Latesha Byrd

What does it mean to receive the 2019 Belk College Outstanding Young Alumna Award?

It’s an extreme honor to receive this award. The Belk College poured into me so much as a student and the lessons I learned in and out of the classroom paved the way for my start in the business world. I did not have a blueprint of who or what I wanted to be in my career, and the Belk College empowered me to chart my own path.

2019 Belk College Outstanding Young Alumna Award recipient, Latesha Byrd ‘12, says “it’s extremely important to give back… I want to show other students, especially those that look like me, that yes, you can be a young, ambitious Black woman with a successful business and career.”

When did you graduate and what was your major?
I graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2012 and my major was accounting. 

What kinds of opportunities did you have at UNC Charlotte, such as membership in student groups, sports played, internships, study-abroad?
Community was important to me so I got involved quickly upon coming to UNC Charlotte. I joined the Business Learning community my freshman year and continued to stay pretty active within the College of Business. I was a part of the Belk College of Business Dean's Fellows Program, National Association of Black Accountants and Student Alumni Ambassadors. 

I also was a part of the Coalition of 100 Black Women and member of the Iota Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

During my time at UNC Charlotte, I had 5 internships! KPMG (3 times), AICPA, and with a small black-owned accounting firm based in Charlotte. 

Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
I chose UNC Charlotte for the campus and the city. I grew up in Raleigh and would come to Charlotte during the summer to visit my aunt. I fell in love with the city (at this point, Raleigh was the only city I knew, and I was fascinated with how much larger Charlotte was). 

I had high hopes to launch my career in the accounting and finance industry. As Charlotte is the second largest finance hub in the US, it made perfect sense. I knew I would be able to grow my network and find the right opportunities to jumpstart my career. 

I toured the campus and absolutely loved it. I knew it was the right school for me the first time I stepped foot on its grounds. 

What was the best part of your Belk College experience?
The best part of the experience was learning from so many great teachers. They were invested in my success, and I often sought them out for advice outside of academics. I developed relationships with professors that I still have to this day. 

What was your first job after graduation?
I worked for KPMG in Charlotte, NC in the audit practice. 

What is your current role?
I am Founder & CEO of a Career Consulting agency, Byrd Career Consulting, LLC., based in Charlotte, NC. 

What did you learn in the Belk College that has best prepared you for your career?
I learned various skills, especially time management. I was pretty busy for a college student, moving from class, to meetings, to events and to the library to study. 

I also learned the essence of networking at an early stage. The Belk College often gave opportunities for students to meet with alumni and company sponsors through networking events and career fairs. I took advantage of as many of those events as possible, investing in my social capital as a college student was extremely important. 

What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
There is nothing more valuable than your network. The people that you spend your time with at UNC Charlotte will make or break your college experience. Find your tribe, and they need to be those that have values and a work-ethic that is aligned with your own. 

Take advantage of all the networking opportunities to learn as much as possible about the various career paths available to you once you graduate. Begin to establish your brand even as a college student. Your career doesn’t start after college, it starts as early as your freshman year. That brand is your reputation. Also, intern as much and as early as possible throughout your college career to get real life experience under your belt. It will set you apart from the competition.

What is the importance of giving back to you in terms of time, talent or treasures?
I often go back to UNC Charlotte to lead a workshop or present to students on various career/professional development topics. It’s extremely important to give back. I often think of those that invested in me before I even believed in myself. I want to show other students, especially those that look like me, that yes, you can be a young, ambitious Black woman with a successful business and career.  

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