Rachel Conaway ’18 overtakes early hurdles on the Fortune 500


Image of Conaway StandingRecent graduate Rachel Conaway ’18 has a clear vision for her future. Once she becomes a district manager in the next two years, she says, she’ll look to become a regional director, then a divisional vice president and then, eventually, CEO of Dollar General Corporation (DG). Her current career velocity suggests proper odds.

Conaway advanced from sales associate to store training manager at DG in just three years. Based at the district’s model store location in Kirtland, Ohio, she is a key resource in training all new store managers and assisting current managers. She also greets her customers by name.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a marketing minor, Conaway is now free to devote herself to the company’s District Manager Development Program.

Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior Marie Francosky, PhD, recalled her incredible work ethic, collegiality and strength of character – on display as she assisted classmates even after shifts at DG. For this, the summa cum laude graduate won the Class of 2018 Academic Excellence Award from the School of Business.

“Being a district manager will give me the opportunity to further my multi-unit management experience, time management skills, organization skills and hiring skills, as well as the many other key components that it takes to be a successful store manager,” Conaway said. “But being a district manager is not where I want to stop. I would like to then move my way up the management ladder.”

Over 20 years, small town family retailer Dollar General grew into a U.S. corporation ranked at 123 on the Fortune 500. Employees at over 15,000 small variety stores now benefit from the company’s superior training opportunities. In 2018, DG ranked fifth in Training Magazine’s Training Top 125, which recognizes leaders in learning and development programs. For one program, district managers and regional directors competed in a virtual Simulation Championship that gamifies problem solving in a safe environment.

College internships offer similar experiences. Conaway found hers as a marketing intern at Cleveland Candle Company, a local venture that has opened three Cleveland-area locations since 2014. She applied her learning about consumer behavior and personal effectiveness in business, which support her managerial work today.

“Almost every day while I am on the job and managing my team, I use something that one of my business professors taught me,” she said. “Each one of them personally invested in my educational and professional career. Each one of them challenged me in their own way, making me an even better student and business professional.”

Conaway was a leader on campus, where she served as vice president of Mortar Board and a representative on the Academic Affairs Student Advisory Council. This council met often with the vice president for academic affairs to give input about their educational experience. Conaway and her peers gave suggestions for how the College could make better use of its James F. Lincoln Library.

“I fell in love with the atmosphere that Lake Erie has. It was close to home and felt like a second home when I was on campus,” said Conaway, whose college decision took four visits and a meeting with Dr. Bob Trebar, dean of the School of Business.

As she did for her School, Conaway seeks to improve the business world. Fortunately, her company has invested in her potential to follow through. Lake Erie College is proud to guide students like Rachel Conaway on their personal pathway to professional success and a meaningful life.

“I am very much looking forward to my future with Dollar General!” she said.

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