2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Mackenzee Balzer, South Carolina (Darla Moore)

Mackenzee Balzer

University of South Carolina, Darla Moore School of Business

“I am a quirky yet resilient individual, who dreams of being a powerful businesswoman.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am a self-taught juggler.

Hometown: Houston, Texas

High School: Stratford High School

Major: Finance and Supply Chain

Minor: Data Analytics Concentration and Accounting Cognate

Favorite Business Course:  MGSC 394 – Data Analytics for Business

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Phi Chi Theta – Served as an exec board member and helped oversee a professional fraternity of 80+.

VP of Education, Pledge Educator Assistant – Created a pledge process to develop new members’ skills and integrate them into the fraternity, Served as a mentor to the new members.

Professional Development Director – Spearheaded workshops, planned networking events, and coordinated 7+ different professional speakers to encourage members to continually improve their professional skills.

U101 Peer Leader – For 2 years, served as a mentor and helped freshmen adjust to university life. Also assisted in the new peer leader recruitment process by reviewing applications and conducting interviews.

U101 Spotlight Award – Recognized as a strong peer leader by U101 staff.

Carolina Capstone Scholar and Fellow – Applied and was selected to continue in the Capstone program (A 2-year program for high achieving students giving extra leadership and service opportunities).

Pi Chi Recruitment Counselor – Guided 30 girls through the Greek recruitment process, while helping them adjust to college life.

Pi Beta Phi Sorority – Social Chair and T-shirt Chair – Assisted the Social director in planning events for our chapter of 300+ and designed apparel to be purchased.

Dance Marathon – Ignite and Recruitment Staff – Recruited people and organizations to join and fundraised for the event (Recognized as a top fundraiser for my group).

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt – Demonstrated a strong understanding of process improvement by passing exam and completing a project.

Capgemini Rise Case Competition Winner – Designed a winning solution to a technology-based business problem working with a small group of unique majors.

EY Case Competition – Created a presentation based on a financial service business problem.

President’s List (6 Semesters)/Dean’s List (1 Semester)

Where have you interned during your college career?

University of South Carolina – Student Data Analyst for Prospect Development, Columbia, SC (September 2022 – May 2023)

Continental Tire – Student Consultant, Columbia, SC – Through the USC Capstone Program (August 2022 – December 2022)

The Boeing Company – Contracts and Structures Intern, Everett, WA (May 2022 – August 2022)

AgFirst Farm Credit – Project Management Intern, Columbia, SC (September 2021 – May 2022)

Sealed Air – Financial Supply Chain Intern, Charlotte, NC (May 2021 – August 2021)

Where will you be working after graduation? Ernst & Young – Financial Services Consultant

Who is your favorite business professor? Professor Hackney was my favorite professor. He created an environment that encouraged participation. I always felt comfortable and safe asking and answering questions. He was very approachable and would always go more in-depth and share his personal knowledge. In class, by working through different case studies, we got to apply many different prior learned concepts. These were topics I had worked hard to master throughout my degree, and I was finally able to demonstrate my levels of understanding. By participating in case simulations, I feel more prepared to use these skills in the real world, and I am confident that I did more than just memorize formulas. Professor Hackney was always very fair in his evaluations of the class’s opinions and always listened to our different ideas while also providing guidance.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Being willing to ask questions and participate in class is something valuable that I have learned is important. Asking questions shows the professor that you care and allows you to dive deeper into the material. Every class is only as good as what you put into it. It is beneficial to build relationships with faculty and peers while taking the material further than is required.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? One thing that surprised me in business is how all the majors are interrelated. For example, I have learned concepts in my supply chain classes that allowed me to better understand my accounting classes. It shows the importance of each business class and how the degree is very versatile in the workplace. By having a diverse degree, I really got to explore all these inner connections.  It has helped me appreciate the importance of every major at the Moore School.

What business leader do you admire most? I admire Melinda Gates for many reasons. Gates is compassionate, determined, and confident and these are qualities I want to emulate. Not only did she help build Microsoft, but she simultaneously helped lead the company while raising a family. Gates continually uses her money to empower people, especially women, all over the world. She not only donates money to people ,but works to give them the resources, education, and guidance to make real generational changes in their communities. She is a very hands-on advocate for what she believes in.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? The personal achievement that I am most proud of is obtaining an internship after my sophomore year. I didn’t have a ton of real-world experience leading up to this, but I was determined to start building my professional brand. I found a ton of internships on my own and applied. I received a couple interviews and was excited to land one with a Fortune 500 company. I was able to apply the technological skills I learned in school and be very successful. I was one of only two rising juniors selected to take part in the program, and I even received recognition from the Vice President of Supply Chain who was very interested in my project. This experience allowed me to prove to myself that I was a capable business professional.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most is Zach Crawford. He told me towards the beginning of college in a peer review interview that I was an average student. This hurt to hear as I did not want to be labeled this way. It has resonated with me since and pushed me to go above and beyond to accomplish as much as possible. I admired his honesty and his willingness to say this to another peer. If he wouldn’t have been frank with me, I would not be the business professional that I am today.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? One of the people I would like to thank for my success is my former cheerleading coach, Steven. When I first decided I wanted to participate in cheer, I was much older and less talented compared to those around me. Steven decided to take a chance on me and put me on his team. I had to persevere and put in a lot of extra hours to catch up. He was gracious enough to take the time to guide my improvement. As I began to get better, he helped me see the value of hard work. He also created a supportive environment among my teammates, and I learned the importance of every role on the team. I continually demonstrate these traits, in and outside of business, by placing a high value in my strong work ethic and showing appreciation to teammates’ skills. By becoming a successful cheerleader, I also developed an appetite and the courage for trying new things. This ultimately gave me the confidence to come to South Carolina knowing no one.

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

1) Getting asked to do an informational interview by a current Gamecock – This means I have become an influential alumnus; someone students want to emulate.

2) Opening the market on the New York Stock Exchange

What are your hobbies? Running, Boogie Boarding, Gamecock sports, Mentoring

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

“I had the opportunity to work with Mackenzee Balzer in the Continental Tire Senior Capstone Consulting project for the Fall 2022 semester. Mackenzee was always willing to work very hard in this project to achieve the results we needed really quickly. She is very smart, dedicated, focused, and has great analytical skills for all work that was done with data analysis and visualization. She was always on top of the project all the time and responsible. At the same time, Mackenzee demonstrated to be mature and professional during interviews and meetings where we interacted with the Continental’s employees and during the presentations.”

Dr. Giuliano Marodin
Continental Chair Professor in Operations and Supply Chain
Management Science Department
Darla Moore School of Business 


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