Members of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Life before Adelphi:
Joseph: I spent four years in the Air Force, including 13 months (from 1968 to 1969) in Vietnam, for which Adelphi allowed me life experience credits when I enrolled at the University.
Anna: After a year of university elsewhere, when I was 19 years old, I left the United States for Norway, where I taught English and world history to students aged 14 to 17. Upon my return to New York, I resumed my education at Adelphi.
Memorable graduate faculty:
Joseph: Jim Bender and Jim Patchias. The adjunct professors also made Adelphi’s program very worthwhile.
Anna: Jim Patchias, who taught economics, was phenomenal. Prior to the graduate degrees I earned from Adelphi, I received my bachelor’s degree in mathematics there. Among my favorite professors during those years were mathematics Professor Donald Hammer, physics Professor Fried, and Professor Ennio Gherardi, who taught programming in the School of Business. There was a very special woman, Grace, who insisted we call her by first name and taught a cultural creative experience course. She lived in a brownstone in Manhattan and invited her classes to her home at Christmas time.
Joseph: After completing my M.S. in Banking at Adelphi, I taught Securities Markets at the University for three years.
Advice for students:
Joseph: The world is becoming more and more competitive. That means you need to understand cultures other than your own if you are to increase your marketability to potential employers.
Anna: Be acutely aware of market demands and develop your professional and personal skills accordingly. Strive for excellence. Distinguish yourself.
Few people achieve the level of success enjoyed by Joseph and Anna De Feo. The terms scholars, cosmopolitans, and global business leaders only begin to describe the accomplishments of the De Feos—two of the most gracious people one could meet.
Joseph and Anna De Feo met each other in 1970 and have been married for over 40 years. At Adelphi they found several programs that complemented their professional aspirations. “Not many other institutions offered a focus in banking at the time,” says Mr. De Feo. “Adelphi’s master’s program in banking was prestigious. It had great professors, adjunct faculty, and guest speakers who had extensive professional and personal experiences to share with their students.”
After completing their studies at the University, the couple built on the perspectives, knowledge, and skills they acquired at Adelphi, and grew to be leaders across the global banking and finance industries.
Living in New York, Mr. De Feo held various positions at the vice presidential level at Goldman Sachs & Co., Smith Barney, the New York District Bank of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Harris Upham & Co., and Chase Manhattan Bank, where he gained experience in both domestic and international banking businesses.
Mrs. De Feo also got her start in the banking world at Chase Manhattan Bank and ascended to the level of vice president, where she managed retail banking information technology systems. She then moved into an internal consultancy role, supporting the bank’s retail banking entities in Latin America.
When the De Feos moved to London in 1988, Mrs. De Feo transitioned into the bank’s London offices, providing support to the it’s retail businesses in Spain, Belgium, and Italy.
After 12 years at Chase Manhattan, Mrs. De Feo blended her experiences in New York and London to establish her own consulting firm, Wholedesign Limited. As a UK-based independent consultant, she advised blue-chip firms and provided services to clients that included business process modeling, business strategy consulting, best practices assessment, service standards development, IT assessment and high level systems architectural consulting, IT strategy consulting, research, and education.
Her multilingual background—she is fluent in Norwegian, Swedish, and French, and speaks basic Italian and Spanish—played an integral role in her international success. She undertook project work in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, Belgium, Chile, and Panama. She has had speaking engagements in South Africa, Sweden, and France, as well as in the United States, based upon her consulting experiences.
Mr. De Feo has maintained an impressive professional track record throughout his career, making his expertise a highly valuable commodity in the financial services sector.
In 1988 he was recruited by the prestigious London merchant bank Morgan Grenfell & Co as Director of Group Systems and Operations and a Director of the Morgan Grenfell Bank, which precipitated the De Feos’ move to London. Armed with years of experience working at a number of banking groups in the United States, he swiftly established a strategy to restructure the securities aspect of the business. He was also involved in extending the firm’s securities capabilities in New York, giving the bank distribution capabilities in the United States.
After Morgan Grenfell & Co was sold to Deutsche Bank in 1990, he was recruited by the Barclays Banking Group (at the time one of the five largest banks in the world), where he played an integral role in examining the potential that informational technology held for transforming traditional banking. During his seven years as Barclays’ Director of Operations and Technology—the first American Senior Executive hired by the bank in its 300-year history—he managed the group’s IT and Operations strategy through the good times and the bad, including the property market collapse that faced the UK in the late 1980s.
“The UK’s property crisis in the 1980s was no different from what happened in the U.S. in 2008,” says Mr. De Feo, who implemented innovative operation solutions during the downturn that not only helped keep Barclays sound, but also supported a huge profit leap for the group in subsequent years.
Mr. De Feo was appointed to the Group Executive Committee (Barclay’s management board) in late 1990 and then to the Group Risk Management Committee. He also chaired the Group Information Technology Executive and the Group Operations Executive Committees. In his role, he traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.
He later joined The Open Group (the industry-owned enterprise that influenced the formation of the open-source movement in the IT sector) as CEO and President, a position he held until he was recruited to take over the failing CLS Group (later to become CLS Bank International).
“I brought in colleagues from my Barclay days,” says Mr. De Feo, who was able to completely change the trajectory of where CLS was headed by reorganizing, recapitalizing, and putting a strategic plan in place as CLS’ President and CEO. After steering a dramatic turnaround, he not only strengthened the company’s foundation and the launch of CLS Bank International, but also expanded the bank’s reach by opening up new markets around the globe—in South Africa, Singapore, Korea, and Hong Kong among other locations. He also established links for Israel, Turkey, Mexico, and others for future exploitation. His last achievement was in forging a partnership with the Bank of China, which took a shareholding in the CLS Group.
Mr. De Feo’s transformation of the bank was so successful that today CLS Bank provides the world’s largest multi-currency cash settlement system, eliminating settlement risk for over half the world’s foreign exchange payment instructions. The bank’s global presence has played a key behind-the-scenes role in keeping money markets liquid during the recent economic downturn and furthering global financial stability.
Following six years of unprecedented success at the bank, Mr. De Feo retired to spend more time with his wife. The De Feos’ son and daughter still reside in the UK. They have taken on the example of their parents in the pursuit of education and an international outlook. Their son has recently completed a Ph.D. in English and creative writing at Southampton University (UK), and their daughter has completed a M.A. in east Asian studies at Harvard.
Mr. De Feo, who has appeared regularly on CNBC in Europe and Asia and on the BBC in the UK, continues to serve as a conference speaker and guest lecturer around the globe. In recent years, Mrs. De Feo has added one more highlight to an already illustrious resume—published author. She co-wrote the 2003 historical novel Revelations in the d’Arc.
In 2006, after nearly two decades living and working in London, the couple moved back to New York. They currently reside in Garden City.