Professor Patricia McQuaid Presents at International Conferences

Professor Patricia McQuaidCal Poly information systems professor Patricia McQuaid was a keynote speaker at the Southeast European Testing Conference 2016 (SEETEST), held in Bucharest, Romania, in September.  The talk was entitled, “Best Practices for Independent Quality Assurance of Major IT Projects.” She also gave a four-hour tutorial, entitled “Test Design Techniques.”

In October, she presented a talk similar to her keynote talk, at the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference in Portland, Oregon.  She presented this talk with Dr. Ying Kwong, the Statewide Quality Assurance Program Manager for the Office of the Oregon State CIO. She, Dr. Kwong, and Dr. Pettit, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the State of Oregon, published a paper on the topic in the December issue of the American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) software division journal, the Software Quality Professional.

McQuaid was also invited by the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the State of Oregon to speak at the State capital in Salem, Oregon.  She discussed software quality, software testing, software process improvement, and project management issues, tailored to their methodologies of developing software projects.  There were nearly 60 people from 23 agencies in attendance.   Representatives of these agencies attended the talk:  Commission for the Blind, Administrative Services, Consumer and Business Services, Corrections, Environmental Quality, Fish and Wildlife, Human Services – Shared Services, Public Safety Standards and Training, State Lands, Legislative Fiscal Office, Office of the State CIO, Board of Pharmacy, Construction Contractors Board, Agriculture, Justice and Health Authority – Shared Services, Housing and Community Services, Judicial Department, Legislature, Parks and Recreation, Public Employees Retirement System, Secretary of State.

Since Cal Poly formed a CyberSecurity Center in 2013, McQuaid has been involved in a variety of way.

She is a faculty liaison to the Orfalea College of Business for the Cybersecurity Case Study Library (CSCL), a collaborative project in conjunction with Cal Poly’s Cybersecurity Center which allows students and staff from all disciplines to engage with cybersecurity research and data.  Students across all majors have the opportunity to create case studies on cybersecurity events, exploring how cybersecurity affects their area of study and encouraging them to apply their critical thinking skills in order to find innovative solutions. The case studies created by students as part of CSCL are then used by professors as curricula to teach their classes how to analyze, interpret, and solve potential cybersecurity threats. Each case study explores a topic traditionally associated with cybersecurity and connects it with a discipline such as political science, philosophy, and agribusiness. By exploring cybersecurity issues across multiple disciplines, classrooms are exposed to valuable security content they might not otherwise study.  Pat and a professor from the college of agriculture are supervising a team of two students writing a case study, one person from Information Systems and one from agri-business.

McQuaid has been appointed as a California Cyber Training Complex (CCTC) Research and Education Coordinator, representing the Orfalea College of Business.  This initiative is a collaborative partnership between Cal Poly and the California Military Department, located at Camp San Luis Obispo, and relates to cybersecurity youth education and skills development programs.  The CCTC will host and support the CyberCalifornia Cyber Innovation Challenge (CCIC) for 2017 and 2018 for the State of California. The CCIC is an annual cybersecurity competition for high school students that will leverage existing cybersecurity competition network and outreach programs, including the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot Program and the San Diego Mayor’s Cyber Cup.  By coordinating these existing high school cybersecurity competitions and increasing access to cyber innovation challenges, the CIC will help California’s defense community proactively address the global cybersecurity skills gap. McQuaid will be working on these initiatives.

McQuaid is also is the Program Chair of the seventh World Congress for Software Quality (WCSQ) to be held in March 2017 in Lima, Peru. The international conference, held every 3 years, and is sponsored by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) software division, the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), and European quality interests. McQuaid will give a presentation entitled “A Plan for Providing Cyber Education for Critical Infrastructure Protection to Law Enforcement Personnel,” related to the Cal Poly cybersecurity initiatives.

From WOW to Now: Finance’s Trevor and Ciera Ashley

Trevor and Ciera AshleyTrevor and Ciera Ashley met while studying finance at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. After graduating, the both went on to lead successful – but very different – careers in the field. Hear what they’ve been up to since graduation and how they still Learn by Doing today.

How did you meet?

