Editor’s Discernment: More wise words from the business section

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

With this issue, I close my 18-month run as The Ticker’s business editor. I tie Anthony Esposito for serving the second-longest term in the section, with both of us three months behind Emmanuel Onyenyili.

But I must confess that I didn’t come into the role with much knowledge of the business world.

I did not study economics in high school. I swore against getting involved in business-related studies and activities as an incoming freshman in fall 2019. Up until I was asked to take over this section, that was it.

Yet, I was able to suffice for my lack of relevant knowledge by reading news articles. In addition, reporting on and editing articles about relevant webinars, forums and panels facilitated by Baruch College bolstered my understanding of the business world.

Business has covered several events run by Baruch College’s on-campus facilities — notably the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship, the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity and the Weissman Center for International Business.

Even for students outside of the business discipline, these sessions are both informative and entertaining.

For one, these events inform attendees about different careers, industries and the stories behind them — from the marketing of toys and pants to the directing of trade ports, as well as the operations of an imported spice company to the launch of a yogurt brand. Additionally, each guest speaker came with their own experiences and beliefs. They brought in their own sense of humor to the conversation and their own wisdom to impart on attendees.

While the section has highlighted key moments from these events, it could not fit every piece of advice shared in each article. In most cases, these quotations diverged from the angle. In other cases, the text was fit for print — one can fit only so much in a 650-word piece — or it was buried in notes and transcripts.

To do these words justice, I want to shine a light on some of them in this final column. Remarkably, each of these quotations come from alumni and faculty.

Baruch alumnus and portfolio manager Charles Dreifus discussed the legacy of accounting professor and long-time mentor Abe Briloff in a panel on Sept. 28, 2022. Briloff received his undergraduate degree from the college in 1937, while Dreifus received his in 1966.

“I love the fact that the vertical campus, we have escalators because I can’t think of a better metaphor for the mobility that CUNY — Baruch, the other constituent schools of CUNY — bring a ballot for students because you have an opportunity of getting a good job,” Dreifus said. “Once you graduate here, it’s up to you to decide whether accounting’s for you, but that’s to be determined. I thought I couldn’t possibly think about living life as an accountant, but I was able to use that in another sphere. If you come to that situation, I’m sure you, too, will be able to do that.”  

Baruch alumnus Seth Besmertnik spoke about the success and failure in operating his own company with the Weissman Center on Feb. 14. During a Q&A session, he encouraged students to “email the CEO” of the company they want to be involved in.

“You can write five sentences, and it’s like ‘here’s where I am,’ ‘here’s why I like your company,’ ‘here’s why I can help’ [and] ‘here’s something unique about me,’” Besmertnik said. “If they don’t write back, just keep writing until they do write back because they probably didn’t see it, but they will write you back. The more persistent you are, the more you’re gonna like it.”

He said when the CEO eventually writes back to the person, they will forward the email to their human resources department and have it conduct a job interview. He added that “there’s always a path to get the thing you want,” whether it is by taking the traditional way or an unconventional way, but that “this is true for everything.”

Additionally, going back to the subject of his forum, Besmertnik said that failure is needed to succeed because “this is the only way to grow; this is the only way to get to the next step.”

Paquita Davis-Friday, the interim dean of the Larry Zicklin School of Business, discussed SVB Financial Group’s collapse and KPMG’s audit of the financial institution in the April 18 installment of the business school namesake’s “Zicklin Talks Business” webinar series.

During a Q&A session, she was asked for advice from students who want careers in accounting.

“I know one of the things that I would say at the start of an auditing class is that auditors and accountants are businesspeople first,” Davis-Friday said. “Really having a deep understanding of the industry, that you are understanding the institution itself is an extremely important part of the planning of an audit. You might become aware of the risks or lack of attention to the risks. Auditors, accountants — we’re businesspeople first. I think it’s important to keep that in mind, really double down on that and be aware of how businesses and your clients operate.”

On this note, I sign off from The Ticker with the business section in the hands of Judah Duke, who will succeed me in my role, and the section’s writing staff. I thank Duke, Bianca Pigon, Caspar Gajewski, Hailey Chin, Misheel Bayasgalan, Gabriel Rivera and Farah Javed — who herself is a former business editor — for helping me edit the section’s 18-article issue. They’ve dealt with a lot of work submitted late, and I cherish their commitment to producing polished work.

As for the pieces of wisdom I want to impart, without fear or regret, take a deep breath, move one step forward and try something new. This includes reporting at on-campus events for the section; please do.