The career paths these alumni have traveled to the C-Suite, Wall Street and beyond are as varied as the majors and programs offered at CSUN. One common thread runs through each story, however: Outstanding professors and hands-on learning laid the foundation of core skills each would need to succeed in finance, banking, accounting and technology.
“For some people, their degree brought them to their career — but it was the opposite for me,” Priscilla Moyer ’81 (Economics) reflected.
Moyer, who recently stepped down as senior vice president and chief information officer at Franklin Templeton after a long career with the investment company and in banking, got her first taste of data as an undergrad at CBS Television City, of all places.
“At CBS’s data center, I worked every kind of shift you can imagine — crazy hours, but it worked while going to college,” said Moyer, now based in the Bay Area. “While I was there, I got to know the programmers. I tell kids now, ‘You don’t have to have it all mapped out. I started out as a journalism major, not a business major.’ Then, I was a radio-TV-film major, and then I switched over to the business college, to accounting and finally to economics.
“As part of the business college, we had to take a computer programming class. I thought, ‘I really like this,’” she said. “When I decided to move on from CBS, I went looking for something with a trainee program while I was still going to school. I started at Security Pacific in 1979. That’s where the opportunity came for me — they needed programmers. Financial services, then and now, has always been more open for women. In banking, and in California — I was in Glendale — it was very open.
“I was so fortunate to have lucked into, in some ways, the opportunities,” she said. “My outlook and ambition were a good match. I’m nothing if not persistent.”
Growing up in Southern California, Moyer got a jumpstart on her higher education. While still in high school, she started attending Moorpark College, and later transferred to CSUN. But then, she started working part-time … which led to full-time work. It was a challenge that thousands of alumni and current CSUN students know all too well: the juggling act.
“My career progressed pretty rapidly, and it was very consuming, so then it took me forever to finish [at CSUN],” she said. “I didn’t even attend my own graduation. Part of me regrets that, not having that on-campus experience. But by the time I was in the final years [of undergrad], I was a manager in a large group at Security Pacific. I always wore a beeper, remember pagers?”
Moyer raved about her professors in what’s now CSUN’s Nazarian College, especially in economics and business law, but there was one accounting professor she’ll never forget.
“I explored several paths before I reached mine, and one of them was accounting,” she recalled. “At the time, I was working full-time, night shift. My accounting class was at 8 a.m., after my shift. I came to know that accounting was not for me, and the additional challenge of getting through it after being up all night wasn’t helping.
“I went to my professor and asked for help,” she said. “I told him I recognized that accounting was not for me, and by then I’d recognized an interest in economics. So, I asked him to help me pass the course and told him I’d be changing my major. He did help me pass the course, and I changed majors. It could have gone differently, but I’ll forever thank him for his assistance and understanding.”
Working her way through school, Moyer also excelled at Security Pacific, where she had to learn early computer programming languages such as Cobal and embraced the logic puzzles of data work.
“[Information technology] is about making the business run, especially in my recent roles,” she said. “I know almost more about the business end to end than the most senior business leaders — we see it all.”
She spent 13 years at Security Pacific in six different roles, and “I’d probably still be there if they hadn’t been acquired by Bank of America,” Moyer said. “It was a rapidly changing and expanding time in banking.”
Moyer and her family moved to Dallas, where she took a top post with MBNA, a credit card corporation known for, essentially, inventing the affinity credit card (branded with an organization’s logo and imagery, such as the Disneyland Premier Visa Card or World Wildlife Fund Visa). After six and a half years, Franklin Templeton recruited her.
“I thought about being back in California, and my heart just sang,” said Moyer, who made the move back to the West Coast in 2000. The global firm is headquartered in San Mateo but has offices in more than 50 locales and sells mutual funds primarily through advisors and brokers in more than 150 countries. The then-CIO, who hired Moyer, recruited her to help oversee a new tech center in the East Bay.
“Financial services in general has been undergoing a huge transformation,” she said. “There are folks who’ve never seen a boom, so not everyone trusts the financial services industry. Consumer technology changes everything. I’ve always been in the technology aspects of the industry. What is finance? It’s numbers in a ledger, and on a computer.”
Moyer departed Franklin in September. “I plan to take at least a few months off,” she said. “I’ve been ‘going’ for a very long time and continued to work through my husband’s nearly four-year battle with cancer. (Her husband passed away in 2017.) A break is in order. Then, I’ll decide what’s next.”
During an interview in May, she noted:
“I so rarely have reflected on my journey — always looking forward and not back. But after all, we are who we were, the compilation of experience and choices.”
For today’s Matadors and others aspiring to a career in financial services or banking, critical thinking and a holistic view — beyond “book smarts” — is required for success, Moyer said.
“Broaden yourself and the person you project beyond specific vertical expertise to a broader capability set,” she said. “It’s the old ‘see the forest for the trees’ element, but also being able to switch to see the tree for the forest.”
—by Olivia Herstein
David L. Auchterlonie
A career path rarely follows a straight line, as David Auchterlonie ’68 (Business Administration) readily will tell you. The founder and chief executive officer of The Scotland Group, Inc., a highly respected corporate turnaround and management consulting firm, found his calling through a series of twists and turns.
Eldest of nine children, Auchterlonie worked full time to put himself through CSUN, where his role as student government finance director was pivotal.
“That was my first sense of networking,” Auchterlonie told a group of business and economics students at a Nazarian College “Professor for a Day” event in fall 2018. “Through it, I was able to meet with a lot of firms and get comfortable with the interviewing process.”
He landed his first job at Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), and he became a CPA during his employment. Working in the audit department at a public accounting firm was a “great way to study and understand businesses,” he said. In 1980, he landed at Tiger International, holding company for Flying Tiger Airlines — his first encounter with a company in financial peril.
