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Darla Moore School of Business

Moore School's four alumnae are Women of Influence

Sept. 30, 2019

The Columbia Regional Business Report recently released its annual list of 25 Women of Influence; four women are Moore School alumnae who are influencing their communities with their professional and philanthropic involvement.

According to the magazine, these women are setting the pace in their careers as well as working to make the Midlands a better place. The 25 women were nominated by readers of the Columbia Regional Business Report and selected by a panel of judges.

Portrait of Catherine Cantey

Catherine Cantey (’99 marketing and management) created her company, Catherine Cantey, LLC to help others realize their own leadership potential.

As a 2019 Woman of Influence, Cantey said she believes that influence is leadership and a passion for serving others. This is a mindset she adopted from a number of her early mentors.

Cantey began her career at NationsBank and Wells Fargo and continued her career in the financial industry with Synovus Financial Corp. and AgFirst Farm Credit Bank.

During her work this these companies, Cantey built relationships with influential leadership consultants like Marshall Goldsmith and John Maxwell, whose formal leadership programs she later completed.

Cantey decided to dedicate her career to helping others in their leadership development and to help them create measurable change because she sees the value in serving others. She began Catherine Cantey, LLC in 2019 after continually reflecting on the mantra from one of her mentors Frances Hesselbein: “to serve is to live.”

Cantey’s consulting and coaching work focuses on topics like customer experience, negotiations, operational efficiencies, financial services, among others.

Catherine Cantey LLC “helps others create positive, measurable change through leadership coaching, community improvement and business development,” she said.

To Cantey, being named a woman of influence means she has demonstrated her leadership through her everyday professionalism. She learned some of these business qualities — specifically discipline, integrity and grit — at the Moore School.

“The work required to succeed in the Moore School taught me that small habits create a lifestyle,” Cantey said. “I believe that influence is doing the right thing, even when others are not watching.”

Cantey also learned the importance of networking and building a strong support system through her time at the Moore School. 

“I am grateful for my network which allowed this [Women of Influence award] to happen,” she said. “I am an introvert, and over the years I have learned, and am still learning, when we open up with kindness and willingness to help others, amazing things can happen.”


Headshot of Erika Kirby

Erika Kirby (‘00 MBA) uses her influence as the executive director of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation to improve health care across the state. Her impact is especially felt by economically vulnerable individuals and families.

The BlueCross BlueShield Foundation helps fund health care initiatives for lower income individuals through a variety of programs, including those that focus on healthy eating, active lifestyles, mental health, the importance of prevention, among others.

Kirby has been directly involved in launching Catalyst health grants that fund smaller-scale health improvement projects, implementing Wellness Inspired School Environments (WISE) grants to support healthy K-12 environments and establishing in the USC Arnold School of Public Health a training and support program for community health workers.

Keeping the foundation’s mission at the forefront of her mind, Kirby said she has extremely high expectations for herself in her work. She constantly strives to have authentic conversations with her colleagues and approach all situations with an open mind to positively contribute to the organization’s larger philanthropic focus.

Kirby said she knows the power of a good team, and this recognition dates back to her time at the Moore School.

“Each person brings different perspectives and experiences. That diversity can lead to better solutions,” Kirby said.

Graduating from the Moore School gave her a sense of accomplishment and confidence. The rigor and intensity of the Moore School’s curriculum is well known, she said.

Kirby said the dedication and effort her degree required meant she graduated thinking, “if I can do that, I can do anything.”

Kirby has exhibited that same attitude in her career and as she’s given back to the community. She has spent a great deal of time volunteering with committees like Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina; South Carolina Joint Council on Children and Adolescents; South Carolina YMCA Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities Task Force; South Carolina Medical Association Obesity Task Force; South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity Evaluation Work Group.

Kirby’s drive to excel and give back led to her being named a woman of influence. She said her colleagues would likely describe her as forward thinking, open-minded and inquisitive.

“Receiving this recognition is a tangible reminder of the expectations I have to always learn, grow and challenge myself to be the best version of myself,” Kirby said.

