Leadership: A View from the Top

By: Michael Albuquerque

On October 23rd 2017, in the midst of fall, there’s a beautiful view of the colors of fall right outside the CoRE building. Meanwhile, on the inside, a perennial topic was discussed, one that is undeniably important, irrespective of field: leadership. The PSM Program had arranged for three guest speakers from different fields to share their experiences and views on the topic. For our MBS students, this was a wonderful opportunity to hear from those who do not just learn about leadership, but practice it everyday. In this blog, we learn about their journeys, their personal takes on leadership, and some advice they have for our future leaders.

Colors of fall as seen from right outside the CoRE building during this leadership event.

Prof. Kathleen introduces the guest speakers for the event ‘Leadership: A View From the Top’


First, to learn a little bit about the leaders and their stories:

Aaron Bookman is the Vice President of Finance for discount store chain FiveBelow. He graduated from Rutgers about 20 years ago where he learnt all about numbers, business and finance. However, he started off his career in a different field, i.e., in accounting for Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Aaron was eventually reassigned to Financial Analysis, a role into which despite his initial reservations, he transitioned successfully. He worked there for 6 years and then subsequently accepted an offer to move into his current position.

Marcelo Moyano is the Chief Experience Officer for the media design firm MindSmack. He was born and raised in Argentina where he was passionate about two things: Soccer Club Atlético River Plate and creating interactive experiences. Marcelo has been creating interactive experiences since he started at the age of twelve without any formal training. Very much a self-made man, he made a name for himself in this field and was contacted by a firm in New York for whom he worked remotely until he moved to the US.

Sean Cuttler is the Head of IT for a company called Cancer Genetics. Another proud Rutgers Graduate, he has been working in IT for 15 years. He is well aware of the interlink between business and science having both MS and MBA degrees in his impressive resume. He worked in the field of Life Sciences for 12 years. His company, Cancer Genetics, operates in the field of Drug Discovery, something he shares a passion for.

MBS Students network over plentiful snacks provided prior to the event.

This leadership event started with time for the participants to get to know each other and enjoy some refreshments. Prof. Kathleen Cashman then welcomed the speakers and invited them to share their experiences as leaders. How enlightening to hear the stories of seasoned professionals who have seen challenges and unexpected twists in their careers and yet maneuvered through all these situations to truly establish themselves. Following this, students could ask questions and speculate on what could lie ahead for them. A lot of wisdom was imparted on the night, some of which is summarized in the ‘Top Ten Learnings’ section below.

Mr. Bookman answers a question from a student.


Top Ten Learnings

1.   Focus on yourself first. Believe in yourself. Be yourself and show up. Be an owner.

2.  Work in diverse roles, but have fun in whatever you do. Find what you love about your job and focus on that. You can fail many times and learn.

3.  “Do your own research, get your own facts. True leaders can see through the noise.” — Sean Cutler

4.  Connect with as many people as you can. Take the initiative to start a conversation.

5.  A good leader knows how to manage his/her emotional bank account

6.   Be hungry, never ok with where you are. When you are hungry, you move forward. What do successful people of businesses in your field do?

7.  “You have to be a creative person if you want to succeed in finding new things in business.” — Marcelo Moyano

8.  “Things that made me successful in the beginning are things that hinder me now.” — Sean Cutler (on the challenge of constantly evolving)

9.   “Be hungry, never ok with where you are, hungry, move forward” — Aaron Bookman

10. Take advantage of the wealth of resources out there to expand your horizons and stay relevant, e.g., MITX, Harvard, Howard Stone, Bloomberg Radio, YouTube videos, Ted Talks. The books that were highly recommended were Simon Senek’s Start with Why and Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Students ask more questions individually after the discussion.

Further opportunity to connect with the speakers concluded the event. Each speaker was more than happy to answer individual questions despite having just spoken at length. An MBS gift basket was the least we could do to thank them for their time and wisdom.

Each of the speakers received an MBS gift basket each as a token of our gratitude.