“I was chief accounting officer at Tiger, 32 years old, and running most of the finance function for a NYSE-listed company that had $1.6 billion in revenues and was $1.3 billion in debt,” he said. After assisting in the debt restructuring, Auchterlonie made several fruitless attempts to convince Tiger’s top brass that many things needed to change; in 1983, he departed.
In 1986, he founded The Scotland Group, Inc. to help underperforming and financially distressed com- panies turn their businesses around. The firm has stepped in, generally as CEO or chief restructuring officer, to help more than 250 companies in a variety of complex and challenging circumstances. The goal is to avoid employee layoffs as much as possible, while also creating value for the company’s shareholder and creditor constituents.
Now mostly retired, Auchterlonie remains involved in his company and his industry. He is a former chairman and president of the Turnaround Management Association, an 8,500-member global trade organization. He also was inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame. He is a frequent speaker and writer and serves on multiple corporate for-profit and nonprofit boards of directors — including the Nazarian College Advisory Board. His wife, Barbara Keller, is a former CSUN business law faculty member.
—by Linda Kossoff
David Nazarian ’82 (Business Administration), the visionary financier and driver of a successful $25 million fundraising campaign for CSUN, has been involved in a variety of businesses, but the common denominator has been his entrepreneurial spirit.
“The desire to build and create is in our DNA,” said Nazarian, founder and CEO of Nimes Capital, explaining that everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur. “Creativity, growth, risk-taking, having confidence in your abilities are the cornerstones of entrepreneurship.”
In 2014, Nazarian pledged to help lead the $25 million fundraising drive and launched that effort with a $10 million cash gift. In recognition of his gift and pledge of continued support, the university renamed its college of business the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics.
“While investing in companies can change lives and improve our economy, nothing is more impactful and important than access to quality education and mentoring. That is why I consider this to be the most significant investment of my career,” Nazarian said at the time. “I’m encouraging my business associates, friends, family and anyone who wants to positively impact the lives of talented young people in our region to join me in supporting CSUN and the amazing work being done there.”
Nazarian’s history as an investor and business builder began with his active involvement in his family’s early identification of the potential for wireless communications technology that ultimately became part of Qualcomm, Inc. At Nimes Capital, Nazarian has established a consistent track record of identifying opportunities ahead of the pack, actively managing investments in the real estate, manufacturing, water and solar infrastructure, technology and hospitality industries.
These activities have included founding and managing Nimes Real Estate, a direct real estate investment platform with a diverse portfolio of assets including apartments, student housing and hotels; and being a shareholder and serving on several boards. These include sbe, an international hospitality company whose holdings include the SLS Hotels and Katsuya restaurant brands; Solar Reserve, a developer of large-scale solar energy and storage projects; and Pacific Island Restaurants, an operator of more than 80 restaurants in Hawaii and Guam.
Beyond his more than 30 years of success in business, Nazarian has proven to be a tireless philanthropist, donating invaluable time and funding to an array of causes and organizations. He has served on the board of governors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Nazarian is also a member of LACMA’s Collector’s Committee, The Hammer Museum Circle and the Young Presidents’ Organization. He is also the founder of the Youth Leadership Program at Sinai Temple.
Nazarian said he is grateful to be in a position to repay his alma mater for giving him a solid foundation and passionate about ensuring that future generations can access the same life-changing opportunities he did while at CSUN.
“CSUN provided me with a foundation for my later success and, thus, opened the door for many opportunities in my life,” Nazarian said. “CSUN gave me the chance to realize the American dream, and I want to make sure that opportunity exists for as many people as possible. I am excited about the future of the College of Business and Economics, and want to do everything I can to support the college and its faculty and students in achieving their goals.”
—by Carmen Ramos Chandler and Cary Osborne
In 1994, Epson America, Inc., one of the world’s largest tech and printing brands, hired Andrea Zoeckler ’83 (Business Administration) as a contractor to do one spreadsheet. The young accountant walked in to present her analysis — and found herself seated across the table from the CEO.
“He was asking me my opinion,” said Zoeckler, shaking her head and smiling warmly. “Here I was, a relatively junior person in my career, and I’d just come from graduate school a few years before. How incredible to be asked my opinion!”
A quarter of a century later, Zoeckler still handles finance for Long Beach-based Epson America, but now as the chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer (COO) — and executive officer of Seiko Epson Corporation. The Los Angeles native is one of the highest-ranking women in her field and highly respected, traveling the globe regularly to oversee the company’s operations in printers, projectors, robotics and beyond. The Japanese electronics company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer printers, and information and imaging-related equipment. In 2013, she was promoted to senior VP and CFO, and in June 2017, she rose to her current position. This year, Seiko Epson Corporation appointed her executive officer of the $10 billion corporation, the first woman named to that position in Seiko Epson’s history.
“The diversity of the product line has probably quadrupled since I’ve been here,” she said. “The opportunity to work in so many different products is the best part of it, as well as the diversity of working throughout the Americas.”
Zoeckler travels to the corporation’s global headquarters in Japan about five times per year, in addition to constant travel for her work in North and Latin America.
“Although my entry point was the accounting area, it was kind of a big small company, and anything you expressed an interest in, anything you could absorb — there was an opportunity,” she said. “One year I said, ‘I don’t have any experience with warehouses; I’d like some experience.’ They said, ‘Okay, here you go — you can be responsible for West Coast distribution.’” She cited one especially exciting aspect of Epson’s business—robotics and artificial intelligence. “Some of our robots are on automotive lines, and you don’t ever want to be the vendor whose robot has gone down and caused an automotive production line to go down,” she said.
