How to Pass the CFA Exams: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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The following is an interview with Jonathan Masse, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) who has been a CFA exam prep instructor for the last 12 years, a member of the steering committee of the CFA Society San Francisco, and formal mentor to many finance professionals.

Can you tell us about your career trajectory?

pass-cfa-examsRight now, I am a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch specializing in Options and ETFs. I spent the first seven years of my finance career on the trading floor of the CBOE and moved to the Pacific Stock Exchange. Then I spent time adjusting to “upstairs life” as a Trading Analyst at Barclays Global Investors as they started their iShares product set. I am also a CFA, and that helped me make the transition to life off the floor.

Why is getting the CFA important?

In 2004, the designation was a near guarantee of a job or a promotion. It is less so now, but you definitely want the credential if you want to manage money. It helps you gain notoriety at your company, positions you as very capable to future employers, but perhaps most significantly, it signals your commitment to the industry and your commitment to excellence within it.

Marathons require more effort than sprints..it’s so critical to start your weekly study session back in January (for the June test) to pace yourself.

What was your experience in passing the CFA exam?

I finished in three years and was more than thrilled. I was a student in the CFA-SF Exam Review program all three years. It was very helpful that their 18-week curriculum ended a month prior to the exam. With that month, I took as many diverse practice exams as possible (That is, from multiple exam prep providers – including the CFA-SF mock exams.).

I also tell people to do these practice exams on their own in a hostile environment. You never know if the heater might be broken or some other factor may cause them to lose focus. When I was studying, I sat in the food court of Hillsdale mall. It was loud, and the air conditioning was broken. A woman got my attention and mouthed “I’m sorry.” She apologized for her two kids running around me like a tornado. I told her: “This ain’t the library. The fact that I don’t even notice your kids indicates I am READY to take this exam.”

Why take exam prep classes?

You should take CFA exam prep classes because getting your CFA is a marathon and not a sprint.  The Bay Area is as delightful as it is distracting. It’s so easy to say “I’m going surfing / skiing / hiking / wine-tasting this weekend, and I’ll study twice as hard next week.” You know what never happens? Getting back on track. That’s why it’s so critical to start your weekly study session back in January (for the June test) to pace yourself. If you think you can pass by cramming all the courses at the end, you are gravely mistaken. Also, if you do not pass, you have to wait another year. You want to give this thing three years of life and don’t do more than that. I’ve taught over a dozen years for the review program and know 9- and 10-year candidates.

I tell people to do these practice exams on their own in a hostile environment. You never know if the heater might be broken or some other factor may cause them to lose focus.

Marathons require more effort than sprints. So you should study a minimum of 300 hours or 15 hours a week. Do 400. Why leave things to chance? If one study session is light and you think more reading would help, do it.

You need to finish a lap of what you need to know one month before the test, so you have time to review. That’s when the classes end. In your last month, keep study sessions 1-4 fresh in your mind, and then go through 1-8 as a whole.

Statistics also show that review program students have a higher pass rate. Don’t fight the math.

What can you say to people who have failed the exam multiple times?

Prepare accordingly. It’s like taking your Econ, Accounting, Quant, Derivatives, Fixed Income, Finance, Investment finals all in one day – and with much graver consequence: If you don’t pass, you often have to wait an ENTIRE YEAR to retake it. That’s a lot of life.

You need to finish a lap of what you need to know one month before the test, so you have time to review. That’s when the classes end. In your last month, keep study sessions 1-4 fresh in your mind, and then go through 1-8 as a whole.

What about studying in groups?

Study groups are good for people to be accountable to study at a good pace and to brainstorm. However, they can become whine sessions. Group sessions need to be disciplined like the classes. Bring questions for each other and limit the discussion to 5-10 minutes each. Stay on point. Then have a 10-minute wrap up at the end.  It should be held within 60-90 minutes depending on the size.

What is the difference between online or in-person exam preparation classes?

I happen to learn best through engaging the senses, like writing things down (touch) and listening (hearing) live, seeing slides and writing on the board (sight). When you hear something repeated in class you are feeling it. If there were a way to smell/taste the curriculum, you would take it in that way!

