Brian Silva (M.S. ’89) is chief human resources officer and senior vice president of administration at Waltham, Mass.-based Fresenius Medical Care.
Silva works at North America’s leading provider of kidney products and renal services. The company treats more than 280,000 patients worldwide across more than 40 countries using its high-tech dialysis machines and filters. Under Silva’s supervision, Fresenius hires an estimated 10,000 employees each year, and there are more than 4,000 job openings at any given time.
His expertise helps contribute to a culture of corporate excellence that is widely recognized: Forbes named Fresenius Medical Care one of America’s Best Employers in 2015. As the only renal care provider on the list, Fresenius Medical Care ranked third in the “Health Care Equipment and Services” category. Fortune also ranked Brian's company as among the 2015 World’s Most Admired Companies.
Though Silva’s sister, Carol, also graduated from New York Tech, she did not influence his decision to attend. Rather, the Hicksville, N.Y., native was looking for a graduate program while working a full-time job in human resources. “I realized there was a huge foundation you need to be successful,” Silva says. “And I looked for the best programs around New York City to help me. New York Tech stood clearly above everybody else.”
He credits the “high personal touch” of faculty who bridged academic theory and real-world practice. “There is a direct correlation between what I learned at New York Tech and my career success. With a master’s degree, I developed a preparedness to be ready for the next opportunity.”
One of Silva’s favorite professors was Richard Dibble, Ph.D., whom he still keeps in contact, whether on the phone or during their annual holiday lunches. “Whenever I talk to him, I’m still learning things. He continues to push and challenge me.” Silva also speaks with students in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter at New York Tech and serves as a guest lecturer. For his leadership and service, the university named him the 2010 winner of the Alumni Volunteer Award.
Silva’s spirit of giving back is also exemplified by serving as the national chair of SHRM, where he shares learning experiences with others who are on their own journey of professional development. “At many understaffed companies, the ability to know about best practices in HR is incredibly limited. Professional affiliations such as SHRM provide a set of resources and tools that improves performance, increases success, and opens doors to opportunity.”
“My belief is that professional relationships are built on two things-trust and respect,” Silva says. This must be achieved through face-to-face contact, he adds, working directly with colleagues to help solve problems and find solutions. “They’ll come to you because they respect your knowledge, wisdom, and intellect.”
But for human resources professionals to truly excel, Silva says they must move beyond staffing, benefits, and compensation plans to understand how a business truly functions from top to bottom. That includes identifying competition, marketing and advertising, finance, and preparing organizations for rapid change. “One of the biggest myths about HR executives is that we don't know the business,” Silva says. “In fact, we are disciplined to know the business much better than people expect.”
Each year, Sliva rides his Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic alongside his brother (and New York Tech Board of Trustee chairperson) Kevin as they travel Europe or the United States. He is also a proud New York Yankees fan in the middle of Red Sox nation (not to mention a Jets fan in Patriot country). In addition, Silva enjoys reading biographies on leaders of industry, such as Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. “It’s a great book about inspiration, passion, and vision. I love to see what worked for others and how they found solutions.”