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School of Management

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December 2018

Career Trek attendance swells

The annual New York City Career Trek took place on Oct. 25. A total of 170 students — along with faculty members and student ambassadors — made their way into Manhattan for a full day of site visits at some of the nation’s most respected companies.

Now in its fifth year, the trek is a well-organized event. Students are grouped into tracks depending on their area of interest: accounting, finance, marketing or human resources. A new wrinkle this year was the inclusion of an all-sophomore track; previously, the trek has been reserved for upperclassmen. Each track then visited three companies, where students met with employees (some of whom are alumni) to learn about the firm and its internship/employment opportunities. Grant Thornton, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Ogilvy & Mather, Sprint and IBM were among the 26 firms that opened their doors to the students. The day was capped off with a student/alumni reception held at the Social Bar and Grill on Eighth Avenue.

Picture of students visiting Amazon

This was the first Career Trek for Ian Bopp ’20, a member of finance track number four; his group visited Neuberger Berman, Cisco and Cboe. “Cisco was very interesting,” Bopp said. “We got to see their new WebEx presentation system, which was pretty unparalleled. At the Cboe, we were able to ring the trading bell, and we watched all the market fluctuations going on – it was like being in the middle of a trading floor.”  

Bopp feels that connecting with others working in the financial industry was the most beneficial aspect of the trip. “I met many executives at each of the companies we visited. We had small-group conversations with them for a couple of hours, which was invaluable.” Would he be interested in attending again next year? “I would, definitely —100 percent.”

“This year the Career Trek drew more student interest than ever before,” said Joanne Gavin, the SoM’s associate dean for undergraduate programs. “Our 26 host companies offered us a warm welcome while providing the students with information about their future careers.”

Ethics X 2

Eleven different programs were presented during the fall semester’s Ethics Week (Nov. 26-30). With titles ranging from “Ethics in Business: Why it Matters” to “Ethics: Comparing Confucius with Utilitarian Benefits,” the talks were given by SoM faculty members — with one notable exception. Featured speaker Jeffrey Thomson discussed “Ethics and its Consequences” on Nov. 28. The president and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA®) since 2008, Thomson has helped the organization become one of the world’s fastest-growing accounting associations with more than 100,000 members. He has been included on Accounting Today’s “Top 100 Most Influential People” list for the last seven years.

Picture of sign stating Ethics, Honesty, Inegrity, Respect

Adjunct Instructor Kevin Bergin organized the “Planned Obsolescence” program on Nov. 28, which included a screening of the 2010 documentary The Light Bulb Conspiracy. Panelists included Marist Assistant Professor of Philosophy Joseph Campisi and fellow SoM Adjunct Instructor Edward Linde, who is also a senior marketing manager at IBM. “We had a spirited discussion involving fields as varied as fashion, technology, and self-regulation as well as a look at the ethical role of businesses in the 21st century,” Bergin said. “The evening was well attended, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.”

In a fitting segue, Ethics Week concluded one day before the annual Northeast Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, which was hosted by Marist College. Colleges and universities from New Hampshire to Maryland — 21 in all — sent teams to this daylong competition, which is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. The teams debate the ethical pros and cons of case studies on a variety of topics; this year’s list includes voting rights for felons, fake news, and the #MeToo movement. Tufts University was the regional winner, besting teams from Yale, Rutgers, West Point, Villanova and Marist; the winners will proceed to the 23rd national competition, which takes place in Baltimore on March 2-3.  

 MPA students grapple with cyber security

The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge took place on Nov. 2-3 at New York’s Columbia University. Sponsored by Morgan Stanley, the challenge is a unique competition designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the policy challenges associated with cyber crisis and conflict. Part interactive learning experience, part competitive exercise, the competition requires teams to respond to a realistic and evolving cyber attack and analyze the threat it poses to national, international and private-sector interests.

MPA students at the Cyber 9/12 event For the first time, a team of Marist Cyber Foxes — comprised of Master of Public Administration students Michael Lembo, Patricia Peabody and James Morrow-Polio, and assisted by fellow students Greg Luchka, Chris Perch and Gerald Wen — took part in the competition. In the first round, the team defeated one of the Columbia teams before falling in the semifinals. The teams that competed in the final round hailed from Harvard, West Point and Columbia.

Faculty members Prof. James Melitski and Prof. Tony Carrizales were the team’s advisors. “The team did a great job for its first time competing, and we look forward to competing again next year,” Melitski said.

