To Create a New Amazon Village, It Takes a Graduate Degree (or Two, or Three…)

By Terry Connelly, Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business

Amazon made headlines with its stupendous 1300% “earnings beat” for its most recent quarter that moved the company’s stock up over 10% in just one day! But before that, the folks from Seattle made perhaps even more consequential news by opening a competition to American cities for selection to host the second Amazon headquarters (“HQ2”), with the prospect of 50,000 new jobs coming to their immediate region and total investment of upwards of $5 billion, which has provoked a bidding war among metropolitan areas across the U.S. and even Canada.

Just what kind of expertise and insight is involved in this exciting business venture that could create a local enterprise supporting a family population the size of a Bay Area city such as Santa Clara or Hayward?

Big Decisions, Big Data, Big Money

First, let’s consider the highest-level executive judgment involved, integrating all the various dimensions of Amazon’s long-term business strategy, growth plans, political interests, financial capacity, artificial intelligence involvement, staffing innovations, and logistical structures. Add to that current experiments with brick-and-mortar stores, drone and in-home package delivery, and wholesale pharmacy licenses, just to name a few.

Such integrative thinking calls for at least a first-rate Master of Business Administration program taught by real-world veterans of both the commercial and academic arenas. An Executive MBA program might well be even more apt, especially if it involves hands-on experience with current business problems involving entrepreneurial challenges faced by world-scale as well as start-up enterprises.

Amazon’s leadership team for this exciting project would need to involve also expertise in Business Analytics to frame the entire scenario for planning an executing such a complex and multi-faceted undertaking, involving detailed assessment of multiple locations and logistical considerations, evaluating over 200 proposals from municipalities against a defined set of financial and other criteria that set Amazon’s objectives in advance with precision and confidence.

Financial considerations would, of course, be front-and-center for AMZN given a $5 billion project far more complex than building a multi-million-dollar sports stadium or even a Disney theme park. A master’s degree in Finance would be necessary to make the team tasked to determine exactly how this project would be funded and the rate-of-return benchmarks to be used not only in scoping the project physically and evaluating the various forms of incentives to AMZN offered by the competing communities to determine which are in the long-term interests of the company.

People Power

Speaking of employees, a master’s degree in Human Resources would be extremely helpful in defining the criteria for the type of community where Amazon would like to locate its large workforce, ranging from top-level world-class senior management to the newest entry-level trainee. The company was explicit in the kind of social environment that it wants for this large-scale operation. The community’s engagement in sophisticated workforce development programs such as those that exist in Silicon Valley – supported by many established businesses in the area as well as educational and public service institutions – would be a prime consideration for the company’s senior HR professionals. Similarly, Amazon’s commitment to racial and gender diversity in hiring and advancement would be relevant in evaluating which location is most likely to advance the company’s goals in this area.

At the employee level, a Financial Planning graduate degree would come in handy eventually for assessing the cost-of-living considerations relevant to the tens of thousands of employees that Amazon’s HR department will need to attract a retain with compensation and benefits structures appropriate to the location – and, in the same vein, assess the same metrics in choosing the location most likely to attract the best and brightest employees!

Getting It Done

The design, planning, construction and operation of the new headquarters is a massive undertaking that would require the most sophisticated Project Management knowledge and skills that a master’s degree in that field would provide. The project leadership would have to involved from well before the word “go” in designing criteria to evaluate the optimal-location considerations in terms of design talent, land availability and cost, municipal services quality and availability, labor capacity and supply access to materials, weather patterns, and all other issues relevant to the company’s timetable.

Once designed, the project would have to be executed with attention to the desired timetable; contractor management; compliance with building codes and ordinances, labor standards, and clean-energy objectives and other resource-consumption considerations; local and regional transportation polices and interests; as well as community focus on traffic and public transport routing and planning — for necessary employee housing and related facilities such as schools. In these connections, professionals with a master’s degree in Public Administration would be very helpful in negotiating the nuances of local political and governmental authorities as well as federal and state agencies with stakeholder interest in the headquarters project design and execution.

Nuts and Bolts

A master’s-level education in IT Management would also be critical in terms of specifications for the fiber-optic network and related technology infrastructure required to meet Amazon’s standards and assure seamless and efficient communications between HQ2 and HQ1 — as well as a vast array of warehouses, logistical network, customers, suppliers.

