School of Management Newsletter

October 2016

  Trekking to Success

The third annual Marist School of Management Undergraduate New York City Career Trek took place on October 6. More than 90 undergraduates traveled to the Big Apple for site visits with 19 different companies, most of which were hosted by alumni employed at each firm.

Career TrekThe purpose of the daylong event “is to help students learn what a career in their chosen field of study would look like in general and specifically in each particular company [they visit],” said Joanne Gavin, assistant dean for undergraduate programs. “They also learn how to apply for internships and jobs in those companies.”

Participants were divided into groups based on the area of business —finance, accounting, marketing, human resources — in which they are most interested. After meeting with host alumni at two or three different firms, the groups reunited for a student/alumni networking event held at the Club Quarters Midtown — a casual get-together that Sam Greene ’17 found especially helpful. “For one and a half hours, students freely interact with alumni, young and old, and get insight into their companies and their industries as a whole,” Greene said.

A School of Management student ambassador, Greene characterized the Trek as “an overwhelming success. Everyone I spoke to said they were able to effectively network with members in the industry they wish to enter, and some even had hopes of obtaining internships and jobs based on their interactions that day.”

IN THE PHOTO: SoM students and Dean Lawrence Singleton in Times Square 

Career Corner

This new monthly feature spotlights a handful of the many companies that participated in this year’s New York City Career Trek, and identifies some of the alumni and friends of the college who hosted the event at their place of business.

JP Morgan Chase: Founded in 1799, JPMorgan Chase is one of the oldest and most recognized financial firms in the world. With operations in more than 100 countries, it offers investment banking, asset management, and other financial services to consumers, small businesses and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients. The company employs upwards of 235,000 people, and has assets of $2.4 trillion. Host: Thomas D. Cassin '81, a Marist alumnus and member of the SoM Board of Advisors, is a managing director and the co-head of investment grade finance at the company.

UBS AG: This Swiss global financial services company provides wealth management, asset management, and investment banking services for private, corporate, and institutional clients. It is considered the world’s largest manager of private wealth assets, with invested assets above CHF 2.2 trillion. The company dates back to 1856, when the earliest of its predecessor banks was founded. Hosts: Frank Minerva '76, managing director, Private Wealth Management and member of the SoM Board of Advisors; and Jenna Snyder ’15

Voya Financial: Voya is an American financial, retirement, investment and insurance company. Formerly known as ING U.S., the U.S. operating subsidiary of ING Group, it was spun off as a separate company in 2013. A Fortune 500 firm, Voya has received accolades from various organizations for being a 2016 Great Place to Work, Most Ethical Company, Top Green Company, and Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality. Host: Michael H. Pratt ’99, MPA ’00, managing director and head of human resources at Voya Investment Management

For information on student internship opportunities at any of these firms, contact Internship Director Kenneth Coletti at

Boot Camp by the Hudson

ThayerAttendees at this year’s Marist School of Management Graduate Student and Alumni Leadership Weekend at West Point did more than sit through a seminar.  Led by the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG), the participants took part in serious outdoor challenges, some of which required climbing ropes, scaling walls, and walking across narrow planks.

Held on September 23-24, the weekend kicked off Friday with a dinner at the historic Thayer Hotel, which is on the grounds of the United States Military Academy.  The evening’s keynote speaker was author and marketing expert Stan Phelps ’91; Phelps is also the subject of this month’s Alumni Profile (see below). On Saturday, the TLDG faculty — most of whom are U.S.M.A. graduates — provided hands-on instruction in leadership and ethics training to the 30 current and former students.

In his Friday evening remarks, Dean Lawrence Singleton described the dual purpose of the weekend. “We hope that by the conclusion of this program, you will have developed new leadership skills that you can apply at your place of employment, and that the event gives you an opportunity to connect with fellow classmates, faculty, and alumni.”

Plans already are in the works for another grad student/alumni event to be held on campus this spring.  

