Seidenberg celebrates at the 22nd annual Leadership & Service in Technology award reception

Now in its 22nd year, the Leadership & Service in Technology (LST) award is bigger and better than ever, and this year’s celebration was an unforgettable evening.

On Monday, April 24, 2017, an impressive company of Seidenberg supporters came together as we honored Senior Executive Vice President and CIO at BNY Mellon Suresh Kumar for his pioneering leadership and innovative thinking in transforming finance and technology practices throughout his exceptional career.

Marie Wieck, Sara Chipps, Niamh Fitzsimon, and Lucille Mayer, our speakers for tonight and incredible women in technology
A major theme of the evening was women in technology as evidenced by our amazing speakers

BNY Mellon kindly provided the space and the catering for the LST awards at its downtown location. Guests enjoyed appetizers and a full bar during the networking hour before the main event. The room was packed with many of our dearest friends, including Seidenberg alumni, business partners, and friends from the Pace community. It was a warm atmosphere as people greeted old friends they hadn’t seen in a while, made new ones, and shared a fun evening and business cards alike. Seidenberg students were also present to give demonstrations of their projects facilitated by the NYC Design Factory.

Niamh Fitzsimon accepts certificate from Jonathan Hill
Niamh Fitzsimon and Jonathan Hill

When awards time came, guests were seated and Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School, introduced the first speaker of the night – our student, Niamh Fitzsimon. Niamh is an honors student, vice president of Pace Women in Tech, and resident Googler (she’s interned there twice so far and will do again this summer!).

“Because of you, I have been able to push myself above and beyond what I could imagine,” Niamh said. “You provided me a platform to grow my confidence, network, and skills, and I am extremely grateful for your contributions towards the education of myself and my peers. I am highly honored to share the effect of your donations on my community.”

Following Niamh’s remarks, Lucille Mayer, the Chief Information Officer of Client Experience Delivery at BNY Mellon took to the stage to introduce the keynote speaker. Lucille has worked with the evening’s honoree Suresh Kumar for over 25 years. “Suresh is not only a visionary, as you’ll hear for yourself, but he is also a leader in championing and developing talent,” she said.

Lucille Mayer discusses success in the tech industry
Lucille Mayer on success in the tech industry

Lucille briefly discussed success in the tech industry, including the top tech trends for the year such as augmented reality, which has seen a swift increase in recent years due to the creation of virtual reality headsets and the release of mobile app games like Pokemon Go.

“Success depends upon the user or the client experience of the technology,” she said. “Technology is no longer about being the guy or the woman behind the curtain . . . technology is the business.”

She then introduced the evening’s keynote, Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain. Marie discussed the exponential growth of data and the benefits of diversity.

“Some of the stats in tech right now are quite frankly astonishing,” Marie said. “Think about data. In the last two years we have created more data than we have created as a species in the time period prior.”

She added: “Those people who can mine insights of out that data are the people who are going to accelerate their business.” Data analytics is certainly a burgeoning industry right now as companies scramble to make sense of the immense volume of data that is now collected through websites, social media, and other digital interactions.

Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain
Marie Wieck – more women on boards mean better results

Marie also spoke towards greater diversity in the workplace, particularly regarding more women in technology. “What constitutes the best performance you can get?” she asked. “New perspectives that help you see things in a different way and that is fuel for innovation.

“It’s not those who have the highest IQ but those who have the biggest EQ [emotional quotient] . . . and what brings higher EQ? More women.

“When you have three or more women on a board, you begin to get financial results.”

Marie noted that 36% of the Seidenberg School’s student base are women compared to a 20% national average – a statistic we are proud of and are committed to improve.

“You have to teach people the art of the possible . . . 74% of girls are interested in STEM, but only a third of them pursue it,” Marie said. Many of the girls who pursue STEM had mentors, teachers, counselors who pushed them.

“When you think about gender partnership, role models don’t have to be people you know. We also have to advocate for the people you don’t know.”

Marie finished with an inspirational request. “We know Pace is a trailblazer. We know BNY Mellon is a trailblazer . . . mentor a student. Share the opportunity to highlight someone who is doing something exceptional. Give people a voice. Share the wealth.”

Sara Chipps and Matthew Knell
Sara Chipps and Matthew Knell

After Marie’s keynote, alumni and Seidenberg Advisory Board member, Matthew Knell, introduced the Emerging NYC Innovator Awardee, Sara Chipps. Sara is the CEO of Jewelbots, which produces programmable friendship bracelets that can connect with other bracelets in the surrounding area, enabling wearers to send each other secret messages using code. The bracelets are aimed toward middle-school girls to encourage them to get into STEM education.

