With 104.7 million US based accounts (over 1 billion worldwide) and 72% of users reporting they made a purchase based on something they saw on the social network that turns 9 years old next July; it is no wonder 70.7% of US companies will use Instagram this year. eMarketer also predicts Instagram ad revenue will grow from $4.10b in 2017 to $10.87b by 2019. These guides and hacks will make sure your Instagram presence supports your brand and your Instagram efforts help your business.

Consistency creates credibility and here are 3 guides to keep your Instagram (actually almost any social network presence) on point with your brand for your audience:

  1. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” From brand voice with tone and content to brand image with filters and imagery; leverage your organization’s brand investment and follow your brand guidelines to maintain the consistent look and feel your customers, partners and employees trust.
  2. “Plan the work and work the plan.” From posting on a consistent schedule to setting service levels and standards for private message responses and public engagement procedures; defining when and how you use the social network are extremely important to develop your audience’s expectations and maintain their interest.
  3. “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” From the basic use of hashtags for indexing your posts to defining a list of your most used hashtags to more easily cut and paste a consistent group of hashtags into a post; the time to add this social network utility in a consistent fashion will make your life easier and aid content to be found more readily.

While you will undoubtedly receive countless offers to grow your Instagram account’s following from solicitors, nothing will take the place of an earned audience that begins by informing customers and contacts of your Instagram presence and builds with off-line real-world marketing, on-line cross-promotion from the website, email and other social networks, and in-network activity that includes great content, community engagement and promotions.

That said there are hacks to improve your presence and boost your business’s return on Instagram investment. And in keeping with 3s, here are 3 hacks to help get noticed and 3 hacks to help be found and drive traffic:

  1. Make your profile stand out. You may use emojis inside the app or pick up a special font not often found in the Instagram community. Use a third-party site like LingoJam on your phone to create your bio or if on a web browser download a font from FontSpace to edit your profile.
  2. User white space. Use “Return” to clean up your profile. Not seeing “Return”? Press the “123” key in the bottom left-hand corner of the keyboard and the “Return” key will appear on the bottom right. Also, consider centering your bio by inserting spaces to the left of each line. This will take some trial and error to get just right.
  3. Hide the hashtags. After your caption is written, add a series of symbols — dashes, asterisks, or dots, each on a separate line. This will push the hashtags down and make the post neater.

Hacks to be found or drive traffic

  1. HashTags. HASHTAGS. Instagram allows for 30 but you should use 11 of them to be precise at least that is reported to be the optimal number to use. Keeping the hashtags within the guidelines we spoke to earlier, look to leverage popular hashtags to have your posts included for onlookers and consider creating a brand-specific hashtag like #ShareACoke or #TweetFromTheSeat (Charmin).
  2. Leverage the website box (the only clickable URL) in your bio to drive traffic. Change the field to the URL of where you want to drive traffic – your latest blog content, YouTube video, product, or offer. Then use the caption of your post to encourage people to visit your profile for a link. Instagram verified accounts have some additional clickable link features that may come to all accounts in the future. Additionally, business accounts can leverage Instagram stories to include links to external websites.
  3. Help yourself get found. The “Name” field in your Instagram bio is searchable. By including important keywords in your Name field, you can increase your chance of appearing in Instagram’s search when anyone searches for those keywords.

To learn more on how to leverage Instagram or any social network for your business join our next Center for Executive Development (CED) program. More details and course registration click here.

The course is taught by Steven Bellach and Nik Souris. Bellach is the co-founder of BottomLine Marketing, a strategic business and marketing consulting firm specializing in helping organizations build effective and differentiated marketing strategies and plans. Souris currently leads channel partnership enablement for Privoro, a mobile security technology company.

November 28, 2018 0 comment
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Robin Clough (MBA ’14) is the co-founder and CEO of Tequila Enemigo, a luxury tequila company that has won 5x Double Gold Awards across three continents within one year, and is now served at some of the world’s best venues, including The Ritz Hotel and Annabel’s.