Management Maven

On September 2, when most undergraduates were settling into their dorm rooms, John Guiffre ’17 was out of town. In fact, he was out of the country, presenting a research paper to the 17th annual European Community Knowledge Management Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

GuiffreGuiffre was the lead author of the paper, which is entitled "The Outside Looking In: Do Activist Investor Knowledge Management Actions Pay Off?” The coauthor is SoM Prof. Helen Rothberg. “This paper looks into how activist investors handle their stake in a publicly traded company,” Guiffre said. “Activist investors purchase large stakes in a company with the hope of enacting change. This change is often hiring a new CEO or board of directors. We found that activist investors can be successful when they utilize the knowledge and intelligence assets of the company in a deliberate manner.”

Guiffre claims he was calm during his presentation. “Prof. Rothberg made sure I was adequately prepared. I wasn't nervous, but I was definitely excited and proud of what I had done.”

Prof. Rothberg echoes that sentiment. “John was the only undergraduate [at the conference],” she reports. “He did a great job, and the paper was published in the proceedings. I am really proud of him.”

Last summer, Guiffre worked as an intern at Duff & Phelps in their portfolio valuation business. He will join the company after graduation in May.

IN THE PHOTO: John Guiffre ’17 is flanked by Prof. Helen Rothberg (left) and his mother, Cathy Alvarado, at the Belfast conference

Getting to Know You

First YearOn September 22, the Student Center dining room was the site of the School of Management Faculty Supper. Eleven faculty members and 57 first-year students shared a meal together while interacting “on a more informal basis,” said Casey Trocino, coordinator of First Year Programs and Leadership Development. “It’s a chance for students to ask the faculty questions about their program requirements, courses, internship opportunities, etc. It also serves as a good opportunity for students to meet other students within their major.”

Outside the Classroom

The college chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society for business and management scholars, has been cited by the organization to receive highest honors for the 2015-16 academic year.

“This status is indicative of a campus where academic excellence is valued and where the faculty officers of the chapter work diligently to enhance Beta Gamma Sigma’s stature on campus,” said Christina Janoski, the organization’s associate director of Collegiate and Alumni Operations. The citation includes a Leadership Scholarship, which pays for the cost of one student’s attendance at the 2016 Global Leadership Summit in Dallas, Texas on November 3-6.

Enactus Faculty Adviser Melinda Weisberg reports that eight SoM students received Leadership Awards from the organization. On October 5, Enactus National Representative Merry Tucker presented the awards to Michael Arnold ’17, Michael Bertelle ’17, Kateyn Boylan ’17, Sam Greene ’17, Morgani Imossi ’17, Samantha Lauro ’18, Amy Majkrzak ’17, and Kaitlyn Roberts ’18, each of whom has completed 100 hours of service to the community.

Members of the Marist chapter of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the honor society for economics, wrote and published the first issue of their monthly newsletter in early October. Topics covered included Gross Domestic Product, the unemployment rate, and the interest rate outlook. Jeffrey Kortina ’17 is chapter president; Ray Busch ’17 is VP, Paul Nemergut ’17 is treasurer, and Mike Bertelle ’17 is the secretary.

Alumni Profile: Stan Phelps ’91

PhelpsProfessionally, Stan Phelps says he’s on a quest. “My mission is to get companies to think more about the customers they already have, as opposed to chasing the ones they don’t have.”

Phelps is a writer and keynote speaker; through his company,, he helps clients to improve their relationship with both their customers and employees.  The company shares its name with Phelps’s first book, whose subtitle is “How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth.” In it, he discusses the concept known as “lagniappe.”  “It’s the giving of something small to another person, a little thing that can make a big difference,” he says.

Phelps maintains that, for businesses, these “little things” can mean a lot. “We now live in a world of equivalency,” he says. “There’s very little difference between products and services of one company and another. And the competition is not across town, but just a click away. So you have to stand out through the overall experience you provide — to the point that your customers are going to talk about your business to their friends and colleagues.”

