Executive Leadership Institute Participant Profile: Matthew Day

Day_Matt PhotoName: Matt Day
Title: SVP, Network Payment Innovation & Contract Management
Company: Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
Program: 2016 ELI

What’s the coolest part of your job?
Healthcare is changing so rapidly, with more attention, energy, data, and thought than ever focused on truly transforming the system for the better. I have been fortunate to work on changing the way healthcare is delivered and paid for to almost one million members. That work has spurred and supported similar conversations and transformations across the U.S. and the world. Taking on a challenge as fundamental as healthcare and seeing real results is very cool.

You work in healthcare one of our region’s most important and prominent sectors, what drew you to this field?
Coming out of college, getting into healthcare was unintentional – almost a coin toss between being a healthcare or pension actuary. After that, I never looked back. I am motivated and inspired by the profound personal impact our healthcare system has on every one of us. Working within to make things better and deliver quality care at an affordable price is a responsibility I take seriously – it gets me to work and energizes me throughout the day.

Best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Have enough confidence to believe you have the best solution to the problem and enough humility to recognize when you do not. Balancing belief in yourself with openness and value for the input from your teammates is something I continue to come back to in my career.

How can young professionals expand their networks and increase their impact in their communities?
For community involvement and impact, follow your passion – for one person that may be food security, for another, homelessness. Many challenges face our city, our country, and the world. Talented professionals giving their time, money, and energy to causes they deeply care about will move us all towards a better future.

In building a business network, curiosity can be a starting point leading to a dialogue – be curious about someone else’s job, company, community, and experience. More likely than not, a connection will be made and fostered somewhere down that path.

What reading material is on your nightstand?
At home, I tend to relax with books on my hobbies more than industry or business reading – furniture-making tops the list. I’m finishing up “By Hand & Eye” by George Walker and Jim Tolpin – an excellent book on designing furniture. However, to keep current and get the story behind the headlines, I enjoy WBUR.org (especially the Commonhealth section) and NYTimes.com.

You have just begun the Executive Leadership Institute – what is one goal you have for your participation?
While I am very excited to go “back to the classroom” and explore pertinent issues facing Boston and its businesses, what I most look forward to is making deep connections with other city leaders. The network that comes from shared experiences over a year-long program like ELI is a rare privilege that will be invaluable far into the future.

Boston’s Future Leaders Program Participant Profile: Amy Kasden

Kasden_Amy PhotoName: Amy Kasden
Title: Senior Manager Tax
Company: RSM LLP
Program: 2016 BFL

What’s the coolest part of your job?
The coolest part of my job is getting to work with people. Internally my job is very team-based. I enjoy being able to develop and train younger staff, work with my peers on various projects, and learn from those more senior than me. I also spend a good amount of time building relationships with our clients, which I can be very rewarding. So while the world of tax might not sound extremely “cool,”  a lot of what I do revolves around building relationships when you cut away the technical piece.

Who do you admire in the business world?
If I step back and identify a common trait in each person I admire, it is those of influence who build up the people around them as opposed to tearing them down. I aspire to be a leader who embodies this trait.

You work in the important field of accounting. What drew you to this field?
My road to accounting was a somewhat winding one. I went to college as a physics major due to my love of math and science, but ended graduating from the school of business with a major in both accounting and finance. Along the way I decided my next stop would be law school, which is what brought me to Boston. During law school I had the wonderful benefit of interning at both the MA Department of Revenue and the MA Appellate Tax Board. At the time I didn’t make the connection that those internships were bridging my accounting background with my legal background. Thankfully one of my professors, who was a partner in a Boston law firm, suggested I look at working in an accounting firm doing tax work. So that is how I ended up where I am today.

But looking back now, I think what truly drew me here was the fact that I enjoy working with numbers and within the business world. Working for an accounting firm lets me get the best of both of those -I see the number side of things but also interface with our clients and can provide real business solutions to them which is extremely satisfying.

