Most Famous FEMBA: Corey Berse 2011

I had a star sighting Sunday morning, walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.

20150419 Corey Berse 11 and Dylan on Wilshire

“Hey Dylan,” came the voice of none other than Corey Berse, FEMBA 2011, Vice President, Head of Marketing, Houlihan Lokey. Corey was leaving breakfast with his wife Heather and we got to catch up.

“Are you still running the Commercial Challenge?” Corey asked during our conversation.

“No. I had to let go of that last year, as we wanted to focus on FEMBApalooza,” I replied.

For your Monday viewing pleasure, allow me to dust off two of the finest pieces of FEMBA cinema ever produced, the 2010 and 2011 All-Anderson Commercial Challenge, prize-winning entries submitted by Corey and his amazing FEMBA team “Exploding Head Productions.” These Commercials have stood the test of time! Enjoy.


Corey will be attending FEMBApalooza 4, so bring your autograph books. Maybe he’ll reunite Mark Harper and Belinda Cheng and all those amazing 2011s…  We can dream, can’t we?



Our amazing admissions team

Nothing much happens without a team and I’m blessed to work with a great one!

Left to Right: Raymond Morada, Maureen Riley, Matt Gorlick ’13, me, Christy Marquez, Cynthia Summerville and Vanessa Carlos.

IMG_7014Maureen is our longest-serving member, anchoring our efforts since 2007. Christy joined us in 2010 and Raymond followed in 2011. Matt had to graduate first–and have his epiphany from Disney-to-Anderson–then joined us full-time in 2013. We are thrilled to welcome Vanessa and Cynthia, who both joined us in February of this year.

This is us, the full-time staff of FEMBA admissions. We partner with a dynamic network of FEMBAssadors and alumni volunteers, part-time staff, and undergraduate clerks. As much as I love partnering with our dynamic network, our admissions team is who I see Monday though Friday (and Saturday too!). Thanks for being great!


Small world: two continents and two random UCLA encounters

The FEMBA network spans the globe…from Westwood to Hong Kong! 20150414 Bashir Tafti 17 MDYesterday, I was jogging at lunch on south campus and who did I see but first-year FEMBA Bashir Tafti ’17 M.D. Bashir is a Clinical Instructor here for UCLA Health.

Bashir is one of the eight Medical Doctors in the FEMBA Class of 2017; it still amazes me that we have 8 doctors in one class. (I’m calling all the top part-time MBA schools to verify, as I don’t think there’s a school in the country that can boast that.)

Bashir: Great to see you Dylan. Good for you getting some exercise. Hey, I’ve been meaning to tell you. Remember what you said in Leadership Foundations, about seeing your thinking about business change almost immediately as you go through FEMBA? Well that has been my experience. I noticed it last Fall Quarter that I was already looking at problems (and solutions!) with new eyes from the moment FEMBA began.

Well, you might say, Most MDs in any part-time MBA program and a random meeting on-campus, well that’s pretty good, but…What else to you got Dylan?

So, as you know, I was in China with two of the four Global Immersions UCLA Anderson offered over Spring Break.

In Hong Kong, at the Hyatt Regency in the New Territories, as I’m leaving the elevator, I hear, “Hey…Dylan?”

I turned to see a face I knew I knew, even though I couldn’t place it.

“What are you doing here?” asked Sumukh Shevde, FEMBA 2013, Director, Product Management, Wireless Power Solutions, Qualcomm.

“I’m here with a bunch of Anderson students on a Global Immersion! Why are you here?” I asked. (Here we are below, with our selfie in the lobby.)

20150414 Sumukh Shevde 13 in Hong Kong

“I’m on a global team and we’re meeting. It’s actually a job that Anderson helped me get. We’ve got a very cool technology that we’re very close to launching. We all meet here periodically to get everyone in the same place,” Sumukh told me.

“Well, we’re all going to be in the lobby in a few minutes. If you have time, come down and I’ll introduce you. It’s Professor Gonzalo Freixes and we have FEMBA, EMBA and MBAs all in the program.”