Ciera & Trevor: Like so many of our married friends from Cal Poly, we met in the dorms in 1999. Ciera was a freshmen and lived in Trinity Hall while Trevor was a sophomore and worked at the front desk of Trinity Hall (passing out mail was an easy way to meet freshmen ladies – smart chap). We met early in the school year and became quick friends. A couple of years later, we decided to study abroad at Oxford University in England where we fell in love. We were married in 2009 at the Enda Valley Vineyard.

Tell us about your paths after graduating from Cal Poly to getting to where you are today.

Ciera: Since graduating from Cal Poly, I have worked hard to expand and nurture my network, which has led to job opportunities and promotions. In that spirit, I went to business school at the Berkeley Haas School of Business, stayed in close contact with past classmates and work colleagues, and helped friends and colleagues in their career endeavors.  Most importantly, I have learned that working with smart, motivated, and ethical people is extremely rewarding and challenges me to improve and be creative.

Trevor: Upon graduating from Cal Poly, I went into investment banking in the Bay Area, joining a Consumer Mergers and Acquisitions team where I developed a passion for consumer brands. I’ve followed that passion ever since, transitioning into private equity, where I have been investing in consumer companies for the last 10 years.

You both graduated Cal Poly within a year of each other, however, you’ve had pretty unique career paths. What are the major ways in which your careers have been different? How are they the same?

Ciera: There are numerous career opportunities in finance. In endowment management, I work with a team to maintain (and ideally increase) the philanthropic purchasing power of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. To accomplish this, we invest the foundation’s $6 billion endowment in various asset classes (including private equity) with different expected return and risk profiles. In private equity, Trevor works to directly acquire and grow cash flowing businesses that will generate wealth over the long-term for his investors. Risk management is a key part of both of our investment roles.

How have you learned from each other in your careers?

Ciera: Trevor knows me better than anyone else, which means he has been able to provide honest and constructive career advice and feedback. We have each other’s best interests at heart, which means we are honest when it comes to things like interview preparation, resume drafting, and navigating political issues at the office. When I ask Trevor something, he provides an honest response. I’m grateful for his opinions and I am tougher as a result.

Trevor: As a former management consultant, and now an investor in multiple asset classes, Ciera sees the world from a very different view and can offer unique and powerful insights that I might not otherwise see as a direct investor in private companies. We often bounce ideas off of each other and challenge one another to approach things differently. I think we are both better professionals as a result. Furthermore, it is crucial to have a strong support system when working in a demanding profession or making big career decisions. Ciera has been an incredible partner both personally and professionally, enabling me to take career-related risks and challenges.

What has surprised you most about your investment careers?

Ciera: In the beginning, I assumed an investment career would be primarily about investment analysis and improving upon that skillset. While continuing to improve my analytical skillset has been an important driver of my career development, I have learned that working with fantastic people has had the most positive influence on my career. In my opinion, career happiness and success are the result of working with great people and being a respectful, productive, and intellectually honest team player.

Trevor:  A private equity career certainly requires an analytical skillset, but there is also a tremendous amount of salesmanship and networking needed for a successful long-term career in this industry. In private equity, an individual is always selling himself /herself and their firm’s unique value proposition.

How has Learn by Doing manifested itself in your professional worlds?

Ciera & Trevor: With technology changing the way business is conducted, there are now many ventures being founded by younger individuals without former career experience.  This means many careers will necessarily be built through “Learn by Doing”. Cal Poly fosters this skillset through programs like the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that provide an early opportunity to get business experience.

How do you stay connected with Cal Poly?

Ciera: Cal Poly is incredibly special to me.  It’s where I met my husband, best girlfriends, and a special professor that inspired me to pursue a career in finance. I remain close with all of these people today. And, it’s been fun to “grow up” with my girlfriends over the past seventeen years. Our conversations have evolved from coaching each other on how to get our first jobs, to planning weddings, and now, to navigating the challenges of parenthood. Cal Poly definitely provided a platform to make numerous relationships that I treasure today. As a result, I remain an active resource for current students seeking careers in finance and periodically volunteer on campus at career symposiums.

Trevor: Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo County each hold a special place in my heart, so much so that my wife and I were married at the Edna Valley Vineyard. We make several trips to San Luis Obispo each year to participate in Cal Poly finance events and enjoy the beautiful central coast with our family. I am now a member of the Orfalea College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and have enjoyed learning about Dean Scott Dawson’s new vision for the Orfalea College of Business and am excited for its future.

