UF Business Career Services Annual Professional Development Day



Ellen Connelly Taaffe

Clinical Faculty | Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Transformational Leadership, Careers, and Lives

Professor Ellen Taaffe will share her experience starting with recollections of her first post-UF sales job to the leadership classes she now teaches to MBA students. In between, she climbed the corporate ladder, led a high growth small company, and became a Board Director for three companies. She will share her perspective on the top five traits of transformative leaders and her best advice to create careers (and lives) of impact and meaning.


Ellen Connelly Taaffe serves on the Clinical Faculty of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She leverages over thirty years of leadership, marketing, and management experience teaching her popular Personal Leadership Insights course and the Design Your Life workshops across Kellogg's MBA programs. She also serves as the Director of Women's Leadership Programming.

Ellen has been a CMO and senior executive in divisions of PepsiCo, Royal Caribbean, and the Whirlpool Corporation. Following her corporate career, Ellen served as President of Ravel, an award-winning strategy and research consultancy serving Fortune 500 clients.

Currently, Ellen is a member of the Board of Directors of John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc., (NASDAQ: JBSS), Hooker Furniture Corporation (NASDAQ: HOFT), and AARP Services Inc. serving on Audit, Compensation, and Nominating Governance Committees, two of which she chairs. Since 2015, she has been an organizational strategy consultant and executive leadership coach.

Ellen received her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and her BS from the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business. She is married and has two young adult daughters. Ellen and her five siblings and three sibling in-laws are proud Gator alumni.

Al Dea

Career and Leadership Coach, Author, Trainer, Podcast Host, Speaker

Setting Yourself Up For Success in The Career Search

Finding an internship or job is an exciting opportunity to take the next step in your career. The good news is that there are numerous opportunities, resources, and people in your undergraduate and graduate program that can help you achieve your career goals. But how do you know where to get started, where to turn, or how to maximize all the resources at your disposal. In this interactive session, Al Dea, Founder of MBASchooled and CareerSchooled, shares the career search best practices and strategies he's learned from recruiters, hiring managers, young professionals, students, and his own career at companies including Deloitte Consulting and Salesforce. Students will leave this session with increased confidence and actionable tactics for navigating their career search, inspiring stories, and practical career tools that can help jumpstart their career search.


Al Dea is a career and leadership coach, author, trainer, podcast host, and keynote speaker. He is also the Founder of CareerSchooled and MBASchooled, two online blogs that help people build successful careers, and the author of MBA Insider: How to Make the Most of Your MBA Experience. Al is passionate about helping individuals and organizations flourish in the changing world of work, and empowering emerging leaders with the insights and knowledge they need to start, transition, or grow their career.

Al is an expert in leadership development, workplace readiness, and career transitions, and his thinking and insights have been published in outlets such as Business Insider, The World Economic Forum, Inc and Time Magazine. He presents regularly on campus and has worked with thousands of students at campuses across the United States. Al previously worked at Salesforce as a Product Marketer, helping launch products and features that touched thousands of customers. He previously worked as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP, where he advised Fortune 500 companies on developing and executing digital transformation.

Al received his Bachelor's Degree in Business and Theology from Boston College, and his Master's in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina Chapel-Hill.


Amaris L. Johnson

Director, OEM Sales | Eaton Corporation

Amaris L. Johnson is an accomplished operations and sales leader with 15+ years of experience working for Fortune 100 companies. She is currently employed with Eaton Corporation as Director, OEM Sales. Her responsibilities include leading a team of sales engineers tasked with providing continuous improvement solutions and optimizing equipment performance to global customer locations.

Previously, Amaris worked in the Engineering Systems and Services Division as District Operations Manager a role in which she was the first African American woman to hold this position within the history of the company. Before joining Eaton in 2015, Amaris spent 10 years with General Electric in a diversity of roles, with account portfolios ranging from $12M to $50M in annual sales.

She graduated magna cum laude from Tennessee State University earning a B.B.A - Marketing and Management. Amaris earned her MBA from the University of Florida- Hough Graduate School of Business. In 2016, tED Magazine, selected Amaris as one of the top 30 Under 35 Rising Stars of The Electrical Industry.

Amaris was recognized by Eaton, Chairman and CEO as a 2019 Global Inclusion and Diversity Culture Leader. In 2021 Amaris was appointed by Eaton’s executive leadership team to serve as North America Co-Lead for the Inclusion and Diversity Employee Resource Group, iConnect. One of her responsibilities in this role include leading and expanding the strategic partnerships with HBCU Institutions, NSBE, LSAMP and Divine Nine Greek Organizations.

Amaris volunteers her time as a member of the TSU, College of Business Alumni Advisory Board and is a past member of the UF MBA Alumni Advisory Board. Previous board appointments include the Gadsden County Community and Economic Development Organization from 2009- 2014. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and has served the organization at the state, region and national level.

When asked, about her guiding philosophy towards leadership, Amaris reflects on the African proverb “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As a proud alumna of Gator Nation, Amaris encourages others to work together so we can all go far!

John Walsh

John Walsh’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur, best-selling author, podcast host, keynote speaker and business advisor is an inspirational example of overcoming adversity, finding your way and learning the important lessons about living a happy and successful life. In his late teens, John struggled with being homeless as a senior in high school and for a few short years after he graduated. As a young adult, he worked many different jobs in different industries trying to figure out his purpose and decide on a career path. These early challenges became the inspiration and driving force for the rest of his personal and professional life. He went on to build a very successful 20+ year career as a Finance and Strategy executive with Disney and The Madison Square Garden Company. He recently left his corporate career to publish a book (“The Standout Experience”), create a podcast that is heard in more than 20 countries around the world and start a company that inspires and helps others to go beyond their own challenges and achieve success and happiness. John graduated with a business degree from UVA and got his MBA at UF. John is an avid runner and he has completed a number of marathons (most recently in NYC). John lives in Central Florida with his wife, three children and two Labrador puppies and he is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer here at UF.


Careers in Consulting

Careers in Finance

Careers in Human Resources

Careers in Information Technology

Careers in Marketing

Recruiter Panel

Careers in Sales & Account Management

Careers in Supply Chain & Logistics/Operations

Careers in Real Estate