There was an exciting lineup at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems on both the New York City and Westchester campuses during Fall 2018: the Tech Leadership Series! The speakers at the events ranged from the Seidenberg School’s benefactor himself – Ivan Seidenberg – to the chief information officer at Cadillac, Lesley Ma. Students had the opportunity to hear from industry professionals over the duration of the semester. Here’s a recap ICYMI:
Jeff Coffin, “Embedded Linux: What the Heck is it?”
On Oct. 25, Jeff Coffin spoke at the New York City campus at 163 William Street. The Software and Systems Engineer at AJA Video Systems, Inc. appeared in conversation with his daughter, Seidenberg student Charlotte Coffin, to chat about embedded linux (and what the heck it is). Students had the opportunity to speak with Jeff about his many years of experience in the technology industry and network with him as well.
Ivan Seidenberg, “Verizon Untethered: An Insider’s Story of Innovation and Disruption”
Peggy Yao, Tech Collective Lunch & Learn: Mindfulness for Professional & Personal Success
On Wednesday, November 14, the Westchester campus hosted the third segment of the leadership series at Goldstein Academic Center. Special guest, Peggy Yao, spoke about mindfulness at the Seidenberg Tech Collective meeting. Mindfulness is a topic not often associated with the technology industry. Students were able to learn tips for a more mindful outlook, network with Peggy, and – as always – enjoy lunch on us.
Lesley Ma, Global Chief Information Officer for Cadillac
On Tuesday, November 27, the Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Cadillac at General Motors, Lesley Ma, spoke at the New York City campus. Lesley shared her experiences as a leader at a global firm and fielded questions from students about her career so far. Students received plenty of tips and advice about marketing themselves for cool opportunities and got to network with an industry superstar. We were so excited to present our students with this great opportunity to network and learn from an industry leader.
Merin Joseph, WESTMED Practice Partners and WESTMED Medical Group
The next event in the series was on November 28 at the Westchester campus. Series speaker, Merin Joseph, gave insider experience from her position as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at WESTMED Practice Partners and WESTMED Medical Group. Students joined in on this event to get networking experience and tips on how to succeed in their chosen fields. Merin shared a wealth of knowledge earned throughout an exciting career.
Daniel Barchi, Chief Information Officer for New York-Presbyterian Hospital
On Wednesday, December 12, the Chief Information Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian, Daniel Barchi, spoke on the New York City campus for a discussion and networking session with students. We were happy to present our students with this great opportunity to network and learn from an industry leader in the medical and technological fields. Daniel gave a frank and fascinating recounting of his experience as a leader in a dynamic industry, including some exciting stories about narrowly avoided crises.
Did you attend any of our events? We’d love to hear what you thought – and if you have any suggestions on who to invite next, give us a shout in the comments or on social media!
The fall semester may be coming to an end but the Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series is showing no sign of slowing down! Events are already being scheduled for the spring, but for the tail end of the fall semester we had a fantastic guest: Daniel Barchi, SEM, SVP, and CIO of Newyork-Presbyterian.
Testament to Daniel’s career and expertise was a great turnout of students who came to the Seidenberg School’s NYC campus the day before finals week. Despite escalating stress levels, around a hundred students stopped by to learn from our guest.
As with previous events, Daniel spent around an hour talking tech and leadership in conversation with Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill. Dean Hill quizzed the CIO about various aspects of his work, including the importance of technology in the healthcare industry, strategy, telemedicine and remote healthcare, and more.
One of the interesting remarks Daniel had was about technology’s importance regarding running a business. He said that he believed that running Newyork-Presbyterian – and other industries – successfully was built from a blend of “80% people, 15% process, 5% technology.”
“That 5% technology is important,” Daniel added, telling a story of how just that morning there had been a tech blackout in one of the locations his department serves. Despite technology just being a small part of the entire ecosystem, if that 5% goes down, the whole system fails – which is why Daniel and his staff work hard to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible. The people and process enable responses like that to happen.
“Technology is like an iceberg,” Daniel continued. “There’s only a tiny bit of an iceberg poking up out of the surface . . . as a technologist I need to make sure that bottom part is working well, out of sight and out of mind.”
As users, we tend to just care about the parts we interact with. “Everybody is focused on that 5% that’s above the surface,” Daniel said. Maintaining the larger 95% is what allows users to interact with systems without worry.
Dean Hill then asked about Daniel’s technology strategy.
“My job as the CIO is not about talking about the bits and bytes . . . it’s the strategy side of it . . . where do we invest our dollars, our resources, and our people.”
