Published: Jan. 12, 2022

Sheila Duffy brings history from Wall Street, nonprofits to Leeds.

Portrait of Sheila Duffy against a dark background

'The industry is breaking old models, so we need to make sure we're teaching our students to be creative,' says Sheila Duffy, the newly appointed executive director of the Burridge Center at Leeds.

In selecting Sheila Duffy as its new executive director, the Burridge Center is getting an experienced leader who prioritizes mentorship and whose vision and industry expertise will be invaluable in advancing the center’s mission.

“I love the energy and creativity of people who are just starting their journey, and I enjoy finding ways to help them feel supported in understanding their skills and how they fit into finance,” Duffy said. “That was so important to me in coming to Leeds.”

Duffy joins the Leeds School of Business from PNC, where she was a senior business development officer; she also has held leadership roles at Public Trust Advisors, Forest City Enterprises and the New Mexico Treasury, among other roles. She also is president of the national board of Women in Public Finance.

She’s made it her mission to be a voice for young professionals, including creating a webinar for the CFA Institute on how to build diverse talent pipelines. The webinar is a panel of three influential women in finance who share strategies to help students choose a career path—while showing employers how to improve their student outreach.

In other words, it was the perfect preparation for someone aiming to lead the Burridge Center. 

“When I think about who we’re serving at Burridge, obviously it’s our students and our faculty,” she said. “But it’s also our alumni and business partners. We’re literally building their talent pipelines, so we want to keep them close as we figure out how to best meet their needs through our students.” 

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“The collaborative approach between engineering and business at CU is a cutting-edge way to address future needs.”

Sheila Duffy, executive director, Burridge Center

The other part of that equation, of course, is continuing the Burridge Center’s research reach into the hands of industry. Finance faculty at Leeds have done pathbreaking work in areas like wealth management, SPACs, and investing and social media. Duffy wants to support faculty and promote their insights to further improve Leeds’ research reputation and improve the school’s already impressive research rankings

“We have to create a sense of energy around all the great things our faculty are doing to energize our alumni, as well as our industry partners, about the value the Burridge Center creates,” she said.

With technology changing the game in finance—cryptocurrencies, algorithmic trading and robo-advising, to name a few—Duffy is especially eager to continue building relationships with businesses.

A unique strength at CU Boulder

“Industry leaders have the crystal ball—they know what they’re going to need in the future, as far as talent goes,” she said. CU Boulder is in a unique position, she said, having undertaken extensive conversations with industry partners to understand what it will take to lead in the future of their fields as part of Leeds’ Career Impact initiative.

“The industry is breaking old models, so we need to make sure we’re teaching our students to be creative—and I think the collaborative approach between engineering and business at CU is just one example of a cutting-edge way to address future needs,” she said.  

Another major driver of change in the industry is globalization. The pandemic ended the ambitious series of industry treks finance students have taken; Duffy is eager to reinstate them, with trips to global finance centers throughout Europe and Asia. 

Leeds Dean Sharon Matusik said Duffy’s experiences and perspective made her an incredibly strong candidate for the executive director position. 

“Sheila’s experience in the industry and commitment to the next generation of leaders, especially women, is unparalleled,” Matusik said. “She has all the qualities we could have asked for in a director—and more.”

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