google, which was an exceptional effort. Nicole is a leader across multiple students organizations, including Alpha and Sigma Chi. She has lived in multiple countries around the world and thus brings unique and diverse perspective to any dicussion she joins. She is very comfortable interacting with senior executives (e.g., a CFO of a publicly traded company to whom I introduced her) and professors, and handles these interactions with thoughtfulness and professionalism. And on top of all of this, Nicole is one of the warmest and most caring people you could encounter. She will be working for Blackrock in a rotational program, and that firm has made an exceptional hire. In short, I cannot recommend anyone more enthusiastically than Nicole!”

John Kirks
Senior Lecturer
Strategy and Innovation Department



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