Meet SWIB co-president, Grace Isford

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Think back, what led you to join SWIB?

I joined SWIB as a freshman because I actually knew some sophomores and upper classes who were a part of the organisation and spoke very highly of it and the great community they got from it. I specifically joined because I really wanted to learn more about what business was. I thought I was generally interested in it and potentially pursuing Management Science and Engineering or STS as a major, but wanted to learn more about business and thought that this would be a great organisation to do so.

What are some unconventional skills that you've gained from SWIB

I think one of the best skills I’ve gained is understanding the art of cold emailing and I’ve been able to do so under pretty unconventional circumstances, everything from trying to get a job to trying to ask a question to someone who I wouldn’t normally be comfortable asking.

What's changed most about you (professionally and personally) since your early years at Stanford?

I think I always had a pretty good sense of confidence but it really dramatically grew in every angle, meaning I feel more confident in my abilities, my skills, and also the support of a great community around me.

#1best experience/moment from SWIB?

There has been a lot, but I think one that always sticks out was when I was a sophomore in SWIB I co-directed the Young Women’s Leadership Summit and it was a lot of work and definitely one of the hardest organisational, logistical and management things I’ve done, managing a team of 20. But at the end of the day a young girl came up to me and said “thank you so much, I want to pursue a career in business now”. That just totally resonated with me and made me really feel like our actions have a really positive impact not just on the Stanford community but on the community at large.

What was your personal journey in choosing your major?

It took me a really long time to decide on my major and I fluctuated between a bunch of different ones from public policy to Management Science & Engineering (MS&E) and Economics. I ultimately deciding to do MS&E. SWIB was really helpful in helping me make that decision because we had students with majors across all disciplines from the humanities to engineering. I think my personal journey was to try and take a bunch of classes my freshman and sophomore year in all those majors I could be interested in and narrow it down from there and also study the major beyond and think about if I would like to take those sorts of electives. At the end of the day, I decided on MS&E and I’m happy with it because I really feel like it has a good combination of quantitative skills and qualitative elements as well.

What was your personal journey in choosing your industry of choice?

A pretty long journey and one of my key pieces of advice is to use every internship and job opportunity in a college as a taste test for what you want to do for the rest of your life and also just right after college. Specifically I worked in asset management at the Stanford management company after my freshman summer. I worked in tech at Handshake and product management after my sophomore year through the Mayfield Fellowship program. My junior summer I worked in growth equity at Stripes Group in New York. Throughout my time at Stanford, I had the opportunity to work part time at Lean In, which is now the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, and also part time at Canvas Ventures which is a Venture firm that I am actually going to be joining full time. I’ve been in a variety of different industries but I think each of them kind of help me understand what the aspects of a job I really like or didn’t like and the environment.

What did you wish you knew as a freshman?

I wish I relaxed. I think there is a lot of pressure at Stanford to do everything and there is a lot of fear of mission out on everything. I think at the end of the day, I’ve realised now I have cut back on a lot of the activities and things I used to do because I really only spend time with the people that do the things that are really important to me. Really prioritising the things that really excite you and commit to them. It’s way easier said than done and I think I’ve gotten better each year and I still continue to work on it.

A few words of wisdom?

Take introsems. They’re really great classes at Stanford to get to know professors well.

Spend time with your friends and really get to know people at Stanford. I think one of the biggest assets of being at Stanford is joining great communities like Stanford Women In Business, like different residential communities that you can really meet people that you could work with for the rest of your life.

Take advantage of resources at Stanford. There’s so much here from all our beautiful facilities, to all the grants, and different kind of collaboration opportunities.

Relax and enjoy. College goes by quickly.