June 26, 2012


Profiles in Liberty: Cara Burgess

By: Tom Swanson

There probably isn’t a lot of crossover between a leading non-profit liberty organization like the Charles Koch Foundation and a Fortune 500 powerhouse like Deloitte, but Cara Burgess says that having her feet in both worlds has helped her stand out among her peers in both settings.
Cara Burgess
After graduating from Mercer University in Macon, GA, Cara was accepted first to the Koch Internship Program and later to the Koch Associate Program.  After completing the Koch Associate Program, she began work in the Charles Koch Foundation’s Higher Education team, which promotes liberty through curricular and extracurricular educational programs on the campuses of American universities.

During her time at CKF, Cara learned to apply Market-Based Management, the unique management philosophy of Charles Koch and the Koch companies. Cara says Market-Based Management “really sparked [her] interest in business philosophy,” and she soon wanted a chance to apply its techniques to a for-profit venture.

She has found that opportunity as a consultant for Deloitte, where she specializes in “people issues.” “What I do is at the heart of bringing jobs to the market,” she says, “putting people in the right jobs, and making sure they’re happy…from training until retirement.”

She attributes much of her success and satisfaction at Deloitte to lessons she learned while immersed in the world of non-profit liberty organizations: “Choosing to work for a non-profit organization that is passionate about the issues I care about was the best decision I could have made. I got a chance to develop professionally and get my feet wet in the professional world.”

Cara insists that her experience at CKF helped her develop professional skills and practical experience faster than she could have in the private sector. She notes that non-profits tend to be smaller, which allows entry-level professionals to “dabble in lots of different things” within one job title saying it “definitely helped me differentiate myself from my peers and rise faster, even in a competitive environment like Deloitte.”

At Deloitte, Cara relishes the opportunity to discuss liberty with people who come from diverse intellectual and political backgrounds. “If anything,” she says, her experience in the private sector makes more passionate about promoting liberty. “I directly observe the impacts of legislation and regulation, more than I could inside the ‘bubble’ of a non-profit organization. Here, oppressive policy requirements have personal effects on everyone.”

Furthermore, businesses can offer policy research organizations and think tanks perspectives and resources that they would otherwise lack. “Non-profits shouldn’t try to win the battle of ideas on their own, they need to engage their allies in the private-sector and try to work together.”

Professionally, Cara emphasizes the importance of keeping an open mind toward the future. She says her dream job would be teaching economics at the university level or working in donor cultivation/relations at a liberty-minded non-profit. Taken together, her experiences at CKF and Deloitte give her a valuable and unique set of credentials for such positions.

She also tells recent graduates and entry-level professionals who are passionate about liberty to strongly consider getting some experience in a liberty organization, no matter their future career goals, and take advantage of all the networking opportunities these organizations offer.

“Networks make the world go ‘round, and AFF is an excellent resource for networking outside your immediate, direct network,” Cara says, “AFF draws a diverse crowd, more than any other liberty organization, and that’s great for setting meetings and forming relationships.”

“AFF’s professional development opportunities and sound, expert advice are priceless.”

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