A near-capacity audience of more than 300 students, faculty, and alumni gathered in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre on Thursday, November 2, 2017, for the latest event in the School of Business Dean’s Special Speaker Series, “Careers in Finance, Economics, and Accounting Summit,” which featured experts from various sectors of the financial world. The program included several keynotes and a panel of executives, each of whom shared details of their own career paths, imparted advice about strategies for landing one’s first job and career advancement, and emphasized the importance of networking.
Organized by CSI Macaulay Honors College and School of Business alumnus Thomas Brigandi, Class of 2012, the event featured Nicolas Firzli, Director General and Head of Research at the World Pensions Council, and Jonathan Prin, Partner and Director of Research at an emerging markets-focused hedge fund. Following the keynotes, a panel led by Kyrill Firshein, Executive Director at a large global investment bank, featured Raj Imteaz, a Managing Director at a bulge bracket investment bank; Sammy Suzuki, Equities Portfolio Manager with a large global asset management firm; Deepika Sharma, Director at a large global asset management firm; Katherine Brigandi, a Senior Consultant at a large accounting firm; and Steven Tock, Vice President at a large global investment bank, each of whom represented different aspects of the financial world. The speaking portion ended with a presentation by Miguel Mancebo, the Founder of the Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP).
In her opening remarks, Dean Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business, introduced the program by noting that Mr. Brigandi, who has already had such career success, had expressed a great desire to share with current CUNY students and had been working on the program for several months. Dean Holak also added that the event could not be more perfectly timed, given the near completion of the Con Edison Trading Room in the School of Business, a special experiential learning venue.
Following the keynotes and panel discussions, Dean Holak invited audience members to a reception and networking session, noting that this was an opportunity to put into practice all that they had just learned from the experts. Bharat Sharma, a senior Economics major in the School of Business, said, “During the networking part of the event, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with several of the esteemed members of the panel. Talking about the job process, figuring out which part of the financial world was right for me, and seeking out help was a big part of the discussion. I was able to collect business cards and LinkedIn profiles to keep in touch. The event provided me with an opportunity I could not have dreamed of having.” Finance and Accounting student Thomas Odessa remarked that as a result of the speakers referring to the importance of technology in the finance industry, he has been inspired to continue his career in finance with an increased focus on technology and relationship management.
In addition to Mr. Brigandi and his sister Katherine – also an alum of the Macaulay Honors College and the School of Business and a member of the speaker panel – other alumni of the School of Business were present in the audience at the invitation of Dean Holak. As more recent graduates of the School, they also found the advice from the speakers to be relevant and extremely useful, and at the networking reception following the panel presentations, they were also able to connect with current students to offer guidance and insights.
One aspect common to all of the speakers’ presentations related to being outgoing and confident, and demonstrating determination and leadership through personal connections. Professor George Wang, Chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance in the School of Business, spoke about the importance of this point, saying that companies want to recruit employees with strong characteristics in the EQ (Emotional Quotient) as well as the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) side of their development. Dr. Wang commented, “The speakers and panelists of the event provided many insights and personal experiences, which, I believe, will be instrumental and beneficial for our students in this regard.”
Nicole Agu, majoring in Accounting and International Business, noted that, “Generally, the lessons I learned from the event were to have a sense of perspective, to develop effective communication skills, and to have practical networking abilities. After speaking with several speakers, I have considered leaving my comfort zone and improving my intellectual skills to discover my potential capabilities for my future career.”
The School of Business hosts many events through its Dean’s Special Speaker Series, Tuesday Business Briefs discussions, and classroom guest lecture opportunities. Students, faculty, and alumni from across the College are welcome to attend and contribute to the conversations relating to business and its place in the modern global society.