Conversations With World Class Business Leaders

Conversations With World Class Business Leaders

Image of Margaret Keane

Synchrony Executive Chair of the Board of Directors Margaret Keane

Continuing its tradition of excellence, Fairfield Dolan held online speaker events for the University community and national audience led by dynamic leaders.

Gary Pinkus, chairman of North America for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., spoke March 4 on “Rethinking Capitalism.” While acknowledging that capitalism has doubled GDP per capita over the past 50 years and lifted “maybe a billion people” out of poverty around the world, he focused on the growing consensus that the system is no longer working as it should.

“The thought used to be that a rising tide lifted all boats,” he said. “Now, we realize that it’s floating only two-fifths of the boats, and that doesn’t work over time. The bottom three-fifths are disproportionally people of color, and Covid has brought this into the spotlight.” As for business, returns are disproportionate for superstar companies and individuals, while businesses in the “wrong” (e.g., non tech or manufacturing) fields have seen diminished returns. He cited the enormous wealth gap as perhaps the greatest threat to capitalism.

Another problem: “Capitalism, even at its best, has never been good at responding to major societal issues, such as climate change.”

Pinkus argued that a change from the concept of shareholder value as the sole focus of a company to one that values stakeholders such as employees and society in general would be both more productive and more profitable for companies.

Fairfield Dolan also hosted Synchrony Executive Chair of the Board of Directors and former CEO Margaret Keane who delivered the annual Dolan Lecture on March 30.

Dean Zhan Li, DBA, noted that Keane has been repeatedly named to Fortune’s list of “Most Powerful Women,” while American Banker has for 13 years listed her as one of the top 25 most powerful women in finance. Keane’s talk, “From the Call Center to the C-Suite,” coincided with Fairfield’s celebration of 50 years of women on campus.

Asked for her advice excelling within a corporation, Keane emphasized the importance of broadening one’s skillset, “even if it means taking a lateral move,” and noted that she was once asked to take on a lower position so she could gain experience in another area. “It was a pivotal move for me,” she said.

Keane also stressed the importance of keeping up with technology, AI, and big data. “That’s the name of the game. Even if you’re not the expert on it, you need to understand where it’s going.” Flexibility is another helpful trait, she added.

“But the most important thing is to build relationships,” she said. “I do think this is harder now as we are working virtually, but for your career and for your own personal satisfaction, the relationship aspect of work is so important.”

One thing every woman needs to work on, added Keane: “That little voice in their head that says ‘How'd I get here? I don't think I belong here. I'm not the smartest person in the room. [There are] 10 people smarter than me.’ That voice holds women back and you’ve just got to keep fighting through it. Believe me, it’s happened to me.”

The pandemic required Fairfield Dolan to change the format of lectures as they moved online, “but we continue to spotlight dynamic models in leadership for our students, all of whom told us they appreciated the candid insights these speakers had to offer,” said Dean Li.

A tradition of excellence is one of the reasons Dolan continually ranks high on US News and World Report’s list of Best Graduate Business Specialty Programs. In the 2022 rankings Fairfield’s accounting and marketing programs are the only programs in Connecticut ranked in the Top 20, and finance ranks second after Yale. Business analytics is the only Connecticut program to make the Top 25 too. Dolan's accounting, business analytics, finance, and marketing programs are ranked in the Top 25 nationally.

“We’re very pleased to once again see a well-known publication like US News recognize our programs,” said Dean Li. “But the most important value statement is the outcomes we see for our students, both undergraduate and graduate, as we continue to pursue Fairfield’s mission of developing ethical leaders with a global mindset and a sense of social responsibility.”

Tags:  Dolan School

Last modified: 06-14-21 4:17 PM

20210614

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