Spotlight Alumni Awards

What do you get when you cross a class reunion with a dinner party with an awards show?

Answer: The Spotlight Alumni Awards.

On Saturday, February 9th, Cal Poly supporters travelled from around the country to spend a night celebrating outstanding alumni and Orfalea community over dinner and drinks. Held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, the event featured two Orfalea College of Business alumni who are leading the way in business excellence, innovation and leadership.

Delta Air Lines Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Joanne Smith received the Gold Award, for alumni more than twenty years out of Cal Poly. Google for Startups Head of Global Programs and Operations Bridgette Beam took home the Green Award, for alumni fewer than twenty years out.

The event allowed the college to strengthen its connections with several corporate partners, who sponsored the event and sent representatives to celebrate alongside Orfalea alumni, friends and students.

The Orfalea community was on full display: old friends reconnecting, new friends meeting, memories shared and memories made. All the while, attendees celebrated the Orfalea College of Business and its fantastic network of alumni who are changing business for the better.

All proceeds from the event helped to support the Multicultural Business Program in empowering future business leaders from underrepresented backgrounds.

Green Award Winner

Bridgette Beam — Head of Programs and Operations, Google for Startups


Bridgette Beam is in the business of making visions reality. She helps inspire and empower people worldwide to launch their businesses. She brings the best of Google’s resources to startups in 125 countries and leads the growth of Campus: spaces where entrepreneurs can come together to share ideas and experiences, to mentor and to connect.

Beam’s passion has always been people. At Cal Poly, she sought out ways to serve international communities, studying adn working abroad as much as she could, studying microfinance to help advise and support individual families. And her drive didn’t falter at Google. When she began in Ad Support, she spent her free time volunteering on a project that engaged international technology startups, and thrived so much in the role that she got promoted to a job of her own creation.

Now, she and her team are Google’s entrepreneurial ambassadors, helping businesspeople across the globe achieve their goals and overseeing programs that bring Google’s support to every corner of the world. The vision is equal access to resources across oceans and countries, so that every great idea has a chance to grow. And with over 300,000 members receiving business education through Campus, she’s having a profound influence on the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Gold Award Winner

Joanne Smith — Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Delta Air Lines

During college, Joanne Smith took to the skies, and she hasn’t looked back since. The Delta Air Lines executive got her start as flight attendant while taking classes at Cal Poly. Her college experience included global travel, sometimes hopping off a plane and going straight to class in her uniform, and learning a lot about aviation business in the process.

Since then, in various roles at Delta, Smith has constantly looked for new ways to create welcoming environments, whether in the cabin or for the entire company. As the vice president of marketing, she directed the pre-flight customer experience: the brand, communications, community outreach, and more. She brought those principles into her role as senior vice president of in-flight service, where she innovated and developed a standout onboard experience for Delta’s 180 million annual passengers, managing 20,000 flight attendants and overseeing in-flight product development and catering.

In just four years as Delta’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, Smith has built a thriving, inclusive community of more than 80,000 Delta employees. In the past two years, her efforts have yielded several workplace culture awards, including Forbes 100 Best Companies to Work For, the Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality, Best Companies for Diversity and Best Workplace for Women. Smith is leading the way in human resources and setting a shining example of how to establish an inclusive, rewarding workplace culture.

Corporate Sponsors

Download a PDF of this article → click here

Download a PDF of the Cal Poly Business Magazine → click here

Popular Articles