The 49th and current mayor of Jersey City took time out of his busy schedule on Wednesday to stop by Saint Peter’s University.
Mayor Steven Fulop visited the university at around 7 p.m. to discuss what makes a good leader at the 2018 Saint Peter's Business Network, formerly the Alumni in Finance Network, an annual event hosted by the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership that provides attendees the opportunity to network with fellow alumni and current students.
“Being direct, forthcoming, being able to motivate workers and having good judgement are all the components of what I think makes a good leader,” the mayor told the Pauw Wow in an interview.
During the keynote presentation which was moderated by Raymond Butkus, Executive Lecturer and Founding Director for the Center for Leadership Studies at SPU, Fulop said that leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
“Ultimately, if you are going to evolve and be a better leader, you need to be learning constantly from individual experiences and interacting with people,” Fulop said.
The mayor cited the late Mayor Glenn Cunningham, former U.S. National Security Advisor Colin Powell, and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency David Petraeus as some of his heroes and role models in being the best leader.
“I think that when you deal with senior military personnel, you understand that the leadership that they have is totally at a different level on how they command a room, how they command respect, treat people with regards to leadership hierarchy, but at the same time being fair and just,” he said.
The keynote presentation not only touched on leadership, but it also covered Jersey City’s growth and development.
Butkus ended the presentation by asking the mayor what he learned in the Marine Corps that he could have never learned during his time working for Goldman Sachs, a company he left days following the events of 9/11.
“I always believed in my heart I was one who was willing to serve,” Fulop said.
He recalled that joining the Marines was the best experience of his life because he met people from different walks of life, stating it was the “best decision” of his life.
Following the keynote, Fulop answered questions submitted by SPU students and alumni.
He addressed the trials and tribulations he has faced as a leader of Jersey City, including tackling poverty, gun violence, education and socioeconomic issues.
Fulop also discussed Jersey City’s diversity and recalled his campaign when he ran for city council.
“I was running as an outsider at the time and one of the few communities that reached out to me was the Pakistani Muslim community because they also felt disenfranchised that nobody had reached out to them,” the mayor said.
“It’s a blessing of such diversity … I try not to judge any of them and just keep an open mind about learning everything and be inclusive. I have learned a lot and I’m thankful because this city is such a special canvas with so many different communities and cultures.”
Another question focused on Jersey City’s green initiatives and infrastructure, with Fulop explaining that the administration is planning to purchase electric vehicles and restore electric charging stations throughout the city.
Prior to his talk at the Duncan Sky Room, Fulop offered some advice to students who are scheduled to visit Goldman Sachs on Sept. 15 to learn about internships and possible careers at the company.
“Being authentic, direct and showing a willingness to learn is important, and those are attributes that people look for in those interviews. I’ve been on both sides of that,” he said.
He also encouraged young people to get out and vote during the upcoming midterm elections in November.
“If there is anything that you learned two years ago is that every vote matters and every vote counts. Leadership can have a huge impact on one’s direction of life. This is an opportunity and the last few years should drive that home,” Fulop said.