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Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville Business Magazine's 2020 Best & Brightest 35 and Under

Now in its 26th year, our annual Best & Brightest 35 and Under issue celebrates the women and men who are rising stars in the business community.

Even though they have many more years in the workplace, these Best & Brightest have made an impact at their businesses and in our community.

We appreciate their dedication to making our state a better place to live, work and play.  

Each one is unique, and we’re privileged to let them tell their stories here.  

The 2020 Best & Brightest 35 and Under is sponsored by KPMG, Northwestern Mutual, Graycliff Capital Partners, DeHollander & Janse Financial Group, Infinity Marketing and AMEC, LLC.

Please join us in saluting these future leaders.



Bree Alexander

Clinical Social Worker; Professor

Prisma Health System; Baylor University

Age: 29

 

Bio: To say social work is in my blood would be an understatement. I come from a family full of social workers, both by trade and formal education. After earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Furman University, I completed a master’s degree in social work at the University of South Carolina and served in many social service arenas including therapeutic foster care and inpatient mental health before finding my true passion in mental health/clinical social work with children and adolescents.

Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of serving children and families with various mental health needs and leading community trainings and speaking engagements related to mental health. I recently completed a Ph.D. in social work at Baylor University, becoming the first African-American and the youngest person to obtain the degree at Baylor, as well as being among the first to complete the degree requirements in three years. I also serve as an adjunct professor in the online MSW program at Baylor. My ultimate goal is to use my platform in the community and my research to draw attention to the struggles and triumphs of underserved populations. Being able to give back to the community in this way is, by far, one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of my life.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Candace Alexander


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Fear is not always a warning sign for danger; sometimes it’s a warning sign for opportunity and growth. Lean into it.




Morgan Allen

Executive Director

euphoria Food, Wine & Music Festival

Age: 35

 

Bio: I am the executive director of euphoria, Greenville’s four-day food, wine and music festival that consists of exclusive tastings, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, multi-course dinners, live musical performances and more. After graduating from Georgia Southern University, I started my career in hospitality in St. Simons Island, Ga., which is also where I grew up, before moving to St. Thomas, USVI, to further my passion for the industry.

In 2016, I relocated to the Upstate, not knowing how much I would fall in love with the area and the thriving culinary scene. I quickly joined euphoria as the event director of food & beverage before transitioning to the executive director position in 2018. I am proud to be a part of euphoria’s mission to shine a spotlight on Greenville’s thriving culinary arts scene while giving back to the community. It feels great to know we’re impacting the hospitality and tourism industries while supporting dozens of local charities. I feel blessed to have a career that makes a difference in my community and allows me the flexibility to share experiences and spend time with my family.


What is your favorite quote?

“Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.”    

  - Charles Swindoll


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Try not to grow up too quickly, don’t be afraid and explore life.




Tony Allen

Financial Advisor and College Unit Director

Northwestern Mutual

Age: 34

 

Bio: Originally from Chicago and a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, I moved to Greenville in 2014 to start a career with Northwestern Mutual and enjoy all that the Upstate offers young professionals. Greenville made a powerful impression on me — so strong, I left my amazing hometown and family.

As a financial advisor in a wealth management firm, I help individuals, families and businesses identify what is most important to their financial security. With that knowledge and understanding, I create a strategic financial plan to help clients stay on the best path to achieve their financial goals. Additionally, I am passionate about improving financial literacy for young students, so I mentor Clemson students about better understanding financial responsibility and the lifelong implications of being a good steward of their money — something I wish someone had done for me at a young age. I am also passionate about changing the lives of children with cancer, so I regularly support Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a national nonprofit that bolsters efforts to find a cure for childhood cancer through impactful research and awareness.

 

What’s your favorite quote?

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

  - Nelson Mandela


Who was your most influential mentor?

I have a three-way tie with Jay Hatten, John Tripoli and Brett Smith, all leaders at Northwestern Mutual.





Brent Ayers

Co-founder and COO

ProGrin Dental

Age: 34

Bio: As a native of Greenville and graduate of Clemson University, I’ve had the good fortune of watching this city grow into what it is today. In 2012, I co-founded ProGrin Dental and have since grown it to seven locations. As the co-founder and COO of a Servant Led company, my daily focus is ensuring that my team is fully equipped and empowered to deliver The Perfect Patient Experience and world-class clinical care. I’m passionate about building leaders who positively impact the communities in which they serve.

In 2016, I launched Live2Lead, an annual conference that is open to the public and features world-renowned leaders as well as some of our great local leaders. I am an active member of C12, a Christian peer advisory group focused on building great businesses for a greater purpose. My long-term goal is to continue to grow our footprint here in the Upstate while creating a legacy that allows others to experience success and significance in life. In my free time, I enjoy hunting, fishing and most importantly, spending time with my wife, Nikki, and 9-month-old son, Ashton.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“You can tell the true character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”


Who was your most influential mentor?

Dr. Ben Daniel


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

That’s a loaded question! I would make sure he knew that difficulties in life are inevitable so he might as well play the hand he’s dealt like it’s a royal flush and make the most out of everything life throws his way.





Lillian Boatwright

Operations Coordinator

KeyMark, Inc. 

Age: 27


Bio: As an Upstate native, I work hard to make a difference close to home. I began my career at KeyMark, where I was given a chance to grow professionally and fall in love with the technology industry. I not only enjoy what I do, but also am empowered to make a difference locally. Chosen by the executive team to be a member of the Charitable Council, I am proud to support local nonprofits and dedicate time to causes close to my heart.

Most recently, I was appointed by Governor McMaster to the Pickens County Board of Elections. Our complete revamp of the elections office brought an amazing staff and one of the most successfully executed elections the county has had. I was also appointed by Clemson City Council to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Additionally, Pickens County Council appointed me to the Beautification Committee. Through both, I am proud to make an impact on the physical spaces around me. While I strive to better the community around me, my true motivation comes in making the world the best place it can be for my daughter, Claire.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

  - Ruth Bader Ginsberg


Who was your most influential mentor?

