Jim Finkelstein ’74

Jim FinkelsteinDEGREES: B.A. in psychology and economics; M.B.A. with a focus on organizational behavior and development, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

JOB TITLES: President and CEO, FutureSense; president, FutureSense Holdings, which includes vice chairman, The O’Brien Group, and CEO, Summit Talent Group

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: The richness of my friendships, many of which I have carried with me throughout my life, combined with my eclectic academic and social experiences.

What is FutureSense? FutureSense provides a holistic approach to organizational development and compensation solutions that enriches the professional lifespan and experience of employees. Our uniqueness is experienced in the way we guide (consulting and coaching clients on methods, practices, and tools for addressing business needs), build (putting in place functions, programs, and processes that our clients own to drive positive results), and do (serving as an extension of our client’s team while providing the resources and expertise needed to manage functions or departments on their behalf).

What do you enjoy most about your work? We have an opportunity to be innovative, insightful, and intentional in helping our clients every day. We make a difference in their lives—hopefully for a better tomorrow. In addition, we realize the value of people—both in terms of their economic value and their social value—and work in a thoughtful, responsive, and authentic way to support the communities in which we live and work.

What are the biggest challenges you face? The biggest challenge we face in a boutique consulting firm is growing the firm while at the same time doing the work. While we are guiding, building, and doing, we need to continuously engage new clients and advance new opportunities. This challenge of growth gets me up every morning excited to face the opportunities of the day.

What other firms have you created, and what is the focus of each? With my new joint venture partner, The Innovation Institute, we have created FutureSense Holdings, a holding company for other firms in the people strategy and organization solutions space. We have formed joint ventures and alliances and completed acquisitions with The O’Brien Group, an exceptional executive coaching firm, and The Summit Talent Group, an executive search and interim placement firm. I also was thrilled to start Marin FC, a local premier soccer club (in Marin County, California) in 2004 that helps young soccer players find personal excellence through the sport and enhances their life skills by helping them get into college.

How did your time at Trinity prepare you for your career? I was fortunate to be able to help create an exciting curriculum that was relevant to me and to engage in myriad activities. I played water polo and sang with The Chapel Singers. I also was manager of the Concert Choir and worked as a switchboard operator, manager at Cinestudio, game room attendant, football spotter (for the announcer, Dr. Kirkpatrick), and Mather Hall front office greeter. I was a Big Brother to a young boy from Frog Hollow and later became a caseworker and researcher for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Hartford, helping to bring the program to campus. This ability to juggle many balls and participate in many facets of campus life prepared me for the continued juggling I have done in my career.

What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? I need to answer this from both of my majors. “The Psychology of Memory”—I don’t remember why. Just kidding. Actually, all of my psych classes were stimulating and relevant and prepared me to understand how humans operate in the world of business and in life. As I like to say, my emphasis in psychology, specifically child and adolescent psych, made me eminently qualified to deal with executives! My freshman seminar in economics—I remember writing my semester paper on the economics of crime in Washington, D.C. It was a highly integrative course, tapping into all of the social sciences through the lens of economics. It encouraged me in many ways to pursue my double major.

Did you have a professor who was particularly influential? Dr. Alan Fink in psychology. Not only did he share part of my last name, but he also was inspirational in helping me create and execute a significant research project that became the basis for my senior thesis, “The Impact of Companionship Therapy on the Developing Social Profile of a Father-Absent Male.” Dr. Richard Scheuch, G. Fox and Company Professor of Economics, Emeritus, was one of those rare professors who not only taught well but also took the time to get to know his students. Replete with his Princeton Tiger pants and his Trinity Bantam ties (not at the same time), he modeled sartorial elegance I will never forget and instilled the discipline of writing, speaking, and presenting your thoughts in a cogent manner that has stayed with me throughout my career.