“We initially launched in London in September 2017 to surprising critical acclaim  — earning accolades from Forbes, Business Insider and CNN — culminating in our launch in NYC in November,” Clough said.

Enemigo’s award-winning Tequilas are now available in store in NYC at the prestigious Park Avenue Liquor and online nationwide at www.parkaveliquor.com. The company also released an exclusive first edition bottle only available in the United States.

Clough was part of the Rady Full-Time class 2014, and while at Rady he was part of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital clubs.

1) What impact has Rady had on your career progression?

First and foremost, I met my co-founder Sebastian Gonzalez (MBA ’14) at Rady, and together we built what Tequila Enemigo is today. For me, Rady was a slightly different experience to most. I arrived as a 23-year-old straight after graduating from college in London. I left Rady jumping straight into a product management role at Hewlett Packard leading an eight person software development team and with the foundation of a future successful luxury company already in motion.

2) Has your Rady MBA enabled you to change industries or functional areas or even achieve a promotion? 

I decided to pursue an MBA at Rady because I knew that starting my own company was what I wanted to do and it felt like the best way to develop the cross-functional foundational skills needed. I quickly realized that product management at a tech company was the perfect next step toward entrepreneurship while our Tequilas would be aging. My class had other students who were directly looking for similar roles and as most were years ahead of me, I had an instant step up in knowledge seeing how they went about developing their skills.

3) What event or realization served as a ‘turning point’ for you during your Rady School and/or professional career?

The biggest moment happened a few years after graduating from Rady where I took a step back from product management and worked out what drove me. By this time Enemigo had already begun and our Tequilas were about to come out of the barrel, I quickly confirmed that Tequila Enemigo was my full next step and that I was finally ready.

4) Tell us a fun fact about you, or something people may not know about you.

I am the youngest founder of an international luxury liquor brand. I got accepted into Rady five days before term started, after completing my full GMAT prep and test in the 3 weeks prior.

5) What is the most memorable moment from your Rady School experience?

From a professional standpoint, it has to be the first term progression. Still jet-lagged, I naively walked into the class on day one surrounded by experienced, mostly mature classmates, leagues ahead of me career-wise, and left at the end of the first semester 100-times ahead of where I started. From a personal standpoint, I have worked with many of my classmates and close friends after Rady. Peter Butler (MBA ’14) and I were product managers at HP on the same team, which was run by Rady alum Aron Tremble (MBA ’07), and Sebastian is my co-founder for Enemigo. All the times we had brainstorming different projects, trips to Mexico and skiing in Tahoe enjoyed with a glass of Enemigo — those are the best moments.

6) How have you applied your studies to your career?

The biggest things I still reflect back on are the case studies — I still draw on scenarios from On Amir’s marketing class, Operations, Accounting, and Corporate Finance.

7) What advice do you have for prospective students?

Often times at business school, there is extreme pressure to be involved with every part of what’s going on, be in as many clubs etc — I would argue that your number one goal is to work out what you want to do after you graduate, and then really focus in on what the school and clubs can do to help you achieve that. There is at times a lot of class work, but also a lot of free time too — the most successful people in our class now were the ones who used their free time wisely.



November 28, 2018 0 comment
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A national conference focused on investing in the senior housing market is not something that sounds too familiar with Rady MBA students.  To the FlexWeekend ‘19 cohort, the seemingly unlikely connection all started from the Lab to Market program last spring when students were taught to create business ideas through unfair advantages identified during their career experiences. One of the many business ideas presented to Professor Vish Krishnan at the end of the course was about an autonomous health monitoring system for elderly people. For Lijun Liu and I, this was just the beginning phase of a great learning experience on entrepreneurship at the Rady School of Management. While continuing the research on the senior care market, we got connected with Paul Mullin, Senior VP of Silverado Care, who then introduced us to Chuck Harry, Chief of Research and Analytics at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). Through scholarships offered by NIC, both Lijun and I attended the organization’s annual Fall conference in Chicago, along with 17 other students from 12 prestigious academic institutes, including Columbia, Cornell and the University of Wisconsin.