My first manager in the industry helped me learn how to be direct but respectful, how to understand people and how to value and acknowledge your worth through trials. 


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Your mindset will affect so much in your life. Focus on what matters to you, keep your energy positive and brush off anything that could slow you down.






Page Bridges

Emergency Physician

Prisma Health

Age: 34

Bio: When I moved back to Greenville five years ago, my life seemed to come full circle. The hospital where I work as an emergency medicine physician is the same one where I was born. Last year, I taught my first course at Furman, near the lake where I fed the ducks as a child and the cross-country course that I ran for four years as a Furman student. Over the years, both Greenville and I have changed, but the fact that Greenville is home never has.

One of my favorite things about my job is learning the stories of the people who also call Greenville home. In the Prisma Health Emergency Department and at the Greenville Free Medical Clinic, I have the chance to meet people from all over our community and have a brief glimpse into their lives. At our medical school, I teach some of the smartest and most dedicated students and residents I have ever met. Being part of the Greenville community is an important part of my story, and I’m so glad I have the chance to give back.


What is your favorite quote?

“There’s a million things I haven’t done . . . but just you wait.”                                                         

  - Hamilton (written by Lin-Manuel Miranda)


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mentor in medical school introduced me to the world of emergency medicine. Two of his most important lessons stay with me every day: do something kind for everyone, and when you are in a difficult situation, just focus on finding the next step.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

On the road to becoming a doctor, you will meet some of the most interesting people. Whenever possible, take a few extra minutes to hear their stories and carry them with you.





Tony Caiazzo Jr.

Vice President, Manufacturing

Materials Sciences LLC

Age: 32

Bio: I grew up in Pennsylvania and earned my mechanical engineering degree at Virginia Tech. I’d just gotten married when I learned Materials Sciences LLC would be opening its first facility in the Upstate. I moved to Greenville in 2013 to lead that effort. Since then, we’ve grown our local team from four employees to 22, and our facilities from 12,500 square feet to 45,000. In 2019, I secured my first patent for Countervail®, a vibration cancelling composite material typically manufactured with carbon fiber. Countervail® is currently utilized in various markets including recreational sporting goods, most notably Wilson tennis racquets and Bianchi Bicycles.

Although I am a Hokie through-and-through, I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with a bright group of Clemson bioengineering students to help manufacture a medical device for their senior capstone project. With their design concept and my composite manufacturing expertise, the team produced a full-scale carbon fiber demonstration piece for industry leaders. Outside of work, my wife, Michelle, and I enjoy spending time on nearby lakes, biking the Swamp Rabbit and exploring with our dog SoCo, a Greenville Humane Society rescue. I’m honored to be included among the best and brightest under 35. I look forward to innovating a brighter future for our community for years to come.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”  - Mark Twain


Who was your most influential mentor?

My father, Tony Caiazzo Sr.





Megan Campbell

Marketing & Communications Director

Greenville Chamber

Age: 28

Bio: I am a communications professional with a passion for supporting my community. An Upstate native, I was born and raised in Belton, attended Clemson University and now live in Greenville with my husband and our two pups. Upon graduating from Clemson with a degree in communication studies, I began working at the Greenville Chamber in 2014. Currently, I serve as the Chamber’s marketing and communications director where I oversee the business organization’s communications strategy. I am proud to be a part of a team that plays an integral role in developing the thriving Greenville area.

During my time at the Chamber, we have received numerous accolades, including national communications awards. Through this position, I have gained unparalleled access to the community and have been blessed to meet many incredible people who have helped me develop professionally. As I grow in my career, I plan to lend the same support to others. I am especially passionate about supporting young women, particularly through my involvement in the Girls on the Run program. I am a proud graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 45 and plan to use this experience to continue shaping the ways in which I give back to the community.


What is your favorite quote?

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”  - Steve Prefontaine


Who was your most influential mentor?

I am extremely grateful for so many people who have helped me along in my career, but I would like to acknowledge one person in particular, and that is Elizabeth Edwards, who has been a great friend and mentor since 2013. She, along with several others, helped start my career at the Greenville Chamber, and she has been a constant source of support and advice ever since. More than a mentor, she has been a sponsor, giving me a seat at the table and opening doors by introducing me to so many when I was brand new to the community. I am grateful for her willingness to share her knowledge and for her genuine support.





Jordan Chastain

Owner

The Centre & Co. Dance Studio

Age: 24

Bio: When I started dancing 18 years ago, I never dreamed where the art would lead me. The stage has always been my second home, and I am so thankful for the ability to continue doing what I love at The Centre & Co. I was born and raised in Easley and was fortunate enough to continue my education at Clemson University. While attending Clemson, I became “The Tiger” mascot. From being part of the first National Championship win since 1981, to seeing the joy “the suit” brought during difficult times, my time as the mascot holds some of my fondest memories!

When I bought The Centre in 2017, I knew I wanted to continue to use my platform to be a light. This past Christmas, The Centre and The Adam Faulk Tanksley Foundation came together to #ChompChildhoodCancer. We hosted and staffed a Christmas tree lot and raised $30,000 for research in hopes of curing childhood cancer. Since my first Centre season, three years and a pandemic later, we have won numerous awards and national titles, and we have helped lead dancers to new opportunities on and off the stage. When I’m not dancing, you can find me cheering on the Clemson Tigers or wakeboarding on Lake Keowee.


Who was your most influential mentor?

The most influential person in my life is my dad, Jeff Chastain. He has not only shown me how to be an amazing dad and husband, but also has been my go-to for business advice or just a listening ear. He has always been straightforward with me and will always support me no matter the time.




