Ciocca Center Intern Interviews Rick Patterson ’80

Rick Patterson ’80
Founder of Coniston Capital

Rick Patterson ’80 was an economics major and currently serves as the chair of the Holy Cross board of trustees and is a director of Global Weather Corporation and RedShelf Inc.  Rick has been a trustee on the Holy Cross Board since 2011 and became chair in Aug 2018. As a first generation student, Rick’s time on the hill was dedicated to working hard and knowing he wanted a career in business.  After Holy Cross, Rick went on to earn his M.B.A in finance and international business from Columbia University.  Rick began his career in 1982 as a banking officer at Mellon Bank, where his first assignment was actually as a driver for a corporate golf event!  Before founding Coniston Capital, Rick was a founding partner of Spire Capital (1999-2015) and previously a partner at Waller Capital Corporation (1986-1999).  As founder of Coniston Capital, Rick drove investment opportunities within the media and communications sectors. Based in New Jersey, Rick dedicates much of his time to the Holy Cross community.  Since becoming chair of the board in September 2018, Rick’s visit to Worcester in February 2019 marks his 8th trip back to the hill.

Most important qualities of CEO/President:

Rick values natural leaders with a vision and the ability to express that vision.  The best CEOs are people who “can select and motivate talent.”

Importance of Mentorship:

Rick is a “big believer” in the power of mentoring.  Many of Rick’s mentors were bosses who “shepherded him along.”  It is important to have personal relationships with people who share their knowledge and guide you along the way.

Holy Cross Board of Trustees:

Rick described how “just as much goes on outside of the board room as what goes on inside.”  The connections, comradery, and community-feel among board members is a crucial aspect to the conversations and consensus building.  As chair, Rick promotes a culture of engagement. The role of the board at Holy Cross is different from the board of a corporate company.  The Holy Cross board values people who will dedicate their time, talent and treasure to the College. The talent that the board looks for encompasses a broad array of experience from graduates to priests, professors, and parents.  Those who serve on the board of trustees at Holy Cross are often the biggest donors. The forty-four people that sit on the board are asked to make Holy Cross the primary destination for their charitable donations. Rick knows that a good board interacts with the people in the organization, in this case it’s the student body.  Every year, a recent grad joins the Holy Cross Board for two years. Board members are allowed two four-year terms and the chair serves for four years. The board meets formally three times per year in Worcester and the committees meet with greater frequency.  Most trustees attend a significant number of campus events and college events around the country throughout the year.  

The Nine Holy Cross Board Committees:

  • Finance Committee
  • Investment Committee
  • Mission Identity Committee
  • Student Affairs Committee
  • Academic Affairs Committee
  • Athletics Committee
  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Admissions and Financial Aid Committee
  • Buildings and Grounds.

    How do you define successful corporate governance?

“You know bad governance when you see it, but you don’t necessarily appreciate good governance when you’re in it.”  Rick describes how corporate governance succeeds when the directors are personally invested and there is a good exchange of information between management, directors and investors.  The board at Holy Cross has a good governance structure – a “rollover” business, allowing for fresh faces and new perspectives to keep supporting the College in the best ways possible.  

Rick’s advice:

Once while riding on a chairlift, Rick received some advice that he’s kept with him over the years: ‘We all have disappointment in life, I work my hardest to live without regret.’  Another motto Rick strives to live by is that ‘life is an attitude, I choose happy.’ When asked about what advice he’d give to Holy Cross students, Rick reminded students that “you get what you put in” and that there is no place to hide here on the hill.  He described how community is fostered at Holy Cross as a unique and distinguishing characteristic of the College. “Life is not a straight line.” As life is unpredictable, Rick urges students to take advantage of all that Holy Cross offers and to engage in opportunities while on the hill and to be open to the abundant opportunities life presents.

Fun fact:

Rick served as former chairman and director of the Professional Bull Riders, which is an international organization of more than 600 cowboys.  Rick pursued this particular endeavor because he wanted “to be a part of something that people are extremely passionate about.” He learned that within the cowboy culture, it is important to never lose credibility.  Honesty lies at the core of Professional Bull Riders.  

— —

Rick Patterson ’80 was interviewed by Sarah Anderson ’20 through her internship with the Ciocca Center.  Thank you both!  Cassie

Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Student Engagement
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society