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.”


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