Zoeckler, named in 2016 (its 50th year) to the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ “Fabulous 50” alumni, is the eldest of a powerful set of siblings in finance. Her younger brother and fellow Matador, Richard Schweitzer ’87 (Accounting Theory & Practice/Finance, see below), also was named to the Fabulous 50 and serves as CFO and chief re- source officer of Aristotle Capital Management in Los Angeles. The siblings grew up in L.A., close to Sherman Oaks. When it came time to choose a university in the late 1970s, she said, she applied to CSUN with the intention of transfer- ring after two years to the elite Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
“But I loved CSUN,” she said. “I got immersed in it and really was stimulated by the classes. I found my love, which was accounting. I found something that made me excited and passionate. I was involved in a sorority, Sigma Kappa, and in Beta Alpha Psi (the accounting society). I had found my groove, something that really opened up my mind. I felt like I was thriving.” Being social and extremely involved on campus, she said, led to her success on campus and beyond.
To current students and others aspiring to rise in the world of accounting and finance, Zoeckler recommends openness and commitment to lifelong learning.
“Be open to new opportunities. Have an open mind, and don’t have preconceived notions,” she said. “Something may not have been ‘on your path,’ but be intellectually curi- ous. Keep asking questions. Don’t think that questions are a weakness. The best way to learn is by asking questions. When the door of opportunity is opened, be ready to step through it and keep growing.”
—by Olivia Herstein
Earl Enzer ’83 (Finance) is a managing director in the Private Wealth Management Group of Goldman Sachs, where he co-heads one of the largest private wealth advisory teams at the investment banking and financial services giant. Enzer joined Goldman Sachs in 1986 and was named managing director in 2000. He served as chief marketing officer during the initial stages of GS.com, an online wealth management start-up initiative, and was responsible for the global launch of Goldman.com, the Private Wealth Management client website.
He is the former chairman of the CSUN Foundation Board, the group of leading alumni and community volunteers who oversee the management of the university’s philanthropic assets and encourage people to invest in the university. He served on the Foundation Board of Directors from 2001-18, chairing the board from 2009-16. His energy, ideas and follow-through invigorated the board, as well as alumni and community engagement.
Along with former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle ’75 (Journalism), Enzer co-chaired CSUN’s Special Task Force on Engagement, helping provide a road map to better engage alumni and garner community support.
In late 2018, CSUN honored Enzer for his service to his alma mater with the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership. Enzer spoke about his desire to help CSUN, and the joy he has experienced in giving back.
“One of the things I remembered hearing when I joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was, ‘You get out of things what you put into it.’ And I’ve gotten far more out of my involvement with CSUN than it got out of me,” Enzer said. “I look forward to the future and doing more.”
—by Cary Osborne
On the surface, it’s tough to spot the connection between Tim Noonan’s college major and his career achievements. Noonan ’81 (History) serves as CEO of the Pacific Series of Lockton, the world’s largest privately held, independent insurance broker. But listening to his philosophy on work, philanthropy and current affairs, the lifelong impact of CSUN on this executive is clear.
Since taking his top post at Lockton in 1996, Noonan has developed unique insurance and risk-management programs for Fortune 500 companies, and he led Lockton Pacific Series in a 23-year growth trend from $6.9 to $185 million in revenue. The brokerage has eight offices through- out the Western United States. Noonan also has served as advisor to the Los Angeles Workers’ Compensation Task Force. He was appointed chairman of the California State Athletic Commission by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he serves on the executive committee of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
Noonan’s public service and community involvement are rooted in his CSUN pedigree. As an undergraduate, Noonan was profoundly influenced by “the collegial and thought-provoking environment in the classrooms of the late Dr. James Sefton,” he said. Sefton taught history at CSUN for more than 50 years until his death in 2018. “Doc,” along with other history professors, “extended our education outside the classroom, providing greater connectivity and perspective to our experience,” Noonan said.
“The professional and career counseling I received through Jim, as well as my membership in Phi Alpha Beta and Omicron Delta Kappa, created a large part of how I lead my company today,” Noonan added. “It instilled the importance of character, integrity and community service in becoming a strong leader. It also promoted the importance of collaboration and the exchange of ideas and learning in advancing leadership in others.”
A strong advocate of public service and community involvement, Noonan has supported a wealth of causes and organizations for more than 35 years, before and throughout his leadership at Lockton. He serves as trustee of the ALS Association Golden West Chapter, Vision to Learn (a group that delivers vision care to elementary school students in need), and the UCLA Longevity Center. He also has held leadership positions with the Young Presidents’ Organization global leadership network, and he serves as education chair for the Los Angeles chapter of the World Presidents’ Organization. Noonan is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, where he collaborates with other leaders, thinkers and experts on international affairs.
“As a history student, I learned the importance of researching numerous points of view on any subject matter before forming my opinions,” he said. “A good historian analyzes primary and secondary sources and pays careful attention to the perspective of the source, because perspective affects the interpretation of historical events. This disciplined approach is particularly important in today’s highly polarized environment. It is critical that we get all the facts and seek as many opinions as possible to gain insight and understanding before
commenting about them. We all have a role in forming public opinion and creating the historical context of our community and nation.”
—by Linda Kossoff
Carl Carande ’87 (Organizational Systems Management) has spent most of his career helping banks and other financial institutions op- erate more efficiently and profitably. At KPMG, which provides audit, tax and advisory services for some of the largest corporations in the world, Carande is vice chair of the U.S. advisory practice.
