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Bank of America Chairman/CEO Meets with Georgetown Students to Discuss Global Awareness and Current Business Trends

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Student Roundtable


Georgetown University students from the McDonough School of Business and other schools in the University participated in a discussion with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who was on campus for a November 30, 2017 forum with American filmmaker, Ken Burns, to discuss Burns’ new documentary, “The Vietnam War,” which Bank of America supported.

Bank of America is the founding partner of Georgetown’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI). Bill Novelli of GSEI moderated Moynihan’s discussion with the students.

Moynihan described his leadership efforts since becoming CEO in 2010. He has focused on advancing the Bank’s responsible growth, community development, philanthropy and social awareness. He called his company “diverse and inclusive,” and he fosters the idea that “employees need to be themselves at work as well as within their personal lives.” He expressed pride that Bank of America is recognized as a top employer by Working Mother and G.I. Jobs magazines and also received the Department of Defense Freedom Award for supporting employees in the National Guard and Reserve.

Moynihan noted that the success of a company is based on its people, engagement, operational excellence and sharing success with communities. In deciding how to allocate philanthropic resources, the Bank considers direct investments in the environment, contributing to and volunteering for social programs and charitable work.

When asked by a student how he decides the activities in which to be involved and how to balance his time as CEO, Moynihan said that most chief executives work externally a good deal, but there is no formula for time management. He participates with initiatives that align with company goals or allow him to engage with the Bank’s staff, clients and friends.

Moynihan prefers to focus on broad economic and market trends, including the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, the Business Roundtable and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s CEO Council on Health and Innovation. He also chairs the Financial Services Forum and the Financial Services Roundtable.

Regarding philanthropy, Moynihan said the Bank donates up to $200 million in financial services to be the “grease and glue” for those social projects that otherwise could not begin without the company’s support. He told the students that, if you want your business to succeed, treat your communities well, and they will treat you well in return. He stressed that non-profit organizations need corporate assistance to serve their communities.

Moynihan believes that Investments in people and communities are vital to success. Examples are helping women in career development and assisting individuals released from prison to train for and obtain jobs.

While it is obvious that banks thrive when the economy is good, he believes that financial institutions must look beyond current successes and constantly evaluate and improve services to their clients and communities. Businesses need to help communities to ensure that “no one gets left behind.”

Moynihan asserted that potential employees today lack the skills to fill the jobs currently available. Corporate America must therefore engage in social enterprises to help people build skills to match jobs in the market. Business leaders must work with universities on curricula and other approaches to teach the actual skills necessary to get the jobs graduates seek.

Moynihan referred to a related problem, the “shrinking middle class.” College is not the right choice for all. Working with communities to establish programs can help create career paths for those obtaining GEDs and high school diplomas. Providing guidance and helping people to enroll in technical schools enables them to learn a trade and build skills that result in jobs that pay a livable wage with opportunities for growth.

Moynihan ended by responding to the question about whether he is having fun with a simple, “Yes!”

For more information about the Global Social Enterprise Initiative, visit the website at or follow on Twitter @GSEI_Georgetown.


Beth Day contributed to this article.