2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Keila Seeley, Lehigh University

Keila Seeley

Lehigh University College of Business

“I am inherently creative and curious, fueled by my ambition to accomplish abundantly.”

Fun fact about yourself: I once entered a talent show competition for hula hooping.

Hometown: Radell, NJ

High School: Immaculate Heart Academy

Major: Finance

Minor: International Relations

Favorite Business Course: My favorite business course at Lehigh University was Financial Market Regulation and Innovation with Professor Kathleen Hanley. This course approached the study of finance from a regulatory perspective, incorporating contemporary topics including but not limited to, artificial intelligence and the impact of Fintech. This course allowed students to question the evolution of finance and the adaptive nature of regulations.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Vice President of External Recruitment for the Panhellenic Executive Council(January 2023-January 2024). In this role, I worked with the Panhellenic Council which is the governing body of the eight sororities on Lehigh’s campus. I worked with other executive officers to run all recruitment efforts and I trained all recruitment counselors, otherwise called Rho Gammas, to ensure a cohesive primary recruitment experience.
  • Vice President of Membership Recruitment(April 2022-April 2023). In this role, I managed all recruitment efforts for the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter on Lehigh’s campus. This included leading meetings and workshops for all 85 active members as well as designing the recruitment budget for the 2023 year.
  • Executive Board Member for Diversity Peer Educators(April 2022-April 2023). This is a student-led organization that aims to educate through peer-to-peer facilitation on diversity and inclusion with the goal of improving the racial climate on campus. In this role, I planned events with different organizations to give presentations revolving around diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Women in Finance club member. This recently-started club aims to help women interested in finance to network and identify with other successful career women in finance through programs and activities.
  • Lehigh University Mentorship Collective(August 2023-December 2023). This collective matches incoming Lehigh students with experienced students with the aim of easing the transition into college. I was a mentor for the fall 2023 semester where I met with an incoming freshman to assist in her transition to college life.
  • Teacher’s Assistant for Financial Modeling (January 2024-May 2024) In this role I grade assignments and host office hours to assist students in understanding topics with building financial models.
  • Dean’s List : Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
  • Cumulative GPA: 3.82
  • Major GPA: 4.0

Where have you interned during your college career?

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation — Portfolio Management and Origination: (Summer of 2023) This group, located in New York City, works primarily with private equity back leveraged loans that are single-B rated businesses in the portfolio.

Where will you be working after graduation? Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation — Portfolio Management and Origination Analyst

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor at Lehigh University was Professor Nayar, from whom I took a financial modeling class. Professor Nayar gave real world insight from his remarkable professional background, modeling his course on relevant work and skills that are marketable to future employers. His teaching style, while daunting at first, ensures students are thoroughly equipped and self-assured in their abilities. He was able to bring together concepts from accounting and finance, enhancing comprehension of complex topics.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? In studying business, I learned the importance of embracing failure as a catalyst for growth. While failure is never the intention, I learned how to recognize the inherent value it has on my academic and professional journey. From missteps in homework to faltering in an interview response, each setback has served as a pivotal learning opportunity. Reflecting on these experiences enabled me to pivot, adapt and emerge stronger as a student and professional, armed with newfound insights to avoid repeating past mistakes.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Incoming business students should seize the mentorship opportunities available throughout their college journey, whether it is through their university or employer. Universities often provide diverse mentorship programs, fostering connections between students and established alumni. These programs offer students insights from seasoned professionals with years of experience. Guidance from mentors extends beyond academics, including advice on extracurricular activities and tapping into employment opportunities.

In my time as a business student, I have learned that many established alumni are enthusiastic about sharing insights from their experiences and connecting with students. Their enthusiasm stems from a desire to see the next generation of students from their alma mater thrive, evolving into a meaningful partnership. 

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Throughout my time as a business student, I was confronted with a surprising yet indispensable lesson — change is not only inevitable but essential for growth. Initially, I believed there existed a single, steadfast blueprint for achieving success in business. However, my academic journey illuminated the dynamic nature of businesses where adaptation and evolution are paramount.

