KSU Alumnus Shows Beta Gamma Sigma Inductees the Power of Mentorship

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 14, 2018) — The newest inductees into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society received a valuable lesson about mentorship this week when Kennesaw State alumnus Kristi Johnson spoke at the Beta Gamma Sigma induction ceremony.

Beta Gamma Sigma inducted 53 juniors, seniors, and graduate students from the Michael J. Coles College of Business into the business honors society this semester. Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma is only available to the top students at the 785 business schools globally accredited by AACSB International, the most prestigious accrediting body in the world.

Beta Gamma Sigma Fall 2018

Dr. Kathy Schwaig, Dean of the Coles College, congratulated the inductees on their achievement and encouraged them to remain active in the society’s Atlanta chapter.

“We’re excited by what you’ve accomplished today, and for what is ahead of you,” she said.

At each ceremony, the College also selects a member of the Atlanta business community to be an honorary inductee into Beta Gamma Sigma. Johnson, a graduate of the Coles College School of Accountancy, a partner at accounting firm Windham Brannon, and a member of the Coles College advisory board, was this semester’s selection.

Johnson spoke to the inductees and shared her story of succeeding despite humble beginnings. Her parents divorced when she was a child, and Johnson’s family faced significant financial hardship. It was during this time that she discovered the importance of having strong mentors.

“I think the one thing that helped me the most going through was finding those mentors,” Johnson said. “They may not be official mentors. But you should find those people who you can look to and say ‘that’s success to me.’”

Kristi Johnson Beta Gamma Sigma Fall 2018

One of Johnson’s first mentors was her best friend’s father, a successful professional who inspired Johnson to attend college to achieve her goals. By following his example, she supported herself as she attended Kennesaw State University and became the first member of her family to graduate college.

At Kennesaw State, she found new mentors in the faculty and staff of the School of Accountancy.

“I’m so grateful for what Kennesaw State did for me,” Johnson said. “I’m so proud to have come from here. The things that this University has done just blow my mind.”

After graduation, Johnson studied independently and passed the CPA exam. She worked with SunTrust for seven years before joining Windham Brannon. There, she found more mentors who demonstrated the professional qualities she wanted to emulate. Johnson started as an associate and eventually worked her way up to partner.

Fall 2018 Beta Gamma Sigma

In addition to finding mentors, Johnson also advised the Beta Gamma Sigma inductees to find ways to differentiate themselves from their peers, such as by learning new skills or by taking on new and different responsibilities.

“You want to differentiate yourself in a good way,” she said. “I have no doubt that every single one of you will be successful. But, you are going to be surrounded by other successful people. Do whatever you can do to differentiate yourself.”

-Patrick Harbin

Photos by Catalina Calvo