Defining success

Diamond meets with students in the Terese Kelly Investment Group at GroupM in New York City. Photo: Robert Adam Mayer

Stuart Diamond, BS ’82, CPA, says the key to success is excelling in every area of your career.

“We all define success differently, but whatever the components are, you need to be good at all of them,” he says. “I’ve met a lot of people who earn an ‘A’ for their technical skills but their people skills are a ‘C.’ Once you figure out what you want to be, you have to work hard and focus on the areas that need improvement.”

This holistic approach has propelled Diamond to the top of his field. Today he oversees finances for GroupM, where he serves as chief financial officer. Headquartered in New York City, the company directs $48 billion in annual advertising and employs more than 35,000 people.

The company helps their clients reach target audiences anywhere around the world through ad buys in traditional TV, radio, print and billboards, as well as in digital media on search engines, websites and social media.

Diamond covers a lot of ground in his current role—from managing traditional finance functions like budgeting, forecasting, tax, treasury and procurement, to partnering with the CEO on big-picture strategy, business planning, acquisitions, divestitures and more.

“My day is about managing the financial operations of the company, as well as working to position the business to address the needs of our clients in the short-term and develop them for the long-term,” he says.

Along the way to his current role at GroupM, Diamond served in financial roles in multiple industries around the world.

After graduating from the School of Management, he began his professional career at accounting firm Ernst and Young and continued on to a number of different fields, including a term as controller at brokerage firm Kidder, Peabody & Co., vice president and controller of the licensing division at Calvin Klein, and in chief financial officer roles at Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., Ogilvy Healthworld and Dunkin Donuts U.K. Ltd.

Diamond’s career experience is reflective of his personal philosophy that finance professionals should be able to apply their skills to any industry.

“There are nuances to every business, but having the education and real-life experience is critical,” he says. “Perspective from different industries is invaluable as you advance through your career.”

From assistant controller for the school store to CFO of a multinational corporation, Diamond says the skills he learned as an accounting major in the UB School of Management got him to where he is today.

“I still use the technical building blocks that I learned on the way to becoming a CPA,” he says. “And even courses like organizational behavior, communications and information technology where it was more about basic project planning—those are tools I still use either methodically or from a philosophical approach.

“The overall experience at UB really was a very foundational and grounding. I think everyone can be successful if you just shore up the skills you’re not good at—and that’s different for everybody.”

Written by Kevin Manne