Walsh College

Blog List

Aug 20 2014
Alumni Advice
By: Duc Abrahamson Category: Alumni


Alumni Advice

In my position as alumni and student relations officer, I am lucky enough to get to know many of the business leaders who call Walsh College their alma mater.  I ask them to pass along their secrets to success so that I can share them with you.

Debby Hopkins, BAC ’77, chief innovation officer of Citi, a global bank operating across 160 countries. She is also chairman of Venture Capital Initiatives and managing director/head of CitiVentures.

Debby provides her take on the five key traits of innovators.

    1. An insatiable curiosity and the ability to create a vision of what could be.
    2. A willingness to fail in the attempt.
    3. Both left- and right-brain skill sets.
    4. Perseverance, courage, and humility.
    5. The ability to translate a vision into actionable products.

"Reframing the problem is probably one of the most important tools in an innovator’s toolkit. Every company needs to continually reframe its business to survive.”


Jeffrey C. Littmann, MST ’81, vice president and CFO of Ralph C. Wilson Enterprises, LLC, director and CFO of Buffalo Bills Inc., a member and CFO of the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund, and director and treasurer of Interstate Highway Construction, Inc.

Jeffrey has advice for student’s balancing work and school.

“If you’re doing that (work and school) grind, you have to make it fun. You have to tape up and get ready for the game. Go to class with your game- face on and stay with the professor throughout the whole lecture. If you’re just trying to make it through, you’re toast.”


David Girodat, BBA '85, MSF '92, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank (Eastern Michigan), which has $5 billion in assets. He serves on the boards of Business Leaders of Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and New Detroit. He also is a member of the New Detroit Finance Committee, the Business Leaders of Michigan Audit Committee, The United Way Cabinet, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Philanthropy Council, and the Ambassador Club of Henry Ford Macomb Hospital.

“Have a mentor in your life, someone that you can trust and talk to regarding all life decisions. It is good to have a voice of reason around you. I have had a couple in my career and would not have been able to achieve personal goals without them.”


John Latella, MSF ’99, chief operating officer of Garden Fresh Gourmet. John is a first vice-chair of the Salvation Army Metropolitan Detroit Advisory Board, is vice-chair of the Salvation Army Metropolitan Detroit, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Bed & Bread Committee.

“First, an education will get you to the door; it won't open it for you.  You need to distinguish yourself from others in the marketplace in order to make a difference, regardless of the career path you take.  I learned early on from my father that you treat all people with compassion regardless of their situation/predicament.  What might seem like a small issue to you could have them bearing the weight of the world.  I have been blessed to have mentors that are better people than they are business people, and it's amazing the success you can find when you treat people the right way.”

“Please find time for yourself and personal interests outside of your education.  Too many of us sacrifice relationships, hobbies, etc. to try and get ahead.  A truly successful individual will find the appropriate work/life balance and ultimately thrive in their career.”


Lorraine Goodrich, MSF ’03, chief financial officer for Automotive Industry Action Group, a global trade association. Lorraine serves on the board of directors for Bloomfield Youth Guidance, as well as on the board committee for The Empowerment Plan in Detroit.

“Join as many groups and associations as you can early in your career.  You never know who you may meet who could one day assist you in your career and life.  Whether it comes naturally to you or not, always try to be a people-person.  Finance professionals are not necessarily known for their people skills, but I have learned throughout my career that being a people-person makes all the difference at higher management levels.  You should always try to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone.”


Thomas B. Lanni, Jr. MBA ’05, vice president of Oncology, Internal Medicine, and Imaging for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. He serves on the board of directors for the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Michigan Gamma Knife, LLC. Tom is a member of the Finance Committee for Leadership Oakland and the Michigan Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (MCACHE).

“Continue to network with current classmates, former classmates, and friends. Having a larger network of resources allows you the opportunity to learn, share, and potentially find an opportunity that you are interested in pursuing at some point in your career.”


What advice would you pass along to students and new grads? Share your secret to success below.


0 Comments so far | Skip to comment form

Address Line 1:
Address Line 2: