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Anna Katherine Cates, Georgia Tech Scheller Class of 2021
Anna Katherine Cates, Georgia Tech Scheller Class of 2021

Countdown to Commencement: Meet Undergraduate Anna Katherine Cates

As part of the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Countdown to Commencement series, we interviewed a few soon-to-be graduates from our Undergraduate program to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller, and what they plan to do after the Spring 2021 commencement.

Meet Anna Katherine Cates, who is graduating with a concentration in accounting, a minor in engineering and business through the Denning Technology and Management (T&M) Program and a minor in Spanish.

Where are you from? 

Rome, Georgia.

Where did you attend high school?  

Darlington School.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business?

No industry or job exists in a vacuum; the decisions you make in nearly any role can affect the world far outside your office. I used to believe that community service existed separately from day-to-day business operations, and only in rare cases is that still true. After spending four years analyzing case studies and studying supply chain management, I have learned that business leaders often set a chain of events in motion that affect others, for better or worse. For example, if a procurement analyst at a manufacturing company switches suppliers for a certain type of screw, that single decision could lead to a job loss at one company and a gain at another. Maybe one of those suppliers is more environmentally responsible than the other, and this same decision has environmental ramifications for a community or the world at large. In an increasingly more connected global economy, the systems that our daily business decisions affect will only continue to become more complicated. After four years of studying business at Scheller, I have a better understanding of the responsibility attached to many business decisions, both to your firm and other communities.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?

A business student cannot just read textbooks and pay attention to lectures to be successful. If you want to fully benefit from your education, you have to be aware of current events. There are so many fun newsletters now, such as Morning Brew, that summarize business news and current events in entertaining ways. The advice I give to first-year business majors is to subscribe to a few newsletters. While it is nice to use models to value a stock, they are useless without the context of that business in the market. Without understanding larger socio-economic trends, you will always be missing one piece of the puzzle. You have to be plugged into the world around you to connect what you learn in class to the broader world. If you do this, you will realize how useful your classes are in propelling you to being an active global citizen.

As a business student in the heart of Tech Square, how do you think Scheller College embodies the intersection of business and technology?

As a business major in Scheller, I coded a website from scratch, competed with engineers in a robot competition, and co-designed a pill bottle to combat opioid diversion. The scientific advancements I learned about in Emerging Technologies three years ago are now front-page news. Though I am not an expert in any technical field, my experiences at Georgia Tech have taught me how to be an expert in learning technical concepts and applying them to business.

Beyond a curriculum that blends technology and business, Scheller fosters an entrepreneurial spirit that inspires innovation. You do not have to take my word for it; just ask any of the companies who have opened innovation centers near Scheller. Whether a company is a long-established Fortune 500 or raising first-round capital, they see the value in the creative intelligence of Scheller students. As the past year’s events have demonstrated, business and technology no longer exist in separate silos. I am grateful to have been educated at Scheller because I feel that I have a foot in both worlds. 

What was your favorite business course?

Servant Leadership and Value Systems with Professor Thomas.

Who is your favorite professor?

This question was the toughest because so many professors came to mind, but if I have to choose one, it would be Bob Myers. He is my favorite professor, because like many Scheller professors, his passion for his students’ success is evident in every interaction. He regularly asks students about their professional goals, and I know of many people who received an internship or full-time role from his connections.

Professor Myers is not so much a lecturer as a discussion leader, and I find his course content relevant and exciting. His course is currently my only in-person class, and I am truly excited to go every Monday and Wednesday. As icing on the cake, I have never seen Professor Myers in a shirt without the Georgia Tech logo, and he keeps us updated on the bookstore’s latest merchandise. It is fun to have a professor that cares just as much about your success and school pride as he does teaching.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business at Scheller College?

When I first visited Scheller, I was blown away by how ambitious, successful, and kind the undergraduates were. I kept telling myself that these people were simply too impressive to be that kind and that I needed to be wary of competitive peers when I became a student. To my surprise, however, I found Scheller to be an incredibly supportive and welcoming environment. As a first year, I had no idea how to set up a coffee chat, how to write a resume, or even what to wear to an interview. I sent one message in a GroupMe asking for advice about internships, and before I knew it, I was in the Barnes & Nobles Starbucks with third and fourth years giving me advice on applying to my first job. The Scheller culture is one of helping each other, whether that means sharing notes and study guides or connecting one another to potential future employers. I was completely surprised by the welcoming environment that Scheller proved to be.