Businesses must embrace change to bring innovation and progress. The rigid and static structure I once envisioned for business gave way for a more nuanced understanding of the need for flexibility. From navigating the uncertainties of a global pandemic to witnessing groundbreaking advancements like the establishment of artificial intelligence, I came to realize the only constant in business is change itself. 

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Reflecting on my academic journey, one aspect I would have approached differently is seizing diverse learning opportunities. In my sophomore fall semester, I enrolled in an elementary Japanese course, delving into the basics of reading and speaking the language. Looking back, I regret not continuing these courses when I had the chance during my college years.

Being currently employed at a Japanese bank, I recognize the immense value that learning Japanese would offer in my professional endeavors. While I did not pursue language studies in my undergraduate years, I am determined to learn from this experience. Moving forward, I am committed to capitalizing on the Japanese lessons offered at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Embracing this opportunity, I aim to strengthen my language skills and position myself for greater success in the global business arena.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of being elected as the Vice President of Membership Recruitment for my Panhellenic chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi. Though this role was not directly related to finance, it provided invaluable lessons in leadership and rallying individuals towards a common goal.

Primary recruitment consists of a four-day formal process and numerous preparatory events throughout the semester, presenting a multifaceted challenge. Earning the trust and confidence of my peers to secure this position was a humbling experience, signifying their belief in my abilities to guide us through a recruitment cycle – our first in-person event since the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Navigating the intricacies of recruitment demanded effective communication, strategic planning, and unwavering commitment. I assumed the responsibility of orchestrating a cohesive team effort, fostering unity, and instilling a sense of purpose among members. This position enabled me to hone qualities including empathy, adaptability, and resilience by fostering a supportive environment. The journey instilled a profound sense of pride and accomplishment, reminding me of the limitless possibilities that arose when individuals unite behind a common purpose.

Which classmate do you most admire? I admire a fellow finance student, Jack Narducci. Beyond his focus in finance, Jack has an international relations minor, is an active member of ROTC on campus, and was the president of the Armed Forces Support Club of which he is still involved. Jack’s impressive array of activities and commitments is a testament to his unwavering work ethic and passion for contributing to causes larger than himself. He embodies the essence of a diligent student who not only excels academically but also invests his time and energy into meaningful extracurricular activities.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I am so grateful to my father for his unwavering support and guidance, which I attribute all my academic and personal achievements. His wisdom and unwavering commitment to excellence has left an indelible mark on my journey, instilling me with lessons that transcend the confines of the classroom.

Above all, my father has imparted to me the profound importance of empathy — a quality that serves as the cornerstone to meaningful and compassionate leadership. His actions and words have exemplified the transformative power of empathy in fostering understanding, kindness, and genuine care for others. His unwavering belief in others has inspired me to approach challenges with compassion, nurturing relationships built on mutual respect and understanding.

Furthermore, my father has been a living embodiment of the saying, “Do what you love, and success will follow.” His teachings have served as a guiding light, inspiring me to chart my own path based on authenticity, passion, and purpose. His tireless work ethic and resilience in the face of adversity have been a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me.

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

  • To be an inspiration to other women in finance whether it is in leadership style or accomplishment.
  • Make a meaningful contribution to financial literacy by dedicating time and resources to educating others to achieve financial independence and security.
  • I also want to own an ice cream store at one point in my life.

What made Keila such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Keila Seeley was a student in my advanced financial modeling course last Spring as a junior. This course is primarily dominated by Seniors and her taking it as a junior is indeed very creditable. She performed extremely well and obtained among the highest scores in the course. Even more amazing is that all her case write ups/assignments that were submitted were not only perfect in terms of the analysis but also in the professional nature of their presentation and clarity. Her work and her understanding of the material was exemplary and that is why I have engaged her as a Teaching Assistant for my Advanced Financial Modeling course this Spring. Her performance is not limited to my course only. Specifically, in addition to being a Finance major, she has a minor in International Relations, and her cumulative GPA is 3.82, while her major GPA is 4.0.  Besides her academic excellence, she is actively engaged on campus with several leadership positions e.g., Executive Board Member for Diversity Peer Educators, and Vice President of External Recruitment for the Lehigh University Panhellenic Executive Council. There can be no doubt that Keila is very deserving of this student award.”

Nandu Nayar 
Professor of Finance and Hans Julius Bär Endowed Chair


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