Goizueta alumni hold more than a coveted degree from Emory; they also boast a wealth of life experiences and business know-how. In this ongoing series, EmoryBusiness.com will share their sage advice, which you can add to your own toolkit.

Tara Whitehead Stotland 93MBA
Lead Digital Partner
Cognizant Digital Business

What influence from childhood still resonates with you?
My father was a professor, so the importance of education was ingrained at an early age.  My mother has been a rock for me, making sacrifices to ensure I received the best possible education.  She broke down walls and convinced me that anything I put my mind and my heart into, I could achieve.

Who inspires you and why?
Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and my grandfather.  They all fought for what they believed in and did not waiver despite challenges that appeared too impossible to overcome.  Ultimately, they all were successful and left a legacy that helped change lives.

What is the best career or life advice you’ve received?
Put your clients first; focus on their success and yours will follow.

Share the way you work through a complex problem (personal or professional)
It depends on the nature and size of the problem.  For example, if it involves one of my children, I seek their input then my husband, Harvey, and I will discuss potential options and the best solution.  A similar pattern is used at work.  I ask others to weigh in with their viewpoint, but ultimately, I am prepared to make the final decision.

What’s on your music playlist?
Adele, Pink and David Gray.  And I am a child of the 1980s so Van Halen, Journey, Def Leppard, Prince and Michael Jackson are still on my list!

What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside of work?
Travel, reading books and playing golf

How do you define success?
If I wake up every day and know that I make a difference in my work, my community, and in my family, then I have been successful.  It’s not money nor is it recognition.  It’s about making a difference and feeling really good about helping others.

What is your best Goizueta or Emory memory?
Prior to becoming Goizueta Gives, we started a volunteer organization called Community Action Committee.  We ran a huge volunteer day called “Building HOpe for the HOmeless”.  Also, I was in the original group, along with faculty advisor Professor Atul Parvatiyar, that led a student-driven marketing competition and we insisted that nonprofits be included in the competition for free.  Eventually, Professor Reshma Shah took over and created the elective course called GMSC, the Goizueta Marketing Strategy Consultancy.  It’s really fun to go back to campus and see both of these groups morphing into something more impactful and far greater than originally imagined. [The marketing consultancy is now a requirement for all MBAs and rebranded as Goizueta IMPACT to reflect the broader scope of projects across functional disciplines.]

What is your biggest challenge?
Balance.  It sounds like a cliché but finding balance is extremely difficult.  Life changes over the years, but sticking to the core foundation of my values helps act as a sanity check.