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Making an Impact in the Office and the Classroom

Ruth-Hanna Strong“People who have a plan often achieve more. You can write down ten things. And nine of the ten might not happen, but just start.” This is a philosophy Ruth-Hanna Strong ’96 learned to live by.

Strong received her MBA from the Bryan school in 1996 and her post-MBA certificate in international business in 1998. In 2015, she received her PhD from Capella University in organization and management.

From 1998 to 2003, Strong was an instructor at the Bryan School. There, she taught international business to both undergraduate and graduate students. One of the exercises she used the first day of her introduction to international business course has stuck with her and her former students to this day.

She would first ask the students to check the label of where their shirts were made. She noticed that the women almost invariably asked the person next to them for help while the men would struggle to do it themselves.

Next, she would have each student find that country on a map. The point of the exercise was two-fold. First, they would get to see how different groups of people problem solve. Second, actually locating the country helped start to make that connection between purchasing and international business.

However, for nearly twenty years, Strong has worked in auditing at two major companies – what is today Wells Fargo and Citi Bank. “I didn’t think I would work for a major company – it just didn’t occur to me. I knew I wanted to work in business but didn’t know what it would look like.”

At both companies, Strong was an auditor; today at Citi Bank, she is a Senior Auditor Manager. There, her team monitors and trains others auditors on trust or fiduciary activities.

Had she not done additional work at the Bryan School conducting an independent study, she doesn’t think should would’ve been hired by Wachovia. Her study consisted of investigating the Bryan School’s MBA program versus others’ for accreditation for the AACSB. That work showed her talent as an auditor, landing her a job at Wachovia.

“Throughout my career, my Bryan School connections and the way the Bryan School reaches out to local businesses really helped me.”

One thing Strong wishes she had done was plan for life after graduation earlier. “I’m sure I heard that, but I wish I had heard that more, earlier, and in a way that had resonated with me better.” She hopes to have the ability to get that message across to students herself as she plans on returning to teaching within the next year.