TGIF! Hits of the week

What a busy week around campus:

  • Thick in the reading of Round One applications;
  • John Wooden Global Leadership Award Monday;
  • San Diego recruiting Wednesday;
  • Vincent Chan ’17 promoted to Vice President Wednesday;
  • Recruiting on-campus Thursday;
  • Sunshine in SoCal before the big game with USC tomorrow.

20141117 2014 Wooden Awards holding Gonzalo

20141117 2014 Wooden Awards fellowship recipients

20141117 Wooden Awards Gary Lai Vibhore Bhaskar Allyson Tom and Nicole aBeckett and husband  Fellowship honoree

Gary Lai 15, Vibhore Bhaskar 15, Allyson Tom ’15, with Nicole and her husband

20141117 2014 Wooden Award evening table members

We won the “most spirited table” award!

20141121 Nicole aBeckett Wooden Fellowship honoree

Nicole’s recognition, back on-campus.

Wednesday in San Diego, Christy Marquez hosted 26 prospects for the information lunch. She got great support from current and alumni FEMBAs: Amod Bam 2017, Naomi Reynolds 2017, Richard Stanley 2013, Allen Tian 2013, Fred Ellis 2013.

Thursday on-campus, we had A.301 almost full for a UCLA staff FEMBA lunch-and-learn. I hosted this one and was supported by the team and three great FEMBAs, Paisha Allmendiger ’13, Rachel Saar ’17 and my buddy, Steve Yu ’03.

20141120  UCLA Employee Recruiting Event Paisha Allmendinger 13 Rachel Saar 17 and Steve Yu 03 labeled

Thursday, we hosted 40+ UCLA staff interested in FEMBA. With me are the three wonderful FEMBA panelists who supported our lunch-and-learn.

And just when I thought there wasn’t room for any more good news, came a wonderful email from Vincent Chan ’17, brand new VP, Client Solutions, at Ares Management, announcing his career victory:

Dear, Gordon, Susan and Dylan,

Wanted to make sure you are amongst the first to know!  I was promoted today to VP, Clients Solutions, at Ares Management, and I have you guys to thank!

Right about the time I got accepted to FEMBA, our firm was going through a restructure, and my promotion was put on hold.  I was transferred to a new group and put under a manager who was new to the company and didn’t know much about me.  I wasn’t officially a student yet, but Gordon was generous enough to meet with me.  It was very helpful to bounce off ideas with Gordon, and after that I met with my old and new bosses on a regular basis to make sure I was on track.

Another very valuable tip I got was from the Career Management Workshop that Gordon and Susan conducted at the end of LF.  The list of accomplishments that Susan suggested us to work on, that was money!  That’s what I provided to my new boss at the performance review and he helped me build a case and got me promoted!

Dylan, thought you might want to know that I’ve put my FEMBA to work already, and it’s only my first quarter!  Everything you said was true!  =)  I’m so excited to be in the program and thank you all for your support!

Best Regards,
Vincent Chan
FEMBA 17, Section 4

Vincent Chan 17 new Vice President of Client Solutions at Ares Management

Vincent Chan 17 new Vice President of Client Solutions at Ares Management

Parting thought for the week…

SoCal has great weather.

Did you hear that Buffalo, New York, got over seven feet of snow this week… Here was what I saw when I looked up a lunch this afternoon in the courtyard.

20141121 sunshine in November

Did you know that Buffalo, New York, received over 7 feet of snow this week? Blue skies from the courtyard of UCLA Anderson today.




FEMBA, Soccer and Football

Back-to-back action today! Just a typical Saturday at UCLA in FEMBA.

Breakfast meeting with the 2016 FEMBA Council Section Reps.



Next was the Women’s Breakfast, organized by Christy Marquez and featuring great alumnae.

Here I am with Christy and Carole Neal FEMBA 1997.

The panelists today were (l-r) Carole Neal ’97, Julie Brensike ’11, Aubrey Kelly ’12 and Sara Kramer ’14.

Our Faculty speaker was Professor Jenessa Shapiro. Here she is giving an overview of Organizational Behavior.

From recruiting to Hollywood. Raymond Morada, our Marketing and Communications Manager, organized a video shoot for today to capture “Welcomes” from current students that we’ll share with the new Class of 2018. Here is David Duong ’15 recording his welcome, with Jordan Cruz ’17 standing next to Raymond, awaiting his turn.


And now, FEMBA Council! Here we all are in A.202 for the monthly, all-FEMBA Council meeting. It’s the leadership of FEMBA Council that keeps FEMBA growing in real time, to meet the needs of our students.


Here I am with Kari and Raymond.


Then, it was down the 405 to the Fox Hills recreation area to watch my seven-year-old and his team, the “Black Dragons.” The Black Dragons have orange shirts, because we named the team before the uniforms arrived.


