Finance Alumni Trade Secrets

The ringing of the Closing Bell may have signified the end of trading, but the day was far from over for Saint Peter’s College alumni. On December 1, more than 50 alumni, ranging from the class of 1966 to the class of 2010, headed to the heart of New York’s Financial District for the launch of the College’s Alumni in Finance Network. Surely, keynote speaker Frank D’Amelio ’79, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Pfizer, Inc., was a draw. 

Through the years, thousands of Saint Peter’s College graduates have made the journey from students in the halls of McDermott to professionals representing many different careers in finance. From multinational companies to startups, alumni have made their mark on the business world.

Founded by Robert A. Cutro ’75, managing director (retired) of Barclays Capital; John J. Licata ’95, chief commodity strategist of Blue Phoenix, Inc.; Justin McKeon, CPA ’97, director, Corporate Audit, of Pfizer, Inc.; and James G. Rizzo ’81, managing director of Dahlman Rose & Co., the Alumni in Finance Network unites Saint Peter’s graduates from all eras who have made this journey – to learn and exchange ideas, to expand and explore new professional relationships, and to connect and engage with the College.

“During these economic times, networking is so crucial. The older alumni can certainly help the newer ones. Folks in the workplace are always helping the younger ones,” said Rizzo, host committee member and emcee for the evening.

The exclusive event took place at Bayard’s in Hanover Square, where guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while mingling with former classmates and future mentors.

Kaloyan Hristov ’08, who currently works for QualityHealth, scanned the guest list at the registration table and was pleased to see some familiar names. He looked forward to reconnecting with the alumni who advised him during his days as an undergrad and Accounting Society president at Saint Peter’s. “This is a good opportunity to network and to stay involved with the College.”

Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s College, welcomed the crowd, encouraging everyone to participate in programs such as the new Alumni in Finance Network, one that is “both beneficial to alumni and the future of the College.”

“Just as when you were students, Saint Peter’s College continues to educate students who are capable of taking on the challenges we are facing during these volatile economic times,” he remarked. “The response to this event this evening is a reflection on the College’s foothold and leadership in the name of finance.”

From the time he took center stage to deliver his remarks until the end of the Q&A session, D’Amelio completely engaged the audience.

Born and raised in Hoboken, D’Amelio attended high school at Saint Peter’s Prep before heading off to the University of Florida to play football. He suffered an injury his freshman year, which he now says “was the best thing that ever happened to me” since it brought him to Saint Peter’s College. “I wouldn’t be here today without Saint Peter’s College, both professionally and personally.”

D’Amelio discussed his experience in the financial sector, from his days at AT&T and Alcatel-Lucent to his current position at Pfizer, Inc. He then entertained questions from the audience about effective management, the current economic downfall and successful networking.

D’Amelio also provided advice for new graduates as well as those who have been in the field for years, “Do what you do exceptionally well. Try to take assignments that have a lot of visibility. Make yourself special. Make yourself competitive. And always challenge and intellectually stretch yourself.” In closing, he encouraged everyone to work “the big Saint Peter’s College network.”

Leo Alexander ’00, who now owns his own business, thoroughly enjoyed D’Amelio’s remarks. “The fact that [Saint Peter’s] brought in someone of this caliber is amazing,” he said. Alexander enthusiastically continued, “The Q&A session was great and being right here on Wall Street is spectacular. It really shows the new image that Saint Peter’s is trying to project. Once a smaller, urban microcosm in Jersey City, the College now has expanded its network nationally.”

Following the Q&A session, guests continued their discussions over coffee and dessert. The evening renewed past relationships for some and formed new ones for others but one thing was certain: The newly formed Alumni in Finance Network is going to be a lasting group for days to come. “This was a good first run. Having Frank as the speaker was fantastic and he will be hard to top. We are looking forward to growing the Network for our event in March,” added Rizzo.

The next Alumni in Finance Network event is scheduled for March 2011. Those interested in contacting fellow alumni in the finance industry can join the Saint Peter’s College Alumni in Finance group on LinkedIn.