The Man With Five Centuries’ Experience
Alumnus Finds Inspiration in GSAS, Jesuit Tradition to Help Change the World
By Miles Doyle
When Sal Giambanco, GSAS ’90, left the Society of Jesus in 1995 after nine years as a Jesuit seminarian, he took with him a deep-rooted appreciation for the leadership and
organizational principles that have enabled the Society to produce successful—and world-changing—leaders for nearly 500 years.
|As a partner leading human capital and operations at the philanthropic investment firm the Omidyar Network, Sal Giambanco, GSAS '90, applies nearly 500-year-old Jesuit leadership and organizational principles to help bring about social change throughout the world.
Photo by Eric Millette
Now, as a partner leading human capital and operations at the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm that funds for-profit and nonprofit businesses, Giambanco is applying these same leadership-development strategies to foster social change throughout the world.
“All of my experiences with the Jesuits gave me the grounding I needed to succeed in the public sector,” said Giambanco, who earned a master’s degree in philosophy at Fordham in 1990. “Developing human capital and managing small organizations within larger organizations is the perfect job for where I was coming from.”
Established in 2004 by eBay founder and Internet pioneer Pierre Omidyar, the Omidyar Network creates opportunities for people to improve their lives.
“Everything we do [at Omidyar] is to use the resources we have to make social change in the world,” Giambanco said. “We support, scale and prioritize the work of our partners to maximize social impact.
“It’s all about being change agents.”
As a Jesuit, Giambanco, who earned a master of divinity degree at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., taught theology studies at Manhattan’s Xavier High School and ran the school’s Higher Achievement Program (HAP), before mentoring young men in their decision to join the Society.
It was during his time studying philosophy at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, however, when Giambanco first started considering how best to serve the greater good.
“My experience at GSAS was, perhaps, the most critical and impacting influence of my intellectual life,” said Giambanco. “Although I do not believe that any of us have all the answers, I do know that we can have an intellectual framework that helps ask the relevant questions that we need to ask in order to make change in this world.
"GSAS helped me to think differently, creatively and boldly—all of which directly and unequivocally led me to my current role at the Omidyar Network, whose special mission and belief is that all people can make a difference.”
Giambanco was also a hospital chaplain at St. Mary’s Medical Center, in San Francisco, and the Bay Area’s Gay Men Health Collective, where he counseled HIV/AIDS and terminally ill patients for 10 years, as a New York Province Jesuit living and working in Berkeley.
After leaving the Jesuits, Giambanco worked in a variety of roles, primarily in the high-tech sector, before becoming a national recruiting manager for KPMG’s information, communications, high-tech and entertainment consulting practices.
He held positions at Ernst & Young and ESS Technology, Inc., and directed human resources at Tech One, Inc.
“Fittingly, the core competencies of human resources—attraction, selection, review cycle and performance—are very similar to the recruiting work I did with the Jesuits,” he said. “The mechanics of my past vocational and teaching work are very similar to what I do now.”
In 2000, Giambanco was named the vice president of human resources for X.com, which became PayPal after the Internet financial services company merged with Confinity before later becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay, Inc., the online auction website founded by Omidyar.
He joined the Omidyar Network in January 2009.
In his current position, Giambanco develops and scales the network’s in-house talent. He also provides functional expertise and assistance to the individuals and companies the network supports.
“It’s not about me or just one organization,” he said. “We’re hoping to have a widespread impact on the world.”
—Miles Doyle, FCRH '01, is the associate editor of FORDHAM magazine.