“Give me five minutes,” said Sumukh.

Next thing I knew, Sumukh was back in the lobby, wearing–I am not making this up–his UCLA t-shirt.

“Sumukh, that is so great you travel with your UCLA colors!” I said.

“Yes, this is my workout shirt,” he replied. “I never travel without it!”

“Well we’re having an alumni mixer tomorrow night, downtown, and you’ve got to join us!”

20150414 Sumukh Shevde 13 in Hong Kong later in lobby
Left to right above: John Childs FEMBA 16, Jessica Luchenta staff, Professor Gonzalo Freixes, Emily Stephens FEMBA 16, Andy Howard MBA 16 and Sumukh Shevde FEMBA 13.

20150414 Sumukh Shevde 13 in Hong Kong laterIt really is a small world, when you get connected to UCLA Anderson.


One Year Later: Ryan Hughes ’14 and Bull Oak Capital

20150409 Ryan Hughes portraitLast year, I profiled Ryan Hughes ’14: Founder of Bull Oak Capital, Early Graduate, Father and Husband. Ryan founded his company Bull Oak Capital ( as an investment firm using strategy he designed with the help of Anderson faculty members Hanno Lustig, Professor, and Jason Hsu, Associate Professor. After back-testing the strategy and writing a whitepaper on its results, Ryan moved to San Diego to launch Bull Oak. We recently caught up.

DYLAN: It’s been a year since you launched Bull Oak Capital. How is business?

RYAN: Business is good! This is my first real venture out on my own so it’s been exciting for me. (Before FEMBA I was in finance as a financial advisor.)  I’m past the one-year mark and I’m not homeless, so I guess you can call it a success! In all seriousness, business has been good. It has its peaks and valleys–and it was definitely difficult the first few months–but momentum has been picking up and Bull Oak is making a name for itself.

DYLAN: How So?

RYAN: Well, not many financial advisors are financial experts. It sounds absurd, I know, but it’s true. There are a lot of financial advisors that are good at retirement planning, but not many of them are knowledgeable when it comes to portfolio management and the markets. Most advisors hire third–party managers via mutual funds and separate accounts. So, for a high net worth individual to work directly with a portfolio manager is rare. This is where Bull Oak Capital differentiates itself.

DYLAN: How has Anderson helped with the launch of your firm?

RYAN: There is no way I could’ve launched this firm without the help of Anderson. It was absolutely critical. First and foremost was the creation of the investment strategy; Professor Lustig’s and Professor Hsu’s guidance during my year-long research project was obviously crucial. Second, a few of my fellow FEMBA classmates also helped with the design of the strategy, namely Dr. Dragos Munteanu and Dr. Mahyar Kargar (who is now an Anderson Finance PhD candidate). Third, a good number of my initial clients were fellow Anderson folks (classmates, alumni, and faculty). And finally, the UCLA Alumni Association in San Diego has been a great resource.

DYLAN: What would you say has been the biggest challenge in your first year?

RYAN:  I would say the biggest challenge has been trying to create forward momentum in a competitive industry like finance. Of course, the easiest way to create momentum is to generate sales–but that’s easier said than done. To close any sale, especially in this industry, there has to be a significant amount of trust. Nobody is going to give me their life savings if they don’t trust me. When I was at Merrill Lynch, building that trust was easier. Everybody knew of Merrill Lynch, I never had to prove the firm’s credibility, and therefore a certain level of trust in Merrill Lynch’s brand image was extended to me as one of its representatives (despite the 2008 financial crisis). In the beginning, nobody had heard of Bull Oak before, so it was more of a challenge to build that same level of trust. The easiest way for me to begin to break through was to talk about my experience in the industry, my education from Anderson, and the sophistication of the investment strategy.

20140326 Ryan Hughes 14 Bull Oak Capital LOGO.jpg

DYLAN: Anderson has certainly helped prepare you for the launch of Bull Oak Capital ( In hindsight, is there anything you would’ve done differently?

