London students meet the chairman of Black Rock Capital

Usually, we don’t walk past one of the original James Bond Aston Martins on our way to breakfast. 

Not long ago, our Gabelli School of Business in London students did, when they headed to the Royal Automobile Club for an alumni breakfast with James Flaherty (FCRH ’69), a founder and chairman of the board of Black Rock Capital. Here is an account written by one of them.

 

by April Sauer (GSB ’14)

Once we took our seats in the Royal Automobile Club and started our breakfast, Mr. Flaherty talked to us about his career and his business — a great example of how far a Fordham alumnus can go, and of how many opportunities may present themselves over the course of a career.

Black Rock Capital, of which Mr. Flaherty is chairman of the board, is a commercial equipment finance company that serves small to middle-market companies in the United States and Canada, with branches that provide the same services in the U.K. and Europe. It also helps clients with a variety of corporate finance activities, including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, placement of working capital lines of credit, debt restructures and exit strategies.

Just as Black Rock’s business straddles both sides of the Atlantic, so has Mr. Flaherty’s career. He spoke to us about what it was like to move from the United States to London and then back again. Mr. Flaherty took his first job after graduation from Fordham at Franklin National Bank, which was based on Long Island, and moved on to work at American Express. American Express is the company that first sent him to London, and while with the firm, he held numerous high-level positions: deputy president and chief operating officer; CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and president of American Express Bank Switzerland. These achievements seemed like unbelievable feats to all of us attending the breakfast.

Mr. Flaherty went on to describe the end of his time at American Express and where his career took him in the years that followed. Right afterward, he became the chief executive officer and founder of Pareto Partners, a London-based investment-management firm. He was also a managing director of Cannon Capital Limited, an operator of nursing homes in the U.K. and Northern Ireland, serving in that capacity until 1991, when Black Rock Capital was incorporated.

Overall, Mr. Flaherty spoke about choosing and staying in jobs that make you happy, but also jobs that will make you move forward in life. It was valuable advice for everyone who met him.
Photographs courtesy of Graham Bolton, director of the London program.

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