2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Margot Seidel, University of Virginia (McIntire)

Margot Seidel

University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

“Tree hugger whose passions lie at the nexus between business and social impact.”

Fun fact about yourself: I drive a stick shift!

Hometown: Ft. Thomas, Kentucky

High School: Highlands High School

Majors: Commerce (concentrating in IT with a track in Business Analytics) and Global Development Studies

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: Business Analytics with Python, taught by Professor Jingjing Li.  This was the first course I took in college where I was able to combine my programming skills with my business acumen—and I absolutely loved it. The class is designed to teach students how to both conduct data analysis and communicate the results through a business lens, closing the gap between analytics and decision-making. For our semester-long course project, my team built a decision-tree model that predicted the functionality of water pumps in Tanzania in order to enable preventative maintenance decisions. Such real-world applications showed us how we might use what we were learning to be at the forefront of this rapidly evolving data-centric world after graduation.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


Jefferson Scholar: The Jefferson Scholarship is bestowed to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding performance under the pillars of leadership, scholarship, and citizenship. The award is intended to cover the entire cost of attendance for four years at the University of Virginia, as well as supplemental enrichment experiences like studying abroad.

Echols Scholar: Students admitted into the Echols Scholars Program are selected from the pool of first-year applicants to the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences. Acceptance is based on academic excellence, intellectual leadership and risk-taking, and a demonstrated ability to grapple with complex topics.

Joseph Miniotas Communication Scholarship: Joseph Miniotas Scholars are selected by their professors in their first year of business school based on a demonstration of outstanding oral and written communication skills.

Lenox-Conyngham Scholarship Finalist: Lenox-Conyngham Finalist status is awarded to two fourth-year McIntire students, one of whom will be selected to receive comprehensive funding for a one-year MPhil program at the University of Cambridge.

Dean’s List


Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (CASH) Volunteer Tax Filing Program: Head Program Director

Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society: Chapter President

McIntire School of Commerce Admissions Office: McIntire Ambassador

McIntire Investment Institute (MI) Student-Run Investment Fund: Analyst

Alpha Phi Sorority: Member

Where have you interned during your college career?

Bain & Company, Associate Consultant Intern (Boston, MA)

Hamilton County Courthouse, Judicial Intern for the Honorable Judge Bernie Bouchard (Cincinnati, OH)

World Relief, Anti-Human Trafficking Intern (Remote)

The Borgen Project, Writer (Remote)

RC Capital, Summer Analyst (Cincinnati, OH)

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Associate Consultant (Boston, MA)

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite professor at McIntire has to be Professor Jingjing Li. She is brilliant, supportive, and has an incredible sense of humor. Her track record is ridiculously impressive, and yet she shares the unbelievable knowledge she’s accumulated through her work in easily digestible, engaging formats; she always meets students where they are. I don’t think I’ve ever had another professor answer my emails so quickly, or agree to hop on a Zoom call so readily. Despite her countless commitments, her students are her first priority and she always makes herself accessible to them. She is also, not insignificantly, the funniest professor I have ever had to date. Her energy and passion for the subject are contagious, and it was a privilege to learn from her this past semester.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Be open-minded. Business is so great because it offers a diversity of opportunities to which few other fields of study can compare. Don’t go into business school thinking it can only lead you down one or two paths. Challenge yourself to think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to stray from what appears to be the “correct” or “traditional” route.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business?  The most surprising aspect of my time as a business major has certainly been the day-to-day environment at McIntire. I came into business school expecting it to feel, well, cut-throat and corporate. Although people take their work very seriously, and there are often more students in buttoned-up business attire than not, there is such a surprisingly palpable sense of comradery and community within the walls of McIntire. Some of my greatest supporters (and teachers) have been my peers. Everyone is rooting for each other and celebrating one another’s victories. Cut-throat competition is overrated.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Looking back, I wish I would have given myself more grace and time to pursue my other interests outside of business. Over the last four years, I’ve seen firsthand that diversity—in backgrounds, interests, and experiences—is such an asset in the business world. Not only are passion projects valuable in their own right, but they make you a more well-rounded, interesting individual at the end of the day.

