Colgate launches first of five new professional networks for alumni

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Duncan Niederauer '81

Duncan Niederauer ’81, chief executive officer of NYSE Euronext, helps to launch the Finance Network in New York City. (Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio)

Colgate people aren’t shy about introducing themselves, especially when they are exchanging business cards and e-mail addresses with fellow alumni.

The Office of Alumni Relations and the Center for Career Services are facilitating those connections by establishing a new series of professional networks. The first network — created by and for alumni in the finance community — held its launch during a lunchtime gathering at the Cornell Club in New York City on September 19.

NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer ’81 delivered the keynote and summed up the effort in mathematical terms. “It’s about networks; it’s about engagement; it’s about mentorship,” he said. “You add all of that up, and it’s about connectivity to each other and to Colgate.”

Groups like the Finance Network will strengthen ties between members of the Colgate community, regardless of class year. They will show the world that Colgate graduates are tireless in their commitment to mutual success — and that their loyalty helps to drive Colgate’s mission.

Niederauer made it clear that networks aren’t a one-way street, nor are they exclusively routes by which veteran alumni could simply provide advice to recent graduates. “It’s not just mentorship, though we’re happy to dispense that,” he said. “It’s jobs and internships — I’ll bet on a Colgate kid anytime. There are lots of ways that can manifest itself.”

He encouraged financial sector workers in the room to become a recruiting presence on campus, and he made it clear that young alumni had a role to play as well. They are the employees who can connect most comfortably with undergraduates and give them an unfiltered look at what it means to have an entry-level job in the industry.

“Resilience, creativity, innovation, the ability to pivot — we’re telling our students that this is how you have to think about the job market of the future,” President Jeffrey Herbst told the audience.

Members of the Finance Network know what it means to find success in that kind of environment. Now, they have an organization that can help them share that understanding, peer-to-peer and alumni-to-student.

“Being able to connect students with alumni for networking and mentoring is the single most powerful resource we have in Career Services,” said Michael Sciola, associate VP and director of career services. “Who better to answer students’ questions about the relevance of a Colgate liberal arts education than those who see its impact every day in the work place?”

Beyond providing a forum for establishing contacts, new professional networks will allow alumni to give back to their university. The Finance Network is building a $1.5 million endowment to support internship scholarships for students in need.

“If I had taken a summer off from working, I couldn’t have afforded to come back to Colgate,” remembered Ed Witz ’89, managing director at Barclays Capital and member of the Finance Network’s volunteer leadership team. “This endowment will allow current students, who can’t afford to take the summer off from a paid job, to accept an unpaid internship.”

As the academic year continues, Colgate will launch professional networks for alumni in other fields, including health and wellness, entrepreneurship, the common good, and digital media. The approach is based on successful pilot programs conducted with grads in the entertainment and real estate industries.

“We owe our alumni a debt of gratitude for everything they do to support each other, the university, and our students,” said Tim Mansfield, associate VP and director of alumni relations. “Their enthusiasm and the Colgate spirit that built these networks will continue to set Colgate apart.”