When Ross Riskin ’12 noticed that the business clubs at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business did a great job of unifying majors, he also noticed that were not as many options for different disciplines to intermingle. Because of that observation, he took steps to create the Young Business Leaders of Fairfield (Phi Beta Lambda), an organization that gives students from all academic disciplines a comprehensive view of the business environment and post-college life as a professional, with the help of friend and colleague, Paige Manacek ’13.
Riskin, an accounting major and finance minor as well as a member of Beta Alpha Psi, said, “This organization is open to everyone. Even though it says ‘young business leaders’ we’re trying to break down the barrier between the business school and other schools within the university.”
The new group has received the honor of being the first Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda university chapter in Connecticut. “Being designated by this nationally recognized organization gives us some weight and makes us stand out,” said Riskin, who reached out to the organization to become an affiliate.
Currently the group has 30 members, most of whom are underclassmen, which Riskin said gave YBLOF the opportunity to grow together over the next few years. And the members are from a wide variety of disciplines. “I don’t want people to think that because they don’t want to go into business that this club is not for them,” he explained. “We have members that are studying business, mathematics, communication, and English.”
Riskin has been proud of the grass-roots organization of YBLOF. “Students,” he said, “have been the driving force for developing this group.” Last fall the group focused on bringing in a variety of speakers to talk about current topics in business, including ethics in the workplace, networking, communication, and the global mindset.
Speakers have included Greg Lainas, President of CTCPA and Division Director at Robert Half Management Resources; Andrew McMahon ’89, President of AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company and Chairman of AXA Advisors, LLC; Nancy Altobello ’80, Americas Vice Chair of People at Ernst & Young LLP; Ed McCormick, Financial Advisor and First Vice President of Investments at UBS Wealth Management; Michael Carrington, Attorney at Pullman & Comley LLC; Anne Hines, Marketing Coordinator at HB Communications Inc., and Roland Wauthier, Senior Vice President of Wealth Management and Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch. The mix of young professionals and experienced leaders was essential for Riskin. “It was great because the younger speakers could still relate to student experiences while the more seasoned professionals could share their wisdom,” Riskin explained.
During the spring semester, Riskin and his group are hosting events that encourage active participation such as discussing interview skills, resume building, and networking events. “This semester we’re putting everything that we learned last semester from the professionals into action,” he said.
The passion of the group is strong and Riskin is excited to see where it will go next year. While he’ll graduate this year and spend the summer as a tax intern at Ernst & Young followed by pursuing a Master of Science in Taxation at Bentley University, he expects to stay in touch with the newly elected leaders. “It’s been a lot of work,” he said on organizing the club, “but it has been fulfilling. I’ve always liked talking to students and being there to help. Our continuing goal is to build competitive students for the future here at Fairfield University.”
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