Giving Back: Dollars and Sense

Each year, the Graduate School of Management asks alumni to “give back” to the School, whether in dollars, resources or involvement. 

To be honest, I haven’t consistently supported the School in the 20 years since earning my MBA. Until recently, I had not sat down and considered why I should give back. This may be true for many alumni, and would like to share why I now place the GSM near the top of my charitable donation list.

When I graduated in 1991, I was wholly focused on my future. I went forward into my chosen field of pharmaceuticals/biotechnology and was lucky to work for market-leading companies and participate in the commercialization process for both drugs and industrial agents. Who knew that a biochemistry background would allow me to work in business development, marketing and market analytics, product development and sales force management?

I spent time in management consulting and was able to link my personal and research interest in cancer R&D with my business acumen. I found myself immersed in the oncology field and knew that I had found the lucky confluence of passion, interest and opportunity. I was fortunate to spend several years with a small biotech company where I was able to see all aspects of management, from day-to-day operations to product launches to corporate finance.

With 20/20 hindsight, I can clearly say that without the background provided by the GSM (including my experiences with my 240 team and the entrepreneurship class led by Jerry Suran) I probably wouldn’t have been interested or prepared to learn as much as I did about managing a start-up.  

My time at the GSM prepared me for my career by providing a grounding in marketing, strategic planning and analytics. But I also gained an appreciation for economics, finance and accounting, not to mention invaluable lessons and skills from the organizational behavior courses and professors.

When Dean Curall asked me to join the GSM Alumni Association’s board of directors last year, I didn’t have to think twice. I knew that this was the perfect time for me to give back to the program that has helped me achieve so much and reach many of my professional goals. My status as a serial entrepreneur—four companies and counting!—is directly attributable to my time and experiences at the GSM.

At the last board meeting, each member was videotaped for the 2011/2012 fundraising campaign—and I finally articulated my reasons for giving back to the GSM:

  • I am extremely proud to be a UC Davis GSM alumnus;
  • I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the skills, knowledge and exposure to both the depth and breadth of topics that the GSM provided;
  • I give back today in as many ways as I can: 
  1. I donate to the Annual Fund, both the Unrestricted Fund as well as the GSM Endowment;
  2. I attend and support GSM events, including admissions and placement;
  3. I am involved with alumni and students, providing assistance where and when I can.

I hope that my story has helped you understand the role that the GSM has played in my life and why I find it important to make sure I give back to the program.  Alumni giving in any way makes sense: it shows our commitment to the School’s future, our support for current and future students, and our understanding of what the GSM has done for each of us as well as what it may do for us in the future.

I’d like to share the Alumni Association’s 2011/2012 alumni giving goals:

  • Increase the total dollars donated by alumni to the School by 10 percent over 2010/2011 (from $170,000 to $187,000);
  • Increase alumni participation in the GSM Annual Fund campaign to 15 percent (from 11.2 percent last year);
  • Increase the average individual alumni gift to the Annual Fund to $250;Increase the percentage of alumni donors to the School (all campaigns) by 10 percent, from 481 to 529 individuals;
  • Increase giving to the Endowment Funds, to help achieve Dean Curall’s vision of a financially self-sufficient program.

If you have not yet given to the GSM this year, please take a moment to reflect on where you are today and how the GSM has helped ensure your professional successes—and consider how you can support the GSM going forward. I hope that you’ll discover that giving back to the GSM becomes a priority in your charitable giving process.

To learn more about how you can give back to the GSM, click here.

Thank you in advance for your support to build, sustain and grow the GSM legacy.

Best regards,

Roger Halualani ‘91
Director, Graduate School of Management Alumni Association