What business leader do you admire most? I have always admired Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. Patagonia’s ethos of sustainability above all has never been more relevant or imperative. Chouinard built an entire brand on an unconventional commitment to doing good, something I hope to emulate throughout my own career.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? To date, I am proudest of my role leading more than 200 volunteers as Head Program Director of CASH. CASH is an organization that offers free tax filing services to low- and middle-income individuals in the Charlottesville community. When I arrived at UVA my first year of college, I knew I wanted to get involved in serving the surrounding community, but I wanted to be mindful and intentional about how I chose to do so. CASH presented me with the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill, engage with some wonderful Charlottesville residents, and make a tangible, financial impact on the lives of others. Filing tax returns isn’t always the most riveting activity, but the people you meet and the assistance you are able to offer them makes the experience more than rewarding. After moving up the ranks within CASH over the last four years, from Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) to Program Director to Treasurer, it is so bittersweet to be wrapping up my final year of college as Head Program Director of this organization that I cherish so deeply.

Which classmate do you most admire? I tell everyone who lets me that the greatest thing about McIntire is the people. I am inspired by each and every one of my peers and am so grateful for the friendships I’ve made within and across my business school cohort. However, if I had to single out one classmate and friend who I deeply admire, it would be Caroline Clark. Caroline is one of the most hardworking, passionate, and caring individuals I’ve met during my time at the University of Virginia. Not only is she smart and driven, but she is compassionate and kind. Although she is involved in everything under the sun and always has an overflowing plate, she is the first person to make time to run through a practice case interview or to send notes from class when you’re sick. She is a natural leader with a huge heart, and I know this is going to take her to incredible places. I’m so excited to see what she accomplishes in the coming years.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I know it’s cliché, but I would be remiss if my mother weren’t the first person I thanked every time I got asked this question. I truly wouldn’t be where I am today without her incredible guidance and encouragement. She has been in the front row cheering me on in all of my biggest moments. Even from eight hours away in Kentucky, she has been my support system and best friend through it all these last four years. She taught me that who I am matters much more than what I do, a lesson that I carry with me in every decision I make.

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

1. I definitely want to return to school to further my education, whether that be through a master’s or even a Ph.D. program. I love being a student, and I firmly believe that continued learning is synonymous with continued personal and professional growth.

2. Eventually, I want to end up working in the nonprofit space. I have always had a passion for social sector work, and to translate this passion into my career would be a dream come true.

What are your hobbies? I love all things outdoors—hiking, skiing, running, kayaking, etc. I am a huge history geek and adore reading historical fiction and watching historical documentaries. I also play piano and guitar and am a mediocre vegan chef.

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

“Margot Seidel is a shining star of the class of 2023. Her exceptional analytical acumen, strategic thinking, and imaginative prowess are evident in her performance in my Business Analytics class. She possesses a deep understanding of complex business problems and an uncanny ability to generate novel solutions. She is also highly valued as a team player and a natural leader, consistently demonstrating her willingness to work with others, assist her peers, and step up as a leader to address problems. Her numerous honors and awards, including the Jefferson Scholar, Echols Scholar, and Joseph Miniotas Scholar, are a testament to her hard work, dedication, and commitment. I am convinced that she will continue to make a meaningful and substantial impact on the world.”

Professor Jingjing Li
McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia

“Margot always wanted to go beyond the assigned readings, would ask the higher-order questions, and challenged the material in healthy ways. Her contributions elevated our classroom discussions overall. From being her professor, I knew that Margot had prepared meticulously for every class session. Like Hemingway’s prose, Margot’s contributions were economical, unadorned, and in plain English; more often probing the material deeply rather than merely offering general comment. Outside the classroom, Margot brings that same approach and attention to detail, in her leadership positions in the McIntire Investment Institute and CASH, and a wonderful devotion and presence to her collegiate endeavors. She’s going to be missed.”

Professor Rob Patterson
McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia


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