NIC is a nonprofit organization that supports housing access and choice for America’s seniors by providing data, analytics and connections that bring together investors and providers in all phases of senior care. The original goal we had was to learn about the senior housing and care market through the conference. We were interested in attending some of the educational presentations and panel discussions regarding senior housing and care and were hoping to secure some networking opportunities. As we found out later on, this conference is a huge platform for business engagement, negotiation and transactions in the senior housing and care market. The attendees are typically investors, bankers, insurance agencies and senior housing developers. Hundreds of business deals are made during the three days of the NIC conference. This year, there were 3,125 attendees, making it the largest conference in NIC history.

The first day of NIC officially began at noon, so that morning was dedicated to networking.  Lijun connected with Axel from Kisco Senior care, which we will be visiting one of their communities by the end of November to get more first-hand knowledge. Using LinkedIn as a tool, I broke the ice with two people from USI Insurance. Charlie and Richard answered questions regarding insurance coverage for senior care. Then I met with Dee Bangerter, CEO of Rocky Mountain Care. Dee is a long time senior housing developer who has been in this industry for almost 50 years. He shared insights on senior housing design and development, and key areas that make significant differences in clients’ experiences.

The NIC is a very well organized conference. The discussion panels consist of people who are true domain experts in different aspects of the senior housing and care industry. We attended a few sessions in the afternoon and found that the level of knowledge from the panelists was very professional and insightful. For the students who attended the conference through the scholarship program, NIC also held a networking session during a lunch gathering. Later in the evening, we attended a happy hour organized by NIC. Lijun spoke with attendees about the Rady School Lab to Market program, including Lisa Marsh Ryerson, who is the president of AARP Foundation and a speaker in the NIC talk program. I also had a great time talking with Bill Kauffman who is the Senior Principal of NIC and a panelist in the “What Is It Really Worth?” panel discussion.

The keynote speech on the second day was the highlight of the conference. Former chief economy advisor Gary Cohn was hosted by Steve Liesman from CNBC on the topic of macro economy and future outlook. Gary shared a wide spectrum of his wisdom and vision with a great sense of humor. He covered a variety of topics, including the market, trades, Trump administration economic policies, tax cuts, deficits, wages and more.

Lijun and I left NIC with a wealth of knowledge on the senior housing and care industry, as well as the market condition on senior housing investment.

The networking capacity of the conference connections built through this experience was well beyond our imagination and expectations. We really want to congratulate Chuck and the NIC organization for the great successful conference and appreciate the opportunity for the fantastic experience that we went through. The next NIC conference will take place in February 2019, right here in sunny San Diego.

November 19, 2018 0 comment
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Jasmine Tsui (MFin ’19) graduated from the University of Oregon with bachelor’s degree in Accounting.  After receiving her degree, she worked as a tax assistant associate for PwC in Hong Kong. After a year in this position, Tsui obtained an assurance associate position at EY Hong Kong for two years, where she was promoted to Senior Assurance Associate. She also worked as a general accountant in the United States where she realized her fascination with numbers, programming and finance. Her passion drove her to pursue a Master of Finance degree at the Rady School of Management.

1) Why did you choose to pursue a Master of Finance?

I chose to pursue a Master of Finance because as an accountant I realized that I could learn a lot about a company by analyzing its financial statements. A Master of Finance will allow me to better make financial decisions in my career.

2) Why did you choose the Rady School?

The program gives students industry experience in its courses, culminating in a real-life capstone project. A strong focus on quantitative curriculum sets Rady apart from other programs.

3) What do you feel makes Rady unique? How do you benefit from these aspects?

The faculty puts students first and truly cares about their success. They provide us access to a variety of career-related resources and get us ready for the workforce. I will be ready to join the workforce with remarkable soft skills once I finished the program.

4) What classes are you looking forward to taking this year?

