The Ultimate Partner
Alumna Tammy Kiely provides multifaceted support for the Orfalea College of Business.
How can you measure the true value of an education? In dollars? In promotions? The concept can seem unclear until it’s thrown into stark relief against the demands of the business world.
For alumna Tammy Kiely, that moment came in 1993, just after graduating Cal Poly with a degree in business administration and a concentration in accounting. As she worked on one of her first audit teams at KPMG in San Jose, a colleague struggled to set up a debt amortization schedule for their client. Kiely spoke up immediately. “Oh, I can do that. I did that in my intermediate accounting class,” she remembers saying to her shocked team members.
“They weren’t expecting a ‘green bean’ to just jump in and add value. I learned very quickly that the training I had was very much about Learn by Doing with an emphasis on being ready for the working world. That was something that made me appreciate Cal Poly immensely.”
Like many alumni, Kiely looks back on her time in San Luis Obispo fondly. The Belmont, Calif., native passed on multiple acceptance letters to major schools knowing that Cal Poly was the best place for her. She thrived while tackling challenging accounting classes with Professors Tad Miller and Doug Cerf, experiences that would eventually fuel her passion for a career in finance and motivate her to earn an MBA from Stanford.
More than 20 years later, Kiely has become a partner at Goldman Sachs, leading mergers, acquisitions and financings for its global semiconductor banking business. More recently, she has stepped up to be a dynamic ally for the Orfalea College of Business. True to her nature, Kiely has, without hesitation, provided support, mentorship and leadership to the Orfalea College of Business and its students on a variety of fronts.
Kiely’s involvement kicked off with a visit to campus as a part of Orfalea’s Executive in Residence program that included leading lectures in finance classes, faculty roundtables and Q&A sessions for students. She also served as a guest speaker in a Women in Business club meeting, where she talked candidly about how she leads in a male-dominated field.
“I was very impressed with the quality of students and the caliber of questions they were asking,” Kiely recalled. “There’s a reason Cal Poly is so hard to get into now. I was pleasantly surprised at how actively engaged the students were in the conversations — that was fun.”
Over the last several months, Kiely played a role in a variety of student driven events. She helped Goldman Sachs welcome a cohort of finance students during an immersive tour of its Bay Area offices. She also embraced a mentorship role with several students looking to break into the highly competitive field of investment banking. She even gave the keynote address at the spring commencement for Orfalea’s Graduate Programs and congratulated each of the nearly 100 graduates as they crossed the stage.
Orfalea’s Deans Advisory Council has also benefitted from Kiely’s insights since she joined in early 2016. Alongside fellow alumni, Kiely offers her perspective on how Orfalea engages its supporters and positions its academic programs.
In particular, she’s encouraged the college’s move toward specialized master’s degree programs in accounting, business analytics and — debuting in 2017 — packaging value chain. “I am convinced that we’re going to end up with the best placement stats when we can help students be well-equipped to work in specific fields,” she said.
Kiely was also moved to make a major investment in the future of the Orfalea College of Business by supporting the college’s renovation plans for the Business Building with a $100,000 gift. Kiely graduated from Cal Poly just as the current building was finished in the early 1990s. Her generosity will fund upgrades to classrooms and community spaces that will allow the college to mirror the collaborative work environment of many leading companies.
“I think about how can I make that path a little bit easier for the next person coming through,” said Kiely. “This is a place I care about — this was a formative part of my life. I love the school, and I love the direction that it’s going.”
Kiely isn’t done yet. She has coordinated a fall 2016 investment banking competition for students, sponsored by Goldman Sachs. The competition will be the first event of its kind at Cal Poly, and Kiely feels it will be an important step in exposing students to possible careers in the field.
“It’s an interesting exercise to go through even if you don’t want to work in investment banking,” Kiely said. The event also comes at a time when Goldman Sachs is opening up its recruiting process to include more schools like Cal Poly. With the optimism of a “green bean” and the wisdom of a seasoned executive, Kiely continues to add value to Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. What keeps her coming back to where it all began?
“It’s easy to invest your time when you feel strongly and passionately about something,” she said. “Whenever I’m going through San Luis Obispo, and I get to downtown, I just feel like I’m home.”
“It’s easy to invest your time when you feel strongly and passionately about something.”
— Tammy Kiely (Business Administration, ‘93), Partner at Goldman Sachs