Making Capital Connections and Learning from Fellow Alumni

I recently participated on a panel at the Capital Connections event held in Sacramento. While I volunteered for this event to help the students who organized it, I gained much more than the satisfaction of giving back: I made connections with other alumni I had not seen in years and I reflected with other panelists on how the GSM has helped shape our lives. I’d like to share these reflections. 

First, let me introduce myself and the other panelists. Capital Connections was organized by students seeking insight into making significant career changes as a result of their UC Davis MBA. The panelists’ profiles represent varied paths; however, our experiences and reflections were very similar. The bottom line for all of us was we have all been able to “evolve” with the help of the GSM.

Harry Johnson (HJ)

Pre-GSM: Engineer with Intel
Post-GSM: Finance, operations and now “intrapreneur” with Intel

Gwynne Spann (GS)

Pre-GSM: California government public policy analyst
Post-GSM: Marketing manager at Intel; today: global content manager at Visit California

Phoebe Cameron (PC)

Pre-MBA: Fundraiser and agency program liaison at United Way
Post-GSM: Management consultant with Gartner Inc., a technology research firm

Our collective reflections and insights included the following (please note these are not exact quotes; however, they do convey the essence of our conversation). Hopefully, these resonate with you as well as you consider how the GSM has helped you transition into new roles and careers and/or evolve as individuals, team members and career professionals.

How our MBA helped us transition to new careers

HJ: I wanted to help motivate people. The GSM helped me learn the business and operations side of our company, expanding my engineering perspective. I thoroughly enjoy the broader roles I have been able to play since receiving my MBA.

GS: The GSM helped me grow the experience and skills that allowed me to transition from government policy to marketing in the technology industry—and now to a completely different position with Visit California.

PC: I learned how to apply the skills I acquired at the United Way to the business environment through projects at the GSM (our strategic planning 240 Class and community consulting project). I then successfully demonstrated to employers that I had the experience and ability to be a successful management consultant.

How the GSM continues to help me in my career today

HJ: I still stay in touch with my first study group; we meet every quarter. It is important to keep our networks going.

GS: I have maintained close ties with many of my friends from school, and they continue to serve as a sounding board to me, both professionally and personally. These connections are extremely valuable.

PC: I learned about the different ways people view the world and problem solving, and that it is important to factor all approaches into team interactions in order to be successful. One way is not the only way to get things done.

Key insight for students making these transitions?

HJ: You own your employability. Don’t limit yourself by pigeonholing yourself. I easily could have just stayed an engineer or believed no one would take me seriously in another role. The GSM helped me think and act on other possibilities.

GS and PC: Agree whole heartedly!

What MBA courses were critical?

HJ: Organizational Behavior.

GS: Marketing.

PC: Both, and I’d add the practical experience our 240 course provided. I’m glad the GSM curriculum has been revised to include a similar two-quarter class.

These reflections show how even after 14 years, the GSM community remains close to my heart and career vision. If your experience has been similar—and as chair of the GSM Alumni Association’s fundraising efforts—I encourage those who have not yet donated to the Annual Fund to make a gift today. Our community needs your support: simply click here and make your gift now. Thank you!

Phoebe Cameron, ‘98
Fundraising Chair, Graduate School of Management Alumni Association