A Forbes contributor, TEDx speaker and IBM Futurist, Phelps has spent his career in the marketing field. After graduating from Marist with his BS degree in 1991, he worked for a number of mainly sports-related companies and organizations including Adidas, the U.S. Tennis Association, the Professional Golf Association, and — for three years — the New York Yankees. (“They won the World Series all three years I was there,” he says.) While in the Amsterdam airport on business, he happened to run into a woman who had attended high school with him in Norwalk, Conn. He and Jennifer reconnected, got married, and now live in Cary, NC with their two sons, Thomas (10) and James (9).

He decided to strike out on his own more than four years ago. He characterizes this decision as “kind of a calling. I’d worked in marketing for almost 20 years, and the work I did was based on creating impressions and grabbing people’s attention. I did a lot of larger-than-life PR stunts. And I came to realize that this wasn’t scalable or sustainable. I thought there had to be a better way from a marketing perspective.” What followed was researching and writing “Purple Goldfish.” “Once the book came out, I got offers to speak here in the U.S., in Canada, in Sweden. And it just went from there.” Most recently, Phelps spoke at the kickoff dinner for the School of Management’s Graduate Student and Alumni Leadership Weekend in September (see item above).

Starting the Marist chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi (which, sadly, is no longer active) and competing on the tennis team are some of the college experiences that helped prepare Phelps for his career. “I look back very fondly on my time at Marist,” he says. “Those were formative years of my life, and spending them at Marist made a big difference.”

Getting to Know… Prof. Philip A. LaRocco

LaRoccoA senior professional lecturer of accounting, Philip LaRocco has taught at Marist since 2009. A native New Yorker — he grew up on Broadway and 204th Street in upper Manhattan — LaRocco attended Manhattan College after serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He went on to earn his master’s degree through an online program from William Howard Taft University in California; in addition, he is a certified public accountant and a certified financial planner. Besides teaching, he runs his own accounting firm from his home near Wallkill in Orange County, where he lives with his wife Linda, a nurse practitioner. Along with biking, reading and traveling, LaRocco lists spending time with his five grandchildren as one of his favorite activities.

Q: Please give us a brief overview of your career.

A: I started in a very small public accounting firm in New York City called Patterson and Ridgeway, where I learned to do taxes, auditing — everything in accounting — which gave me a good background. Then I went to Eltra Corporation, a conglomerate (they owned Converse sneakers) where I learned how to do consolidations. Then I moved up to Orange County and worked in several local manufacturing companies. I had had experience in a lot of different areas, so in 1985, I decided to start my own accounting business, and built an office onto my house.

Q: How many clients to you now have?

A: Over 700. We handle individuals as well as partnerships and small corporations. My son works there along with two students from the college.

Q: When and how did you start teaching?

A: In 1996 I started teaching governmental accounting as an adjunct at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. I taught there until 2008-2009. At that point, a colleague — Cynthia Krom — was hired full-time at Marist. She told me there was an opening here for a visiting instructor. For the first year I only taught in the fall, not in the spring during tax season. About a year later I was asked if I’d be interested in full-time, and I said, “Yeah, I can handle it.”  

But it’s time to cut back a little. So I’ll be retiring from here in December 2017.

Q: How difficult is it to juggle teaching while running your own business?

A: You have to be focused, good at budgeting your time, and flexible. For example, if I have an 11 a.m. class, I’ll be in my office at seven in morning. It’s a matter of planning well.

Q: Accounting seems like a pretty dry subject. How do you keep your students engaged in the classroom?

A: You have to relate stories. My background helps me because I can talk about what I have actually done in the field. I can say to the students, “This is what the book says, and it is correct  — but we do it a bit differently in the business world.” Also —as my students will tell you — I joke around a lot.

Q: If your students could take away just one lesson from your class, what would you want that to be?

A: That you have to know the fundamentals. I focus on journal entries, and even though everything is done with computers, you have to know where those numbers come from.