Ryan Gutterson ’14: The Most Interesting TED Talk in the World

I love this guy! Ryan Gutterson, I’m sorry, but you are never allowed to graduate, you oh Most Interesting MBA in the World.

20140414 Ryan Gutterson at TED 2014 from Daily Bruin

Ryan Gutterson ’14 (center), one of the student speakers at the third annual TED Talk at UCLA. (Courtesy of TEDanderson)

As reported in the Daily Bruin by Fiona Kirby

UCLA Anderson hosted its third TED Talks on-campus last week. One of the Thursday evening presenters was Ryan Gutterson, FEMBA 2014.

Ryan Gutterson said he noticed the negative repercussions for children when adult figures in their lives overprotect them during play.

In addition to his personal experience, an article about overprotected children in Atlantic Monthly prompted Gutterson to focus his talk on child development and the positive impact exposure to moderate risks can have on kids’ life skills.

Gutterson said he thinks adult figures overreacting or overprotecting children could be detrimental to their growth.

He opened his talk with an anecdote about working in a school and seeing a teacher bench a boy during recess. When he asked why, the teacher said it was because the boy was running. After an accident in which two girls ran into each other during recess and one dislocated her jaw, running had not been allowed at the school.

He said he thinks mindsets similar to the teacher’s do not help children learn the skills needed to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, such as outside-the-box thinking, which comes from doses of independence.

“They get that (entrepreneurial spirit) by being taught skills and then getting out there and being encouraged to use them,” he said.

He said while parent involvement in their children’s lives is incredibly important, he was concerned about inhibiting kids from being able to do what they are capable of doing.

He said he has great admiration for parents and the pressure they are under in such a crucial role. Still, he said a parents’ instinct to be afraid for their child can be inhibiting.

“To me, that’s the kind of involvement that makes the most sense: teaching, and then backing off a little bit, as opposed to having control and steering your kid toward what you think makes them successful or what you think they need,” he said.

And, if you really want to see Ryan exercise his acting chops, you have to watch his prize-winning, 60-second, UCLA Anderson Commercial Challenge entry below:

From Biopsychology to J.P. Morgan: Nick Pavlis ’11

I love writing about people who make big jumps while in FEMBA, and Nick Pavlis, FEMBA 2011, made quite a leap. Nick came to UCLA with one great career, then created another.

20140410 Nicholas Pavlis FEMBA 2011

Graduating from Michigan with a BS in Biopsychology and Cognitive Science, Nick Pavlis had a successful career with Wyeth when he entered UCLA FEMBA. One career breakthrough later, he’s now launched an entirely new career chapter as a Banker with J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Los Angeles.

In 2008, Nick entered FEMBA working for Wyeth, a major pharmaceutical company, as a territory manager. He was content with his career, but as school kicked in he soon realized a calling for private banking. Utilizing the resources offered by UCLA Anderson, he managed a swift transition into the financial services industry.

Through his finance courses, Eric Sussman, Hanno Lustig (also mentioned in Ryan Hughes’ story) and Mark Grinblatt are among his favorite professors, leveraging the advice of FEMBA career coaches Susan Cowell and Gordon Hill, and attending on-campus recruiting events focused on investment management, Nick landed a coveted Summer Associate internship with Goldman Sachs.

Associate Dean Gonzalo Freixes supported Nick in his efforts to participate in the SMR Program with EMBA students, and Nick found this experience to be incredibly rewarding working with a small, yet highly profitable maker of iPhone/Android accessories in Burbank. During this six month process, Nick continued interviewing and vetting Wall Street firms–and was fortunate to land a position in the Global MBA Associate Class of 2011 with Credit Suisse Private Bank.

Nick was one of 28 newly minted MBA grads in the world to go through this program and spent an entire month at headquarters in Zurich. After two successful years working with a six person team that managed over $1B of assets of sophisticated West Coast families, Nick joined the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan, based in Century City. In his current role as a private banker with J.P. Morgan, Nick works with owners of closely held businesses and corporate executives across several areas including: banking, credit, investments and wealth planning.

