Connections

School of Business offers Executive in Residence this fallSchool of Business offers Executive in Residence this fall
Charles "Randy" Christian '72

The best advice that Charles “Randy” Christian ’72, the School of Business executive-in-residence for fall semester, can offer today’s students is to speak up for yourself.

Christian speaks from his own experience, 30 years with Johnson & Johnson, most of them on the corporate staff in the human resources and law departments. He spent 2½ years as head of total rewards (compensation and benefits) for J&J’s Asia-Pacific operations, based in Singapore and traveling throughout Australia, China, India and Japan.

“I had suggested to J&J that I would be willing to work in Europe, hopefully based in Rome. The response was no,’’ explained Christian. Several months later, along came an Asia-Pacific opportunity. He accepted.

“If I had not planted the idea of my working overseas, I do not think they would have put my name into consideration,” Christian said. “My wife and I like to say we asked for Rome and got Singapore. We have never once regretted that outcome.”

As executive-in-residence, Christian interacts with students and faculty, in and out of the classroom, regarding career and industry issues. He will meet with the school’s professional student organizations and confer with the deans on strategic goals. A member of the school’s Business Advisory Council, he will spend three one-week stints on campus.

“He is engaging with everyone involved in the school,” said Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman. “He brings in his specific experiences at J&J, as well as his general knowledge about how organizations work, and is able to provide current business advice and mentoring to our students.”

After majoring in business administration at Ithaca, Christian obtained a master of education in student counseling and personnel services at the University of Delaware, where he worked seven years. He joined a J&J subsidiary, McNeil Consumer Products, in 1982 as manager of compensation and benefits.

While he spent 30 years with one company, he notes his jobs ranged from compensation benefits to HR information systems to employment litigation to workforce analytics

“I think you have to take care of yourself in an organizational setting, create options and alternatives for you to move in, propose ideas to create opportunities and be opportunistic and ready to say yes, or no, to things that may unexpectedly come your way,” said Christian, who retired in 2012 as director of employee analytics.

With the rise of global competition, economic and technological changes, and new types of organizations, he admits 30 years with one company are less likely now.

“Companies today are more inclined to view employees as resources with which they want an option to renew,” he said.

If the employee’s work is excellent and the work continues to be needed, the company will keep the employee. But if the work is no longer needed, even if the employee is otherwise excellent, the employee is out of a job. 

Today, he said, “It is imperative to prepare for continual change over the course of a working career.

“Preparing for continual change means acquiring a foundation of skills and knowledge that is adaptive, can be leveraged to move in different directions, can be built upon to enhance one’s value in the marketplace and is able to transcend changes that occur externally.”

The skills and interests he’s observed among Ithaca students will serve them well in their careers, he said:

  • They seek a career for which they have a passion. “Employers definitely like employees who ‘want’ to do the work they are doing.”
  • They appreciate the societal importance of sustainability and have “a keen specific interest in sustainable enterprises.”
  • They have relevant internships and job experiences. “Students seem very conscious of importance of building a resume that looks interesting from an employers’ perspective.”
  • They are interested in global operations and can take advantage of IC’s partnership with Shanghai Normal University.
  • They have more real-world exposure in their classes than they realize. “When I look at the topics I have seen on some course syllabi, guest speakers being brought into classrooms, computer simulation projects in some classes, the live stock ticker in the Trading Room, I see a lot of current, real-world exposures.”

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