Meet our alumni

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We are proud of the successes of our Alumni and their contributions to a diverse range of businesses.

Melissa Magal

Melissa Magal

Founder of The Landrum Group

Why a former consultant and successful restaurateur also sells life insurance and real estate

What were your early years like?

I’m a Southern girl at heart. I was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and then I moved to Brooklyn with my mom when I was about four years old. 

What drew you to PwC?

I was always passionate about things that seemed outside of my realm because my mom instilled a love of reading in me. So, even though I grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood where we didn’t have much, we had books. I utilized those books to open up my horizons and I got my associate’s degree in administration. I started working as a secretary at PwC. Then, once I was there, I finished my degree in management at Pace University.

You stayed at PwC for more than 12 years. What was your experience like at the firm?

When I started telling my peers that I wanted to become a consultant, they’d say things like: “Oh, no. You can’t do that. It’s just not done.” But I refused to take no for an answer.  I truly believe that if you buckle down, learn what you need to learn, and you’re diligent about yourself, you can do whatever your mind sets you to do and with perseverance I reached my goal.

From there, you moved on to IBM. How was that transition?

It was a great opportunity for me. IBM actually acquired PwC Consulting in 2002, so that’s how I ended up there. I started working as a functional analyst, traveling to client sites, testing the software and teaching clients how to use new software systems.

And while working there, you opened your first restaurant?

Yes, my then-husband and I opened a restaurant called Peter’s Since 1969, where we made all the food from scratch and served customers via counter service. In 2014, we also opened Gotan in Tribeca, and that really took off.

It sounds like things were going very well with Gotan. 

I knew I wanted to start my second life and explore another entrepreneurial field, too, so I decided to get my real estate license. Now I understand that industry so I can assist folks in buying and selling properties, but I still wanted to do more.

What led you to also become a life insurance broker?

I was at church, talking to my cousin and another close friend, when I found out they didn’t have insurance. So I just said, “You know what? I’m going to get my insurance license and I’m going to insure you guys.” The thing about me is that once I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it. And it turns out, I love talking about life insurance, so that’s my full-time focus now. I call it speaking life into people. My main income still comes from Gotan, so I really just want to share my knowledge to mentor and help others.

What’s next for you?

I just want to continue my journey of service, so I’ve set up a company called The Landrum Group to combine all my offerings — whether it’s through life insurance, real estate, maybe getting my medical insurance license this year, feeding folks, or giving advice. Servitude is my passion. It’s in my blood.

This interview was conducted and edited by Jen Swetzoff, founder of CLOSEUP, a creative studio in Brooklyn. She was formerly the deputy managing editor at strategy+business magazine.

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Amy Paquette

Amy Paquette

US Alumni Network Manager, PwC US

Sallie Hinson

Sallie Hinson

US Alumni Network Manager, PwC US

Jennifer Belardi

Jennifer Belardi

US/MX Geography Marketing and Alumni Network Leader, PwC US

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