LIU Spring 2020 Magazine

Page 14


Four Decades at Memorial Sloan Kettering



or Michael Gutnick (BS in Accounting, ’68), member of LIU’s board of trustees and recently retired Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the value in helping others is a lesson he learned when he was young. Gutnick grew up in Brooklyn, raised by parents with meager financial means. The modest lifestyle inspired him to pursue a potentially lucrative career field, which, to Gutnick, meant finance. “Because I was so financially tight in my youth, I thought, if I could, I would have a financial career of some kind,” he said. “I didn’t have time to think of other careers because making money was my prime objective as a young man.” Initially he wasn’t certain that college was his best route for success in the field, but his high school bookkeeping teacher advised him to pursue higher education after Gutnick scored a 100% on the New York State Regents Exam. The counsel proved wise and Gutnick went on to earn a scholarship to LIU where he majored in accounting and earned an inclusion on the dean’s list before graduating with honors. From good advice to tuition funding, Gutnick discovered benevolence and appreciated generosity at an early age. “All throughout my life there’s always been someone helping me along,” he said. In 1968, the then-Big Eight accounting firms recruited students on LIU’s campus and Gutnick’s exemplary performance landed him a position at Arthur Andersen (the largest public accounting firm at that time). He worked there for ten years and, as a result, achieved his childhood dreams of earning a


LIUMAGAZINE | Spring 2020

comfortable living. The subsequent longing for more led him to consider a different career focus. “All my clients focused their energy on earning the maximum profit, which was my focus when I was young,” Gutnick said. “I thought, ‘There are important goals in society other than making the maximum amount of money. How can I do that?’” In 1977, a friend of Gutnick’s referred him to the Chief Financial Officer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the largest and oldest private cancer center in the world, which resulted in his appointment in several key leadership positions. The move proved permanent as Gutnick spent 42 years at Memorial, ascending to Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer. During his tenure, the hospital grew in size from a few thousand employees in Manhattan to over 18,000 employees in three states, in addition to a revenue growth from less than $600 million in 1977 to roughly $6 billion in 2019. Most importantly, Gutnick and his team of financial analysists and actuaries were able to demonstrate the long term survival benefit of treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering and fund world class research which will continue to improve diagnostic and treatment programs. “It was just a love story for 42 years.” Gutnick said, the theme of purpose driven work drew Gutnick back to the University that helped him land his first job. His early success allowed him to write donation checks to LIU decades ago, but ultimately his leadership and insight as a board member has been an even greater contribution. “The highest level of personal satisfaction can be achieved by investing both personal time and money in a philanthropic project.