Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos at the CoB Speaker Series

On April 17th, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos visited the Wang Center where he spoke with 60 students from the Investment Analysis class as part of the College of Business Speaker Series. The Series invites prominent Business Leaders from Long Island and New York City to tell their stories, offer their advice, and share their experiences with the students, faculty, and guests of the Stony Brook University College of Business. Professor Justin Belkin commented, “Stony Brook provides our students with an outstanding academic education. Successful graduates, however, find ways to complement their academics with real world experience. The Speaker Series helps bridge this gap.”

The Honorable George Maragos was very generous with his time, particularly during the Q&A session, when he answered a variety of questions from the audience. A successful politician and businessman, Maragos brings to Stony Brook almost 35 years of business experience in the financial and technology industries. Maragos was born in Greece on March 17th, 1949 in a small agricultural village. His family moved to Canada when he was only 9 years old. He was educated in Canada, receiving his B.E. in Electrical Engineering from McGill—Canada’s top University. He went on to receive his MBA from Pace University in Manhattan.

Since graduating, Maragos has held several titles as an engineer and financier, eventually founding his own firm, SDS Financial Technologies, in 1989. After serving as president of SDS for nearly 20 years, Maragos decided to run for public office, and was elected to the post of Nassau County Comptroller in 2009. Maragos now hopes to compete for a seat in the U.S. Senate in the 2012 U.S. Senate Elections.

During his presentation, Maragos discussed ethical implications of decision making in business and in government. He also encouraged business students to consider a life of public service after acquiring skills, and achieving their career goals in the business world. “First, achieve your dreams. Then, I would encourage you to go to government. I came into politics to do the right thing, and I’m not going to compromise my morals or ethics.” Having achieved his own dreams, Maragos is now interested in returning the favor. “It’s about giving back to the community and doing the right thing.”

For students, one of the biggest takeaways for the night was the fact that there are jobs for business students in government. “Maragos was a truly inspiring guest speaker. He brought up an interesting idea of taking our business skills and applying them to politics,” said student Sophia Lee. Another student, Eric Hung, said he felt motivated by Maragos’ speech. “I thought that it was eye opening to have a local politician come by to talk about his role in office and to hear from someone who has worked in both the public and private side of finance. It was also interesting to hear his reasons for running for public office to make his career work out for the betterment of society.” Eric, who is graduating this year, hopes to land a government internship after graduation.

Maragos also stressed the importance of technocratic decision making and investments analysis both in business and in government. “There is a huge need for business people in government. Not everyone in government is trained in return on investments, and in investment analysis,” he remarked. For Maragos, the decision making process begins with an objective. “Is your objective humanitarian? Is it based in human interests? Or is it based on return on investments?” He then discussed the importance of technical analysis, and quantifying all decision making variables including initial investments, monetary returns, and quantifying the benefits of the investments.

Aside from his fiscally responsible ideologies, Maragos also advocates for improving the quality of education, and spoke of making the United Stated a “competitive” educational power. “Talent is always more than the cost of talent,” he remarked, “We will get it [our investments] back in productivity and innovation.” He also spoke on the importance of energy independence citing natural gas as an abundant and attractive alternative to fossil fuels. Finally, Maragos expressed his interest in growing the economy, competing in a global marketplace, creating jobs, and becoming a “competitive” economic force.

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