Business Excellence

Sellinger Mentoring Program pairs enthusiasm with excellence

Kelly Gajdzisz, ’14, began her college search while attending Scotch Plains Fanwood High School in New Jersey and visited dozens of schools. But it all clicked when she came to Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business. When she decided to attend, she would never have expected she would soon be getting career advice from an executive from one of the largest asset management firms in the world.

“I wanted a program in business economics with a strong alumni network and resources for my job search after graduation,” said Gajdzisz. “The mentoring opportunities available at Loyola really made the Sellinger School stand out.”

As she entered her sophomore year, Gajdzisz was inducted into Sellinger Scholars, an honors business program that prepares high-achieving undergraduates for roles in leadership. She immediately took advantage of one of the Scholars’ networking resources, the Sellinger Mentoring Program, which connects leading business executives, looking to serve as mentors, to Loyola’s undergraduate and Emerging Leaders MBA graduate students.

“By interacting with distinguished professionals, students gain greater insight on what it takes to succeed in today's business climate,” said Timothy Quinn, J.D., associate dean of the Sellinger School.

The program paired Gajdzisz with Jeffrey Nattans, ’89, head of M&A and business development at Legg Mason Inc. Nattans joined Legg Mason in 2006 and his work focuses on corporate strategy and acquisitions, among other initiatives. Nattans holds an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Loyola. Nattans and Gajdzisz first connected at a networking reception in the fall of Gajdzisz’s junior year.

"As a mentor, I get to know my mentees first. We focus on exploring different industry areas based on their skillsets,” said Nattans. “Then, we do practice interviews and discuss effective networking.”

Soon after their initial meeting, she visited the Legg Mason offices in downtown Baltimore and was introduced to Nattans’ colleagues. Once Gajdzisz was introduced first-hand to the corporate environment, it was time to start finding her own place in it.

“When I started as an economics major I really didn’t know what direction I wanted to take,” said Gajdzisz. “He opened my eyes to the risk management, finance, and marketing side of my major that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”

Through this new focus Gajdzisz secured an internship as a promotions coordinator at J&L Marketing Inc., where she worked with local clients in the automotive industry on direct marketing campaigns. Gajdzisz is currently working with Nattans on her resume and building her networking resources.

“I like to bounce ideas off him about internships and job prospects,” Gajdzisz said of Nattans. “It definitely feels like I have an edge while applying for jobs.”

One surprising piece of advice she received from Nattans was not about business, but athletics. Nattans played soccer and basketball at Loyola and Gajdzisz is on Loyola’s swimming and diving team. Their shared competitive side provided some interesting tips for bringing those experiences into a business environment.

“He encouraged me to stick with it because the whole team environment is a great learning tool about the business,” said Gajdzisz. “It’s important to not ever forget the group dynamic.”

Nattans has enjoyed the renewed connection with his alma mater.

“The program has really helped me stayed connected with the school. It’s rewarding for me to get to know the students and stay updated with what’s going on at Loyola—through a lunch or a Loyola game,” said Nattans. “It reminds me that Loyola’s core values of leadership, ethics, and character continue to guide me.”

In the future, Loyola looks to continue to expand its’ outreach into the community.

"We're confident that as the mentoring program grows it will open new doors for students, mentors, and the Sellinger School alike," said Karyl B. Leggio, Ph.D., dean of the Sellinger School.