Ian Conits

Attorney

Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

Age: 29

Bio: My grandfather, the late John Conits, emigrated to Greenville from Greece in 1940. Today, 80 years later, Greenville remains home for his children and many of his grandchildren, including me. I am an attorney at Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.. The focus of my practice is divorce-related litigation. My position affords me the opportunity to help people navigate through one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, chapters in their lives.

Prior to joining Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., I served as an Assistant Solicitor and a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Outside the office, I have several community service roles. I serve youth by volunteering as an assistant coach for the Christ Church Episcopal School Varsity Boys Basketball team, I serve my profession as the young lawyers representative for the Greenville County Bar Association and I serve my peers as a member of the Christ Church Episcopal School Alumni Board. My wife, Eleni, and I are active members in the St. George Greek Orthodox community. I am honored to receive this award and look forward to continuing to help support Greenville’s positive growth.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

  - Winston Churchill                          


Who was your most influential mentor?

Reid T. Sherard


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Travel as much and as far as you possibly can.



Stephen Cooper

Senior Project Manager

McCrory Construction Company, LLC

Age: 33

 

Bio: I was born and raised here in Greenville; I graduated from Clemson University and have worked in the Upstate my entire career. It’s easy to see why Greenville and the surrounding area are near and dear to me. It’s provided me with all the opportunities and tools I’ve needed to get me where I am today. As a senior project manager for South Carolina’s oldest general contractor, I’ve had the opportunity to see how the projects I’ve helped build impacted our community throughout my career — from my time on the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport’s Wingspan project, a genetics research facility for Clemson University, the multipurpose expansion for First Baptist Church of Simpsonville — to the businesses that have chosen to expand or start their operations here in the upstate of South Carolina.

I also work closely with Clemson University’s Construction Science and Management Program on the Industry Advisory Board. With this, I get the opportunity to interact with current students and look for members to join our team at McCrory as interns and eventually as full-time professionals. I currently reside in Simpsonville and enjoy spending time with my wife, Mary Beth, and our two kids, Marshall (5) and Hattie (1). I am grateful to have their support along with the rest of my family, friends and associates.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6 


Who was your most influential mentor?

Don Warren





Leslie Crickman

Chief Financial Officer

Mattress by Appointment

Age: 33


 

Bio: As a kid from Greenwood, S.C., my dream was to become a psychologist and help people through counseling. Although my academic focus clearly changed, my desire to support others has formed the foundation of my work style. In the ever-evolving field of accounting practice, there are many rules and lists, but I have found that the highest priority task is in managing the client relationship. My CEO/company owner will never doubt that I care about his company, his financial health and his family’s future.

Having reached the role of chief financial officer at 32, I am setting new goals and expectations of myself professionally. As a very hands-on CFO, I have bridged the gap between budgets and the operational oversight required to meet them. I think we have proven that personality traits traditionally viewed as inherently feminine do not make women liabilities in the boardroom. We may be your company’s best asset. Personally, I hope to grow in my support of Greenville Animal Care and their no-kill mission for the pets of Greenville County.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Not my circus, not my monkeys.”


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother, Lawrie


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Lean into your unique strengths, reapply your SPF and take more naps.




Sarah Dant

Account Manager

Kopis

Age: 29

Bio: Born and raised in Greenville, S.C., I have enjoyed seeing Greenville grow into the wonderful city it is today. I started my career at the Westin Poinsett as a sales manager and from there went on to join Rick Erwin’s Dining Group as director of sales. Before joining Kopis as an account manager, I was a business development manager at SYNNEX. A few of my proudest accomplishments include serving as a team leader during the 2016 primaries, becoming a graduate of the Successful Entrepreneurship Program of 2014 and Emerge Class 2020, being named a Clyburn Fellow and earning my Certification in Business Analytics from Harvard Business School.

During my free time, I enjoy working on both local and national races. One day, my goal is to run for local office to continue to give back to our community.  Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” To me, giving back to the community means pouring your life and passion into the place you call home.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

  - Winston Churchill


Who was your most influential mentor?

Zachary Eikenberry


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

You do not have to be the best at everything. It is okay to fail. Just do not give up!




Vince DeCrescenzio

Chief Financial Officer

Coker & Associates of SC LLC

Age: 31

 

Bio: If you had asked me when I was 17 where I would be today, my answer would be vastly different than reality. At the time, I had just enlisted in the Marine Corps and was prepared to spend my career serving my country in the military. After a career-ending motorcycle accident and several setbacks, I ended up on a quite different path. I received my bachelor’s in accounting from the University of South Carolina and an MBA from Winthrop University before starting my career as a CPA.

Today I serve as the CFO for Coker & Associates of SC LLC. We buy and sell used textile machinery all over the world. We are also involved in several commercial and residential real estate projects in the Greenville area. Columbia natives, my wife and I have been proud to call Greenville home for over six years. We have an amazing 6-year-old daughter and love being a part of the downtown community. We are members at Grace Church-Downtown and started delivering meals with Meals on Wheels at the beginning of this year. Bringing our daughter during the summer and while schools were closed was sometimes challenging, but we have greatly enjoyed being able to serve our community together.


What is your favorite quote?

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”  - J.R.R. Tolkien


Who was your most influential mentor?

Mollie Woodside


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

You are not in control. If you don’t understand, have faith and trust God.



Catherine Eberly

Graphic Design Coordinator

Hughes Agency

Age: 24

 

Bio: For the past three years, I have worked at Hughes Agency, serving as graphic design coordinator. Assisting with the design and production of events raising money for nonprofits, ranging from the Urban League to the Greenville Chamber and SYNNEX Share the Magic, I have been given opportunities to help people in need, fulfilling my overarching goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others.