And, finally, home to watch my beloved Aggies. We’ll see how they do. Just another day with UCLA, family and fun.


Anderson in Argentina 2014, by Alex Lawrence ’15

Oh the places you’ll go…during FEMBA. Alex Lawrence ’15, Brand Marketing Analyst, Theatrical New Release at Warner Bros. has done two International Studies. This September he traveled with classmates to Argentina and sent me this great movie of seeing Iguazu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Alex: Hey Dylan,

Glad you liked the video! After our International Studies week in Buenos Aires, there were about 15 of us who flew to Iguazu (about a 2 hour flight from Buenos Aires) to check out Iguazu Falls, which is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen. We hiked around different trails for most of the day and, at the end, got on a boat where they drive you right up to the falls and you get completely drenched.

20141107 Alex Lawrence 15

Alex Lawrence FEMBA ’15

We had this awesome Argentine guide named Adrian (he’s the guy fist pumping in the video) who was with us for the entire week and he kept telling us that we were going to get “soak wet” on the boat ride. From the video you can see that he wasn’t lying, but it was about 85 degrees in the middle of the jungle so it felt nice.

Dylan: Thanks Alex. Anything else I can tell people about your experiences?

Alex: This is my second international studies class and it’s always awesome how closely we get to interact with the profs. We went with Professor Terech, who is from Argentina, so almost everywhere we went he had a story or a recommendation on what to do. He shared “mate” which is the Argentine version of tea with us and generally just told the kind of stories you would only get from someone who grew up there. Really cool experience.


Professor Andres Terech

We definitely had some interesting company visits as well. My favorites were Club Atletico Boca Juniors  (the most famous Argentinian soccer team) and Nieto Senetiner Winery (wine tasting to truly learn about the booming wine industry in Argentina). On the last night, the whole class had tango lessons and went to watch a tango dinner show.

Because of the exchange rate there, everything was so cheap for us. One night we wanted to check out what some locals had told us was their favorite steakhouse and, even though we had to wait for 2 hours, and it started raining, and we had to use our broken Spanish to order, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had and was incredibly cheap.

Dylan: Thanks Alex. Again, I love your video and I appreciate you sharing it.

Homesick Halloween, 1993

Happy Halloween 2014,

It’s an overcast afternoon in Los Angeles, with a slight chance of rain. I’m leaving early today to get home to my two trick-or-treaters: my S.W.A.T.-team costumed second-grader and my little puffy-penguin two-year-old.

21 years ago–in the fall of 1993–I was a first-year MBA student at the University of Chicago. I was 24 years old and having my big life experience, starting grad school in the big city. One of the youngest people in my class, I was clueless about how to best leverage a top-tier MBA experience. It was like someone gave me a Ferrari, when all I wanted was to go to the store for a gallon of milk.

I had a History degree with honors from Texas A&M, but in the two years since graduating, the world hadn’t beaten a path to my door. Getting my MBA from Chicago was my attempt to make something happen, but I really couldn’t tell you what that “something” was.

That Halloween night the temperature was cool and brisk, but not bitter. I had no idea how much colder it would get, when winter really reached Chicago.

A festival was happening out on the Midway, a carnival/fair-like atmosphere with families and children in costumes. The trees had the last of their fall foliage and the air smelled damp and musty.

The six weeks leading up to Halloween had included two weeks of orientation and then the first month of classes. I’d probably been living mostly on adrenaline up to that moment: moving to Chicago, meeting my new roommates, buying my computer, doing orientation and then delving into the first four weeks of business classes (as a History major, I’d not seen Statistics, Economics–any of it–before). I barely had any work experience and I was quickly coming to feel like the “little brother” to most of my classmates.

That Halloween night, getting out of the b-school-bubble, seeing the little kids in their costumes, it all caught up to me. A wave of homesickness caught me off-guard.

What was I doing here?

I had a girlfriend back in Texas. We’d met the year after I graduated. She was smart and pretty and I thought she was awesome. But I also felt like there was no way I could ever support a family. Even if I’d had the guts to propose to her, there was no way I felt like she could say “yes” to me. I was going to Chicago to figure out how to make a living, so that someday I could be a husband.

That Halloween night, I saw all these families and thought about the small town of Denison, Texas, (population 21,000) where I grew up. I thought about what was happening in Denison that night. I thought about my own mom and dad and how they fell in love in college and got married directly afterwards, no MBA but they made it work somehow.

What was I doing? Borrowing $100,000. Living in Chicago. Taking classes with no background. Chasing something, and not having any real clue what that ‘something’ was.

