Members of the Fordham University President’s Council came out on Oct. 18 to discuss with young alumni the idea that there is more to business than “just business.”
Select members of the council—all of whom have built distinguished careers in their fields of expertise—gave advice on the importance of personal and professional ethics and corporate responsibility in the workplace. About 70 young alumni and Fordham seniors attended the event, which opened this year’s Executive Leadership Series.
“This is an opportunity to have some good discussions about life and business and mentoring,” said newly elected President’s Council chair Brian MacLean, FCRH ’75, president and chief operating officer of Travelers. “Hopefully this will spark mentorships beyond tonight.”
MacLean, also a member of the Parents’ Leadership Council, was joined by several other members of the council at the event, including Michael Sauer, PAR ’14, Terence Begley, GSB ’86, PAR ’15, Andrew Cavanaugh, FCRH ’69, PAR ’13, Anthony Vespa, PAR ’12, and Tom Wynne, PAR ’13.
The annual event normally focuses on how to get a job and build a resume, but this year the topics of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethics in the workplace also were featured.
Mary Jane McCartney, TMC ’69, retired senior vice president of Consolidated Edison, Inc., noted there has been an “awakening” among some companies toward social responsibility. Chairing a discussion on “Trends in CSR and Accounting for the Triple Bottom Line,” McCartney said CSR is beneficial to companies in the long run because it helps their bottom line.
Con Edison, she noted, is heavily involved in sponsorship of STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—programs for kids. While it may not show up in stock prices or dividends, Con Ed’s support of robotics contests, community-education centers and after-school programs in the sciences is helping create a qualified American workforce.
Companies also are beginning to screen new hires for things other than professional expertise, she said.
“If you want to work for Google, you had better have many hours of community service on your resume. Otherwise, you won’t even get an interview,” she said.
Young alumni attending a discussion group on “Working Ethically and Living Reflectively” were concerned about how to voice objections to what they perceived to be compromising practices in the workplace. Among the things mentioned were taking on too much financial risk; overcharging on fees; taking “freebies” such as tickets; misuse of corporate credit cards; and inappropriate behavior toward a co-worker.
“As young alumni who are new to our professions, we might want to make a statement but we don’t know how to,” said Miranda Larmony, GSB ’10, who works for an insurance firm.
James Viceconte, GSB ’85, managing principal for Global Securities Advisors, LLC, reminded alumni of the core Jesuit value of being men and women for others.
“When you are in a situation where you don’t want to rock the boat, that’s when you want to find people who are a little more senior, who you can confide in, to share your thoughts,” he suggested. “Today, the business world values people who might speak up when they see something that’s not quite right.”
The issue of unemployment, however, was still the elephant in the room. There is nothing like face-to-face time, said some young alumni, to help them further their professional goals.
Tired of checking career sites, Anthony Pusateri, GSB ’11, said he was looking for a job on a trading desk or in operations.
“To get a job is not that hard, but to get something you want to turn into a career is the challenging part,” he said. “Having the President’s Council sit here across the table, and being able to match a name with a face, is a great thing.”
Setting forth his agenda in three words, he said, “Take me, please.”