What were some of your extracurricular activities, community work, and leadership roles during college?

Society of Women in Business, president, vice president of Project Management, corporate relations project manager; Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, finance vice president; Emerging Leader Collegiate Award recipient; Ruth Pretty Palmer Collegiate Award nominee; Buzz Buddies, co-founder; Scheller Business Ambassadors; Stamps President’s Scholars Program; Stamps Scholars National Committee 2019 Service Challenge thread coordinator; Senior Gala Planning Committee; Georgia Tech Tour guide; TEDxGeorgiaTech, Speaker Recruitment Team; Tech the Halls mentor, Ronald McDonald House volunteer, Trees Atlanta, Ms. GT semi-finalist.

Which academic, extra-curricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of?

After being exposed to students outside of Scheller through the Denning T&M Program and extracurricular organizations, I better appreciated the professional training we receive in the business school through GT1000, advising, and interactions with our professors. Non-business majors are seeking access to more professional advising, and I am in a position to create that opportunity. As an executive team member in the Society of Women in Business (SWIB), I have expanded our recruitment to more academic disciplines at Georgia Tech. Fifteen percent of our members are now majors from outside Scheller including computer science, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and global economics and modern languages, to name a few. By becoming more diverse, we not only expand the opportunities available at Scheller to more corners of campus, but our members are also enriched by their exposure to diverse schools of thought. This shift in SWIB’s recruitment strategy is just the beginning of stronger relationships between the women on our campus. Georgia Tech is stocked full of incredible female talent, and I am proud to have played some part in strengthening our bonds with one another in the pursuit of professional excellence.

Where have you interned during your college career? As a strategy summer scholar, Deloitte; internal operations intern, CDC Foundation; strategy & transformation operations intern, Equifax.

Where will you be working after graduation? 

I will be a strategy consulting analyst at Deloitte in Atlanta.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why?

If I could go back to Opening Bell as a first year and start over again, I would be more open to different opportunities at Scheller. I came to Georgia Tech knowing that I wanted to study operations and supply chain management with a minor in the T&M Program. On day one, I took steps towards these goals and never looked back. While I am happy with where this path took me, I now believe that there is much more to learn by opening myself to unplanned experiences. There are too many opportunities at Scheller to possibly understand all options before walking through the doors, and I wish I had realized that. Looking back, I would have enjoyed being more involved with the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, leadership courses, and the entrepreneurial environment, just to name a few. My little brother is coming to Scheller next year, and in my recent conversations with him, I have urged him to be constantly looking for new organizations and interesting courses to take, regardless of how they fit in the master plan.

Which classmate do you most admire?

Emily Salmond immediately comes to my mind as someone I admire. Though a year younger than me, she continuously inspires me with her unique combination of ambition, humility, kindness, and work ethic. I have worked with her in several organizations, both as a teammate and team leader. Through these experiences, I have watched her consistently put the needs of others above her own. She attacks every problem with a can-do attitude and is the only business student I have known from T&M to become a teaching assistant for ME2110 - Creative Decisions & Design after excelling in the robot competition. While working diligently in her classes and extracurricular involvements, Emily makes every effort to build lasting relationships with the people around her. I am constantly amazed by her maturity and cannot wait to see my friend change our world for the better.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?

I can think of many friends, professors, role models, advisors, and family members who have helped me along the way, but above all, I would like to thank my dad for my success. Beyond the usual caretaking a father is responsible for, my dad has always pushed me to be the best version of myself. I generally believe that I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to, and I owe much of this belief to my father. Throughout my life, he has expected me to think critically and make decisions for myself, and he has never held me back or treated me differently. A large part of success is resilience, and watching my dad lead his own business through peaks and valleys has contributed to my own resilience. I have seen my dad rise above challenges with his business and continue to strive for success. His company has grown tremendously since I have been in college, and it inspires me to continue to chase my goals. Seeing both his struggles and successes has led me to pursue business at Georgia Tech. The example he sets and the support he gives me has allowed me to relentlessly pursue my dreams, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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

When I have the opportunity to lead at any level of business, I want to act as a servant leader, valuing the people I lead and our community above the results they produce for me. I want to run my own business and rate our success on combined financial and social profit metrics.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I am an ordained minister (let me know if you are looking for someone to officiate a Zoom wedding)!

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