Finally, but crucially, linking all of these complex operations, a master’s degree level of expertise in Supply Chain Management would be essential to get the most value out of the new headquarters in terms of Amazon’s multifaceted connections to its suppliers, merchants, and customers. By the time the new headquarters is fully operational, Amazon might well be operating its own cargo airline delivering food and pharmaceuticals as well as merchandise the company offers now.

What an exciting opportunity for anyone who could in the next year begin pursuing any range of graduate degrees that are so integral to the success of Amazon’s headquarters project. You might even call it a “Prime” opportunity!

About Terry Connelly

terry-connellyTerry Connelly is an economic expert and Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University. With more than 30 years experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Terry analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction of global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides. Terry holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Terry co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Riptidedeconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock, and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. Terry is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Terry lives in Palo Alto with his wife.

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Dr. Nabanita Talukdar Involves Students in Sustainable-Fashion Research

AGAATI offers sustainable, luxury womenswear and is committed to various sustainable initiatives such as designing collections made only from natural fibers, following a zero-waste philosophy, and supporting fair trade. A Silicon Valley start-up, AGAATI has also made a commitment to contribute a portion of their profits to non-profit organizations addressing the impact of “fast fashion.” As the company is one the few luxury fashion companies focused on sustainability, AGAATI sponsored research at GGU to understand motives behind purchasing decisions in this category.

The qualitative and quantitative studies were spearheaded by Dr. Nabanita Talukdar, whose research primarily focuses on materialism and other consumption motives associated with luxury brands.  The project had three parts:

  • A focus group of nine female participants drawn from a pool of GGU alumni, employees, and students–many of whom showed an interest in sustainable luxury brands
  • A pilot survey, based on focus group results, that was sent to 247 female subjects in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago
  • A luxury brand experiment using 56 GGU students to establish the causality among the variables driving the purchase of sustainable luxury brands

“At GGU we are committed to bringing real-world knowledge to the classroom. By participating in the focus group and the experiment, students learned about how such methodological approaches can be applied to business research.”

—Dr. Nabanita Talukdar

In this third project, Dr. Talukdar was assisted by doctoral student Michael Lin from GGU’s DBA program. Lin’s research focuses on exploring the economic trends in the emerging industries of eSports, virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

“I would like to thank AGAATI as well as the university students, faculty, and staff for their support,” says Talukdar. “My students found this experience enjoyable and educational. At GGU we are committed to bringing real-world knowledge to the classroom. By participating in the focus group and the experiment, students learned about how such methodological approaches can be applied to business research. I am grateful to AGAATI for giving GGU the opportunity to work with them, and we look forward to continuing to serve the Bay Area business community with our research expertise and resources.”

The students also got an opportunity to participate in a workshop on SPSS – a widely used tool in business to analyze research findings – and experimental design. This gave the students an opportunity to understand experimental methodology from Dr. Shubin (Lance) Yu, Postdoctoral researcher, Peking University, China.

Watch the video to learn more about the research project.

Anand Pradhan,  Co-founder of AGAATI, says: “We are excited about the research partnership with GGU  on understanding and driving sustainability into the luxury fashion market.  We thank the professors and students for the strong research support. We are confident that the research results which we obtained through GGU will further help us in successfully continuing our mission to design the most fashionable clothes in the sustainable category. AGAATI’s collections are already generating buzz because of the significant interest from media and customers.” You can keep up with AGAATI’s Instagram account via Yooying.

About Nabanita Talukdar

Nabanita Talukdar holds a DBA in Marketing (’16) and an MS in Finance (’09) from Golden Gate University. She also holds an MBA in Marketing and a BS in Geology, Physics & Math from universities in India. Her research interests include luxury brands and digital marketing, social media analytics and luxury marketing, and the use of marketing science in luxury marketing. She has presented her research in both domestic and international conferences.  Outside of academia, she has worked in industry — conducting quantitative and qualitative analyses for L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, First Republic Bank, and Actelion Pharmaceuticals. She is involved with social causes dedicated to providing educational opportunities to underprivileged populations.

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Juggling Real-World Responsibilities with Undergraduate Studies at GGU

Mohammed Khalil (BA ’17) did not yet have an undergraduate degree when he sat down for an interview for a claims adjuster position at Progressive Insurance, but he had an edge. “I got the job because they saw that I could hold down all of my responsibilities at once—the GGU degree studies, my kids, and three jobs,” he says.

