2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Lily Buckley, Syracuse University (Whitman)

Lily Buckley

The Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University

“I approach everything with an open mind, positive attitude and willingness to learn!”

Fun fact about yourself: I love the performing arts and have been a singer and dancer my whole life.

Hometown: Berwyn, Pennsylvania

High School: The Episcopal Academy

Major: Accounting, Business Analytics and Supply Chain Management

Minor: None

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Awards & Honors:

  • 2024 Whitman Senior Class Marshal
  • Whitman Leadership Scholar
  • Whitman Scholar
  • Dean’s List
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Success Scholar
  • Kiebach Center International Business Studies Award
  • Marshall House Leader
  • Beta Alpha Psi
  • Impress Program Top 44

Whitman Activities:

  • Whitman Undergraduate Board Member
  • Career Center Employee
  • Delta Sigma Pi, Professional Business Fraternity
    • Vice President of Chapter Operations (2023-2024)
    • National Collegiate Advisory Council (2022-2023)
    • Vice President of Philanthropy (2021-2022)
  • Whitman Ambassador

Extracurricular Activities:

  • Student Engagement Leadership Intern
  • Syracuse’s Competitive Gymnastics Team
    • Secretary (2023-2024)
  • First Year Players
    • Finance Director (2022-2024)
    • Assistant Producer (2021-2022)
  • London Study Abroad Program
  • Israel Perspectives Program
  • Mandarins Acapella
  • DanceWorks
  • Hendricks Chapel Choir
  • University 100 Tour Guide
  • OttoTHON
  • Enactus

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • FTI Consulting (New York, New York): Business Transformation Consulting Intern in corporate finance
  • Skyview CFO (Virtual): Account management intern (D’Aniello Entrepreneurship Program)
  • Lincoln Financial Group (Virtual & Radnor, Pennsylvania): Internal Operations Audit Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? FTI Consulting (New York, New York): Business transformation consultant

Who is your favorite business professor? A main part of my intellectual growth is rooted in my talented Whitman professors. I am grateful for all who have shared their expert knowledge and supported me throughout my time at Syracuse. Although I have many favorites, Professor of Accounting Practice Maryann Monforte stands out as my biggest supporter. As my first accounting professor during the fall of my first year and the faculty advisor for Delta Sigma Pi, Professor Monforte and I have had a close relationship for all four years. She teaches her students the fundamental language of business while never ceasing to have a smile on her face. She truly cares about her students and pushes them to succeed in all aspects of life. Professor Monforte will continue to inspire my love of learning far beyond Syracuse University.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Although my three majors provided useful quantitative skills, the core of a business is its culture. A business is dependent on its people. My biggest lesson from studying business is that soft skills are the basis for success. Learning how to confidently speak in public, network with professionals, manage time,  and market yourself through your strengths and passions are essential to leading a successful career. My soft skills have sealed incredible opportunities, and, through every opportunity, I have enhanced and refined my skills more. The best way to develop these skills tends to happen outside of formal education. Joining clubs, taking on leadership positions and simply meeting new people are crucial for gaining confidence in your professional abilities. By pursuing opportunities, I have not only created meaningful memories, but I feel more confident than ever as I enter the business world.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My best piece of advice to incoming business students is to always seek new knowledge. One of the most exciting things about being a business student is learning from professors who are industry experts. Connect with them early, learn about their experiences and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Career advisors and alumni are also great resources. The knowledge and connections surrounding you as a first-year business student can open lifetime opportunities. Take risks with your learning, and commit to exploring in the pursuit of knowledge and experience. It is never too early to start building your professional network and brand.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I have been surprised most by the intricate differences in every niche subject area that combine to create a successful company. There are always ways to delve deeper into business knowledge, and I have barely scratched the surface. There is a thrilling eagerness that comes from continuous learning, which I didn’t originally expect.