As Jonathan Hill remarked after her presentation, “Technology isn’t about selling for top dollar; it’s about giving back in some way.”

Dr. Hill then introduced the honoree of this year’s LST award.

Jonathan Hill presents the Leadership and Service in Technology award to Suresh Kumar
Jonathan Hill presents the Leadership and Service in Technology award to Suresh Kumar

Suresh Kumar is the Senior Executive Vice President and CIO for BNY Mellon, where he is leading the Client Technology Solutions organization to become the industry leader in delivering innovative solutions that enable clients and employees to succeed.

Suresh gave a wonderful presentation with excellent advice for our students and the community overall. His exemplary leadership style was apparent as he spoke: “I’m really privileged every day to work with an amazing group of colleagues all over the world,” he said.

Suresh Kumar
Suresh Kumar

“We all come from different places, different backgrounds, but each of us rely on education to get where we are. And the Pace Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems has long leveled the playing field . . . regardless of gender, ethnic background, and income.”

The LST award honoree went on to talk about how companies should embrace innovation and disruption for great results. Using Amazon as an example of a company that constantly innovates its techniques, offerings, and practices, Suresh warned against remaining stagnant, particularly when your competition does not.

He also had four ‘rules to live by’ (or at least conduct business by).

1 – Focus on execution. Being the best is better than being first

Innovation is important, but means nothing if you have a bad product. Google wasn’t the first search engine, but it was the best when it was released. Doing a phenomenal job is 1% innovation, 99% perspiration.

2 – Evolve your business model

It’s important to keep up with (and create) what people want. Suresh described a period of four phases of how business models have evolved and have to evolve to stay ahead: the arrival of the internet in the mid-90s, the social media revolution in the mid-2000s, collaborative spaces (now) and autonomous working (emerging). Successful business models were platform-based and enabled consumers and providers to get together and create something valuable

3 – Reduce latency between end users and developers

Skype had 27 engineers. What’s App had 33. Instagram had 13. What made them create such a powerful product in such a short period of time? Constant innovation, and enough people on the team!

4 – Organize innovation efforts by service

Unfortunately, the IT department in many companies is still not considered to be the backbone of operations. That said, an emerging model of IT looks promising – teams are small, self-governing, and are empowered to make decisions and make a difference in a large company. When given the freedom to innovate, IT teams can change the whole way an organization works for the better.

Students Niamh Fitzsimon and Ava Posner with advisors Matt Brown and Kim Brazaitis
Students Niamh Fitzsimon and Ava Posner with advisors Matt Brown and Kim Brazaitis

We are truly delighted to honor Suresh Kumar and his wonderful work as a leader in technology and in his work with staff at BNY Mellon.

Thank you to Suresh Kumar and BNY Mellon for your contributions to the Seidenberg School and for hosting this year’s LST Award reception, ensuring it was a fantastic night for all.

“The gifts you have provided tonight are much needed,” Jonathan Hill told guests in his closing remarks. “Thank you.”

Students were at the event presenting their projects
Students were at the event presenting their projects

Our deepest gratitude also goes out to everybody who attended the event and showed their support to the School, whether by buying tickets or donating. Thank you to Lucille Mayer, Marie Wieck, Matthew Knell, and Sarah Chipps. Thanks also go to Deth Sao, our director of development, for her unending commitment to organizing an incredibly successful event.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

An Interview with New Seidenberg Advisory Board Member and Pace Alumnus Matthew Knell, VP of Social Media and Platform Partnerships at About.com

Matt Knell headshotMatthew Knell is one of our favorite alumni for various reasons. A hardworking student who went on to an exciting career in social media and digital marketing, Matt is a thought leader in the industry, having spoken at conferences including SXSW Interactive, Social Media Week and SocialFresh, and having been featured by leading publications including Fast Company, CNBC, PR Week, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, and Advertising Age.  He also contributes regularly to publications and maintains a thriving site discussing digital media trends on Medium.

Even while leaping from success to success, Matt has never forgotten his experience at the Seidenberg School. He is always happy to attend events and lend his support – which is why we asked him to bring his expertise to the Seidenberg Advisory board (spoiler alert: he accepted).

