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Impact of Giving

Poole Stories: Spotlighting Young Alumni Donors

Hear from six recent alumni as they reflect on their time at the Poole College of Management and share their motivation to give back. 

Kyle Hartman ’12 (economics) | Product Manager at Kabbage, an American Express Company

What motivated you to enroll at Poole?

I had the chance to visit NC State on several occasions. I remember walking through Nelson Hall and immediately feeling at home. Every faculty member was passionate about their field and deeply invested in their students. They were motivated to come in every day and make our lives more enjoyable, both personally and professionally. It was important to me to have that kind of support from faculty and staff. I also recognized early on that Poole has a strong network of local alumni who are eager to connect with current students and help them land internships or jobs in their early career.

What was the most memorable experience of your time at Poole?

As a Poole student ambassador, I had the opportunity to interact with business leaders from around the world who came to campus for special lecture series and events. It was a valuable experience for two reasons. First, I learned how to establish rapport with someone who is much higher up on the corporate ladder. Second, I had the chance to develop public speaking skills by interviewing these executives one-on-one and introducing them on stage in front of my peers. Both these skills are essential in the workplace, and I’m grateful I was given the chance to cultivate them early on.

Why did you choose to become an alumni donor?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in UStrive Mentoring. This program pairs working professionals with high school seniors who are preparing for college. Many of the students come from financially insecure backgrounds and are navigating scholarship applications. It’s really given me perspective on how daunting—or even prohibitive—the cost of college can be for my students. In response to these needs, NC State maintains an affordable education for students through scholarship opportunities and financial aid. I wanted to help contribute in some small way to advancing that mission.

Eboni C. Bryson ’17 (business administration) | HR Manager at Bank of America

Which Poole faculty members had the greatest impact on your career?

Poole is a community of people who look out for you personally, professionally and academically. When I first entered the program, I wasn’t sure what human resources was, but I knew I loved helping equip others to succeed in their roles. Professor Beth Ritter was instrumental in helping me discover my identity as an HR professional, and Professor Paul Mulvey was a sounding board who helped me discover more about what I loved to do. I also had a great support system within the undergraduate programs office, especially through my academic adviser and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

How did your experiences at Poole equip you for your current role?

Poole stands out as being one of the few schools in higher education that gives students the space to try out different classes and activities outside of their major. I’ve always had an appetite for learning, so that environment laid a foundation for me to continue seeking learning opportunities as a professional. Especially in an HR career, having knowledge that spans many fields gives me the context to empathize with employees from a wide range of professional backgrounds. Thanks to my Poole experience, I know how to pull the right people into the room and garner diverse perspectives in the workplaces I help build.

Every little bit counts. You wouldn’t be where you are today if somebody didn’t invest in you. Even if it’s only $20-30, be thoughtful about where you put your money.

Why would you encourage fellow alumni to give back to Poole?

Every little bit counts. You wouldn’t be where you are today if somebody didn’t invest in you. Even if it’s only $20-30, be thoughtful about where you put your money. When you have an emotional connection to the donation, like the way I feel connected to Poole even several years after graduation, it makes the gift that much more rewarding. You don’t have to feel pressure to give every year. But when you can give, know that your money can make a huge difference to the lives of students.

Mary Lewis ’19 (economics) | Business Analyst at Cisco

Why did you choose to study at Poole?

I almost didn’t have a choice! Both my parents graduated from NC State, and I grew up attending football and basketball games. I was raised to be an avid NC State fan, so it quickly became my dream school. I knew I wanted to be in the business world, so applying to the Poole College of Management was one of the easiest choices I’ve ever made. 

What was the most valuable lesson you learned at Poole?

Something I’ve grasped as an early career professional is that anyone can learn a skill. Anyone can learn a new program. But at the end of the day, can people depend on you as a teammate? Do they feel comfortable reaching out to you for help when they’re overloaded? I vividly remember the team projects we completed in economics and analytics classes. Those were some of my most valuable experiences because I learned how to collaborate with people who had different response rates, skillsets and personalities. Those are skills I use every day as a professional.

What motivated you to give back to Poole?

Some of my best memories are from my time at Poole. From walking through Nelson Hall to sitting in the classrooms of beloved professors, my experiences put me in an ideal position to be successful early in my career. I consider it a privilege to have gone to NC State and studied at Poole. With that in mind, I cherish the opportunity to give back through scholarship and educational opportunities so others can have a similar experience.

Polly Davis ’20 (business administration) | IT Governance Analyst at Xerox Corporation

What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at Poole?