In addition to this work, I currently serve on the Clement’s Kindness Fund for the Children Advisory Board, a fund addressing the medical, psychological, social, emotional and financial needs of Upstate families impacted by pediatric cancer and other serious blood disorders. I am proud to be part of such an inspirational group that is dedicated to supporting families in our community. As a Greenville native, I have always felt at home in this community. I am thankful that Hughes Agency has empowered me to give back to the community that I love.


What is your favorite quote?

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  - I Corinthians 16:14


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother has been my most influential mentor, always putting others before herself and teaching me how to respond to difficult situations with grace. 


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t give other people the power to control your happiness.





Dewey Evans

Business Analyst

Quest Site Solutions

Age: 26

Bio: Working for a site selection and economic development consultancy, at its broadest level, means that the true essence of my job is to serve as the connector of companies and communities. I assist expanding companies with selecting the optimal location for their growth, affording me the opportunity to play a small part in creating jobs and driving investment into communities across the United States. I find the narrative that drives corporate location decisions quite compelling: what community will rise to the challenge?

Prior to working in site selection, through my role at Ten at the Top, I was fortunate enough to serve alongside the top minds the Upstate has to offer while addressing issues critical to our region’s long-term economic vitality and quality of life. To my family, community at Grace Church and the many talented individuals who have guided me along the way, please know I am forever grateful for your support. Finally, to my loving and steadfast wife, Lindsey, and our daughter, Anna, who share in the burden of my pursuits, thank you.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” 

  - T.K. Whipple


Who was your most influential mentor?

Tim “Coach” Nihart


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Do hard things and don’t be afraid of failure.





Andy Finley

Audit Senior Manager 

KPMG LLP

Age: 33

Bio: Fifteen years ago this fall, I began my freshman year at Furman University. Both the campus and the city stole my heart. I then spent a year in Columbia at the University of South Carolina where I obtained my master of accountancy degree, and I was lucky to have an opportunity to come back to Greenville. Nearing a decade later, as a senior manager in the audit practice of KPMG LLP, I oversee financial statement audits across the Southeast in the healthcare and insurance industries. Maximizing on my passion for development of people, I help lead recruiting initiatives within the KPMG Greenville office. My goal is to bring and retain talent within Greenville’s market by building on KPMG’s culture and core values. Integrity, excellence, courage, together and for better is the mantra that has created an environment for me to grow personally and professionally.

When I’m not serving my clients, you can find me in the mountains, parks and lakes around the Upstate. My passion for nature has led me to support and volunteer at Lake Conestee Nature Park and Trees Upstate in order to keep our city beautiful. In addition, I serve on the University of South Carolina’s School of Accounting Advisory Board to support the school’s engagement, outreach, financial support and retention efforts. My hope is that by giving back, I’ll be able to help build or inspire a community that will continue to grow in a positive way.


What is your favorite quote?

“It’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.”  - Mark Cuban


Who was your most influential mentor?

My father




Jade Fountain

Director of Mission Advancement

United Ministries

Age: 33


 

Bio: I never set out to raise money for a living. My path to fundraising started at Furman where I was a communications studies major. It wasn’t until I interned with the Greenville Symphony in 2008 that I fell in love with nonprofit work. After earning a master’s degree in public administration, I worked in a variety of nonprofit roles and earned my CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation in 2016. At United Ministries, I’ve found myself learning so much about Greenville, including just how different one’s experience of our city can be when he or she is resource challenged (the idea of two different Greenvilles).

While fundraising is my primary role, I also see myself as an advocate. I’ve been instrumental in bringing national speakers to our city to discuss key issues around poverty, sparking citywide conversations. I’m so proud of the work our agency is doing and equally proud to be a part of it. I am a member of the Junior League of Greenville, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the South Carolina Planned Giving Council, and I sing in the choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church. As a mom of two, I hope to teach my children the power of using your voice and your resources for good.


What is your favorite quote?

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how . . . [We] never entirely know. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” 

  - Agnes de Mille





Zach Hazen

vCIO

Acumen IT

Age: 31

Bio: Ten years ago, freshly armed with a degree from Brevard College, my intention was to see the world. Having lived my whole life in the Upstate, I wanted to explore other areas and planned to take a year off before entering law school. Upon my return from college, I never expected to fall in love with my hometown all over again. Greenville was not the only thing I fell in love with that year. I realized that while my intention was to enter law school, my passion was IT. It was then I found my mentor, David Pence, who gave me a chance at a career in IT. Nearly a decade later, I am Acumen IT’s vCIO (virtual chief information officer), helping our clients make informative and prosperous decisions for their businesses.

My family and I are deeply invested in the growth and well-being of Greenville. From donating our time to local charities and organizations to sharing information about cyber security on how to better protect yourself in today’s changing landscape, it is rewarding to be a part of the continuous growth of Greenville. In fact, when my wife decided to open her store, Make Made Jewelry, I could think of no better place than our beautiful downtown. As they say, “There’s no place like home,” and for me there is truly nowhere I would rather be than right here in Greenville.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”   - Steve Prefontaine


Who was your most influential mentor?

David Pence


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Stay hyper focused and go into IT.





Caroline Heath

Tax Senior

Cherry Bekaert

Age: 25

 

Bio: I’ve had the blessing of growing up, graduating and now building my personal and professional life in Greenville. Since the inception of my career as a tax accountant at Cherry Bekaert, I have had a drive to further those around me. I view lifting up other professionals and bettering their experience as one of the greatest value-adds to my own professional fulfillment. Rather than waiting until I hold a managing position to share my knowledge, I have taken on a mentorship role within my capacity, supporting others in my office with the resources that are available to me.