His branch of the company is a $3.7-billion enterprise that creates strategy to help companies sell, divest, buy or finance capabilities; offers management consulting services to leverage and implement technologies; and offers risk consulting to ensure clients comply with regulations and put themselves in positions of competitive advantage. Carande is responsible for setting and executing business strategy and managing growth.
“What really makes a career rewarding, and I’ll put it in KPMG parlance, is when the team is growing,” Carande said. “For us, it’s about growing the business, making more partners, making more managing directors, encouraging the team members’ skills so the entire firm can grow.”
Carande, who grew up in Brockton, Mass., south of Boston — home of boxers Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano, he’ll tell you — chose CSUN on the recommendation of his older brother, who was attending college in Southern California.
He has nothing but fond memories of CSUN — he met and married his resident adviser, Irene (Meiers) Carande ’84 (Recreation), and he took on a number of leadership roles on campus and in his dorm that set him up for leadership opportunities in his career.
“You see what CSUN has become: a tremendously diverse, inclusive campus. That’s really the type of candidates a lot of employers are looking for,” Carande said. “I’m happy to contribute in some small way to make sure KPMG is an active recruiter on campus, which is important. I’m very focused on undergraduate job placement. That first job is really important, and it can set the stage for the rest of their career.”
—by Jacob Bennett
Amy (Schuck) White
It takes a combination of hard and soft skills to be successful in finance, according to Amy (Schuck) White ’07 (Accountancy), M.S. ’14 (Taxation), C.P.A. and chief financial officer at Rincon Advisors. The Brentwood-based private investment office provides customized financial advice to select clients with respect to asset allocation, risk management and investment selection. White honed her innate analytic abilities during her undergraduate and graduate years at CSUN, and was grateful to acquire those more elusive soft skills.
“Networking is a significant component of the business industry in general, and I started developing that skill set in my very first class at CSUN,” White said. “The networking opportunity I had with my professors was, in and of itself, invaluable to my development as a business professional.” She also credited the small class sizes she experienced at CSUN as a key benefit.
In 2006, White used her burgeoning networking skills to land an internship at leading accounting firm Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt. The following year, the firm of- fered her the position of senior tax manager. White flourished at the firm for nearly seven years before Rincon tapped her to be its next CFO. In this role, White makes considerable use of another key soft skill she learned at CSUN: communication.
“There’s no doubt that CSUN truly prepared me with the communication skills I needed to be successful in the business community,” White said. Her participation in the Nazarian College’s business honors program in 2003 and mentorship by Craig Oka, the program director at the time, were crucial, she said.
“The program provided us with a unique experience to build a small, strong community of business students and to participate in career-building opportunities that are not typically available to undergraduate students,” White said. “I will forever cherish my involvement in the program and be thankful for the professional development
and confidence it fostered within me.”
—by Linda Kossoff
Charles “Chuck” Noski ’73 (Business Administration), M.S. ’95 (Accountancy), ’07 (Honorary Doctorate) was 17 years old in 1969 when he embarked on what would be a lifelong relationship with CSUN, then known as San Fernando Valley State College. Working two to three part-time jobs as an undergraduate, Noski earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1973. He returned in the 1990s to earn a master’s degree, and CSUN awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2007.
The lessons he learned at CSUN helped him gain the business acumen that would lead to a brilliant career: Following nearly 20 years with “Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, Noski went on to hold senior executive positions at Bank of America, Northrop Grumman Corporation, AT&T and Hughes Electronics.
In recent years, he also has served on the boards of directors of companies such as Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Avon Products and Booking Holdings. In 2002, the CSUN Alumni Association honored Noski as a Distinguished Alumnus, and in 2011 the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors recognized Noski as an Emeritus Director for life following his many years of service on that board. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation, which oversees the bodies tasked with establishing private sector accounting and financial reporting standards in the U.S.: the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
In February, Noski was named by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) to its 2019 Class of Influential Leaders. CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ accreditation by AACSB International places it among the top 5 percent of global business degree-granting institutions. The college’s accounting, finance and financial planning programs are regularly ranked among the nation’s best by experts in those fields.
Noski was also appointed in January as one of three inaugural members of the recently formed Independent Audit Quality Committee, created by Ernst & Young LLP. Senior leadership of Ernst & Young will be advised by the committee when dealing with important aspects of the firm’s business, operations, culture, talent strategy, governance and risk management that affect audit quality.
What Noski remembers most about his own education in the Nazarian College are the relationships he built with his professors.
“They had been out in the real world,” he said in a 2016 interview with CSUN Magazine. “They could help prepare you for the competition and business environment you’d encounter. They were great teachers — they were not only very adept with the subject matter, but they knew how to communicate it. They really cared about their students, and that showed inside and outside the classroom. To this day, I still stay in touch with some of those professors.”
But what he is most grateful for are the opportunities his CSUN education afforded him.
“When I think about the chance to give back to CSUN and its students today,” he said, “I really come back to the word ‘opportunity.’ We’re all different. We all have different strengths, different weaknesses and face different challenges. We come from different backgrounds. But what we all deserve, I think, is an opportunity.” Noski and his wife, Lisa, have been actively involved with CSUN for many years, supporting a variety of educational and other initiatives, including the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. In 2015, they created the Noski Family Scholarship, which annually helps four accounting students at CSUN.
—by Amy E. Hamaker
Harvey Bookstein ’70 (Business Administration),’16 (Honorary Doctorate) has nearly 50 years of public accounting experience and specializes in providing tax, accounting and business consulting services to clients in the real estate and high-net-worth practice areas. He is recognized as one of California’s most respected certified public accountants. Bookstein is a senior partner of the prestigious national CPA firm Armanino LLP, after a merger with the firm he co-founded in 1975 — RBZ — in 2015.
