A Management Consultant in Chicago, Chrissy Pringle ’08 is adept at both assessing a company’s current performance and developing recommendations and models for its future success. From San Francisco to Chicago, Chrissy discussed her career in consulting and how her time at as a student at SHC set her up for long-term success.

What do you remember most about Sacred Heart Cathedral?

The strong relationships and support network I found at SHC will always be the most memorable element of my time there. I continually experienced teachers becoming friends and friends becoming teachers. Dr. Hogarty ’66 always took a keen interest in his student’s lives in and outside the classroom, helping with the transition from middle school to high school, and then on to college. Mr. Darmody showed us how to live the Lasallian and Vincentian virtues through food drives, talent shows at a local retirement home and “charity clothing shops” for the less fortunate. Mr. Sansoe ’71 taught us interesting facts about our nation’s history that we had never known before, and have stuck with us to this day. Mr. Musallam found a way to turn even the most mundane (or complex) chemistry concepts into a an engaging lesson you never wanted to end (or didn’t know had ended because you were blocks away from hearing the school bell in a park shooting off Mentos in Coke bottles). Mr. Jordan challenged us to think beyond the words on the pages we were reading and understand a book’s application not just to our lives, but to all of humanity. Mr. Murphy let us sit at his desk for hours after school, grappling with the concepts of BC Calculus. Madame Bernard ensured we spoke French well enough to get by living in Paris for a semester during college. Mr. Sazo was always standing in the courtyard helping us remember the value of getting to class on time…. The list goes on and I could tell stories about literally every teacher I had during my time at SHC.

One of the most challenging things I experienced in high school was tearing my ACL twice. My injuries placed a firm stop on my soccer career, and I was forced to shift priorities long before I had ever thought possible. The support system I fell back on at SHC was unbelievable, and I don’t think the opportunities that arose for me to explore other paths would have been available at many other institutions.

As part of my Senior Seminar with the De Paul Scholars program, I had to find a hobby I’d been interested in but had never done before. It was the perfect way to deal with the hurt of my injury in a productive and proactive fashion. I chose Digital photography—something I’d always liked the idea of, but had never pursued. It’s an interest I still enjoy to this day. I was also exposed to other friends’ interests as they began developing talents as part of their seminar project. The introduction to many of these activities—yoga, drums, fencing, lucid dreaming, gardening—helped expand my interests and pushed my boundaries of self-expression and fulfillment. In many ways, I think this exposure, and the circumstances around it, have deeply shaped who I am and what I enjoy today.

Why did you chose Northwestern?

I grew up in Marin and choose to attend Sacred Heart Cathedral in order to broaden my horizons and give me a more diverse high school experience. I used that same thought process in my college decision. I was familiar with California, but wanted to experience a new culture in a different part of the country.

Northwestern had everything I wanted; fantastic academics, active community groups, Division One sports, small class sizes, and the allure of being in Chicago, where you could play beach volleyball on Lake Michigan during the day and go to jazz clubs at night. It was a much bigger (and unfamiliar) city than I was used to, and it challenged me. It helped me become comfortable not always knowing what I was doing and not having all the answers. This is something I am very grateful for in my current career.

One of the highlights of my Northwestern experience was joining a group called Ellevate. Ellevate was founded by a former female Goldman-Sachs employee with the vision to empower women across the globe, giving them a network and resources to reach their full potential in the business world. When I became president of the Northwestern chapter, I was faced with the challenge of severe engagement and relevancy issues. Growing our chapter from 50 to 500 members in a few short years was a tremendous experience and a fantastic learning opportunity. Through my involvement with Ellevate, I met and worked with professional idols of mine such as the founders of Groupon and Gilt, rallying around critical business issues and gaining insight into the complexities of women in the professional world.

When I graduated, I was torn between jobs in San Francisco and Chicago. I hope to go back to San Francisco eventually, but I do enjoy the challenge and pace of living in Chicago since I graduated three years ago. After graduation, I transitioned into Accenture’s Management Consulting practice because of its focus on problem solving and strategic thinking, the true basis of consulting. My work involves anything from performing market assessments and valuations of an insurance company about to undergo an acquisition to planning the Digital roadmap of a cutting edge payments company to developing an investment portfolio and strategy over the next 5-years for a Financial Services firm looking to break into the Fortune 500.

Any advice for college graduates about to transition into the business world?

The interview and recruiting process can be overwhelming. Doing your due diligence takes some time. But it’s important. If you’re looking for general direction in your career path, think about past jobs, internships, or even homework assignments you’ve liked, and what you liked about them (and what you didn’t like about them). My parents have always told me to pursue something I’m passionate about, and everything else will fall into place. Even after a few short-years in the professional realm, I could not agree more and am very grateful for this direction.

Once you have your line of sight focused on a passion or passions, begin researching companies that fit the profile you’re looking for. Talk to anyone you can find with a similar career path and be sure to leverage your academic network. One of the best ways to get a true feel for a job is by setting up informational interviews with people in that field. Come prepared with questions and do some background research on their type of work and company. It never hurts to ask someone about their career (“What do you do?”, “Why do you like it?”, “How did you get to where you are now?”) and often opens far more doors than formal networking.

No matter where you’re at in your career, continue to discover your passions and work hard to put yourself in a position where you can pursue them for the rest of your life. Every extra bit you do now will pay off in the end. And, if you discover that no organization exists that truly embodies what you believe in and want to accomplish in the world, you can create one yourself. Coming from San Francisco, you have more tools to do so at your disposal than anywhere else in the world. Some of the most successful businesses have been built by people pursuing their dreams. If you work hard and stay true to your principles, you just may find yourself among the likes of Henry Ford, Carolina Herrera, Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington and the like.

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