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President’s Council Imparts Life Lessons to Recent Graduates


Michael A. Puglisi, GSB ’72, offers guidance to students about how to maintain their spiritual lives in the face of day-to-day responsibilities.
Photo by Chris Taggart

Old and new came together on Oct. 5 at the New York Athletic Club, as members of the President’s Council sat down with Fordham undergraduates and young alumni to talk about the nitty-gritty details of succeeding in work and in life.

The Fall Executive Leadership Series linked 26 mentors with 25 students and 40 young alumni from the Gabelli School of Business (GSB), Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) and Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC). Students were invited to select two informal discussions to attend from a list of five topics:
• Maintaining a Spiritual Life after Fordham;

• Mastering Work/Life Balance;

• Adhering to the Highest Ethical Standards in a Pressured Business Environment;

• Presenting Yourself as a Stand-Out Candidate to a Potential Employer; and

• Excelling in the Workplace.

Amanda Mack, FCRH ’04, was one of the young alumni in attendance. A graduate of the International Political and Economic Development (IPED) program who works in sales for the investment management firm Invesco, she sat in on the work/life balance panel. She said she was encouraged by an attorney who told the group that he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays to swim.

“He said to discover your passion and stick with it. You can have something else that you enjoy doing and still be successful in your job,” she said. “He mentioned how his outside interest benefited him at his job, because he networked with other people along the way.”

Dave V. Almeida, GSB ’73, a managing director at the Bank of New York Mellon, echoed that sentiment, having sat in on the same panel. Although he has been successful as a trader, his passion is coaching Little League Baseball.

“They need to learn that personal life is important. It keeps you grounded,” Almeida said. “My professional life pays the bill, you know? I don’t mean to minimize what I do, but we’re not curing cancer.”

Michael A. Puglisi, GSB ’72, likewise embraced a fuller picture of living life. Now retired, the former partner and CFO for the Blackstone Group sat in on the maintaining spiritual life panel, which was moderated by Daniel J. Gatti, S.J., FCRH ’65, GSE ’66, Fordham’s alumni chaplain.

“I’m very pleased I was part of it, because spirituality sometimes gets pushed to the side. For me personally, keeping spirituality as a focus allows me to catch my breath and reflect on life and reflect on human beings,” Puglisi said.

“We were able to broaden the discussion to say that spirituality is not simply going to church, but rather it’s a broader concept: How do you deal with humanity? How do you think of people? How do you think about yourself? Do you have time to meditate?” he said.

Puglisi noted that he is continually impressed with the students he meets at networking events, calling them enthusiastic, articulate, and smart.

“The phrase we used at Blackstone was, ‘They can command the table.’ Not in an arrogant way, but in a very professional way,” he said.

During a kickoff cocktail reception, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, updated members on the progress of Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham, including the recent $25 million gift to name the undergraduate business school from Mario J. Gabelli, GSB ’65.

“We’re really now looking at a campaign for $165 million,” Father McShane said. “We’ll hit the $500 million mark, and we’ll go past the $500 million mark in spite of the economic climate, because our story is compelling, our students are terrific, our alumni are loyal and our future is packed with promise.

“There’s always been something about Fordham that’s mystified me and perplexed me,” he continued. “This great institution was plagued with great self-doubt. There was never any arrogance in a Fordham man or woman. And one of the things that stands at the center of this council’s purpose and this campaign’s purpose is to put that humility behind us.

“Dressed the way I am, please note that I am encouraging you all to engage and indulge in one of the seven deadly sins. I want you to be proud!”


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