Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently interviewed Teri Cloud (ABJ ’94), president of the Women of UGA Leadership Council, in order to learn more about her UGA experience and what drives her to stay connected to her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
Why did you choose to attend the University of Georgia? What, in your opinion, makes UGA stand out as compared to other universities?
I had my sights set on the University of Georgia since I was a young girl, and I wanted to be a journalist—just like Lois Lane! #superreporter
To me, there is no school like UGA. I love Athens and I love our beloved mascot and our unified spirit and our school pride. Mostly I suppose I love the type of people UGA attracts: diverse, rich in experiences and knowledge (not pretentious but proud, hungry!).
Tell me more about your background in journalism and how this led you to a career in marketing. What are you doing now?
Once I was at UGA, I learned more about the lifestyles of reporters (and the lack of pay and job opportunity!), I decided a more suitable route would be to pursue public relations (with a dual minor in marketing and English). My most appealing “skill” to employers after I graduated was graphic design, so my first job out of school was as a graphic designer in the art department for a large pharmaceutical company. I designed over-the-counter packaging, working closely with compliance and marketing, and realized my passion was on the marketing side.
Next stop: a headhunter successfully recruited me into a position as marketing coordinator for Troutman Sanders, LLP, one of Atlanta’s largest law firms. I eventually led that department, then years later moved to Holland & Knight, an international top 20 law firm and finally was recruited to be the director of marketing for BNKJ, LLP, a local accounting firm in Atlanta (I was engaged at the time, wanting to start a family in the foreseeable future, so wanted a position where I didn’t need to travel).
Earlier this year, BNKJ merged with Carr, Riggs, & Ingram, LLC (CRI), which is a $300 million top 20 US accounting firm and the fastest-growing. I am now the marketing communications manager for CRI, responsible for all of the firm’s marketing content—website, promotional materials, proposals, branding pieces and other marketing-driven materials. I have been in professional services marketing for more than 20 years (both accounting and legal marketing).
Describe your time as an undergrad here at UGA.
Please, it was UGA – it was fantastic! Every second was special and wonderful, and my friends and I all tried desperately to find jobs in Athens after we graduated so we could prolong our time there. I was always busy at UGA. I was in a sorority, wrote for the Red & Black, was a tour guide for the Georgia Recruitment Team, and got my FCC license so I could DJ and have a talk show (called Viewpoint) on WUOG radio (Athens ONLY alternative!). I was also briefly a water girl for our newly-formed ice hockey team. It was a riot!
What made you want to get involved with Women of UGA Leadership Council?
I have been involved for several years in community organizations, civic and professional organizations, but besides making my annual financial contributions, a football game or gymnastics meet here and there, or writing a sorority recommendation, I had lost touch. Then I ran into a dear friend of mine who is on the UGA Alumni Board of Directors. She reminded me how much I love UGA and encouraged me to get involved.
This council is relatively new. What do you hope to accomplish during your current term as president?
Obviously, we want – and intend – to fulfill our mission of helping a high school graduate who achieved entry into UGA but who needs assistance to attend the university without worry of how to pay for books or survive financially.
We also want to strengthen the UGA women’s support system. We want to encourage other alumnae to re-engage, remember how special the UGA bond is, and grow the Women of UGA community wherever we have alumnae. If we help even a small group of women find their way back to UGA, I will feel we’ve made a difference as a council. I’m very proud of our group and so honored to be a member. I know we will accomplish great things!
What advice do you have for current students? For recent graduates?
I would offer the old adage to accept the things they cannot change. If they mess up, clean up what they can of the mess and be better going forward. Really, it’s all you can do, and we all know it’s a waste of time and energy to dwell on the past.
Recent grads? Travel and explore while you can, but while you do, be sure to write down things you learn and experience that could translate well to a potential employer. (Did you not run out of money in Europe like your friends did because you thought ahead? Did you solve a great problem while abroad or learn about an emerging technology?)
If you had to choose your single greatest achievement, what would it be and why?
I found a really great husband in Emmett (it took some time and frog-kissing, believe me!), and we are just so overwhelmingly proud of our two children, Charlotte (9) and Jackson (11). They are empathetic and kind and respectful and brilliant (I’m a mom—allowed to be biased!), and I wish I had known them when I was a child because I would want to be best friends with them both. My son’s only flaw is that he says he wants to be a Yellow Jacket. Why??