RYAN: Overall, I’m very happy with my experience at Anderson; however, I wish I‘d taken more Marketing courses. I overloaded on Finance courses, which certainly helped, but at Bull Oak I spend a significant amount of my time on marketing efforts. I truly believe that I have a huge competitive advantage, but it is easy to get lost in the crowd. There are a lot of small and mid-sized investment firms out there, though most are without a unique value proposition.

Luckily for me, a lot of my competitors are not very good at positioning themselves in the market. I’ve spent a lot of effort this past year shoring-up this area of weakness by hiring several marketing experts. The biggest improvement thus far? My online presence. My website was completely redesigned and I have an SEO expert helping me out. The second? I’ve started a regular newsletter ( that I send out to ~500 subscribers. There is still work that needs to be done, but I’m happy with the progress thus far.

DYLAN: Anything exciting on the horizon?

RYAN: I’m very close to bringing on my first Bull Oak Capital representative! He was a good friend of mine at Merrill Lynch and he looks to be a great addition to firm.

DYLAN: Any last thoughts?

RYAN: To any of my fellow Anderson colleagues that are contemplating an entrepreneurial venture, do it! This has not been an easy year me, especially on the heels of completing the FEMBA program. However, if you have the will and the opportunity, don’t hesitate! You will not find a better time in your life.

Anderson is rich with intellectual capital. One would think that business ventures would be more prevalent at the school. Yet, I don’t believe there are nearly enough Anderson entrepreneurs out there. The Anderson community is a fabulous resource waiting to assist you. All you have to do is to pull the trigger and make it happen!

DYLAN: Thanks for keeping us posted. Hope we get to see you and Bull Oak Capital for FEMBApalooza 4!


5 countries, 2 new jobs, 1 successful FEMBA: Alex Lawrence 2015

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - LinkedIn PhotoAlex Lawrence ’15, Manager of Strategy at MarketShare, was interesting before FEMBA, and he’s even more so now as he gets ready to graduate.

We caught up recently about everything from working for the Dodgers to learning to cook empanadas in Argentina…and his great career transitions.

Hi Dylan,

Hope you’re doing well! I was busy wrapping some things up with finals and then was out of town for spring break. Here’s what’s been cooking with me…

Before FEMBA, as you recall, I was working in sales/marketing in the sports industry (LA Dodgers, Anaheim Ducks, and a sports agency called Wasserman Media Group) and I found myself getting really interested in understanding how to value things like naming rights, sponsorships, and athlete endorsements.

No photoshop, this is me with Vin Scully during my time with the Dodgers.

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - Vin

I saw brands paying A LOT of money to sponsor athletes or attach their name as part of a naming rights/sponsorship deal and I didn’t see a lot of analytics or legitimate attempts to try to quantify what those initiatives were really worth.

So, before coming to Anderson, I knew I wanted to transition into marketing and I knew that I wanted to build up my quantitative marketing skills to eventually put myself in a position post-Anderson where I would be working in an area that would help me answer those types of questions.

[Oh, the places he went…Alex on one of his three international experiences during FEMBA.]

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - 1

During FEMBA…Obviously, a lot has happened during my time in FEMBA. In Spring Quarter of my first year I took my first step towards transitioning to a career in marketing and found a job in brand marketing at Warner Bros.

I also went on two Global Immersions [our one-week, international courses]. The first was to Europe (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic) with Prof. Dominique Hanssens. Here we are Budapest on the Danube River during a dinner cruise from the Summer 2013 Global Immersion.

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - Budapest group photo with Professor Hanssens

…and then my second Global Immersion was to Argentina last summer with Prof. Andres Terech. This photo of us with the aprons on was when a small group took a cooking class from a local woman and her husband in Buenos Aires this past summer. They taught us how to make empanadas, flan, and dulce de leche.

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - Buenos Aires Cooking Class


This next photo is a group photo of the entire group in Buenos Aires outside of the steakhouse Estilo Campo.

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - Buenos Aires


20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - 1 (2)Beyond the two Global Immersions, I was also able to travel to New Zealand as part of our GAP [Global Access Program] work with the Auckland Rugby Academy (these photos are from that trip).