He specializes in financial issues relating to children, divorce and the development of strategies to pass family wealth from one generation to the next. Bookstein’s wife and fellow Matador, Harriet, is a successful business manager who works with high-profile leaders in the business and entertainment industries. Her clients range from performers to executives. Several of the Booksteins’ children are also alumni of CSUN.
The couple have been longtime supporters of CSUN and its David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. In honor of their generous support, CSUN in 2017 named the building that houses the business college Bookstein Hall. The renaming of Juniper Hall was approved by the California State University Board of Trustees in recognition of the Booksteins’ $5 million gift to the university the previous year (a gift that pushed CSUN over the top in a two-year campaign to raise $25 million for the business college).
It was the latest of a host of generous gestures — from financial donations to teaching classes and mentoring students — the Booksteins have made to CSUN since they were students at the university nearly 50 years ago.
The couple enjoyed the Bookstein Hall celebration in fall 2017, but, they said, the most significant part of the renaming was the fact that they will continue to have an impact on the lives of the students who walk through the building’s doors.
“It’s an honor to be part of this great campus,” Harvey Bookstein said. “It’s an
honor to be part of the future of this campus and its young students, and to have a chance to really make a difference in their lives.” He recalled speaking at the college’s Commencement ceremony earlier this decade, and he noted that a majority of the graduates were the first in their families to get a college education.
“That, to me, is what CSUN is about — giving people a chance to change the routines of their past and move forward with a new outlook,” he said. “CSUN does that incredibly well, with its great leader- ship, great professors and great students who help each other up rather than tearing each other down, and that makes Harriet and me proud of this campus.”
Harriet Bookstein noted that the university has come “a long way” since she and Harvey first set foot on the campus. “It really is no longer the hidden jewel in the San Fernando Valley, but a shining beacon for all to see,” she said.
Over the years, Harvey Bookstein has guest lectured in dozens of classes and mentored hundreds of CSUN students. In 2005, the couple donated $1 million for the creation of the Harvey and Harriet Bookstein Chair in Taxation and the Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation. Among other things, the institute assists about 130 low-income taxpayers each year to resolve their disputes with the IRS — free of charge.
Active on several CSUN boards, Bookstein received CSUN’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university in 2016, in recognition of his successful career and legacy at CSUN.
—by Carmen Ramos Chandler and Olivia Herstein
Jeremy Wolfson ’03 (Finance) was one of the first chief investment officers (CIO) for the city of Los Angeles and one of the first for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), where he manages its $15 billion employee pension plan with approximately 10,000 active members and 9,000 beneficiaries.
Wolfson has been recognized as a top financial executive in the region. He was named one of Institutional Investor News’ 2010 Rising Stars of Public Fund Invest- ing, a finalist for CIO Magazine’s Industry Innovation Awards in 2014 and among the Top 30 Pension Fund CIOs in the United States, just to name a few.
Wolfson credits much of his success at the LADWP to teamwork. Giving back to the community has been one of his greatest accomplishments.
“Inspiring and motivating my investment staff is also one of my main responsibilities,” Wolfson said. “I feel like we have such a great impact on retirees’ lives by ensuring the stability of their retirement benefits, and that impact alone creates a high level of satisfaction in the work we do, and in what I have accomplished in my own career.”
He developed a passion for finance while working in banking at a young age and honing his skills at CSUN.
“I always had a passion for finance, and when I learned about CSUN’s finance program, I knew it was the right choice for my education,” Wolfson said. “One of my favorite classes was with professor Howard Langer. He was inspirational in the way he taught his classes.” (Langer died in 2010.)
Wolfson and his wife, alumna Sophia (Valenzuela) Wolfson ’95 (Marketing), have mentored Matadors by hosting a “Dinner with Matadors” event at a local restaurant through the CSUN Alumni Association. Although both alumni, the couple didn’t meet until years after leaving CSUN — but both have a passion for giving back.
“I really enjoy giving back to the next generation of leaders by mentoring students, young professionals just getting started on their career, and speaking to classes to help inspire and motivate more young people toward a career in finance,” Wolfson said.
—by Erick Gabriel
It started with a philosophical argument. At least, that’s how Jonathan Rosenthal ’78 (Philosophy) describes it. With more than $300 million in managed assets and 29 years as a co-managing partner in Los Angeles-based Saybrook Corporate Opportunity Funds — a private equity investment management firm — it’s safe to say he won that argument.
“The first thing CSUN taught me in philosophy was how to craft an argument,” Rosenthal said. “And I learned later in my career that almost all of life is an argument. You craft yourself the same way you craft an argument. Whether you’re trying to persuade someone, sell something or build rapport, you need to be able to craft a well-rounded argument.”
His mother, Fay M. Rosenthal ’67 (Sociology), received her degree when CSUN was known as San Fernando Valley State College, he said. As a Valley native himself, “it was a perfect fit,” Rosenthal said.
As a student, Rosenthal was a member of the CSUN debate team that won a state championship, was involved in student government and even worked for the California Jazz Festival. However, his road wasn’t always paved with opportunity. In his freshman year, Rosenthal said, he averaged a 2.2 GPA. It was a wake-up call, he said, that inspired him to work harder and dedicate himself to school.
“I never got a B after that,” he said. “I learned a lot of important skills while at CSUN — some that I have carried with me since graduation. I talked to real people who didn’t have a ‘silver spoon’ in their mouth. I learned gratefulness and an impeccable work ethic. Some of those things you can only learn at a school like CSUN.”
Throughout his undergraduate years, Rosenthal had his heart set on becoming a lawyer. After graduation, he earned his J.D. from Southwestern Law School, with a summa cum laude distinction. As soon as he started working for a law firm after earning his J.D., how- ever, his desire to practice law disappeared.
