Paul Martello, MBA ‘13

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Paul Martello was awarded “Product of the Year” for the Yummy Spoon at the 2016 ECRM Baby & Infant EPPS Showcase, one of the nation's largest tradeshows for baby products. The Yummy Spoon is a self-feeding baby spoon designed to puree whole fruits and vegetables, helping parents create homemade baby food. The portable and easy to use baby spoon was originally conceived by Gina Cormier, Martello’s sister and a stay-at-home mom. Martello first pitched the Yummy Spoon while earning his MBA at the Graziadio Business School.

After making it to the final round of the Graziadio 2012 Business Plan Competition, which offers student entrepreneurship teams venture capital feedback and the chance to win cash prizes, Martello refined the Yummy Spoon over the next three years and launched Martello, LLC, headquartered in Calabasas, CA. Before Yummy Spoon, Martello held marketing positions at Guitar Center and Hyland’s Inc. He is currently the President of Martello Consumer Products and Yummy Spoon. Inspired by the Pepperdine motto, “Freely ye received, freely give," he donates a portion of all sales to feed hungry children across the U.S. Martello earned his MBA from the Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2013.

Lauren Gibbs, EMBA ’14

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Lauren Gibbs is a sales executive and Olympic hopeful for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Friend and member of the USA National Rugby team Jill Potter introduced Gibbs to the sport of bobsledding and recommended that she try the sport. Currently, Gibbs is gearing up to try out for her third National Bobsled Team at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. Gibbs works for the U.S. Olympic Committee in business development, helping with fundraising for the Olympic training center, and is actively working to qualify for the 2018 Olympic bobsled team.

Previously, Gibbs served as Regional Sales Director for Trumaker, a San Francisco-based made to measure men's apparel company. Gibbs is a Los Angeles native and earned her EMBA from the Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2014.

Angela Xing, Full-Time MBA ‘16

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Angela recently added Chief Marketing Officer to her professional repertoire. In March, along with co-founders, Michael Lucarelli and Paul Sirisuphang, Angela launched RentSpree, an apartment listing website that's altering the apartment rental landscape in Southern California. RentSpree is a one-stop- shop for all rental properties in the Los Angeles region, featuring a universal application and tenant pre-screening, which allows tenants to experience their entire rental process on the RentSpree website. Angela has more than three years of working experience as a project manager with L’Oreal in Shanghai, where she oversaw the cosmetic company’s new product development for the Asia-Pacific region. She is a 2016 MBA graduate from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.

Steve Marcus, Presidents and Key Executives MBA (PKE), ‘79

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Steve Marcus and his business partner and wife, Kasondra Marcus recently launched MP Additives LLC, a metalworking company based in Florida. MP Additives LLC produces additives for metalworking fluids such as machining and grinding coolants, corrosion inhibitors, mass finishing compounds and special purpose water based lubricants. Steve remains Chairman of Markee International Corporation, another metalworking company he started in 1971. The difference between the two companies is Markee makes products for the user of metalworking fluids, while MP Additives makes products that are used as ingredients by the manufacturers of those fluids.

Marcus also makes metalworking fluids and is a leader in the elimination of petroleum oils from manufacturing products. In addition, he has a patent for a lubricant that replaces four times the amount of petroleum oil and is water based as well as environmentally safe.  He has also authored a column in Products Finishing Magazine for over twenty years on the subject of mass finishing, and was one of the first individuals trained in vibratory finishing when it replaced conventional tumbling barrels for deburring and polishing metal parts. Marcus earned his President and Key Executives MBA from Pepperdine University in 1979.

Michael Bennett, EdD, MBA ‘06

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Pepperdine Graziadio Alumnus Michael Bennett, EdD, is the Founder and Chief Adventure Officer at Muddy Shoe Adventures, where he creates and delivers handcrafted, life-changing adventure programs in some of the world’s most incredible and iconic destinations. Built around Michael’s doctoral research into the transformational power of travel experiences, every Muddy Shoe Adventure is an opportunity to explore the world in a fun, yet meaningful way with a small group of fellow explorers. Travelers challenge themselves with exciting adventure activities while immersed in different cultures and connect with new people, places, perspectives, and ideas. Muddy Shoe Adventure offers both fixed date programs and customized adventures. The adventure travel company also works with corporate groups looking to improve performance and build leadership skills through Muddy Shoe Team Adventures.

Prior to launching Muddy Shoe Adventures, Michael worked four years in higher education administration, and six years as a senior level organizational development consultant and personal and professional development coach. He earned his Master of Business Administration from the Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2006 and his Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (EDOL) from the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology in 2012. In addition to his work at Muddy Shoe Adventures, Michael is a life and career coach, as well as Co-Founder of the Transformational Travel Association.

