The event, held at the Manhattan Club, brought together more than 60 alumni and students with 22 President’s Council members, who shared their decades of professional experience in fields as far ranging as global real estate.
President’s Council Chair James J Houlihan, GSB ’74, PAR, Vice Chair Edward I. O’Brien, Jr., FCRH ’80, Terry Begley, GSB ’86, and Colleen Jones, GBA ’88, were among the members who participated in roundtable discussions. With a format similar to speed-dating, alumni and students chose tables based on topics, which included “Everything Entrepreneurial,” “The Customer’s Always Right?” and “The Business of Health,” switching every 20 minutes for three sessions.
Mary Jane McCartney, TMC’69, retired senior vice president at ConEd, discusses the art of leadership with alumni and students.
Thomas E. Kelly, III, a parent of two Fordham alumni and vice president of strategic initiatives at Lockheed Martin, asked for examples of how the Jesuit tradition of “men and women for others” applies in the corporate world. One student drew a parallel between compassionate leadership and the example Jesus sets in the New Testament.
“Leading with dignity and honesty and delivering what you say you’ll deliver says a lot about what kind of person you are,” said Suliman Al Aujan, GSB ’15, who recently accepted a position at Credit Suisse. “There’s nothing more important.”
“Most great universities are liberal arts schools,” said Mario Ciampi, FCRH ’82, a partner at Prentice Capital Management, LP, to a table of young alumni discussing how to leverage a liberal arts degree. “Your career success is a matter of how you perform and grow.”
Ciampi surveyed six alumni about whether their liberal arts degrees strengthened their chances for success, now that they are working in the professional world.
“People are looking at the diverse skills you bring to the table,” said Morgan Vazquez, FCRH ’12, who works in JP Morgan’s human resources department, adding that her firm recruits heavily from one university because of a specialized degree program. “More and more, there’s a cookie-cutter result in terms of the candidates we interview out of this program. Students with liberal arts backgrounds seem to have more diverse experience and skills.”
Fran Conroy chats with students about how to stand out from the competition in job interviews.
Employers nowadays seek out a diversity of thought, creativity and passion, said Jean Wynn, MC ’80, managing director and chief administrative officer at Bank of New York Mellon and the President’s Council’s newest member. Wynn, who has managed hundreds of employees throughout her career, said that a liberal arts background gives employees the ability to see things from “a multitude of perspectives,” an essential capability in today’s competitive job market.
Distinguishing oneself from the competition was the highlight of a discussion group facilitated by Fran J. Conroy, GSB ’79, and Patrick Keenan, GSB ’75, both high-level executives in the financial services industry. “Sometimes it comes down to the personal interests on a résumé,” Conroy said, adding that he was once asked to describe his three best accomplishments.
“I thought of two, but couldn’t think of a third, so I wrote that I went sky diving. It was an accomplishment because I overcame my fear of heights,” he chuckled. “I believe it that made me stand out.”
The Executive Leadership Series brings together members of Fordham’s President’s Council, alumni in the early stages of their careers, and students to provide opportunities for mentoring and networking. The series is held twice annually, in the fall and spring. (Photos by Chris Taggart)