The homesickness followed me as I wandered around the festival, eating a carmel-candied apple and feeling jealous of all the couple I saw with their families, their own little S.W.A.T.-teamers and their own little puffy-penguins.

21 years later, I am probably similar now to many of those parents I saw that night with my own two-year-old and seven-year-old. I know how to make a living now. My MBA paid off. It has given me two careers so far, the first with Siemens and this current, second career with UCLA Anderson.

That girlfriend from way back then? She and I didn’t make it.

But the woman I share life with now, my wonderful wife Marisa, she and I are living the life now that I could only dream of then. Am I grateful for my education? For sure. Am I glad I never have to do it again? Yes, that too.

It takes guts to pursue graduate study. It’s a leap into the unknown. I’ve been watching part-time MBA students here at UCLA since 2002. They juggle work, life and school in pursuit of their dreams. They inspire me to work hard every day to make sure UCLA pays off for them, the way Chicago paid off for me.

I’m going to pass out candy tonight from my porch in Culver City. I’m going to smile and laugh and be grateful.

Happy Halloween.


Starting up and Standing up: Brian Sterz launches Accessible Capital Partners

How big do you want your life to be? How much risk are you willing to take? How many partnerships and alliances can you build? Will you be true to yourself along the way?

20141024 Brian Sterz 14 Linkedin photo

Brian Sterz ’14, CEO and Founder of Accessible Capital Partners

I’ve been working on this profile of Brian Sterz ’14, CEO and Founder of Accessible Capital Partners for a month now–with great anticipation–because Brian is leveraging his FEMBA degree to build a bold new chapter of his career and life.

Brian just graduated FEMBA and he’s launched his own company, Accessible Capital Partners. He was an extremely involved student leader during FEMBA, serving on the Executive Board of FEMBA Council and actively participating in ASAM (Anderson Student Asset Management).

20141024 2014-2014 FEMBA Council Executive Board

The 2013-2014 FEMBA Council Executive Board, Brian is second from left.

Dylan: Brian, let’s start with your professional journey, then we’ll hear about the personal transformation you’re undergoing.

Brian: For sure Dylan.

I entered Anderson armed with my professional experience and my Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation ready to learn how to start and run an effective asset management company.  During FEMBA, I further honed my financial skill set, augmented with a summer internship in investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Los Angeles.

I challenged myself, I really got out of my wheelhouse, with marketing, operations, and negotiations courses, and others, such as Data Analytics with R with Professor Rossi and Strategy with Professor Rummelt, that rounded out my capabilities.  These courses, along with daily interactions with my entrepreneurial FEMBA classmates, are what emboldened me to venture out to launch on my own firm.  Investing has always been my passion and I needed the education and experience that I gained at UCLA Anderson to make this entrepreneurial leap.

I learned to better manage an organization with my two years on FEMBA Council.

20141024 Brian Sterz 14 Gonzalo Mike Walden 14 BS_FEMBAPALOOZA

FEMBApalooza, hanging out. Brian Sterz ’14, Gonzalo Freixes (Faculty), and Mike Walden ’14.

Dylan: Love it! Now tells them what happened after FEMBA.

Brian: After completing my UCLA Anderson FEMBA education, and having effectively completed a career transition, I decided to take the entrepreneurial leap in starting Accessible Capital Partners, a bridge lending fund based in Los Angeles.  Having seen the investment management industry from several perspectives during my career prior to Anderson, including experience on the derivatives trading floor in San Francisco, at Callan Associates where I was part of a team that advised public pension funds on their fixed income investments, and later as a member of the investment committee at a local Registered Investment Advisor called EP Wealth Advisors, I knew that I wanted to open my own fund after business school.

20141024 Brian Sterz 14 GAP  Freddie Wolfe 14   BS_GAP (2)

Stephen Shar 14, Brian Sterz, Brandon Flora 14, Jennifer Chiang 14, and Freddy Wolfe 14, Brian’s  Global Access Program teammates, Team ‘Drink Cup,” December 2013.

Dylan: What components of FEMBA supported you to take the leap?

Brian: My experience with the Ziman Center for Real Estate, and particularly the passionate instruction of Eric Sussman and Paul Habibi, led me to combine my prior experience in fixed income with real estate to create Accessible Capital Partners.

My interest in real estate began during the heart of the global financial crisis in 2008, when real estate prices experienced their nearly unprecedented decline.  During that year, I began the process of getting my real estate broker’s license in an attempt to take advantage of these prices that would undoubtedly prove to be bargains in future years.  As Southern California has recovered from the crisis, though lessons-learned remain squarely in mind, conservatively-underwritten bridge financing appears to be an attractive route to pursue.

20141024 Brian Sterz 14 on the lawn in San Diego

Looks pretty calm after taking the leap to create his own company. Brian Sterz ’14.

