Barack Obama. Oprah Winfrey. Jesus Christ.  Typically, these people come to mind when you think of a leader.

However, Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian and Managing Director of JP Morgan Chase & Co, encouraged Fairfield University students to add another name to the list; their own.

Lowney spoke about the stereotype surrounding the association of leaders with someone in charge, like a president or a celebrity.  He said that “this notion is part of the problem” within our society today. What constitutes a leader should be less about social status and have more of a focus on the influence a person has on others.

“We are all leaders,” said Lowney, during a presentation given Monday night in the Oak Room to an audience of mostly business students.

Lowney has had experiences with many different kinds of leaders, from the Jesuits to Wall Street CEOs. After growing up in Queens, New York and graduating from high school, Lowney lived as Jesuit seminarian for seven years until he realized that the life of a priest wasn’t meant for him. He then made the transition into corporate America by becoming the Managing Director of JP Morgan Chase & Co, where he stayed for seventeen years. He left the company in 2001 and has since published two award-winning books.

Lowney’s transition from a leadership position in the church to a major leader in business was not as difficult as one would suspect. He said that his success at JP Morgan was influenced by his experience with the Jesuits and his knowledge of the Jesuit values.

Many students may not think that the values they learned during their Freshman Year Experience class would have any importance to their future, but Lowney is an example that the Jesuits’ definition of excellence may be what business leaders should look to improve their lives and their profits. He encouraged the students to seek self-awareness and criticism because the key to success is to “have a strong sense of who they are.”

Dr. Donald E. Gibson, Chair of the Management Department at the Dolan School of Business, required many of his students to attend the event in hopes that they would develop their leadership skills and learn from Lowney’s ability to transform his career in the dynamic world of today. Gibson said that he wanted his students to understand that “you don’t always know where your life is going to lead.”

Those in attendance left the lecture with a new understanding of leadership. Peter Colgan ’13 walked away feeling more confident in his abilities as a leader and his choice to pursue an occupation as an accountant. “Mr. Lowney really helped me to understand how to become an effective leader while also keeping my Jesuit values,” he said.

To be successful on Wall Street, or whatever street you end up on, Lowney says that a young business student should hold on to the Jesuit ideals of heroism, self-awareness, ingenuity and love and therefore spend “less time watching (television’s “The) Apprentice, imitating Donald Trump.”

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