In 1990, he found new opportunity — and his new professional home — at Saybrook, managing some of the largest investments and bankruptcy claims in the country.
“You can’t control a lot in life, but some things that you can control are how hard you work and how prepared you are,” Rosenthal said.
—by Wyatt Samuelson
When Ramesh Damani ’79 (MBA, Business Administration) first dipped a toe into the tempest that is the stock market, he saw very little success. In fact, he said, it was a complete failure.
That first attempt started on a bet from his father, who gave newly graduated Damani $10,000 to invest in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stock market with one condition: If he made a profit, he would agree to make a career out of it. If he lost the money, that would be the end of it. However, the loss didn’t cause him to walk away — the initial defeat only propelled the CSUN alumnus, who grew up in Mumbai, India.
Damani made a humble start in the Bombay Stock Exchange as a stock broker in 1989, after his first attempt at the NYSE. After a number of successes with his clients, he put his own funds into the stock market and won big in what would be called the “Harshad Mehta” bull market in India in 1992.
Damani, who serves as chairman of Avenue Supermarts, the most valuable listed retail chain in India, credited much of his success to the open discussions he had in CSUN classrooms with professors and classmates, and the broad reading curriculum available, which he said included multiple financial journals with a wide range of opinions.
He chose to attend CSUN when he learned about the university from his brother- in-law, Jagmohan Mundhra, who was teaching at CSUN at the time. The Damani family and the Mundhra family have set up the Jag Mundhra Memorial Scholarship for students, to honor the impact Mundhra had on Damani’s life and career.
“The most important thing I learned at CSUN was how open, trustworthy, diverse and merit-based the community was. It reflected larger American values, and that truly helped me morph into an optimist,” Damani said. “I started to believe that the glass is always half full and not half empty, and that possibilities are only restricted by your imagination.”
Damani reminisced about the long hours he spent at the Oviatt Library, prompting his wife to nickname him “a book with two legs.”
Damani is a stock broker, market analyst and on special assignment for CNBC in Mumbai, India, where he covers local and global financial personalities. The most important piece of advice Damani said he’d like to offer today’s MBA students is: “Invest in yourself. Strive to be the best you can be.”
—by Wyatt Samuelson
As the crow flies, it’s only about 10 miles northwest from Richard Schweitzer’s childhood home to the campus of CSUN — and from CSUN, less than 20 miles south to West L.A., where Aristotle Capital Management is based. In miles traveled, it’s been a short journey for Schweitzer, but his climb straight up to the firm’s 17th floor — with jaw-dropping, panoramic views of Santa Monica Bay and the L.A. Basin — has been an apt metaphor:
In his career as accountant and then financier, Richard Schweitzer ’87 (Accounting Theory and Practice / Finance) has done nothing but rise.
Humble and relatively quiet for a CFO and COO, Schweitzer is a proud Matador who’s consistently given back to his alma mater and community. In 2017, he delivered the commencement address to hundreds of newly minted graduates of his “home base,” the Department of Accounting and Information Systems in the CSUN Nazarian College. And the previous year, Schweitzer was honored along with his sister, Andrea Zoeckler ’83 (Business Administration, see p. 20), as two of the “Fabulous 50” alumni as the Nazarian College celebrated its 50th year.
He’s a fervent believer in the value of education, a positive attitude and leadership with integrity, and he’s passionate about passing it on to current business students.
“I emphasize the education that I got and the foundation I received as an undergraduate. It really did form my career path,” Schweitzer said. “You could look at the negative in any transaction. But the more complicated the transaction, the more opportunity we see.
“It’s easy to walk away from a complicated transaction, but if you stick with it and figure it out, there’s so much more to offer. I love the challenge, I love solving problems. I look at them as opportunities, and a lot of this comes from my mentor (and business partner), Richard Hollander.
“It is important as you are growing a firm, that the philosophy and cultural values get passed down to the rest of the organization,” he said. “That’s also where I see my role, not only overseeing every M&A (mergers and acquisitions) transaction we’ve done, but helping to mentor and further this next generation.”
Since 2010, Schweitzer has worked with Hollander and the firm’s other executives to build Aristotle Capital Management, a global investment management firm with more than $20 billion in assets under management, and about 120 employees in the L.A. main office, Newport Beach, New York and Boston offices.
His career path was “not a straight line,” Schweitzer said. After graduation, he earned his CPA and worked for Price Waterhouse, and then in a specialty group for mortgage-backed securities at Security Pacific Bank (now Bank of America). In the 1990s, he completed the evening MBA program at USC but found his true passion in the investment world, becoming a CFA Charterholder.
“I loved it! I used the experience I attained in mort- gage-backed securities and parlayed that experience into being a senior analyst and then a member of the portfolio management committee at the Pilgrim Group in Century City,” he said. In 1996, he joined Hollander’s firm as CFO.
With a firsthand look at his older sister’s positive experience studying accounting at CSUN, the university was a natural choice, he said. As an undergraduate in the 1980s, Schweitzer was very involved on campus, serving as chair of the finance committee for the University Student Union (USU) student board; as an officer in the accounting honor society, Beta Alpha Psi; as president of Blue Key Honor Society; and forging lifelong friendships in fraternity Sigma Nu.
“I learned that balance of social life, volunteering my time and learning the inner workings of a company through the USU,” Schweitzer said. “We were doing a five-year plan at the time, learning long-range planning. At the time, five years seemed like an eternity!”
Now with decades of experience under his belt and busy expanding his firm, Schweitzer is devoted to paying it forward in mentorship.