I’ve also met some amazing people and made lifelong friends.

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - 2 (2) What’s next?

My time at Anderson was definitely a success. Starting April 1st I begin a new job as Manager of Strategy at MarketShare (

20150406 Alex Lawrence 15 - 3 (3)MarketShare was actually co-founded by one of our professors here (Prof. Hanssens, the same professor from my Global Immersion to central Europe) and what we do is help big brands understand how effective their marketing efforts are across all channels and help them to optimize their spending.

We work a lot with “big data”/marketing analytics to help companies assign a dollar value to what their different marketing campaigns are worth and half of the Fortune 50 are clients. I’m excited to be working with a lot of really smart people (and a lot of Anderson alums!) and be a part of what should be a really interesting area of marketing in the future.

Hope this captures what you’re looking for in the blog. Can’t believe how fast 3 years has gone by!




Dylan: Well. There we go again. Another unique and fruitful journey through the opportunities and connections of UCLA Anderson. Congratulations Alex. We’re going to miss you. So happy for all your accomplishments and thanks for the blog!


China Spring Break 2015

Well this is impossible, but I like impossible: How do I sum up my UCLA Anderson Global Immersion experience last week, traveling with faculty and students in China and Hong Kong? Let me try.

Over 150 UCLA Anderson MBAs from all programs—FEMBA, MBA, EMBA & GEMBA as well as some alumni and SigOs—participated four different Global Immersions over Spring Break: China, Hong Kong, Japan and Peru. No school travels like UCLA Anderson!

  1. Professor Leslie taught in Central China (Chengdu and Chongqing)
  2. Professor Sakakibara taught in Japan
  3. Professor Freixes taught in Hong Kong
  4. Professor Terech taught in Peru

Dean Judy Olian talks about UCLA Anderson students having “global brains” and what better way to cross-train ones global brain than by participating in a Global Immersion? Some lessons must be learned “on the street”.

Strategy Professor Phillip Leslie chose Central China to “get off the beaten path” and therefore chose Chengdu and Chongqing for the course.

Were we off the beaten path? Since many of the industry leaders and government ambassadors said to us–Thank you so much for coming. We never get visitors out here.We felt like bold explorers. Chengdu is a city of over 15 million and the greater Chongqing municipality is close to 29 million, making it China’s (and maybe the world’s) largest mega city. Below is the Chongqing skyline (from Wikipedia).

20150402 842px-SkylineOfChongqing from Wikipedia

DAY ZERO  Friday/Saturday  The plane rides over

I departed Los Angeles at 12:05 AM, Thursday night/Friday morning, arriving in Chengdu at 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon. Three flights and about 24 hours of travel time. Of course, I was flying my UCLA Anderson colors…

20150402 Start of China trip LAX

Even before we left, I got a little nostalgic for Los Angeles as I read this quote from Frank Lloyd Wright in the international terminal:

20150402 Start of China trip LAX quote from Frank Lloyd Wright

I’ve lived in Germany for three years while working for Siemens; I’ve studied for a semester each in Mexico and Spain; In 2010, I went on the UCLA Global Immersion to India: Mumbai, New Dehli and Kerala; But this was my first time to China…

Slightly bleary-eyed from the flight, I was impressed by the size of Chengdu, even the entry on the highway was massive, and under construction:

20150402 Start of China trip Chengdu gate

The scale of everything is hard to capture in a single photograph. These apartment clusters are tall, dense and everywhere.

20150402 Start of China trip aparment buildings

UCLA Anderson FEMBA alum Sameer Karim 2010 lives and works in China, along with his wife. Sameer and I go way back. He was an excellent Open House panelist while he was in FEMBA. Since he’s lived in China, he has helped deliver about seven Global Immersion courses.

20150402 Sameer and me in Subway car

First subway ride in Chengdu, with Sameer Karim ’10

In the subway in Chengdu, what do we see on the wall, but a photo of Santa Monica/Malibu, “taken with an iPhone 6″.