Nicholas lives in the South Bay with his wife Janelle and twin daughters, Melina and Alexis and you may run into him at an upcoming UCLA Anderson recruiting or volunteer event. Last month, he helped us at our Redondo Beach recruiting lunch! Maureen and Christy appreciated his support.

Valerie Sun ’13: saving lives through bone marrow transplants

We all matter. We all make a difference. Valerie Sun’s story makes this point as well as any.

Valerie Sun, ’13, Director, Regional IPA Operations at HealthCare Partners, and a John Wooden Fellowship Recipient in 2011, was diagnosed with a life threatening blood disease called aplastic anemia as a child. She spent seven years living on blood and platelet transfusions, waiting and hoping for a life-saving marrow match. At the age of 17, Valerie received a bone marrow transplant courtesy of a generous stranger in Michigan.

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Valerie Sun ’13, and Julie, her bone marrow donor.

Almost 15 years later, Valerie has experienced many challenges and setbacks since the transplant, but is happy and thriving in her new career in healthcare as Director, Regional Operations for HealthCare Partners IPAs (Independent Physician Associations) in Orange County, CA.

20140327 Iman Movahed EMBA 2010 and Granaz Ziaghazvini FEMBA 2013 bone marrow drive

It’s easy! Iman Movahed EMBA 2010 and Granaz Ziaghazvini FEMBA 2013, at Valerie’s Bone Marrow Drive. Iman and Granaz also happen to be engaged, but that is a story for another day.

Valerie’s passion for helping patients who need marrow transplants has only grown over the years. She serves on the Patient Services Advisory Group for the National Marrow Donor Program and strives to tap into all networks and resources available to improve her ability to support these causes. In her last year of FEMBA and with the help of fellow FEMBAs, faculty, and alumni, she organized a bone marrow registration drive at UCLA Anderson.

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Brian Sterz ’14 and Brandon Flora ’14. In Entrepreneur’s Hall, swabbing for the Bone Marrow Drive.

With any drive, the goal is to register eligible healthy donors between the ages of 18 and 44. Adding potential donors to the Be The Match registry increases the odds of patients finding a life-saving match. Valerie’s friend, Krissy Kobata, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2008 and is still searching for her perfect match. The 2013 drive at Anderson had a huge turnout, registering over 80 students and faculty in person, and another 20 online. Over the 2013 summer, Valerie hosted another drive at FEMBAPalooza and had another 30 people register.

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The Bone Marrow Drive at FEMBApalooza 2, summer 2013, garnered another 30 potential matches.


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Passing the torch. May Huang ’15 has taken up keeping the Bone Marrow Drive going at UCLA Anderson. Thanks May!

After the drive last year, Valerie asked for help to continue this drive on a yearly basis at Anderson. May Huang, ’15, Financial Analyst at Paramount Farms, graciously stepped up to the task and has been a superstar – organizing the drive that is occurring on Sat, April 5th 2014, on Alumni Plaza.

I asked May to tell me about her motivation and she wrote me:

Hi Dylan,

So here’s a quick summary on why raising awareness and getting people to register is important to me. Cancer runs in my family. My maternal grandfather passed away when he was 30, so my mother grew up without a father. My grandfather passed away when my mom was only a year old. My mother’s oldest sister passed away at 49 after battling thyroid cancer for over 20 years. My maternal grandmother passed away from uterine cancer. 

In addition, one of my best friends (who was also my college roommate) was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Disease four months after graduating from college. She was only 22 at the time. After battling cancer for three straight years and experimenting with every type of treatment, her doctors told her she had two years left to live. She is now in remission (after four and a half years of battling the disease). Her five year remission anniversary is this coming July. Another one of my really good high school friends was recently diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Disease. (What is up my friends and Hodgkin’s Disease??) He is currently going through chemotherapy and is having a very difficult time dealing with the illness and the side effects of treatment. To date, I’ve had FOUR close friends who have been hit with cancer. Thankfully, three out of the four are in remission.

Cancer is prevalent in my family and social circle. For this reason, I feel the need to get as many people registered as possible as I am dedicated to saving as many lives as possible. 

Thank you again for blogging about our Bone Marrow Drive efforts.

See you Saturday.


Thank you Valerie. Thank you May.  You are making a difference.

