2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Haley Armstrong, Wake Forest University

Haley Armstrong

Wake Forest University School of Business

“Devoted Daughter, Economist Enthusiast, California Escapee, Adventurer of Antiquity, Efficiency Engine, Alliteration Aficionado, Purpose-driven Pragmatist.”

Fun fact about yourself: I spent five years diving at Stanford Diving Club, where style and spring were combined in sport.

Hometown: Woodside, California

High School: Pinewood School

Major: Business and Enterprise Management with a custom concentration in Global Risk & Policy

Favorite Business Course: The Legal Environment of Business and Ethics and Business Leadership courses with Professor Phillips have provided me with an educational framework and foundation for exploring my joint interest in community service, general management, and business/law. From these courses, I have learned how to best interact with cross-functional teams and different ideological preferences, how to treat others with dignity and honor, how businesses function, and how to engage in the world with a sensitivity to international struggle and diplomacy.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: My leadership experience during my college career has revolved around one central aim: to welcome, unite, and empower others.

Extracurricular Activities:

President’s Aide

President of Phi Alpha Delta, Pre-Law Fraternity President of the Mortar Board Honor’s Society

Undergraduate Business School Council: Events and Programming Officer Undergraduate Business School Ambassador

Vice President and Co-Founder of Women Can Coalition Meals on Wheels: Driver for Homebound Meal Delivery


Student Marshal Dean’s List Recipient

Interdisciplinary Honors Student

National Society Member for Leadership and Success Mortar Board Honors Society Member

Wake Forest Board of Directors and Alumni Council Student Representative Fall 2021 Bryan Stevenson February ‘23 Face to Face Nominated Student Speaker

Where have you interned during your college career?

Operations Tech Transformation Summer Analyst, Jefferies LLC – New York Metropolitan Area

I have aligned my studies to dissect issues from a legal, ethical, corporate, and consumer perspectives with the aim of providing insights with impact. For a ten-week period, I saw these issues from a real-world perspective throughout the financial services industry. Through interning within Operations, I was given exposure to KRIs throughout the trading and settlement lifecycle, investment portfolios, and general processes throughout the bank. After interviewing functions, conducting value stream maps, and learning Six Sigma strategies, I contributed to visualizations for a Manager Summary Dashboard, where senior level executives could get a real-time heatmap of the organization’s issues, performance indicators, and results. Specifically leveraging Qlik applications, I established five test scripts for margin disputes, collateral management, settlement risk, fixed income offices, and legal entities.

Validating the data in a robust and honest nature, I created templates for assessment and conducted analysis/cross-comparisons between the development and analytics layers. In conclusion, I realized how to approach data analytics with care, conciseness, and clarity.

During this term, I pitched an ESG x Operations collaboration. To actively monitor and spearhead ESG efforts, I suggested Jefferies initiate an internal monitoring process. Curating 72 metrics in five categories, I created a presentation, Confluence page, and networking capacity with DE&I/HR and the ESG research team. From here, our operations team can further input these metrics into our Manager Summary Dashboard, hence getting a more accurate display of KRI/KPI analytics.

I was trusted to compose Operations’ first newsletter to be sent out to employees. I surveyed teams in both the U.S, UK, Europe, and Asia offices to create a feature’s page. As Ops Tech transformation is new within the organization, our team is focused on creating visibility and visual duality. With a newsletter, I was able to spearhead the rhetoric behind change management and invite new teams to collaborate with our process transformation capacities. Now, there is a monthly template.

Congressional Intern, U.S. House of Representatives – Huntington Beach, CA

Serving in the district office, I managed over 27 individual cases with the IRS and SBA, leading to the acquisition of over $375,000 in PPP, EIDL, RRF loans, and tax recovery rebates. With these cases, I compiled categorical and nominal data on Excel: inputting constituency priorities, tracking application statuses, and researching local business success on our internal database, Indigov. From these resources, I composed legislative research on fiscal and educational policy within the CA-48 district. Throughout each interaction, I aimed to champion productive and personal experience through constituency work: writing letters, answering phone calls, and holding meetings with Laguna Beach members.

