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Leaders are Made Here

As senior vice president and controller of 21st Century Fox, Robert Gannon is responsible for all internal and external reporting. He has worked at News Corp (21st Century Fox as of June 30, 2013), in various senior accounting roles, since 1985.

Why Hofstra?
When I was thinking about where to go to college and what to study, I knew I wanted to go somewhere  I wouldn’t get tied down with student loans and would ensure that I could get a decent job  upon graduation. A neighbor suggested I consider accounting and Hofstra’s program came up at the top of the list. I applied and I was able to get some financial aid as well. At that point, it was kind of a no-brainer for me..

Hofstra was very good at getting interviews on campus for its students approaching graduation. All of the Big 8 accounting firms visited campus and we kind of had our choice, depending on which interested us. Even if you didn’t want to go into public accounting, there were many large companies that came on campus for interviews. I had secured my first job by October of my senior year. Hofstra prepared us, especially the accounting students, for jobs, and for interviews.

Robert Gannon, '82, B.B.A.
Senior Vice President and Controller of 21st Century Fox

What are your best memories of Hofstra?
Spending time with friends. A lot of my friends today are people I met at Hofstra. The guy who does my taxes today is a buddy of mine from Hofstra. A lot of my Facebook friends are Hofstra people. It’s good to network to have, and we do what we can to keep the network alive.
From an academic standpoint, I enjoyed being at Hofstra and I definitely had a good work ethic. One thing I see today - the kids that come out of Hofstra that we’ve hired, which is quite a few – have that same good work ethic.

Robert Gannon
"The kids that come out of Hofstra … they’re people who are driven, wanting to impress, wanting to succeed..."

Did you have any favorite classes or professors?
One of the ones I remember and I thought it should be a requirement for business majors was a public speaking class. At the time I couldn’t put two words together – I was a shy kid coming into school. Public speaking class helped me present myself. It’s an essential skill, even for an accounting major, because you need to be able to express your ideas and get your point across and say why someone should hire you instead of someone else.

I did like cost accounting… That’s kind of the basics of business. My dad was an entrepreneur his whole life - he owned a bar, he owned a Carvel and I was exposed to that - the bottom-line profit motive - all throughout my life.

What is your definition of leadership? What makes a good leader?
Someone who allows people to grow underneath them and who promotes them. Over the years, I’ve had many people move on from positions here to other positions within  the company. For example, the GM of Blue Sky Productions, which is our animation arm, is someone who was my assistant controller for a number of years.

If you want to be successful you have to have successful people under you. I always tell my people –if you’re not growing the people underneath you, you will be held back. A rising tide lifts all boats. You have one dead wheel it’s going to stop the car.

How did Hofstra and Zarb help you develop your leadership style?
The kids that come out of Hofstra … they’re people who are driven, wanting to impress, wanting to succeed and doing whatever it takes to make the boss happy and to get the task at hand done. That’s the mentality I always had. To some degree, not everything happens the right way for some people. But the harder you work the more the doors open. It doesn’t matter if your boss doesn’t recognize your talents, if you work hard something good will happen. Try to take as much as you can from any experience.

You’ve talked a lot about the attributes of the typical Zarb/Hofstra student. Have you hired any Hofstra students in your time with 21st Century Fox?
I’ve hired four or five candidates from Hofstra and one of the things that struck me right off the bat, I knew if you were coming out of Hofstra with an accounting degree, you were going to be prepared and you’d have a base of knowledge behind you.