How You Can Help

  • Stop by Alumni Plaza (all are welcome!) from 11-2 on Sat, April 5th 2014, to register. It only takes 10 minutes and consists of filling out some paperwork and providing a cheek swab sample.
  • Register online by going to www.marrow.org  and sending away for a registration kit.
  • Get educated! Chances of ever getting called for a match are very slim, but donation is not as scary as most people think. In fact, 70% of the time marrow is donated in a process similar to donating platelets. Read all about it: http://bethematch.org/
  • Spread the word! Here is the Facebook event page

Daily Bruin article on Valerie Sun

Valerie Sun in her own words: 8 Lessons on Bringing Survivorship to the Workplace Blogpost

Ryan Hughes ’14: Founder of Bull Oak Capital, Early Graduate, Father and Husband

This is great, one good story leading to another. Ryan Hughes ’14 was helping write the Doug Longo ’14 Tribute two weeks ago when he updated me on his latest development– the launching of Bull Oak Capital. Ryan’s inspiring story is one of taking full advantage of the opportunity of Anderson.

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Bull Oak Capital, launched by UCLA FEMBA Ryan Hughes ’14, in March of 2014.

Ryan:  Dylan, I wanted to take you up on your offer to blog about students. I have a pretty great FEMBA story and it should inspire some hopeful and current students.

Dylan:  I love it. It would be great to write about your experience. Let’s go.

Ryan: OK. Well, I recently completed my final quarter as a FEMBA student and I just launched Bull Oak Capital (as in, 2 days ago). Within a 2 week period, I finished my MBA, moved to San Diego, and launched the firm. I am married and we have 2 kids, so this is no easy task. But so far so good!

Dylan: Starting your own firm? Fantastic! Tell me about the back story. How’d this happen?

Ryan: We’d have to start with quitting my job to accept an internship.

When I started at Anderson, I quickly realized that there were a lot of opportunities available. The first opportunity I saw was the Cornell stock-pitch competition. This is a major global competition and there were plenty of UCLA students who wanted to go. As a result, Anderson held an internal competition to see who would represent the school. I put together a team and we actually did very well and won the competition. The prize was a guaranteed 2nd round interview for a summer internship at Wedbush Equity Research. I interviewed and was offered a 10-week summer internship. At the time, I was working at Charles Schwab so I had to make the difficult decision whether or not to quit my job to accept the internship. My wife was staying home taking care of our two kids, who were 8-months old and 3 years old at the time. It was a very precarious situation. However, opportunities like this do not come often and the main reason why I decided to attend Anderson was to have the chance to see opportunities such as this.

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Ryan Hughes ’14: Founder, Father, Friend.

I took the internship and as it was nearing, a position opened up and I was offered a full-time Associate job, effective immediately. This would’ve been a great post-MBA job. In fact, there were more than a few Anderson alumni there! However, the position would require at least 70 hours per week, not to mention longer hours during company quarterly earnings. While it was a great experience, it wasn’t worth the sacrifice. It would’ve pulled too much time away from my family and from the FEMBA experience. So, I respectfully declined the offer and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.



Dylan: So you’ve quit your job. You’ve done an internship, but respectfully declined a full-time offer. You’re making bold choices. What happened next?

Ryan: Bold? Crazy? Maybe a little of both. I’d call the next chapter From Mr.-Corporate-Father to Stay-At-Home-Dad-and-Student.

After the internship, my wife was lucky enough to return to her previous job. Therefore, I transitioned from corporate-father to stay-at-home father. I embraced becoming a SAHMBA (Stay-At-Home MBA) student and got to spend 18 quality months with my kids. This is very different from being a FUMBA (Fully-Unemployed MBA) student as I spent most of my time juggling the responsibilities of taking care of my kids and studying for class. It’s not easy studying for a final while your kids are crying or you are changing diaper. Believe me, this was much more difficult than I anticipated. Much respect to the stay-at-home mothers.

Staying at home had its benefits. It allowed me to take a step back and figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life. There was no question in my mind that I wanted to stay in finance and in investments. But at the time, I had to do some soul-searching before I figured out that I wanted to start my own investment management firm. I needed to strengthen my quantitative finance skills if I was going to make this happen.

