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Celebrating Women in Entrepreneurship With Anastasia “Tracy” Raissis

Tracy Raissis at Georgian Court with a faculty member

Entrepreneurship is all about the power to innovate and determine how new ideas can be formed, according to Anastasia “Tracy” Raissis, director of Worldwide Financial Risk and Economic Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS). The business executive was the keynote speaker for Georgian Court University’s 2021 Celebration of Entrepreneurship. The event, held October 20-22, looked at the power of the side hustle and how a business shifts during challenging times.

Everything stems from innovation, according to Ms. Raissis. “Innovation is not just about making new things, it’s also about making things new,” she said. “It’s a transformative process and part of the art of possibility.”

View images from the Celebration of Entrepreneurship keynote event.

Entrepreneurship Requires Insight

Ms. Raissis drew on her decades of experience to address GCU faculty, students, and guests. In addition to being a thought leader and mentor, she is also known for being skilled in building and leading effective teams. Her career includes leadership in many areas, including governance, risk and compliance programs, and digital innovations for domestic and international institutions.

A business should be customer-focused as it can either present a problem or an opportunity, and it needs insight to be able to respond to customer needs, she added.

“By being customer-centric,” Ms. Raissis said, “a business is hearing customer thoughts, even the negative ones.” It’s one of the ways a business uncovers opportunities to innovate.

Overall, entrepreneurs can profoundly influence society by impacting the way people work, eat, live, travel, and buy. Her advice: actively seek to learn more and speak up. “Anything is possible if you are curious,” she said, adding that it is important to not be afraid to fail.

The New Jersey native said she was honored to speak during GCU’s Celebration of Entrepreneurs. “I am inspired by the work entrepreneurs do every day,” said Ms. Raissis, who attended other GCU programs during the three-day celebration. She added, “I heard entrepreneurs talk about things they love and how they are making a difference.”

An Appreciation for Expertise

Theodora Sergiou ’92, internship and student development coordinator in the School of Business and Digital Media, invited Ms. Raissis to GCU.

The high-profile speaker is sought after nationally and globally, especially given her current role as a director of strategic sales and business development at Amazon Web Services. She focuses on central banks, financial regulators and intergovernmental organizations, and international financial institutions. Her goal is to help them achieve their missions through innovations in cloud technologies. Prior to joining AWS, she held compliance risk management roles at, American Express, and Citibank.

“The School of Business and Digital Media worked hard to prepare for this event. All the events . . . were very insightful,” said Ms. Sergiou, who is also an entrepreneur. “We hope to bring more events like this one to Georgian Court.”

The speaker’s message covered many points, including one that should resonate with young professionals.

“She (Tracy) connected with what is possible with your major and the things you can do with your career,” said Jennifer Edmonds, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business and Digital Media.

Story contributed by Georgian Court University digital communication major Alycia Bardon ’22.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.