Music and business major has a pitch-perfect career

An original Kenan Music Scholar, Lauren Schultes is successful in sales and singing.

Lauren Schultes wearing white shirt posing against dark green background.
Lauren Schultes (Nile Scott Studios)

When Lauren Schultes ’11 talks about the long journey she took at Carolina to span the distance between her majors in music and business, she means it in a literal sense. It’s a 1.3-mile walk or 20 minutes on the U bus between Hill Hall and the McColl Building, the respective homes of the College of Arts and Sciences’ music department and the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

“It could be tight getting from one class to the other,” Schultes said.

But the subjects themselves have much in common, Schultes found. Both required a blend of technical mastery and precision with creativity and emotional intelligence.

“Music requires discipline and preparation, and then you have to access that magical part of yourself to connect with an audience,” Schultes said. “It’s the same thing with business. You have to take care of all the tactical details, and you also have to create a connection with an audience of customers.”

Schultes belonged to the first class of Kenan Music Scholars, a four-year, full-tuition scholarship program that offers music majors mentorship, travel and enrichment programs. She spent hours in the basement of Hill Hall, poring over musical scores and trying to marry a composer’s ideas with her own singing style.

“That’s the most challenging and the most rewarding part of it,” Schultes said. “Especially with voice, where the instrument is yourself. You are exploring your identity as a musician, and you have to bare your soul when you perform.”

She immersed herself in opportunities that the Kenan Music Scholars program offered, including studying in Italy and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Kenan Music Scholars often meet renowned performers visiting campus, and Schultes said she will never forget being seated next to Harry Belafonte at a dinner before he performed at Memorial Hall.

Schultes also met Thomas S. Kenan III ’59, trustee of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, which endowed the scholarship program. Kenan was recently awarded the Lux Libertas Philanthropy Award, Carolina’s highest honor in recognition of exceptional service in private philanthropy.

“I think about the interactions I had with him, and I think about everything he has done to support the arts and business and beyond,” Schultes said. “His kindness and generosity are what stick with me and, as a musician and a person, it makes you want to accomplish even more.”

Her mother’s career as an economics professor inspired Schultes’ other major, in business. She was admitted to UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s undergraduate business program before her junior year.

“I had always been interested in sales and marketing as the most performance-friendly and creative parts of business,” Schultes said. “I also wanted to pursue something where I am interacting with people and building relationships.”

An internship with Procter & Gamble turned into a full-time job after graduation and launched Schultes into a sales career. She now lives in Boston, where she is region manager for Bush Brothers & Company.

Schultes says that both her business degree and her training as a musical performer have been invaluable. She recently rekindled her interest in singing, studying with Kenan Music Scholar alumna Emily Siar ’14 at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Schultes was cast in the world premiere of a musical adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” and sings at Boston area cabaret venues.

“I’ve built a wonderful career, and it’s great to be back to performing more,” Schultes said. “I can focus on music that makes me happiest and that has meaning for me.”

Read more about Lauren Schultes.