We recently had a chance to sit down with Matt, shortly after his appointment to the board – giving us a unique chance to learn about Matt’s career, inspirations, and very particular selections for making a PB&J. Enjoy!

What motivates you to support the Seidenberg School in so many ways?

I was the first in my family to go to college, and Pace has a soft spot in my heart because of that. Scholarships and great instructors gave me a great way to get out of what could have been a very ordinary and average life. Not a bad life, but ordinary. When you have the opportunity to learn from great staff, people who really care, the community, you want to give back to that and help other people so they can have the same chances you did.

How would someone get to where you are now?

The way I’ve built my career is about being open to different things and trying things that are interesting. I was an Information Systems major, which gave me a fundamental understanding of how systems work. Learning how things are put together helps because you learn in time that everything in life has a system. Understanding the core frameworks of systems helps you figure them out. If you can understand how a system works, you can master it.

I’ve learned to be open to new ideas and, as much as possible, to be flexible in work environments. I  try to be the nicest person in the room. Relationships help you get far in life, and having a core group of people who you help and who help you is never a bad thing. I try to make the world a better place and to do the right thing by people. I don’t always get it right –  I don’t think anyone does. But, don’t let that make you afraid to make mistakes, because you’re going to. If your heart’s in the right place and your motives are pure and genuine – then you’re probably going to be alright.

For fun I took a personality test, and found out my personality type is “virtuoso”.  I think it describes me well.

Who has inspired you in life and why?

All people I know have inspired me a little bit at a time. This industry (digital media) allows people to be creative and it’s inspiring to see people problem solve when presented with new things that have never been seen before.  Each job I’ve had, I’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor to help me through things.  In terms of outside of work, I’d have to rank  Jim Henson as an absolute genius. What he built with the Muppets was genuinely amazing. I’ve always thought Kermit the Frog was very pragmatic and you see a lot of Jim in him.

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Probably respected. Treating people fair and equitably means you’re always going to do things that people don’t like. You can be kind and thoughtful in horrible moments of life, and people remember that, even if you’re doing a difficult thing.

Do you think you’d be in your position if you were a jerk?

No, definitely not. The CEO talked to a lot of people who know me and this is where being the nicest guy in the room really matters. I think good hires are a strong blend of character and talent. No one likes working with a jerk.

What do you think about when you’re driving alone in your car?

Typically what I’m gonna do next, make next, how can I make my job better – it’s forward thinking.  But you’re just as often likely to find i’m thinking about the next Mets game and where I can get a great sandwich.   

How do you make a PB&J?

Generic Wonder Bread (though I do love Trader Joe’s Texas Toast when I can get it), creamy not crunchy PB. It has to be grape or strawberry jelly, and if it’s grape, it has to be concord. Cut the crusts.

What would you do if you won $10 million in the lottery?

Besides buying a house and paying all the debts, give to animal relief organizations. They gave us all our pets; we’d like to give back. Invest in tech businesses – giving start-ups like Codapillar a chance to grow.

Matthew Knell sneakersBest gift you’ve received?

When I was a kid, I wanted a pair of Ken Griffey Jr sneakers so badly I got a job to save for them, but I didn’t end up getting them. A few years ago, they made a retro version and my wife got them for me. Getting them was a culmination of 12-year-old Matt’s delight and glee.

What were your experiences when the internet first started to roll out?

I was a junior in high school. I remember being one of the first to get on Staten Island’s internet provider. My first experience with the internet was Compuserve and I remember vividly playing text-based trivia games you’d play for $4 an hour. Email addresses were all numbers @compuserve.com

I remember AOL being the hot thing because it has pictures. Old AOL chatrooms, followed by IRC, which was the next wave of ‘how do you get on the internet?’ Then the web browser came along. When I was a junior in high school I taught myself HTML, then I started going to Pace. Having the experience of watching the internet grow was really cool.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you have to have?

Food, obviously! My wife, of course, somebody to talk to. Then probably my iPad because I can do so much, even if it doesn’t have connectivity.

You’re still on that desert island, but you now have all the items in this room: what would you build?

(In the room: a long conference table with 12 chairs. A TV, lots of snacks)

Does the island have internet access? A superentertainment system. Plus, I have Chips Ahoy!

You wouldn’t try to get off the island?

Not if I have everything I need!

Tell me about one of the items on your work desk

I have a bunch of things. A picture of my wife. A little plastic Wall-E toy, and a Wall-E and Eva, which reminds me of my wife and I. I have a LEGO business card holder – a reminder that you can always keep building on things, and if things aren’t working out you can always build them again. them. And, of course, a Pace t-shirt.

