An adage states, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” As a rising young professional at General Electric, Ashley Jackson (BSBA ’08) wholeheartedly embraces this philosophy.
In the eight years she has worked for General Electric, Ashley Jackson has held multiple roles and received three promotions. She hopes to continue the ascent toward an executive leadership position while giving her time and resources to inspire others to do the same.
Jackson’s mom and sister were both practicing accountants, and she thought it might be a good fit for her, too. An internship as a freshman at TU cemented her choice to major in accounting. Jackson also added a second major in management specializing in business law, a certificate in African American Studies and a minor in sociology to round out her academic foundation.
On campus, Jackson sought to gain as much leadership experience as she could. “When you attend a smaller university, you’re not only able to join groups as a member, but you can also take leadership roles,” she said.
Having smaller class sizes also meant professors served as mentors, including accounting Professor Dennis Hudson, who also sponsored TU’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). “He was a great person in terms of mentoring in the classroom and leveraging his experience when I began exploring different companies for employment.”
Jackson pledged Delta Sigma Theta and found a sisterhood that further enhanced her involvement at TU. As graduation approached, Jackson was selected by her sorority as one of 50 participants for the national Leadership DELTA program, which GE sponsors annually. She met HR leaders and other employees and learned about the multinational corporation’s financial management program.
“I got in touch with an HR manager, who told me to apply,” said Jackson. “GE fast tracked my interview since I had to respond to a pending job offer from PWC the following week.” After a phone interview, she flew to Connecticut and had an offer by the time she got back home. GE valued the diversity in Jackson’s academic background, as well as her leadership and internship experience. “It’s not just about being able to execute. You have to be able to lead others and work in a team environment. These are attributes GE saw in me based on my experiences at TU.”
The company’s two-year financial management program gives employees the opportunity to rotate positions every six months. Within that time, Jackson was able to experience four different roles across GE’s capital business, expand her network and travel to different sites within the company. She then chose another leadership program to focus on auditing, which sent her across all of GE’s businesses, including oil and gas, aviation and transportation. “I moved every four months and worked in the United Kingdom twice,” she said. “The experience allowed me to see differences in how we operate domestically and internationally, and also gave me a look at the operational side of the business.”
In 2013, Jackson was promoted to commercial finance manager covering two of the company’s North American oil and gas businesses. Part of her job included reviewing contracts for the business’s regional deals. “I love it,” she said. “I get to work with sales managers and the legal team to negotiate contracts with customers. I’m able to leverage my accounting background and business law degree, and even my sociology minor in reading and persuading people.”
Through GE’s Women’s Network and African American forum, Jackson has connected with mentors who have been instrumental in helping guide her career path. “Surrounding myself with knowledgeable mentors has helped me navigate the corporate world, and helped me to understand what additional experience I need in order to step into an executive leadership role one day,” she said.
Jackson stresses the importance of giving back as a way to help others have the same opportunities she’s had the good fortune to experience. It’s one of the reasons she established a Pursuit of Excellence book scholarship soon after graduating from TU. “Whether it’s through your time in mentoring others or by giving of your resources, we can have a major impact on future generations if everyone does their part.”
Editor’s note: Jackson has once again been promoted and is now the customer success integration manager for GE Digital.