Concord Academy alums’ passions for learning, innovation, and adaptability have distinguished them as leaders in business. As part of CA’s spring 2024 Business Speaker Series, Layth Madi ’96, Lindsay Kolowich Cox ’09, and Vernard Lockhart ’04 spoke with students over Zoom to share their experiences in moving organizations forward and offer advice for future entrepreneurs.

The student-led CA Business Club, established in 2021, organized the speaker series. The club fosters connections with local businesses, engages in entrepreneurial competitions, and organizes events. Kate Sahin ’24, club founder and co-head says she and her fellow club members were “excited to launch a speaker series this year to connect past and present CA community members.”

Madi’s career is rooted in a commitment to social impact. As the senior vice president and director of development and operations at Lendlease, a real estate development firm that prioritizes sustainability, Madi merges financial expertise with a mission-driven approach. He’s presently spearheading the largest geothermal residential project in New York State. 

Speaking with CA students, he emphasized the pivotal role of collaboration and teamwork in achieving project success. “I try to always be in service of my team,” Madi said. “Business is about helping people advance their careers, advance their projects, and be the best that they can be.” 

Kolowich Cox took an unconventional path into the business field. After studying government and Arabic studies in college, she initially aspired to a career in foreign service. However, her aptitude for research, writing, and problem-solving led her to pivot into marketing after graduation. Eventually, she earned her MBA and spent several years in management consulting at McKinsey before returning to the tech industry in a strategy and operations capacity. 

At Practice Better, a software company dedicated to serving health and wellness professionals, she serves as vice president and chief of staff to the CEO, driving strategy and operational excellence, special project execution, strategic communications, mergers and acquisitions, and other key priorities. 

“Lean into leadership at CA,” Kolowich Cox advised students. “It’s a skill that you can take with you forever; in college, or at any job that you have it’s being able to talk with and bring ideas to people who are older or more senior.” She attributes her confidence in her communication skills to the opportunities for leadership she experienced within the tight-knit community at CA. 

Lockhart’s career is dedicated to bridging educational and economic disparities. As the associate director of internship and leadership development at Northwestern Mutual, Lockhart builds equitable internship programs and fosters diversity among financial planning leadership. 

Reflecting on his journey, Lockhart underscored the pivotal role of mentorship in shaping future leaders. “I grew up at CA,” he said. “The three main takeaways from my experience are the world-class education, the understanding that supportive individuals exist in the world to aid in your growth, and the necessity to embrace them.”

Madi, Kolowich Cox, and Lockhart each stressed the significance of resilience in navigating their business careers. Whether facilitating important messages, investing in groundbreaking projects, or empowering students to lead, their stories underscore the power of forging one’s path with purpose.  

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