WSU grad & retired New York Life president returns to the classroom

Frederick Sievert (M.A. ’76), retired president of New York Life Insurance company (2007) and Wayne State University Foundation board member, is volunteering his time to present three lectures to MBA students about strategy, business ethics and leadership based on his experience while at the helm of New York Life Insurance. His most recent presentation was to BA 7080, Strategic Management.

“When I retired early from New York Life, I wanted to follow my passions. One of them was to pursue divinity school (completed at Yale University in 2011), but I also wanted to teach because I started out my career in teaching and I wanted to get back to it. I currently teach in the business school at Fairfield University in Connecticut."

“It was natural to get involved (at the business school), but since I live in Connecticut, coming back twice a week was not possible, and so I decided maybe there was a different way to do it.  I took three segments – strategy, business ethics and leadership – from my Executive Management and Leadership course in Connecticut, put them together, and met with Dean Williams,” he explained. Dean Williams discussed the idea with Sievert, and found it to be a perfect fit for M.B.A. students.

Asked what he wants the “take away,” to be for the students he responds, “One is to think more strategically. You know strategy is kind of a nebulous thing.  It’s difficult for even seasoned executives to appropriately think about strategy – competing against other companies, levering core competencies. I thought, ‘I have a story to tell,’ and I’ve got four case studies that were all very strategic at New York Life and I was the guy making the decisions, so it’s natural for me to talk about it. I can answer any question students have.”

Tom Robinson, a student in BA 7080, said “I am truly thankful for Mr. Sievert’s time to come to our class. It meant a lot to our class to have someone with such influence come and share his experiences. The case study was insightful as it provided a window into real problems and scenarios that face upper management of large corporations.”

Professor Liu of BA 7080 echoed the sentiment. “His presentation had a very positive impact on the students. They were offered a rare opportunity to interact with an executive from the highest level of business and Fred provided a very powerful presentation that I believe will stay with our students for quite some time.”

As a mentor to young professionals, Fred Sievert put together a tip sheet offering five steps for a fast start to careers. He’s generously offered to share them with our students. Download them here.