Gigi Desai has always been concerned about food waste which is a major problem in developed countries like the United States. As a nation, food waste costs us $165 million per year and costs her close to $800 per year. Recently, she won the Fast Pitch Competition at the 2017 SEER Symposium for developing the smart bag, a reusable, machine washable, fabric bag that is lined with a naturally occurring mineral that absorbs decay enhancing gas ultimately slowing down decaying process. The smart bag, which costs $9.99, extends the life of produce by four times, and saves consumers over $1,400 per year. She has done extensive product and market research, created a proof of concept and a prototype and if everything goes smoothly she is hoping that the smart bag will come to market this summer. She plans to initially sell the smart bag online and when she has generated enough revenue she will explore retail options.
Gigi says that not only reducing food waste good for the environment and consumers, there is a social responsibility component in which she will donate 0.5% of her sales to help local farmers and the food bank. This combination really embodies the SEER model and Pepperdine’s commitment to developing values-centered leaders.
Gigi resides in Santa Clarita, CA with her husband and son. She has a BS degree in Biological Sciences from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. Gigi earned her MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School in August 2016.
A. Ronald Berryman has had an accomplished career having held several management positions with major corporations, including the National Broadcasting Company, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Progress Investment Management Company, an institutional money management firm. He is a Certified Management Consultant and CEO of Berryman and Company.
Mr. Berryman earned his BS and MBA degrees from Pepperdine and he was the first African American to graduate from Pepperdine’s inaugural MBA program in 1967. He also graduated from the Wharton School executive program at the University of Pennsylvania. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Pepperdine University and at the University of Redlands. Currently, Mr. Berryman serves on the Board of Visitors of the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and the University Board at Pepperdine University.
He is passionate about mentoring minority and low-income students who desire to study at Pepperdine and is the founding chair of the Pepperdine University Black Alumni Council which offers scholarships, networking and mentoring opportunities for African American students and alumni. In addition, he and his wife Jacqueline created an endowed scholarship for African American students attending the Graziadio Business School. Mr. Berryman has received many honors and accolades for his community service work.
In fall 2002, Beth Waitkus founded the Insight Garden Program (IGP), the only evidence-based rehabilitation program in California designed to transform prisoners through connection to nature. Over the past three years, IGP has grown from a stand-alone program at San Quentin Prison to eight facilities in Northern and Southern California, two Indiana prisons (including a juvenile facility) and a re-entry program in New York City. With this substantial growth, IGP will continue its national expansion with its robust curriculum and become a “re-entry bridge” for people leaving prison and returning to our communities.
Beth has won accolades for her prison work and was featured in the book Eco Amazons: 20 Women who are Transforming the World by Dorka Keehn and she is the recipient of the Hotchkiss School’s 2013 Community Service Award. Beth has also been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.
As part of the MSOD program at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, Beth completed a master’s thesis entitled “The impact of a garden on the physical environment and social climate of a prison yard at San Quentin State Prison.” The thesis process was critical in reframing her thinking about systems change, resulting in drastic reduction in the cycle of incarceration. Beth graduated with a M.S. in Organization Development from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2004.
In 2015, Chris Zorn joined Kindred Healthcare for an Executive Fellowship and he and his family relocated to Chicago, IL for his new role. After completing his fellowship in August 2016, Chris was named Assistant Administrator of Kindred’s Chicago Northlake Hospital. In October 2016, there was a leadership change at Kindred’s Chicago Central Hospital and Chris was asked to serve as interim CEO during the CEO search process.
Chicago Central is a 94-bed transitional care hospital affiliated with Kindred Healthcare, the largest provider of diversified, post-acute care services in the United States. Chicago Central provides aggressive, specialized interdisciplinary care to medically complex patients who require extended recovery time. In his role as the interim CEO, Chris led the organization’s financial and operational performance and partnered with the clinical team to provide excellent care to patients and their families.
Chris says serving as Interim CEO was a tremendous opportunity and the amount of ‘hands-on’ experience he received was invaluable. He continues to serve as Assistant Administrator at Kindred’s Chicago Central Hospital. Chris earned his M.S. in Management and Leadership from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2014.
In January 2015, just a few months before his graduation from Pepperdine Graziadio, Osei Gyamfi launched ChillHound, an easy-to-use web application that allows event hosts to send invitations, manage guest lists, and group-fund activities and events. Recognized as a hot startup, ChillHound received a private investment from Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest angel investment firms in Southern California, and Osei won “Best Presentation” for the 2016 Tech Coast Angels “Celebration of Entrepreneurship” Fast Pitch Competition.
With over 10,000 ChillHound users and plans to market the application nationwide, Osei continues to draw upon the leadership skills he gained from his MBA experience. Osei specialized in entrepreneurship at the Graziadio School and says his Pepperdine MBA taught him how to ask the right questions, talk to the right people, and address the right problems. Often a guest speaker for Graziadio entrepreneurship classes, Osei talks to students about his business and how he got the idea to start Chillhound. Osei earned his MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2015.
