Homecoming attracts hundreds of Stony Brook’s most loyal and notable alumni, eager to share their success and reconnect with the University that helped make it all possible. This year, we welcome back former SB swimmer, now MasterCard International executive Gail Hackett ’85.
As an SB student athlete, Gail cultivated a “can do” attitude that has served her well in the work world. Swim coach Dave Alexander remembers, “Gail was part of an era when Women’s Sports were coming into their own and she swam for the love of the sport. She has always been one of the most positive people I have had the pleasure of working with.”
Positive thinking is more important than ever in today’s job market, says Gail, who offers some time-honored advice for SB’s newest (or career-changing) grads. “Do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door at a company you’re interested in. And don’t let anyone discourage you. Be persistent.”
These words of wisdom hold special meaning for Gail who remembers the challenges of finding her own first job. “When I started my job search, I didn’t have the most impressive grades. I hadn’t given my schoolwork my best. So I typed my fingers to the bone and that helped me get my foot in the door at MasterCard as a Human Resources assistant.”
It was her tenacity that helped Gail steadily move up the ranks from HR assistant to her current position as the General Manager of MasterCard’s largest global client, Citibank. Along the way, Gail continued to work full time while she earned her MBA in Marketing from Fordham University.
Gail’s team of 50 people at MasterCard is responsible for working with Citibank’s corporate, retail, and consumer banking business to help them increase their profitability. A point of pride for Gail is that Citibank, as a long time credit card partner of MasterCard, has expanded that relationship to include their debit card, private label, and small and middle market business, making MasterCard a critical business partner for Citibank.
She attributes much of her team’s success to management skills she learned from SB swim coach Dave Alexander. His special brand of coaching gave Gail a formula for successful teambuilding that she models today. “He was able to get the best out of his swimmers by allowing them to have fun while expecting that they work hard. We knew he always had our back, no matter what happened.”
Gail enjoys mentoring and coaching members of her MasterCard team and helping them recognize their potential. She’s also involved in a new women’s network at MasterCard that is implementing ways to promote high-potential employees across diverse groups. Recently, Gail announced a new exciting relationship she’s developed at MasterCard: she’ll be marrying co-worker David Clarke next September.