2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Justine Salerno, Syracuse University (Whitman)

Justine Salerno

Syracuse University, Martin J. Whitman School of Management

“I am someone who always has a smile on from ear-to-ear!”

Fun fact about yourself: Two small fun facts about myself are that my parents used to own an Italian restaurant that was named after me in our hometown and Syracuse University was actually the only school that I applied to!

Hometown: Cobleskill, NY

High School: Cobleskill Richmondville High School

Majors: Supply Chain Management and Business Analytics

Minor: Mathematics

Favorite Business Course: My favorite business course would have to be EEE 457 Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management with Professor Kenneth Walsleben. I took this class during the Fall 2022 semester of my senior year, and it is the class that all seniors refer to as Capstone. This was one of my favorite courses because it was a class that really encompassed all that an individual learns in Whitman in one class. I also loved that we were placed in groups with students who had different majors so that we truly got a unique perspective from everyone when it came time to develop our business idea. Even though the class took a lot of time and effort, it was so rewarding on Capstone Friday to truly see all of my team’s hard work come together and perform to the best that we could.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: During my four years of college, I have achieved and been involved in numerous things. I achieved Dean’s List during a couple of semesters. I am proud to say that I am a Peer Mentor, a House Leader, a Career Ambassador, a Whitman Ambassador, a member of the Franklin Supply Chain Club, a member of the professional fraternity Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), and one of the two Whitman Senior Class Marshals.

As a Peer Mentor, I supported two five-person groups of first-year students with their transition to Syracuse University and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. I facilitated group meetings and assisted them with any course questions that they had regarding their introductory SOM 122 class. As a House Leader, I work closely with Professor Wimer, the House Mentor for Waverly house, where I guide 50+ incoming first-year students with their transition to college. I serve as a liaison between the students and Professor Wimer by communicating with both parties on a weekly basis. I meet with the students when they have questions regarding SOM 122.

As a Career Ambassador, I help promote Whitman’s wonderful Career Center and all of the resources that it has to offer. I promote the Career Center to students who might not be familiar with what the Career Center is or what it does. As a Whitman Ambassador, I guide prospective families around Whitman by giving tours and describing Whitman’s history and the passion I have for Whitman. I am an active member of the Franklin Supply Chain Club that meets and listens to professionals currently working in the supply chain industry. I am currently the Vice President of Communications, where I create graphic pamphlets containing detailed meeting information and disperse it to the entire club. During my first semester in the DSP, I was a member of the recruitment committee where I helped organize potential new member applications and helped with the transition from in-person to virtual operations. Right now, I am currently the Chancellor where I facilitate weekly chapter meetings with all of our active brothers and update our bylaws and policies. I am currently one of two students that were selected to represent the Martin J. Whitman School of Management’s graduating class of 2023 as class marshals!

Where have you interned during your college career? During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I interned at Hill & Markes Inc. located in Amsterdam, New York as an Operations and Logistics Intern. In this role, I routed delivery trucks daily using the Omnitracs software for 11 drivers covering the greater Central New York area. I also assigned delivery days weekly to 1000+ new customer accounts in Excel, Omnitracs, and SX.e. I also sent completed routes to the warehouse through SX.e for workers to pick up products and load them onto the corresponding vehicles.

During the summer between my junior and senior year, I interned at Mainfreight USA at one of the branches located in Albany, New York as an Operations and Sales Intern. In this role, I was able to shadow different departments each week that included the Branch Manager, the Sales Managers & Sales Team, the Air Import & Export Team, and the Ocean Import & Export Team. For the majority of the summer, I worked on a prospecting project where I created a wide-ranging import and export database utilizing Panjiva, Zoominfo, and Excel for the sales team based on specific territories. I also was able to attend numerous sales calls, weekly ocean calls, a quarterly business review, and an ocean freight seminar. Two more additional things that I got to participate in over the summer were creating the Albany Branches Newsletter and going on a United Airlines tour to understand the different processes that air freight goes through.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I will be working for Mainfreight USA in their Albany Branch under Ocean Export Operations.

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor is Professor Elizabeth Wimer. Professor Wimer has made such an impact on my four years at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. From the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, I was placed in Waverly House and Professor Wimer emailed all of her students a get to know you survey for us to fill out so that she could learn a little bit about us before we arrived on campus. The very first day that I was going to meet Professor Wimer, before I could even reach my hand out and introduce myself, she was already saying “Justine Salerno it is a pleasure to meet you.” This made the biggest impact on me, and I knew that this was an individual that truly cared about getting to know me.

