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Student summit welcomes middle market leaders

Published: 2014-01-30

Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce

Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce


Alumni panel at the second annual Middle Market Student Summit

Middle Market Student Summit alumni panel

For the second straight year, students had the opportunity to explore the nation’s midsized business economy and engage with its leaders, including alumni, at the Middle Market Student Summit.

The event, organized by the National Center for the Middle Market, featured Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce, who shared with students some of the strategy and initiatives that led the eco-friendly, Rhode Island-based jewelry company to incredible growth -- from $4.5 million in revenue in 2010 to more than $200 million today. During the same period, Alex and Ani went from 23 employees to more than 1,000.

“Part of rebuilding, whatever country you move to or whatever company you work for, is understanding that you can’t just do what everybody does,” said Feroce, a U.S. army veteran who also served in the Rhode Island Senate. “You’re going to have to be different and you have to make that change.”

Differentiation for Alex and Ani meant, in part, establishing strong company standards and values as well as a culture of employee engagement, building and maintaining a brand, and taking risks.

“I’m a risk taker,” Feroce said. “You don’t want a high-growth company to have somebody who’s risk-adverse -- you’re going to flat line very quickly, or go down . . . But there’s a moment in time for that, so the risk should be tied to the lifecycle of the organization and what you’re trying to do at that moment.”

Students also attended a panel discussion focusing on middle-market career opportunities and challenges with recent Fisher College of Business alumni, including:

  • Nate Palmer (MAcc, BSBA ’08), CFA, CPA, Research Analyst, Diamond Hill Investments, Columbus
  • Lindsay Kronk (BSBA, ’11), Residential Real Estate Broker, @properties, Chicago
  • Mike Jurek (BSBA, ’12), CPA, Staff Tax Accountant, Crowe Horwath, Columbus
  • Joseph Wechsler (MBA ’10), manager, The Hackett Group, Washington D.C.

Anil Makhija, senior associate dean at Fisher and academic director of the National Center for the Middle Market shared research and survey findings about the segment -- the “spine of the economy” accounting for nearly 200,000 companies, 44.5 million jobs, and one-third of private sector GDP. Specifically, Makhija focused on the center’s research on firms that demonstrated significant growth during and after the economic downtown. The center, a multiyear partnership with GE Capital, is dedicated to providing critical insights and analyses that drive growth in the nation’s middle market.