As a lifelong social justice activist with a successful career in government and nonprofit organizations, Eric Pliner imagined that the one place he’d never find himself professionally was in the private sector.  While working for the City of New York and teaching as an adjunct at Hunter College, he uncovered a passion and talent for developing great leaders that extended well beyond his immediate purview.
Name: Eric Pliner

Major at Baruch College (Degree Obtained):  MBA, Management, Organizational Behavior, and HR
Company:  YSC Consulting (Young Samuel Chambers, Ltd.), the world’s premier independent leadership consultancy
Title:  Managing Director, YSC Americas; Board Director
Graduation Year(s): 2010
School ( if applicable) within Baruch: Zicklin School of Business

1. Please briefly describe your current profession/activities in-detail including your responsibilities and/or tasks.

I am the Managing Director for the North & South American businesses of YSC Consulting (, the world’s premier independent leadership development consultancy.  Founded by business psychologists in London in 1990, YSC helps organizations to achieve their commercial and goals by releasing the power of their people.  We work with more than 50% of the FTSE 100 and 20% of the Global Fortune 500.  

As Managing Director, I oversee and support teams of business psychologists, leadership development experts, diversity and inclusion experts, and organizational consultants in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.  I also continue to serve our clients as an executive coach, leadership consultant, organizational consultant, and executive assessor for Fortune 500 CEOs, senior leaders from privately-held organizations (including private equity firms), public and private Boards of Directors, HR leaders, and more.  

2. Please briefly describe your career path to-date, including the reasons behind career changes you made since graduating from Baruch College.

After ten years of working in government and nonprofit organizations – where I specialized in education, diversity & inclusion, youth development, and leadership development – I had the opportunity to work with both senior leaders and emerging talent in several New York City agencies during the Bloomberg administration.  I quickly realized that if I wanted to have the kind of impact on the world that inspired me to enter these fields to begin with, I’d need another degree to extend my work to the private sector. After a few years as an adjunct professor with Hunter College at the City University of New York, I entered Zicklin’s APT (accelerated part-time) MBA program, where I concentrated in Management, Organizational Behavior, and Human Resources.  Within weeks of graduating, I was recruited for a role as VP of Global Talent Development with one of the world’s major luxury apparel retailers – and I nearly took it.  But a headhunter convinced me to meet with the team at YSC Consulting, and I never looked back.  I knew that I’d love the variety and pace of consulting, not to mention the opportunity for deep, meaningful work with a wide range of leaders across industries and functions around the world.  

3. How did your experiences at Baruch College (e.g., academic studies, extra-curricular activities, student groups) prepare you for your career?

Nothing better prepared me for my career than the nonstop group work that is a fundamental to success at Zicklin.  Be it with clients or colleagues, consulting is a collaborative field, and learning how to work with others is absolutely essential.  I was a good student, but not always a great group member – I learned a lot about how to be part of a team, especially under stress, by partnering with brilliant people.  I got to work with some of those same partners on the founding of Zicklin OUTSource, the business school’s graduate association for LGBT business students.  The time that we spent developing ourselves and helping others to understand the importance of identity and diversity in leadership and in business more broadly is a core component of the work that I do with client companies.  Finally, my academic journey – from courses in leadership and management to strategy to marketing and even accounting and finance – made it possible for me to lead the second-largest division of a global business within five years after joining the firm.

4. What job resources (e.g., internships, work-study jobs, summer and/or other work opportunities, etc.) have influenced your career choice(s)?

While I attended Baruch, I worked full-time in NYC government.  A career opportunity came up that enabled me to switch my full-time role to one in leadership development – the very area that I was studying at night and on the weekends.  But taking advantage of that opportunity required taking a step down hierarchically and giving up a salary increase that I’d worked towards for three years.  A leader said to me, “Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take a leap forwards” – and he was right.  Very quickly, my daytime work and my academic study merged, and the ability to apply during the day what I was learning at night accelerated my career in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

5. Today, what advice would you give to an undergraduate or graduate Baruch student interested in your field?

While leadership science can be studied from books or in a classroom, there are two really effective ways to learn the art of leadership:  lead and be led.  Do both!  Supplement your academic study with practical experience.  Be a member of as many teams as you can – both in and out of school – and learn how to listen and partner.  Take what you see in every field that you work in, read about, participate in, and enjoy, and think about how to apply it to the world of work.  You’ll learn as much about business from the arts and sports and religion and family and politics as you will from the field itself.

6. What do you like to do in your free time?

My husband and I are proud dads of a four-and-a-half-year old son and two newborn boys, and we spend a lot of time with them!  I’m also a published playwright and award-winning theater director, a voracious reader, a crossword puzzle aficionado (I do the New York Times nearly every day), and an active participant in my Brooklyn community.  

How can people reach you?

Email: [email protected]