I accelerated my courses by enrolling in ASAM (Anderson Student Asset Management) and by engaging in a research project under Professor Hanno Lustig, who teaches Security Analysis and Investment Management and is the director of the Masters of Financial Engineering program. I also worked with several other students and faculty members, including Assistant Professor Jason Hsu the CIO at Research Affiliates.This additional course load allowed me to graduate early and get a jump start on Bull Oak Capital.

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UCLA Anderson Finance Professor Hanno Lustig

20140326 Asst Adjunct Professor Jason Hsu_160

Asst. Professor Jason Hsu also supported Ryan Hughes.








While doing all of this, I was also in GAP [The Global Access Program, FEMBA's Master's Thesis], which, in itself is a lot of work. Our team performed extremely well and I’m happy to say that I will be back next year mentoring the 2015s as a GAP Fellow! By the way, I don’t recommend anybody undertaking a research project of this size while in GAP. If you don’t sleep at night, you might be able to find enough time. I was honestly only able to achieve all of this by sacrificing an obscene amount of sleep. Additionally, my wife is the unsung hero in all of this. She picked up a lot of the slack, which made all of this possible.

Dylan: Thanks for the reality check. I want our readers to see the effort you put into creating your firm. And you created a new acronym, SAHMBA. I love it. So this gets us to Bull Oak Capital?

Ryan: Yes. The final chapter is The Creation of Bull Oak Capital

After I completed the research project and developed the investment strategy, which took about a year, the results were too good not to move forward. Professor Lustig highly suggested that I write a whitepaper and publish my results. After 17 revisions of the whitepaper and feedback from fellow students and friends, I posted it on my website, open to the world to see www.bulloakcapital.com/investment-strategy/whitepaper.

I just officially launched Bull Oak Capital this month. The firm is a registered Investment Adviser that provides professional investment advice for professionals, retirees, and institutional clients. I recommend that if anybody is interested, check out my website and learn more about the strategy: www.bulloakcapital.com. We are obviously brand new and I am open to all different types of clients. So far, the Anderson community has been very supportive. In fact, I have quite a number of students and even a professor who said they are interested in investing!

Dylan: Thank you for the story Ryan. You put in the effort and you’re taking the risk. You are going to inspire more than a few people. Let’s plan on a table for you at FEMBApalooza, in the Zone. Will you keep us posted going forward?

Ryan:  Will do!


Post Script: I’d like to thank Ryan, for the great effort he’s put into FEMBA and into creating Bull Oak Capital, without which we’d have no story.

I’d also like to thank my co-author, my son Jackson, on his spring break with me at UCLA yesterday at the Kerckhoff coffee house. He patiently built Legos while Daddy blogged.He actually had a blast, in spite of his expression in the photo. Hot chocolate and Legos, what could be better?

20140326 Dylan and J at Kerckhoff coffee

Spring Break at Daddy’s work, wearing my “Dad…not another photo face.”

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Established 1975, Kerckhoff Coffee house. New FEMBAs, Kerckhoff is the closest ice cream to UCLA Anderson; good to know.  Baskin-Robbins “31″ is enshrined in stained glass as you can see.

2 Careers, a new Baby and a relocation to LA: Cassandra and Jason Stokes ’15

Here is an inspiring story of a FEMBA-power-couple – Cassandra Stokes ’15 and her husband Jason Stokes, also ’15 – who happen to be really wonderful people. They are going through FEMBA together, have had a baby, commuted from the Bay Area and then relocated to LA. Cassandra did FLEX last year and is doing an internship this summer. They are doing it all!

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Jason and Cassandra Stokes, both FEMBA 2015, and their family. They commuted from the Bay Area, did Flex and had their daughter all in their first year here.

Living in the Bay Area originally, Jason and I began exploring the possibility of business school in the the first half of 2012, looking both locally in the Bay Area and abroad.  We wanted to find a program that would meet both of our interests.  We sought a top 25 school that would provide us with credibility in the Bay Area and beyond as we considered living on the East Coast or overseas.  At the same time, we sought a diverse student body with students from a variety of fields including tech, finance, engineering, energy and nonprofit.  Finally, we wanted a program that would provide us with a top MBA degree and as robust of an experience as we would experience in a full time MBA program, from Academics to On-campus Recruiting opportunities… Anderson delivered it in spades.

