Roanne M. Kulakoff ’81

Finance, accounting, corporate communications and photography. Roanne Kulakoff has taken an interdisciplinary approach to life, using it to create a remarkable career.

At the University at Albany, Roanne earned a dual degree in economics and business with a focus on finance. She parlayed those skills into a job as a credit analyst working in asset-based lending. During that time, she earned an MBA in accounting from Fordham University and passed the CPA exam. Adding to her wide-ranging skill set, Roanne minored in fine arts at UAlbany, and continued to pursue photography when she earned an M.A. in Studio Art at New York University in 1996.

Roanne had been recruited by a Big Eight firm and planned to start work there in the fall after graduation from Fordham. She took on a summer internship at Kekst and Company, a corporate communications consulting firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, corporate crises and other special situations. At that point, she didn’t know what corporate communications was, but her father, the CPA for Kekst, had shared a paper she had written for a finance class and the firm had offered her the internship. She never looked back to the more conventional business path she expected while in school, remaining at Kekst for more than 25 years and finishing her career there as a partner.

Roanne is thrilled at the way her career has gone. She said, “I’ve enjoyed writing and creative pursuits. Combining this with accounting and finance was a differentiator. It put me in a good position. I was exposed to c-suite and board level business issues across functions and industries requiring multi-stakeholder communications. Even in my first months, I enjoyed high-level engagement with corporate directors and CEOs. It was a demanding environment, but I had opportunities to advise much earlier than I would have at a Big Eight firm.”

The late Assistant Dean John Levato invited her to get involved in her alma mater. She serves as a director for the University at Albany Foundation and sits on the School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. She also created The Roanne Kulakoff ’81 School of Business Scholarship Fund and The Roanne Kulakoff ’81 Art Department Fund.

She said, “My University at Albany education and experience as editor-in-chief of the Torch yearbook gave me the management skills and leadership confidence that enhanced my performance during the early years of my career and had a huge impact longer term. UAlbany offers great value, but many alumni do not realize that it does not receive the level of state funding it once did. It is vitally important that alumni give back, both financially and through their input.” Continuing, she said, “My UAlbany service has inspired me to explore opportunities to continue to put my perspective, management and communications skills to good use in new ways.”

Born and raised in Massapequa, New York, Roanne moved to Manhattan after her UAlbany days. In the winter, she ice skates in Bryant Park, and in the summer, she is on the water, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, and working on her golf game, all while staying current in her professional fields.