If you could have any job in Boston, other than your own, what would it be and why?
I really like teaching and developing others, which is a big part of my job now. Thus, if I had to do something other than my current job, I would probably want to teach.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
I have been very fortunate to have some really great mentors throughout my career. While I have gotten a lot of really great advice along the way, the best was to believe in my own worth.

How can young professionals expand their networks and increase their impact in Boston?
I think there are two things that go hand in hand. The first is being good at your job. It can be somewhat surprising how fast your reputation builds by being good at what you do. The second is finding something you believe in and getting involved. Networking can be intimidating, but if you find a local group/charity/cause that you believe in and join that group, the networking will happen naturally and feel less daunting.

What reading material is on your nightstand?
In my down time I enjoy reading a lot of historical fiction; I’m currently reading books written by Philippa Gregory.

You are about to begin the Boston’s Future Leaders program. What is one thing you hope to achieve through your participation?
There are actually a lot of things I hope to achieve through my participation in the Boston’s Future Leaders program. If I am picking just one, it would be the intangible of developing relationships with other young professionals in the Boston area. Of course the program will help build leadership skills, which is one of its most important parts, but the added benefit of going through the program with so many other young professionals seems priceless.

Women’s Leadership Program Participant Profile: Jackie Ng

jennyName: Jackie Ng
Title: Café Ambassador
Company: Capital One Bank
Program: 2015-16 WLP

What’s the coolest part of your job?
Being the face of the Capital One brand - advocating for our customers and educating them so they can reach their financial goals through our online tools. I also help make a difference through active relationship building with our local businesses and community, bringing people together through community events, financial literacy classes, and networking opportunities. An example is the peer driven social happy hour I created with my core peers from the Chamber Women’s Leadership Program. It was a great way to support the Chamber, as well as bringing both cohorts together to mingle in a more relaxed setting at one of the Capital One Cafés.

Who do you admire in the business world?
Sir Richard Branson! He has both a bold business sense and a desire to give back to the world. He once said he starts a business only if it will improve people’s lives. I am glad that I have that opportunity today to do both: drive the future banking to our customers and improve the well-being of our local communities.

If you could have any job in Boston, other than your own, what would it be and why?
I would be a marketing strategist for a Fortune 100 company to help develop and execute strategic marketing plans that prioritize the customer and the community needs in any service or technology provided. I am engaged when I am challenged and when I can use my creative thinking to add value to the bigger picture.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.”

How can young professionals expand their networks and increase their impact in Boston?
First, understand what you are passionate about and what you would like to achieve through networking. Second, identify professional groups in your workplace, social circle, and community that offer networking opportunities to grow and partner with each other. Through these social settings, learn more about the people you connected with a personal level, and then combine your passions and drive for a cause that you really care about.

What reading material is on your nightstand?
I follow The New York Times and Business Insiders articles very closely on my phone. I don’t have a nightstand, so I usually have one book on hand at a time. It is currently Primed to Perform by Neel Doshi.

You are just about half way done with the Women’s Leadership Program? What is your biggest takeaway so far?
The Women’s Leadership Program provides a safe haven for me to network with women who share great ambition. My biggest takeaway is the importance of having a support group on one’s career journey, so we can lean in and inspire each other to achieve great success together. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to be part of such a diverse group.

What we heard: Advice from top Boston women leaders

2016 Pinnacle 1The 2016 Pinnacle Awards, Boston’s top celebration for women in business, surely didn’t disappoint. More than 1,000 women (and men) from across the region gathered to honor eight outstanding female leaders, and pay tribute to the amazing (and increasing) contributions women make to our community.

Honorees spanned private, government, innovation, and non-profit sectors, sharing many tidbits of wisdom and lessons of success. No matter our gender, age, career level, or line of work, there was plenty for attendees to take away. Here is some of the best we heard!

