Taj Eldridge accepted a position of Senior Director of Investment at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), after serving as the Accelerator Director at the University of California with the Highland Venture Fund. In this role, he directs investment in the premier companies focused on sustainability solutions. LACI is a private non-profit organization helping to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies and ensuring an inclusive green economy by unlocking innovation, transforming markets and enhancing community. Founded as a cluster-driven economic development initiative by the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water & Power (LADWP), LACI is recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI.
Taj was awarded the Innovation Honoree for 2017 for the City of Riverside from Mayor William Bailey. This award recognizes people or groups in the City of Riverside that exemplify the city’s motto as “a City of Arts and Innovation.” Mayor William Bailey has chosen Eldridge because of his passion for innovation and for his ability to evangelize the city’s commitment to entrepreneurship – a movement that has strengthened the technological ecosystem. Eldridge has been a mentor, adviser, and leader for young start-up companies in the region.
Taj earned his MBA from the Graziadio Business School in 2003.
Jack recently co-authored a book titled “Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond” along with Chris Burniske. Jack is a Bitcoin expert, and an angel investor who advises startups on cryptoassets. He has authored several books about retirement and finance, and is the co-author of one of the earliest books on Bitcoin, “What’s the Deal with Bitcoins?”
Jack also owns and runs GEM Research Solutions, and has worked extensively with startups. His company is a market research firm focusing on financial services and provides market research to businesses in many different industries.
Jack received his MBA from the Graziadio school in 1990 as part of the Presidents and Key Executives program. He has a B.A. in English and Economics from Stony Brook University.
Alumni Mary Cochran and partner Alison Werning announced they are joining forces to form Launching Labs Marketing, a digital and traditional marketing agency combined with project and sales management services.
Mary and Alison are coming together to offer small to medium businesses an effective array of marketing services. Cochran’s background is in public relations, marketing, and digital media with along with strategic operational skills. Werning spent years in logo development and editing branding for promotional materials. Her keen graphical eye and social savvy developed into digital advertising and marketing. Brought together on a long-term project they found their skills married perfectly for affecting growth in small to medium businesses.
Offering a view from the outside to provide clear communications direction is Launching Lab’s goal.
Kristin Glushon has been appointed Executive Vice President of client development at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), which connects global brands to consumers through the power of popular entertainment.
In this newly created role, Kristin is responsible for driving BEN’s growth, with a specific focus on developing relationships with major domestic and global brands and media agencies. She will apply her more than 10 years of experience in sales and client services to drive global brand integration campaigns into premium content across TV, streaming, film and influencer programming.
Prior to joining BEN, Kristin held numerous roles at Orion Worldwide including Senior Vice President of Sales and Senior Vice President of New Business. She has also worked in sales and client services for Thomson Reuters. Glushon currently serves on the board for the Los Angeles Chapter of the IPG Women’s Leadership Network.
Kristin has a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and graduated from the Graziadio fully-employed MBA program in 2009.
Vahid Khorsand was elected Vice President of the Los Angeles Citywide Planning Commission on July 26, 2018, after being appointed to the citywide commission by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in September of 2017.
Vahid is an equities analyst with BWS Financial providing analysis on global economic trends and impacts on equity markets. His focus is on public companies with market capitalizations between $250 million and $10 billion in the specialty retail, multi-family residential real estate, and infrastructure sectors.
He was named by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2017 as one of 200 influential people in the San Fernando Valley. Vahid has served as a member of the Encino Chamber of Commerce, the United Chambers of the San Fernando Valley, the LAPD Valley Traffic Advisory Council, ONEgeneration, The Los Angeles Metro San Fernando Valley Service Council, and the West Valley Democrats. He received his MBA from Pepperdine University.
Vahid earned his Executive MBA from the Graziadio School in 2013.
Devon Beste recently accepted a position as a Commodities Trader at Cargill, the U.S.’s largest privately held corporation providing food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Prior to this role, he was an Operations Consultant at Pine River Capital Management where he worked in conjunction with directors and other analysts to assist in ongoing production and workflow improvement efforts, as well as with prime brokers and counter parties to ensure the proper and timely execution of various financial instrument movements.
