Deloitte’s Ralph Sorrentino Is the Latest Alum to Advise Students at the Dean’s Roundtable
When Ralph Sorrentino (‘82), a current Principal and former Chief Confidentiality and Privacy Officer for the Deloitte U.S. Firm, visited Tandon on April 27 to engage with students at the Dean’s Roundtable event, it was an early stop on what he foresees as a new journey. Planning in the coming months to retire from the iconic consulting firm, Sorrentino is embarking on a mission to mentor and encourage aspiring young professionals, hoping to guide them to careers that will prove as rewarding as his has been.
In 1982, after Sorrentino graduated with a BSEE degree from what was then commonly called Poly, he joined IBM, a firm he credits with changing his life. There he spent more than a dozen years developing hardware and software products — at a time when IBM marked the indisputable center of the computer universe and mainframes were the size of an entire room. He then made the leap to a post as IT Executive at the snack-and-beverage company Frito-Lay / PepsiCo, where he led computer operations.
Become an expert! Be the one people can approach to get help in translating their ideas and business requirements into IT solutions that create value.
— Ralph Sorrentino
Sorrentino explained to the students that they might find themselves making similar leaps during their careers. “No matter where you land, you will need to learn the business,” he asserted. “At a tech company like IBM, I learned how to develop and deliver IT solutions, and when I got to Frito-Lay / PepsiCo, I wanted to learn just as much about how they made, marketed, and distributed their products. Become an expert! Be the one people can approach to get help in translating their ideas and business requirements into IT solutions that create value.”
In 1999, Sorrentino joined Deloitte, and he feels strongly that consulting provides a challenging but gratifying profession for engineers. “There’s pressure in that people are counting on your knowledge and advice to achieve results, so you must make sure that every time you speak or write a report, you are giving them something absolutely first-rate, because it’s a reflection of the firm you represent,” he cautioned. “But you ultimately get used to that kind of pressure, and a consulting career allows you to contribute greatly to your clients’ success.”
Sorrentino’s own career at Deloitte is currently focused in the field of risk culture, insider threat programs, and conduct risk consulting related to cybersecurity. He is currently responsible for helping clients understand the risks to their brand, reputation and systems from both inside and out, along with ways to mitigate those risks. “It’s part of my job to help clients recognize that there are risks to their organizations resulting from their organization's culture, professional conduct, and the actions of insiders who act out of ignorance, complacency, or malicious intent. It’s obviously better to know what is happening and take the appropriate steps.” Even Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan took the opportunity to query his guest on ways in which Tandon’s own systems could be made more secure.
Sorrentino took the final moments of the roundtable to succinctly encapsulate his best career advice to the students. Among the points he stressed were:
- Work on your communication skills, both written and verbal, because being able to express yourself well is vital to everyone’s career.
- No matter what your job, you’re going to be assigned to work on teams; learn how to do so effectively.
- When you get performance feedback, good or bad, own it and learn from it; it’s meant to help you grow.
- Tech changes rapidly, so keep your skills current.
- When you choose a job, ask yourself if you will love the work, if you will enjoy interacting with your colleagues, and if you will be paid commensurate with your contributions to the company. If you can answer those three questions affirmatively, that’s a job worth considering.
Above all, Sorrentino asserted, keep in mind that everything you learn at Tandon will serve you well in the future. “Just take it and go out there and be brilliant,” he concluded.