Alumni bring the light of experience to campus  

Marquette brought the strength of its alumni network and its students together in a dynamic new way last week through “Alumni of Action: A Day of Engaged Learning.” The day, which included a full slate of interactive learning opportunities hosted across multiple campus locations and colleges, took place on Friday, Feb. 9, in advance of National Marquette Day.

After a reflection led by Marquette Chaplain, Rev. Fred Zagone, S.J., to set the tone for the day, the knowledge sharing began in Dr. E. J. And Margaret O’Brien Hall with Tom Nolte, Arts ’84, director of institutional business development for Madison Investments. Drawing from his more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Nolte shared with students several attributes of Ignatian leadership.

“Keep a positive can-do attitude, have a hunger for knowledge to grow and become better informed, establish relationships and show empathy, have quiet confidence as opposed to cocky arrogance — humility is a tremendous asset, and handle pressure calmly,” Nolte explained. “When you’re a leader, others will take their cues from you.” 

Upstairs in O’Brien Hall, students listened to Marcelo Bartholo, Bus Ad ’01, who leads strategic projects as EY’s Americas deputy managing principal. Bartholo discussed a wide range of topics, including AI, consulting, business models, the digital divide and more.

“What best defines a top employee in your opinion?” asked one of the students attending.

“Intellectual curiosity,” Bartholo replied quickly. “Getting your mind set to intellectual curiosity and learning new things all the time is huge. Think about joining an organization that values learning.”

Other top-employee traits identified included an ability to deal effectively with conflict and treating others well — a good “bedside manner” as Bartholo put it. “It’s not just about working hard,” he explained. “Don’t forget the personal side of this. Go to office events. Get engaged. Your technical skills will only get you so far. Interpersonal skills are very important.”

Over in Johnston Hall, Tim Blair, Arts ’91, hosted an informal Q&A with students about his professional experiences and the demands of the workforce today. Blair has had a prominent career in the communications and consulting space, most recently as vice president of communications for Acadia Healthcare.

“I try to be as transparent as I can, not to send emails after hours, and to learn more about what people are doing in their lives,” Blair explained when asked what he does to be a good leader. “People want to know their leaders are interested in them.”

“How did Marquette set you up for success?” another student asked.

“I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but Marquette does a great job brokering opportunities to develop great relationships. There’s definitely a values-driven culture that characterized what I wanted to do and what kind of company I wanted to work for.”

  • Tom Nolte, Arts ’84, director of institutional business development for Madison Investments.

The day culminated back at O’Brien Hall with a panel discussion on “Adaptive Leadership: Lessons from Resilient Leaders” led by Tim Hanley, Bus Ad ’78, Acting Keyes Dean of the College of Business Administration. Joining Hanely were Blair, Bartholo and Luanne Thomas Ewald, Bus Ad ’91, who serves as chief operating officer and executive officer for the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

When asked how they apply values they learned at Marquette, all three agreed that service was paramount.

“Don’t ever forget the concept of servant leadership,” advised Bartholo. “And I learned that here.”

“My leadership style is totally about servant leadership,” echoed Blair.

“The service piece is very important to me,” added Thomas Ewald. “We go day by day making sure our community is safe and healthy.”

A powerful moment in the discussion about ethical leadership came when Thomas Ewald related how she resigned as president and CEO of a different hospital when the hospital’s parent company directed her to cut services that the community heavily relied on.  

“I’d rather sell shoes at Nordstrom than have children dying in the street,” said Thomas Ewald.  

In addition to providing invaluable insights for students as they prepare to become tomorrow’s leaders, the day richly showcased how active the Marquette alumni network is on behalf of current students and each other, the power of Marquette connections; and underscores the prominence of Marquette alumni across multiple fields.  

Editor’s note: In addition to those featured above, Marquette is grateful to all who took part in “Alumni of Action: A Day of Engaged Learning,” including:

  • Jim Meier, Bus Ad ’84
  • Jim Hill, Bus Ad ’88
  • Ann Ford, Nurs ’83
  • Nunzio Gaglianello, H Sci ’02