“In the face of monumental changes in the industry, we are trying to keep the footing of what we do and make sure we don’t lose our way,” he said. “We are able to achieve results for our valued clients. The core has to be integrity. If we’re going to work with people, they have to be good to the core.”
—by Olivia Herstein
In spring 2007, as the housing bubble was about to burst and set off the Great Recession, Razmig “Raz” Der-Tavitian graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and business honors, with a minor in economics. With his degree in hand, Der-Tavitian felt ready to take on the world of numbers, but he had no indication of what was in store for the U.S. economy.
“When I graduated, the job market wasn’t so great,” Der-Tavitian said. “If the economy was strong, I probably would have had more opportunities, but I was pretty lucky to have entered the investment industry given the macroeconomic backdrop. Having my foot in the door gave me a chance to prove myself, but it was tough.”
After spending five years at Dorchester Capital, Der-Tavitian joined Wilshire Associates in Santa Monica as an associate in hedge fund re- search. While there, in fall 2012, he decided to continue his education and pursue an MBA at UCLA.
“In general, the job market is very competitive. Just being qualified doesn’t get you to where you want to be,” Der-Tavitian said. “If you come from modest beginnings and don’t have connections, you really have to differentiate yourself. When I was at CSUN, I passed Level I of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam and was involved in the Student Finance Association, so those helped me stand out. Getting an MBA was an additional step in differentiating myself.”
Der-Tavitian reflected on his experience at both schools.
“CSUN gave me the tools and technical knowledge I needed to succeed, and a level of perseverance I otherwise wouldn’t have,” he said.
Over a decade later, Der-Tavitian works as director at Highmark Capital Management. For students and new graduates entering the field, he advised: “Once you get a solid foundation, then you can start the journey of developing your own investment philosophy.”
—by Jessica Edwards
Translate mortgage banking into surfing parlance, and you could say that Stanford Kurland ’75 (Accounting) paddled out through the breakers as a young man and caught not just one — but two — huge waves. The second and likely last monster wave of his career has taken the CSUN alumnus on a 12-year ride to the sunny shores of quasi-retirement.
“When you build a company, you have to provide for the succession. I’ve had a long career and have engaged in every aspect of their development, including strategizing, growing and creating a team of people. The final act, in terms of management, is to turn it over so that it has longevity,” said Kurland, 66, founder and now executive chairman of PennyMac Financial Services, Inc., and PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust, a publicly traded mortgage REIT (real estate investment trust) managed by PennyMac Financial.
At the end of this year, he said, he’ll shift to the role of chairman of the board for PennyMac Financial Services, Inc., where he’ll serve in an advisory role, and remain executive chairman of PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust.
Previously, he served as chairman of the board and CEO of PennyMac Financial. In 12 years, Kurland and his partners have built the company to 3,500 employees — including the headquarters in Westlake Village, as well as large operations in Moorpark, Agoura Hills, Texas, Florida and Nevada. Kurland grew up in Van Nuys and chose CSUN for the affordable tuition and easy commute.
“When you were selecting a college back then, it was very common to pick the local college,” he said. “My family was middle class, and Northridge was the right choice in terms of being able to commute to school.
“I went into accounting. CSUN’s business school had a solid reputation because it was all directed toward practical applications,” he continued. “It was also much more affordable to go to CSUN.” He praised his professors in CSUN’s Department of Accounting, and he noted that he graduated and went right into four years of work in public accounting. In 1979, he joined a small company called Countrywide Credit Services, climbing the ranks as the company grew to the nation’s largest home mortgage servicer, Countrywide Financial Corp. Kurland stayed until 2006, before the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession resulted in the acquisition of Countrywide by Bank of America.
Today, PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. is the nation’s fourth-largest originator of home mortgages. Combined with PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust, the two companies have well over $3 billion in market capitalization, he said.
Kurland and his wife, Sheila (Schreibman) Kurland ’78 (Accounting), are both natives of the San Fernando Valley and alumni of CSUN’s accounting program, but they met and married after their years on campus. Sheila serves as trustee of the couple’s Sheila and Stanford L. Kurland Family Foundation.
Robert D. Taylor
Robert D. Taylor ’82 (Engineering) is one of the most impactful African American financial industry leaders in California and a nationally recognized advocate for economic justice. He is a founding partner of the investment firm Centinela Capital Partners, LLC. Prior to that, he was a founding partner of the private equity firm Blue Capital and a partner at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s most-recognized management consulting firms.
At McKinsey, he helped improve the performance of large, complex for-profit and nonprofit enterprises. He also has been a difference maker in the community, serving as an instrumental figure in the rebuilding of Los Angeles after the 1992 riots and as a leader in the National Urban League and Los Angeles Urban League. Taylor is a member of the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors, and the university honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. This past May, Taylor was the featured speaker at CSUN’s Honors Convocation, kicking off the 2019 Commencement celebrations.
Taylor’s connection with CSUN began when he was drawn to the school’s engineering program. Professor and later Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science Raymond Landis founded the Minority Engineering Program at CSUN — the first such program in the state. Landis and the program’s associate director, Rick Ainsworth, became mentors to Taylor and helped support his work.
“Right from the beginning, he was a standout,” Landis said. “It was almost like he didn’t need the program, the program needed him. He was such an outstanding young man — bright, motivated, caring. He set an example and was a role model for others.”
After earning his degree in engineering from CSUN, Taylor went to Stanford, where he earned an MBA and a law degree. That led him to McKinsey, where he quickly climbed the ladder. His teams’ work often featured pioneering solutions to pivotal business challenges ranging from broad-based, physician-led innovation in the practice and management of medicine, to re-engineering the investigation and resolution of property casualty claims. In the process, Taylor rose to become the firm’s only black partner.