Mohammed tells us that with real-world responsibilities, he had no time to waste on administrative hassles or studies that were not a true stepping stone. “Everyone at GGU is committed to helping you,” says Mohammed. “For example, you call about class registration and within two minutes you have someone on the phone to help you. Even the librarians were absolutely brilliant in helping me make my research faster. That is the advantage of how GGU operates.”

“I didn’t know if I could handle school and work. Because I had such amazing teachers and student support, it allowed me to be the best student I could be. GGU is an absolute blessing.”

Charting His Future

GGU offers an introductory class that helps adult students like Mohammed clarify their goals and plan their classes through graduation. Mohammed says: “In this course, my instructor told us to listen to our inner voice, find out who were are, and be ourselves.” This last piece of advice hit home when Mohammed connected his love of interacting with the clientele at his family’s Mission-district store – one of his three jobs at the time! — and going into management.

Mohammed’s professors also were more than a source of book learning: “All they care about is helping you to succeed out there. For example, Dr. Yergler, my teacher in a management class, was passionate about making us live up to our potential in our careers.”

Proving Himself

Golden Gate University is geared to serve adults such as Mohammed who may not start an undergraduate degree right out of high school.  “When you come back to college at my age you feel like the older kid on the block and want to put your stamp on everything you do.” Mohammed certainly did–graduating magna cum laude from GGU this year.

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An Accounting Master’s Degree in One Year for This Golden Gate University Student

Joe Byers is taking advantage of the option of finishing a Master’s Degree in Accounting in less than a year at GGU. This opportunity is available only to students like Joe who have a BS from GGU with an accounting concentration. Known as the Path2CPA program, it allows undergraduate coursework to be applied to the graduate level. Students also get to skip GRE and the graduate school application process.


New Financial Life Planning Concentration Taught by Founders and Leaders in the Field

Golden Gate University has launched an innovative new degree-concentration in Financial Life Planning. Part of the MS in Advanced Financial Planning degree program, the concentration is fueled by emerging insights from Psychology and Behavioral Finance and taught by founders and leaders in the fields of financial planning, coaching, and financial therapy.

Dr. Dave Yeske CFP®, Director of the GGU’s Financial Planning programs and Distinguished Adjunct Professor, designed the new concentration. A Financial Planning Evangelist, he has made national TV appearances, led professional organizations, and published articles and books such as Evidence-Based Financial Planning: To Learn . . . Like a CFP.  The financial planning investment strategy he pioneered—The Yeske Buie Approach—has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal. The Financial Planning Association® (FPA) has recognized Dr. Yeske as one of the profession’s leading minds by awarding him their highest honor—The P. Kemp Fain Jr. Award (2017). He earned a doctorate in Finance from GGU in 2010.

Elizabeth Jetton, CFP® has been a thought leader in the financial planning profession for the past 20 years. She has been in the financial services industry since 1981 and served as President of The Financial Planning Association in 2004. She trains planners how to become conversational leaders and to use group conversational processes to engage, attract, and build trust.

Saundra Davis, MS is nationally recognized as an expert in the financial coaching field and founder and Executive Director of Sage Financial Solutions. She developed a financial coach certification program and received a special invitation to attend President Obama’s 2014 White House Summit on Working Families.

Rick Kahler, MS, CFP® is a pioneer in the emerging field of financial therapy that integrates Financial Planning and Psychology. He has been featured by NBC’s Today, ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MarketWatch. He is a co-author of books such as Facilitating Financial Health and Conscious Finance.

For more information, contact program director Dr. Dave Yeske, CFP® or Request information about GGU’s Financial Planning programs >>.

GGU Financial Planning Graduate Student Co-Authors Paper in Prestigious Journal

The September 2017 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Financial Planning explored opportunities and challenges for the next generation of financial planners and clients. The cover story of the issue, Serving Millennial Clients with a 3-Step Model was co-authored by Russell Kroeger, CFP®, EA, who is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Advanced Financial Planning at GGU. From 2015 to 2017, Kroeger worked for the financial planning firm of Dr. Dave Yeske, CFP who designed the curriculum for the program and is a leading authority in the field.

Kroeger decided that he wanted to be a financial planner at age 17, and follows his passion to this day. His life and career goals brought him to San Francisco, and soon after he immersed himself in the GGU program. “Not long into my coursework, I developed the necessary foundation for a deep dive into psychology and behavioral science research, ultimately identifying evidence-based strategies that help me to engage and serve young professionals more effectively.” Kroeger wants to serve not only clients, but also increase the profession’s body of knowledge as he does with the recently published article.

