2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Shanise Buford, Purdue University (Daniels)

Shanise Buford

Purdue University, Daniels School of Business

“I can’t live without my lavender iPad, iPhone, water bottle, and anything else purple.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am an absolute chicken tender connoisseur. I once guessed every single chicken tender right in a blind taste test of tenders from different brands and restaurants.

Hometown: Plainfield, IL

High School: Plainfield North High School

Major: Finance

Minor: Data Analytics (Concentration)

Favorite Business Course: MGMT 288 – Programming for Business Applications

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities

  • Society of Minority Managers, VP of Recruitment and Retention (2020-2021), VP of Communications (2023)
  • Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) – Purdue University Chapter, Founding Member, VP of Communications
  • Management Ambassadors, VP of Member Development
  • Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program, Peer Mentor
  • Emerging Leaders, Peer Mentor
  • Her Campus Purdue, Student Blogger
  • Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine Student Services, Student Receptionist

Awards and Honors

  • Nancy Forney Leadership Award
  • Undergraduate Service Award
  • Dean’s List (7 consecutive semesters)
  • Semesters Honors (7 consecutive semesters)
  • Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program Scholar (BOP’19)
  • Emerging Leaders Scholar
  • Larson Leaders Academy Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Summer 2020 – Plante Moran, TRACK Intern (Chicago, IL)
  • Summer 2021 – Bank of America, Public Sector Credit Sophomore Summer Analyst (Dallas, TX)
  • Summer 2022 – JPMorgan Chase, Commercial Real Estate Summer Analyst (Dallas, TX)

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst (Dallas, TX)

Who is your favorite business professor? I have enjoyed my International Finance class taught by Mara Faccio. Professor Faccio is intelligent, articulate, and has very impressive professional experience. She is great at translating her extensive knowledge of international finance to the classroom, which allows for students to have a clear understanding of the class and its objectives. She makes class fun, often making jokes or telling interesting stories every class to help students remember the content better.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Communication and networking mean everything in the business world. I truly learned the saying, “Business is all about who you know” is completely true. Throughout my internships, networking was a major contributor to my learning experience and journey to understanding what I wanted to do in business. Most opportunities come from networking and developing relationships with important people in the business field.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? While you may pick to study one or two business majors it is important to understand the other business functions. Taking classes in all the business functions has allowed me to make better business decisions during my internships, case competitions, and class assignments. Once you understand how all the functions work together, you will begin to apply your knowledge to everywhere you go. Business topics are all around us daily, so I never thought I would be applying the concepts I learn in classroom while doing simple tasks like grocery shopping, scrolling on social media, and reading the news.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would have studied abroad. Though Covid impacted most of my college experience, I wish I had planned to study abroad after travel opened back up after lockdown. I am very interested in cultural differences in business practices around the world. I would love to study business in Greece or Italy. Purdue and our school offer many study abroad scholarships for students, so studying abroad can be an affordable option for students. I hope to visit these places soon, but financially speaking, I would definitely prefer to travel abroad on scholarship than with my own money.

What business leader do you admire most? During my preparation for my interview with McKinsey, I learned about Tiffany Burns, a Senior Partner at McKinsey. I am intrigued by her work focused on racial equity and Black entrepreneurs. She has helped launch McKinsey’s Next 1B, which helps Black-owned brands and Black unicorn startups, as she believes in the importance of Black entrepreneurs to the long-term health of the economy. In addition, she contributed to an article called, “Meet the Black Beauty Execs,” which highlights four Black beauty brand CEOs. The Black beauty industry is important to me, so I would love to hear her thoughts on the future of the industry and her experience while writing the article. I hope to get the opportunity to speak with Tiffany Burns one day because I would love to hear more about her career journey and the passion behind the initiatives that she leads.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of the mentor I have become during my time in college. Whether I can serve as a mentor through formal or informal mentorship, I love being a resource, advocate, or voice of support for others. Knowing how much my mentors have poured knowledge and wisdom into my journey of success, I want to give the same and much more to others. I often think of a quote by Dr. Cornell A. Bell, that says, “I don’t want to be a King. I want to be a Kingmaker.” I resonate with Dr. Bell’s words because I want those who I mentor to continue to raise the bar of success far beyond what my mentors and I have previously set. I hope to continue to mentor and be mentored throughout my professional career.

Which classmate do you most admire? My friend, Josh Appleton, is one of the smartest, driven, and well-rounded individuals that I know. I often jokingly call Josh my “IT guy”, handy man, and consultant because he is the person I call whenever I run into any type of problem.

Josh serves as the President of Black Data Processing Associates – Purdue University Chapter, VP of Information Technology for Society of Minority Managers, and a Residential Assistant for the Honors College. Josh has an impressive career thus far, interning with Meta last summer as an application manager intern in their Enterprise Engineering department, and working part-time for KAR Global as an enterprise automation analyst for the past 3 years. At KAR, he supports the logistics team from a technical side, automating processes to save them time and money. In addition to these responsibilities, he builds systems and data pipelines to connect systems across business units in the KAR family.

The work that Josh does at KAR is extremely valuable because the automated process he builds pushes out uniform reports that are used by upper management and executives for high-level decision-making. Josh uniquely created this role for himself because he took liberty to optimize business processes at KAR. He saw the opportunity to help KAR grow and to become an integral part of a company at a young age.  Between working on independent coding projects, creating automations for KAR Global, checking in on his residents, and excelling at academics, Josh still has time to be a sincere friend, mentor to underclassmen, and advocate for many.

Watching Josh successfully manage his busy schedule and continuously invest in his passion for technology has inspired me to want to invest time into my own passions. He is self-taught in many coding languages such as VBA, VB.net, SQL, Presto, Javascript, PHP, and HTML. I am grateful to be able to watch his journey and continue to watch him grow into a business leader. Let it be known here first: Josh Appleton will be an influential executive and mentor in the tech industry in the future.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I am thankful for all my parents’ encouragement. Thank you for enrolling me in Kumon so I could be a math wizard. It really paid off years later when I had to do mental math during the rigorous consulting interview process. On a more serious note, knowing just how hard-working and driven both of you are has only drove me to emulate your success. Thank you for guiding me and always offering wisdom throughout my college career.

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

  1. Create an organization to connect and mentor Black women in the business field
  2. Travel abroad to work on an international assignment

What are your hobbies? I enjoy cooking new dishes, shopping, reading, going on walks throughout nature, and traveling to explore new cities!

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

“What makes Shanise great is her ability to approach any situation with an open mind. Her unique, lived experiences created an internal sense of confidence, curiosity, and empathy that fuel the open-mindedness she uses to make critical decisions.

When I first met Shanise during her visit to Purdue University, she leaned toward attending other business programs. To her credit, she was completely open and receptive to the idea of attending college in West Lafayette. Her professional career to date exemplifies her open-mindedness, as the Finance major explored an accounting internship after her first year, a banking experience after her sophomore year, and a real estate position last summer. When Shanise launches her post-graduate career at the prestigious McKinsey & Company, her open-mindedness and unbiased judgement will cause her to excel at solving the most challenging problems for clients worldwide.

Purdue’s Daniels School of Business cannot replace Shanise’s leadership, mentorship, kind spirit, and service to the school. Fortunately, Shanise leaves us this May with a blueprint for student success and a legacy for future students to emulate.”

Darren L. Henry
Dean’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Purdue University Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business


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