All Business At Leaders Conference

Photo by Nathaniel Sheidlower.

Being passionate about a career and always having and pursuing goals are the keys to success.

That was the message a panel of successful business leaders conveyed to SUNY New Paltz students on Monday, Oct. 27 by sharing their stories.

Roughly 300 people took in advice from prominent business leaders Mickey Jamal, Fitzernaz Drummond, Nora Fay and Ken Pasternak.

Jamal, Founder and CEO of CPD Energy, told how he started his business with one gas station in 1981 and through innovation and persistence, grew it to over 200 locations. He stressed the importance of knowing and changing with industry, quoting advice he lives by, “grow or go.”

As Vice President of Treasury at Deutsche Bank, Drummond makes sure the bank has enough money to conduct its business on a daily basis. He said he got on the radar by always being involved and relevant in as many things as possible. Drummond said he decided he wanted to be in management early on and always led groups he was in. He added finance to his studies for the challenge.

Fay spoke to students about her past before being the vice president of national accounts at Lucifer Lighting, a company that designs lighting fixtures.

“Education is never wasted,” she said.

Originally studying anthropology and biology and on a path to get her masters and teach, Fay left school to help her mother and found her passion in architecture while working at an investment firm. She said she used the studying techniques she learned at SUNY New Paltz to pass the LEED AP exam and impress her colleagues.

Pasternak, founder and executive chairman of the KABR group, was an education major but went into finance after witnessing the power of supply and demand at used car auctions. He said it is important for students to build on their background and apply what they’ve learned to every situation.

The KABR groups acquires, manages and enhances value of commercial real estate, according to their website.

This was the first year this panel was held, according to Program Director of Development and Foundation Lisa Sandick, event coordinator. She said a similar event will take place next year. The goal of an event like this one is to allow students to learn from successful alumni and community leaders, she said.

“These events are opportunities for the speakers to be involved with the life of the college and give back a little to the students,” Sandick said.

Brad Miro, a fourth-year mathematics major, said he enjoyed the event.

“They know what works and what doesn’t and it’s nice that they are willing to share their knowledge,” he said.

The discussion was moderated by the School of Business Interim Dean, Kristen Backhaus.

Backhaus said this event not only benefits the students, but the speakers as well, as the students bring an enthusiasm and an uplifting spark that the speakers may not have seen in a while.

There were opening remarks from President Donald P. Christian and Michael Keegan, president of M&T Bank’s Hudson Valley division.

“We can help to engage and connect alumni and business leaders with students through events like this one,” Christian said.

Without being able to network face to face, it is impossible to succeed and thrive in the world, according to Keegan.

Tonda Highley, director of the Career Resources Center, said this event helped show students utilize the skills they have learned at SUNY New Paltz and apply them after they leave.

According to Sandick, the next event like this one will be the first Women’s Mini-Summit on March 11. Successful women from all fields will come to campus to talk with any and all students and share ideas and advice.