Part of the strategy is also developing new tech advancements. Daniel spoke at length about the cool things Newyork-Presbyterian was doing for medical staff and patients alike, including telemedicine initiatives like having physicians interact with patients over video calls and asking questions that got them to self-diagnose and allow the doctor to give treatment without being there in person.
Through this technology, Daniel revealed that physicians had “diagnosed three instances of appendicitis this month alone.”
Did he think computers would replace the need for human doctors entirely? “We think that the physician or nurse PLUS the computer is better.” Although artificial intelligence is getting to the stage where using computers to diagnose and treat medical issues is becoming more and more possible, the nuance of the human mind is a crucial aspect to identifying and understanding the small distinctions that differentiate between similarly presenting issues.
AI is a field with plenty of potential, not just in terms of technologically and career-wise, but financially too. “Artificial intelligence right now is like the gold rush in California was in 1849,” Daniel said. The key was to position oneself in the best place to capitalize from the technology. “Who made the money in the gold rush? The people who sold the picks and shovels.”
“What should these students be doing to prepare themselves for a career in this area,” Dean Hill asked.
“I’m a fan of people moving in their careers,” Daniel said. “If you think about your professors here who might have had a career in business and moved on to come here – people who have had training in one area can use their skills to move into another area.”
At the Seidenberg School and at Pace University, we always encourage our students to diversify what they learn. Knowing more than one area, and learning how to apply skills from one field into another, is what helps get jobs across different areas. Daniel affirmed that this was key to working in the tech sector today.
One area that is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future is cybersecurity.
“I’m always concerned about information security,” Daniel said. “We have about 8.5 million patient records . . . we have to keep it safe. There are always people that are trying to hack into our networks. You know better than most audiences that while we’ve been talking here we’ve probably had three penetration attempts into our systems.”
Daniel revealed that on the past weekend he had been in a long phone call when a hacker had attempted to penetrate their system with a version of the Wannacry virus – seven attempts in all – but the team managed to take care of it.
One of the last things Dr. Hill asked Daniel about was also related to security, but along a different vein. “Is privacy possible?” Dean Hill asked, “Or is the way the internet was built so open that perfect security is a pipe dream?”
Daniel replied with insights that many Pace students and internet users should pay attention to. “People make choices about what they put online . . . if going on vacation and posting where I am and pictures of myself is one end of the spectrum . . . banking online . . . is another end of the spectrum too.”
As users, we choose what we put online, whether it’s vacation location tagging on social media (that indicates our homes are currently empty) or our personal information on banking websites, investment accounts, and more.
“We can all make choices to make ourselves safer,” Daniel remarked.
But the truth is that the more we engage with the internet the more we put ourselves at risk.
The conversation closed up with a few final thoughts from Daniel. He encouraged students to go into careers doing things they loved, but if they could find ways to apply those passions to other areas, they could potentially excel. “If you love coding . . . for those of you who want to use it as a platform to do other things, I would encourage you to push the boundaries.”
Sharing one of his favorite quotes, Daniel illustrated his point.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage
We’d like to thank Daniel Barchi for his stellar appearance at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. The Seidenberg Tech Leadership series is one of our top event series that puts our students in front of exceptional leaders in the industry, and Daniel’s genial presence was perfect for bringing calm before the end of the semester.
This year marks 35 years of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems being an independent school at Pace University. Originally called the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, the school gained the Seidenberg name in 2005, when Ivan Seidenberg made a record-breaking donation to Pace University in support of his strong belief that all students should receive a tech education.
It’s only natural that, now, whenever Mr. Seidenberg stops by his namesake school, there’s a hint of celebrity in the air. As a top executive for much of his career, Ivan already cuts an impressive figure. However, his 2005 gift to Pace University has been hugely significant for many of our students, enabling them to attend the Seidenberg School as part of the Seidenberg Scholars program – so there is also a sense of gratitude among the excited whispers that there’s a famous celeb at Pace.
So it was no surprise that on Thursday, November 8, 2018, the Seidenberg Lounge at 163 William Street was packed. Students, faculty, and staff turned up in force to meet and hear Ivan speak about his fascinating career, his leadership, and his advice for the next generation of technology executives.
Not only was Mr. Seidenberg on campus to share his wisdom with the community, but we had a crate of volumes of his new book, Verizon Untethered: An Insider’s Story of Innovation and Disruption ready to be signed and shared with our students.
