“Sociology made me a better thinker,” said Lindsay Guzowski, whose gift will support graduate students in sociology interested in pursuing careers outside academia. (photo courtesy of Lindsay Guzowski)
Bringing sociology to the business world — and beyond
Lindsay Guzowski (M.A. sociology ’04) credits her time and experiences at UNC-Chapel Hill with setting her on the path to where she is today.
She recalled a colloquium where a professor discussed his research on twins. She was inspired by the amount of insight that can be gleaned from a dataset.
“That has actually shaped where I have gone in life,” she said. “That told me you can use numbers to make things work and make things better,” she said. “Sociology made me a better thinker.”
Guzowski’s graduate work resulted in an unconventional career outcome, eventually leading to her position today as a partner with Falcon, which specializes in connecting private equity firms with top-notch talent.
“I discovered through grad school that there were ways to apply what I was learning to a path that would be more inspiring for me,” Guzowski said. “I wanted to ensure that if other students had that desire that they could pursue it. But on the flip side, there are those who think that teaching is the right path for them, but they don’t have the opportunity to get out into the real world and realize that they actually do like being a professor. Giving people the opportunity to experience both sides can help make better sociologists in the world.”
She established the Lindsay Hirschfeld Guzowski Graduate Student Excellence Fund to support graduate students in sociology who are pursuing careers outside of academia — just like she did.
Guzowski learned early on in her graduate program — through an internship with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago — that she enjoyed business and being able to apply the thought processes and research methods from sociology to real-world economic problems.
Her first job after graduation from UNC was with an industrial supply company in Cleveland that taught her how to manage people from diverse backgrounds as well as apply her strong statistics and research skills.
It also got her interested in learning how to assess how companies can succeed over the long-term, so she enrolled at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
While working toward her MBA, she did an internship with a private equity fund. She said one of the reasons they were interested in her was because of her sociology background — she could analyze businesses from a different perspective. She later had the opportunity to get in on the ground level at Falcon and be a part of building a growing company.
“I’ve felt strongly about bringing in people with sociology and social science backgrounds [to Falcon] because the way you learn to think in those fields is very different than the way that people learn to think in more business- or professionally-oriented undergraduate majors,” Guzowski said. “That ability to understand different viewpoints and follow where the data is taking you is a skill that just doesn’t really emerge in other disciplines.”
Now she wants to provide opportunities for others to gain the same opportunity.
“I want people to be able to do theses that will allow them to prove they have the ability to go into business and still scratch that intellectual itch,” she said. “There are ways to apply sociological theory to things that might seem like business school projects and to do so in a way that advances the literature.”
By Mary Moorefield