[To people who have failed multiple times] … Prepare accordingly. It’s like taking your Econ, Accounting, Quant, Derivatives, Fixed Income, Finance, Investment finals all in one day.

Why make the commitment to teaching, when you have such a demanding job?

I have taught for over 12 years, and currently cover International Investing and Behavioral Finance for Level III and Alternatives for Level I. I enjoy helping people get through this review program. It is a very difficult exam to pass, as it was for me, so I want to give back and show my dedication to this field. I also am active in the CFA-SF Continuing Education committee that brings further in-depth educational events to our area members – at the level of CFA level 4 if there was such a thing (which I’m sure the mention of which would send a chill down many candidates’ spines). As a group, we often bring in authors of the CFA curriculum to speak to their latest and greatest research.

Also, I have seen the test change over 12 years. Certain themes have been emphasized on the test at certain times; and, having taught all three levels, I am able to highlight themes that continue throughout the curriculum.


Jonathan Masse teaches Level 3 International Investing and will be teaching Level 1 Alternative Investments this fall at the Golden Gate University campus in downtown San Francisco. Weeknight classes for the level 1 exam start on Tuesday, September 18th and Saturday classes begin on September 22ndYou can register now on the CFA Society San Francisco website.

 


 

GGU and Study.com Team Up to Make College More Affordable for Bay Area Working Professionals

A new relationship between Study.com’s Working Scholars program and Golden Gate University (GGU) will give students a flexible option to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management at a fraction of the cost. Working Scholars participants will take online credit-recommended college courses at no cost to them through Study.com that will transfer directly for credit at GGU.

Study.com is an online education platform with more than 150 courses recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (ACE). Its Working Scholars program gives adult learners the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree while still balancing a job and other commitments.

Students in the Working Scholars program will now have the opportunity to finish their degree at GGU, which has been named America’s #1 School for Adult Learners two years in a row by Washington Monthly. The university is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Golden Gate University has a long history of expanding access to higher education, and we’re excited to form a relationship with Study.com that will give us the ability to help even more students.
— Dr. David J. Fike, Golden Gate University President

After taking the online credit-recommended college courses, students will take their remaining courses, including a capstone, through GGU at a significantly reduced tuition rate — earning a GGU degree upon completion. Students will be able to choose if they want to enroll in the GGU courses online or on-campus. Study.com success coaches can also help assess credits that students earned prior to entering the Working Scholars program.

“Golden Gate University has a long history of expanding access to higher education, and we’re excited to form a relationship with Study.com that will give us the ability to help even more students,” said GGU President David J. Fike. “Together we can help students fulfill their dream of earning a college degree, which can have such a positive impact on their lives and their earning potential.”

The Working Scholars program began in Mountain View, CA in January 2017 as a philanthropic endeavor with the goal of helping busy adults address the three main barriers to a college degree: cost, convenience, and confidence. The program has since grown to residents and workers of East Palo Alto, Gilroy, and Sunnyvale.

“This partnership makes perfect sense because Study.com and GGU have a shared goal – to help students overcome the barriers to earning a college degree,” said Adrian Ridner, CEO & Co-founder of Study.com. “At Study.com we’re passionate about using our Working Scholars program to give students in our community an affordable way to earn a degree that can have a transformative effect on their lives. By partnering with GGU, we can work together to break down the barriers to higher education so students, who once thought earning a degree was impossible, will now be able to reach their goal.”

With relationships with institutions such as GGU, Study.com hopes to expand Working Scholars to various cities in the Bay Area.


About Study.com

Study.com is an online education platform that helps learners of all ages excel academically and close skills gaps. From test prep and homework help to earning low-cost college credit and developing workplace skills, Study.com’s online courses, short animated video lessons, and study tools have made learning simple for over 30 million students, teachers, and working professionals. Study.com was founded in 2002 and is a privately held company located in Mountain View, CA. Find us online or download the mobile app from the iOS app store or Google Play. Working Scholars is a fiscal sponsorship fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity registered in the United States, EIN# 20-5205488.


