School of Management Newsletter


March 2015


 Melan Scholarship Winner Jenna Snyder: An Update

SnyderReaders of the October newsletter were introduced to Jenna Snyder ‘15, this year’s recipient of the Eugene Melan Scholarship in Business Leadership. As part of this award, Jenna is spending this semester out of the classroom, working on an independent study project and shadowing local banking executives.

We caught up with Jenna to ask about her recent activities. “I meet weekly with Professor Joanne Gavin and Professor David Gavin,” she says. “I was certified in research training after taking a nine-hour online course, so I can now conduct research for Marist. I’ve started compiling research on human behavior; ultimately, we’ll use that information to create a survey that will look at human behavioral roles in the field of coaching.”

Jenna has also spent a day shadowing Lisa Marie Cathie, Marist Trustee and president and CEO of Ulster Savings Bank. “It was a lot of fun, and not what I was expecting at all,” says the senior. “In my previous internships I’ve had a lot of exposure to big corporations, but I had never stepped foot into a smaller office. I got to experience a tight-knit community culture within a corporation – the CEO knows all the employees, and the employees really know the management team.” One meeting left a significant impression: “I sat in a boardroom with the CEO, and I was surrounded by seven females and three males. It was heartwarming to be in such an important financial situation where the majority of the attendees were female. It made me less fearful about my gender in this industry.”

After graduation, the Pennsylvania native will head to UBS in Manhattan, where she’ll be part of a two-year training program in the Swiss bank’s wealth management division. “That’s where my skills and talents and interests align the best,” she says. “My ultimate career aspiration is to be a portfolio manager for a separately managed account at a wealth-management bank.”

For now, though, this up-and-coming banker has nothing but praise for her future alma mater. “Marist has done everything for me,” she says. “They’ve been incredible throughout the process.” 

 The Bureau of Economic Research: A unique Hudson Valley service 

Disseminating important fiscal information about the Hudson Valley region is the main goal of the Bureau of Economic Research, which operates under the aegis of the School of Management. “Essentially, the bureau provides regional economic analyses as a service to the community,” says Economics Professor Christy Huebner Caridi, who currently heads the office.

Founded about 20 years ago by Economics Professor Ann E. Davis – Prof. Caridi took the reins eight years ago – the bureau releases approximately six reports each year on a range of topics of interest to business people as well as the general public. “We issued a migration report last month,” says Prof. Caridi. “In a couple of weeks, an income report will come out; and we just started to work on an employment report. We concentrate on data sets that are not readily accessible to the public.”

Students – sometimes business majors, sometimes not – are often employed by Prof. Caridi to help with report preparation. “One of the purposes of the bureau is to help the student get used to working with data, analyzing it, and understanding the pitfalls associated with it.”

Once a report is published, the College Advancement office releases a press release about it; the findings often are covered by local media outlets – and occasionally those in New York City “if the contents have some bearing on the economic conditions in the city itself,” says Prof. Caridi.

She feels the bureau’s work fills a vital gap in the region’s information market. “There are no major news outlets in the Hudson Valley that can track economic data on a consistent basis,” she says. “As a result, it’s very hard for businesses and individuals in this area to get a sense of what’s really going on within their own community.

“Besides the census – which can be quite complex – there’s no dedicated economic information base other than the bureau.”

 Ethics Bowl team competes in national finals

For the second year in a row, a Marist College team took part in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl national competition, which was held in Costa Mesa, California, on February 19-22. Thirty-two squads from colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada went head-to-head, arguing the ethical implications of 15 case situations dealing with business and political affairs as well as social and personal relationships. With barely six weeks to prepare for the finals, the five-student Marist team worked diligently; although their final place in the standings is not yet known, “I thought they did a wonderful job, as they always do,” said Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Professor Joanne Gavin, who – along with Professor Ken Coletti – coaches the team.

Ethics“It was a great opportunity for our team to collaborate with each other,” says Madeline Kachou ’15 about the pressure of the national contest. “We work off of each other's strengths, and are able to recognize weaknesses.” Kachou’s teammate, Corinne Bruckenthal ’15, concurs. “The competition is always very challenging because we are a group of business majors competing against philosophy majors for the most part. But the challenge is half the fun. It doesn't matter who wins or loses (although, don't get me wrong, it's great to win), but it's more about continuing to learn, grow, and be challenged.”

Congratulations to the team on their continued success.

Ethics Team members (from left) Ben DelGiorno ’16, Jenna Snyder ’15, Madeline Kachou ’15, Corinne Bruckenthal ’15, and Ryan Ellman ’15

THIS JUST IN: Help the Ethics team attend April contest in the Big Easy

The Ethics team hopes to get one more chance to flex its mental muscle in competition – this time against fellow business students. But they need your help to do so.

