On Top of Her G.A.M.E.

Business student Megan Martucci talks through a headset microphone backstage as she works the Quinnipiac GAME Forum

All under control

Megan Martucci '18, MBA '19, served as this year's chairwoman for the Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. IX Forum in New York City.

M

egan Martucci ’18, MBA ’19, paced the carpet, pursed her lips and exhaled. After nearly a year of planning, it was a waiting game now.

As the student chairwoman of the Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. IX Forum (Global Asset Management Education), the world’s largest student-run, three-day financial conference, Martucci’s job was to direct almost 40 volunteers from the School of Business. She was sharply dressed in a dark suit with heels, a white blouse and the requisite black headset, a passed torch of sorts for this crucial role.

It was 7:12 a.m. on March 28 in the big city. The West Promenade on the third floor of the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel still had a clear path to the ballroom, a massive space large enough for the 1,600 students and faculty mentors here from 154 colleges and universities representing 50 countries and 46 states.

But not for long.

President Judy Olian’s opening remarks were fast approaching at 8 a.m. Meanwhile, a sea of students still hadn’t come down from their rooms to the registration tables.

“There’s going to be a big rush at the end, you watch,” Martucci warned the student volunteers sitting behind the “A-D” sign at one of the registration tables. A few feet away, another student worker squatted like a baseball catcher, running a handheld steamer across a fabric screen set up as a backdrop for G.A.M.E. selfies and videos.

Martucci, a finance major from Patterson, New York, earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA at Quinnipiac in four years as an accelerated dual-degree (3+1) student. She is smart, accomplished and relentlessly driven.

So, as one might imagine, Martucci’s prediction was spot on.

Story Continues

By 7:45 a.m., the registration tables were hidden by throngs of students, but there emerged a palpable poise behind the tables. “Next please” instantly became the most professional and efficient greeting of the morning.

Among the colleges and universities that attended this year’s G.A.M.E. Forum were Villanova, Purdue, Rice, Northeastern, the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis.

Even on just six hours of sleep — with duties that began promptly at 5:30 a.m. — Martucci was buttoned up as student chairwoman. This was her third G.A.M.E. Forum, her first time as chair. The forums provide the opportunity to leverage everything she had learned in Hamden and New York, from introducing the keynote speakers and connecting with business schools all around the world to closely working with the assembled VIPs.

Overall, 106 financial firms and organizations were represented at G.A.M.E. IX including 148 speakers, panelists, workshop presenters and student-managed portfolio judges, according to finance professor David Sauer, who chaired the program.

“This is such an amazing experience for Quinnipiac students,” Martucci said. “It isn’t until you get here that you realize how busy it is and how much there is to do. Now that I’m in charge of all the [student] volunteers, I have to plan everyone’s schedule and make sure all the shifts are filled so that everything runs smoothly.”

With the registration lines finally evaporated now, Martucci made her way to the ballroom. She sat by herself near the stage, waiting for the program to begin. It was time for Olian to address the crowd.

“To all the students who are attending, seize the opportunity to have conversations with fellow students about global currency or trade wars,” urged Olian, former dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. “And later, pick up those conversations with faculty and market experts one-on-one on those topics.”

Olian spoke thoughtfully and fluently about global markets for several minutes. As she left the stage to applause, Olian headed straight for Martucci and sat next to her. After a smile and some kind words from the president, it was Martucci’s turn to address this impeccably dressed casting call for 21st-century business jobs.

Business student Megan Martucci smiles in front of the Nasdaq building in New York City

Big opportunity, big city

Megan Martucci in Times Square in front of the Nasdaq building, where the digital display promoted the G.A.M.E. Forum.

Martucci proceeded to introduce the opening keynote panel of global finance experts — Ralph Acampora of Altaira Capital Partners, Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs, Douglas Coté of Voya Investment Management and David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds.

“After I came off the stage, President Olian said I did a good job, so that meant a lot to me,” said Martucci, who had practiced the intro enough to eliminate butterflies. She commuted to Stamford, Connecticut, last summer and again this school year to transform an internship with global conglomerate Henkel into a job as a financial analyst after graduation.

“It’s awesome seeing women in leadership positions at G.A.M.E.,” Martucci added. “Diversity is so important to solving problems and being successful in business or anything else. I think that’s what makes this conference so great, hearing all these views and opinions from people all over the country and all over the world.”

Heading out after the panel discussion, Cohen, a senior investment strategist and former president of the Global Markets Institute, said she is encouraged by the career outlook for women in finance. But women are still the minority in these roles.

“There are notable opportunities for women in finance, particularly those who are well prepared, either with economics or finance training,” Cohen said. “Women have shown they can do an extremely good job in positions involving research analysis and portfolio management. Very often, portfolio managers who fail do so not because they’ve missed the upside, but because they have failed to properly recognize the downside. Women seem to do a much better job of risk-benefit analysis in that regard.”

Adam O’Rourke ’18, MBA ’19, an accelerated dual-degree (3+1) graduate, was among the student volunteers Martucci directed. On the second day of the conference, O’Rourke served as student ambassador to David Kudla, CEO of Mainstay Capital Management and the G.A.M.E. program co-chair. 