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Take the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) Program Exam Preparation Classes in San Francisco at GGU

Golden Gate University will now offer live, on-campus Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) Program Exam Preparation Classes — thanks to a new partnership with the CFA Society San Francisco. Candidates may choose CFA/GGU exam prep classes for all three levels of the exam, held on weekends or weeknights, at Golden Gate University (downtown San Francisco).  Weeknight classes for the level 1 exam start on Tuesday, September 18th and Saturday classes begin on September 22nd.  All students must register by the class start date.

A live review course carries a number of benefits for CFA exam preparation, including access to charter holder instructors who are specialists in each study session topic, as well as a structure that is tailored to the timeline of the exam.

About the Partnership with CFASF

Since its founding in 1929, CFASF has led the finance profession by promoting the highest standards of ethics, professional excellence, and fellowship.  The new partnership combines GGU’s long tradition of providing a world-class education to working professionals with CFASF’s depth in the industry and expertise in CFA Exam material.


REGISTER FOR CFA EXAM LEVEL 1 CLASSES >>


CFA exam preparation is the next chapter of the growing partnership between CFASF and GGU. In 2017, GGU’s Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) program became certified as a University Affiliate of the CFA Institute, meaning that 70% of the curriculum conforms to the learning outcomes of the CFA exam.

You can find details classes for all levels on the CFASF website.  For more information, contact David Kaczorowski, CFA, GGU Academic Program Manager.


 

Business Analytics Project at Digital Ad Agency Leads to Promotion & Google Award

The creative function is what most people think of when you say, “ad agency,” and what attracts people to the field. Although SEO and engaging people through social media are the core competencies, data – if used well – makes a big competitive difference. In an age of all-digital advertising, Jeremy Bice (MBA, ’17) says “everything is data-driven.” Agencies need to crunch the data with great precision to see what ads are working with indicators like cost-per-click, as well as conversions and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS).

Bice started off at Logical Position, a digital marketing agency, as an account manager but had an interest in data that stretched back to his work in signals intelligence in the Marines. He moved from accounts to the paid search team, which relies on Google’s AdWords for its clients’ digital marketing data.

Customer retention is critical to any business, and the agency wanted ways to improve the numbers. “We hypothesized that we might find data hidden in our in-house data and Google AdWords about which clients were in jeopardy and what to do about it,” says Bice. For his efforts and those on his teams, Google gave the agency an award for integrating and leveraging its data.

Discoveries about the Client Life Cycle

Using business analytics skills he learned at Golden Gate University, such as Python and R programming, Bice discovered that there was a relationship between clients’ spend level and the client life-cycle — which spans onboarding to multiyear relationships. The results revealed that clients were most likely to become more engaged or drop at certain stages. The team also discovered that if clients made it past a certain lifespan milestone, their customer lifespan would rise significantly. That’s where services could be bolstered.

Bice and the team also integrated customer interactions with staff with the AdWords data—and did a text analysis on the staff notes with Python. Staff also rated how the calls went on a scale from 1-5, adding another dimension to discover customer engagement.


“…when I look at a data visualization with someone at work,
they immediately say one thing, but I can offer an interpretation based on the business processes as a whole. That is very useful.”

—Jeremy Bice (MBA, ’17)


Predictive Analysis

After standardizing and consolidating data, adding new fields to supplement Google data, Logical Position had what Bice calls a “risk profiler.” He set up a predictive model that allows them to alert account managers about which accounts may not be being served the best and determine what corrective action could be taken.

Business Analytics and Customer Segments

Bice also uncovered data that showed unexpected connections between customer segments and performance. “We did a deep dive for average monetary performance on accounts when we threw in the AdWords metrics.” Through this in-house data analysis, they discovered that fluctuations in revenue were much more useful in predicting cancellations in large clients than small ones.

Making New Business Decisions

Logical Position made company decisions based on their interpretations, making this a true business analytics project. The difference between small and large clients led the agency to change how they served smaller clients — improving onboarding would increase revenue.

