A Conversation with...
Elizabeth A. Catrini, BS'85, MBA'89
President, FDU Alumni Association Board of Governors; Member, FDU Board of Trustees
What are your fondest memories of your student days?
I began my academic career at FDU as a second semester sophomore after transferring from a 4 year university in a large city. I commuted to the Florham Campus my first semester and then lived on campus for my junior and senior years and, ultimately, graduated a semester early.
After earning my BS in marketing, and working as a financial analyst at AT&T, I returned to the Florham Campus to pursue an MBA in finance in the evenings.
Some of my fondest memories of my experience at FDU center around the lasting friendships I have made. One of the best times you can have in college is getting to experience the ups (and downs) of dorm living. I look back on the days of sharing a common space, sharing clothes and sharing too many stories to count, with great fondness. With each passing season, walking through the campus, rushing to class, saving dining points for the Rain Garden restaurant, dancing to our favorite “signature” songs, pulling the all too familiar “all-nighter” – these activities are the wonderful memories of what my college experience encompassed.
How did FDU prepare you for your career?
The professors at FDU are outstanding educators who balance teaching concepts and practical, real-life application of those concepts. They took time outside of class to address questions and encourage the thought process. Once, when I had questions regarding an accounting homework problem, the professor invited me to sit with him and review my work. Together we evaluated each step of my work, determining whether my logic was accurate. It demonstrated to me the importance of thinking through problems and applying concepts to validate an approach.
||"I give to FDU because I am a very proud alumna of this incredible institution of higher learning."
Elizabeth Catrini, BS'85, MBA'89
FDU also stressed the importance of management and leadership in all fields and disciplines through case studies, class discussion and group projects. I vividly recall a project where a small group of students worked with a local business owner to improve his business. We learned invaluable skills, from understanding the client’s needs and developing a proposal, to implementing the recommendations and monitoring the effectiveness of the proposal.
While education does lead to obtaining employment, it is so much more than that. Education is about thinking, considering another way to go, looking at something from a different perspective, solving a problem from a new angle. When considering education from a broader perspective, there is value to every course, there is always something to take away from each subject. This kind of teaching is how FDU helped to prepare me for my career.
Were there any classes, professors or moments on campus that transformed your life?
There were a number of courses which made an impact on me, both in the value of the content and in the enthusiasm the professors had for the course material. My interest in marketing research and consumer behavior was strongly encouraged by Professor Robert Small, and I found Adjunct Professor Anthony Cavalieri's management accounting courses logical and impactful to my career. I also found the american government course surprisingly interesting through the engaging style of Dr. Ken Greene, former Florham Campus provost.
The University also provided me with opportunities to try new things and consider options that might have appeared out of reach. As an undergraduate student, I played on the women’s tennis team. I enjoyed tennis but had no experience playing competitively. The coach encouraged me and pushed me to improve my game.
These experiences helped me with my career as I was considered for positions beyond my marketing and finance degrees and financial work experience. I had the opportunity to lead large organizations in network engineering, global network operations, and operations planning. These positions took me out of my “comfort zone” – it was challenging but pushed me to use all that I had learned. Ironically, the engineering and operation positions are among the favorites of my career. Armed with education, I believe you can attain any goal when you put your mind to it.
What impresses you about the University today?
FDU strives to keep up with changing times and to continuously innovate. The University is led by strategic leaders who are results-driven and fiscally responsible. FDU understands and works the balancing act of increasing quality and reducing expenses, where students and families want more personalized service at an affordable price.
FDU is continually reviewing degrees and programs and reaching out to various communities, whether students, parents, alumni, faculty, industry professionals, and higher education professionals, to understand their needs and meet the demands. More specifically, FDU will be celebrating its first graduating class from the School of Pharmacy in 2016 and is expanding programs in health sciences and professions. Its global presence is growing with the success of its Vancouver Campus, and its integration of Wroxton College in select degree programs.
As a graduate of the Silberman College of Business, I am also encouraged by the focus to brand and strengthen our business program, and increase awareness of its value.
Lastly, I am impressed by the unique opportunities for learning in the community. The New Jersey Speakers Series Presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University is an outstanding program. We purchased season tickets in its inaugural season in 2014-2015 and were extremely impressed -- the speakers were varied, dynamic and thought-provoking, and the audience was engaged. We had the opportunity to invite guests who were equally impressed. Needless to say, our season tickets are in hand for the 2015-2016 season!
Why do you give to FDU, and why do you volunteer?
I learned my values and the importance of education from my family. Much of what I have accomplished is based on the education I obtained from Fairleigh Dickinson University. My career is built on this foundation and has presented numerous unique and rewarding learning opportunities.
I give to FDU because I am a very proud alumna of this incredible institution of higher learning. Every little bit helps to contribute to its continuing success. If it were not for FDU, I would not have had the opportunities for such a varied career.
I volunteer my time because I want to give back to this community. I want to encourage other students to think, to try new things, to experience the world of FDU and to take it all in. A degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University is a passport to many opportunities.
Elizabeth A. Catrini is president of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Alumni Association Board of Governors and a member of the FDU Board of Trustees.
About Elizabeth A. Catrini, BS'85, MBA'89
For the past 25 years, she has served at AT&T, leading a variety of areas including operations and engineering, financial planning and analysis, customer service and marketing, and people development and training.
Liz generously supports FDU through her contributions to The Fund for FDU, Wroxton College, the Friends of Florham, and various University programs including theater and athletics.
She volunteers with Junior Achievement and Girl Scouts of America-Heart of New Jersey Council, and is an avid supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Association, among other charities.
She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University's Florham Campus, earning a Bachelor of Science in Marketing (Summa Cum Laude) in 1985 and a Master of Business Administration in Finance in 1989. She is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).