Dean Zhan Li, DBA, Concludes Three-Part Fall Executive Forum Series

Dean Zhan Li, DBA, Concludes Three-Part Fall Executive Forum Series

Dean Zhan Li, DBA

Bringing together industry leaders and executives to discuss current trends that have a profound impact on business and societies is the goal of the Fairfield Dolan Dean’s Executive Forum.

This semester Dr. Li held three virtual webinars focused on what graduating students can expect to encounter in today’s changing workplace.

On September 22, Tim Gately ’93, managing director and head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa Cash Equities for Citigroup, discussed the year’s upheaval in the financial industry. His talk, “Financial Industries of Post Pandemic: Investment and Careers,” was co-moderated by John McDermott, associate professor and chair of the Department of Finance.

Gately, who graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in history, acknowledged that his path into financial markets was atypical. “But the foundation I had and the breadth of the curriculum at Fairfield shaped me for a career in any direction,” he said, speaking from his home office in London. “And if you think about it, modeling risk and developing progression models is all about looking back, comparing, and predicting based on historical models.”

Gately stressed the marriage of computer science and business in preparing students for employment. “I truly believe that computer science will give students a lead in any job going forward,” he said, adding that the ability to corral data and organize it efficiently, and having a comfort level with programs like Python and C++, is essential.

Music industry executive Larry Mattera P’23, former general manager and executive vice president of Warner Brothers Records, spoke on October 20. “The Dynamics of Music Industries: Business Models and Innovation,” was co-moderated by Nazuk Sharma, PhD, assistant professor of marketing.

Although the music industry has always been driven by changes in technology, “In the last five years, the change to streaming services has been the most impactful,” he says. “The consumer used to buy the specific music he or she wanted. Now, you pay monthly for a wide range of music. We’ve changed from a sales oriented model to a market share model, and it’s forced us to think differently about driving business.”

Mattera said he’s excited about the new career opportunities opening up for graduates. Data analytics is obvious, but there is still a need for producers and engineers. On the creative side, companies always need compelling content for use online. For those interested in the music industry, “the important thing is to get in the door,” says Mattera. “That’s where you’ll make connections, and it’s those connections that will help you when you’ve identified the area you want to focus on.”

The final webinar in the series, “Defining Talent for Tomorrow – A Leading Perspective,” featured John Kinney ’93, executive vice president and chief claims officer for The Hartford; Elixabete Larrea Tamayo, partner, McKinsey and Co.; and Kia Javanmardian, senior vice president at McKinsey and Co. Professor of Management Lisa Stafford co-moderated the November 10 event.

Asked how the past year has shifted work in their organizations, all pointed to the importance of data, as well as having a company – and a workforce – that was able to adapt.

“Prior to March, about 60 percent of our staff was already remote,” noted Kinney. “But within a weekend we had to scale up to 97 percent remote. At the same time, we lost all our support in India and the Philippines. What helped was all the data we had at our fingertips. Ten years ago we could not have done this.”

Larrea agreed. “The pandemic has been a catalyst for a lot of innovation,” she said, adding that the pace of change has accelerated due to necessity this year.

Asked how today’s employees will be evaluated for leadership positions, Javanmardian noted that “it’s less about ‘Did you do the job?’ and more about ‘Are you pushing yourself and taking on new challenges without being afraid to fail? Are you building relationships? Are you trying to make the process better?’”

Fairfield Dolan is pleased to announce the next lineup of 2021 Dean’s Executive Forum speakers:

February 18: Jennifer Piepszak, CFO, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
March 4: Gary Pinkus, Chairman of McKinsey & Company, North America
April 15: Hugh Davis, President, Dynata Solutions at Dynata

 Details for how to register for the online lectures will be available soon. For questions please contact

Tags:  Dolan School


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