Sean Kay, a graduate of the class of 1997, is very successful in the world of business. He is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoooper (PwC), in the top 4 percent of employees who have become partners in the firm, which is the second largest professional consulting firm in the world. In this position, Kay offers guidance to clients about endowment investing, including Harvard University, helping them to make prudent decisions about how to grow their businesses.
While Kay holds a master’s degree in business administration and accounting, he has found that the Catholic liberal arts education he received at Christendom is the greatest value to him when advising clients.
“When I have a really challenging conversation—even if it’s on a technical, business matter—I find that I’m drawing upon experiences that I gained during my undergraduate years,” Kay told the Cardinal Newman Society in a recent article. “I’m able to use those skills much more frequently than the ones I learned in graduate school.”
While Kay was at Christendom, he double-majored in English and Political Science. The formation he received by pursuing these disciplines has helped him to think analytically and approach problems from various angles.
“For the first time in my life as an undergraduate student [at Christendom], I met people who so badly wanted to do the right thing,” said Kay to the Cardinal Newman Society. “Faith was critically important to everyday life.”
Regarding his graduate work at Northeastern University, Kay believes that it was beneficial, though not as important as his undergraduate experience at Christendom.
“Graduate school gave me the credentials, but it is my undergraduate Catholic, liberal arts experience that allows me to be successful in what I’m doing today,” he said in the interview.
Christendom not only gave Kay a strong intellectual foundation but was also a place where he found personal and professional mentorship. The late Dr. Phillip Crotty, who was a long-standing member of the board at Christendom, served as a professional and personal mentor to Kay. Despite his busy schedule, Crotty took time to meet with Kay regularly, helping him to discern what he wanted to do in his professional career. Crotty and Kay remained personal friends for many years after Kay graduated.
Kay, who with his wife, Christendom alumna Halyna Fedoryka, has ten children, believes that the study of the Catholic liberal arts instills in students the ability to think critically, articulate their views, and engage with the world on a deep level.
“I love that graduate who has a Catholic, liberal arts perspective, because that individual has a discipline associated with seeking the truth. They have a set of skills around having a view, articulating that view and defending that view,” Kay told the Cardinal Newman Society. “That skill set is so far superior to someone who has four years of business, or some very specific, technical experience.”
Kay is just one example of the many talented Christendom graduates who have gone on to pursue a remarkable career in the world of business, fulfilling the college’s mission to restore all things in Christ.
“We can be great examples out in the marketplace and out in the world,” he said in the interview and we don’t need to “hide our talents.”
In 2015, Kay spoke to Christendom students on campus at a Life on Tap alumni mentoring event, encouraging them to work hard at school to reap the rewards later on.
“It is difficult to see at first,” Kay said, “because we move on from the college and have other goals. But when you take a step back, you will see that the education you have received here is a great treasure.”
In light of this idea, Kay made reference to the parable of the talents, and exhorted the students to do something with their experience at the college.
“Do not be frightened by the competition. Christendom gives you a real skill-set, including the ability to conduct analysis, and the ability to take a particular viewpoint and defend it.”
He concluded with three recommendations.
“First, it is very important that you identify your career path, and spell out concrete objectives for the short, intermediate, and long term. This way, you will be less likely to waste time with unnecessary objectives. Second, you need practice. There is not a single board meeting or presentation that I have not practiced. For you, this means building your resume, conducting mock interviews, and having dialogues with people in the industry. You have many people to facilitate in this, including many alumni who will be happy to help. Make the most of the opportunities the career office and the college provide. Third, you should have hunger. You need to have the desire to work hard, even if you don’t know necessarily know where to turn.”