Soft skills that Bice learned at GGU also come into play during the project: “At GGU, I learned how to research businesses and got a lot out of class discussions about how they work and use their data. Now, when I look at a data visualization with someone at work, they immediately say one thing, but I can give them an alternative explanation. I can offer an interpretation based on the business processes as a whole. That is very useful.”

Next Step

On the strength of his customer-retention project, the agency created a new position for him in a new department called Operations Development that creates internal tools and processes to help the company scale efficiently. Bice passes on recommendations to programmers; and, with management support, they develop new applications.

The next step for Bice, he says, is to dig deeper into a data science role as his career progresses.


Request information about the MBA or MS in Data Analytics at GGU >>

CFO Builds Global Business Skills in the Executive MBA Program at Golden Gate University

Like many GGU students, Sam Martin (EMBA ’17) knew that showing initiative in his career development would impress company leadership. After consulting for Napa wineries for a decade as a public accountant, he seized an opportunity to join a wine company as CFO / Controller with 12 staff members to manage. Because Dana Estates Winery has its headquarters in South Korea, he says: “It put me on a different expectation and trust level. The Executive Master of Business Administration would prove my commitment and expertise.” It was the right time to go back to school.

Martin says he needed to immerse himself in all aspects of business — primarily in sales and marketing — because the winery is a multinational enterprise that exports to South Korea, Canada, China (Hong Kong), and Sweden.

Sam Martin (EMBA ’17)

“Exposure to other professionals was a huge plus in my decision to come to GGU,” Martin says. I was able to have informal discussions with my fellow students on BART on the way to school in San Francisco.” One member of his cohort managed a large team at a healthcare company, which exposed Martin to new leadership ideas. Another student brought real-world IT situations into class discussions. “Listening to my fellow student talk about his travels and sales pitches helped me to gain an expectation of what our traveling salespeople should be doing,” says Martin.

Listening to my fellow student talk about his travels and sales pitches helped me to gain an expectation of what our traveling salespeople should be doing.

As a relatively new manager, Martin says he benefited from the instructors’ first-hand knowledge of soft skills that are critical for the human resources aspects of his job. Developing personal leadership and strategic management skills were also valuable steps forward for Martin.

“The courses are designed to help students to analyze situations and think beyond the immediate benefit to the company,” he says. “This included social responsibility, as well as taking the perspective of the world marketplace, to ensure that the best decisions are being made. An example is to create an enduring two-way street where the company treats the customers with the utmost respect to earn their business and, at the same time, grows the customers’ respect for our team. It takes both sides of the equation to develop a strong relationship and grow the company. That is important for us as an international company.”


Learn more about the Executive Master of Business Administration at GGU >>

International City/County Management Association Salutes Member-Volunteer Joaquin “Jay” Gonzalez

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This post originally appeared on the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Blog. We invite you to learn more about the ICMA.


ICMA members have generously shared their time and expertise in support of ICMA’s global programs. Some have served directly as volunteer advisers on projects around the world. Others have shared indirectly by “lending” their technical experts for volunteer assignments in the field.  Over a period of months, ICMA Academic Member [and Executive Master of Public Administration Chair and Professor at GGU] Joaquin “Jay” Gonzalez (at right in the photo above) spent many weeks in Tanzania on the Enabling Growth through Investment and Enterprise (ENGINE) project, which is designed to increase private-sector investment leading to inclusive, broad-based economic growth in three agricultural regions and in Zanzibar.

Gonzalez worked with the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture in Morogoro, assisting in efforts to build its credibility with the private sector. Bringing public- and private-sector actors together, he facilitated an agreement by the municipal council to reduce a service levy on local businesses — a move that encouraged greater compliance by small businesses and improved tax collection by the municipality. In addition to his volunteer work on behalf of the ENGINE project, he has been an active volunteer supporter of the ICMA China Center.

Gonzalez is the faculty adviser for the ICMA Student Chapter at GGU. He recruited GGU students for a study tour to China in April 2017 and shared his technical expertise in local government during meetings and forums.


