Alumna Charts a Path of Impact
Elizabeth Ross-Ronchi (MBA’99) wanted to do good for others through a financial lens, specifically microfinance. After her time in the corporate finance sector, Ross-Ronchi knew she would need to further her education to achieve her goals.
“With Georgetown’s focus on ethics and Jesuit values, as well as being globally minded situated in D.C., it was a perfect place to get an MBA with the anticipation that I would use it to do good in the world,” she said.
Unlike current students, Ross-Ronchi had her business school classes in Old North. Ross-Ronchi recalls that her lectures were next to the ethics library. The proximity furthered her connection to the Georgetown Jesuit identity as well as her overall focus on being ethical in her studies.
This passion for ethics filtered into her summer internship with Patagonia. That internship also broadened her thinking when it came to companies with social missions.
“I had a very fixed mindset that it had to be with a nonprofit organization,” she explained. “What I discovered in that internship with Patagonia was that the work to create social impact is not just done at nonprofits, it’s done at all types of organizations. It widened my net as I was looking for career opportunities and when I was making a decision about where to go.”
Ross-Ronchi began looking at the scale of impact she could bring to companies, and the work American Express was doing with small businesses caught her interest. Taking advantage of the Georgetown alumni network, Ross-Ronchi reached out to help get her resume through the door and has not forgotten what that Hoya connection did for her. She rose to the occasion and has been working there for the last 21 years.
When she started at American Express, the company did not actively recruit from Georgetown, so she helped start a recruiting program to change that. Over the last decade, more than 50 Hoyas have been hired by American Express and the numbers continue to grow.
Recruiting is not the only way Ross-Ronchi stays connected with her alma mater. She is an active participant in the PILLARs program and currently serves on the MBA Alumni Advisory Council (MAAC). The PILLARs program helps prepare students for a rapidly changing, increasingly global world by connecting them with alumni, parents, and friends of Georgetown and their organizations. The MAAC enhances the interactions of Georgetown McDonough MBA alumni with the school, and as well as MBA alumni, students, and faculty and staff.
“A core value to me is paying forward all of the opportunities I have been given,” said Ross-Ronchi. “The MAAC really enabled me to give back to an institution that afforded me so much opportunity. In terms of programs like PILLARS, I connect it to some of the most valuable experiences when professors brought in external speakers so you could combine the theoretical and the research and learning over time with a very present practical application.”
While Ross-Ronchi continues to give back to current students, Georgetown gives back to her. She maintains relationships with her classmates who are located all over the globe. Ross-Ronchi truly appreciates the network she has available to her when she seeks out external insights or career opportunities. Giving back, helping others, and paying it forward are values that Ross-Ronchi emulates within herself.
“I don’t think we have to be confined by thinking about the type of organization or the type of business,” she said. “You can create social impact from your seat in just about any firm that you’re in. Georgetown is uniquely suited to help inspire and create the courage in its students to lead out from their seat no matter where they are to create good in the world.”