Cal Poly

Orfalea College of Business

Coming Back, Giving Back

Kim Hibler talks to Cal Poly studentsOrfalea’s advisory councils, boards and task forces help guide new curriculum and smart growth.

In a world as fast-paced as business, how does an institution like Cal Poly keep up?

“It’s pretty simple,” says Dean Scott Dawson. “You listen to the right people.”

The Orfalea College of Business is guided by a dedicated cohort of volunteers — many of them alumni — who serve on advisory councils and time-sensitive task forces. Armed with a deep knowledge of the technologies and trends impacting their industries, these seasoned leaders work with college administrators and faculty to ensure curriculum adapts to the demands of emerging positions in major corporations, small businesses, and the startup sector.

“I think it’s important to ensure that our curriculum stays current with cutting-edge innovation and developments in the industry,” said Greg Rodrigues (B.S., Business Administration, 1984), alumnus and owner of Western Land Financial. “Experts who are actively involved with Cal Poly are also more likely to hire our grads.”

Recently, volunteer insights have translated into new classes soon appearing in the Orfalea College of Business course catalog. The Dean’s Advisory Council’s (DAC) sub-committee on data analytics played a direct role in shaping the Master of Science in Business Analytics program, which debuts in 2016. Alumni leaders like Rodrigues and Lori DeMatteis of Emerson Network Power worked with Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Sanjiv Jaggia to mold course content aimed squarely for the projected growth in the data analysis job market.

“We want to ensure that future students have the same high-quality experience at Cal Poly so they achieve similar — if not greater — success.”
— Steve Kitson, DAC Chair

“I think all of the alumni on our boards and task forces attribute their educational experience at Cal Poly as a significant factor in achieving their professional goals,” said DAC Chair Steve Kitson (B.S., Business Administration, 1974). “Long term, I think we have made sure curriculum allows for students to develop critical-thinking skills, teamwork skills, and soft skills, which can be overlooked.”

Area and program advisory boards also help the Orfalea College of Business think ahead.

The college’s Accounting Advisory Board, which consists of Big Four and other public accounting firm partners and professionals, is guiding the Accounting area to expand and prepare 200 CPA-eligible graduates each year by 2017. The Packaging Advisory Board has also helped Cal Poly’s Packaging program advance toward a variety of goals, including strengthening a specialty in healthcare packaging. The Industrial Technology Advisory Board has supported digital fabrication upgrades in the program’s Learn by Doing labs. Meanwhile, Marketing area task forces, with representatives from Teradata, Level and Core Logic, have helped launch an integrated marketing communications minor and several data-driven marketing analytics courses in 2015.

“We are fortunate to have so many alumni and industry partners invested in the success of our students and our programs,” said Dawson. “Their leadership and generosity moves us forward.”

Pictured: Dean’s Advisory Council member Kim Hibler of Citrix talks about the evolution of marketing at Cal Poly.

Take a look at the rosters of the advisory councils and task forces that help move the Orfalea College of Business ahead.

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