My sophomore year, I got involved with the Poole Student Philanthropy Council. I remember going out with a team on Poole’s Day of Giving and asking students why alumni and other donors should give to NC State. I was so shy and introverted at first, but I was passionate about philanthropy, and those experiences challenged me to communicate my passion clearly and meaningfully to other people. My involvement with the Council also allowed me to leave behind a legacy at Poole. Even as students, we were able to play a small part in paying it forward for new generations of Poole learners.

How did Poole help you lay the groundwork for success in your current role?

A large part of my role at Xerox involves helping senior leadership reimagine the way our business operates in the new digital age. Xerox rose to success with the advent of the printer, but now we are venturing into innovative digital experiences and office solutions like 3D printing. My work with the Philanthropy Council prepared me to boldly share my ideas with executives and tell a story through data. Also, thanks to the emphasis Poole places on developing practical skillsets, I’ve had the opportunity to teach many of my coworkers about less-used Excel and Tableau features I picked up from my time at Poole. It’s always rewarding to see my classroom learning in practice.

What initiative at Poole do you feel most passionate about supporting financially?

During my time at Poole, I gained invaluable hard and soft skills through the Business Analytics Honors Program. This program is a great way for students to develop into professionals that can enter the field with the newest skills and technologies. Places like Poole are a pipeline for younger generations that are revolutionizing the business world. It’s an honor to help support that work and equip these new leaders to bring their ideas to life.

Payton Jackson ’20, MAC ’21 | Internal Auditor at Advance Auto Parts

Who inspired you to pursue a career in accounting?

Dean Frank Buckless was my first accounting professor as an undergraduate. I remember him saying on the first day of class that the accounting field provides students with skills that are easily transferred to any business or non-business profession. In other words, accounting opens the door for you to do anything you want to do. Since I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my career at the time, Dean Buckless’s words really resonated with me, and I committed to an accounting major.

So many students struggle with life circumstances that are out of their control. Not only do scholarships open the door for students to be on campus, but financial help also gives the gift of time.

How did Poole challenge you to grow personally and professionally?

Going into Poole as an undergraduate, I wanted to say yes to everything because I valued a holistic college experience. Throughout my five years at Poole, I learned how to prioritize and manage my time well, figuring out what’s most important to me in my pursuit of a healthy life. As an early career professional, you have to fulfill your responsibilities and meet your team’s needs, but make sure you’re living your life, too. It’s important to enjoy what you do.

What motivates you to give back to Poole?

If it hadn’t been for the extra scholarships and financial aid from NC State, I would have had to study somewhere else. So many students struggle with life circumstances that are out of their control. Not only do scholarships open the door for students to be on campus, but financial help also gives the gift of time. Rather than students having to work while carrying a full course load, they can take time to explore things they love, whether it’s studying abroad, participating in extracurriculars or attending an athletic event.

Marcus Rountree, MBA ’12 | Senior Product Manager at Lowe’s

How did Poole help you advance your career?

My Poole MBA helped me stand out in the marketplace in two major ways. First, my MBA program gave me extensive exposure to public speaking in the classroom. We had a four-hour class every Monday night, and sometimes I would have to get up in front of my peers and speak on a topic for hours at a time. That class equipped me with world-class public speaking abilities to communicate effectively with company leaders and stakeholders.

Second, we had ample opportunities for interview training throughout the MBA program. Poole would welcome top community executives to conduct mock interviews with us, providing immediate feedback on where we could improve. That exposure is what helped me land offers from Amazon and Lowe’s, and it’s why I was recruited by Google and Facebook. I’ve been able to hold my own during these interviews and day-to-day workplace interactions because of my MBA experiences.

What was a personal highlight from your time at Poole?

Studying abroad in Prague and working with international product design companies was a gamechanger. Seeing that beautiful city still feels like a dream. It was mind-boggling to walk past a clock tower that had been there for hundreds of years. Those months gave me a fresh perspective on the big picture of marketing and management. Throughout my career, I’ve had the honor of collaborating at an international level, thinking beyond what’s happening here in the U.S. This allows me to go more in-depth in terms of strategic thinking and considering the diverse needs of potential customers and clients.

No dollar amount could ever show how much my Poole MBA means to me and how much it changed my life.

What motivates you to give back to Poole?

No dollar amount could ever show how much my Poole MBA means to me and how much it changed my life. From a university perspective, I’m incredibly proud of all the efforts Tayah Butler and the wider Poole community are making in the diversity and inclusion space. Business and diversity are two of my greatest passions, and Poole is a leading institution on both these fronts.