I am looking forward to taking Data Science for Finance using Python. The class will enhance my data analysis technique by introducing powerful tools, and allow me to make accurate predictions by studying the data patterns.

5) How has your perspective on your career or your life changed since you came to Rady?

The Rady School of Management arranged many events for students to connect with alumni. It gave me an opportunity to build up my network and explore different financial positions, which gave me valuable insight into the industry

6) What are your goals after graduation?

Applying the terrific data analysis and communication skills earned at Rady in the workplace. Also, I would like to be a resource to prospective students.

7) What advice do you have for prospective students?

Reach out to Rady faculty and alumni when you need help or advice. They are always willing to answer questions and help out.



November 15, 2018 0 comment
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Rady School of Management Professor Kevin Zhu recently received a prestigious honor at the 2018 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Annual Meeting. Zhu was recognized as a Distinguished Fellow of the INFORMS Information Systems Society for his outstanding intellectual contributions to the information systems discipline. Three scholars received the highest honor in the field of 3,000 scholars worldwide.

“Kevin Zhu is an invaluable asset to the Rady School, providing a wealth of expertise in the information systems field,” said Robert Sullivan, Dean of the Rady School. “He is a dedicated mentor to students and alumni, and a devoted researcher with an impressive repertoire of articles in prestigious journals. This fellowship award is a testament to his successful career.”

The fellowship award was established to laud individuals who have conducted research that advances the information systems discipline. Award recipients are selected on the basis of penning publications that improve theory, research and practice within the discipline, serve as intellectual leaders, contribute to INFORMS journals and mentor doctoral students and young researchers.

Kevin Zhu was enthusiastically nominated by a dozen of highly respected scholars from more than 10 institutions. The nomination cited Zhu’s eligibility for this award, earning more than 8,800 citations in Google Scholar with high impact. His research has been published in the top academic journals, including Management ScienceInformation Systems ResearchIEEEMIS Quarterly, and Marketing Science.

Zhu takes pride in mentoring the next generation of leaders in the information systems discipline. Under his direction, more than 50 graduate students have completed projects exploring the impacts of next generation information technologies (cloud computing, sensors and data analytics, smart systems, block chains, and financial technologies) on how people live and work in the digital age. Several of his former doctoral students have become distinguished scholars or Deans in key institutions.

As the first information systems expert at UC San Diego, Zhu has significantly expanded the wealth of knowledge on campus, instructing undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students, and bringing key conferences to campus.

“It’s a tremendous honor for Professor Zhu to receive this recognition from the Information Systems research community,” said Terrence August, associate professor at the Rady School. “Professor Zhu’s research is widely cited and impactful, and the honor is well-deserved. I’ve enjoyed collaborating on research with Professor Zhu and his former Ph.D. student, Wei Chen, who is off to a successful start of his career at the University of Arizona.”

Hyoduk Shin, an associate professor at the Rady School, also recognized Zhu’s accomplishments.

“Congratulations to Kevin for this well-deserved award,” he said. “He has taken many leadership roles within the information systems community, which is recognized in this award. He has also worked hard to assist junior colleagues in his group in Rady. It has been my great pleasure working with him.”

His contributions to the information systems field go far beyond the UC San Diego campus. As an expert thought leader in the discipline, Zhu is frequently asked to serve on panels by the U.S. National Science Foundations and European Union and give presentations at key conferences and important institutions. Over the years, he has given more than 100 presentations at top institutions around the world.

“Information technologies have transformed industries and changed the society. Going forward, next generation of technologies will become even more of lifeblood for the digital economy,” Zhu said. “I’m honored to be part of the digital revolution.”

About Kevin Zhu

Zhu received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and has been an active faculty member at the Rady School for 12 years. Throughout his tenure at the School, he has taught courses including Technology Strategy, Technology-enabled Innovation, Innovation Leadership and Digital Healthcare. In addition to providing top-quality instruction to students, Zhu continues to conduct valuable research, contributing to the fields of information systems, data analytics, e-commerce, technology innovation, and more.