In 1992, in the aftermath of the Los Angeles/Rodney King riots that ravaged the inner city, Taylor told people close to him that he felt a calling to help. Mayor Tom Bradley started the Rebuild L.A. initiative and placed 1984 Time Magazine Man of the Year and former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth in charge of the effort. Taylor reached out and offered his assistance.
“I reached out to all kinds of communities. We needed thousands of people to help us, but we needed some really key leaders — and Robert was one of the first to step forward,” Ueberroth said. “He showed a calmness and a skillset that was very unusual, and it was key to our success.” McKinsey volunteered early on to help organize the rebuilding effort, with Taylor playing a significant leadership role.
It was through Taylor’s work with Rebuild L.A. that he caught the eye of the National Urban League. He became a committed volunteer for the Urban League, whose mission is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights. The highlight of Taylor’s service was being entrusted with the position of senior vice chair (the most senior volunteer role) from 2005-12. He did all that while maintaining a strong passion for his professional work. His objective from an early age was to become an entrepreneur and bring his skills and resources back to his community to create opportunities. He has done that many times over.
Taylor co-founded two private equity firms, including Centinela Capital Partners, LLC. That firm has backed 46 new and emerging investment teams who have created an estimated $5 billion in value and unprecedented levels of diversity among their general partners, according to Taylor.
On the May 2016 night he received the Distinguished Alumni Award, Taylor thanked his wife and children, CSUN mentors Landis and Ainsworth, friends and colleagues, his alma mater, and most important — his mother’s support.
“I’ve had help and guidance from a lot of people,” he said. “Mom, through her sacrifice.” Then, Taylor shared her advice to him:
“Work hard. Be graceful. Believe in yourself. Stick together. Don’t complain. Don’t quit. And don’t embarrass me by wasting the sacrifice I made for you.”
—by Cary Osborne
Janet Garufis & George Leis
As chairman and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, Janet Garufis ’77, M.A. ’02 (English) is one of the top women in banking in the state of California. She has more than 45 years of experience in the banking industry and was formerly a senior vice president with Bank of America.
At Montecito Bank & Trust, Garufis oversees more than $1.5 billion in assets and the company’s 11 branches, covering Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. While an undergraduate at CSUN, Garufis worked as a teller at Security Pacific Bank, now Bank of America. Upon graduating with her B.A. in English, she decided to further pursue a career in banking.
She rose through the ranks of retail banking and after completing the Security Pacific Management Training Program, successfully led retail banking, commercial banking and private banking organizations. She pioneered significant changes in the bank’s work separation practices. Garufis made her mark as an extraordinary leader and visionary by establishing the business lending division of Security Pacific.
After returning to CSUN to earn her master’s degree, Garufis went back to banking at Montecito Bank & Trust in 2004. She became the bank’s president and CEO in September 2006 and became chairman & CEO of the Board in April 2017.
“CSUN helped me understand what I was made of and what mattered,” Garufis said. “What I wanted to know was, what was I going to do, and how was I going to contribute to making the world a better place? … CSUN gave me a space to do that. It was a great place to learn about being and becoming a grown-up.”
In 2018, CSUN honored Garufis with its Distinguished Alumni Award. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share how important it is to me that I had the opportunity to come to CSUN and reinvent myself twice — first as an undergraduate and then as a graduate student,” Garufis said. “It’s meant the world to me. It’s changed everything.”
Garufis reflected on how the success of her fellow CSUN Distinguished Alumni and other Matadors can positively influence and motivate CSUN’s nearly 40,000 students. “It’s really important to be willing to share with our students about a failure or a setback we had, so they understand that you don’t achieve success overnight,” she said. “It takes a lot of hard work, but we’re all here to help each other.”
A fellow Distinguished Alumni Award winner (in 2013), George S. Leis ’81 (Geography), joined Garufis as a colleague at Montecito Bank & Trust, where he serves as president and chief operating officer, in July 2016.
Previously, Leis served as president and CEO of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, regional president for the central coast at Union Bank, managing director for investments at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, senior vice president and director of private client services at Wells Fargo, and senior vice president and manager for Bank of America Private Bank.
Leis’ community involvement is exemplified through his service to universities and nonprofit organizations throughout Southern California. He is a board member of the YMCA of the USA, Western Bankers Association, Cabrillo Pavilion Renovation Campaign, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Historical Museum and Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce; and past chair and current board member for the Channel Islands YMCA. He also serves as chair of the CSU Channel Islands Foundation board of directors and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation board of directors.
Leis completed his term as a member of the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors in June, and previously he served on the Athletics Task Force, Nazarian College Advisory Board and is a President’s Associate. He served on the advisory committee that recommended the appointment of CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison. His wife, Laurie Leis, M.P.A. ’18 (Nonprofit Sector Management), is also a Matador. Leis continues to be an advocate for CSUN in the community, and he frequently encourages other alumni to stay involved. “Give generously of your time, your talent and maybe more importantly, your financial support as we take CSUN to the next level,” Leis said.
Scott Beiser ’81 (Finance), ’83 M.S. (Finance) is CEO of Houlihan Lokey, a publicly traded international investment banking firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, financial restructuring and business valuations. Beiser’s responsibilities include managing Houlihan Lokey’s operations, identifying and developing new strategic opportunities, and pursuing and managing new and existing client relationships.
Previously at the firm, Beiser led Houlihan Lokey’s Infrastructure Services and Materials practice and developed specialized expertise in investment banking services for engineering and construction businesses. He serves on the board of FNF Construction and RoadSafe Traffic Systems, two privately held construction services firms.
He also worked as a senior financial analyst at Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Co., where he supervised the budget and forecasting department.