Two Dean’s Executive Forums Generate Relevant Dialogue Surrounding Topics That Matter Most

Two Dean’s Executive Forums Generate Relevant Dialogue Surrounding Topics That Matter Most

Panel members at the Dean's Executive Form

“Women’s Leadership in the 21st Century” panel

Fairfield Dolan welcomed alumnae and Horizon Kinetics CEO Murray Stahl to delve into women’s leadership in the 21st century and the role of cryptocurrency.

Last semester, Fairfield Dolan hosted two Dean’s Executive Forum events open to students, faculty, staff, and the Fairfield community. The goal of the Forum was to educate principled and socially responsible business leaders and prepare students for future leadership roles.

In February, six alumnae who were friends and roommates during their undergraduate years returned to campus to comprise a powerhouse panel of women business leaders. The 2004 alumnae reflected on their professional pathways and career experiences, led a general discussion regarding women in the workplace, and explored the future of women’s roles in leadership positions. A second Dean’s Executive Forum took place in March featuring Murray Stahl, CEO, co-founder and chairman of the board of Horizon Kinetics. Stahl’s discussion explored the origin of cryptocurrency and how it will alter the modern world of banking. Michael Puleo, PhD, assistant professor of finance, moderated the audience Q&A following Stahl’s keynote. Read highlights from the events:

“Women’s Leadership in the 21st Century”

During a conversation that spanned topics from interning to mentoring, the six alumnae shared that they have remained in touch despite living at times in different regions with careers at major corporations, including Bank of America, JetBlue Airways, and Bloomberg. Nancy Altobello ’80, a Fairfield University Board of Trustees member and former EY global vice chair for talent moderated the panel discussion. She pointed out the longevity that all the panelists have had working for their respective employers. Altobello then noted statistics showing how women are more likely to move into leadership roles if they stay at one company. “These women did a lot of things in the same corporation that led them to where they are now,” said Altobello.

During her nearly 15 years at JetBlue Airways, Ursula Hurley '04 has served in many roles. She shared how she finds herself in a lot of rooms that are all male, so she has made it a point to mentor women colleagues. “We all need to be aware to fix this issue of women in leadership roles,” said Hurley. “I have focused on mentoring women to help them navigate the organization and their careers.”

A barrier to female leadership can come down to a lack of confidence, some panelists said. Colleen Tycz ’04, MBA’11, director, national account manager, Retirement Solutions Division at Legg Mason Global Asset Management, urged students to be comfortable “promoting your success.”

Regarding work-life balance, the panelists emphasized how years of long hours have earned them the opportunity to occasionally work outside the office. “My boss knows I’m going to get my work done,” said Lindsay Muldoon '04, vice president of Northern Trust Global Fund Services and Dolan Advisory Board member. “I can’t forget I have two little ones at home. I continue to prove I deserve flexibility.”

Putting in long hours early on during internships can lead to job offers, panelists said. While studying marketing and finance, Lindsey Moore ’04 wasn’t sure which line of work to eventually pursue. “I remember cold calling businesses on the Post Road in Fairfield that I found in the Yellow Pages with an offer of free help – consumer marketing, fashion, sports marketing, you name it, I did it,” said Moore, who was offered a job with Bloomberg after interning there. She is now CFO of Bloomberg Enterprise Sales and Analytics.

Lindsay Sampson Bishop ’04, partner at K&L Gates, and Natalie Reska ’04, managing director and head of Americas Institutional Commodities Sales at Bank of America, also joined the panel.

“Cryptocurrency - What, Why, and How it’s Changing Society”

Murray Stahl, chief executive officer, co-founder, and chairman of the board of Horizon Kinetics, an independently owned and operated investment advisor founded in 1994, believes cryptocurrency can help solve the problem of inflation, while enabling many people to better their financial lives. Cryptocurrency – the cutting-edge digital currency – shows great promise in its ability to help lift people out of the cycle of poverty, he said.

“[Cryptocurrency] is the idea of creating a non-inflation currency,” said Stahl. In essence, cryptocurrency is digital money or virtual currency that is not issued by a federal government. (Bitcoin is the best-known example). In Japan, it’s considered legal tender, and in the U.S., it’s considered property. Cryptocurrency is bought and sold online, and according to Stahl, can help end inflation partly because of blockchain, a mechanism by which people can individually validate the number of units of currency. By knowing the amount of units of currency that exist, “you can solve the problem of inflation,” he remarked. It basically acts like a public ledger that millions of people are able to access. Plus, blockchain technology is “unhackable” and users’ personal data is very secure.

Stahl pointed out that many people can’t afford to take a risk with the limited amount of money they have to invest. And most face an uphill battle reaching their financial goals by investing traditionally. Inflation can be a big impediment, particularly in countries that do not have stable currencies. “You want to buy a house or pay college tuition,” Stahl noted. “You’re not going to hit your goal. You can’t break out of poverty, because you can’t afford to take a risk.” But with cryptocurrencies, that risk is constrained, Stahl emphasized. “You want to invest money that is survivable [if you lose it].”

The use of cryptocurrency has a great social impact, too. Individuals – from those with doctorates to those who don’t have high school diplomas – are connected through the currencies and they all have a stake in it. “It involves the greatest interconnection of human beings,” said Stahl. “It makes me feel good about the world and optimistic about the future.”

Tags:  Dolan School


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