20150402 Sameer and me in Subway

This is the “taken with and iPhone 6″ campaign, and of course, sunset over Malibu as seen from the Palisades Park in Santa Monica. Dylan Stafford and Sameer Karim FEMBA 2010



Sunday was awesome. Everyone met for breakfast and then headed out. On the bus, Professor Phillip Leslie facilitated a “learning values” conversation, having the class establish the type of ambassadors we were going to be and how we were going to engage with all the companies we would visit.

20150402 Professor Phillip Leslie on bus

Professor Phillip Leslie leading a learning-norms conversation en route to the Panda Base.

We were headed to the Chengdu Panda Base, a research and breeding center dedicated to keeping the species alive. It was Sunday morning early, and we had no idea how active the pandas were going to be. We were in for a treat!

20150402 Panda Base One

Watch (and listen to the student commentary) of these beautiful baby pandas!

20150402 Panda Base Two

“Look ma! No hands!”

Upon my return to Los Angeles, of course the panda gifts were the favorite with my sons.

20150402 Panda Base three  My Pandas

We learned about the challenges to successfully breed pandas and the team of researchers who’ve dedicated their lives to the effort. We also learned about the origins of “Panda Diplomacy” as practiced by the Chinese government.

20150402 Panda Base three pandas

F-E-M-B… Where’s the “A”? I take full responsibility for cutting off the “A” of FEMBA. Seen here, left to right are Michael Okayo 15, Sathish Janjam 16, Peter Kuck 16, Emily Duan 15, Christian Lee 16 and Karthik Jayaraman 16.

20150402 Panda Base four F-E-M-B-A Michael Okayo 15 Sathish Janjam 16 Peter Kuck 16 Emily Duan 15 Christian Lee 16 and Karthik Jayaraman 16

Here’s our full Global Immersion course: Central China 2015, taught by Professor Phillip Leslie, at the Panda Base in Chengdu.

20150402 Panda Base full group photo

After the Pandas enjoyed lunch and wandering at Jingli old street. I’m enjoying a delicious smoked fish, and that’s Peter Kuck ’16 on my left.

20150402 Jingli old street smoked fish with Peter Kuck 16

Going into Jingli old street. Next to me with Professor Carla Hayn, Kristen Palchak 16 and Paula Major 16. Paula, due to being blonde, was photo-bombed by the local Chendu citizens all day long.

20150402 Jingli old street Carla Hayn Kristen Palchak 16 Paula Major 16

From Jingli, we next visted the People’s Park. We witnessed a local custom: parent’s display resumes of their marriage eligible sons and daughters (the papers on the ground). People walk and review the candidates and marriages get created in this way. (In the photo, l-r: Jeff Nah GEMBA 15 with coffee cup, Peter Kuck 16, Emily Duan 15 and George Tharakan MBA alum)

20150402 Peoples Park resumes

Here was my “when in Rome” moment, when I enjoyed a cup of tea and then a refreshing “ear cleaning” which was a specialty in Chengdu. Can’t you tell I’m enjoying this cultural moment?

20150403 Ear clean me in peoples park in Chengdu China

I probably would have skipped the ear cleaning, but Sameer told me his wife recommended the experience. Here you see Sameer, with his wife Jade watching, and Professor Leslie getting ready for a photograph.

20150403 Ear clean Sameer Phillip Leslie  in peoples park in Chengdu China

And here is video of Sameer, going first.


Well, those are some highlights from the start of the week. My future posts will tell about million dollar artwork, my first UBER ride (in Chengdu) and our visit to the world’s oldest distillery (which of course has a UCLA Alum as CEO!). Thanks for reading.



Hanging in Hong Kong

Wednesday afternoon in Hong Kong, listening to overview presentation of Hong Kong Science and Technology Park.   


Just arrived today from Chengdu, China. Last four days, in China, was behind the “Great Chinese Firewall” and couldn’t get out to Facebook, to Google, to WordPress. Fortunately, could still use FaceTime and get to ESPN…

Here we were, in Chengdu yesterday.