Public Policy Intern, National District Attorneys Association – Remote

Throughout my internship with the National District Attorneys Association, I’ve drafted memos and research to further inspect the intersection of policy, politics, prosecutorial platforms, and public service. This was achieved through summarizing testimony and monitoring bill passage pertaining to both Assembly and Senate committee hearings. Understanding prosecutorial issues such as VOCA, FIRST Step Act, ghost guns, and facial recognition technology, I’ve developed a passion for focalizing and protecting victim’s voices amongst our court systems.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I am thrilled to be working at Jefferies LLC as an incoming Operations Analyst in New York City.

Who is your favorite business professor? Dean Kenny Herbst is not only my favorite business professor, but also my greatest mentor. He embodies the ethos of inclusion: an active process of championing individuals’ experiences, respecting multiple viewpoints, and breaking down barriers. When I think of an ideal professor, I couldn’t more accurately describe Dean Herbst. He instigates intellectual curiosity in every marketing conversation, which is why many Finance, Accounting, Math Business, and Marketing majors all celebrate his class. His classes are structured around contemporary business conversations: dedicating 15 minutes of each lecture to discuss the most recent marketing decisions and their repercussions.

However, what makes Dean Herbst my favorite professor is his ongoing commitment to compassion. When interviewing for internships, he was only a Wednesday night phone call away from a pep talk. When innovating the undergraduate business school experience, he pushes student perspectives first, whether he invites students to “coffee chats” or business school brainstorming sessions. It can be a difficult task at times to demonstrate authentic care. However, Dean Herbst – as busy as he is – never sacrifices a student’s struggle for self-interest. When I had to submit to Continuous Enrollment Status after taking a semester off to support my grieving family, he still treated me as if I was still present     and pertinent to the Wake Forest community. He was one of my greatest cheerleaders when I garnered the strength to come back to campus, and make my final impact as a senior.

Dean Herbst inspires students with his earnestness and empathy. I am not alone when I have the privilege to call Dean Herbst my mentor. He is an aspiration to all who want to lead strategic initiatives while serving the public at large. Thank you, Dean Herbst, for making my Wake Forest Business experience extraordinary.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is better to be uncertain than unwavering. In business, you cannot think within the confines of ready-made systems; instead, you need to be strategic and innovative about subjects you might not know. We don’t need to be a master at everything—it’s almost better if we aren’t. You just need to ask the right questions.

When I started my internship in May, I was intimidated by the prospect of ivy-minted bankers, revolutionary industry-makers, and the ‘wolves of Wall Street.’ I have never taken finance, yet I will be working in the financial services industry; my educational experience was composed of crash course curriculum on my computer screen. I believed I had no business being blessed with this opportunity. This imposter syndrome led me to mildly cower, comply, and attempt to camouflage in the first two weeks.

However, once I dismissed my sweeping and unsubstantiated generalizations, I began to simply ask fellow interns and soon-to-be mentors what things were and how they worked. My supervisor started to see me as a contributing employee, instead of another cog in an Excel-churning assembly line. I know now that all I needed to “work on” was talking with intention, direction, confidence, and clarity. It is almost impossible to know every facet of business; this is why it is vitally a team enterprise.

Beyond a work setting, when you study business, it is essential to build your study communities. A simple, “How did you format that?” or “I feel like there must be a more efficient way to do this”, can not only increase your abilities but also give your respect to others. So, in sum, be enthusiastic to give accolades to others and advance with their support by your side. Life is all about learning opportunities.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Your classmates are not your competitors; they are your greatest confidants. If you want your studies to be siloed and self-serving, choose another field. You will be prompted to participate in teams, contribute in collective projects, and problem-solve in partnerships. The curricula of all your courses from Finance to Operations will be structured on design-thinking principles. You will learn that you can only turn purpose into practice once you leverage leadership skills with listening capabilities. Ask for feedback, tips, and growth opportunities. Practice networking, collaborating, and contributing in an environment where you won’t be the only person in control. That’s how the world works; that’s how business studies are built.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? When you study business, you choose to study people, purpose, and moral principles.