November 15, 2018 0 comment
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Rady School of Management at UCSD.

The MBA program at the Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego has been recognized as one of the top programs for entrepreneurship in the U.S. by the Princeton Review and Bloomberg Businessweek. The school’s MBA program ranked 16th in The Princeton Review’s “Top 25 Graduate Schools for Entrepreneurship of 2019,” and 24th in the Bloomberg Businessweek “Best Business Schools” entrepreneurship category.

Both rankings recognize the best programs for students aspiring to launch their own businesses.  In the Princeton Review ranking, the Rady School ascended from 25th to 16th in this year’s 2019 ranking, placing the school’s MBA program among the elite programs for entrepreneurship in the U.S.

“Since its founding, the Rady School has been dedicated to providing an outstanding education focused on innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Rady School Dean Robert S. Sullivan. “This ranking recognizes that the Rady School is a leader in entrepreneurial education. The incredible companies founded by our students and alumni are transforming our world and are proof-positive of the quality of entrepreneurship education the school provides.”

Since the school’s first MBA class graduated in 2006, students and alumni have started over 150 operational companies, contributing over $2 billion to the economy. The rapid success of startups originating at the school can be attributed to the unique structure of the Rady School’s MBA program, which integrates entrepreneurial education into the program through its capstone Lab to Market course sequence.



November 14, 2018 0 comment
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The Rady School of Management immediately stood out to me as the top choice among business schools in the US. I was drawn here because of the school’s focus on entrepreneurship, as I myself have been an entrepreneur for the last six years. I am now a second year FlexEvening Student graduating in March 2020. While going through my classes, I’ve realized that there’s so much to learn from big companies, especially those that value entrepreneurship within their organizations. As I transition away from my first company, I’m looking for opportunities within mid- to large-sized corporations that would suit my skill set and give me the opportunity to contribute to a team. The Bay Area Trek felt like the perfect opportunity to take the first step in that direction.

The Rady Graduate Career Connections organized the Bay Area Trek, arranging visits with dozens of incredible companies, including many Fortune 500 companies. The team sent out a survey where students each allocated 100 points to the various visits they’d like to attend. I chose to visit PayPal, LinkedIn, and Google San Francisco. There was a Bay Area Trek prep meeting about a week before the trip where logistics and etiquette were addressed. Each student also received detailed information and contacts for each company, along with a student point of contact for each visit. Every detail was covered for us; all we had to do was get ourselves over to each location!

My first stop was PayPal, where we were greeted by Megan Harvey, university programs manager. After getting proper security badges, we were given a warm welcome by Jim Van Over, experiential marketing & innovation specialist, who guided our group through an interactive experience that PayPal calls its Innovation Showcase. PayPal’s mission is to “democratize financial services, and serve the underserved,” and Jim showed us several ways that they’re implementing that mission in data security, risk management, products, and services. We then got to hear from a panel led by Mike Todasco, director of innovation. He and his team talked about their culture of innovation that extends across this global company, and how PayPal works worldwide to enable billions of safe payments without being a bank.

Next I headed over to LinkedIn. I had the pleasure of carpooling with Rady’s outgoing director of Rady Graduate Career Connections, Terra Saltzman-Baker. It was interesting finding our way to our destination because there are about a dozen buildings in one small cluster that all belong to LinkedIn! We observed what looked like LinkedIn’s own little universe complete with bikes, helmets, and umbrellas at the entrance of each building. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by Rady Alum, Anindita Gupta, who is a principal product manager at LinkedIn. I really enjoyed this visit!

After leaving LinkedIn we made our way to the Rady Alumni Mixer at Porterhouse in San Mateo. We were greeted by Yvonne Wu and the rest of the Rady careers team that traveled to the Bay Area. This hosted event was one of the highlights of the Trek experience. I got to reconnect with several recent alumni that I got to know over the first year of my MBA. It was fun to see Chiara Dorigo, who is currently an associate at Schaffer & Combs, and the inaugural president of the Women of Rady. I also got to meet other alumni who all had the inspiration to pass on from their post-graduate journeys at venture capital firms or companies like Gap and Tesla.

