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Lessons in networking from a true master

Accounting , ASCEND Event Recaps | Oct 12, 2010 |

By Mark Consolación, Gabelli Class of 2011

Networking can be a daunting task, but Gabelli School of Business alumnus Samuel Mok proves that with hard work and determination, anyone can “work a room” with ease and eloquence.

Before opening the event he recently led at Fordham, Mr. Mok warmly greeted every student who entered O’Hare Special Collections, inquiring about name, year, and major and effortlessly connecting with each person. Getting reacquainted made complete sense: It was Mr. Mok’s first return to Fordham since his graduation in 1968. He was encouraged to hold this special networking event by Dean Rapaccioli, who met with him earlier in the year and proposed that he come up from Washington, D.C., to share his knowledge with the members of Ascend and CAB’s American Age.

Mr. Mok, an immigrant from Hong Kong, worked in a Chinese restaurant while he studied accounting at Fordham. He was able to list only one reference on his first job application: the waiter who introduced his family to the restaurant business. Embarrassed that he could not add a second or third, he decided to seek out more meaningful connections and expand his network.

He succeeded, and his career history is testament to that: He rose to become CFO of the U.S. Department of Labor during George W. Bush’s administration. Mr. Mok told us many illuminating and humorous stories during his visit, among them a tale from when he was CFO of the Department of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush. During a Presidential dinner, Mr. Mok sat next to a sergeant. A former military captain himself, Mr. Mok introduced himself and offered his business card; the two chatted for a while and then parted ways. Many years later, Mr. Mok sat next to a lieutenant who, to his surprise, knew of him. The lieutenant was the same sergeant from years past and remembered Mr. Mok — thanks to the impressive business card he had received and kept atop his dresser ever since.

Mr. Mok spoke to his Gabelli School of Business audience about attention to detail, building connections, and maintaining those connections. He recommended taking advantage of networking events and organizations, such as Ascend. “Time is the most valuable non-renewable resource we have,” he advised. Mr. Mok has spent his time very prudently, from adjusting to a new country, to working in the White House, to managing his own consulting firm. It is up to today’s Gabelli students to do the same in building their future.

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