Data Analytics Skills for Business People: Video Interview with Dr. Judy Lee

Dr. Judy Lee, Chair of the new master’s degree in business analytics program, was interviewed this month at the 21st Cloud Expo in the Silicon Valley. She has spent the majority of her career in IT and software product engineering in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In this short video, she talks about GGU’s business analytics curriculum that provides foundational knowledge and also “branches out into the specific tool-sets [business people] are going to need and ties them to the business experience.”


Request information about GGU’s MS in Business Analytics >>

GGU Helped Me Get Hired by a “Big Four” Accounting Firm in San Francisco

By Noah Lee, Master of Accountancy (’18)

Golden Gate University is different than my undergrad school, UC Berkeley. Cal has definitely helped me build my fundamental foundation in learning and thinking, while the Master of Accountancy program at GGU taught real-world skills.

I was skeptical at first, because there is only so much you can mimic professional situations, right? However, as I began interviewing for internships at Big Four accounting firms (that include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers), I could tailor my answers to show my grasp of what the job really entails. Getting the job as an Audit Intern at one of the Big Four companies was the most satisfying proof that I learned something relevant.

For example, we had to deliver a mock board presentation as part of a course called Communication and Analysis of Financial Information for Accountants. Professor Ric Jazaie (GGU’s Director of Accounting Programs), gave us a mock budget and challenged us to answer the client’s question: What should we do; and why are our numbers the way they are? Up front, we had to learn (on our own) the textbook terms that you might find in an academic class and go right to applying them.

I took inspiration from Prof. Jazaie, who knows what the skills employers are looking for in the accounting field.

Prof. Jazaie gave us barely enough instructions for the presentations, which was slightly unnerving. Aggregating all the broad ideas he gave us and having to narrow it down was our task. We had to decide what we wanted to portray to our audience—and be ready to say why. The reasoning for the assignment is that you may not get all of what you need or get something ambiguous from a client. In the same way, traditional school is different than a business setting where you must eventually succeed.

Prof. Jazaie asked us questions after the presentation that he did not give us in advance. He has a lot of experience giving presentations in court and in front of clients. He wanted to make us feel like we didn’t know what to expect and it brought out the best in us.  Because he threw us into high-pressure moments, we just got used to it.

What did we learn in the Communication and Analysis of Financial Information course?

  • Differentiating what is presentation versus what is casual conversation
  • Critical thinking, which means deciding what is important from hundreds of facts
  • When questioned, coming up with a reasonable explanation without overreaching
  • Having a story to tell rather than just a report of findings, which means linking company strategy to financial statements

I took inspiration from Prof. Jazaie, who knows what the skills employers are looking for in the accounting field. He really opened my eyes to the profession and inspired me when he said that as an accountant, “what you are doing is really impacting the company.” That was great to hear.


Request information about GGU’s master’s degrees in accounting >>

What Does A Tax Accountant Really Do? Alumni Debunk Stereotypes

In this short video, alumni of GGUs Master’s Degree in Taxation program go beyond the “number crunching” stereotype to discuss what a tax accounting career is really like. The interviewees are now working at Apercen Partners, Cisco Systems, and two “Big Four” Firms: PricewaterhouseCoopers (now PwC) and Ernst & Young (now EY).

Most mention communication with clients and coworkers as rewarding and essential to the job. As Wylan Lau, Tax Senior at EY, says: “[Job interview skills] such as how to present yourself, how to do public speaking, and how to talk to people..are relevant now in talking to clients [and] colleagues…Those are things I learned when I was at GGU.”


Request information about the Master of Science in Taxation program >>

 

What is Forensic Accounting? Hear from This GGU Student in a New Video

Joey Byers will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Science in Business with an Accounting Concentration. One of his aspirations is to pursue fraud cases as a forensic accountant for a government agency. In this short video, he discusses his attraction to forensic accounting: “a field in which you become a number detective.”

Byers’ next step is to tackle the forensic accounting concentration in GGU’s Master of Science in Accounting program. The concentration was designed by Director of Accounting Programs Ric Jazaie, a veteran of forensic investigations at the FBI and his consulting firm.


Request information about GGU’s accounting programs >>

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.”

One-On-One

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

Women in Leadership’s Tradition of Excellence Continues

Now entering its 5th year, GGU’s Women in Leadership event has attracted successful panelists who have launched businesses or are prominent at corporations, nonprofits, and law firms. The 2016 event was no different and featured alumnae (pictured below, left to right) Givelle Lamano (JD ’10), Attorney at Lamano Law Offices; Sofia Tulchinsky (MBA ’96), Senior Director Global Business Planning & Strategy at Salesforce; and Susan Lovegren (MS, Human Resource Management ’86), Chief People Officer at AppDynamics.

