Big Business Advisor Is ‘Big Believer’ in Faithful Catholic Education - Cardinal Newman Society

Big Business Advisor Is ‘Big Believer’ in Faithful Catholic Education

It was more than 20 years ago, when Sean Kay graduated from a faithful Catholic college—and today the presidents, board members and top financial officers of some of the nation’s highest ranked colleges and universities look to him for guidance.

Kay is a partner at PwC, the brand name of PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the largest professional services firms in the world. As the firm’s national endowment leader, Kay meets with chief executives about the “risks and issues that are impacting their industries” as they consider investment options.

“When I have a really challenging conversation—even if it’s on a technical, business matter—I find that I’m drawing upon experiences that I gained during my undergraduate years,” says Kay, who is a 1997 graduate of Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., a faithful Catholic college recommended in The Newman Guide. “I’m able to use those skills much more frequently than the ones I learned in graduate school.”

“Graduate school gave me the credentials, but it is my undergraduate Catholic, liberal arts experience that allows me to be successful in what I’m doing today,” Kay explains. He benefitted from Christendom’s strong core curriculum and majored in English and economics.

His clients “don’t want to talk about debits and credits,” Kay explains. Instead, he articulates the big picture: the concerns that he sees in the marketplace, and how these issues are affecting his clients’ peer institutions.

PwC employs more than 250,000 people worldwide, but Kay is part of the four percent of employees who have been named a partner. PwC doesn’t sell any products, and so Kay’s national clients are paying for his expertise, which he says comes with “knowledge and experience”—and is built upon the foundation he received at Christendom College.

“For the first time in my life as an undergraduate student, I met people who so badly wanted to do the right thing,” says Kay, remembering groups of students who would pray the rosary together or go out in groups for dates. “Faith was critically important to everyday life.”

Students can take their Catholic, liberal arts experience and use it for building a career and raising a family, he said. “We can be great examples out in the marketplace and out in the world,” and we don’t need to “hide our talents,” says Kay, who married a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville and now has ten children.

The Kay Family

Another key element of Kay’s time at Christendom was a mentorship that helped propel him into his career. The late Dr. Philip Crotty, who was a College board member, met with Kay individually about four times a year and asked him, “What would you like to do after graduation?”

“As a member of the Board, I found it extremely impressive that Dr. Crotty would go and meet with a student that he had never met before,” says Kay. Dr. Crotty pointed out graduate schools that emphasize the value of a liberal arts foundation, such as Northeastern University. It was there that Kay earned his Master’s in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Accounting.

“I was incredibly blessed” through the mentorship with Dr. Crotty, a dedicated Catholic and generous philanthropist, says Kay. The two ended up becoming close friends and met frequently throughout the rest of Dr. Crotty’s life. 

Today, Kay is following in Dr. Crotty’s footsteps. He is a supporter of faithful Catholic education and a board member at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H., which is also recommended in The Newman Guide.

“I love that graduate who has a Catholic, liberal arts perspective, because that individual has a discipline associated with seeking the truth,” says Kay. “They have a set of skills around having a view, articulating that view and defending that view.”

“That skill set is so far superior to someone who has four years of business, or some very specific, technical experience,” Kay explains. 

From his perspective as a graduate, donor and parent, Kay is eager to promote the value of faithful Catholic education. “I am a big believer in this core group of schools that is committed to orthodoxy.”

KELLY SALOMON is director of education and advocacy for The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education.

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