I joined PaceSetters mentorship program with the Greenville Chamber and now give back to the PaceSetters program by serving on their programs committee. I currently serve on the board of CREW as treasurer. As a result, I have a group of women in my life whom I can aspire to emulate and learn from while investing in the continued success of this group. When I’m not meeting tax deadlines, you’ll find me on the yoga mat, gaining balance in my mind, body and spirit.


What is your favorite quote?

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”


Who was your most influential mentor?

Deborah McDonough


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Enjoy the journey.





Willie Hunt

Sales and Marketing Executive

Milestone Custom Homes

Age: 32

Bio: I am a Greenville native, current real estate enthusiast and former professional soccer player. After graduating from Francis Marion University with a BS in marketing, I was lucky enough to spend the next six years traveling across the United States while playing the sport I love. After 140 appearances, 11 goals and an MVP award, I decided to get my real estate license as I transitioned out of soccer and go all in on a new chapter of my life.

Upon entering the real estate world, I used my drive, work ethic and the desire to succeed as a foundation for this new career. I was fortunate enough to have great mentorship, which has helped guide and mold me into the person I am today. In 2018, I joined Milestone Custom Homes, a luxury design-build firm that has consistently changed the residential landscape of Greenville throughout the past 25 years with their innovative building practices and iconic Inspiration Home series. I am a recent graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 46 and a committee member for impact! at the Meyer Center. I am truly grateful to have the support of family, friends and peers as they all continue to play a role in my development and success.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“When a defining moment comes along, you can do one of two things: define the moment or let the moment define you.”


Who was your most influential mentor?

Mario E. Brown


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Know that failure is not final, learn from your mistakes and continue to grow.





Matt Kelley

President/CEO

Kelley Engineering

Age: 35

 

Bio: I am blessed to be from the upstate of South Carolina. I was born and raised in Anderson, attended Clemson University, lived in Greenville and settled in the Powdersville area. I graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 2007 and received my Professional Engineering license in 2014. In 2015, I started Kelley Engineering with the goal of designing automation equipment and providing manufacturing services. The company has grown to 30 employees, received its AS9100D/ISO 9001 certification and expanded into its second facility. Gov. Henry McMaster recognized Kelley Engineering as the 2019 South Carolina Emerging Manufacturer of the Year. Anderson County Economic Development has honored the firm with an Employer Impact Award. I recently received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in the Clemson University College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

In my free time, you can find me by the pool, golfing or wrangling my three boys. My wife and I enjoy serving in the children’s ministry at our church. I am so grateful for God’s providence and the support my family and friends have shown.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“The most important thing in life is your perspective of Jesus.”

 

Who was your most influential mentor?

The most influential person in my life is my father. He has set an example for me in how he loves his family well, leads with a servant’s heart and is always fully committed.





Lizzie Kolkowski

Director of Innovation

Canal Insurance

Age: 34


Bio: When I started my career, I wanted to work with “interesting” data. Over time, I realized it’s how you use the data to inform business decisions, not the data itself that is interesting. I finally landed in insurance where the analytics and things you can learn from data to apply to business are seemingly limitless!

In my time at Canal, I have come to have a passion for the work we do and how we can improve our services for the trucking industry. As business landscapes change and evolve, I have the opportunity to shape how we bring value to the trucks we insure. In the long run, I want truckers to look at Canal as not only their insurance provider, but also their partner for success.

Giving back is about building an inclusive community. I try to focus on exposing myself to the different challenges people face. I believe the more we understand about other people’s experiences, the more impactful our giving can be.


What is your favorite quote?

“Anything happens all the time.” 

This is a great quote from an underwhelming movie. I appreciate how open of a sentiment it is. It doesn’t try to attribute why, how or when anything happens — just that it does. I find that so fitting because some things have those answers; some don’t.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Jennifer Walker - she was my manager through a within-company career shift, and she helped me prepare for future goals and would help guide me to find solutions for any problem.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t limit your scope based on your biases. I thought insurance was boring and didn’t pursue a career in insurance for seven years before I found out how interesting I actually find it.





Ashton Lawrence

Financial Advisor

DeHollander & Janse Financial Group

Age: 33

Bio: As a Greenville native and a former collegiate basketball player for Coastal Carolina University, who eventually found his way back to this great city, I am incredibly honored to be included in Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under. Upon my return to Greenville, I was able to continue my career in the financial services industry and now hold a few different financial designations. I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, a Chartered Financial Consultant® and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®.

Within my current role, I actively and tactically monitor the markets to develop and deliver investment advice and strategies accordingly, but I also take a comprehensive approach to make sure we cover all of our clients’ needs. Throughout my life, different people have taken time out of their busy schedules to help me progress as an athlete, as a professional and as a person. I try to continue this thoughtfulness through mentorships and pro-bono work, in hopes the lives that I touch will one day pay it forward as well.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Do not let making a living prevent you from making a life.” —John Wooden


Who was your most influential mentor?

Mom and Dad


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Take time to enjoy the people around you; life is short, and tomorrow isn’t promised.





Cinthia Lehner

Project Manager 

Bertrandt

Age: 29

Bio: After living in both Brazil and Germany for most of my childhood, I have been calling Greenville my home since 2003. Upon graduating with my MBA from Appalachian State University in 2015, I started my career with Bertrandt, pursuing my passion in the automotive industry in Greenville.

Bertrandt is known for developing customer-specific solutions in various industries internationally. Within three years at Bertrandt, I was promoted to project manager for the product and quality engineering team. Today, I hold the same position, leading a diverse team of 30 engineers at a local automotive manufacturing plant. I’m particularly passionate about creating an open-minded workplace and supporting women in engineering as well as in business. When I’m not wearing steel-toe shoes, I enjoy road cycling in local group rides. I have been cycling in Greenville since 2007 and am proud to have made the U.S. National Team in 2011, representing our country in several races in Europe. I’m devoted to having a healthy lifestyle and am an advocate for a good work/life balance.


