An engineering influence—"Everything hangs on the architecture of management."
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Managing Partner, McKeever and Sullivan, LLC
Favorite Professor: Martin Schatz, Organizational Behavior, and Murray Seidman in accounting.
On the M.B.A. Experience: Adelphi practically came to me. I took my first classes in the Manhasset library around the corner from my house. We learned so much from each other—the great benefit of taking classes with other working professionals is the shared experience.
Advice for students: Always be open to conversations for possibilities. You don’t know what someone is going to say, so take the time to listen.
Everything Hangs on the Architecture of Management
“I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning – a challenge,” says Joseph Marchese.
“I knew a lot about engineering,” he recalls, “but not much about anything else. Once I started it, I wanted to get it done—to challenge my stamina.” While working full-time, he packed his schedule with courses, even filling his summers, and completed the program in less than two years.
At the same time, his experiences at an engineering firm shaped his outlook on business for life. “It was a great firm,” he says. “We were ranked number one in engineering by clients, but we were dead last in management strength. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was an insightful moment for me.”
Over the course of three decades in business, Mr. Marchese has distilled his core philosophy. “Everything, all services, all business operations, hangs on the architecture of management. My main job in any business has been to put people in the position and the environment to be successful.”
That career has included more than ten years in the financial services industry, including time in a controllership position at Citibank, overseeing more than 350 people at Dean Witter, and as chief technology officer at Merrill Lynch. The last was the most global and far-reaching and where he first learned to “lead by influence.” Eventually, he sought work with deeper intrinsic satisfaction, and following an entrepreneurial impulse, he co-founded a management services firm.
“Our core business was giving people actionable information—using IT, systems, and reporting tools to make the best decisions,” he says. An experience he describes as a rollercoaster, that venture took him to new highs but also brought real challenges.
Thereafter, he joined venerable Lloyd’s Register to oversee their North American operations. The risk management and management systems businesses fit perfectly with his knowledge of industry and his understanding of people. In a short time, the business was experiencing 300 to 400 percent growth. More than that, Mr. Marchese was exposed to extraordinary leadership, which only strengthened his belief in the core value of management.
Before joining Sapient Corporation, where he helped reverse the steep contraction of a $500 million business, Mr. Marchese also served as an executive director at EDS, which is now part of HP. It was there that he pursued and closed a billion-dollar deal with NASD. Looking back, it is one of many milestones he still celebrates.
When he decided to found his own management consultancy again several years ago, this baseball fan didn’t have to search far for a fitting name. McKeever and Sullivan, the former street address of Ebbets Field, is a tribute to a golden age in America. As a business philosophy it encapsulates Mr. Marchese’s passion for the people behind successful businesses. His clients have included noted names such as Lockheed Martin, AT&T, Federal Express, and GE, but he finds even greater joy in helping small to midsized organizations.
“The really big firms have established brands and they carry their own momentum and legacies with them,” he says. “It’s in the smaller players that you can really work to develop a management advantage.”
When he’s not working, Mr. Marchese is an avid runner, reader, and traveler. He and his wife Donna, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adelphi, live in Manhasset, New York.
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