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Volunteering Sparks Student’s Career Decision

Deanna Gallo BS’11

Accounting and Supply Chain Management Major

Deanna Gallo

“Corporate social responsibility is the business side of good. Corporations have so much power that I believe it’s their responsibility to give back.”

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The turning point in Deanna Gallo’s career trajectory can be traced to a week on the beach with some leatherback sea turtles.

Gallo spent spring break 2010 in Gandoca, Costa Rica, as assistant site leader for Kelley’s Civic Leadership Development Alternative Break Program. She lived on the beach, building hatcheries for the turtles and safeguarding their eggs. “I learned a lot about sea turtles,” she says with a laugh. “And it was the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had.”

Before the trip, she was elated to learn that she’d been accepted into Kelley’s prestigious 3/2 MBA accounting program. After her experience with the turtles, though, Gallo was rethinking her career goals. Her mind kept going back to the Kelley-sponsored sustainable business symposium she attended earlier that spring, Check Your Label: Elements of Conscious Consumerism and the talk by Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes. (His firm promises to give one pair of new shoes to children in need around the world with every pair sold.)

“He was very inspiring, and I liked their business model,” she says. “It was my introduction to ‘conscious consumerism.’ His talk and my Costa Rican experience really opened my eyes to the fact that I can make giving back my lifestyle—not just a hobby.”

After talking with career advisors, the staff at the Kelley Institute of Social Impact, and other students, Gallo began to move on what she calls her “epiphany.” By the end of March, she had made the decision to change courses and picked up another major in supply-chain management. She hopes to work in operations for a few years after her December 2011 graduation, and then earn her MBA in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Her ultimate goal? To manage the corporate social responsibility department of a Fortune 500 company or own a firm that does consulting work for CSR departments.

“Corporate social responsibility is the business side of good,” she says. “Corporations have so much power that I believe it’s their responsibility to give back.”

Working in CSR is the perfect melding of Gallo’s interests in business and giving back. Her passion for business started early on. “I was making lunchtime deals in kindergarten,” she says. “From a very young age I’ve liked to take on leadership roles.”

And it shows. At Kelley, Gallo has become involved in a variety of different extracurricular activities. She’s a board member and site leader with the Alternative Break Program, and organized the group’s 2011 spring break trip to Birmingham, Alabama, where she and other Kelley students worked on a blitz build for Habitat for Humanity. Gallo managed all budgets, logistics, transportation, social activities, and volunteer work for the trip. Her involvement with Habitat is extensive—in Bloomington she regularly works on builds, and acts as a Spanish translator for Hispanic clients. “I do the Spanish office hours. I get to tell them their application moved forward,” she says, smiling.

And to illustrate that there’s really nothing this young woman can’t do, Gallo volunteered to coach a team of 11- and 12-year-olds for a Girls Inc. volleyball team, for three hours a week—during I-Core, traditionally Kelley’s most intensive semester. The team went undefeated. “That was the best thing I did all semester,” she says. “I loved watching the girls’ progress and seeing their confidence grow.”

Judging by what Gallo has accomplished with sea turtles and tweens, success with CSR can’t be far behind.  

Published March 11, 2011