Meet Our Class of 2018 Fellows: Rachel Gazzerro

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

Originally from Delaware, I lived in DC for 11 years before moving to Charlottesville to attend UVA Darden School of Business. I spent seven years in the social sector in a variety of function roles. Most recently, I worked for a cancer research organization, founded by a popular private equity head, managing data and growth strategy. I hope to pivot during business school to a functional role at the intersection of finance and strategy in a consulting or a corporate rotational role.

What made you consider business school?

I always knew I wanted to go back to business school; it became a matter of when. I was a liberal arts major in undergrad and worked in the social sector for 7 years thereafter, often liaising with the accounting department. I love managing personal finances and became increasingly interested in corporate finance, so it was pretty clear to me from the start that one day I'd return to an academic setting to learn more fully about finance and business. In the past two years, I took on managerial responsibilities and strategic roles: managing my organization's data strategy, personnel, and budget. When I looked at my career trajectory, I found that I capped in the areas of my interest and decided to return to school to career switch.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

Classes! Darden has an incredible (though challenging) case-based curriculum, and I am excited to dive into a variety of the classes, namely finance and operations.

Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

My most recent boss is exemplary of the kind of leader that I want to be. He worked 20 years in the AIDs/HIV community before switching to the cancer research nonprofit that I worked for. He is an emblem of being your true, authentic self and a pillar of transparency and social justice. I learned from him both how to comfortable being myself in the workplace and how to lead with respect of others and inspire others to do the same.

What's one thing everyone should know about you?

I became an avid birthday bucket list maker about three years ago. Introduced by a friend, bucket lists were a great way to avoid complacency. I found after a few years of working, I fell into the same routine and kept putting off various adventures that I said I wanted. Since creating a bucket list, I've experienced a lot of firsts - rock-climbing, backpacking, driving a motorcycle - and have made movement towards personal goals, such as learning how to invest. If anyone has a new adventure, count me in!

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