Our guest sat down with Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School, for a fascinating conversation before an audience that was bursting at the seams. After the introductions, the pair cut swiftly to the chase with Dean Hill’s first question – what can our students do to succeed in the workplace?
Ivan’s response was refreshingly honest. “When you go out in this world and you’re high maintenance, people will get rid of you,” Mr. Seidenberg said. “If you’re not a good teammate – you’re gone. Be a good teammate, be collaborative, be nice to work with . . . together you can do great things.”
One point our visiting tech leaders often make is the importance of working well with others, and here was Ivan Seidenberg himself iterating the same idea. He continued with a caution about letting one’s ambitions get in the way of relationships: “Even if you have great ambition, your ambition should not dominate those around you,” he said. “Realize that people are watching you all the time.”
He summed everything up with a list of his top three tips:
Know your stuff
Don’t be a pain (you are always being watched)
Don’t be afraid to take risks
“It’s okay to win, and it’s okay to fail,” he added, noting that he had always found that the harder the work was, the more engaged he got and the more engaged the people around him became.
“There’s a transition that folks do early in their career where they’re called upon to lead,” said Dean Hill. “In the book, you make the statement that leadership has less to do with the individual and more to do with the cultural norms . . . what should people do to cultivate leadership?”
Ivan replied: “I have one word that starts the whole process – accountability. When you’re personally accountable, you accept the responsibility of whatever you’re doing. It shows up in your language . . . accountability starts with your personal willingness to take control of the things you can control.”
He continued, listing two other crucial aspects of leadership: “Leadership is all about standards . . . those people who watch you . . . they watch how you do your work. Do you cut corners?” This was followed by the third facet, respect. “Leadership is also about respect – how you treat other people. Do you treat others as equal?”
And even when you’re in a position of power, what you think is right and correct doesn’t always mean it’s right and correct. To earn respect and trust, a good leader performs the job according to the needs of the people around them, rather than their own ideas. “It wasn’t what I thought was a good job, it was what the people around me thought was a good job.”
Leading by serving the needs of others may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s an effective technique.
Dealing with crises
“How do you deal with crises?” was Dean Hill’s next question.
“Never think it’s about you,” Ivan said. “You don’t face any challenges solo. Particularly in business, it’s got to be about partners. If you embrace that, you have the power of four eyes instead of two, four ears instead of two, two brains . . . and especially for you [students], you understand the power of scale.”
One of the keys in dealing with crises is coming at it head on: “It’s never a case of backing away from it, it’s about embracing it.”
Dean Hill brought up the next topic: mentorship. “In the book, you mention a lot of people who mentored you . . . how did you forge these relationships?”
Ivan responded with a story. He explained about how, when he retired in 2011, lots of people told him he should write a book. After thinking about it and deciding he’d like to give it a try, he spent a lot of time talking to people who influenced his life and his career, and listening to their stories. Those stories became the chapters of his book. “It’s an example of how the power of more than one creates a story,” he remarked.
He was then asked to define what a ‘win’ meant for him. “A win wasn’t necessarily more money, it was having a higher purpose,” he said, and continued with an example from his time at Verizon. Verizon wanted to provide unlimited bandwidth to its customers but was constrained by the capabilities at the time. The company still wanted to do something good for its customers, so they shifted perspective and came up with the goal of becoming the ‘best network’. Once they agreed on their higher purpose, they were able to start acting to make it happen.
It was a good time for Dean Hill’s next question: what are you most proud of?
“Beside my family?” Ivan quipped, smiling at his wife in the front row. “I think in business it’s very simple. When I retired, that was the first question I was asked. The most important contribution to me is that I look back at the company now and see that Verizon is stronger, more independent and more in control of its future. And that’s all I could ever ask for.”
Mr. Seidenberg went on to explain his belief that Verizon is in the position it’s in today because of the people. When he was CEO there, he made sure to manage and mentor the people who would maintain the quality of work that he believed in, even if they employ different styles. “That is the most important thing: to produce people who can achieve things their way.”
He also shared an anecdote offering an interesting perspective on 9/11. One of the less talked-about consequences of the events on that day included a huge hit to cellular service, which affected not only the stock market but individuals and emergency services who were desperately trying to get in touch with one another. Ivan, alongside his team at Verizon, set to reconnecting the country, working diligently to fix the service problems that were preventing people from finding out if their loved ones were okay and services like the fire service from communicating. “9/11 was one of our greatest services,” he told students, “not just for getting the stock market back up and running, but for getting the country back up and running.”