2016 Alumnae Panelists

The 2016 event was hosted by Dr. Marianne Koch who is Associate Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business, HR Program Director, and a Professor of Management. Dr. Koch began the session by posing a single question to the three GGU alumnae: What choices did you have to make to get where you are today? The answers touched on themes such as their career paths and accomplishments; challenges and solutions specific to women; networking; and the link between personal and professional development.

Last year’s event drew 175 attendees from the GGU community and beyond. If you want to see more of what you can expect at this year’s Women in Leadership Event, we invite you to watch the video of the 2016 event.


The 5th Annual Women in Leadership Event Is on October 25th!

Attendees of this year’s event can expect another group of accomplished women who will share real-world advice based on their personal and professional journeys. The event is open to the GGU community and the public. Admission to this event is free and refreshments will be provided. We also invite you to take advantage of networking before and after the panel.

2017 Women in Leadership Panelists

Helen Fanucci, Global Windows Sales Leader, Microsoft Corporation

Hazel Blackhart (JD ’08), Group Product Manager, Hematology Franchise Communications, Operations and Alliance Strategy, Genentech, Inc.

Nicole Middleton (MS FIPL ’17), Chief Executive Officer
Strategy Squad Insurance Services

Event Details & Free Registration

Date: October 25, 2017
Time: 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Location: Golden Gate University, San Francisco [directions]

Agenda:

5:30 – 6:30 pm — Registration begins / networking
6:30 – 7:30 pm — Panel discussion and Q&A
7:30 – 8:00 pm — Post-panel networking

For more information about this event, please visit www.ggu.edu/women-in-leadership.

Get updates and share with friends: #GGUWomen.


Related GGU Blog Post: My Advice for Women in Business: Know What You Want and Ask for It! by Helen Fanucci, ‎Global Windows Sales and Digital Transformation Leader at ‎Microsoft.

All photos above by Jenny LeMaster.

Learning from – and for – the Real World

by Amina Kasumov (MBA ’16)

I enrolled in Golden Gate University in April of 2014 with the hopes of obtaining my Master of Business Administration degree. I’m proud to say that as of April 2016 I am a Golden Gate University MBA graduate. In my time at GGU, I was able to explore many different facets of business through the diverse curriculum of the program, which gave me a well-rounded perspective on how to succeed in the real-world of business.

Though I obtained a great deal of value from all of the classes I was a part of and from the instructors that I was fortunate enough to be taught by, one class greatly resonated with me. In the fall term of 2015, I was part of a Management Leadership course taught by Professor Jeffrey Yergler. One of the learning outcomes of this course was to be able to “evaluate, support, and cultivate effective leadership approaches in organizational setting.” I recall one assignment where we were tasked with evaluating the significance of leading by example, and examining the approaches taken by certain companies in the process. For this assignment, I wrote about the importance of developing practices and maintaining a company culture that is consistent with the organization’s core values. I also reflected on the importance of leading by example, ensuring that values and actions were consistent from leadership to the lower ranks.

I was able to explore many different facets of business through the diverse curriculum of the program, which gave me a well-rounded perspective on how to succeed in the real-world of business.

The appointment of Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, serves as a recent example of these issues. In the article that I saw in Recode,  he admitted that after over 12 years of being a CEO for Expedia, transitioning to this new appointment was a tough decision. He was also quoted saying: “I have to tell you I am scared.” What does this transparent response say about him as a leader? A frequently quoted management consultant, Peter Shaehan, explains that, “if you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams.” The tone that Khosrowshahi is setting in this early stage is already vastly different from what the company experienced with the previous CEO. It may be too early to tell what this new appointment will do for the company, but it seems that he is starting off on the right foot.

In the Management Leadership class, we also focused on similar hot topics in the news such as an article in the NY Times at the time about Amazon being a “bruising workplace,”  and participated in robust discussions about them. With students from different countries, different industries, and different levels of professional experience, we heard various perspectives on issues like these. One of my favorite things about this class experience was the insightful conversations that took place among the classmates. GGU’s diverse student body presents an opportunity for students to not only learn from the professors, but also gain valuable knowledge from the perspectives of their peers.

When I read about CEOs of world-renowned corporations stepping down or being scrutinized, or of decisions made by those in political leadership roles, I consider the classroom discussions that these events would inspire. I wouldn’t have been as able to assess these events the way I do today without the knowledge I gained in this course.

