During December Commencement, SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley awarded the Presidential Medal to Fortune 100 business leader Fred Festa ’81.
“Your success as a business leader has been extraordinary,” she said. “What’s more impressive, however, is your ability to look beyond the bottom line to the backbone of any successful venture—the people. Throughout your life, you have maintained a strong sense of service to others and support for your community.”
Chairman and chief executive officer of W.R. Grace & Co., Festa gained experience as he ascended the management ranks over two decades with General Electric, Allied Signal, ICG Commerce and Morgenthaler Private Equity Partners. Under his leadership, the revenue of Grace, a global specialty chemicals and materials company, grew 60 percent, from $2 billion in 2003 to $3.2 billion in 2011.
Festa, a 1981 magna cum laude graduate of the business administration program, delivered the Commencement address, sharing lessons he has learned about leadership and professional development.
“I can tell you, if you approach life as a series of lessons,” he said, “as a series of self-reflections, as a series of events from which you can learn and improve, you will ultimately accomplish everything you want to.”
Festa and his wife, MaryLynn Barbero Festa ’82, established the Festa Graduate Leadership Fellows Program to provide exceptionally motivated individuals an opportunity to pursue leadership experience in a professional environment. An inductee into the 2012-13 World Council and Assembly on Cooperative Education (WACE) Hall of Fame, Festa helped establish the W.R. Grace Internship Program at Oswego.
Festa owns the minor league Greenville (S.C.) Road Warriors hockey team, an affiliate of the New York Rangers. At Oswego, the Festas have also established the new Festa Graduate Assistantship Award for Men’s Hockey.
He has shared lessons on leadership with Oswego students as the keynote speaker at the 2011 Future Oswego Leaders Conference, as a 2010 recipient of the School of Business Beta Sigma Gamma Award and through a 2004 visit to chemistry and business classes with the Oswego Alumni Association’s Alumni-In-Residence program.
“. . . if you approach life as a series of lessons, as a series of self-reflections, as a series of events from which you can learn and improve, you will ultimately accomplish everything you want to.”
—Fred Festa ’81
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