Rethinking success like father, like son

One might expect that Bill Zandi (’13), the son of Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, an accomplished businessman and Wharton graduate, might follow in his father’s footsteps. And in many ways, he is.

But Bill has also chosen a different path – to major in philosophy. And what’s surprising to some is that he’s doing so with the full support of his father.

As it turns out, Mark Zandi, one of the world’s leading economic visionaries, maintains that a liberal arts education is “ideal preparation for the rapidly changing career opportunities in the 21st century.”

Join us in Rethinking Success (April 11-13)

He is just one of the national thought leaders participating in “Rethinking Success: From the Liberal Arts to Careers in the 21st Century,” a national conference Wake Forest is hosting April 11-13 to examine issues related to the relevance and value of a liberal arts education in today’s workforce.

With Rethinking Success, Wake Forest is leading the conversation currently playing out around dining room tables, in corporate boardrooms and at the White House. In addition to Zandi, participating thought leaders in the professional world, higher education and career development, include:

  • Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice;
  • Former Procter & Gamble Chairman A.G. Lafley;
  • VF Corporation Chairman & CEO Eric Wiseman (BS ’77, MBA ’88);
  • Neil Howe, best-selling author about Millennials and their role in society;
  • Presidents, career office directors, liberal arts deans, and faculty from more than 70 colleges and universities – from Ivy League institutions to large public schools to small liberal arts colleges.

The purpose of Rethinking Success is to address whether higher education fulfills its role to intentionally prepare students for life after college and what can be done to ensure success.

For Bill Zandi, who has an entrepreneurial spirit (see “Students Helping Students” below) like his father, philosophy is both enjoyable and strategic. He believes his major will distinguish him from others in a competitive job market or graduate school pool.

“I’m developing skills to be a better writer, think more analytically, solve problems more effectively, and communicate more articulately,” Bill Zandi said. “I’m grateful that my parents always have been very supportive of my choices. Because they value the liberal arts setting at Wake Forest and the thought I put into my future, they embraced my choice as a philosophy major after one thoughtful conversation.”

His father, who sees education as the key to the country’s future economic success, has his own “philosophy” about his son’s future.

“Bill has to find his own way, and I got the sense that he’d thought his major through pretty carefully,” Mark Zandi said. “I couldn’t have known where I’d end up today when I was 20 years old. I just knew what I was interested in and that I’d pursue it. With the skills and talents he’s nurtured at Wake Forest, I’m confident that Bill will, too.”

Students Helping Students

Students at Westwood Elementary

Thanks to Students Helping Students, children at Westwood Elementary School in West Lake, La., received "new" desks for their classroom.

When Bill Zandi saw how Hurricane Katrina destroyed schools in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, he established a non-profit organization called Students Helping Students to recycle gently used school furnishings and supplies from donor schools to needy schools.

Thanks in part to a stipend from the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, which helped further his mission to help students who are less fortunate, Students Helping Students has helped upwards of 50 schools nationwide.

“Many students are very good at producing something, but need a greater perspective as to how we can collectively help benefit society,” he said. “That’s what unifies us here at Wake Forest and that’s what ultimately should be our goal.”

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