What is your favorite quote?

“Dream big and make it happen.” —Carla Swart

 

Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Follow your passion, step out of your comfort zone and never be afraid to fail.





Kevin Lindsey

Vice President of Operations

AMEC, LLC

Age: 35

Bio: I am proud to be a third generation master electrician and vice president of operations for our family-owned electrical contracting company, AMEC, LLC, located in Greenville. I got my start in the electrical industry two weeks prior to my 16th birthday. I worked during the summer months and school breaks. After graduating from Berea High School, I continued in the electrical field. I took a short break to run my own business but missed doing electrical work and came back to the industry. In my time away, I gained a lot of business knowledge that has helped me in my current position as VP.

I am currently continuing my education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and hope to receive my executive certificate in management and leadership before the end of 2020. Among other future goals, I hope to encourage kids and young adults to get into the electrical industry. I am also over AMEC’s give back to the community project through which we donate and volunteer with three local charity organizations that are selected each year by our team. As youth pastor of inspirational outreach, I enjoy teaching our youth about Jesus Christ and sharing what God has done for me in my life and how he can lead them as well. I enjoy spending my time off with my wonderful wife, Regan, and our three amazing boys.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.”  - Tony Stark


Who was your most influential mentor?

My dad


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

You can have fun and still accept responsibility.





Anne Carter MacNabb

Director of Property Management

Hughes Commercial Properties, Inc.

Age: 35

 

Bio: I grew up with two hardworking parents who always encouraged me to put forth my best effort. I know my upbringing has had an immeasurable impact on my life. As the daughter of a real estate developer, I became interested in real estate at a very young age. This interest led me to study real estate at the University of Georgia and then obtain my Master’s in Real Estate Development from Clemson University.

I have always had a passion for helping others, and this year, I joined the Meyer Center for Special Children’s board of directors. It has been a great opportunity to work alongside a team of individuals who have such a passion for advancing the education of children. The Meyer Center continues to grow and innovate, providing critical educational and therapeutic services to special needs children. It is a testament to the Greenville community that the Meyer Center continues to help so many wonderful children reach their full potential. I was born and raised in Greenville and feel very fortunate to have a wonderful career in real estate that allows me the flexibility to focus on what is important to the community and my family. I have an incredible, supportive husband and two amazing daughters. I hope I can teach my daughters how important it is to be engaged in the community and be involved with organizations that have a positive impact on the community.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”   - Helen Keller


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t sweat the small things.





Jessica McCoy

Business Development Manager

Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC

Age: 33

Bio: Everyone has a story, and I’m thankful most of mine has taken place in Greenville! I vividly remember walking down Main Street as a child, seeing the boarded-up windows and dwindling restaurant options. Now, I proudly show my daughters the Brasfield & Gorrie tower cranes, describing the changing skyline of our beautiful city.

A Clemson University graduate with a political science degree, I have worn many hats during my tenure at Brasfield & Gorrie, but the common thread driving my passion for our work is always people. My excitement watching our projects come to life is topped only by my joy in building relationships. I thrive when helping make connections that better our community. I serve as the board vice president for GirlUp GVL, an organization serving local at-risk, often marginalized middle- and high-school young women through experience, enrichment and empowerment. We provide girls with structured routine, academic assistance and access to trusted advocates to create a path to personal fulfillment. My husband, Dustin, is also an Upstate native, and we’re thrilled to be raising our two girls where we grew up.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Because it’s not about trying, it’s about trusting. It’s not about rules, it’s about Grace: God’s free gift  - that cost him everything.” - Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jesus Storybook Bible


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mom, Cindy Simpler. She is fun, selfless and can fit 37 hours’ worth of work into a day. She treats everyone with kindness and is constantly seeking ways to help others. She wields a lasso of truth and always keeps her super-suit freshly pressed.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Just be yourself; that’s enough.



Ryan McCrary

Owner

Mountain Goat

Age: 35

Bio: My wife, Chrissy, and I started Mountain Goat as a way to help change our community. Mountain Goat is a for-profit café, taproom and bike shop located intentionally in the Poe Mill neighborhood. We donate 100 percent of our profits to our partner nonprofit, GOAT (Great Outdoor Adventure Trips), to provide life-changing experiences for at-risk students. It’s the most fun way for the community to be involved in helping change lives. Gathering around food and drink is a universal experience and provides an easy way for anyone to give back.

By day, I’m a software developer for a local startup, MoonClerk. My wife takes care of our kids and works as a travel agent. Neither of us takes a paycheck from Mountain Goat. I also serve as the president of the board and founder of the Lead Collective, which is a collective of ministries serving students and families in Greenville. The lead collective currently consists of GOAT and the Eleos ministry in the Nicholtown neighborhood. Otherwise, I spend my free time riding bikes or pushing a running stroller with my 5-year-old daughter, Mae, and my 3-year-old son, Bert.


What is your favorite quote?

“It’s only unthinkable if you don’t think it.”    

   - Dabo Swinney


Who was your most influential mentor?

My dad, Bill McCrary


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

If it would make 8-year-old or 80-year-old Ryan happy, do it.





Jennifer Moore

Chief Operating Officer

Graycliff Capital Partners

Age: 32

 

Bio: My journey to a senior leadership role with one of the Southeast’s leading multifamily development and investment companies has been atypical, to say the least. After teaching first grade for a few years, I transitioned in my career and joined the team at Graycliff Capital as a real estate coordinator. As a fast-paced learner, I quickly assumed increasing responsibilities. Concurrent with helping grow the business, I received my MBA from Clemson and was promoted to COO that same year.