Miki Teng says that the Pepperdine Graziadio Alumni Network was instrumental in helping her find mentors who opened doors to professional opportunities. Not only did Miki seek out the advice of alumni, she was very involved on campus serving as President of the Asian Business Club and the Director of Corporate Outreach of the Marketing Society.
While earning her MBA, Miki completed an eight month internship as a Direct Marketing Business Analyst Intern with Dun & Bradstreet. She credits the Career Management Center at the Graziadio School for helping her secure this great business immersion opportunity, which ultimately led to a full-time job.
During her internship at Dun & Bradstreet, Miki was able to apply the business and marketing skills she learned in the classroom to the projects she was working on. The combination of academic coursework and professional experience gave Miki the opportunity to boost her career and after completing her internship, D&B offered her a job as a Business Analyst. Miki graduated from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management with her MBA in 2016.
Author and Pepperdine Graziadio Alumnus Rick Arneson was named a winner of 2016 Book Excellence Awards in the Sports category for his book, Plotting the Course: Life Lessons from the Sport of Sailing. For either an experienced sailor or a newcomer to the sport, Plotting the Course delivers relatable and essential lessons for personal and professional achievement, using comparisons of sailboat racing alongside historical, business, political, and everyday examples. The book was also a winner in the 2014 International Book Awards and a finalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards and the 2015 San Diego Book Awards.
Mr. Arneson has an extensive sailing background. Growing up sailing at the San Diego Yacht Club, he won several state and district championships, match-raced 12-meter yachts in the World Scholar-Athlete Games, and took home a gold medal from the AAU Junior Olympics. As a freshman at Pepperdine University, he started the school’s sailing team, and later went on to coach sailors at the club, high school, and collegiate levels. Since 2003, he has been a member of the U.S. Snipe team at four World and three Western Hemisphere championships. He has been a marketing professional in a range of industries, and a contributing writer to Sailing World and various other sailing publications. He earned his MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2005.
For more information about Plotting the Course visit http://rickarneson.com
Author, movie producer and Pepperdine MBA Alumna Christie Hsiao was recently featured by Forbes.com alongside her New York Times bestseller, Journey to Rainbow Island. Her fantasy novel tells the story of a girl, Yu-ning, who comes from a world without jealousy, judgment, anger or conflict, but is forced to venture out on a quest to find seven sacred crystals on her island. Christie wrote the book to counter the negative content that is produced in entertainment and instead inspire people with an uplifting story about empowerment and transformation. Since its 2013 release, Christie has spoken to a wide range of audiences about the book’s positive messages regarding following one’s heart, believing in oneself, and pursuing one’s dreams. Currently, Christie plans to produce a stage musical and TV series, in partnership with Korea’s MBC, and also extend the entire media franchise to China. A film adaptation of the book is also in the works, and Christie has commenced a book sequel that she expects to publish in 2017.
Christie is also the Founder and CEO of Serenity Media Group, a global entertainment company devoted to creating high quality film, TV, and digital media projects that uplift and inspire. She serves as creative director for all of Serenity’s projects, as well as overseeing all aspects of marketing strategy, business development and expansion. She works with top executives and major companies in film, TV, music, art, publishing, merchandising, concerts/events, branding and marketing in both the U.S. and China, and uses her knowledge and experience to educate, create change, and spread positive messages. Christie earned her MBA from Pepperdine University in 2004.
Tech.co named Shane Skinner one of Seattle’s top ten startup founders over 40. Mr. Skinner is the Co-founder and CEO of Record360, where he oversees business strategy and development, as well as finance and accounting. Launched in spring 2015, Record360 is a mobile app designed to help companies that rent, lease or move tangible assets collect credible condition records of those assets to decrease damage disputes and costs. By leveraging new trends in mobile applications, digital documentation and the near ubiquity of mobile devices, Record360 lets customers do away with paper documentation forms, streamline their condition review process and boost the customer service experience.
Prior to Record360, Shane served as a Controller and Business Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Enterprise Holding for 16 years, which took him to regional offices across the US and the UK. He also held Chief Financial Officer roles at See Kai Run and Fonte Coffee Roasters. He now sits on the Board of Directors for the Special Olympics Washington. Mr. Skinner received his MBA from Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2008.
Brandon Garrett joins Howard & Howard Attorneys, a full-service law firm providing legal services to businesses and business owners throughout nation and overseas. Mr. Garrett will practice out of the firm’s Los Angeles Office and concentrate his efforts on franchising and transactional business matters. He has assisted in the development and formation of dozens of franchise concepts in a variety of industries, including the preparation of disclosure documents and related agreements in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Garrett has negotiated franchise agreements on behalf of both franchisees and franchisors, and has also represented clients in response to various state administrative actions and investigations.
Mr. Garrett serves as the outside general counsel for a number of companies, and has extensive experience in drafting and negotiating agreements relating to: partnerships, hiring and terminating employees and contractors, raising capital, the purchase and sale of assets, licensing and distribution rights, and estate planning. He also has experience counseling clients regarding compliance with various local, state and federal laws, implementing and enforcing compliance policies, and formalizing supplier and vendor relationships. Mr. Garrett earned his MBA from the Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2009 and J.D. from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2010.