Alumni Achievement - 2
Eric Emerson ’91MBA and Todd Gustafson ’86: A practical, hands-on Bryant education delivers success
Apr 05, 2024, by Danny Lamere
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Eric Emerson ’91MBA will receive the Distinguished Alumnus, Graduate School Award, and Todd Gustafson ’86 will receive the Gulski Service Award on Friday, April 12, at the Alumni Achievement Awards Dinner. Other award winners include Michael Oliveri ’08, Bruce Messier ’14, Asli Ascioglu, Ph.D., Lisa Waynelovich McCarthy ’01, and Amanda Dunne ’07.

Eric Emerson ’91MBA - After nearly 30 years working for Fidelity Investments in a variety of roles, Eric Emerson ’91MBA, now CIO and head of technology for Fidelity Wealth, says what keeps him inspired is his belief in the company’s mission. “You can have a career there and get the benefit of an overarching culture and set of guiding principles,” says Emerson, “but have different things to do every couple of years.” He has charted a unique path through the company, applying his skills — and his work ethic — to solve problems and rise through the ranks to the executive role he now holds. “I never forget that I’m not the smartest guy in the room,” he says. “I will always be the hardest working and most persistent guy in the room, but I’ll never be the smartest.”

Before he joined Fidelity Investments, Emerson came to Bryant for his MBA, which he says was a pragmatic decision. “The curriculums at other schools were fine,” he says, “but they were much more theoretical and far less project-based. I wanted a program that would enable me to work with other people and do projects, because that's what you have to do out in the real world anyway.” Shortly after completing his MBA, Emerson started at Fidelity Investments, where he has spent the past 29 years.

Emerson says he doesn’t seek accolades for his work, so it means a lot to him to receive an Alumni Achievement Award from Bryant. “I do what I do because I want to make a difference,” he says. “Our mission is to help millions of people have better financial outcomes, whatever that means to them. Forty years from now, when I'm looking back on the career part of my life, I will get to say I spent my time helping millions of people. That's a pretty good way to spend your time on the planet.”

Todd Gustafson ’86 - “What I’m good at,” says Todd Gustafson ’86, “is creating a vision, gaining consensus around that vision, and then executing on the project.” Now president of HP Federal LLC and head of US Public Sector HP Inc., Gustafson has used his visionary leadership to drive growth across the company for more than 35 years. He says that over the years, he has become successful by taking ownership of problems and working to create solutions. His career experiences at HP, he says, “reaffirmed to me the importance of managing outcomes, as opposed to being managed by them.”

Gustafson came to Bryant after spending one year at the University of Rhode Island and then another year working in the fishing industry in Narragansett. His father, Paul ’84, a leader at New England Electric, was working to complete his own bachelor’s degree at Bryant when Todd enrolled. Gustafson said he knew he had a business mind and wanted hands-on training for his future career, so he enjoyed the instruction he got from his Bryant professors. “The teachers I had at Bryant were connected with what they did,” he says. “It wasn’t the philosophical approach; it was the practical approach.”

For many years now, Gustafson has given generously to Bryant by mentoring students and visiting classes, connecting students with internship opportunities, and helping to establish Bryant’s innovative Data Visualization Lab by facilitating a grant of cutting-edge technology from HP. He also recently hosted members of Bryant’s senior leadership, including Provost Rupendra Paliwal, Ph.D., at the HP Welcome Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, to explore technology solutions for Bryant’s Business Entrepreneurship Leadership Center. Gustafson has also completed the Pan-Mass Challenge, a bike-a-thon that raises money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, for 15 years, honoring a friend who died of ovarian cancer.

“I don’t do things for the reward,” says Gustafson, for whom the Gulski Service Award was an unexpected honor. His parents plan to make the journey to Smithfield from Florida for the Alumni Achievement Awards, and he says he will be especially happy to celebrate with his father and family.

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