Julie Greifer Swidler ’79 majored in political science before graduating from New York City’s Cardozo Law School. One of the most powerful dealmakers in music today, she is executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel for Sony Music Entertainment, where she oversees Sony’s legal, business affairs and governmental matters on a global level. Julie was the first label executive (and first woman) to receive the Grammy Foundation’s ELI Service Award in 2016, given to music attorneys for advancing and supporting the music community through service. Her charity work includes her involvement in Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (a residential community home to those orphaned during and after the 1994 genocide). A mother of three, Julie also serves as a vice chair of the board of the T.J. Martell Foundation, which funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS. She is a member of Union’s Board of Trustees as well.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
With nearly three decades of experience in the industry, my lifelong love of music has been a guiding and rewarding force throughout my career. My earliest music memories include snagging a U.K. edition of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul from my father after an overseas business trip. At Union, I DJ-ed for WRUC and ran the campus coffeehouse, where I booked live entertainment. I enjoy helping the music industry and its artists flourish and thrive. That is the most rewarding part of my career. On the challenging side, our business has changed dramatically over the last few decades. It is incredibly important to learn and change with the business to ensure that you are giving the right advice.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
My children inspire me each and every day. To watch them grow up and be independent people who face their own challenges is incredible to me.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
Forget about empowerment. Empowerment means that someone else has given you power. Each of you has your own unique and amazing power. The challenge is to figure out what it is and use it to your best advantage and happiness. Don’t measure yourself only by what others think of you, but also by whether you have done your best that day. Have you worked hard to contribute to the greater good? I know that this is easier said than done, particularly in a corporate environment, but honestly that really is the only way to succeed.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
Union was a supportive, mostly male place when I was a student. It allowed me to get used to speaking my mind – hopefully in the right way – rather than losing my voice.