Portrait of Brittany Owen

Brittany Owen (’06 accounting, ’07 MACC) has grown her leadership skills with local agencies as she’s grown her career as a CPA and senior manager with Elliott Davis.

Beyond her expertise in accounting, Owen is passionate about giving back to the community. She is a dedicated supporter of United Way of the Midlands, Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (LRADAC), Lexington Beautification Foundation, the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation, among others.

Within these organizations, Owen has held multiple leadership roles, including serving on boards and committees, and taking on these leadership positions has helped her maximize her impact.

“I am humbled and honored to be named [a woman of influence] amongst many women that I truly admire,” said Owen. “I’m glad that my community work is making an impact on others. Since the recognition, I have been more sought after to get involved in various other charitable areas.”

Owen is thankful for the strong foundation she received through her education at the Moore School that she uses in her career and service. The intense curriculum gave her a deep understanding of accounting, but she also became proficient in other areas of business including marketing, finance, communications and business law.

“The Moore School definitely takes a holistic approach to training [students] in all aspects,” Owen said. “The business school also encouraged my philanthropic endeavors by encouraging students to get out of their comfort zones and participate in numerous volunteer activities and leadership roles.”

This comprehensive experience during her undergraduate education encouraged Owen decide to pursue her Master of Accountancy.

“I didn’t consider applying anywhere but the Moore School for my master’s,” Owen said. “My undergraduate studies proved the caliber of the accounting program, and it didn’t take much reflection to know I wanted to continue at the Moore School.”

Owen was in a position to excel in the master’s program, and she did. She felt that her professors and the university were truly invested in her future. She connected with Elliott Davis at Bubba Boil, formerly an annual networking event hosted by the Moore School’s accounting department, further solidifying Owen’s belief that the Moore School wanted her to succeed.

Owen is thankful she was confident enough to engage with Elliott Davis’ leaders at that networking event more than a decade ago, and she encourages Moore School students to consider every opportunity.  

Like I did as a student, “get out of your comfort zone and strive for excellence in all you do,” Owen said.

Portrait of Casey Pash

Casey Pash (‘15 MBA) not only gives of herself to the community, as the president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater South Carolina, she also encourages others to give back.

Pash influences donors to support Junior Achievement every day, so she is no stranger to the idea of making a difference.

“When you are able to influence someone for positive impact in the community, we will all be better for it,” Pash said.

Pash makes a positive impression on younger generations by promoting financial responsibility and business-mindedness in students. She said being named a woman of influence demonstrates the impact that she has made through Junior Achievement.

As a fundraiser, Pash has the opportunity to affect the younger generation’s future success in the global economy by specializing curriculums to individual grade levels in the Junior Achievement program. This past year, Junior Achievement reached more than 13,000 K-12 students through workshops on topics like money management and career building so they will be better positioned for financial success as adults.

While Junior Achievement is a non-profit organization, Pash runs it like any other business.

Although mission and passion are key components to the success of not-for-profits, financial analytics are crucial to ensure the success of the organization, Pash said.

“We have to use business skills every day to make sure we are managing the ‘donor’ dollars in the best way we can to fulfill our mission,” she added.

With that mindset, Pash said she meticulously analyzes the organization’s finances, continuously reflects on those numbers and carefully applies the findings in everyday operations.

Pash learned these analytical skills, among others, through her education at the Moore School. She completed the Professional MBA program while simultaneously working at Junior Achievement. The flexibility of the Professional MBA program allowed Pash to remain focused on the demands of her career.

Through her Professional MBA courses, she was able to network with other non-profit executives and business leaders in South Carolina. Pash said this exposure was just as important to her career as the coursework she completed. Instantly using the skills she was learning proved she’d made the right investment by choosing the PMBA, she said.

“I was able to sharpen [the skills] I had learned in undergraduate but focus on management [in PMBA courses],” Pash said. “One skill I improved on was management styles, especially when it comes to managing different generations.”

Part of Pash’s success with Junior Achievement is treating her employees like she would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. Using the knowledge she gained from her PMBA, Pash is influencing this generation of employees and hopefully a new financially literate generation through her daily Junior Achievement work.

-Erin Mooney

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.