  • “You need to risk rejection” – Vicki Kennedy
  • “As a leader be authentic!” – Katie Lapp
  • “Do things that lend into perspective and advanced learning. Help others. Get involved. Take big swings” – Susan Loconto Penta
  • “There is nothing you can’t achieve” – Katie Lapp
  • “Be brave and spend your life doing your passion” – Sheila Dillon
  • “There’s beauty and power in bringing your whole self to work. It makes a difference” – Stevie DeGroff
  • “Keep your eyes wide open. You never know what will present itself” – Katie Lapp
  • “Remember the world is small. Commit to being one person everywhere” – Susan Loconto Penta
  • “Be authentic. Don’t be someone you’re not” – Katie Lapp
  • “If you really want to do well in your career, you really need to pick something that inspires you” – Sheila Dillon
  • “Remember there will be disappointments. It’s on those moments the greatest opportunities present themselves” – Katie Lapp
  • “It’s important for people to be brave. We have to believe the things we want are possible & declare them“– Sheila Dillon
  • “I am because we are; all I achieve, we achieve” – Jackie Glenn
  • “We shine bright when you shine bright” – Stevie Degroff
  • “Be a woman of substance. Be a woman of achievement” – Vicki Kennedy

The Pinnacle Awards are part of the Chamber’s Women’s Network, connecting 3,000+ women of all career levels across Greater Boston. Regular events include speaker series, monthly networking breakfasts, and so much more. Getting involved is easy – sign up here.

View event photos here.

And check out what they were saying on Twitter

2016 pinnacle tweets



4 takeaways from our special Mass Transit Panel Discussion

by Jim Rooney, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber’s latest Government Affairs Forum featured a special panel discussion – “Fixing & Financing our Broken Public Transit Systems: Lessons from Across the Country” – with some of the top leadership of major transit systems including Craig Stewart of New York City’s MTA, Joe Casey the recently retired general manager of Philadelphia’s SEPTA system, Mortimer Downey the chair of the board of Washington D.C.’s Metro system, and Joe Aiello of the MBTA’s Finance and Management Control Board.

gaf 131 panelThis highly experienced panel shared their insights on the factors that can make or break a transit system such as funding, long-range financial planning, quality of management, talent recruitment and retention, public trust, and positive pressure from the business community. The key takeaways:

1). A well-functioning transit system is a priority for regional economic growth and competing on the global stage. When asked about how a transit system like the MBTA can fall into crisis, the panel pointed things like chronic lack of investment, poor management, and a culture not conducive to implementing preventative measures as contributing factors.

2). Attracting, retaining, and training talent to build a strong management team is vital to moving a system out of crisis and giving it a sustainable future. Joe Aiello pointed to the fact that some of the cost overrun issues plaguing the Green Line extension came from a lack of staff training for the new contracting model. As for attracting the best leadership to run our systems, I asked what public transit general managers were paid in other parts of the country a $400,000 figure was raised, which is far above the MBTA GM pay of $160,000. Ask any major sports team or Fortune 500 company how they build success and they will tell you it’s about investing in top talent.

3). Widening sources of mass transit funding: New York is currently making news as Governor Cuomo announces major infrastructure enhancement projects. Craig Stewart of New York’s MTA talked about the current and proposed expansion projects for Manhattan’s subway system and said that finding new, innovative revenue sources such as value capture need to be explored for these projects. Mortimer Downey added that there were districts in the Washington D.C. Metro area that supported a regional tax for specific transportation projects that are now delivering significant economic impact. The panel agreed that the main areas of investment in a transit system are achieving and sustaining a state of good repair, meeting ridership demand, and supporting strategic expansion to encourage economic development.

4). The business community plays a critical role in mass transit. The panel unanimously agreed that having a strong business community voice demanding the best transportation system possible and linking it to job creation and the economy is crucial for public and legislative support. Joe Casey told the audience that the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce makes it clear to government that businesses look for two things when deciding where to locate: a strong workforce, and the ability of the current transportation system to move people to jobs.

From listening to our members, I know that transportation is a top policy issue for the business community in 2016. In fact many of you are angry about the current state of our transportation system – especially when it comes to the T – and how it affects the economy and your workforce. I can assure you that the Chamber will continue to be a strong voice on this issue and today’s panel discussion was just the beginning of our work to improve our transportation infrastructure.