Hometown Heroine

McCombs alumna and Zoom CFO gives back to UT students.
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In just her second job out of college, Kelly Steckelberg, BBA/MPA ’91, set a goal: to become the chief financial officer of a publicly traded company.

She met that goal in 2019 when, as CFO, she helped take the technology startup Zoom public. Less than a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic drove people to the video communications platform by the millions. Zoom’s users grew by 30 times in just four months, and the company has more than doubled its workforce since the pandemic began. Not only did Steckelberg meet her original goal, but she was recognized worldwide as a business leader, ending 2020 by being named as CFO Dive’s CFO of the year and Forbes’ Public Company CFO of the Year.

But how did this small-town Longhorn, raised in Hill Country towns Kerrville and Harper, rise to the most elite levels of global business? Steckelberg credits her mother — and her education from The University of Texas at Austin — with helping her think bigger about her goals and what she could achieve.

Now she’s paying it forward to future generations of Longhorn business leaders. This summer, Steckelberg made a transformative gift to create the Linda Bernhard Endowed Scholarship in honor of her late mother. Through UT’s Texas Challenge gift-matching program, her gift was doubled. The endowment will provide permanent scholarship support for hundreds of high-achieving McCombs School of Business students from low- and middle-income Texas families for years to come.

“I am so grateful for Kelly’s tremendous generosity and leadership,” says McCombs dean Lillian Mills. “The Linda Bernhard Endowed Scholarship will transform the lives of students for generations. We’re so pleased to join Kelly in honoring her mother’s legacy by providing high-potential Texas students the opportunity and support to thrive at McCombs.”

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Steckelberg has stayed connected to McCombs by hosting dialogues on women’s business leadership and sharing her story as part of the Undergraduate Business Council’s VIP Speaker Series.

Open a Door to the Forty Acres

The Texas Challenge will double your scholarship endowment gift of $100,000 or more.


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