Looking back to my undergraduate days in elementary education at Clemson, I never would have predicted that I would be leading a team of professionals that has closed 59 transactions equaling more than $1.4 billion dollars! As a former educator, I am passionate about supporting educators and students through initiatives like “Make Summer Count Book Celebration” and “Family Reading Night.” As a female leader in business, I also look for opportunities to mentor young women in small groups and individually. Finally, I am a member of the Red Shoe Society and thoroughly enjoy participating in activities associated with the local Ronald McDonald House each year. Simple acts of kindness, helping others and providing support to those in need bring me tremendous joy and fulfillment in life. 


What is your favorite quote?

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  - Martin Luther King Jr.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Sarah Turpin (first grade teacher at Clemson Elementary)




Alex Nevels

Learning Consultant

Think Up Consulting

Age: 34

Bio: For the past seven years, I’ve worked with a talented group of individuals who value my desire to ask questions, take risks and explore new possibilities. These skills have found a good home at Think Up, where we specialize in finding creative, innovative solutions for our clients’ toughest challenges. As a learning consultant, I help crystallize our clients’ visions and then work with a talented cast of thinkers to bring them to life.

Doing the work I love alongside top talent, for top clients in Greenville has been tremendous. My family and I love this town. For me, giving back to my community starts with being a good neighbor. I have the privilege to live in the storied Southernside neighborhood, where good neighbors abound; some folks have lived here over 60 years! We’ve worked to follow their lead, attending neighborhood meetings, being part of a church that invests in this community and simply being friendly. In the future, I look forward to sharpening my skills as a consultant, growing my organization and deepening my roots in this vibrant community.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” 

  - Henri Nouwen


Who was your most influential mentor?

Jake Cheney





Ginny Reed

Financial Analysis Manager

United Community Bank

Age: 29

 

Bio: I am a graduate of Clemson University, where I received bachelor’s degrees in both financial management and accounting. As a financial analysis manager at United Community Bank (UCB), I oversee the budget and forecast process, as well as support executives in understanding the bank’s financial performance.

UCB has been a catalyst for my career, exposing me to top executives who encourage the enhancement of my leadership skills. Born and raised in Greenville by parents who are integrally involved in the community, my passion for Greenville is innate, and I desire others to see it as a great place to work and live. I am currently involved in the United Way and the Junior League of Greenville, and I am an active member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. I find joy in helping others in the community as well as meeting like-minded individuals. I look forward to continued service to the bank and my community. Thank you for the honor of being named one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under.


What is your favorite quote?

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

  - Martin Luther King Jr.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents —They have had professional success while prioritizing family and community. I seek their guidance on all of my personal and career decisions.





Will Richter

VP, Compliance Manager, TD Community Development Corporation

Age: 26


Bio: I learned the importance of teamwork, collaboration and grit during my two years spent competing in international cycling for the BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Racing Team. I have applied those same principles to my career with TD Bank. As Compliance Manager with TD Community Development Corporation (TDCDC), I help deploy TD’s New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Allocation across the bank’s footprint from Maine to Florida. I manage investments in commercial and community revitalization projects in areas of high distress, which helps businesses create high-quality and accessible jobs, as well as assist community-based organizations with improving and expanding local services, resources and facilities.

In addition to my role with TDCDC, I recently helped lead local efforts in executing TD Cares, a comprehensive program to provide financial relief options to TD Bank customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in collaboration with other TD Bank lines of business, we ensured our clients were prepared to navigate the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) process in a timely manner. I feel it’s important to bring the same amount of commitment and passion to my community involvement as I give to helping my clients on a daily basis. I enjoy volunteering my time with the United Way of Greenville County by serving on their Investment Council and the Young Leaders Society Council. I also volunteer with a variety of other community organizations that are doing great work in the Upstate, including TreesUpstate, the Piedmont Economics Club and several on-campus organizations at my alma mater, Clemson University. Additionally, I continue to be actively involved in the international cycling community, which attracts so many to our beautiful Upstate.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Sometimes shifting your perspective is more powerful than being smart.”

  - Astro Teller, Head of Google X


Who was your most influential mentor?

Lance S. Young, Colonel, USAF (Retired)





Rut Rivera

PASOs Program Manager - Greenville 

Prisma Health/PASOs 

Age: 35

Bio: I was born in Venezuela; moving to the United States at the age of 15 was challenging, but Greenville took me as one of their own, and I cannot see myself living somewhere else. I attended North Greenville University to study psychology. Being a first generation emigrant has led me to do what I love, helping others like me overcome barriers and obstacles to be able to reach their goals and dreams. 

Working for the Latinx community in Greenville has taught me to stay humble and resilient - and to never forget my roots and culture. It has also taught me that no matter what difficulties come my way, I can achieve anything I put my mind and heart to. As a working mom, I plan to continue being an example for my children so they can see how gratifying it is to help community members move forward for a better future.  

To me, giving back to the community means being able to pay forward what others did for me when I moved to the United States. My plans are to continue to advocate for our wonderful Latinx community in Greenville County and in South Carolina.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“El que escucha consejo, llega a Viejo.” (He who listens to advice grows old.)


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

To speak up and to not be afraid and be open for opportunities that can advance your career for a brighter future





Andrea Simrell

Public Relations Director

VantagePoint Marketing

Age: 35

 

Bio: I was named “most interested in books” in kindergarten, and I’ve looked for ways to incorporate reading and learning into my life ever since. As public relations director at VantagePoint Marketing, I lead the agency’s PR team in developing strategic messaging, fostering relationships and creating engaging content to drive results for our B2B clients. Building on my degree in public relations from the University of Georgia, continuing education is a priority for me. I earned my Accredited in Public Relations certification through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Serving others is also very important to me. I have been actively involved with the Junior League of Greenville for 12 years and currently serve as the communications vice president on the board of directors. I also sit on the board of SCPRSA, serving as the ethics officer. In my 14 years in Greenville, I’ve come to truly appreciate the cultural, culinary and outdoor experiences the area offers, and my husband and I love being a part of this community.


