When Kathryn Gadberry studied abroad to Mozambique, she was a part of a team that set up an accounting system for chicken farmers so they could sell an affordable source of protein to local consumers, a program known as Eggs for Africa.
She and other University of Arkansas students, through a service learning project, worked together in Nampula to assist a poultry operation that serves as a model for sustainable economic development for others in Africa.
Gadberry, who was a Sam M. Walton College of Business student then, found the community-development aspect of the class “mind blowing.”
“It was the most real world experience with accounting I’d ever had,” Gadberry recalls.
Now a financial analyst with Heifer International in Little Rock, Gadberry says her Mozambique experiences prepared her for her role at Heifer, which works to eradicate hunger and poverty worldwide through community development programs that give gifts of livestock and training to provide families with food and reliable income. This brings opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives and funding small businesses in the poorest areas around the world.
At Heifer, Gadberry creates budgets, figuring in the variances and forecasting outcomes, so that the organization’s offices worldwide can make the best use of funds to help communities in need.
Gadberry grew up in Little Rock where she attended Central High School. The daughter of Walton College graduates, Jay and Pam Gadberry, she always aspired to attend the University of Arkansas. She earned her degrees in international business, with a concentration in accounting, as well as Spanish in 2013.
As an undergraduate, Gadberry had already studied abroad in Spain before she embarked on the four-week Mozambique program led, in part, by Amy Farmer, Walton economics professor. While there, Gadberry and her fellow students worked with subsidiaries of a missionary-based corporation, New Horizons. She, alongside business, engineering and education students, devised a plan to help the community acquire clean water, access to education and affordable food.
Farmer played a huge role in directing the students, Gadberry says.
“I look up to her so much,” Gadberry says about Farmer. “I adore her.”
Having grown up in Little Rock, where Heifer is based, working there had always been in the back of her mind, she says. “I always had a passion for international development and sustainability and loved the idea of working for a nonprofit,” she says.
Though she didn’t work at Heifer immediately after college, she kept applying and was eventually hired as a donation administrator – about 80 percent of Heifer’s funding comes from individual donations, she says. After only a few months, she became a financial analyst for Heifer.
“It was amazing how perfectly it fit,” she says of her role. “I’ve enjoyed the analytical side ever since.”
As financial analyst, Gadberry says it’s not without its challenges. She interacts with more than 30 Heifer offices globally – all in countries with different languages, accounting standards and laws. Through the help of her associates, Gadberry helps them budget in order to use their funds most effectively. And when that happens, it’s a terrific feeling, she says.
Without her Walton education, Gadberry shudders to think what it would be like to work in the position she’s now in.
“If I didn’t have a strong foundation in accounting, I don’t think it would have been as easy to learn on the job and enabled me to do the best that I could in finance,” she says.