Trevor: It sounds like your career has had some elements of entrepreneurship and disruption. How does innovation manifest itself in a finance career?

Trevor: My career has certainly had some interesting twists and turns, but it really comes down to two things.  First, pursuing something you are excited to get up every day to do, and second, working with talented and trustworthy people who can challenge you to grow professionally. I’ve had a couple of doors unexpectedly close, which required some professional reinvention.  However, with the support of my wife and a fair amount of hard work and patience, new doors opened that I never thought possible.

Ciera: What is it like facing financial volatility through the lens of your company’s altruistic mission? Does it change how you view risk?

Ciera: Risk management is a key part of our job as investment managers. While we look to generate sufficient returns to maintain the foundation’s purchasing power, we diligently work to ensure that we do not subject the endowment, and ultimately our grantees, to unnecessary or unforeseen risks.

Any advice for students looking to enter a career in finance today?

Ciera: Excellent grades and thoughtful networking definitely facilitated my job search process after college. I still continue to work very hard to nurture my professional network, which is one of the reasons I was invited back to work at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Trevor: Find your passion, talk to as many people as you can about their respective careers, and pursue internships in fields of interest. You never know who could be sitting next to you on an airplane or what they might be able to teach you.  My career has been built through hard work, persistence, networking, and a little luck.  I’m a big fan of the phrase “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Cal Poly Students Win Third Consecutive Local CFA Institute Research Challenge

CFA Challenge team and their advisors at Activision.

An interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly students has won the local CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute Research Challenge for the third year in a row.

This year, students from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences also competed with those from the Orfalea College of Business. Agribusiness seniors Jordan Goldie (Riverside, Calif.), Brian Pocock (Roseville, Calif.) and Paul Boortz (Coarsegold, Calif.) collaborated with finance seniors Robert Surane (Newbury Park, Calif.) and Miles Wix (Simi Valley, Calif.) at the event in Los Angeles.

The Cal Poly students competed against teams from USC, Loyola Marymount University, UC Santa Barbara, and Claremont Graduate University. The teams were charged with analyzing and making buy/sell/hold recommendations for video game publisher Activision. After visiting Activision in the fall, the team prepared an extensive written report and presentation. A panel of eight industry professionals and CFA charter holders judged the presentations.

Cal Poly’s team will advance to the Americas Regional competition in April in Chicago, where it will compete against universities from the U.S., Canada, Central America and South America. The winners of the three regional competitions (Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Asia Pacific) will compete in the Global Final.

Cyrus Ramezani, finance professor and interim Agribusiness Department chair, advised the students. San Luis Obispo financial advisor Phillip Cohl and Scott B. Kirk, a 2005 business administration graduate, served as industry mentors. David Larsen, a 2014 business administration graduate who led Cal Poly’s CFA team in 2014, also consulted with the team.

“I’m proud of the success and collaborative efforts of our team. Each student contributed more than 300 hours of preparation ahead of this competition,” Ramezani said. “With our third win, Cal Poly has built a tradition of excellence, which is a tribute to our faculty who believe in preparing career-ready graduates. We’re proud to represent Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy on the global stage.”

The CFA Institute Research Challenge provides an opportunity for students to learn from industry experts and compete with other top finance programs. The event promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills. Participants are introduced to and held to the standard of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

For more information about the CFA Institute Research Challenge, go to:

L to R in the photo: Jordan Goldie, Brian Pocock, Miles Wix, Cal Poly alumnus Scott B. Kirk, advisor Phil Cohl, Cal Poly alumnus David Larsen, Paul Boortz and Robert Surane.

Finance Alumni Make Headlines

Orfalea College of Business alumni are showing that Learn by Doing pays off in the business world, even after graduation. From starting new companies, to taking on new leadership roles, the Mustang community is as strong as ever, in San Luis Obispo and beyond.

