Cal Poly Students to Make Business Analytics Presentations to Oracle Leaders on May 3

MSBA Oracle PresentationsTwo teams of Cal Poly graduate business students will make special presentations to top Oracle Corp. executives on Wednesday, May 3 at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Students in Cal Poly’s M.S. Business Analytics program will make global sales strategy recommendations related to Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) product offered via its software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. Panelists from Oracle will include Ivgen Guner, senior vice president of global business finance, Elena Drozd, director of the Advanced Analytics Group, and Rich Clayton, vice president of the Business Analytics Product Group.

After analyzing five years of global sales data provided by Oracle, students cultivated a targeted approach to identifying and developing new marketing opportunities by utilizing data mining techniques and advanced statistical modeling. Students also delivered a written report that defined characteristics of top prospect companies for new EPM sales, suggested new methodology for appealing to different prospect companies and provided insights for targeted marketing campaigns in different countries around the globe.

The presentations are the culmination of a new collaboration between Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business and Oracle, which provided real data for a three-month Learn by Doing project. Oracle has teamed with Cal Poly and other academic programs to address the shortfall of data scientists in the industry.

“Education is a cornerstone of Oracle’s culture and legacy,” said Oracle’s Clayton. “We are thrilled to team with Cal Poly and help inspire the next generation of data analytic leaders.”

Cal Poly launched its M.S. in Business Analytics program in 2016 to meet strong demand for professionals skilled in working with and interpreting complex sets of data. The program trains students from business, science, engineering and mathematics backgrounds to prepare data from diverse sources, illustrate findings and communicate strategic insights to business leaders.

“Oracle’s willingness to review our work and give us feedback has given direction and impact to our decision process, bridging the gap between our analytical methods and actionable results,” said Matthew Fagan, one of seven Cal Poly student team members scheduled to present. “This opportunity is the biggest of my life.”

Local and industry media are invited to attend the presentations at Oracle’s headquarters in the Redwood Shores section of Redwood City, Calif.  Please email for more information.

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Cal Poly Business Students Attend AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit

Cal Poly Business students at the AICPA conferenceOrfalea College of Business sent four female finance students to the AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit in Boston in November. Thanks to a generous donation from Oracle, these Cal Poly students attended educational sessions on leadership development and network with high-ranking women in finance, accounting and tech.

Led by finance faculty member Sharon Dobson, Orfalea students Dana Mason, Denise Hensley, Melisa Zarate, and Catherine Ryan gained real-world insights from women presidents, founders and CEOs of major global corporations through keynotes and panels. They also participated in workshops and round tables discussing leadership, strategic planning and more. During the networking sessions, the Orfalea students met the CEO of Oracle, Safra Catz, the Senior Director at Oracle, Anne Ozzimo, and the Vice President of Global Finance at Oracle, Christina Kite.

Cal Ooly students and faculty with Safra CatzThe AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit is where supporters of women initiatives and female financial professionals and accountants from all types of business sectors come together to discuss leadership, boardroom diversity and the best skills to enhance women leaders within the financial community. The summit examined barriers to women’s advancement, provided insight and strategies to overcoming these barriers and connected participants to other successful professional women. This year celebrated the fifth anniversary of the summit.

Cal Poly asked each student the three biggest takeaways from the experience in Boston. Here’s what they had to say:

Melisa Zarate

  1. Do not assume what others are thinking, ask! We all think in different ways and learning to ask the right questions is extremely important and allow a team to be transparent and advance in the right direction.
  2. Learning how emotional intelligence can help one be a better leader. As a leader, it is important to know how to control one’s emotions in any given situation and also being able to read another’s emotions. In the business world, having technical skills isn’t enough when leading a team. Recognizing and responding in an appropriate and timely manner to certain emotions is a quality leader’s should seek to posess. Having soft skills is invaluable and goes a long way in preserving a team and moving forward.
  3. Women working n HR were asked what advice they would give the younger generation of workers. They responded by saying that millennials should understand how their mind works and be honest with themselves when applying for a job. Turnover rates are higher than ever and companies are investing themselves in candidates to choose the right fit. Yet, when younger people are asked about themselves, many are not aware of their working style.