Not long into my coursework, I developed the necessary foundation for a deep dive into psychology and behavioral science research…

Along with his co-author, Yusuf Abugideiri, CFP®, Kroeger cites research that says Millennials are more stressed, more collaborative in their decision-making (as shaped by social media experiences), and less sure of their ability to make significant life and financial decisions. Although statistics do show that Millennials are cash poor today, the authors cite Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy that they stand to inherit part of an estimated $59 trillion in wealth transfer over the coming decades.

These factors suggest that this generation needs financial planning help – and would benefit from it more — than those that preceded it. The authors’ 3-Step Model to Serve Millennial clients is to:

Step 1: Use a robust discovery process to uncover worldviews and identify goals.

Step 2: Craft policies to overcome scarcity mentality and clear the path to progress.

Step 3: Build confidence in decision-making abilities through collaboration.

“The role of the financial planner is to serve as a change agent,” the authors conclude, “helping the [Millennial] client craft policies that remove the need for deliberation, building confidence in their decision-making ability, and creating a decision-architecture rooted in their value system.”

Kroeger says that research of this type is important because young professionals are the future leaders of the world: “Opportunities for every individual to establish healthy relationships with money can serve as a catalyst for us to build a more inclusive, empowering, and fulfilling society.”

About Russell Kroeger

Russell Kroeger, CFP®, EA, founded Paradigm Wealth Architects to help young professionals live a life that is in alignment with their ideal-selves, encouraging each client to pursue Wealth and impact the world in a way that is authentic to their unique life experience. In addition to operating Paradigm Wealth, Russell speaks at conferences, consults for financial planning firms, and is a member of Money Quotient’s Research and Education Task Force. He also volunteers as the Director of Advocacy for the San Francisco chapter of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) as well as the NexGen representative for the OneFPA Advisory Group.

Request information about GGU’s Financial Planning programs >>

Video: Military Veteran at GGU Discusses Going Back to College as an Adult

Joe Byers decided that he wanted to be an accountant a year before leaving the Navy in 2011. In this video, he explains that military veterans going back to school have more real-life responsibilities than younger students. Although getting an undergraduate degree after the military can be a challenge, he cites GGU’s evening and online courses as a plus, as well as staff who are dedicated specifically to veteran needs. “They take care of you…especially if you are an incoming student,” says Byers.

Now completing an undergraduate business degree at GGU with a concentration in accounting, Byers will continue on to our master’s degree in accounting program. His participation in the Path2CPA program will allow him to finish the degree as quickly as one year.

GGU is an official Military Friendly School®

  • Flexible schedules to accommodate busy lives
  • Qualifying veterans who attend GGU spend $0 total out-of-pocket cost.
  • A variety of generous financial aid options
    Military training may be applied to an undergraduate degree
  • Convenient, fully online programs
  • Personalized academic advising
  • Disability counseling
  • A passionate team dedicated to helping service members!

Contact us about the veteran experience at GGU >>

The Hot San Francisco Job Market

Thousands of people choose to get an undergraduate or graduate degree in San Francisco because of its culture, diversity, and employment opportunities. San Francisco is home to companies with a global impact and is a center of worldwide innovation. Technology companies – from spunky startups to mammoth companies – generate excitement for many who want to launch a career or move up the ladder. But are there really enough possibilities for employment in San Francisco? The answer is yes.

According to a recent California state jobs report, San Francisco and the adjacent San Mateo area added 10,000 jobs in a single month. In its summary of the report, the San Jose Mercury News cites a senior Wells Fargo economist who predicts further expansion of the local job market. In San Francisco, the unemployment rate is a low 3.3%, which is lower than both the California and National average according to the EDD.

Technology Companies Moving to San Francisco

Although the Silicon Valley remains the stereotypical location for technology companies, it is San Francisco that has become the “tech titan” according to Jenny Belotserkovsky, a startup professional who has been in the area since 1995. She cites a few big reasons why San Francisco has surpassed Silicon Valley as the place to be. A city tax break brought Twitter and Zendesk to the city’s  Mid-Market area. Rents for companies in the crowded Silicon Valley are rising. And, of course, talented people want to live in San Francisco rather than next to low-slung office parks, factors that brought Google and Mozilla to the Embarcadero.

