2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Therese Geishauser, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Therese Geishauser

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“Just a girl who wants to wear a power suit and drink Earl Grey every day.”

Fun fact about yourself: Taylor Swift is from my hometown, and we went to the same preschool!

Hometown: Reading, PA

High School: The Hill School

Major: Finance

Minor: Constitutional Studies

Favorite Business Course: Corporate Governance and Catholic Social Teaching

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Undergraduate Bradley Fellow/Mentor in the Business Honors Program
  • Deloitte Scholars Program, Notre Dame-Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership
  • Teaching Assistant, Catholic Social Teaching and Corporate Governance
  • Sorin Fellow, DeNicola Center for Ethics and Culture
  • Wellness Commissioner, Johnson Family Hall
  • Women’s Choice Network Project

Where have you interned during your college career? I actually haven’t had an official internship. My sophomore summer internship was cancelled due to COVID, and during my junior summer I studied for the LSAT while working for a Notre Dame professor.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be going to law school after graduation, hopefully to start a career in business law after I receive my JD.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Carl Ackermann’s energy, enthusiasm, and passion for his vocation to teach changed the trajectory of my Notre Dame career, and indeed my professional life, which is why he is my favorite professor. When I transferred to Notre Dame into Mendoza, I wasn’t quite sure where in business I wanted to end up. I had tentatively put down finance as my intended major on my transfer application, but wanted to get a better idea of what I really liked as I took the intro courses for each Mendoza major.

I took Carl Ackermann’s Corporate Financial Management course during my first semester at Notre Dame, and I will always remember how much I truly enjoyed that class. With two lawyers for parents, I didn’t have a very finance-y background, but Carl really made me feel like I did. He had the remarkable ability, at least in my experience, to make his students feel like they got it. Perhaps even more notable than his command of the coursework, Carl is also the most supportive and encouraging professor I’ve ever had the honor of learning from. He never lets anything, or anyone, come between him and an appointment with a student.

My go-to anecdote about Carl is the story of how he let me, along with a few friends, build an escape room in his house. We had been struggling to find space on campus, and Carl somehow heard about it. My friend and I walked into class one day, and Carl called us up onto the stage in the front of the room before class began. “I heard you’re trying to build an escape room,” he said, quite casually. From that moment until the beginning of the pandemic, Carl helped us build an escape room inside his house. Though COVID ruined our plans, I will always remember Carl’s generosity, and the fact that he was the impetus of my finance journey.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Majoring in finance, specifically at the University of Notre Dame, has taught me that the study of business is so much more than the study of money. The Mendoza College of Business’ mission is to “Grow the Good in Business.” Over the past three years, while I’ve learned the technical skills necessary for a lucrative career after graduation, I’ve been able to further explore what that mission truly means. The most important lesson that I’ll take into my professional life is that business is a means, rather than an end in itself. It’s a vehicle for me to use my time, talent, and treasure to contribute to the common good while continuing my own personal development, as a careerwoman and as an individual.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Go to office hours, and don’t be afraid to branch out of Mendoza. I would definitely recommend picking up a supplementary major or a minor outside of the business school. Minoring in Constitutional Studies exposed me to so many more people, and ultimately made me a more well-rounded student. Many of the skills and perspectives learned from other subjects can vary naturally and, almost necessarily, translate into your business studies and eventually, your professional career.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Throughout the last three years as a business major, I’ve been repeatedly surprised by how often business is characterized as something harmful to society. There’s a very negative stigma surrounding business in general. Studying business and learning about its applications made it clear to me that it’s actually quite the opposite – business has an immense capacity to be a “force for good” in our world.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would definitely speak to professors about their research more often. The business professors here are constantly conducting interesting research, often related to the courses they teach, that doesn’t get enough attention from students. I have been so lucky to have studied under such distinguished academics, and I wish I would have taken more time to hear about the research that they are really passionate about.

