Member News — Conversations with Titans of Business and Industry at NJPAC Provide Real-World Teaching and Learning Opportunity for Berkeley College Students
June 27th, 2018
Berkeley College students attended two events at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, NJ, that provided a window to the rise of titans of business and industry, including John Strangfeld, CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc., Ken Langone and Bernie Marcus, Co-founders of Home Depot, and Lee Cooperman, Chairman and Founder, Omega Advisors, Inc., a New York-based investment advisory firm.
On Friday, June 22, 2018, NJPAC presented a discussion on Leadership, Talent, and Culture: A Conversation with John Strangfeld at its Business Partners Roundtable. Mr. Strangfeld shared his life journey and ascent to success during a conversation with John Schreiber, CEO, NJPAC.
Mr. Strangfeld spoke about his love of learning and said he excelled beyond his first-semester 2.3 grade-point average by “closing the library four days a week.” He continued to challenge himself in graduate school in areas that were not in his comfort zone, such as public speaking. As Chairman and CEO of Prudential, Mr. Strangfeld is the leader and chief communicator for one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States and Japan, with $1.3 trillion in managed assets.
Mr. Strangfeld said people are at the core of Prudential’s success – “people who understand teamwork and collaboration, who have a sense of ownership and who are doers.”
On the topic of diversity and inclusion, Mr. Strangfeld said, “Diversity and inclusion is not just an HR box you check … it is a moral imperative and a commercial necessity.”
On the question of how college students should approach their job searches, Mr. Strangfeld said, “People have choices about where they work and with whom they do business. You are going to spend a lot of personal time and energy in your career. It’s important to identify organizations that are well-aligned with your personal values.”
Following the event, Phyllis Impraim, a student at Berkeley College in Newark majoring in Business Management, said Mr. Strangfeld’s words left an impact, including his 4 a.m. wake-up, exercise and get-to-work routine. “I am feeling really motivated. I am going to change my sleeping schedule and wake up early and get things done,” Ms. Impraim said.
“It was interesting to learn about his (Mr. Strangfeld’s) humble beginnings and how he is making a difference. Being at this event, hearing his (Mr. Strangfeld’s) story and networking with other business leaders reaffirms that I am going in the right direction,” said Khali Raymond, a Business Management student at Berkeley College.
“The lessons that John shared with us are universal lessons,” Mr. Schreiber said.
On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, Conversations with Cooperman, moderated by Lee Cooperman, brought Mr. Cooperman together with his two friends Ken Langone and Bernie Marcus, Co-founders of Home Depot. Mr. Langone and Mr. Marcus discussed their pride in America, the Trump presidency, the Amazon effect, how Home Depot is growing its $100 billion business, and the company’s culture of giving back.
“When you go into our stores those kids (associates) are special. They’re our weapon,” Mr. Marcus said.
Mr. Marcus credited Home Depot’s employee stock purchase plan with creating a culture of ownership among employees, which has resulted in greater financial rewards for the company and its associates.
All three men are philanthropists who have given generously to a variety of causes.
“We’ve gotten so much more by doing good for other people than what we give,” Mr. Langone said, adding that one of his biggest concerns for America is public education.
“It’s interesting to hear about how they are sharing their wealth,” said Markus Silvennoinen, a Berkeley College student majoring in International Business.
“What resonated with me is how Ken was pleading with us to take care of our kids by improving education,” said Charisse Panaligan, a Berkeley College student majoring in Health Service Management.
“The event was a terrific chance for our students to hear directly from some of the most accomplished individuals in the business world,” said Robert Alvarez, Professor, Accounting and Finance, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business®. “The message particularly resonated with students because both Mr. Langone and Mr. Marcus come from humble beginnings, and through education and hard work, were able to succeed tremendously at the personal level as well as make incredible contributions to the broader community. That is a journey many of our students aspire to complete as well.”