Alumna Saira Malik appears on the January cover of Kiplinger

Saira Malik (Economics- Finance ’92) is also catching the eye of news headlines. She was recently featured on the cover of Kiplinger magazine. As the head of global stock portfolio management at TIAA-CREF, Malik is responsible for the firm’s diversified equity investment strategy. She shared her projections for the upcoming year with Kiplinger, highlighting cheap, promising European equities amid a weak currency and recovering economy.

Finance alumnus Kevin MacKenzie (Business Administration ‘99) was recently appointed as co-head the West Coast region for HFF, one of the largest commercial real estate capital intermediaries in the United States. MacKenzie will work alongside Michael Legget to oversee the firm’s five West Coast offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore. “[We hope to] build upon the strong base we have established on the West Coast and continue to grow our market share across platforms and product types in each market, taking further advantage of the strong synergy between our business lines,” said MacKenzie. Read the full article about HFF’s announcement here.

Andrew FlachnerAndrew Flachner (Business Administration- Real Estate Finance ‘10) was featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for his accomplishments as CEO and cofounder of RealScout, a collaborative home search platform for real estate agents. At only 27, he is a seasoned entrepreneur who has helped start four different companies and held a number of advisory roles in the industry. Flachner is consistently featured as one of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders by Inman News and was recently honored as Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40”.

In addition to individual achievements, Cal Poly students past and present are making waves in the investment banking industry. A number of alumni are stepping into leadership roles at some of the nation’s top firms, such as Tammy Kiley (Business Administration- Accounting ’93) of Goldman Sachs, Ryan Martinez (Business Administration- Accounting ’93) of Bernstein, and Brett Johnson (Business Administration- Finance ’03), Trevor Ashley (Business Administration- Finance ’03), and Daniel Wilson (Business Administration- Finance ’03) all of J.P. Morgan. The success of these alumni has paved the way for current students to earn internship and full time positions in investment banking, a field that is widely known for its competitive landscape and high barriers to entry.

To share an update in your personal or professional life with the Finance Area, visit our mobile-friendly contact form.

A Letter from Finance Area Chair John Dobson

Area Chair John DobsonDear alumni and friends of the Finance Area,

Welcome to the 2016 edition of the Cal Poly finance newsletter. Thank you, once again, for the positive response to last year’s edition and the many personal updates that you sent to us. It is extremely gratifying to hear about the tremendous personal achievements many of you have made since leaving Cal Poly, and I hope more of you will take the time to drop us a note and let us know about some of the interesting and important experiences you have had since graduating. We hope this communication will keep you connected with the Finance Area, the Orfalea College of Business, and each other.

This past year has been an eventful one for the Finance Area. In July, I took over for Cyrus Ramezani as the area chair. I’m sure you would wish to join me in thanking Cyrus for his eight years of stellar service as chair. During his tenure we have managed to hire several high quality faculty members, some of whom you will hear from in this newsletter. Under his stewardship, the Finance Area has grown steadily and is now the most popular concentration in the college. This is in no small part due to Cyrus’ nurturing of high quality senior project choices such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification, which upholds a pass rate significantly above average, and the Student Managed Portfolio Project (SMPP). Many of you probably have memories of these projects, and I’m pleased to report that they both continue to flourish.

Looking to the future, we hope next year to inaugurate a new real estate finance concentration, which will complement our existing financial management concentration. We also hope to resurrect the Bloomberg Certification senior project, and to make improvements to room 302, a classroom of which you may have ‘fond’ memories. Our other new and ongoing activities will be outlined throughout this newsletter.

The finance faculty continue to attain high levels of success in presenting their research at professional gatherings, obtaining research grants, and publishing research in respected journals. Our faculty remain active and research-productive, which benefits students by exposing them to instructors who are fully equipped with state of the art knowledge and ready to tackle real world problems.

As always, we encourage you to stop by and see us whenever you are in San Luis Obispo. Our Cal Poly community is every bit as nice as you remember! In addition, please let us know something about yourself that you would like to share with alumni, and we will make sure to include your updates in a future newsletter.

For up-to-date information on the area, staff, course offerings and activities, check our website. Your comments, questions and personal items are welcome any time. You can mail or email them to me or Sheila Smith. We encourage you to keep your contact and professional information updated. We hope you have an outstanding and productive remainder of 2016 and that success will continue to find you and your loved ones in 2017.

John Dobson
Finance Area Chair