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CEO'S key to financial success: Continuous learning

CEO'S key to financial success: Continuous learning

Photo courtesy of University Relations

As part of the Zarb Distinguished Lecture Series, Hofstra invited Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and CEO of TIAA – a Fortune 100 financial services organization – and former vice chair of the Federal Reserve, to talk with students about the world of finance and the future of job security.

TIAA is a leading provider of retirement services that manages trillions of dollars in assets and serves five million people across the country.

Dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, Herman A. Berliner, introduced Ferguson at The Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan, New York on Wednesday, Sept. 12. 

“Listening to today’s speaker is a great benefit to our students and to all of us,” Berliner said.

In his lecture “Preparing for Success in a World of Constant Change,” Ferguson aimed to provide young people with a method to navigate the market in our ever-changing world.

The most important thing Ferguson wished to emphasize during his lecture is that career choices today won’t be straightforward, but rather they will resemble “a rock climbing wall.”

“In the blink of an eye the smartphone has changed how we think, how we work, how we live,” Ferguson said. “It disrupted entire industries. It shrunk the world. Today some of us really can’t imagine living without those devices and all the applications on those devices.”

While some jobs are growing exponentially outdated, Ferguson reminded students that these developments are allowing for the creation of new job opportunities that the world has never before seen. 

In an interview with The Chronicle, Ferguson said, “I think what we discovered when we confront these issues of change is that it is easier for us to imagine the disruptions, the jobs that are lost, the expectations that are changed as opposed to imagining the new things that are going to be created that are more exciting.”

As part of his presentation, the CEO offered tools to students that he thinks will better prepare them for what’s ahead. His key point: to be a “continuous learner.”

“The most important skill, frankly, is that thing we call a critical thinking skill. It’s the most valuable attribute you can take into the changing marketplace in the 21st century, because the ability to think through a problem and to ask critical questions and then reach your own conclusions … is going to be central to surviving this world of rapid change.”

Luckily for junior finance major Arbaaz Khan, Hofstra helps bridge the gap in terms of finding work. “I am not too worried about the job market, I feel like the resources at Hofstra help with [the] job search and finding opportunities,” Kahn said. 

However, he sings a different tune in reference to where he’ll be financially after college. “I am worried about how my financial state will be, especially starting out on my own with rent, student loans, etc.,” Kahn said.

Ferguson also offered students methodical building blocks that contribute to establishing financial well-being. His advice included making sure students have a plan that is consistent with their goals and objectives, thinking wisely about banking and investing, as well as securing financial protections that will allow young people to lead happy, successful lives. At the end of the day, for Ferguson, this is what it all boils down to.

“Some people are a little cynical about finance, but I’m just the opposite. I think it’s a wonderful way of making the world a better place and allowing people to live their dreams,” Ferguson said. “There’s an underlying social purpose to finance and financial matters that maybe folks haven’t thought much about.”

David Morales, a senior accounting major pursuing a master’s degree in taxation and a member of the Zarb Dean’s Business Scholars Program, is thrilled about the education he is receiving at Hofstra. 

Inspired by Ferguson’s lecture, Morales said, “I think the Zarb school prepares students very well for ‘the real world’ and Roger Ferguson is a prime example of that. They bring in prestigious individuals who can provide us with great insight into the world of business and teach us how to navigate it.” 

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