Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zarb Alumni Support Their Alma Mater

A Discussion with Ed Watson (M.B.A. '89)

Ed Watson is the former worldwide head of capital markets and private client operations at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. He is currently the President of the Zarb School of Business Alumni Association and a proud benefactor of his alma mater.

Ed Watson (M.B.A. '89)
Ed Watson (M.B.A. '89)

Why is it important for alumni to be involved at Hofstra?

"First, there is a non-quantifiable give-back factor. Those of us who have experienced a degree of success owe the institutions that lent us that success. Second, alumni also benefit from the enhanced reputation of [our alma mater]. This creates a "virtuous circle." Third, as potential employers we can identify the best students with the highest potential. By setting up internship programs, we have a free look at students and they have a free look at potential employers to see if it is a good fit for both. By recruiting the best students and giving them positive job experiences, a "virtuous circle" is once again created. They spread the word on campus that your company is a great employer."

What is your perception of Hofstra as an alumnus?

"Hofstra is a tremendous institution that is a credit to the local community. I am very proud of Hofstra and, in particular, the Zarb School. I think Dean Sal Sodano is doing a fantastic job along with his team. I look forward to great things and will do anything I can to help the university and its students obtain their goals."

What advice do you give current students?

"Have an open mind. My general advice is that you have a long career ahead of you. Where you start is not indicative of where you will end up or the journey you are going to take. Everything you do from your first day on the job up until the day you retire is going to impact your career. My advice is to remember that everything is a learning experience. Be a student of business. Be a student of the market."

What kinds of activities are being planned for graduates?

"We are re-invigorating the alumni association. Dean Sodano very graciously asked me to be the president of the alumni association, of which I am proud and honored to be a part. On a number of fronts, we will be engaging both alumni and students to help us further the causes of the association: Expanding networking and mentoring opportunities for students and alumni."

What can graduates and students gain by being active with the alumni association mentor program?

"In my previous position, we had a two-year analyst program. Of the 25-35 students we hired every year, five to eight were from Hofstra. We set up mentoring relationships for these analysts on two levels. One was a mentor who was two to three years ahead of them so they could connect from a generational stand point. Then we set up mentor relationships with more senior people, giving these analysts a totally different perspective. We found this system to be very successful. Our mentor committee is generating different ideas on how we will implement the Hofstra program."

Due to the current job market, do you think it is advantageous to pursue an advanced degree from Hofstra?

"Yes, change breeds opportunity and you have to pursue that opportunity. If you're in a distressed industry or dealing with a job loss you can use that time productively to come back to Hofstra and gain an additional degree. It allows you to look from the outside in to find out what new developments are in your area of interest. It also allows you to gain a new skill set you otherwise would not gain. Opportunities will present themselves. There are tremendous opportunities that come out of getting a degree."

Are there any words of wisdom you would like to share?

"With change there are always challenges. With change there are always opportunities."

Ed shares his enthusiasm for Hofstra University and the Zarb School in the hope that other alumni will be similarly inspired. If you are interested in giving to your alma mater, go to:

Under the section - Your Gift Designation - please mark school and select the Zarb School of Business. This way the amount donated will go directly to the business school. Many employers will match your charitable donations. To see if your company participates in matching gifts, please visit


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