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.”
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 Amazon.com, 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.