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Class of ’23: Jane Lyons, Commerce Community Leader

We asked Lyons more about the impact of her Comm School experience and her desire to remain an active participant in the McIntire community.

Jane Lyons

Jane Lyons came to UVA from Wilmington, DE, bringing an already impressive amount of leadership and service experience with her.

She first found a taste for social impact when she created a reentry program to confront rising recidivism rates among adjudicated youth in her home state. Demonstrating the power of economic opportunity to alleviate poverty and reduce incarceration, her program was noticed by the state legislature and governor, who appointed Lyons to his Juvenile Justice Advisory Task Force. TEDx later offered her a platform to tell her story.

“It was quite a journey, and ultimately my foray into social entrepreneurship convinced me of the need for a strong business acumen. UVA was a great fit, with an emphasis on student self-governance, a culture steeped in the tradition of service, and the longstanding commitment to a community of trust,” the IT and Management concentrator says.

Once on Grounds, she wasted no time getting fully involved in many areas. Lyons earned her IRS certification as a Tax Assistant to help clients through Madison House’s Creating Assets Savings & Hope (CASH) program. Helping clients who included asylum-seeking immigrants and graduate students gave her the confidence and motivation that led to working with the UVA branch of 180 Degrees Consulting, where she supported social impact services, and with Students Entrepreneurs for Economic Development (SEED) as a pro bono consultant to NGOs across the globe.

But the Jefferson Scholar Recipient and Echols Scholar didn’t stop there.

Lyons was selected to the Blueprint Leadership Program, a first- and second-year cohort, for her leadership potential.

She counts herself fortunate to have been selected as a first-year to the training program of the Alternative Investment Fund (AIF), which led to her earning the role of Qualified Investment Analyst; she was then promoted to Portfolio Coverage Director, charged with evaluating AIF’s portfolio to recommend buy/sell decisions, and as a fourth-year, elected as Chief Marketing Officer.

Central to her decision to attend UVA, the University’s commitment to honor and student self-governance prompted her to get involved with Honor Council, where she served as an Investigator and Counsel for four semesters before becoming an Investigator, Counselor, and this year’s sole Comm School Honor Committee representative.

And what was it exactly that led her to apply to the Comm School? “Quite simply, McIntire’s reputation for achieving results,” says Lyons. “I am an analytical problem-solver who is passionate about taking on difficult challenges and investigating every piece of the puzzle. I wanted to challenge myself and work with the best and the brightest peers who bring their passion and skills to our collective effort to innovate business solutions to societal problems.”

A double-major who also earned a degree in Global Development Studies, she readily took to the Commerce community, taking on added responsibility as a McIntire Ambassador. Viewing the role as a way to give back, she helped in many areas, which included attracting promising candidates as she shared her passion for the Comm School.

The McIntire Student Speaker at this year’s McIntire Ceremony of Final Exercises remains committed to the idea that business can do good in the world and that “doing well while doing good is a core value of the Comm experience,” noting that she saw her classmates at the Comm School exemplify it every day.

“It transcends our student organizations and CIOs in the interest of honoring the importance of student self-governance as well as wide-ranging efforts to give back to others less fortunate. In the classroom, McIntire affords us a unique space where it is safe to take risks, voice our opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. We listen, collaborate, and ideate as we work fearlessly in pursuit of the best possible outcomes,” she says. “We look forward to graduating to careers where our work will be purposeful and positively impact the greater good.”

We asked Lyons more about the impact of her Comm School experience and her desire to remain an active participant in the McIntire community.

How did your internships and McIntire education prepare you for your career?

As a second-year, I was recruited for a private equity internship at Providence Strategic Growth in Boston, specializing in growth-stage software and technology-enabled services. This internship allowed me to cut my teeth on modeling, research, and one-on-one calls with CEOs seeking institutional funding to access product market fit, thus allowing me to jump-start my Comm School experience.