Dana Mason:

  1. Make the fun choice – Listening to Safra Catz speak at both the Women in Finance dinner and the conference taught me a lot. The biggest thing it taught me however, was that it is important to make life and career choices that are fun and different. Safra Catz has had an incredible career and many of her biggest and best ideas have come from the idea of doing things that are different and seem fun.
  2. Treat everyone as an equal – although this one is a concept taught to kids in elementary school and one I felt like I already held, I got the chance to witness it in true form at the conference. As the only students there other members of the conference did not look down upon us and treated us as if we were at their level, some of which were quite high up in their companies. This was especially clear when we had lunch with Chris Kite, she engaged with us and asked us questions about our career paths, interests and took genuine interest in our lives and voices.
  3. Ask for what you want – One of the keynote speeches that I connected with most was the “How to Say Anything to Anyone”. The speech portrayed the importance of being able to speak up and speak your mind something I think is extremely important especially as a women in the business world.

Denise Hensley:

  1. Innovation doesn’t just mean technology, it means change. It means adapting to what the industry needs in order to help as many clients as efficiently as possible. Part of the changes that were mentioned at the AICPA was a focus for supporting women in entrepreneurial projects. Helping more women start and fund their businesses will help to diversify innovation.
  2. We need to start looking globally. The actions we make as the world becomes automated are felt by others around the world. We can utilize technology to connect with others globally. Diversity and inclusivity aren’t just regarding race and gender, but cultures beyond our boarders. Knowledge on foreign markets and cultures will help us as business leaders through understanding the needs and wants of individuals who may think differently from us.
  3. You’ll never know what you’ll be doing 10 years from now. But all the women at the conference shared with us that somehow you’ll find yourself gravitating to what you love to do most. Some went from big firms to small firms. Or from firms to non-profit organizations. There will be many opportunities in the future – some that may not be around today but could be tomorrow!

For more information about the event, visit

Finance Students Attend Oracle Women’s Conference

In August, six Orfalea College of Business students, faculty members SiSi Pouraghabagher and Sharon Dobson, and Assistant Dean Mary Kelting, and Dean’s Advisory Council Member Ann Ozzimo attended a conference hosted by Oracle. Finance junior Catherine Ryan talks about her experience hearing from high-powered speakers and looking forward to her own transition to the working world.


In early August I was invited, along with fellow finance students Hannah Egan, Annie Wilson, Morgan Kavanagh, Hannah Poplack, and Nicole Fetsch, to the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores to attend Diversity, Education, and Analytical Innovation in Finance. The TED-talk style event, put on by Oracle’s Financial Executives International Silicon Valley Chapter, featured a networking session with Oracle employees and invited guests, followed by three powerful speeches on the aforementioned topics.

The event sought to bridge business intelligence with emotional intelligence, how external success compounded with internal cohesion makes for a better company. I found this best personified in the talk by Barbara Williams Hardy, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Oracle, on Leveraging Inclusive Leadership to Unlock Innovation, where she highlighted the dangers of unconscious bias in the workplace, and how better leadership in cultivated within a team.

Cal Poly represents at Oracle ConferenceWhen she posed the question “what is inclusion?” to the group, a man in the middle of the audience yells back, “quotas!” While many shifted uneasily at this answer, Barbara laughed and explained how this is exactly why we need events like this; to bring to light preconceived notions that prevent companies from operating at their highest efficiency. As a woman in finance, I fully understand what a hindrance biases can create in a work environment; we have all aired our grievances over the lack of women in tech and leadership roles, but luckily companies like Oracle are actively working to change that. Through their new experimental public high school Design Tech High School (or, located on their headquarters campus, Oracle is directly combating the drop off in interest in more technical fields through coding and engineering classes. By cultivating confidence in young students while promoting company-wide inclusion, Oracle creates a winning situation for employees, students, and those of us ready for a change in the status quo.

An incredible experience for any student, this event not only educated its attendees on current events in finance, but allowed for an expanded conversation; as a soon-to-be college grad, I am interested not only in the opportunities at a company, but also my place in it.  This event provided insight into the other side, how internal changes make massive waves in a company’s external influence, and how to stay competitive in an ever-changing financial climate.