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Cassandra Stokes, ’15. Private Wealth Management, summer of 2014, internship

Initially drawn to the Flex program, we realized we could make both the Saturday and Flex sections work for us.  Of course, life became more interesting when we realized shortly after admission that we would be blessed with our first daughter in the second quarter of our first year!  From the first phone call I received from admissions ensuring me it would be no problem to take a quarter off and resume the program, to the special requests we have had honored as we make juggling the program, our dual careers and family a reality, Anderson has provided a place for all three of us to be successful. We commuted the first six months of FEMBA, me in the FLEX cohort and Jason in the all-day Saturday section, and then relocated to Los Angeles after our baby came.

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Jason Stokes, ’15. Risk Consultant at Wells Fargo Bank

What is it like doing an MBA together?  I can’t imagine doing it any other way at this point!  The mutual support and understanding we have been able to provide each other has made the demands of the program much more manageable as we share in the experience. This past year, I also successfully participated in summer internship recruiting both on- and off-campus via the various recruiting resources Anderson has to offer and will be in a Private Wealth Management internship this summer of 2014.

Jason has been active in Anderson Student Asset Management Association (ASAM) and was thrilled to spend a day with Warren Buffett earlier this year. He’s going to be VP of FEMBA Relations for the Investment Finance Association for the upcoming year.

We have remained in separate sections throughout the program and have each enjoyed our own unique experience at Anderson. We will be taking our first class together this Spring so we will let you know how that goes of course!  All signs point to success at this point. :-)

Admissions 101

Curious about the FEMBA admission process at UCLA? What matters? What doesn’t? Essays? Resume? Recommendations? GMAT or GRE?

Click below for a recording of Admissions 101, that I hosted on March 19, 2014, here on-campus. In Admissions 101, my intention is to explain our process and offer perspective on how best to tell your story and show us your “spark”. (requires Microsoft Silverlight. http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/)

20140319 Admissions 101 Number 5

Or paste URL:

Bon voyage to a class act: Dave Wilson, outgoing CEO of GMAC

I’ve attended GMAC Annual Conferences for a decade. GMAC is the company who delivers the GMAT exam. Last year, after 19 years of service, the CEO of GMAC, Dave Wilson, stepped down as CEO. I heard him give his farewell speech in Vancouver last summer, and below was his farewell letter to the GMAC community back on December 30, 2013.

Dave Wilson dedicated 19 years of his life to better graduate education in business. He was a class act as a leader. I wanted to offer him as an inspirational example of committed leadership.

I also wanted to highlight the UCLA Anderson connection. Dave’s predecessor was Bill Broesamle. Bill was CEO of GMAC for 13 years before Dave Wilson. Many older FEMBAs remember Bill from the 8 years (’95-’03) he taught here at Anderson, many of those years running Leadership Foundations with Professors Jack McDonough and Tony Raia.

Here is Dave’s farewell letter.

To the GMAC Family:

After almost nineteen years at GMAC’s helm, the time has come for me to retire.  December 31 will be my last day.

From the day I began here in early 1995, I have been surrounded by some of the most capable, committed, dedicated and energetic colleagues: my fellow employees here at GMAC; on the GMAC board of directors; the many committees and advisory groups; and with you, the deans and representatives of our member schools.  To a person, everyone associated with GMAC believes in the importance of holding to the highest of standards; that “good enough” never is.

From the solid foundation that Bill Broesamle left me almost two decades ago, with your commitment and support, your Council has prospered in so many ways.  We were paper based; we are paperless.  We were local; we are global.  We were small; we have grown.

Serving as CEO of GMAC was my third career after a decade in the academy and two decades with E&Y.  No one could ever have asked for a more fulfilling, exciting and challenging final stanza.

Thank you so very much for giving me this most wonderful opportunity to serve as your CEO.  I will miss you all.  And I wish you and your schools every success as you continue to educate the managers and leaders that will shape our world for years to come.

Carpe Diem.

20140314 Dave Wilson signature 

David A. Wilson
Chief Executive Officer