I am currently majoring in Business and Enterprise Management with a custom concentration in Global Risk and Policy. I created this concentration to delve deeper into the intersection of destruction and development. Public policy plays such a significant role in managing and mitigating global risk – yet can also be the sole malefactor. When being instructed on such issues through the lens of BEM, I can appreciate how specific business practices, personnel, and proposals can interfere with and impact prosperity. Selecting this course of study, I hope to understand politics, policies, and processes so that I can hopefully make an impact in the public and private domains.

Simply put, what mostly surprised me about majoring in business is how it has prepared me to be an ethical person. I believe that businesses are the best conduit for ethical decision making and informative geopolitical understanding. From our discussions in class, I have learned from scholars such as James Otteson and Adam Smith that the real purpose of business is to contribute to a just, honorable society. Businesses only can function if they are not zero-sum (who would even engage in that endeavor with a loss impending), always honor contracts, and prompt respectful, interdependent cooperation. If our moral rules are to hold others to respect and treat others with dignity, businesses provide (through specialization, division of labor, and their overarching structure) the most abundant opportunity for individual and institutional improvement. I don’t think the benefits of business are completely independent and exclusive from the moral rules and regulations of our society. Yes, there have been accounting scandals and global crises, but they serve only short-term benefits. For long enduring, thriving, and fulfilling businesses, they apply moral rules and regulations: customer and employee satisfaction, increasing profits, and trustworthy reputations. On the flip side, I also believe that moral rules and regulations exist because of businesses.

To be part of a business endeavor, you are part of some sort of exchange. A relationship, benefit, and opportunity are all necessary in the act of a ‘business.’ Hence, respecting others’ moral agency, opinions, and opt-out options have all become fundamental and relevant in any sort of business endeavor.

Who I am, at my core, is an individual eager to learn from others, to make people feel believed in, and to deliver some substantial value to the public domain. I chose to study business because it is an avenue to achieve my biggest goal: to contribute to something greater than myself and to care for others. I will lead all my experiences and professional engagements with an ethical code. I will safeguard my studies in finance, accounting, political theory, business law, leadership and ethics, modern civil wars, and women and gender studies to best interact with any facet of business that I interact with.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I don’t believe I would do anything differently in business school. That is not to say that I had the most perfect experience; I really did struggle with Introduction To Accounting, one of the prerequisite classes to gain admission. I could say that I wish I had gained financial literacy earlier: whether it be burying myself in balance sheets or focusing on strategic initiatives. I really didn’t believe I would be in the business program at Wake Forest. At first, I was debating between studying English, History, Economics, Art History, or Politics. I could have been more focused on my curriculum; however, I believe I am now able to understand issues from a more rich historical, socioeconomic, psychological, and compassionate perspective.

What business leader do you admire most? I cannot believe that I get to work for him. Rich Handler.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? When working at the Congressional District Office, I had the opportunity to serve constituents through case work. However, most readily, you were given a conflict, call-to-action, and citizen through a telephone line.

Charles, a veteran, called on behalf of his friend Tyron about a rent issue.

Tyron has been compliant with the entire application process. He had four times the income needed for the rent, provided government ID, demonstrated a robust credit score of 800+, and paid the application fee. However, the project manager had denied him the opportunity to even be considered. Mr. Edmond speculated that this result stemmed from discrimination. This was a Friday afternoon, when our office was just about to close. Although this case is built upon many legal infractions, I felt that the administration should do whatever it could to remedy the situation. So, I stayed after hours: resilient and responsible to perform a civic duty.

I personally called Springdale Apartments to ask about the applicant procedure. After gaining information, I asked to speak to the property manager himself. Although he was not the nicest guy – not very compliant, and lied to me personally about his contact with Mr. Williams – he allowed (after being prompted by a phone call by Williams) to hold a meeting on Monday to review his application again. Although I investigated the manager’s procedures further, he was willing to review the good candidate again. Sometimes people just need a little push.

I am proud of this correspondence, which ended up lasting over a week, because it would have been listed under “other duties” as a mere 20-year-old intern. Many citizens feel overlooked and unappreciated under their governments. With just some simple steps, I could change that. Tyron was able to receive fair housing. Charles Edmond – who later became a friend – was able to receive long-overdue veteran’s benefits. I am proud of this ‘achievement’ not necessarily because it would have been advantageous to represent a Congressional office with authenticity, but rather because I got to really understand a discriminatory climate and act as a solver.

