Innovator Article

Jill Abrams & Cathinka Wahlstrom

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Jill Abrams ’03 earned her MBA, but in many respects she never really left the Graduate School of Management. For the past eight years, as a marketing program manager at Agilent Technologies, she has volunteered as the company’s campus manager for the GSM, cultivating a strong relationship between her alma mater and the high-tech, global scientific measurement firm.

Abrams promotes Agilent’s advantages to UC Davis MBA students—and from within, she advocates for the School as a rich source of talented interns and managers. She works with a team of Agilent employees, many fellow alumni, who volunteer at School events.

In recognition of her efforts, Abrams received the GSM Alumni Association’s 2010–2011 Outstanding Service Award.

It’s a wonder she’s not on the GSM’s payroll. Abrams has represented Agilent at nine UC Davis MBA career fairs, hosted two Shadow Days, conducted more than 30 informational interviews with students, shared her experience at a Working Professional MBA program information session—and helped hire 12 GSM student interns and 14 career employees at Agilent.

“We get a lot of great candidates from the GSM, and one of my roles is to help the School understand what Agilent needs in graduating students,” Abrams says.

Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., Agilent has 18,500 employees worldwide and generated $5.4 billion in net revenue in fiscal year 2010. Abrams helps foster positive, effective relationships between Agilent and the School’s students, administrators and professors—all key to providing her company with “the opportunity to hire the best and brightest UC Davis MBA students,” she says.

Abrams also coordinates monthly luncheons for GSM alumni working at Agilent’s Silicon Valley headquarters. She gives regularly to the School’s Annual Fund, and last year she spearheaded Agilent’s top-level sponsorship of the 2010 Associated Students of Management Golf Tournament, donating $2,000 to help fund student activities.

“We’ve recruited a lot of people over the years, and the GSM has really given a lot to Agilent,” says Abrams. “We wanted to give something back.”

In 2007 she helped Agilent propose an MBA Consulting Center project that gave students the opportunity to apply their new management and leadership skills in a real-world situation—and provided her company with “great research.”

She’s also kept the School an important part of her network, attending alumni gatherings and milestones in the School’s history such as the fall 2009 grand opening of Gallagher Hall, the GSM’s new campus home. She also joined with colleagues from the Class of 2003 to contribute to the “Take a Seat” campaign to honor a classmate who passed away.

For Abrams, earning an MBA meant a career change. She had been designing chemical manufacturing plants for companies such as DuPont and Monsanto and wanted to work in marketing. She’s found a fulfilling marketing career at Agilent.

“I find it invigorating, exciting and a lot of fun to stay connected with the students and the School,” Abrams says. “As alumni, it’s our responsibility to give back to a program that’s given us so much.”

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