Dylan: Great Brian. Now, let’s shift a little bit to the personal. One of the things that’s impressed me about you is the friendships you’ve cultivated here, and your student involvement. (For my readers, it was Brian who collected all the testimonials that comprised the Doug Longo ’14 tribute blog post back in March.)

Brian: For sure. I was friends with Doug Longo through classes, ASAM and FEMBA Council. Also in ASAM with us was Ryan Hughes, who has also created his own company since FEMBA.

Ryan and I, during school and before we each created our own companies, we actually sent a lot of business each others’ way. Another example of FEMBA helping your career immediately, during school.

20141024 Brian Sterz 14 at the Hollywood Improv

Brian on-stage at the Hollywood Improv on September 21, 2014. “I wanted to put myself out there,” says Brian Sterz. His third show will be November 5, 2014.

Dylan: And what’s this about Improv? Tell them about that.

Brian: Well this is a big deal for me, taking the leap and starting my own company. I knew that it was going to take a lot of persistence and boldness on my part.

I wanted to put myself out there. I love public speaking, but wanted to get better at it. I signed up for an improv class because I knew it would force me to grow. We met four times and at the end we each got a 5 minute slot in front of a real audience at the Hollywood Improv.

I did that set at the Improv. There’s this whole comedy community in LA, and a guy in the crowd came up to me afterwards and he then got me booked The Comedy Store. I’ve already done the second show, and my next performance is November 5th! I’m doing it again! I post invitations on my Facebook page.

Dylan: Which was scarier, Improv or your GAP Final Presentation?

Brian:  Ha! No comment!

Tell you what. Really what’s scariest is starting my own company. I’ve gone from having safe, comfortable, high-paying jobs to starting from scratch. While I’m getting started, I’m doing things like driving for LYFT and renting my apartment on airbnb to bride the gap. This isn’t all roses. I’m pretty sure it’s a very small percentage of b-school grads who are driving for LYFT. But I’m OK with that. The point is I’m doing what it takes to get my business profitable and successful.

Dylan: I love it. Thanks for the reality check. Anything else?

Brian: Well I’m a start-up, so I just have to put in one more pitch for my firm.

Accessible Capital Partners seeks to provide debt capital to real estate entrepreneurs and developers who require timely and flexible capital which traditional banks simply cannot provide in today’s environment.  The fund seeks to conservatively underwrite loans and partner with borrowers to create mutually beneficial long-term relationships.  In this way, the fund can provide sustainable, risk-adjusted returns for its investors.  As technology changes the face of real estate investing, the fund will seek to leverage crowd sourcing platforms to both raise and deploy capital efficiently and effectively.  Currently, we’re seeking investment partners.

The Anderson Alumni community has already been so supportive of this effort and I look forward to partnering with our esteemed colleagues for many years to come! Interested persons, please reach out to me via LinkedIn.

Me, a life-long learner too

I’m in my third straight day of class: Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This weekend, the Wisdom Unlimited Course, and today, day one of the Executive MBA Council Conference. Both conferences are talking about the power of education, the power of language.

Here are some random quotes I’ve heard the last 72 hours that are inspiring to me. They all live in the context of education, purpose and living a life with passion.

  • “Face-to-Face” is our core competence (especially education in US)
  • Can I talk about anything, with anyone, anywhere, at anytime?
    If not, why? Why can’t I just listen and give someone the experience of being heard?
  • When raising kids, what if the goal of education was to raise fully functioning, self-determining people? Would that change how I approach my children’s education?
  • The Best Three Things about America (one presenter’s idea)
    1. Our Constitution
    2. Higher Education
    3. Blue Jeans
  • Learning is like loving. It is a very personal thing. There’s no such thing “intellectual engagement” in isolation.
  • Why do people go to university sports games, but sometimes find classes ‘boring’? Maybe it’s because the outcome in sports is unknown, but too often classrooms become predictable.
  • Leo Burke gave a keynote that highlighted Notre Dame’s “Integral Leadership Institute” which sounds like a great program, “Look inward to Move the Organization Forward.”
  • Monica Sharma, MD, talked about the Global Leader of Tomorrow, who will have an appreciation for Context, Complexity and Connectedness.
  • Leo Burke also talked about Elinor Ostrom (from UCLA, even though he didn’t mention that) the first and only woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics. He explained how she provided new thinking to the idea of the Commons. This past weekend, there too we were looking at what is possible for humanity in the social commons, when resources flow between people.
  • Finally, Leo was speaking about five great pillars that support civilization, and the interplay between the five: food, water, energy, climate and population

Going to have to leave this conference in 15 minutes to make it back to campus to pick up my child. Been an enriching three days. Can’t wait for tomorrow.