During my third year, I was recruited for a consulting internship at McKinsey and Company, where I joined several teams throughout the nation providing business solutions for Fortune 100 companies, utilizing and building on the skills I was introduced to in the ICE curriculum. Thanks to McIntire, I was able to make valuable contributions throughout our client engagements. My manager was impressed by my ability to produce a professional presentation deck, interact with clients, and present my ideas in a thoughtful and structured manner—all skills I had developed and mastered during my time at McIntire. This summer experience confirmed my passion for working with people of wide-ranging backgrounds and skill sets to provide solutions to complex business problems, and I am excited to be returning to McKinsey upon graduation.

What Comm School course, professor, or educational experience has made the greatest impact on you?

This is a difficult task, since every experience I’ve had with McIntire professors has been a positive one. It’s not a stretch to say that the faculty here is extraordinary. I hope you will indulge me as I share several shout-outs.

Professor Jeffrey Lovelace’ Strategic Leadership course draws on his time at West Point and his career in military leadership to share fascinating real-world experiences. He has a way of amplifying the learning experience, providing a unique context in which to understand the classroom material and apply the principles for a more comprehensive understanding of how to build successful teams in our upcoming careers. Even in my last semester at UVA, I was excited to attend every class and found myself reinvigorated to learn more about a topic that I had naively thought I had mastered.

One of the nice surprises of my final semester has been taking Database Management with Professor Jing Gong. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to engage with her and to recognize that I have an affinity for database management! Professor Gong has an impressive command of this space and extensive experience in IT. She shares her passion for the subject matter in a way that is pragmatic and transferable. I am excited to utilize this coursework as I begin my career at McKinsey after graduation.

Finally, I debated adding the Real Estate Track to my concentrations this year, and I am so glad that I did. Professors Drew Sanderford and George Overstreet have made a concerted effort to reach out to McIntire women to explore wide-ranging careers in this space. The teaching duo does a fantastic job of decoding the foreign language of real estate finance and development. Their teaching methodology is geared toward building on fundamentals, and they create assignments that cement our learnings I loved having a new learning curve in the Comm School and look forward to helping Professor Sanderford grow opportunities in real estate for female McIntire grads.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the team of professors who were responsible for whipping my Block into Comm shape. The ICE curriculum is designed to stretch each student beyond her historical limits. However, this is not without the support necessary for success. Among my many incredible ICE professors, Professors Christi Lockwood, Rob Patterson, and Sarah Lebovitz stand out. Each taught me vital skills that I utilize every day and that will remain a constant in my professional life. Christi Lockwood, my Organizational Behavior professor, taught us how to motivate group members, problem-solve with contrarian teammates, and negotiate to the bitter end. Professor Patterson taught us to speak extemporaneously on a previously undisclosed topic, prepared us to write a formal memo like our life depended on it, and conveyed the importance of communication in every facet of business. Professor Lebovitz, teaching Information Systems, had an important role in educating us on the impact of technological changes on our future workforce. She found a way to make this interesting and applicable to our world in real time, and did so in an interactive and humorous way. Everything about the ICE curriculum is incredibly challenging, and I found myself utilizing my education and skills in ways that I had never imagined. There is no doubt that we succeeded because of the time and effort our professors put in on a daily basis to ensure we gained all of the skills and tools necessary for career success.

You’ve achieved so much at McIntire and UVA and in Charlottesville. What are you looking forward to most?

Thomas Jefferson once said, “There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.” I cannot help but look forward to a new chapter of involvement and contribution to UVA—this time, as an alumna. I’ve been incredibly energized by the McIntire alumni with whom I have had the opportunity to interact. They have greatly influenced my experience on Grounds and my career aspirations. As a result, I am motivated to be that person for the next generation—continuing the traditions of excellence and “paying it forward” for the next chapter of Commerce students. Consulting and private equity will be concentrations I endeavor to build upon in service to future Comm students, and now the Real Estate Track, a new area of interest for me and a track that will likely afford increasingly vast opportunities for McIntire women.

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