Tara Saboff, Full-Time MBA ‘16

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Tara Saboff recently accepted a position as an accounting and business analyst at Hughes PR Industries Inc. based in Malibu. In her new role, Tara is responsible for the day-to-day accounting, budget analysis, financial models, audits, taxes, and any additional finance ad-hoc projects. She develops, analyzes and monitors all budgets, revenue, and expenses at Hughes PR Industries as well as handles the daily cash flow. Tara works closely with all 22 entities the company manages and reports directly to the CFO.

Tara is a recent 2016 MBA graduate from the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management. Prior to starting her MBA, Tara worked for Marriott International as Assistant Director for Finance and Accounting in Florida. In her position, Tara managed daily office operations and oversaw staff members completing accounting functions on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. During her time at Pepperdine, Tara was a General Ledger Finance Intern at Cornerstone OnDemand, a global leader of cloud-based talent management software solutions.

Erin Sykes, Fully Employed MBA, ‘08

ErinSykes3Beauty, health, and wellness expert Erin Sykes is excited to announce the launch of Mission 360, a highly curated, multidimensional wellness platform dedicated to empowering those seeking a stronger body, enriched spirit and expanded mind. A modern sanctuary founded for inspiring self-improvement, ErinSykes1 Mission 360 combines the best yoga, fusion fitness, wellness coaching, and intuitive healing into an online community that busy individuals can access anytime, anywhere. Users can stream a wide array of fitness, yoga, and meditation classes filmed in-studio and on-demand, providing an authentic workout experience. One-on-one video coaching sessions are also available á la carte, ranging from nutrition experts to Reiki healers and everything in between.

The Pepperdine Graziadio School alum has been a practicing RT-200 yoga instructor since 2009,and hopes her program will help people connect their mind, body and spirit. Erin earned her MBA from Pepperdine University in 2008. Visit www.mission-360.com for more information and follow Mission 360 on Instagram and Twitter at @mymission360.

Scott Griest, Fully Employed MBA ‘00

Scott-Griest-Head-ShotPepperdine Graziadio alum Scott Griest currently serves as Managing Director for Rapid Capitol Funding and is a member of the executive management team that is continuing to drive growth in the company’s core products of alternative business financing, specifically focusing on client retention and building long-term client value. As founder and CEO of American Finance Solutions, Griest played a key role in helping Rapid Capital Funding acquire American Finance Solutions, a California-based financial services company. Griest was responsible for the company’s large exponential growth, reaching over $20 million in revenue annually – which led AFS to be ranked among the country’s fastest growing private companies on Inc.’s 5000 List in both 2013 and 2014.

Prior to starting American Finance Solutions, Griest founded two successful retail finance service Scott Griest and family2companies in Southern California. In addition, he holds equity stakes in several businesses contributing both capital and entrepreneurial expertise. Griest is an investor and advisor in projects ranging from real estate and surfing to investing in start-ups in a diverse range of industries. Griest earned his MBA from the Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2000.

Francesco Vallone, Ph.D. MBA ‘02

LSE_CogenPower_124Pepperdine Graziadio Business School Alum Francesco Vallone listed his company, Cogenpower PLC, on the London Stock Exchange in February 2016. Cogenpower is a low-carbon energy business, using sustainable generation to supply cost effective and cleaner energy to urban communities. As CEO, Vallone oversees the day-to-day operations of Cogenpower and works directly with his executive team to further develop the company’s brand and business. Based in Turin, Italy, Cogenpower designs, builds, transforms, owns and operates high efficiency Combined Heating Plants with annexed District Heating (DH) distribution networks, known as CHPDH. The company’s CHPDH schemes are designed to serve communities of up to 50,000 people. In addition to this, Cogenpower is a retailer of natural gas and electricity to domestic and commercial customers and a provider of energy services.

“Our admission to AIM comes at an exciting point in the Company’s development and marks an important step in Cogenpower’s evolution to becoming a leading low-carbon energy business for urban communities,” says Vallone.

Brett Johnson, Presidents and Key Executives MBA (PKE) ‘05

Brett Johnson_photoArizona United Soccer Club recently named Brett Johnson president and co-chairman of Arizona’s only professional soccer franchise. The 2005 PKE graduate from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management will be a significant investment partner along with CEO, co-chairman and current owner, Kyle Eng. In his new role, Johnson will spearhead the club’s efforts towards launching a capital campaign to fund the continued investment in the organization and to further build upon the success and momentum of the team. To this end, the Club has also announced the hiring of Frank Yallop, as Head Coach, who brings an unparalleled track record and experience to the Club and the League.

Johnson, founder and CEO of Benevolent Capital and the Managing Director of Zealot Networks, will also serve as the team’s alternate governor. He brings a wealth of experience as both an operator and director of several large multi-national private and public companies, and as an investor through his fund, Benevolent Capital Partners.