"My short tenure at CBU helped me become aware of what I truly love doing — helping people while working with businesses and finances. ... Shortly after graduating, I started working in Merrill Lynch's private wealth management division in L.A."

Quick Facts

Program: B.S. in Business Administration
Concentration: Management
Graduation Year: 2011
Current Job Title: Vice President, Private Wealth Senior Relationship Manager
Hometown: Murrieta, CA
Current City: Los Angeles, CA

Life at CBU

Why did you choose your major? What interested you in this particular field of study?
I transferred into Cal Baptist my junior year from Mt. San Jacinto Community College. At the time, I wanted to study finance, but CBU didn't offer that major. Accounting was a subset of finance but it didn't interest me (it felt very "past tense" instead of forward looking), so business administration was really the only other option. Having a concentration in management made my degree sound better for only a little extra work.

What did you like about being in this program at CBU?
My opinions may be dated since I graduated 12 years ago and the school has improved significantly, but I really enjoyed the small class sizes and how intentional the professors were. They helped us think critically instead of memorizing info that would likely change (or be resolved by software). The culture was focused on collaboration, growth, positivity, being ethical and doing your best.

What did you think about your professors?
Loved them. They truly cared about every student and went out of their way to help us learn and grow. I took each one out to lunch the last semester of my senior year, and none of them balked at the idea.

Did you complete an internship?
Yes, at a small investment firm in Del Mar, San Diego. I paid for a list of investment companies in California, started at "A," and called each one until I got an internship (thankfully that happened at letter "E"). It was a typical internship experience — very little structure, learning wherever you can, figuring out office culture without embarrassing yourself and completing a stereotypical and monotonous "internship project" (mine was individually opening about 3,000 PDFs and renaming them something more relevant than the default ABC123.PDF). But, I was thrilled to be at an investment firm — which was my dream — and thankful that I was making $10/hour in an air-conditioned office versus the prior few summers when I was working construction.

Did you participate in anything else at CBU?
Yes, I participated in almost everything I could. Since I spent two years at community college while all my friends were having fun, it felt like I lost two years of social life and, to make up for that, had to cram four years of college life into two years at CBU. I said yes to almost everything, made friends wherever possible and got involved in anything that didn't require some innate level of talent or skill. My senior year, I co-ran intermural sports with my best friend which was another way to meet people and stay involved. I was definitely stretched thin and tired, but I was so excited to be on campus that I made the most of every moment. Thankfully I'm still friends with many fellow students and keep in touch with others through social media. Lastly, I participated in an ISP project to Istanbul which broadened my perspective and spawned my love of travel.

How did you grow (spiritually, socially, educationally) while in this program at CBU?
In general, I grew an incredible amount at CBU. Every day I tried to step out of my comfort zone just a little bit, and that's an ideology I continue to practice today. Little steps aren't that scary, and over time they accumulate into recognizable change. Social skills grew the most and that's helped my career since I'm interacting with people all day. I believe quality friendships bring happiness, motivation, accountability and tons of other benefits. Sorry professors, but I'm thankful I traded some assignments for quality time with people. Spiritual growth really came through the culture of CBU and the friends I developed — chapel, Bible studies with friends, RAs intentionally checking on you, etc.

Did your major help you figure out your purpose?
Absolutely. My short tenure at CBU and in the School of Business helped me become aware of what I truly love doing — helping people while working with businesses and finances. When transferring from community college, I was shy and insecure, but the culture of CBU allowed me to thrive in two short years and find my purpose.

Life after CBU

What have you done since graduating?
Shortly after graduating, I started working in Merrill Lynch's private wealth management division in Los Angeles (the group that helps extremely wealthy families). I was lucky that my intermural sports boss had a brother-in-law who worked in that office, passed my resume along, and I eventually got hired as the office receptionist. I was in that role for over a year while I tried to get noticed by the largest team in the office, the Jones Zafari Group, and was barely hired by them. I had to work extremely hard to prove myself and I've been here ever since. It's been a fun 10+ year career. I've been fortunate to be become a partner; I love our team, our clients, and what we're accomplishing together. About two years after graduating, Rachel and I got married after dating at CBU. We spent probably the first five years working extremely hard — she earned her master's as a nurse practitioner from Georgetown and I passed a tough finance program called the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). We started traveling a lot, bought a place in Los Angeles and had a daughter in late 2020. Keeping a nearly 3-year old alive feels like a major achievement.

What are your current job duties?
I help very wealthy families navigate all the opportunities and challenges that comes with having substantial wealth. It's very nuanced, but I truly enjoy it – especially when we think of creative solutions that help our clients and society. Primarily, I'm responsible for ensuring a few dozen clients receive the best advice and service our team can offer. That involves consistently meeting with them, understanding their full situation, proactively strategizing ways to help, overseeing the teammates that also support those families and finding new families that would benefit from our expertise.

How has your major and time at CBU prepared you for your life and career after college?
The social skills I developed at CBU probably prepared me the most for life. We spend so much time with people — learning how to listen, communicate, nudge, inspire, empathize, lead, follow and interact are SO valuable.

Is there anything you learned at CBU that you still use in your professional life today?
We had a dining etiquette event my senior year that was extremely helpful. I think about that every time I have dinner with a client — little fork is for this, bread plate goes here, pour the drink like this ... I highly recommend everyone attends that event.

How are you making a difference in the world? How are you living your purpose?
That's a big question, but one everyone should periodically reflect on. In short, I believe that helping others — in whatever capacity that may be — creates a positive ripple effect through society. A daily small act of helpfulness or kindness can change someone's mood, day or life. That's how I believe I'm making a difference.

What are your future goals and plans?
Professionally, to continue growing within this team, leading others and helping families. For my family, to keep being a better husband and dad. Personally, to grow a little every day and enjoy the compounding effects of that over time. For Cal Baptist, to continue being involved with the school itself, the School of Business and students so they can have better opportunities than I did.

Would you recommend CBU to others?
Yes, it's a wonderful institution where if you commit and put yourself out there, you can get so much in return.

Anything else you'd like to add?
A few small pieces of life/work advice that have helped me over time are: Find a good team — you'll go farther than by yourself. Work smarter and harder than everyone else — never lose the chip on your shoulder. Be kind to others, always, and help whenever you can. Do something just outside your comfort zone daily. Have a life outside work, it's shorter than you think. Adventures and experiences with other people are far more rewarding than material possessions. Take care of your body, small healthy choices don't seem to matter until one day it suddenly does (also, being in good health allows you to participate in amazing adventures).