Ana Duarte McCarthy offers keynote address at Johnson Means Business, 2010
Citi's managing director & chief diversity officer spoke to the importance of remaining authentic and of building one's own brand
More than 100 current and prospective Johnson students and faculty gathered to hear Ana Duarte McCarthy, managing director and chief diversity officer at Citibank, speak in Sage Hall’s Dyson Atrium on Thursday, Oct. 29.
McCarthy’s keynote address was one of many presentations and panel discussions held Oct. 28-30 during the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s (ODI’s) annual Johnson Means Business (JMB) event, a diverse student hosting weekend. At JMB, prospective students learn about Johnson’s MBA programs, gain valuable insight on how to position themselves as top candidates for MBA admissions, hear what the business school experience is really like from current students, and network with Johnson faculty, staff, and alumni.
McCarthy opened her talk with advice for prospective students. “For those of you looking at Cornell or looking at the power of an MBA, remember that the Cornell network is a very powerful network,” McCarthy said. “Not only are you investing in an MBA program [now]; it will also be something that will continue to serve you well and make a big impact [in the future].”
McCarthy, who is of Dominican descent, proceeded to tell her own story. Sharing childhood photographs, she talked about her critical ties to family and her memories of growing up in predominantly non-minority communities. She recalled times in her life during which she experienced the trials of being part of a minority group. “Someone once threw eggs at our front door, because we were different and moving into a white community,” she said.
McCarthy was able to turn trials into triumphs. After completing her undergraduate degree at Lafayette College, she continued her education at Columbia University, where she worked to provide more resources for people with fewer opportunities and privileges. Her successes led her to take on leading diversity management positions at various organizations, including Parsons School of Design, Kidder Peabody, and now, Citibank.
Drawing on her own personal experiences, McCarthy offered students insights on how to build a successful career and a reputable personal brand — “what I wish I knew when I was in your seats,” she said humorously. “From the moment you walk in [to your first job], you’re building your brand,” McCarthy said. “You need to build your reputation by working very hard, taking on tough assignments, and managing with integrity. You must always be aware that you are building your brand.”
Developing a professional network is as critical as building a personal brand, McCarthy said. “Having different people in your network matters.” An ideal network, she said, includes a mentor, a sounding board, an advocate — “someone who will speak for you when you’re not there” — and promoter — “a person who will give you visibility.”
McCarthy’s parting words: “Remain authentic. Don’t cover who you are. Know your audience, but bring yourself to work. If you’re someone who has a particular passion or drive, and it is minimized where you are, maybe you should be bolder or find somewhere else where you can bring that to the table.”
Reported by Chrysan Tung, Cornell '11