Successful Alumni Share Leadership Advice
Refining and growing a tolerance for the unknown and never giving up were just two of the many tips W. R. Grace CEO Fred Festa '81 imparted to students assembled for the first-ever Future Oswego Leaders Conference April 8 and 9 on campus.
Festa offered the keynote address at the two-day conference, which drew 162 students to the Campus Center and Sheldon Hall to hear presentations from fellow students, develop their own unique strengths and network with alumni from various career fields.
The inaugural conference was sponsored jointly by the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society, Student Association, Oswego Alumni Association, Phi Beta Lambda and Beta Alpha Psi.
"The best leaders are very curious people," Festa said. Upon coming to Oswego as a freshman, he made a conscious choice to be curious and inclusive, and to value diversity.
The chairman, president and CEO of chemical industry giant W. R. Grace also stressed growing one's tolerance for risk, relating it to his own undergraduate decision-making process between a career in business and one in law. He took an opportunity in the campus legal aid office to learn about his own preferences in a future career.
The W. R. Grace leader urged students to be results-oriented, to foster open communication, and to inspire and mentor others, among many other traits of successful leaders. He has put that last bit of advice into practice by funding — along with his wife, MaryLynn Barbero Festa '82 — the Festa Graduate Leadership Fellowships and the W. R. Grace summer internships for undergraduate science and business majors at Oswego.
Above all, Festa reminded students to always act with integrity. "The best leaders bring out the best in others," he concluded.
Joining Festa as alumni presenters were Emanuel Adjekum '05, talent acquisition recruiter for NBC Universal Cable Networks; Joseph Chemotti '90, partner at Dannible and McKee, LLP; Maria Grimshaw-Clark '87, counselor and social worker at SUNY Oswego and in private practice; Jeffrey Evans '86, co-founder and managing partner of Rondaxe Pharma and founder and CEO of Oncoholdings Inc.; and Mary Beth Maroney Fierro '84, principal of Oswego's Charles E. Riley Elementary School.
The alumni presented a panel discussion and individual breakout sessions with students.
Evans, in his breakout session, stressed the importance of optimism and passion to be a successful leader and entrepreneur. "Find your passion. Do it well. And someone will pay you for it," he said.
— Michele Reed
W.R. Grace CEO and Future Oswego Leaders Conference keynote speaker Fred Festa '81 accepts a gift from conference organizers Michelle Hamann '11 and Steven DiMarzo '11, far left.
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