Devon earned his MBA in 2014 from Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management and currently lives in the greater Minneapolis- St. Paul area. He served four years in the United States Marine Corps stationed in Twentynine Palms, California, and was deployed to Iraq twice.
Devon says that he chose Pepperdine Graziadio for the convenience of the MBAJ and the Yellow Ribbon Program for military veterans. He says that Pepperdine Graziadio instilled in him an entrepreneurial mindset that he now brings to his job every day, and that the personal growth he achieved during his program was immeasurable.
Samanaz Kapadia, a Senior Manager at FOX Sports, says she wanted to get an MBA since she was 12 when she first understood the value of higher education. She knew having an MBA would help her move up the corporate ladder and it was important to her to go to a school that reflected her values. Helping veterans further their education and re-enter the workplace is a cause that she’s passionate about and she loves that the Graziadio School supports those who have worked tirelessly to protect our freedoms.
Samanaz will be participating in a Graziadio event called Industry Insights from Entertainment, Media, and Technology on October 19. She says she loves helping students who want to work in the entertainment industry and she’s looking forward to sharing her experience with students who want to pursue a similar career. She plans to talk about her programming and commercial administration work at FOX Sports as well as her philanthropic endeavors. Samanaz received her BA in Business Administration from California State University-Fullerton in 2005 and her MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School in 2010.
John Adrian is the Senior Vice President of Sales for Americas, Europe, Middle East and African markets at Franklin Fueling Systems, a global leader in the petroleum equipment market. He has worked in the retail petroleum industry for 27 years and is currently responsible for managing sales teams all over the world. John started his career at ARCO Products Company in California, where his father worked for 33 years.
John says that prior to getting his MBA he only had a high level understanding of business. He says that getting his MBA at Pepperdine Graziadio was a game changer as it opened up a whole new world for him. He learned about finance, and most importantly how to think strategically. After earning his MBA John’s credibility and confidence increased and he was considered a real candidate for upward mobility. John says his MBA has helped him enormously in his career trajectory and was a huge part of his success in moving to a senior level position at Franklin Fueling Systems.
He and his wife recently moved from Long Beach, CA to Madison, WI where Franklin Fueling Systems is headquartered. John has a BA in Business Administration from Point Loma University and earned his Executive MBA from the Graziadio School in 2000.
Karen Griego is the Senior Marketing Manager at Amazon where she manages the global merchandising and content team for Amazon Alexa skills. Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant, has skills which are 3rd party developed voice experiences that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device (such as the Echo).Previously, she was a Strategic Merchandising & Marketing Manager for Google Play. When she was at Pepperdine Graziadio, Karen was president of Challenge for Charity (C4C), a non-profit organization that draws on the talents, energy, and resources of MBA students to support the Special Olympics, Boys & Girls Club and the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation.
This spring she received a Golden Torch Award in recognition of her work as a mentor with the Pepperdine Career Network where she reviews students’ resumes, conducts mock interviews, and gives them feedback to help them advance in their careers. Karen says she loves helping students articulate the impact they’ve made and express how their ideas have benefited their company or organization. Karen lives in Seattle and received her BA from the University of Washington. She earned her MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School in 2014.
Nobel Chang has worked in the renewable energy industry for nine years, but he says it was at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School that he learned the process of building a business and expanding operations into international markets. Armed with his graduate business education and previous experience, Nobel co-founded Radiant Sky Energy, an international utility-scale solar development firm that has developed and sold over $100 million in project assets. Nobel serves as Co-founder and Managing Director of Radiant Sky Energy where he leads the charge on project and business development.
Nobel is also the Co-founder and CEO of Easy Streak, an online subscription platform that allows sports fans to compete in daily pick’em contests for various prizes. It was at Pepperdine Graziadio where Nobel met one of his business partners and co-founded the company. Easy Streak is different from other fantasy sports operators where sports enthusiasts choose their favorite teams to win and it is available in all 50 states.
Nobel says that he attributes his ability to start both Radiant Sky and Easy Streak to the experience and knowledge he gained at the Graziadio Business School. He says his courses at the Graziadio School gave him the springboard of analytical and technical skills that allowed him to hit the ground running and start his businesses. Nobel earned his MBA with a concentration in Digital Innovation and Information System from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2015.