IN THE PHOTO: Prof. Tony Carrizales, Gerald Wen, Michael Lembo, James Morrow-Polio, Patricia Peabody and Prof. James Melitski


Faculty Focus

It’s been a busy fall for Professor of Strategy Helen Rothberg. On Oct. 1, she was a special guest at the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany. Her daylong duties included participating in a podcast, giving a craft talk and “Science on Tap” presentation, and speaking at the ribbon-cutting for SUNY Albany’s new Center for Leadership and Service. The following day, she was the keynote speaker and panel host at the “Women’s Blueprint: Mentors That Have Inspired Leadership” conference in Westchester County. And she was inducted into the Council of Competitive Intelligence Fellows at the organization’s annual meeting on Oct. 25-26.

SoM professors Melinda Weisberg and William S. Brown, were recognized at a Faculty and Staff Appreciation event held by the Marist women’s volleyball team. In the event program, team member and business major Nikki DeSerpa ’20 noted that Weisberg’s “charisma and attitude brightens my day, and you can tell she really cares about the students she is teaching.” Of Brown, Sarah Austin ’21 said “he takes the time to get to know his students before class and is very passionate about his job and the curriculum that he teaches.”

Professor of Public Administration James Melitski is a coauthor of E-Government and Information Technology: Concepts and Best Practices, published this fall by Melvin & Leigh, Publishers. This textbook examines how telecommunications technology can be used effectively to deliver services to the public sector; chapter topics include “Content for an Informed Citizenry,” “Digital Governance Services” and “Big Data and Open Government.” The book’s other coauthors are Marc Holzer of Suffolk University and Aroon P. Manoharan of the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

In November, three School of Management faculty members presented programs in the Emerging Leaders Program Series. Professor of Strategy Helen Rothberg’s “SWOT Your Way to Success” was held on Nov. 5, followed by Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Joanne Gavin’s “Bowling for Leaders” on Nov. 13. On the 28th, Assistant Professor of Management Pamela Harper offered “Leading with Values.” Emerging Leaders is a non-credit certificate program that helps attendees hone their leadership skills.


Alumni Profile:  Laura Massari Oris '06

There are busy people, and then there’s Laura Massari Oris; just reading her biography makes us yearn for a nap. The Westchester resident majored in business at Marist, earning her B.S. in 2006 with a concentration in finance. Currently she is a financial advisor and partner in the Massari Group, a wealth management team she founded along with her father, Peter, which is associated with Axiom Capital Management. About five years ago, she and her mother Cindy created the Flip Flop Bitch, a women’s fashion accessory that has garnered national media attention. The mom-and-daughter duo also contributed a chapter to a recently released book on female entrepreneurs. An avid dog lover, Oris is the artist behind “LaLa’s Pet Portraits,” painted depictions of man’s best friend that she sells online.  Last — but certainly not least — Oris and her husband, Pete Oris, are the proud parents of Madison, who is not yet three months old. We caught up with Laura at her Mt. Kisco home, where she filled us in on all these activities.

Q: Tell us about the Flip Flop Bitch.

A: Flip Flop Bitch is something I do with my mom. It’s a chic tote bag that folds into a wristlet; the bag can be used to carry a change of shoes when you’re out on the town. I handle the website, social media stuff and manage the orders. My mom is very creative; she’s the idea girl, and I’m the get-it-done girl.

Q: I see that the bag has been featured on the Today Show and on Page Six of the New York Post. How did you get such great publicity?

A:  The big media play we got, we did ourselves. We hired a PR firm this summer, but we had better results than they did. We attended a meet-and-greet with [Today hostess] Kathie Lee Gifford at Bloomingdale’s in White Plains, and we gifted her a bag. Two weeks later we’re watching the show, and all of a sudden the bag is on the air. They didn’t even tell us beforehand — it was amazing. For the Post, we sent a bag to [gossip columnist] Cindy Adams, and then she wrote about it.

Picture of Laura Massari Oris Q: I understand you’re an author, too?

A: Yes. My mom and I contributed a chapter to a book called Passionistas: Tips, Tales and Tweetables from Women Pursuing Their Dreams. It was put together by a group of young female entrepreneurs who wanted to relate the stories behind how they started their businesses.

Q: What tips did you offer in your chapter?