While at the annual conference of the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics – which hosts the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl – the students attended a program given by author Thomas White based on his book, Socrates Comes to Wall Street. As Prof. Joanne Gavin tells it, “White approached the team after the presentation to chat with them, as they were clearly the only students in the audience.” After learning that all of the team members are business students, White invited the group to the International Business Ethics Case Competition, which will be held in New Orleans on April 21-23. The five teammates are anxious to book their plane tickets, since this would be the first time they would compete against teams comprised of their true peers – other business students.

In order to attend the competition, the team is holding a fund-raising campaign to offset some of the costs involved – and they are asking for your help. To make a contribution:

      • Visit www.maristconnect.marist.edu/give
      • Enter the amount of your contribution in two places: under “Total Gift Amount” and under “Other Designation”
      • In the box labeled “Please direct my gift to,” enter “Ethics Trip to New Orleans”

Thank you!

 HOPE 2015 focuses on the plight of NYC’s destitute

Outdoor temperatures were hovering around 20 degrees on the night of Monday, February 9, when approximately 3,500 volunteers took part in HOPE 2015, a street survey that attempts to count the number of homeless people in New York City.

Among the volunteers were Jay Bainbridge, assistant professor of public administration, and current MPA student Peter Zayas ’15. This initiative is close to Prof. Bainbridge’s heart: he implemented HOPE (short for Homeless Outreach Population Estimate) during his tenure as assistant commissioner of policy and research at the Department of Homeless Services. “In 2005, we did the first-ever homeless street count in New York City,” he says. “I designed and helped organize it for six years; in the last six years I’ve been volunteering.”

On the evening of the count, volunteers attend sessions at one of 28 training sites spread throughout the five boroughs. Teams of three to five people then head off to canvass specific areas – which have been identified as locations where the homeless might be found – from midnight until 4 a.m. Each person encountered is asked about his/her housing situation; based on the answers received – and personal observation – the volunteer determines if the subject is indeed homeless, and offers help. “One of the closing remarks the volunteers make is ‘Do you want to come in to shelter?’ That doesn’t happen often,” says Prof. Bainbridge. “The count is done in the winter because those who are out on such a cold night are the ‘chronic’ homeless – and that number is one that everyone wants to bring to zero.”

Zayas, a retired police officer, was assigned to cover the Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College subway station. He counted 35 people that he deemed to be homeless; four of them were transported to shelter. “The amount of people there surprised me,” he says. “It’s a hidden side of New York that you don’t see.”

The survey’s results are used to guide the work of nonprofit organizations that provide outreach services to New York’s neediest citizens – of which there are about 3,300, says Prof. Bainbridge. “The hope is we’ll improve lives by doing this,” he states. “It’s a great feeling to be involved with 3,500 people who show up on a cold winter night to witness this big issue, and who are committed to seeing something done about it.”

Volunteer recruitment will begin in late November for HOPE 2016 (visit www.nycservice.org/opportunities/4852 for more information).

 Alumni Spotlight: Christine Barnett Gagnon ’03

Gagnon“My parents always joked about how detail-oriented I was, and how I was good with numbers,” says Christine Barnett Gagnon. “Accounting seemed like a logical career path.”

Indeed. A resident of East Northport, Gagnon was recently singled out as a “40 Under 40” business leader of distinction by the Long Island Business News. After earning her bachelor’s degree, the 2003 graduate accepted a job with EisnerAmper LLP; today she is a senior audit manager working out of the firm’s Syosset office,

A certified public accountant, Gagnon deals with clients in industries that run the gamut from publishing and manufacturing to entertainment; audit and assurance, financial services, and working with hedge funds and retailers are her special areas of expertise. Mentoring staff members and recruiting new employees are also part of her job description. “Get involved in your community,” she advises soon-to-be graduates. “Having that experience on your resume is key.”

Community service is an important part of Gagnon’s own life: she serves as board secretary for Splashes of Hope, a nonprofit that creates artwork for children’s hospitals and other healthcare facilities; she also coordinates her office’s annual volunteer week.

Gagnon and her husband, Sean, are the parents of two children, Brielle and Tyler. “EisnerAmper is a great company for me right now,” she explains. “They offer flexible working arrangements that give me the chance to be a mom and continue on my career path, both of which are so important to me.”

Regarding her college years, “I loved Marist,” Gagnon says plainly. “I had great accounting professors, but two who stand out – and that I still keep in contact with – are Rob Walsh and Greg Tully. They were a big influence on my career.”

She urges students to maintain the friendships formed during their undergraduate days. “Keep in touch with the people you meet at Marist,” she says. “You never know when you’re going to need to network. College is a great place to start those relationships, and build on them in the business world.”

