GSM Finance Alumni

Although the Graduate School of Management is small and young, many alumni hold influential positions that allow them to advance socially and environmentally responsible business practices. Read the bios below to learn more about who some of them are and what they are doing.


Geoff Jennings Pursues the Power of Clean Tech

Mixing world-class UC Davis scientists with MBA students in business development labs is having explosive results. Alumnus Geoff Jennings ’07 is proving the power of
the experiment with an innovative clean-tech start-up he’s co-founded.

As an entrepreneur, you become a jack-of-all-trades — from finance to fundraising to marketing and business development.  The UC Davis MBA program gave me the tools I needed to launch a start-up –and to know when to bring in experts.

- Geoff Jennings ‘07 

During his first weeks at the Graduate School of Management, Jennings met Shawna Brown, a post-graduate researcher in chemistry, who collaborated with researchers at the California Institute of Technology to develop for NASA a material that efficiently turns waste heat into electricity.

Realizing the potential of the eco-friendly technology, Jennings and Brown teamed up. They built a prototype for demonstrations (pictured), drafted a business plan and explored potential markets. The result: High Merit Thermoelectrics, which they’ve incorporated and successfully licensed patents from UC Davis and Caltech.

The venture has attracted considerable investor interest, having won or reached the finals of several campus, regional and statewide business plan competitions.

“The competitions allowed us—two young students—to network with movers and shakers in the entrepreneurial and venture capital communities,” Jennings says. “That just doesn’t happen except in these kinds of settings.”

Jennings says his management experience in the outdoor industry and personal advocacy for the environment meshed perfectly with the ethos at UC Davis—opening up a world of opportunities. The School honored Jennings for his talent and passion with the Corbett Fellowship for Student Entrepreneurs.

As he pursues funding for High Merit, Jennings says his UC Davis MBA experience prepared him well for the challenge of launching a start-up—and making a difference.

“When you recognize how much power business has to change the world, becoming a business leader to create change is more effective than being an advocate asking
business to change.”


Fabiana Alves Finds New Opportunities in Brazil

After a decade in Brazil’s food industry, agronomist Fabiana Alves and her husband, Andre Zeitlin, a veterinarian, were ready for new horizons. In 2004, Andre left his practice to enter the UC Davis MBA program, uprooting with Fabiana and their two young sons from São Paulo to Davis.

From world-class professors, to classmates who became team partners and close friends, to the unparalleled extracurricular activities, the UC Davis MBA program is an incredible experience–and has opened doors to some fascinating opportunities

-Fabiana Alves ‘08

When Zeitlin graduated, it was Alves’ turn. As an MBA student, she quickly became intrigued by issues of sustainability. An internship at Rabobank International allowed her to put her ideas into action evaluating client and loan applicants’ progress on corporate social responsibility goals.

That led to an offer to join Rabobank’s Rural Bank Division in São Paulo. “I’ll be helping clients improve their business practices, assuring both their sustainability and their financial health,” Alves explains.

And when Zeitlin’s U.S. employer, the MarkeTech Group, looked to expand its global footprint, he jumped at the opportunity to open a satellite in Brazil.

“We received an outstanding education at the Graduate School of Management and are looking forward to using our skills and knowledge to help our country move ahead,” Alves says.


“Patagoniac” Morlee Griswold Makes Waves in Marketing

Thankful for the lessons and skills she learned at the Graduate School of Management, Morlee Griswold ‘85 recently returned to the School as a guest speaker in a student-initiated course on social entrepreneurship to share her experiences and insights into mission-driven enterprises.

At the Graduate School of Management, you’re in a a group of intelligent, talented people, working together, motivating each other, sharing responsibilities and succeeding as a team. The School fosters self-reliance and critical thinking.

- Morlee Griswold ‘85

And while much has changed in the 20-plus years since she first carved a niche in marketing and finance, Griswold has found that the fundamental strengths of her MBA experience endure.

“The UC Davis MBA Program encourages students to take risks,” she says. “It fosters self-reliance and critical thinking, and this is invaluable  training for the corporate world.”

Griswold started a catalog company after graduating in 1985. About the same time, she discovered a new passion—kayaking—and soon was competing at the top of the sport.

After many years in creative direct marketing, Griswold took a sabbatical to re-evaluate her life’s path. She was kayaking on Montana’s Lochsa River when a recruiter tracked her down to lure her to Patagonia, a $250 million outdoor clothing and gear company whose philosophy of environmental stewardship fits well with Griswold’s sense of social responsibility.

Today, as Patagonia’s director of direct marketing, Griswold oversees customer contact through catalogs and the Web.

The company has granted her time to pursue her kayaking passion, and Griswold spent five weeks in Ireland in 2003  training for the biennial World Surf Kayak Championships. She returned later that year to compete, helping her team win the bronze medal. At the 2005 competition in Costa Rica, she managed the U.S. team that took the gold.

Griswold recently received two months leave to work with a philanthropist to redirect his foundation to funding environmental causes.

“Patagonia has allowed me to balance my career and personal life,” Griswold says. “The company has reinforced the idea that you don’t have to do things the same way everyone else does them. You can be different and still be successful.”


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News Release

UC Davis Graduate School of Management partners with Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Labs to drive technologies from lab to market

Image of UC Davis Graduate School of Management partners with Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Labs to drive technologies from lab to market

(Davis, Calif.) – With a joint goal of speeding the transfer of new technologies from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories have announced a new partnership for researchers to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Spotlight Story

Vickie Sherman MBA 13 Finds Her Passion, Her Career—and Herself

Image of Vickie Sherman MBA 13 Finds Her Passion, Her Career—and Herself

What opportunities, decisions, events have shaped your professional life?

My career path has been a climb across a jungle gym rather than a tangent up a corporate ladder. As a child, I used to thumb through the three-inch JCPenney catalogue, picking out the professional women who I would grow to be. I wanted to rule the world from a corner office in a suit and heels. I wanted to shed my humble origins and become Corporate Barbie.

Spotlight Story

MBA Student Consultants Make an IMPACT
Projects Put Business Needs Front and Center

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Agilent Technologies’ Electronic Measurement Group is a $3.6 billion business that over the past decade has seen a dramatic shift in its customer base from U.S., and Western European customers to predominantly Asia-based customers. Today, the majority of the division’s revenues are generated outside of the U.S., with an increasing concentration in China.

Spotlight Story

UC Davis Part-Time MBA in Top 8%, Full-Time MBA in Top 9%
U.S. News & World Report’s latest rankings: This marks the 19th consecutive year our MBA program has been ranked among the best in the nation.

Image of  UC Davis Part-Time MBA in Top 8%, Full-Time MBA in Top 9%

(Davis, CA) — The UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s full-time MBA program has been ranked among the top six percent of AACSB International-accredited programs nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest graduate business school rankings released today.