“You don’t have anything if you don’t have education,” insisted the Isenberg Business Leadership Award (IBLA) honoree Paul Carney ’82 at the school’s banquet on June 13. “The return on investment is limitless. The dividends paid are endless.”
The annual gathering at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston brings together hundreds of attendees—including alumni, students, faculty, and industry representatives—to socialize, network, get an inside view of what’s happening at Isenberg, and celebrate the winners of the IBLA and the Driven Leadership Award, which goes to a recent alumnus. Along with IBLA winner Paul Carney, speakers included Driven Leadership Award winner Michele Equale ’13 MBA and UMass President Marty Meehan, and Isenberg Interim Dean Lisa Masteralexis served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
A UMass/Isenberg Vision
When HaoHao Guo ‘11, the first recipient of Isenberg’s Paul J. Carney Scholarship, introduced his benefactor at the event, the first-generation college graduate—who came to UMass Amherst from rural China—explained Paul’s conviction “that education is a key to solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.” The scholarship, which supports high-merit students from international and underrepresented backgrounds, is one of Paul’s three game-changing gifts to the school. The second, the Carney Family Endowed Professorship, currently supports Associate Dean of Research George Milne. And the third, the Business Innovation Hub’s Carney Café, became an instant oasis for students when the new building opened in January.
Paul’s devotion to his alma mater really took hold when he moved to California to work at early-stage, emerging technology companies in Silicon Valley. He connected with a vibrant UMass community there, and came to enjoy receiving fundraising calls from students who could update him on campus happenings. Paul’s remarks upon accepting the IBLA honor underscored that his vision is above all a UMass vision. He has funded collaborative programs between Isenberg and the College of Engineering, and scholarships and facility support for the College of Education. No less impactful, he served for more than a decade both on the UMass Building Authority and the UMass Amherst Foundation. For Paul, the fortunes of UMass and Isenberg go hand in hand—they are synergistic.
Driven to Create Change
Women continue to face challenges that are the inheritance of a system “set up for men, not women,” emphasized this year’s Driven Award honoree, Michele Equale, who encouraged Isenberg community members to seek out women to mentor and sponsor. “I share this honor with all women at Isenberg,” Michele told the gathering. “We must ensure that our talented women don’t opt out . . . We don’t opt out!”
The Driven Leadership Award honors a recent Isenberg graduate who has excelled both in business and as a community change agent. Michele, a 2013 graduate of Isenberg’s MBA program, is head of strategic initiatives and administration for MassMutual’s investment management activities. She was introduced at the event by last year’s Driven awardee, Melcolm Ruffin ’17, who noted that she has actively supported the school by serving as a panelist at the annual Women of Isenberg Conference as well as sharing insights with Isenberg employees at their annual Staff Day. And in visits to campus and at MassMutual, she has encouraged students and alumni to pursue careers in finance.
This year’s other nominees for the Driven Award were Morgan Maradian ’17 and Ozi Sander ’13. Morgan is a sales trader on USB’s Equities Electronic Trading Team New York City. Ozi is Vice President of Trading in the Municipal Securities Division at Citi in New York City.
During his comments early in the evening, President Meehan described the role that Isenberg and its high-profile, successful alumni play in lifting the reputation of the university system: “Isenberg means excellence. There isn’t any college anywhere that does it better than Isenberg. Paul—he’s what UMass pride is all about.”