Learning from the pros

RoundtableThe importance of a liberal arts-based education – combined with specialization in an area of interest and a commitment to lifelong learning – was the overriding theme at the Finance Roundtable held on February 27 at the Hancock Center. The expert panel was composed of five noteworthy Marist alumni – Bryan Christian (BATS Global Markets); David DeVito (Madison Asset Management); Sean Keating (CME Group); Christine Martello (KCG Holdings LLC); and Jamie McGurk (Andreessen Horowitz). The panelists described their own professional experiences – and enumerated the traits that they feel help build successful careers – to approximately 100 students and faculty members. The Q&A session that followed included questions on the value of getting work experience before entering graduate school, and the effect that technology will likely have on the future job market. The session ended with a networking event, which offered students the opportunity to meet the panelists and learn more about the industries each represented.

Pictured above from left: Sean Keating, Jamie McGurk, and Christine Martello (in the background) converse with students after last month’s Financial Roundtable 

Real-world experience

On February 25, the annual Johnson & Johnson Case Competition was held at the Hancock Center. Four teams of sophomores and juniors – each of whom had been nominated by a faculty member in order to participate – worked with senior team leaders to develop and present a viable plan for producing and selling mouthwash. “The case provides options on how to strategically position mouthwash from a product development, sales/selling, marketing, packaging, and pricing standpoint, ultimately backed by a financial and risk analysis,” explains Katelyn Gallanty ’15, one of the team leaders. After presenting their strategy, each team defended its decisions to a panel of judges that included two representatives from Johnson & Johnson, the well-known pharmaceutical company.

JohnsonAt the end of the day, the blue team was victorious. “They conducted the most sophisticated financial analysis that defended their challenge choices,” says Professor Helen Rothberg, who organized the event. She feels this exercise has multiple benefits for students. “They have the opportunity to work on a real business case with students across level. It also gives them an opportunity to engage with business people in the field. And they have the experience of doing professional work in a professional way.”

Judges and members of the winning blue team at the Johnson & Johnson Case Competition (from left): Bureau of Economic Research head Professor Christy Huebner Caridi; Department Chair of Organization & Environment Professor Elizabeth Purinton-Johnson; Team Leader Daniel Sheldon ’15; Kevin Jones ’17; Arthur Revellese ’16; Team Leader Colin Rothwell ’15; Johnson & Johnson representatives Jesse Shea and Erin Clark; Margaret Grussing ’17; Andrew Hassett ’16; Brittany McEwan ’17; and Investment Center Director Brian Haughey 

 Getting to know… Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Pamela Harper

HarperA Midwesterner, Pamela Harper originally hails from Indiana. She earned her undergraduate degree in industrial management/industrial engineering “not too far from home” at Purdue University. After working for General Electric for 11 years, she enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, completing her degree in management strategy in 2012 – the same year she began teaching at Marist. Professor Harper makes her home in the town of Melrose near Albany with her husband Timothy Harper – a B-school professor at Skidmore College – and her two children, 14-year-old Brianna and 11-year-old Timothy II.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your career at GE?

A: I actually started in their IT management training program, but I quickly learned that IT was not the place for me. My interest was more strategic: I really wanted to understand how all the different business functions fit together, and how business leaders make decisions. So I accepted a position on GE’s internal corporate audit staff. That allowed me to travel from GE business to GE business in the U.S., in Europe, and in Asia. It was a fantastic opportunity – it allowed me to see the world, but also to understand how the different strategic business units fit together.

Q: Your online bio says that you have a GE Six Sigma Black Belt certification. What is that?

A: When I was at GE, the leader was Jack Welch. He wanted the company to base decisions on what the customers were truly expecting – and to be able to quantify that. Six Sigma is a statistical methodology for quantifying customer expectations, and identifying any gaps between what the company is delivering and what the customer is expecting.

Q: Eventually, though, you decided to get your doctoral degree.

A: Yes. I entered RPI realizing that I enjoyed teaching, but I also enjoyed research – and the program afforded me both of those opportunities. I focused on business strategy, but my area of research was corporate social responsibility.

Q: How did you get to Marist?

A: My husband has a very dear friend who graduated from Marist, and always talks so well of it. So I applied for a position based on my experience at GE and with business strategy – it all fits together so well, with marketing underpinning so many choices that have to be made.

Q: What do you enjoy about teaching?

A:  Introducing students to a different way of seeing the world, and how they fit into it. And I do enjoy when students are inquisitive, when they push back a bit. That gives me an opportunity to share with them some of my experiences from the business world.

Q: When there’s spare time, how do you like to spend it?

A: I volunteer quite a bit, and enjoy doing it. I’m on the board of the Albany County Land Bank; we are attempting to remove the blight. There are a lot of buildings that are eyesores as a result of the economic downturn. At my church I organize many community service events. Once a year, I organize a major event in downtown Albany where we attempt to connect service organizations with those people who are most in need of them. We usually draw about 1,000 people. I really try to be a benefit to society in whatever small or large way that I can.

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