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Global Philanthropist and Humanitarian Bita Daryabari Will Receive Honorary Doctorate and Deliver Golden Gate University’s 2018 Commencement Address

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Bita Daryabari will receive an Honorary Doctorate and deliver the commencement address at Golden Gate University’s Graduate Commencement Ceremony on April 27, 2018. A global philanthropist and humanitarian, she received a master’s degree in Telecommunication Management from GGU in 1996. After graduating, Daryabari joined GammmaLink, Inc., one of the early pioneers in the field of telecommunications. She later moved to MCI Communications where she received distinguished awards and recognition for her work on more than one occasion.

Philanthropist and Humanitarian

Daryabari has had a long-standing passion for increasing knowledge of the culture of her native Iran, as well as improving the lives of people from Iran and beyond. Her vast charitable work includes establishing the Unique Zan Foundation, whose mission is to promote health, literacy, and peace for women in and from the Middle East. She also launched the Pars Equality Center, a community foundation that supports the full integration of people of Persian (Iranian) origin in the U.S. — including refugees, asylees, immigrants, and the American-born — and to advocate for their perspectives in American society. She works to create a more just and compassionate community in which Iranians of all cultures and beliefs can participate.

In gratitude for her GGU graduate education experience, Daryabari established the GGU Bita Daryabari Endowed Fund for Middle Eastern Students, which supports a scholarship for graduate business students born in a Middle Eastern country, and a graduate law fellowship for lawyers who reside in a Middle Eastern country. She has also endowed GGU with the Bita Daryabari Scholarship Program for Women of the Middle East in Business and Law.

“Bita Daryabari exemplifies Golden Gate University’s mission to prepare individuals to lead and serve,” says GGU President David J. Fike, Ph.D. “She is an inspirational alumnus, not only for what she has achieved in her career but also for her rich legacy of giving back and helping others get ahead. Bita is at the forefront of supporting immigrants in the U.S., and her leadership in expanding access to U.S. education for students from the Middle East is unparalleled. Her establishment of the Bita Daryabari Graduate Fellowship and the Bita Daryabari Scholarship at GGU are only two of many examples of her generosity and commitment to higher learning. GGU is honored to have Bita share her wisdom, optimism, and enthusiasm for positive change with our 2018 graduates.”

I vowed that I would use my influence and resources to create positive change in the world, as I don’t believe any child should have to live in a war zone.

Bita Daryabari (MS ’96)

Awards and Honors

Daryabari’s awards and honors include the World Affair Council Honoree of the year (2015), Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2012), the United Nations Appreciation Award for Outstanding Leadership, Commitment and Support of the UN and Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (2011), PAAIA Philanthropist of the Year Award (2010), and GGU’s Alumni of the Year Award (2008). Gentry magazine also listed her among the Top 50 Bay Area Philanthropists (2015).

Creating Positive Change

As an immigrant who came to the U.S. at the age of 16 with virtually nothing to my name, I worked my way up through the telecommunications industry,” Daryabari says. “I was also fortunate enough to be part of the Google family during its inception, which resulted in my journey into philanthropy. I vowed that I would use my influence and resources to create positive change in the world, as I don’t believe any child should have to live in a war zone.”

She adds: “I hope to convey to this next generation: that anything is possible if one applies himself or herself; and I see my story is a living example. I also want to put emphasis on the importance of our daily intentions and relationships. These are the most important aspects that determine the outcome of our life stories.”

The Gig Economy: What is it? What’s It Mean, and What’s Ahead? Q&A with Tom Cushing, Senior Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University

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Tom Cushing, JD, MBA has operated within the evolving structural environment of work throughout his careers as an attorney, corporate executive, legal recruiter, and freelancer (As he says: “an Adjunct Professor, after all!”). Cushing is a Senior Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University teaching employment law, negotiation, and Corporate Social Responsibility-related courses.


What is the Gig Economy?

It’s an environment in which work is temporary, done primarily by so-called independent contractors and moderated by the internet in several ways.

What can people expect to hear at your seminar on the Gig Economy?