Looking to the future: it’s all about that 5G
“We’re entering the fourth industrial revolution,” said Dean Hill. “What excites you in technology right now?”
“In our industry, all roads lead to 5G. When you think of 5G from where you sit, it’s very cool – latency (the speed of the network) will soon be 50 times what it is today. 5G, coupled with sharper engineering, systems integration, and with IT capability across institutions, will completely change everything. Whatever component of this industry you’re interested in . . . connectivity, network, software systems, and applications – there’s no component holding back all the others. In the next 40 years, what will happen with all of this technology is that it’ll probably get even faster . . . the ability to make the world smaller and provide utility and good, it’s incomprehensible the kind of things that can be done.”
He added: “And I love where you are, you’re getting the kind of education that’ll put you right there.”
On that note, Dr. Hill asked: “what advice do you have for our students to maximize the opportunity of being in school now?”
“If I were the HR department and I was hiring people, I’d assume you’ll have a degree like everybody else. It’ll be a good degree coming out of Pace, but I’d want to know a few other things . . . I’d like the idea that you’ll have done a few collaboration projects for other people . . . I’d like to know that you fixed some programs for other people – having activity that isn’t part of your program.”
Having extracurricular work on one’s resume, especially that demonstrates hands-on experience, is never a bad thing. “Coming in with a resume of activity that fits what you do – it doesn’t have to be scientific, it can be that you like to work with others, you like to work with the scientific community . . . we love good grades, obviously, but we also like to know that you’re worthy of taking a risk on; someone’s got to invest in you.”
Finally, one should never underestimate the power of a smile, according to Ivan Seidenberg! “I love when you walk in the door and you smile . . . smiling is good, it can disarm people.”
Over to you
As time was trickling away too quickly, the Dean turned to the audience for questions. Here are a few of them with Ivan’s responses.
Q: What do you do now that you’re retired?
A: Lots! I participate on boards, invest in companies – including startups. I like investing in helping people to succeed
Q: If you were a college graduate today, would you pursue the same career or something different?
A: I’m only going tell you this cos you shouldn’t do what I did . . . I ended up leaving day school and going to night school. I ended up in the army because of that. I ended up overseas, somewhere I didn’t want to be, because I dropped out of day school. Then I ended up working at the phone company because I dropped out of day school . . . obviously it worked out! But I realized that over that time that I had to fit in, that I couldn’t be an outcast. I had to realize that the sun and the moon and the starts didn’t revolve around me. Sound familiar? What I would not change is the lessons I learned and how I applied them. But whether they would lead me down the same career could be different.
Q: What big risks did you take?
A: I came home and told my wife “we’re moving to Washington!” . . . that was the hardest sale I’ve ever had to make! The other one was when I chose to give up my job as CEO and become co-CEO. Most of the risks you take are personal. They’re not business risks.
Following the Q&A session, the event moved to the renovated collaboration space where a table had been set up for the book signing. Students lined all the way down the hallway for their chance to meet and shake hands with the Seidenberg School’s benefactor. A small celebration took place as the Seidenberg community thanked Mr. Seidenberg for the visit and for his honesty and depth during the discussion. Pace University President Marvin Krislov and Provost Vanya Quiñones also stopped by to greet our guest, and we were happy to see quite a few alumni return to their old stomping grounds for the occasion.
On Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 Seidenberg School of CSIS hosted Leadership in Technology – Pioneering Pace Pride, a technology and networking event with six alumni who were the first generation from immigrant families to go to college. The event was held at 165 William Street and was a great opportunity for our students to hear from and network with inspirational alumni. With six leading personalities in the technical industry, the discussion was compelling and Pace students who attended were privy to a fascinating perspective.
The event started with a warm welcome to all the six leaders from our Dean Dr. Jonathan Hill on behalf of the entire Seidenberg School. Over the course of the evening, each of our guests shared their life experiences, career stories, and as their memories of Pace University which was a great help and motivation to all our current students.
Here are our honorable guests:
Michael J. Lynn – Currently Principal, ARG* Oversight. Michael’s parents are basically from Ireland. They moved to New York when he was a child. Initially Michael was very much interested to pursue his career as a doctor, but due to financial problems in his family he decided against it. After that, he planned to become an engineer. However, during those days there were almost no jobs in the field of engineering, thus he quit this thought too. Michael finally decided to achieve his career in the field of finance and came to Pace University. He worked as a student assistant at the Pleasantville campus, graduated in 1978, and remarked that “Pace gave me lots of opportunities to succeed in the first ”
Dora Gomez – Currently Dora is a board member of ACFE, HTCIA, and INFRAGARD. Initially she lived in Ecuador with her parents and her elder brother. Dora believes in working independently and not relying on anyone. She too got admission to Pace University and loved the environment and the people she met. Dora worked two internships (one during the summers and the other in the winters) during her studies, through which she was able to pay for tuition and books herself. Dora Graduated in 1986. She believes in the thought “Work hard to get what you want.”