Which classmate do you most admire? Maggie Montle. I can say for certain that she is the most selfless, sincere, and service-driven person I have met at Wake Forest. She creates communities and environments inside the classroom – whether it is through a simulation of the French Revolution or an in-class debate on Hobbes. With an open, listening ear and an encouraging smile, she both empowers and invites participation.

However, her admiration does not stop inside the classroom walls. Through working alongside her on our executive board of Phi Alpha Delta, it is easy to acknowledge her leadership capabilities. She is both analytical and adventurous. She balances pragmatism with purpose. Although she has to wake up earlier than anyone I know for her training as a cadet in ROTC, she never treats an experience like an exhaustion. I am very proud of the person she has become, and cannot wait to see how she transforms her role as the incoming President of Phi Alpha Delta.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My father. He has always been my inspiration. He passed away last January, but I cannot thank him enough for both demonstrating how to lead with impact and encouraging my growth and development. I am so grateful that I don’t feel like I am no longer living without him, but rather with the love, memories, and lessons he left behind. So, today, I will share a couple that have shaped my ideas of success.

Message One: Treat everyone with respect, honor, and kindness. It’s not about doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because YOU can.

My father’s attitude in life was purely altruistic. Throughout the 40 years he spent in the electrical contracting industry, he emphasized the virtue of giving value. With each project from commercial properties, hospitals, and high-tech campuses throughout Silicon Valley, he kept one business practice in common: building a community. If he saw an area he could contribute, or a coworker he could care for, he never shied away from that opportunity. Every day that he could, he wanted to make sure that everyone he’d meet knew that they mattered to him. Each day, he would chat, charm, and cheer for every single person he met. He was more than just inquisitive with them, he was inspired. For dad, it was about experiencing happiness through people. Because of people. Today, I live by that pursuit: hoping that each individual I meet knows I care.

Message Two: Your mind matters.

Throughout each level of his business from the people in the field to the managers in the boardroom, he ensured that every single person was heard. My father started from an entry level position and worked his way up. My father taught me to never take another voice for granted. As a leader, even if I cannot personally espouse the values of my organization and shape the language of upper management, I want to establish psychological safety amongst those I interact with. This requires both a spoken and enacted commitment to involving others. Though I used to really struggle with distributing tasks, I want to challenge myself to better delegate tasks and decisions to others. This will establish a sense of responsibility and commitment amongst coworkers, but also indicate how I personally believe in others. When I lead, I hope to rise with and because of others.

Message Three: You are truly successful if you find a way to involve your passions in your work. Instead of work-life balance, work on work-life integration.

My father taught me to pursue paths that can enable philanthropic and community engagement.

Honestly, it is quite easy if you are working for an organization like Jefferies who commits so much to “Doing Good.” On an everyday basis, my father emphasized the importance of having a chance. You should always be grateful for any job or task at hand because it is your opportunity to contribute.

Furthermore, you will be more likely to be successful if you realize that the success already occurred: you got your shot. Take it.

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

  1. Be Someone Else’s Mentor
  2. Write a Book

What are your hobbies? I love to paint, hike, explore museums, read, learn programming languages, and engage in my community.

What made Haley such an invaluable member of the Class of 2023?

“Like many of her peers at Wake Forest, Haley is smart, driven, and intellectually curious. What makes Haley stand out is her character. When faced with an ethical dilemma, Haley lives out honesty and moral courage. When faced with personal adversity, she handles it with resilience and grace. When faced with interpersonal challenges in teams, she handles them with maturity and kindness. Haley is open to growth and continuous learning and is truly a remarkable human being.”

Julie Wayne
David C. Darnell Presidential Chair in Principal Leadership

“Haley Armstrong is a wonderful person and student who cares about her classmates and the Wake Forest University School of Business. Haley is extremely engaged in her classes, often going the extra mile on assignments and readings to maximize what she can glean from them. She is a giving teammate, and she serves on our Undergraduate Business Student Council so that she can enhance, substantially, our business students’ experience. When Haley has faced adversity, she has moved beyond it — with grace and with a strong desire to continue to give to others.”

Kenny Herbst, PhD
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Business Program
Board of Visitors Fellow in Marketing


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