Throughout my first business class, which Professor Wimer taught, she always talked about relationships, connections, and two-way streets. I stand behind her words and I have cherished the relationship, the connection, and the two-way street that we have made together. Now I find myself so excited to see her every day and check in with her not only about school but about our lives outside of Whitman. I will truly miss her once I graduate.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson that I gained from studying business is that it will always be in our everyday lives. However, something unique about the business world and something that I have heard a lot of people say is that every day in the business world is different from the previous day and almost no two days are the same.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? The advice that I would give to a student looking to major in a business-related field is to always make sure you are keeping up with important things that are happening in the new. Eventually, they will affect business in some way shape or form. I would also suggest keeping your options open. There are so many different avenues of business and make sure you find something that genuinely interests you and you are curious to learn more about and keep learning about even after you are out of school.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The thing that has surprised me most about majoring in business is how many different avenues there are to the business world. Coming into Whitman, I had never even heard of the term Supply Chain Management. After taking an introductory course during my sophomore year, it was something that I became so fascinated with and I just knew that I had to major in it. Even to this day, I am surprised about all of the different industries within the umbrella term Supply Chain, and they are all so amazing to me!

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? One thing that I would do differently in the business school goes along with the advice that I would give to students interested in majoring in a business-related field: stay involved with things that are going on in the news because they affect the everyday business world. In the Spring 2022 semester of my junior year, I started listening to Supply Chain podcasts and this is something that I wish I started doing earlier. 

What business leader do you admire most? The business leader that I admire the most is Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. I admire Steve Jobs because he created a company that is so widely known today just by starting out in a garage with an idea. It amazes me how this small idea is now something that almost everyone relies on whether it be a phone, a laptop, or a tablet. Steve Jobs made this evolution come to life and has connected people all over the world. Apple is still growing and improving each day.

Which academic, extracurricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of? The personal achievement that I am most proud of is becoming one of the two Whitman Senior Class Marshals representing the Whitman graduating class of 2023. I am most proud of this accomplishment because I am an individual that comes from a very small hometown and then arrived at the large Syracuse University. I have pushed myself each and every day that I have been on campus to achieve the best that I can during my time at Whitman. Most of all, I have tried, learned, succeeded, failed, and grown. These things all come together to show my amazing journey that I have had over these past four years and contain some of the most amazing friendships and connections that I have made along the way. The reason why I am most proud of this accomplishment is that Whitman gave me this journey and I am so happy and honored that I can represent the class of 2023 who I also know made some of the most amazing memories in their own ways.

Which classmate do you most admire? One of my classmates that I admire is my Co-Whitman Senior Class Marshal, Rehan Balsara. Reh and I were in numerous Business Analytics classes together and we have completed several group projects together. He is a great member to work with because of his vast knowledge and skills and he is a great partner to be representing the Whitman graduating class of 2023.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my family for my success. My dad, my mom, and my brother are the individuals whom I owe all of my thanks. These individuals have been with me through every step of my journey, and they are the ones that have pushed me to be the best that I have become. They have been there not only through the good times along the journey, but they have also been there through the rough times on the journey and have been there to help me up along the way. I look up to each of them and am proud to call them my parents and my older brother.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items on my professional bucket list are to travel to a different branch either internationally or on the west coast and get a promotion. As I had mentioned, I am working for Mainfreight USA after graduation, specifically at the Albany, New York Branch. Mainfreight USA has over 305 branches worldwide. The first item on my professional bucket list would be to travel to one of these branches that are not located on the east coast because that is where I have been for all of my life. I would like to visit a branch either on the west coast or overseas. The other item on my bucket list would be to eventually get a promotion. I will be starting in Ocean Export Operations, but eventually I would like to try and go for the role of a Key Account Manager which is a role that contains both a sales and an operations background.

What are your hobbies? My hobbies may seem generic, but they are some that bring me so much joy. I am a huge family person, so I love spending time with my parents, my older brother, and his girlfriend. I also love playing with our dog, Charlie, who is a tea cup yorkie and loves wearing Syracuse gear. Another hobby of mine includes hanging out with my friends. I love genuine laughter and making memories with them. A new hobby that I picked up since being at Syracuse University is hammocking. I love finding the perfect tree spot and setting up my hammock with either music, a book, or my journal with me. I would say that I have a lot more little hobbies, but the last two that I will mention are playing cards with my family members and playing tennis with my mom.

What made Justine such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?  

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Justine since her first day as a student at Syracuse University and have watched her mature into a leader, a scholar, and a mentor throughout her years at college. I hope it goes without stating that Justine’s academic attunement and dedication are remarkable, but in this nomination I’d like to point to her genuine care for her fellow students as an often overlooked attribute that builds the community and strength of the student body at large.

It’s easy to admire the accolades and awards she has received, but there is a myriad of ways Justine impacts the lives of her fellow students that will never be seen publicly. Many students will offer advice to underclassmen, but Justine will commit to mentoring and guiding incoming students as friends.

In addition to her amiable demeanor, Justine represents the resiliency and agility that has become synonymous with the class of 2023 as the class that navigated an unprecedented global pandemic while progressing through their university education. In the face of challenges, she is determined and committed while never losing her optimistic attitude that buoys her peers.”

Elizabeth Wimer
Assistant Teaching Professor

Martin J. Whitman School of Management


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