Technology Companies Come to San Francisco
> Between 2012 and 2013, 24 companies relocated to San Francisco from the Peninsula and Silicon Valley, including Gigwalk, Detercon, and Seal Software.
> Out-of-town [out of San Francisco] tech firms that opened up an office in the city included Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Mozilla, eBay, and LinkedIn.
> The next crop of fast-growing companies founded between 2004-10 chose to grow up in San Francisco…including Dropbox, Airbnb, Uber, Yelp, BitTorrent, Square, Slack, and Pinterest.

All of these companies are close to GGU, which is located in the SOMA (South of Market) Finacial District. In fact, the campus in the center of a 1.5-square-mile radius that covers the best established and emerging companies that San Francisco has to offer.

Just stand in front of GGU and you get a view of the new 61-story Salesforce Tower and Deloitte–one of the Big4 accounting firms. FitBit is a five-minute walk away. You will find virtually every major financial firm between campus and the Transamerica building less than a mile away. The area is also home to the three biggest advertising agencies in the city. Uber and the aforementioned Twitter are in the Mid-Market area southwest of campus–near the Civic Center Bart Station. Do-it-yourself-Web-design company Weebly is at the southern end of the South of Market area, also within the 1.5-square-mile radius of GGU.

GGU is the center of a 1.5-square-mile radius that covers the best established and emerging companies that San Francisco has to offer.

Because of its location, GGU has a cross-pollinating relationship with nearby businesses that stretches back decades. GGU draws talent from these organizations to teach, while local businesses have employed thousands of graduates throughout the University’s 116-year history.

Beyond Tech: Business Jobs in San Francisco

While San Francisco is becoming “top of mind for tech jobs,” other positions are needed at local firms. Demand for project managers is higher in San Francisco than anywhere in the U.S., according to TalentWorks. And it’s not just any Project Managers that are needed—highly educated and certified professionals that understand the industry are sought after. Business people that are savvy in both sales and IT are particularly in demand.

The San Francisco Bay Brea is also a hot job market if you want to apply your business skills in Healthcare Management, Marketing Events Management, Supply Chain, or Finance. Talents in these areas are the most scarce according to LinkedIn’s 2017 Workforce Report. TalentWorks also reports that the number of accounting jobs in San Francisco each month is the highest in the nation.

All considered, it is not surprising that San Francisco has been named the best city in the US for recent graduates to find a job by the highly respected American Institute of Economic Research (AIER). The study looked at many factors, including unemployment rate, labor force participation, and how many people worked in emerging industries.

The San Francisco Business Environment

If you are interested in learning about San Francisco’s reputation and position in the business world, we invite you to watch this video with Dr. Gordon Swartz, Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business.

Communication Skills for Accountants: Lessons from GGU’s Director of Accounting Programs

cropped-ggu-outside3.jpgRic Jazaie has given presentations throughout his career to senior leadership at the CIA, FBI, in judicial proceedings, and at his own Forensic Accounting practice. “You are always presenting as an accountant to large and small groups and communicating with people one-on-one. The era of the guy in the green visor and the lamp is over,” he says.

Accountants and auditors communicate daily with their clients and constituents. Jazaie says: “Communication skills, analytical skills, and critical thinking are the most important skills accountants can possess and develop—in that order. Clients look to us for answers to help clients achieve their goals.”

Jazaie has used his communication skills to influence successful prosecutions of terrorist financiers as an FBI agent/analyst, loan servicing companies at the FBI, and even small Bay Area nonprofits as the head of a consulting firm. Students get a direct pipeline to these techniques in Jazaie’s Communication and Analysis of Financial Information for Accountants course.

“One of my students in the communications class came back from an interview at a Big4 accounting firm,” he says. “He told me that he asked the interviewers what they seek in a candidate. They said critical-thinking skills and communication. He could put a tangible work product from the communication class on the table and discuss those principles. They were very impressed. He was beyond himself with excitement.”