The seminar will start with some big picture context about the evolving economy and then define terms. There’s a lot of overlap among non-traditional work types. We’ll look at the slippery numbers associated with the obvious growth of the Gig Economy, and the two primary types of gig workers. Then we’ll talk about the messy ways the law currently sorts workers, and why that’s so important to all concerned. Folks will get a chance to be the judge and try their hand at applying the current rules to an actual case. Then we’ll conclude with some reform proposals and takeaways for workers or next year’s budding (or is it “bro”-ing?) “Kalanicks.”

 

What has changed socially and economically that has birthed a Gig Economy?

In the very big picture, there has been a “war on overhead” (fixed costs) since roughly the 1980s. If major expense items like labor are made “variable” with the amount of business activity, then companies can be agile enough to stay competitive across the business cycle. US workers may be hired or shed “at-will“ — meaning that those individuals, rather than their companies, bear most of the risk in that business cycle.

Technology has also tended to replace human labor, and the jobs it does create are often lower skilled and lower paid. That, combined with a relatively abundant, inclusive workforce (as well as global outsourcing competition) has reduced workers’ relative bargaining power. They’re settling for fewer benefits and less security at work, making it possible to convert large numbers to contractor status (albeit with some legal risk). Contractors are “purely“ variable, as they are only engaged – and paid – when they’re specifically needed.

Connectivity via the web has certainly accelerated these changes. It has also created whole new approaches to businesses like urban transportation, as just one obvious example.

It’s now good to be an investor or an owner, rather than a worker, as U.S. wealth-disparity problems demonstrate. As an aside, I’ve noticed that how various commentators weigh the relative importance of these factors, and whether they consider these trends to be problematic, seems to depend on whether the writer expects to profit from them.

(Whew.)


FREE SEMINAR
Gig Economy: What is it? What’s It Mean to Me, and What’s Ahead?

Tom Cushing will be presenting a seminar on the Gig Economy on Tuesday, April 24 from 6:30-8:30 pm at GGU (Room 3201). You can attend the seminar either in-person or online (via ZOOM).

Register now >>

The seminar is open to GGU undergraduates and alumni. Graduate students have priority for registrations, but space is limited.


What about this phenomenon in California and the Bay Area?

The Bay Area tech industries are at the epicenter of these trends, as demonstrated by the likes of Uber, Task Rabbit, Upwork, Craigslist, and others. Tech firms are busily creating the future, and flexibility is an important element in their thriving. At the same time, it’s instructive to note that most of the California legal rules were established in the context of the ebbs and flows of agricultural work during the last century. There are similarities to today’s circumstances, but it’s not clear that those rules well-serve this fast-changing economy.

Can you give an example of career paths that are relevant to the Gig Economy?

“Path” is an interesting term, as it implies proceeding and building in some career direction. There is much to be resolved, as above, but “staying current” and “seeking growth sectors” (e.g., health care?) are relatively timeless good advice, if not comfort.

I think the term “career” is being redefined. “Thirty-years-and-out” is an artifact of a much more stable time and worker heyday. I think that today’s worker has to be ever-vigilant for the next new opportunity and accept the dislocations and turmoil that come with job-hopping. They also need to retain their own “agility” – meaning low, fixed personal costs, and high investment in retraining.

Does surviving in the Gig Economy have to do with transferable skills or building new skills?

“Yes.” We’ll see that there are those who dabble for some extra dough on the side, and many others who are treading water – only staying afloat by hustling among several ‘gigs,’ all of them insecure. Those latter are usually lower skill and lower paid.

/Rant on: As is typically American (and implied in the question), we tend to look at this as everybody’s individual responsibility –  to accept the system as it is, and to protect your own personal interests as best you can. But there’s a dawning, systemic public policy issue here – that nobody wants to address. What kind of society do we want to be – and what kind of social contract will there be among us? Is the Gilded Age really something we want to repeat? You know we’re a lo-o-o-ng way from constructively dealing with these issues when even Social Security, which we’ve paid into for decades, is labeled an “entitlement” for political purposes. /Rant off.