Part of this is due to the structure of Whitman’s core classes. Each student explores every business major through at least one early class, which opens up new opportunities and passions. I came into the Whitman School wanting to major in management, but through these core classes my interests changed to my new three majors. It is easy to fall into the narrow-minded trap of I am studying “this,” and therefore I will have a career in “this.” In reality, business is much more fluid with each major flowing into the next, forming an ecosystem. Studying business can open a multitude of opportunities, and it is truly liberating not to have a set linear path. I have learned to embrace this ambiguity and explore as much as I can.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I have no regrets about the academic route I took in my college career. However, given additional time, I would love to explore even more. Specifically, I would focus on learning about the creative aspects of business, such as entrepreneurship, marketing, and management. I also would have liked to expand my learning beyond business by getting a minor in another subject.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? The personal achievement I’m most proud of during my college career is joining the Syracuse University Competitive Gymnastics Team. After years of being away from the sport, I took a risk trying out for the team during my first week on campus during my first year. The pandemic added another layer of uncertainty and stress to joining a new club and trying to make friends. What resulted from that first week was a rediscovered passion I hadn’t experienced since childhood.

Although it was a difficult start, the muscle memory soon kicked in, and gymnastics remains the longest club I’ve stayed consistent with for the past four years. I continue to give back as this year’s secretary and push myself beyond where I thought my skills could go. With gymnastics being a sport of a both demanding physical and mental nature, it has been thrilling to challenge myself. My favorite quote is, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity,” by Albert Einstein. A core part of my personality is seeking out challenges and even failure. The result is a newness and excitement that comes out of facing fear. I attribute this risk taking and growth mindset to my success, and gymnastics is a perfect example of something that makes me proud.

Which classmate do you most admire? My experience at Syracuse would not have been the same without my peers in Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), the professional business fraternity. The classmate I admire most is our current president, Divya Gada. Not only has she become a great friend, but she is the embodiment of a leader. Her presence in DSP is one of humility and respect. I know first hand how much time she puts into the things she cares about, and I am incredibly grateful that DSP is one of them. Even though we are the same age, Divya continues to be a role model for me in all she does, and I’m truly excited to watch her succeed in her professional career.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Outside of my family, my greatest supporters have been the incredible advisors in the Whitman Career Center. Assistant Director of the Career Center Emily Shaughnessy has been my advisor throughout college, from writing my first resumé to getting my full-time offer post-graduation. I credit her as being a catalyst for my academic and professional success. When I was hired to work at the Career Center at the start of my junior year, she welcomed me to the team, and my professional skills flourished. She continues to act as a sounding board for all my ideas and has been there, not just as a professional resource, but also as a personal mentor. I am incredibly grateful for all the support and guidance I have received during my time at the Whitman School, and I appreciate Emily for enhancing my experience the most.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? As I graduate from Syracuse University and enter the professional world in a few months, I have an open mindset for my goals to develop and evolve. As of right now, my long-term professional bucket list items are to get an MBA and enjoy an exciting career. I am open to the next passions that inspire me and excited to discover places for growth. Reflecting on my college experience, I am proud of all I have accomplished and excited for a new chapter of my life — and a new set of bucket list items that comes with it.

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

“Looking back to the Fall of 2020, amidst a plethora of uncertainty as we entered into a semester during a global pandemic, I had the pleasure of meeting Lily Buckley (virtually, of course) just one week into her first year at the Whitman School. As I reviewed my notes from our first of many career advising meetings, one thing that was clear was that Lily was excited to try everythingwhich I feel holds true to this day.

Lily’s excitement and enthusiasm carries through in all facets of her life.  She is passionate about her studies, her involvement on campus and her personal endeavors. She stayed true to her words when she did try everything, including triple majoring, participating in co-curricular opportunities, internships, professional conferences, gymnastics, acapella, producing plays. You name it, Lily tried it—ultimately exposing her to many opportunities that led her down a path of discovery and success while at Syracuse University.

She has proven to be an exceptional individual, who not only persevered during a time when it was understandable to struggle to balance starting virtual school life with making friends in a new living environment—but thrived. Being able to flourish with adversity around every corner made her shine even brighter when those barriers came down. I am honored to have had the chance to watch Lily explore, try everything and excel. And, this is only the beginning for her.”

Emily Shaughnessy
Assistant Director and Career Advisor
Whitman Career Center


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