We asked Jazaie to list his 10 most important communication skills…

  • Storytelling: “You want to get your audience excited and tell them a story. The presentation should be as interesting as a hearing about an interesting first date from a friend. Tell the story through your analysis of financial information.”
  • Eye Contact: “For example, when you answer a question in court, you turn and look directly at the jurors in the eyes. They love that.”
  • Be Credible: “If you are asked a question, it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I took a different approach.’ Never, ever, lie about the facts. Our credibility in this profession is of utmost importance.”
  • Understand their point of view: “It is also important to be an active listener and hear the other points of views in a discussion with the people you are presenting to.”
  • Pace Yourself: “Your audience, especially a jury, needs time to process the information so you don’t need to talk quickly.”
  • Clear visuals: “Accountants for the prosecution on a grand jury were able to make a two-slide presentation that connected essential numbers (slide one) to the law (slide two). They proved that the prosecution had a strong case.”
  • Communicate the solution: “Clients that hire auditors/accountants want to know what controls should be in place to prevent fraud. You need to have a simple answer.”
  • Be friendly: “Your audience, whether clients or jurors, want to see a friendly and generally happy accountant. Your audience will not respond well to you when they see an angry and argumentative person in front of  them.”
  • Confidence: “It is important to be confident when you present. Confidence does not mean arrogance. In fact, to the contrary, a confident accountant is one who has done his or her homework and is prepared to respond to questions.”
  • Feedback: “Being able to appropriately give and receive feedback is an important communication skill.”

Before job interviews or professional presentations, students must get past Jazaie as an audience. When they present their analyses and recommendations to the class, he deducts points for loss of eye contact and wants to see them apply what they learned from his experience. He says: “They need to make mistakes at GGU because at the Big4 they expect you to be a pro by the time you get there.”

“[My Student]…could put a tangible work product from the communication class on the table and discuss those principles [at an interview]. They were very impressed. He was beyond himself with excitement.”

Jazaie continuously looks for ways to provide his students with constructive feedback during and after presentations: “Giving feedback involves giving praise as well – something as simple as saying ‘good job’ or ‘thanks for such a great presentation’ to a student can greatly increase motivation.” Jazaie’s students have impressed him with their ability to apply what he teaches: “They continue to amaze me with their creativity and analysis of difficult financial information and their ability to present their points of views.”


Communicating one-on-one is crucial to audits and investigations. By taking the attitude of a helper, a series of conversations can make a difference. “The process of Forensic Accounting is to keep turning rocks until you run out of rocks. Then you look for patterns in the soil. Then you find another rock. Somewhere in there you find your next lead. That’s where the excitement is. Forensic accounting is like solving a large jigsaw puzzle. That is, you have clues everywhere, but you have to think logically and methodically and try to fit the pieces perfectly to build the bigger picture.”

Ric Jazaie has a master’s degree in Accounting from Golden Gate University (’15) with a concentration in Forensic Accounting.

Request information about GGU’s accounting programs >>


Preparing for the CFA Exam and a Career in Finance: MSF Student Taylor Tsao

Taylor Tsao recently completed a year in the Financial Reporting & Accounting Services division at CalPERS — the largest public pension fund in the United States — and is taking online classes from Golden Gate University. A student in the Master of Science in Finance program with a concentration in Investment Management, he is preparing to take the first of three CFA exams this December.

Tsao says that the Master of Science in Finance program’s recent admission to the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program is important to him. “It shows that what we study aligns with the CFA exam curriculum,” he says. “For example, the Corporate Finance course that I took with Dr. Andrea Anthony covered most of the Corporate Finance topic material from the CFA exam and also went into greater detail.”

Students in Dr. Anthony’s class were challenged to fully analyze a fictitious company by using its financial statements to forecast future cash flows and give a recommendation based on the data. “Not all of the assignment skills are covered on the CFA exams, but they will be very important to succeed in finance, such as determining a company’s intrinsic value.”

At a modest-sized University like GGU, Tsao says he gets more personal attention and that faculty members are always very responsive online. For example, Finance Professor David Kaczorowski helped Tsao get a scholarship for a discount on the price of the CFA Exam as well as a discount on the CFA Society of San Francisco’s review that comes with the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program.

I started to explore GGU for a master’s degree in finance because of their great reputation in the fields of tax and accounting. Networking-wise, there are a lot of opportunities with fellow students and employers because of GGU’s location within San Francisco’s Financial District.

This is not Tsao’s first career transition. After graduating college with a degree in accounting, Tsao went to work for his family business for several years—handling their accounting records and running day-to-day operations.  Studying at GGU, Tsao is hoping to streamline his entrance into a new field and aspires to work on the investment side of CalPERS as an analyst and hopefully one day as a fund manager.

Related post: Career and Educational Paths in Finance: An interview with Professor David Kaczorowski