Parents Don Mentor Hats for an Evening


On Oct. 26, representatives from the higher echelons of finance, entertainment, technology, and medicine gathered at the Rose Hill campus to share with students their lessons for successful careers.

The panelists, all members of the Fordham’s Parents’ Leadership Council, spent the evening reflecting on both the state of their own industries, and their personal career trajectories. A group discussion in the Keating First auditorium attended by 140 students was followed by breakout sessions in classrooms that featured non only the parents, but also employees of their respective firms who could also answer questions.

The evening featured:

-Richard Cervini, PAR ’19, Senior Vice President of Production and Technical Operations, CBS Television Distribution;

-Jeffrey Cusack, PAR ’19, Senior Managing Director, National Sales Manager, Nuveen Investment LLC;

-Marc Landanyi, M.D., PAR ’18, Chief of Molecular Diagnostics Service, MSKCC;

-Donna Morris, PAR ’19, Executive Vice President, Customer and Employee Experience, Adobe;

-Philip Rielly, PAR ’20, Vice President, President of Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group; and

Jean Wynn, Marymount ’80, PAR ’20, Managing Director and Head of Corporate Banking & Public Finance, The Bank of New York Mellon Corp.

Listen to the discussion:

A common theme for the parents, most of whom offer formal summer internships to students, was hiring. Morris suggested that graduates focus less on their resumes and more on their networks, particularly those they build and maintain on LinkedIn. Maintaining a robust digital presence is key, she said, to creating their own brand, irrespective of whether they’re an introvert or an extrovert.

Cusack noted that he’d landed nearly every job he had through a contact. But even then, he cautioned, you should go into an interview prepared to do more than just answer questions.

“For me, the interview doesn’t start until you ask me questions about my company,” he said. “I don’t even care if you’ve got information wrong; I just want to see you’re taking the initiative.”

Dr. Landanyi’s advice for succeeding in STEM fields was to seek out colleagues who are smarter than you. “Be aware of what you don’t know, and always challenge yourself to discuss topics that others know more about than you,” he said. “If you’re the smartest one in the room, find another room.”

Wynn said the financial sector is undergoing exciting changes due to increased digitization and an embrace of what she called a Silicon Valley kind of mindset. The Bank of New York Mellon Corp dates back to Alexander Hamilton, but is working with emerging technologies such as Blockchain.

“It’s quite challenging for institutions that are old and established to change their culture, but that can lead to a tremendous amount of opportunity for young people to come in and be a part of that change,” she said.

Rielly extolled the virtues of a liberal arts education, and suggested that would-be entrepreneurs need not know exactly what they want to do upon graduation. Find a company that you’re interested in, and really get to know the industry it occupies, he said. That way, you figure out how to build a better mouse trap, so to speak.

“Be a big sponge. Soak up everything you can,” he said.

Dr. Landanyi concurred, noting, “It’s never too late for STEM.”


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