Tom Reynolds –Tom comes from Ireland where he is the eldest child among five kids. He was inspired by his father (who worked for 12 hours a day) and so Tom started working at the age of 13 to support his family. After completing his high school, Tom got admitted to Pace University. Tom mentions that fellow panelist Maurice Dimeo was the first person he met at Pace. Due to his financial family conditions Tom wasn’t able to buy professional clothes for his internships that he did during his studies. Thus, he worked for loading and unloading of trucks to earn money for clothes. Tom graduated from Pace in 1982. He says “Pace gave me opportunity to work” and, presently, Tom works as Controller at Stone Harbor Investment Partners.
Vito J. Depalo – Presently, Chief Auditor of Global Information Technology, AIG. Vito is a techy, through and through. He comes from the southeast of Italy, where his father worked six days a week and 15 hours a day to support his family. Vito says: “Every day while getting ready I remember my dad’s hard work.” Vito had a cousin studying at Pace who always had great things to say about it, and so Vito ended up coming here too. Vito believes “No matter be it Columbia University or Stanford or Pace, it’s all about EDUCATION.” He had three internships during his studies. The last internship he had was converted into full time job after his graduation in 1996. Vito says “Coming to Pace was a like a land of opportunities for me which prepared me for the corporate world.”
Joe Nocera – Graduated in 1981 and currently, Deputy Chief Auditor BNY Mellon. Joe was born and raised in Coney Island. He says that he had no idea regarding business before he came to Pace. Joe expressed “Pace not only gave me an education foundation but also many more things apart from academics. Pace provided me opportunities to do different, do better. I learnt to take up and handle responsibilities here.” He advised students to listen to the professors and counsellors who will always help them to get better. He believes “You have to ask questions if you want to learn.”
Maurice Dimeo – Presently, Maurice is a Client Technology leader at EY. He comes from Italy. His father worked in the Navy and was a huge inspiration to Maurice. He has a very strong work ethic and believes in hard work. Maurice says “Work as hard as anybody can!” Maurice graduated from Pace in 1987, and added “Pace is one of the schools where we get a chance to prove ourselves!”
After the highly motivating discussion from the tech leaders, our students were really excited and curious to know more about their success and life achievements. Here are some questions that were asked by our current students to the panel.
How did Pace give opportunities?
Joe said “Pace teaches to learn to speak, learn to observe, learn to interact which is necessary to succeed”
Tom expressed: There are so many similar students in the same class. You need to be different. You need to stand out from the crowd. Pace helps to choose the right way for this which definitely was a great opportunity.
Dora said: Pace has high level of education compared to other schools. Teachers give good advises not only on academics but also regarding careers. Pace helps in building relationships which definitely helps in building careers.
2. What are the necessary skills that interns and employees must have?
Vito started with a great answer: “Hard work beats talent!” Everyone should be a hard worker, may he/she be an intern or an employee. Another important thing that Vito said, an understanding of the technology is really important and working passionately is a must.
Joe added up to this saying: “It’s all about communication (verbal and written). One must hire people who can communicate really well.”
Dora explained this by saying that interns and employees must have respect and good manners. It’s about how a person represents himself and lastly a person’s language is important too!
3. What slogan do you live by?
Tom: “Be on Time! Be late, be fired!”
Vito: “Regret the things you did, not the things you will do!”
Dora: “Take Risks!”
Joe: “Work hard and never forget where you came from!”
Maurice: “Live by your purpose!”
Michael: “Never give up! Do the best you can! Love what you do!”
4. How should Pace University’s students compete from other top level universities’ students?
Maurice came up with an outstanding answer to this saying that: “School doesn’t matter, what matters is EDUCATION! Show hard work, gain good knowledge, built in great skills and be passionate!”
Joe ended up with an amazing thought. He believes: “No doors will be shut if you are at PACE, all door will be open if you are here!”
The event ended up with our Dean Dr. Hill’s thank you note to all the six great leaders who were a huge motivation for all our current students. We thank our panel and hope to see them all again with an amazing event like this one!