Brothers and fellow UB alumni, Brian and Jonathan Schwartz have had parallel career paths that started with the practical business education they received from the Merrick School of Business. Brian, B.S. ‘90 and Jonathan, B.S. ’92 and M.B.A. ’99, both majored in finance, and have since become members of the Dean’s Advisory Council. Both have careers focused on enterprise risk management.
Brian was recently named Ernst & Young’s Americas internal audit leader. He was elevated to this role with more than 22 years of professional experience, the last few of which were with the firm’s Baltimore office as its internal audit and enterprise risk management leader.
In his new role as part of E&Y’s leadership team, he’s tasked with defining and overseeing the firm's internal audit/risk strategy, resources, thought leadership and approach/methodology for the firm. It’s a major task: Ernest & Young employs 152,000 worldwide and generated $22.9 billion in net revenue in 2011.
“I spend time with the firm's most important clients and facilitate internal audit and risk management insight sessions for executives and board members,” Brian said. “Along with my leadership role comes extensive global travel.”
Younger brother Jonathan has worked at the Big Four accounting firm KPMG as director of internal audit services in the mid-Atlantic region. But his newest role as Under Armour’s senior director of risk management and chief audit officer keeps him on his toes. It is not a surprise that he is always connected via his Blackberry, considering that he is tasked with helping the management team and the board of directors’ audit committee understand and manage the many risks in reaching the strategic goals of a company that is in an aggressive growth mode. Under Armour reached $1 billion in net revenues in 2010 and is striving to be world's top performance athletic brand.
When asked what keeps him up at night, Jonathan offered one word: “growth.”
“Under Armour is growing domestically and globally,” he said. “Understanding the strategic risk environment on a global scale will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I’m always challenged to effectively and efficiently allocate my team’s resources understand and help manage risks. I have to continually prioritize the risks in the horizon based on the strategies of the company.”
In today’s dynamic business environment, every organization, including a business school, must identify and prioritize its business risks. The Schwartz brothers are right in the middle of the action. Their expertise has been invaluable to Darlene Smith, dean of the Merrick School of Business, as she leads the school forward.
“When I approach alumni and area business leaders to join our Dean’s Business Advisory Council, I look for people who have the same commitment and passion as I do for the next generation of business leaders,” Smith said. “Brian and Jonathan are two people who ‘get it’. They both provide me with great advice. For example, their insights and experiences were critical last year when we developed the School’s new strategic plan.”
The plan’s development involved many stakeholders. But it was the Advisory Council that insisted that the School take a bolder approach. The Schwartz brothers were among the members who were most vocal during this process.
“I had the honor of being part of the latest update to the School’s strategic plan,” Jonathan said. “With the AACSB accreditation and recognition by US News & World Report -- UB is in an enviable position to capitalize on its reputation.”
Jonathan’s passion for his alma mater comes through as more than a boast.
“I am pleased that my experience could play a part in the strategic direction of the School,” Jonathan continued. “I can tell you that I experienced a very high quality education from very passionate UB professors. However, the School is more than that. If you consider the convenience of its location to business, government and nonprofits, the price point of its tuition, and the great teaching, you create a value proposition for current and prospective students that is strong and competitive with some of the best schools around.”
Both brothers believe that giving back to the Merrick School of Business is an opportunity to impact the institution where their impressive careers began.
“The Advisory Council provides me with an opportunity to take my own professional experiences and impact the strategy of the school,” Brian said. “It is a great way to share my knowledge with a school that benefited me so much. It is exciting for me to think about just how far the Merrick School of Business has come since I was a student.”
“The energy I feel when I am on campus is a result of the hard work of the dean and the professors who bring a great balance of real-world experiences, global views and a focus on what is best for the students,” he added. “Each year Merrick becomes more competitive with the other well-known business schools in the area and receives more notoriety for its programs and areas of focus. As an alumnus, this direction excites me and makes me want to stay involved with the council and see the School continue to grow in prestige.”
Jonathan echoes Brian’s sentiments about giving back to the School as a way to drive its upward momentum.
"At the time of graduation, I didn’t fully appreciate the education I received at UB,” said Jonathan. “I knew I had learned a lot and was ready to begin my career. But after the first 20 years of my career, I now understand the value of the quality education I received. Although my personal and professional lives are extremely busy, I thought it was time to give back to UB through participation and leadership on the Advisory Council.”
If their careers and volunteerism didn’t keep them busy enough, the brothers are now sharing their expertise with the School of Business in the development of a proposed new graduate certificate in enterprise risk management and corporate governance.
“Spending just a few moments with the Schwartz brothers, you can feel the passion they have for their field,” said Smith. “We consider the certificate in enterprise risk management an opportunity to deliver relevant and critical material to a variety of students. We know that organizations are more exposed, more complex, and are facing increased risk in a turbulent economy. Teaching ways to enhance the process of assessing, measuring and managing that risk—is essential. The certificate will be invaluable to our state’s business and government leaders as well as those serving on corporate and nonprofit boards.”
As the Schwartz brothers might add: that’s a safe bet.