Many of the School of Business alumni we profile speak about the wealth of opportunities that the MBA program opened up for them. Our alumni seem to especially value the networking and business skills that help them find a job in a field of interest. And some alumni, like Brian Federico (MBA '12), are lucky enough to find their dream job right here in the School of Business. Brian currently works as the Director of Development at the School of Business.
In your current position as Director of Development at the School of Business, what is a typical day like?
Every day looks a little bit different — it’s something I really enjoy about my job — but if there’s one thing that’s consistent, it’s reaching out to alumni and supporters. In a single day, I could go from saying “thank you” to donors through calls and letters, to reaching out to alumni we’ve lost touch with, to talking to a donor about establishing a new scholarship, to meeting with the SBA development team preparing for one of our Business Briefings. As a team, we manage a lot of different kinds of work unique to the business school, but we try to orchestrate our activities in concert with the fundraising and alumni relations activities of the other schools and colleges, and university-wide activity. PSU is a big place and its complexity rarely allows for a dull moment.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Building relationships that are meaningful and that help the School of Business actualize its potential. The work of our students, staff, and faculty amazes me. From the research being conducted by our faculty, to the social enterprises being launched by Impact Entrepreneurs, not to mention the incredible conferences hosted by the Center for Real Estate and Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability, the School is living out its mission every day to serve the economic and social vitality of the region. The School’s potential for greater and greater impact continues to grow. Getting to show alumni and donors the good that comes from their investments — well, there’s nothing like it.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Portland State is a place that operates on a large scale with a thin infrastructure. We boot strap our way towards very ambitious goals. This means balancing a wide array of responsibilities without a lot of administrative support — monitoring broad-based engagement (mailings, events, annual giving), supporting the Dean and Directors in their outreach, being active in my own personal outreach, leading a team, and always keeping an eye on our goals.
How did the MBA prepare you for your current position?
The MBA gave me a stronger knowledge base in operations, personnel management, leadership, and financial literacy. Through my classmates and our faculty, the program also exposed me to a number of industries I had never explored before, which has helped me improve my ability to speak to supporters from a variety of backgrounds. But even more importantly, the program helped me find clarity around my personal and professional goals. I’ve known for a long while that Higher Education was the sector I wanted to work in, but the leadership coursework lead by Carolyn McKnight really inspired me to think deeply about what drives my work, and to dream big about the impact I can have.
Where do you find inspiration?
In the people who make up the School of Business: our successes to date are possible only with a great deal of hard work done by a lot of people—the faculty, academic advisors, center directors, associate deans. Not to mention our alumni, friends, and donors (not mutually exclusive categories, by the way) who help fuel our success by giving their time and resources. Nothing is more inspiring than hearing alumni say how grateful they are to PSU for giving them an opportunity to succeed, an opportunity they leverage everyday as entrepreneurs, CEOs, CFOs, and community leaders. The success of our alumni in and out of the realm of business is a true hallmark of the success of the School.
Do you have one piece of advice for students graduating from the MBA program and looking for jobs?
Be curious, be respectful, be genuine. Networking is key, but you can’t just fling your business card at people everywhere you go. Asking good questions and finding common areas of interest is the only way to build sincere connections that will make up a useful network. Be willing to take a risk, and always keep your eyes and ears open for the opportunity to follow up—and then follow up. Take advantage of our alumni events and programs like Connect to Community, the Business Briefings, the Sustainability Conference, the Real Estate Conference, and the mentor programs — all great ways to find connections that won’t just help get you a job, but will help you find a path forward.
And don’t forget to make your annual gift!