Another thing I appreciated about the classroom experience at GGU is how the courses are developed to provide valuable knowledge that can be applied to the real-world by evaluating real-world examples such as Uber and Amazon. In this class, many of our conversations were around the actions of CEO’s and other C-level executives of well-known companies—such as Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, GE and many others—and applying the theories we were learning directly to these examples.

Having completed my degree, I often think back on some of the conversations that took place in the classroom. When I read about CEOs of world-renowned corporations stepping down or being scrutinized, or of decisions made by those in political leadership roles, I consider the classroom discussions that these events would inspire. I wouldn’t have been as able to assess these events the way I do today without the knowledge I gained in this course.”

Dr. Jeffrey Yergler on the Management Leadership Course
“This course offers a unique approach to understanding who the leader is, the practice of leadership, and the impact of leadership on people and performance. By examining a number of leadership approaches, students are able gain specialized knowledge not only about which leadership approach would work best in a particular organizational setting but also the degree to which a particular leadership approach would be an excellent match for the student’s own exercise of leadership in their respective organizations.”

Request information about the MBA program >>

My Advice for Women in Business: Know What You Want and Ask for It!

By Helen Fanucci, ‎Global Windows Sales and Digital Transformation Leader at ‎Microsoft

The most important piece of advice I could give to women hoping to advance their career is to know what you want and ask for it.  On the surface, this may seem obvious and easy. However, asking assumes you know what you want. It also presumes that you’ve built some credibility in your organization so that others want to help you.  As an example of this, some studies have shown that women do not ask for raises as frequently as men do; and when they do ask, they often do not get them.  Globally the gender pay gap is 46% less pay for women. In the U.S. the gap is 20%.

Planning and Goals

The foundation of knowing what you want requires that you’ve taken the time to create a plan and goals for yourself. Your plan should include looking out 6-12 months with detailed actions on what you need to do. It should also include a 5-10 year plan that will be an outline and become clearer and more detailed as time progresses. Your plan should be based on your goals, values, personal priorities, and life situation. It is essential for those who have ambition to define outcomes to measure themselves by.

Your plan and associated goals become the lens through which opportunities and projects are evaluated. When you are given an opportunity, ask yourself: How does this opportunity enable me to achieve the goals I have? If it does not forward your goals, it is not a good opportunity for you at that time. Your plan will also provide a framework for prioritizing projects.

I mentor a woman who grew her salary by 28% in two years (by asking for multiple raises) and defined a new role that she created based on seeing an opportunity that the organization was not capitalizing on.

Connecting with People

As you reflect on what is needed to move your goals forward, you likely will think of individuals to connect with who can help you accelerate achieving your goals. This is where it becomes important to have clarity so you can ask for what you want. Most individuals I’ve managed do not ask for what they want because they have not defined it. As Lewis Carroll famously said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Asking for What You Want

If you are asking your manager for a raise, promotion, or have an idea that you believe in and want to pursue, it is important that you are an individual who has delivered value and has built some credibility so that people take you seriously, listen, and are inclined to say yes when you ask.

To do this, deliver on the fundamentals and basic expectations of your role. Look for opportunities to deliver above and beyond what is expected. You are uniquely positioned in your role to see things that those above you and around you cannot see. Make recommendations based on your vantage point. Propose ideas and suggest how things can be done better and more efficiently. If you see a gap that you’d like to fill, define the role and its responsibilities and expectations and then ask to do it.

This really works! I mentor a woman who grew her salary by 28% in two years (by asking for multiple raises) and defined a new role that she created based on seeing an opportunity that the organization was not capitalizing on. She then suggested that she would be an ideal candidate for the role. During a recent reorganization, she got that role.


Special Event

Helen Fanucci will be a panelist at the 5th Annual Women in Leadership event at GGU in October. Join her and other distinguished panelists as they share stories, tips, and insights on how to navigate a successful career. The event is open to the GGU community and the public. Admission to this event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Date: October 25, 2017
Time: 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Location: Golden Gate University, San Francisco [directions]

Agenda:

5:30 – 6:30 pm — Registration begins / networking
6:30 – 7:30 pm — Panel discussion and Q&A
7:30 – 8:00 pm — Post-panel networking

For more information about this event, please visit www.ggu.edu/women-in-leadership.

Get updates and share with friends: #GGUWomen.


About Helen Fanucci

Helen Fanucci leads Windows Enterprise Sales for Microsoft and has held numerous sales and marketing roles at IBM, Apple Computer, and Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley and London.