O’Rourke also attended G.A.M.E. Forum as a freshman. He said his finance education at Quinnipiac prepared him well to get more out of the experience this time around.

“It’s amazing how much more I understand now,” said O’Rourke. “It’s amazing to have this kind of access to industry leaders and professionals, not just for networking purposes, but also to learn from them.”

Martucci, O’Rourke and dozens of other Quinnipiac business students also scored an exclusive look inside Nasdaq headquarters in Times Square. The annual tradition has become one of the highlights of the G.A.M.E. Forum.

On the second day of the conference, Rich Hanley, associate professor of journalism, served as moderator of a panel discussion titled, “The Future of Financial Reporting.” The topic driving the conversation was a recently released Quinnipiac University Poll that found 60 percent of adults believe “the way economic news is reported does not accurately reflect the reality of the economy for average Americans.”

As G.A.M.E. came to a close, Martucci exhaled once more, only this time without the mantle and responsibility of the student chair. But one question still remained: Who would be next year’s student chair?

Martucci explained that as part of her duties, she gets to name her successor. After considering the list of candidates, Martucci selected Greg Kaulins ’19, MBA ’20, this year’s VIP chairman and another finance major in Quinnipiac’s accelerated dual-degree program.

“I chose Greg because he is very smart and driven. Similar to me, he has worked his way up in his three years at G.A.M.E. His freshman year he was a volunteer, last year he was co-chair of VIP and this year he was chair of VIP,” Martucci said. “In the end, I believed Greg would be a great fit for G.A.M.E. X. He is committed to any task at hand, and I’m confident he will do a great job leading the team next year.”

The black headset comes later for Kaulins. The planning starts now.

It’s Never Too Soon to Think Like the Boss

Sitting in the boss’s chair daydreaming of being in charge is a sure way to get fired. But putting yourself in your boss’s shoes, figuratively, and thinking like the owner of the company is what Robert S. Kaplan recommends to get ahead.

He contends leaders are not necessarily born with special personality traits, but rather that leadership is a skill that can be learned and practiced from the first day on a job. As the former Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice and senior associate dean at Harvard Business School, Kaplan has given the subject a lot of thought and is the author of three books on the topic, the latest titled, “What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner.”

Robert Kaplan pictured in a suit and tie and speaking during a panel presentation during the Quinnipiac GAME Forum conference.

Leadership advice

Robert Kaplan, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, speaks during a panel discussions at the Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. Forum.

Kaplan became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in Fall 2015. In that capacity, he shared his views on the U.S. economy in a packed room of students and professors during the second day of the G.A.M.E. IX forum along with Kathleen Hays of Bloomberg TV and Radio. Before the panel, he discussed leadership with Quinnipiac Magazine, offering tips to the newly employed as well as those already in supervisory positions. To begin thinking like an owner, you’ll probably need to ask your boss some questions to learn more about your unit and how it adds value to the company, he noted. Think about the kinds of things bosses must consider — what constituencies they need to worry about, for example.

“Work at it. Read The Wall Street Journal and other periodicals every day. Think, ‘Gee, if I were my boss, I’d be thinking about this,’” he said. And don’t wait to be the boss before you start thinking like an owner. “If you wait till then, you probably are not going to get the job — you’ve waited too long,” Kaplan advised.

“Eventually, you are going to be in a situation where an issue comes up at work, and by some miracle, they ask your opinion. If you practice this, you’re going to say, 'You know, I don’t think we should do this,’” Kaplan said. Before meeting with other companies or CEOs, Kaplan said he often made it a point to solicit advice from the most junior person in the room.

He explained that graduates transitioning to the workforce are accustomed to the college agenda that dictates they “take this test, follow these rules, execute this … and we will grade you on how you do with our agenda.” Once you take a job, it’s your agenda, he pointed out.

“The biggest mistake young people make is thinking they need to keep their heads down,” Kaplan said. “You’ve got to do more than that. Figure out two or three things you must do to be great at your job, ask questions, and get some coaching about how to do that.”

Once you become a boss, the most important thing you can do is be open to learning and to understanding your strengths and weaknesses. “You can’t do it yourself. Ask your subordinates for feedback,” he said. 

The reason leaders plateau or fizzle out, Kaplan said, is their inability to learn. “A lot of leaders think their subordinates expect them to know all the answers, but the biggest fear subordinates have is that their boss doesn’t know what’s really going on and doesn’t ask.

And asking questions is not just for would-be leaders. “Bosses don’t need to have all the answers — but they do need to ask the right questions. It shows confidence, not weakness,” Kaplan observed.

He said this particular lesson has never been more critical for him. As president of the Dallas Fed, one of 12 in the Federal Reserve System, Kaplan oversees 1,200 employees. To maintain a pulse on his work force, he conducts skip-level meetings, walking the floors and soliciting advice from lower-level employees instead of waiting passively for direct reports to bring information.

“Leaders fail due to their inability to learn. People are not running into your office to give you bad news. You’ve got to go get it, and the biggest danger leaders face is becoming isolated,” Kaplan said.