That said, in the short-run, micro sense, you are captain of your skillset. A significant trend in education is gaining specific vocational skills via certificate, rather than degree. You want to be among those higher-paid “giggers,” so tending that skill set by adding new capabilities in the programming arena, for instance, will be important.

How does one discover one’s secondary talents?

Learning to juggle?


You can register for the Gig Economy seminar or any seminar in the Innovation in Practice series on Eventbrite.

City of American Canyon Appoints EMPA Student as City Manager

The American Canyon City Council has appointed Jason B. Holley as its City Manager. He is currently pursuing an Executive Master of Public Administration degree from Golden Gate University and graduates next year. Holley decided to pursue the degree to augment his prior technical training in pursuit of broader city management roles. The City of American Canyon has a population of 20,000 and is located in the southern end of Napa Valley.

Holley had served as the Interim City Manager for the past six months and previously served as the Public Works Director/City Engineer since 2013. Holley is also California Registered Civil Engineer, an ICC Certified Building Official, and California Office of Emergency Services Disaster Service Worker.

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Jason Holley (EMPA, ’19)

During Holley’s tenure as Public Works Director, the City of American Canyon implemented an award-winning response to the California drought. The “Zero Water Footprint” Policy facilitated $2.0M in private capital funding and resulted in a 25% reduction in water demand. He also oversaw the development the Long-Range Capital Improvement Program, the Traffic Impact Fee Nexus Study, and the Measure T Implementation Plan to improve street maintenance.

“We want to congratulate Jason Holley on his recent appointment,” says Dr. Mick McGee, Associate Professor of Public Administration at GGU. “He distinguished himself as the Interim City Manager during the North Bay Fires last October. We wish him the very best of success as he tackles the many challenges of his new job.”


Request information about the Executive Master of Public Administration program >>

Building Employee Engagement: Dr. Jeffrey D. Yergler Shares Expertise on U.S. and Global Stages

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Jeffrey D. Yergler, Ph.D., is a leadership development scholar and consultant who is currently the Department Chair and Academic Program Director of Undergraduate Programs at GGU.

Last week, at the 2018 International Chair Academy Conference in Denver, Colorado, Yergler presented Building and Sustaining Employee Engagement: A Research-Based Training Approach with Diagnostic Survey. This workshop outlined a training model and diagnostic tool that can equip leaders and managers to build, sustain, and measure employee engagement.

…the percentage of engaged employees remained the relatively stable at roughly 30% according to Gallup. A leadership gap is a contributing factor and it needs to be filled…

Along with Wayne Butson, Director of Service Industries and Transition Education at Victoria University (Australia), Yergler discussed the E6 Employee Engagement Training Process. The process springs from interviews of hundreds of adults and students that uncovered six components that fuel engagement: alignment, contribution, development, autonomy, recognition, and purpose.

“With the millions of dollars that have been spent by organizations to address employee engagement,” says Yergler, “the percentage of engaged employees remained relatively stable at roughly 30% according to Gallup. A leadership gap is a contributing factor and it needs to be filled.”

Yergler notes the same Gallup poll revealed that even fewer employees are engaged at a global level, which makes him all the more eager to contribute his expertise globally. Later this month, in Seoul, South Korea, he will serve as the Leadership Development Instructor in The Asia Foundation’s 2018 Development Fellows Program.

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Dr. Yergler speaking at the 2017 Asia Foundation event

Each year, the Foundation selects an elite cohort as part of its commitment to identify emerging national social reformers and social entrepreneurs who are committed to the development of democratic values. This year, the group includes representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

“The Development Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity to learn with and from an exceptionally talented and visionary group of leaders who represent the vast diversities of Asia,” says Yergler. “My experience last year showed me the high priority that each Fellow places on justice, fairness, transparent governance, the environment, equal access, education, economic opportunity, job training, social equality, and respect for the rights of girls and women — and how all of these priorities inform the way they build, lead, and influence within and beyond their organizations.”


We invite you to read more about Jeffrey Yergler and explore Golden Gate University’s undergraduate degree programs.