A life time of leadership founded in Dartmouth

Apr 10, 2023

As a student in the 1980s, Peter de Silva noticed, while working at Cinema 140, the rise of the VCR and guessed that the movie theater industry would not prosper forever. Selecting a post-college career, he picked an always relevant field; finance.

De Silva spent his first 17 years at Fidelity Investments, where he turned his humble Dartmouth self into what he calls a humble leadership style.

Now, with more than 30 years in the financial services industry, de Silva still credits his roots at Dartmouth High School (Class of ‘79) and UMass Dartmouth (Class of ‘84 at what was then Southeastern Massachusetts University.)

In Dartmouth “I was taught [that] very strong ethics, very strong morality, [and] very strong hard work were central to any success I was going to have in life and in business,” he said last week while preparing to promote his recently published book on leadership.

In, Taking Stock: 10 Life and Leadership Principles from My Seat at the Table, de Silva reflects on his start in Dartmouth and his journey both professionally and personally.

De Silva will be in Dartmouth to discuss his book and the lessons that to take away from it on April 13, 2 pm, at UMass Dartmouth Charlton College of Business, Room 149.

He fondly remembers his time in Dartmouth and returns often to visit his siblings who still live in town. Married with two adult daughters, he splits his time between a Boston apartment and his home in Chatham.

His passion for leadership extends beyond work. On his website, De Silva considers leadership a hobby, along with cycling, boating, history, travel and reading.

Key to his thinking on the topic: “My job is to make other people better. It is not my job to make them make me better.”

But, he points out, that is not without benefits: “If you shine the light on others, the reflection actually shines more brightly back on you.”

In his case, de Silva rose to positions as chairman, CEO, president, executive committee member and director of public and private companies and earned himself a seat on the UMass Dartmouth Board of Directors.

Another one of his lessons learned: In measuring the success of a leader, the evidence comes two to three years after a leader departs a project or company. If it remains successful, that speaks to its previous leadership.

“One of the most important legacies a leader leaves are the leaders they leave behind.”

From starting in a movie theater, where the spotlight is ever-present, to learning the value of sharing that light, Peter de Silva made the most of his Dartmouth roots.