A: We feel that having a partner with complementary skills is really beneficial for your business. And we’re able to pick each other up when things don’t go well. Owning a small business is hard, and it’s easy to get discouraged. There’s always another social-media post right behind yours, vying for people’s attention.

Q: And you also paint and sell pet portraits, is that correct?

A: Yes. My business is called Lala’s Pet Portraits. They can be purchased on Etsy. Pet owners send me a photograph of their pet, and I do a painting based on that. I started two years ago, and last year around the holidays I was insanely busy; I think I completed 15 portraits.

Q: Can you recall an experience you had at Marist that has helped you in these different pursuits?

A: In Professor [Elizabeth] Purinton-Johnson’s marketing class, she had us come up with a product that could be used in a car. My group “invented” gel window clings that had a philanthropic message — and we had to figure out how to market them. I often think back to that class, and how we went through the process of sizing up our competitors, looking at what else is available, and bringing our product to market. I enjoyed that aspect of her class, and I’ve found it to be helpful.


Getting to know...David Gavin

For David Gavin, employment at Marist College is a family affair. The associate professor of management has been married for 44 years to Joanne Gavin, professor of management and the SoM’s associate dean for undergraduate programs. And their daughter, Dana, is an adjunct instructor of English in the School of Liberal Arts.

Photo of David Gavin

Although he was born in Alabama, David Gavin moved to New Orleans while still an infant — and spent the next 39 years in the Big Easy (not counting his undergrad days at Liberty University in Virginia, where he earned his B.S. in business administration). The family moved to Dallas, Texas in the early 1990s so Joanne could complete work on her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“I spent most of my early life providing for the family,” David Gavin recalls. “I worked in various industries — food service, technology, book publishing and retailing with Goodwill Industries — usually in upper management positions.” With Joanne’s degree in hand, the couple decided she would choose their next home base — which looked likely to be in Colorado at the U.S. Air Force Academy. “But then 9/11 hit,” David says. “And most government jobs — including the position at the academy — just disappeared.” Luckily, colleges in New York were hiring; after considering positions at three schools, Marist was their “hands down” choice, says David, and the family arrived on campus in 2002.

The Gavins moved to Dutchess County, and David divided his time between working as a consultant, studying for his MBA at Marist, and teaching as an adjunct in the SoM. He completed his master’s degree in 2005. “I started my Ph.D. [at SUNY Albany] immediately after with an eye toward becoming a full-time professor, which I became in 2007; I got tenure a couple of years ago.” While become an academic wasn’t necessarily a lifelong goal — David admits that completing his Ph.D. was difficult — the couple made the decision together, and based it on practicality. “Joanne and I talked about how great it would be if we had the same work schedule. And it’s true: it’s a little bit of heaven just managing the one schedule we share, with our summers off and the holidays together. It’s a great blessing for both of us.”

David Gavin says that, although he’s taught “quite a few” courses over the years, he’s currently focused on strategic management and entrepreneurship. “I’ve just put together three courses in that [entrepreneurship] emphasis, and I’ll be teaching one of them – Innovation Management and New Product Development. I also teach the MBA capping course on a rotating basis.”

Gavin was instrumental in bringing the 3 Day Startup program to the college. Offered through the University of Texas at Austin, the program — which took place on Nov. 9-11 — uses a hands-on method to teach entrepreneurial skills. More than 12,000 students have taken the course, and upwards of 135 companies have been started as a result. After researching the program, Gavin and Jay Pantaleo, director of executive programs, pitched it to Dean Lawrence Singleton, “who was enthralled with the idea,” says Gavin, “mainly because the entrepreneurship emphasis was going through its final approval from the state. It was an effort to promote the emphasis and do something good for all of our students. And Board of Advisors member David I. Newton P’17 agreed to fund it. More than 90 candidates were interested, and we invited between 50 and 60 students to attend.” [Look for more details on 3 Day Startup and the new entrepreneurship emphasis in the January newsletter.]

Having lived in several places and worked in multiple industries, we wondered what was the best piece of advice Gavin has received during his career. Perhaps not surprisingly, it comes from his wife. “When I was doing my Ph.D., I remember Joanne telling me that it’s not about intelligence, it’s about persistence. No matter what the setbacks are — and there are always setbacks — just keep moving forward toward the end zone. Those words of wisdom were instrumental for me. Eventually I got through, and I’m thrilled.”