Citrin Cooperman and Rutgers Business School joined forces to host the 2016 New Jersey CEO Evolution on Thursday in Newark.The event recognized four CEOs as top innovators and leaders in their industry:
- Adenah Bayoh, founder and CEO of Adenah Bayoh and Companies;
- Kevin Cummings, CEO and president of Investors Bank;
- Paul Hoffman, CEO and president of Liberty Science Center;
- Gene Muller, founder and CEO of Flying Fish Brewing.
The award presentations were followed by a panel discussion involving this year’s honorees and moderator Edward Horton, partner at Citrin Cooperman.
During the panel, Cummings discussed how great opportunities can sometimes come from disappointments, which is how he came to found himself in his current position. According to Cummings, his displeasure with his former job as a CPA motivated him to take a position as chief operating officer at Investors Bank.
“I took a situation that was a negative and turned it into a great opportunity,” he said.
Bayoh’s journey, escaping from the Liberian Civil War at age 13, has also influenced her business practices and her determination.
“I was able to feel the opportunity and really feel that this country is special in the sense that, if you have the will and passion to really do something, the possibilities are there,” she said. “So, I really took advantage of the opportunity and didn’t miss any school from the seventh grade to college, because I understood the importance of education.”
Hoffman also spoke on the importance of education, but in regard to driving kids to careers in the science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, or STEAM, fields.
“The country now, and New Jersey in particular, really faces a jobs-gap crisis in terms of the skills that private industry needs and the skills in science and technology that our kids are coming out of high school and college with,” he said. “This affects the whole county — it’s a national problem — but it hits New Jersey disproportionately hard because, depending on how you rank it, we’re the fourth-, fifth- or sixth-most high-tech state.
“So, companies need a highly trained labor force.”
Following the panel, James Beamesderfer, a captain in the U.S. Army and vice president of program management and veteran initiatives at Prudential Financial, was recognized as a veteran leadership honoree.