Where are they Now: Business alumnus climbs to city skyline in career

Alumnus Ken Rende used his business management degree from Geneseo to move from the back offices of the accounting world to the successful career he has now. 

After graduating from Geneseo in 1986, Rende went to work for New York Life Insurance Company as an accountant. Rende worked for the company for five years, an unusually long amount of time for a recently graduated accountant. According to Rende, new accountants usually "work for a company for one or two years and then move to another."

Rende said he believes that his five years with the New York Life Insurance Company positively influenced his outlook on his future. 

"What I learned from working there was to be patient," Rende said. He looks at his career path as a pyramid: "The bottom of the pyramid is where you start and you need to acquire certain building blocks to get to the top."

In April of 1991, Rende left the New York Life Insurance Company to work for a small company, a 50-year-old asset management firm called Neuberger & Berman. Rende worked as the assistant controller for Neuberger & Berman until the firm went public in 1999.

"I believe that is when I got the chance to get the job I have today," Rende said about the firm going public. He became the lead accountant on the firm's initial public offering and eventually became the chief administrative officer of the firm's high net worth sales division effort.

In January 2009, he was promoted again and now heads the entire division of high net worth sales group at the firm, now called Neuberger Berman, as a managing director. Rende explained that in his division group "our sales people are trying to attract wealthy individuals that Neuberger & Berman can manage money for and I make that happen."  

Rende said he thoroughly enjoys working for Neuberger Berman. "Not only did they give an accountant a chance to move from the back office to the front office 10 years ago, but a year ago they gave me the opportunity to head up the entire division group," he said.

What Rende admires the most about the company he works for is the way the employees are treated. Neuberger Berman is now employee-owned after formerly being a part of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., a company that recently filed for bankruptcy in 2008. 

"It is unbelievable to have such a high retention rate of employees, [which he put at more than 90%, over the past year] especially in a company that just went bankrupt," Rende said.

Rende said that the fondest memories of Geneseo he holds consist of the people he met. Many of the friends he made when he attended Geneseo became his lifelong friends: "My best friend today graduated with me from Geneseo." 

He recently visited the college with his daughter, a junior in high school, to take a tour and dine with several students and President Christopher Dahl. "It was great visiting, especially because there are not many times when you can visit a college and have a conversation with the president of the college." 

His patience and hard work helped him to achieve the successful career he has now.  Rende said he believes that his success resulted because, "I utilized the skills I had as a former accountant and operations person to build my strategic vision. My skill set is perfectly suited to the career I have today."