When it comes to Montclair State University, alumni Jim Bartek and Sharon Gaglione are all in.
Each attended the Feliciano School of Business to earn degrees in Business Administration – Accounting, and now as a couple, they are directly involved in ensuring success for future graduates.
Sharon enjoys a unique perspective of Montclair State: she is an alumna, faculty member in the Feliciano School of Business, donor and also a current student as she begins her MBA this month.
“I was the first in my family to attend college… my high school guidance counselor was the one who urged me to apply. I didn’t have a major in mind, but knew Montclair State was a good school,” Sharon says.
Jim knew he wanted to be an accountant, following in his father’s footsteps and says he always had his eye on tax. Jim ran a small business while in school to help with expenses.
Both are grateful for the tough curriculum and engaged professors that prepared them to become successful tax professionals. Starting out in corporate private accounting, Jim moved to a top public accounting firm for the bulk of his career, and is now with Big 4 firm KPMG as a partner, specializing in State and Local Tax. While in school, Sharon secured an intern position with Deloitte and stayed there for her first job after college. Her career later included running her own CPA practice while raising her children. After returning to a Big 4 firm, she went on to become vice president of Tax Accounting at ADP. “I was an adjunct professor for Montclair State while working at ADP and then made the huge move from corporate America to teaching, and I love teaching full-time now,” says Sharon.
Teaching “Elements of Business” to sophomores and juniors, Sharon shares her corporate experience with them and regularly invites other alumni to speak so students can benefit from hearing a range of career experiences.
“I see such potential in my students,” Sharon says. “When I entered college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I went from humble beginnings to a terrific career. I try to inspire and motivate my students so they can have a wonderful career.”
“I want to let them know there’s so much opportunity ahead of them,” she adds.
Jim found his way back to his alma mater because he wanted to make sure students were prepared for the workforce. “I have firsthand experience interviewing and hiring job candidates… I wanted to help students so they’re prepared for job interviews and can excel at their jobs to represent themselves and Montclair State well,” he says.
Serving on the Feliciano School of Business Advisory Board, Jim also helped the School create the Dean’s Accelerator Program, working with the dean, Advisory Board members, faculty and Career Services to provide insight to bright, motivated students who have an interest in improving their attractiveness as job candidates and their readiness for high-achieving careers. The students are matched with alumni based on their experiences to give students guidance as mentors. The program has grown from a pilot with nine student-mentor pairings to 23 pairings lined up for this fall and will offer interview preparation and special training to help prepare the students to succeed in the business world.
It’s one more way Sharon is involved as well, serving as a mentor.
Plus, Sharon and Jim are investing in students with their giving. Jim has been engaging fellow alumni at KPMG and former KPMG employees to donate funds for a room naming in the Feliciano School of Business. And they used their gift as a challenge gift for Montclair State’s annual Giving Day in April to motivate other alumni to give.
“It’s important for donors and potential employers to realize the strength of Montclair State’s programs and the quality of the students,” says Jim. “It’s been extremely rewarding to see the students succeed and to witness the progress the University has made.”