Naveen Jindal School of Management Alumni Spotlight

From real estate to healthcare management, to information technology and finance, we are proud to shine a spotlight on some of our alumni whose career paths are representative of the many employment options to which a degree from the Naveen Jindal School of Management can lead. With more than 29,000 alumni, the Jindal School is impacting the culture of business in the U.S. and beyond.

The following JSOM graduate agreed to have his information posted. If you are an alumnus and willing to share your information, please contact Caroline Mandel, Assistant Director, Development Communications and Donor Relations.

Gigi Bryant, GLEMBA’02 Business Development Consultant, GMSA Management Services Throughout her life, Gigi Bryant has overcome adversity - spending more than a decade in the foster care system. Since then, she has dedicated herself to serving others. She has started her own business consulting firm, established a foundation to assist youth in the foster care system and devoted her free time to volunteer work. A graduate of the Global Leadership Executive MBA (GLEMBA) program, Gigi says her coursework emphasized cross-cultural collaboration and enhanced her global leadership abilities. As an entrepreneur, she utilizes her Jindal School training to further advance her business while continuing to improve the quality of life for many youth in the foster care system.
Bryant at her May 2002 graduation ceremony.
Tell us a few highlights of your professional career.
Many highlights from my career are from my consulting work at [my company] GMSA Management Services Inc. and my work on various philanthropies that help youth in the foster care system.  

At GMSA, I love working with small-business owners. It is inspiring to see their passion and excitement. I founded GMSA to assist startup and existing businesses that want to reach multicultural communities, services, churches and other organizations in the greater Austin metropolitan area. Our areas of focus include education, youth in the foster system, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs. I also love working with nonprofit organizations. When I am able to help a nonprofit organization take a vision and develop it into something that is community focused, that is when I am most proud.  

On a personal note, I spent 12 years in the foster care system; so I am extremely passionate about helping youth in the foster care system. In 2004, I established the Write to Me foundation to help youth who have been affected by the foster system. Foster children do not choose to be in a foster home. Many children are in a foster home because something happened with their primary caregiver that necessitated the state to step in and care for the child. Once a child is in the foster system, I believe it is our level of support and care that determines the quality of [that child’s] future. Children need family and a consistent connection, and we need to provide that care as soon as possible.
What is your favorite UT Dallas memory?
My favorite UT Dallas memories are of my classmates and the amazing professors I had while a student in the Global Leadership Executive MBA program. I loved the unity of my class and the personal attention we received from our instructors.
Who was your favorite professor and/or what was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class in the GLEMBA program was economics. I selected the GLEMBA program because I wanted to enhance my skill set and learn more about working in a global community. In this class, the instructor brought in guest speakers from India, China, France and other places around the world. Each speaker brought a different prospective and taught us about their country’s financial system.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I try to spend my free time with my grandchildren. I have five children and five, soon to be six, grandchildren. I love to read fiction books, historical biographies and how-to-manuals. My husband, Sam, and I also love to take car trips. About twice a month, we will hop in the car and decide a direction to drive. We will drive until we find a bed-and-breakfast hotel and then stay the weekend there. We love to try as many local restaurants as possible. We usually ask the restaurant owners where we should go next.  

I think it is very important to not get burnt out. As often as possible, we try to play golf, go fishing, read a new book, take a nap, eat good food and cook a nice meal. Free time should never be an afterthought. We always schedule our free time on our calendar, and Thursday night is always a date night.
What advice do you have for current students hoping to succeed in the business world?
I believe that in order to succeed, you must first establish a personal foundation for decision making. It is important to define what you believe, and I pray for discernment in difficult situations. It is important to make decisions based on these beliefs. Also, your decisions should never purposely hurt someone.  

Secondly, pursue things you are passionate about and offer your assistance in situations where others may hold a certain passion. When you help someone who is passionate about an idea, be very clear about what you are willing to do and share how your participation will help. People respect passion even if they do not share the same cause. You should know beyond a shadow of a doubt why you get up and get dressed every single morning. This reminds me to appreciate every day that God has given me.  
Thirdly, be selective concerning close personal relationships. Everyone you come into contact with cannot be your close friend. People will come in and out of your life, and some will make a lasting impact and others may make a short impact. Unfortunately, some will not make a positive impact. When you find yourself in negative situation, remember your foundation and personal beliefs and give yourself permission to walk away. 

What makes an effective leader?
An effective leader is someone who understands there is something and someone greater than themself. If you understand that, then you have the freedom to lead, follow and to know when to get out of the way and let others take the lead.  

It is important to place yourself in a fluid arena with people who care about humanity. You have to be willing to see yourself in the eyes of others and willing to accept change, even when you are not the author of that change. However, [your moral boundaries] need to be consistent. Leaders will be judged by what they have done; although, leaders create the past by what they do in the present for humanity.… I believe the ultimate test of a leader is what you do when no one but God is watching.

Gigi was featured in the August 2011 issue of Austin Woman Magazine. Read the story here.