What business executive do you admire most? Jayshree Ullal, President and CEO of Arista Networks I was first introduced to the powerhouse CEO Jayshree Ullal during a Tom Mendoza Presents event in the fall of 2020. During the virtual interview, I was first struck by her humility and her strong belief in the value of hard work. The stories of her 15 years working with Cisco, the various acquisitions that she helmed throughout her career, and her difficult decision to leave Cisco to pursue an influential project with Arista Networks were really inspiring for me as a woman hoping to build a successful professional career. I admire her principle-based leadership and prudent ambition, as well as her dedication to her values throughout her career.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’m really proud that I took the initiative and the leap of faith freshman year to submit my transfer application to the University of Notre Dame. Attending this University will forever be one of the accomplishments I hold close to my heart. As my time here comes to an end and I look back on the moments when I submitted my transfer application and when I received the acceptance letter from Notre Dame, I can easily say that they were two of the most pivotal moments in my personal development. I’ll always be proud of, and grateful for, the fact that I can say that I’m one of the Fighting Irish.

Which classmate do you most admire? Sabrina Curran, Class of 2023

Sabrina is one of the most vivacious, hard-working, and talented people I’ve ever met during my time at the University of Notre Dame. Though I’ve known her for less than a year, she’s become a respected peer and a wonderful friend. Perhaps the most striking thing about Sabrina, when you get to know her, is her genuine and wholehearted love for business. I’m constantly amazed at her sheer passion for not only her major, but every endeavor to which she applies herself. Sabrina is constantly smiling, is always well-dressed, knows practically everyone in the business school, and (most importantly) holds her faith at the center of everything she does. She has been a true role model and friend to me, and I can’t wait to see her change the world in her career.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I don’t know how I couldn’t say that I want to thank my mom for my success. I’ve learned more from her over the last twenty-two years than I ever could in a classroom, and my mom’s lessons are lessons for life, not just for a career. My mom is a judge and the mother of six rambunctious children, of whom I am the oldest. Her example has shaped me into the woman I am today, and shown me the woman I hope to become. She’s done what mothers do – been a shoulder to cry on, enforced house rules with a stern look and a sharp tongue, and cheered along the sidelines, both figuratively and literally – and she’s done it all with abundant patience, prudence, and poise.

One of the most important lessons I learned from my mother was grace in the face of adversity. When she was running for judge in our county for the first time, she was pregnant with my youngest sister. I heard about, and even personally witnessed, other candidates criticizing her for her pregnancy at public events, and wondered why she never seemed to fight back. Her response: “I’m running my own race.” Her inner strength, unwavering class, and unflinching faith are the reason I’m the person I am today. I can’t even begin to imagine all of the things both her and my dad sacrificed so that I could reach for the stars, or, in this case, the Golden Dome. I owe her, and really both of them, more than I can ever repay.

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

  1. As I’ve learned more about myself and my definition of success, the first and most important thing that I want to do is take care of the people and communities that made it possible for me to be where I am today. A key element of that goal is someday being able to contribute to Notre Dame’s financial aid by endowing a scholarship for future students.
  2. On a more personal level, I hope to work internationally at some point in my career.

What are your hobbies? Reading, baking, yoga, skiing, and tennis

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

“I have had the pleasure of working with Tess extensively for the past year. Her stellar performance in my classes is only the tip of the iceberg for Tess, however. What makes her such a  valued presence is her willingness and ability to inspire those around her.

She stands up for and supports other students, even when they take minority positions or positions with which she disagrees. She accepts every invitation to help and every task asked of her, joyfully and with professionalism, and she volunteers to help and lead even when unasked.  Her example of quiet, servant-leadership inspires other students to strive to be their best.

I have been so impressed with her that I invited her to be one of a select group of Deloitte Scholars, who meet weekly to discuss the moral purpose they might serve in their chosen business careers. Her contributions to those discussions reveal not just a technically competent  person but a thinker, serious about her moral obligations and committed to conducting business honorably.

I also invited her to be one of student mentors for the new undergraduate Honors Program at the  Mendoza College of Business. We wanted three undergraduate seniors to serve as one-on-one mentors to the incoming sophomore class of 60 Honors students. We wanted mentors who are not only high academic achievers but persons of good character who also wanted to help other students do and be the same. We thought of Tess immediately, and she was the first of the only three seniors we invited for this honor. We had high expectations of her, which she has exceeded — becoming a beloved mentor to her students and developing an impressive wisdom and perspective from which they have all benefited.

Tess has, in short, become an ambassador of everything we hope for in a Mendoza business student: intelligent, skilled, and driven, yes, but also a person of humble yet wise and virtuous leadership. She would be an outstanding representative of what Poets & Quants is looking for in  a top business student. I recommend her to you very highly.”

James R. Otteson
John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics
Rex and Alice A. Martin Faculty Director, Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership

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