Seven Questions with New Trustee Bill Pappas ’94, MBA ’95
Bill Pappas ’94, MBA ’95 believes in fostering diverse talent and an inclusive culture to build strong and effective global teams. Executive vice president and head of technology and operations at MetLife, he has a proven track record of integrating technology and operations to provide strategic, innovative solutions.
What is your leadership approach for developing high-performing global teams – and keeping them focused and motivated?
You need two things: the right talent and the right culture. You must create a culture where people see themselves succeeding and growing. It must be a place where you have diversity of thought and people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. To achieve this type of environment, you must have the right management team to foster it. That means leaders setting strategy and inspecting, versus dictating. They must also be able to inspire.
You were chosen as one of Bank Systems & Technology’s “Elite 8” as a CIO who embraces change and innovation to achieve competitive distinction. What are some ways you’ve done that?
I see change as an opportunity, not a threat. Over the last 15 months of the pandemic, I’ve sharpened my lens on customer needs and creating remarkable and enduring experiences. It requires adjusting or reinventing systems, processes and technology.
In 2020, MetLife hosted a major conference on women in tech. How has the industry become more diverse? What’s next?
The needle really hasn’t moved on diversifying the industry. We have so much more to do to attract, develop and retain women in technology. In fact, the data shows that we’ve lost ground during the pandemic, so we must identify practical solutions to reverse the trend. I’m personally committed to diversity and inclusion and I’m pleased that Bentley is as well.
What were some of your top takeaways from your Bentley undergraduate and MBA degrees?
I entered the school as an international student and saw there was enough diversity at Bentley for me to see myself on the campus. I think the same way about corporations: you cannot be what you cannot see.
Theory is important but theory in practice is even better.
Mentoring through Career Services was essential to preparing me for my career. The fact that such a high percentage of graduates are employed after graduation was key for me.
Completing a five-year program in liberal arts and business made me very marketable: I had multiple offers and took a job with GE Capital. It was the number one company at the time.
Why did you say “Yes” to joining the Bentley board of trustees?
Bentley is near and dear to me. They gave me a lot and made me who I am. I believe the school takes amazing kids and turns them into business leaders. It really was my ticket to the life that I love today. In fact, not only did I meet my wife there, but her sister and my brothers went to Bentley. We’re truly a Bentley family. At the end of the day, the school gave me a lot, and I need to give back.
You’ve completed six marathons and 25 half marathons. What got you interested in the sport, and what does it take to persevere?
Marathons and the training are a way to balance my busy life and do something for myself. The key to completing a marathon is to focus on finishing it one mile at a time. It’s about endurance, not speed.
Your LinkedIn profile lists “Father to four amazing daughters” among your accomplishments. What would you like to share about your family?
My daughters are my accomplishments, and the credit goes to my wife Litsa. They keep us authentic and grounded. My hope is that we will be remembered through the accomplishments of our children.