We asked Robert Bellizzi ’10, vice president, global commercial banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Albany metropolitan area, New York) who also graduated from Saint Rose with a degree in business administration, for five lessons learned during the course of his career so far. And while he was at it, we requested that he reflect on his Saint Rose days. Here’s what Bellizzi had to say.
Get a mentor – several, if possible. Having a mentor means being able to consult about your career with someone who may have been in your shoes at one point. It could be a colleague, a peer, or even a competitor. A good place to start is thinking of those that you look up to in your profession. Don’t forget to pay the mentorship forward when the time comes. Oftentimes that can be even more rewarding than being the mentee.
Take care of yourself. Even with the most enjoyable careers, stress and challenging times are inevitable in the workplace. The most recent example for many is the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining good physical and mental health outside of work makes it easier to perform well at work, and prepares you for challenges that will come your way. Some ideas include exercising, playing sports, reading, yoga, meditation, spending time with family, religious activities, volunteerism, and so forth.
Make goals and hold yourself accountable. At the end of every year, I make a list of a few goals for the following year and record them in my phone. I usually include three goals: personal, professional and financial. To help brainstorm, I ask myself, “What would I want my life to look like at this time next year?” I review these goals periodically throughout the year to make sure I stay on track.
Work smarter, not harder. Time is our most valuable asset, and it is limited. While working hard is important, doing so efficiently is just as important. Establishing a routine and demonstrating a degree of consistency will make everything else you do fall into place.
Follow the Golden Rule. Treating others as you would want to be treated might sometimes seem a lost art, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Treat everyone with respect and dignity: your colleagues, clients, competitors, and anyone with whom you come into contact, no matter what. It will be reciprocated (sometimes that means giving before receiving). Having the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a skill that can be used in any career and in life.
Saint Rose gave me a strong start. It was the total package and helped to shape my life after college in many ways:
Being a member of the baseball team during my first two years, I learned the value of teamwork, personal sacrifice, and self-discipline that I carry with me in my career today.
The community of friends I was able to develop at Saint Rose has been invaluable to me. It’s been great staying connected to them as they continue to progress personally and professionally in life. I often come across many of my former classmates and professors through work, and I always enjoy the opportunity to reminisce about Saint Rose and share some laughs.
I have to thank Saint Rose for introducing me to volunteerism and charitable work. When I was a freshman at Saint Rose, Coach O’Connor brought our team to Light the Night, an annual event hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It was my first time being exposed to an organization like that. Since then, I’ve volunteered to help raise funds for LLS and many other associations, including the American Cancer Society.
I was fortunate enough to go into a career where the content I learned in the classroom at Saint Rose is applicable in the workplace. From the time I did my first project in Dr. Mathews’ BUS-111 class, to taking Dr. Finn’s famously challenging BUS-497, and having fun in between with Professor Hughes’ coverage of the Yankees in accounting classes, the education I received at Saint Rose is something that I carry with me each and every day.
Finally, and most important: Saint Rose was truly “home” for me and my family. For many years, my dad was the head baseball coach at Saint Rose. There probably wasn’t a week that went by where I wasn’t on the college’s campus with him during my childhood. Shortly after my 18th birthday, he passed away after a long battle with leukemia. I will never forget the support I received from the campus community as an incoming freshman a few months after his passing. Because of this, I was able to continue on with my education and baseball career, which set the foundation for the person I am today, both personally and professionally. I will forever be grateful for my time at the College.