What is your favorite quote?

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  - Jane Goodall


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents have without a doubt been my greatest influences and biggest supporters, but professionally, my most influential mentor is VantagePoint’s founder, Craig O’Neal. Craig saw potential in me and gave me the confidence to set and achieve goals I may not have otherwise attempted. Even though he has retired, he is still there to lend a word of encouragement or advice.





Jeanmarie Tankersley

Litigation Partner

Clawson and Staubes

Age: 33

 

Bio: Both sides of my family have been in Greenville for generations, so even when I wasn’t living here, Greenville has always been home. After studying history at the College of Charleston and law at the University of Georgia, I moved back to Greenville in 2013 to practice law. I’m a partner at Clawson and Staubes where I focus on civil defense litigation. I believe that the law is a noble profession, and nowhere is that more evident than the South Carolina and Greenville Bars.

As president-elect of the South Carolina Young Lawyers and public relations chair for the Greenville Bar, I get to see firsthand all the incredible work lawyers do in our communities across the state. Through my involvement in Leadership Greenville Class 46, Junior League, CofC’s Upstate Chapter, my role as a board member for PMAC and my time spent as the Voter Protection Chair for the GCDP, I have worked with and learned from so many dedicated people and organizations that serve our home in unique ways. I am proud of who we are and what Greenville continues to become.


What is your favorite quote?

“I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”  - Whitman


Who was your most influential mentor?

My grandfather, John Johnston 


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? 

Save more money; school is expensive.





Calhoun Taylor

Director, Product Business Manager

SYNNEX Corporation

Age: 28

Bio: I started with SYNNEX Corporation in 2014 after graduating from Wofford College. Now, as a director of product business management, I have the privilege of leading one of the best teams in the tech industry who manage go-to-market strategies and results for Secure Networking technology. I’ve been recognized as a SYNNEX President’s Club winner, a 2019 CompTIA Channel Changers nominee and a 2020 CompTIA Woman in Technology Leadership Award nominee.

Outside of work, I am intentionally focusing on being culturally engaged with my local community and providing support and care for vulnerable and marginalized youth as a member of the 2020 Upstate Class of ChangeMakers, a member of the Share the Magic Steering Committee and a volunteer with DivorceCare for Teens. I began serving in the community upon learning South Carolina ranks 38th in the nation for the well-being of children, with a quarter of them living in poverty. By sharing my time with my community this way, I hope to contribute progress toward our state being a better place for all children. In my free time, you will find me laughing (very loudly) with family and friends, scuba diving, hiking, hunting or traveling somewhere that requires a passport.

 

Who was your most influential mentor?

This is tough—it is a tie between Jessica McDowell (SYNNEX Vice President of Business Development, GBM Best and Brightest ’16) and Scott Cochran (President, Spartanburg Methodist College). Both have encouraged me to “go for it” in life but have also shared a lot of wisdom about how to do that well.





Cassie Thompson

Director of Organizational Development 

Infinity Marketing

Age: 33

 

Bio: I am a proud Greenville native, and I absolutely love this beautiful city I get to call home! I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bob Jones University in the communication field. Shortly after graduation, I landed “by accident” in human resources and quickly realized what a wonderful fit my desire to teach and mentor, my fascination with the quirks and nuances of legal matters and my love for the swirling chaos of life were for that profession.

In my current role with Infinity Marketing, I am grateful for the opportunity to, among many things, oversee training and development and contribute a “strengths-based” mindset to our culture. I was diagnosed with MS in 2017, and my beautiful son was born in 2019 with EA/TEF. These challenges have taught me patience, empathy and (always!) humor with the ordeals life can bring. I appreciate every opportunity to share those learnings and God’s grace with those around me. As John Newton said, “’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far. And grace will lead me home.” 


What is your favorite quote?

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”  ―- Confucius


Who was your most influential mentor?

Rachael Reece — She was a boss, a mentor and now, a friend. She believed in my potential and pushed me constantly beyond my comfort zone to develop and grow.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Every challenge, period of grieving or uncomfortable situation is an opportunity to grow and learn. Don’t waste the pain; make it count!






Madison Wilson

Internal Communications Leader, GE Gas Power

GE

Age: 32

Bio: I grew up in Greenville playing soccer, tennis and golf and swimming through locally organized associations. To say that sports involvement had a major impact on my life would be an understatement. Sports taught me the importance of leadership, confidence, humility, grace and working as a team to make a common goal achievable. Now, as the internal communications leader for GE’s Gas Power organization, I’m responsible for a team that manages global internal communications for 20,000 employees. We develop and execute communication and culture campaigns and partner with organization leaders to provide executive communication support and strategic council with the goal of driving employee engagement.

I also serve as a board member on the Roper Mountain Science Center Association and recently joined the United Way Women’s Leadership Council. Both of these organizations work as teams to make Greenville a community where everyone has the opportunities and resources to reach his or her full potential. With my husband, Robert, as my co-captain, we now are forming our own personal team with two junior players—our daughters, Lovie (age 5) and Lucky (age 3). It’s important that we continue to show them that working together as a team, whether it’s through organized sports, in a business environment or via community engagement, will help them make a difference in this awesome city that we call home.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My dad has been and continues to be my most influential mentor. From the time I was very young, my dad taught me the importance of understanding my self-worth in both personal and professional settings. He encouraged me to always think with a business mindset, to embrace realistic opportunities and to take calculated risks. My relationship with my dad is one of reciprocated admiration, respect and affection, which I believe are some of the main ingredients in the recipe for a successful woman.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Take risks. Go on the date. Make the move. Take the job. Roll the dice. Most of the time, the greatest risks come with the greatest rewards.