TRACING LOVE & SUCCESS BACK TO PACE
Suneel Sajnani ’85 and Calli Planakis-Sajnani ’89 have Pace to thank for their 28 years of marriage. The two met for the first time in the Birnbaum library in fall 1983 at the NYC campus while pursuing their MBAs. They were taking the same finance courses and had to share library books for upcoming exams. Beyond sharing books, they ended up sharing their lives together.
Suneel is currently Senior Vice President, Enterprise Technology at Hearst Corporation. A seasoned executive with 27 years experience running complex technical infrastructure organizations across multiple industries including Media & Entertainment, Healthcare, Retail and Banking. Suneel has responsibility and full accountability in working closely with the Hearst leadership teams at both the corporate and divisional levels to create an IT Infrastructure shared services organization and to provide technology solutions across the organization’s diverse businesses. This transformational initiative has allowed Hearst to decrease complexity and increase the overall flexibility of its enterprise technology customers and its associated services, allowing its focus to remain on the development of new products and services as well as other revenue generating opportunities. The need for innovation and technological advancement are key forces that drive Suneel and his department to provide business aligned technical solutions that are fiscally responsible.
Prior to Hearst Corporation Suneel worked at News Corporation (20th Century Fox and News America Marketing) managing their global infrastructure services in a shared services model.
Suneel is also a member of the advisory board at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, which recently honored Hearst’s CTO, Phil R, Wiser, at the 2014 Leadership and Service in Technology Award Reception (LST).
“It was an honor for Hearst Corporation and me to host the 2014 LST event,” says Suneel. “It brought together technology executives and leaders in the NY region, vendor partners, and Pace University faculty and administration to leverage the existing and build new relationships and partnerships. The event also provided a forum for Pace to exhibit the latest programs and forays made in the field of Technology.”
Suneel, who received his MBA (Information Systems & Financial Management) and MS (Computer Science) at Pace, served as Adjunct faculty, teaching undergraduate/graduate Information Systems Courses for almost 12 years.
“Due to the in-depth & practical knowledge imparted by Pace, both Calli and I started our careers on Wall Street in Insurance & Banking industries respectively after we completed our MBA,” recalls Suneel. “The rich classroom discussions with real world, experienced faculty allowed us to complement the theoretical learning with practical knowledge to land careers in our respective fields.”
Suneel and Calli both progressed in their respective careers due to the strong foundation they obtained at Pace. Calli, being a first-generation American, was the first member from both sides of her family to go to college and graduate school. Her time at Pace University helped her to map out an education/ career strategy, learn practical and theoretical skills which were easily transferable on a professional level, and lastly, obtain a first-hand exposure to global diversity. She attributes her time at Pace as being instrumental in helping her forge a roadmap for her career. “I had the dreams and the ambition but I was unsure as to how the real world operated,” Calli notes. “The faculty and administrators helped me tremendously to map out a strategy for successful career advancement. My internship at The New York City Office of Management and Budget as a budget analyst provided me not only with practical analysis experience, it also gave me my first taste of what public administration involved.”
“The impact of that experience stayed with me through the years,” she continues. “As a result, I chose to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration with a specialization in Health policy.” Calli expects to finish her dissertation in 2015 and pursue teaching and consulting opportunities across the globe.
Suneel and Calli remember their experience at Pace as a window on the world. Suneel reflects, “Our classmates and friends included students from around the world representing many countries. We had the opportunity to witness a diversity the likes of which we had never experienced in any other academic setting.”
“Calli and I have achieved much professional success from the theoretical and practical knowledge we gained from our Pace University education. What makes this success sweeter is that we found each other at the same time,” he continues.
The duo plans to continue to make their mark in the world. “We have always been very involved with our communities and served on various non-profit boards through the years. There is much more work that we need to do,” says Suneel. “Thanks to the strong educational foundation we received at Pace, we have a platform from which to expand not only our professional achievements but also our personal ones, too. Our goal is to seek out opportunities and to continue to give back to society. Our family lives by the credo that to those whom much is given, much is expected,” he continues.
“For all that we have done and have the potential to do for Pace, it will be a small token of gratitude we owe to Pace for having invested in us, personally and professionally.”