What’s the best advice you can give to technology students?

Talk to people – especially people who aren’t technology students. Get out and learn from people who are not technologists.  The number one personality type I hire is a technologist who can actually communicate. It’s wonderful to be smart and be able to build the most awesome things, but if you can’t communicate it to others, it’s just not going to happen. Go to conferences. Go to hackathons. Meet people – your 20s are for building a life.

This is New York: invent a pizza topping

Chopped up Nathan’s Fries. They get just gooshy enough that if you cook them they get soft, and they’d go great with the cheese.


Thank you, Matthew, for a wonderful conversation and we are looking forward to having you as a member of the Seidenberg School Advisory Board!

Read Matt’s Medium post about his Pace University experience.

Digital Marketing Expert Matthew Knell Offers Course at Pace University

Matthew Knell, vice president of social media and communication strategy at About.com and overall digital marketing mogul (and Pace University ‘00 alumnus!), will be leading a two-day course on tools and techniques used in integrated digital marketing at Pace’s Midtown location.

Knell is a respected digital marketer with a long background in social media strategy, web technology, and the design and development of various digital products. Alongside About.com, Knell has worked with JetBlue Airways, MTV Networks, and AOL.

Knell’s last visit to Pace

After the success of Knell’s visit last fall, we’re delighted to welcome him back for what promises to be an essential workshop for digital and social media marketers looking to update their skills and bring their marketing techniques into the future.

Digital marketing has changed greatly – and rapidly – over the years. From counting keywords to creating content with a more organic approach, it’s a field that is constantly fluctuating – and one that can be hard to keep up with.

The two-day course, which takes place on February 22 and March 1, 2014, will focus on current digital marketing techniques. Social media and the needs of the customer take on a big role in this workshop, as well as all of the assets that come together to create powerful, integrated digital marketing. Topics covered include new media marketing techniques, data-driven decision making for digital marketing, including analytics and SEO, and using digital media outlets for brand building.

The course is free to Pace University students and can be waived for faculty members wishing to attend. More details can be found on Pace’s continuing education page. Anybody interested in attending the course should contact Wilfredo Pena at wpena@pace.edu.

About.com’s Matthew Knell Gives Seidenberg His Executive Advice

About.com‘s Social Media Executive and Pace alumnus (BS/IS ’00) Matthew Knell stopped by last week to explain a thing or two about his work experiences. He has been employed at a number of positions at a number of companies, including JetBlue,  AOL, and About.com. If you recall the blog post from June, Knell was also the moderator for the AOL Social Media Salon. The students who stayed at Seidenberg last Tuesday for the free food ended up staying for the free advice Knell dished out. Not only was he highly informative about Social Media, but he covered a multitude of topics within the world of computing.

To begin with Knell’s forte, Social Media (hereby shortened to SM), a few things he was adamant about. In SM, Branding, or Website appearance, Knell stressed the importance of choosing the right font and having consistent graphics. Specifically, he said to avoid Arial and Verdana (and everyone knows that Comic Sans is the butt of all font-related jokes) and suggested trying out different fonts from Type Kit. As far as consistent graphics go, Knell used the example of the slide show banner that many websites use on their home pages; he explained that it’s visually enticing when the changing graphics have an underlying similarity to them whether it be color schemes, text placement, font, or all three.

For the students who aren’t as concerned with SM, and cared more about the programming and software related positions Knell had experienced, Knell had a few things to say. One student expressed his concern in starting a project, but having it become invalid before it is complete. He asked how Knell would deal with such a sense of failure, to which Knell’s simple reply was, “Drink.”

Everyone got a laugh out of his response before he elaborated with an anecdote. He told the group of a project he had been working on at JetBlue that had failed miserably. The airline had been trying to create it’s own reservation system, but once they were deep into the process, they realized it was necessary to use the system Sabre, which was less restrictive than an exclusive system. Knell’s advice to dealing with the failure was to learn from it and notice the signs before things go sour, and later, when a recruiter asks about it, let it be known where the faults were and they were not your own mishaps.

Everyone thanked Knell for dropping by and giving us his advice. He even looked over Seidenberg’s SM sites to give them a quick review and offered a few constructive points. We have already began implementing them into our posts! So, thank you, Matthew. It was a pleasure having you around and we hope to collaborate on similar events throughout the years.