The following afternoon I went to Google San Francisco, which was the best way to wrap up this experience. While PayPal and LinkedIn had huge campuses with multiple buildings, this Google location was near downtown San Francisco within a larger building that overlooked the Bay Bridge. There are several other large companies like Amazon located within a short walking distance from Google. Our group was greeted by panelists and UC San Diego alumni, Philip Jia and William Lee, along with UC Berkeley Alum Shahed Sajadieh, all of whom happily shared their stories about how they became “Googlers”. After learning more about Google’s hiring process, company culture and team values, we were guided through the most amazing tour that included a plethora of fun, open, and lively, yet quiet workplaces that were ripe with enthusiasm from the hundreds of employees we encountered. The creativity of this firm was palpable. Each conference room has a fun name and each floor has a theme. Of all three companies that I visited, this one was my favorite!

I’m incredibly grateful for the experience that the Rady School of Management curated for me and my fellow students. I can now say I have a good idea of what life in the Bay Area would be like for a Rady MBA. I’ve gained some clarity for my own job search and made such wonderful connections with both current students and alumni. I appreciate that I’ll have a Rady network, almost anywhere I choose to go!


November 9, 2018 0 comment
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Early this October, students received the much-awaited email containing the list of companies that we would be visiting throughout the upcoming Bay Area Trek. The Bay Area Trek is a two-day event organized by the Rady School of Management where students have the opportunity to visit companies located in the Bay Area. This time around, students could visit Kaiser Permanente, PwC, Charles Schwab, Black Rock, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flex and Electronic Arts, among others. As a computer science student and an enthusiastic user of social media, I opted to visit Facebook and LinkedIn. I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit companies that have redefined the way people maintain personal and professional relationships in the world today.

In the days leading up to the trip, I wanted to make sure I was fully prepared and ready to put my best foot forward. I spent some time reading up about Facebook and LinkedIn and how they became the organizations that they are today. Doing my research beforehand gave me a better idea about what I could expect, and made me feel more confident and helped me think of questions that I could ask when I met them in person.

The first company for the day was Facebook. On my way there, I was able to experience first-hand the rush-hour traffic that the Bay Area is famous for. I was amazed to see how much the Facebook campus resembled a mini-city. They had their own shuttles, cycles and cabs for traveling within the campus. After checking in and having some breakfast, we sat down to listen to the team. They spoke about what working for Facebook was like, what their favorite things about the company are and how it is different from working at other organizations. They stressed how important the ‘learning mindset’ is, and how the abundance of resources enable them to produce their best work. This was followed by a campus tour where we got to see all the restaurants, the arcade and the store.

After lunch, I walked down to the LinkedIn office where I met the rest of the group. First, we had a panel with prominent leaders for LinkedIn. They talked about what their roles in LinkedIn are, their career paths and the work that The Economic Graph was producing. This was followed by a Q&A session where they answered questions about career trajectories, work, how LinkedIn had changed since it was acquired by Microsoft and what the future meant for LinkedIn. This was followed by a campus tour where an employee talked about all the perks available to LinkedIn employees and how all employees were expected to spend a day each month investing in themselves and learning something new.

After the company visits, our group headed to the Rady Alumni Mixer at Porterhouse in San Mateo. It was amazing interacting with our peers and Rady alumni, and to see how their journey had been since they graduated from Rady.

In all, the Bay Area Trek was an amazing experience. It made me realize how much I missed traveling and meeting new people. It gave me a unique insight into what working at Facebook and LinkedIn was like, and what values drove the culture in these two organizations. It was also interesting to see their own products played such an integral role in forming relationships within the organization, and how it gave everybody a sense of belonging and community. In today’s climate, where there is harsh criticism about the role of social media in our lives, we often tend to forget why they were created in the first place – to help everybody feel a little less lonely.

Manjushree Yethirajyam is an MSBA student at the Rady School of Management. With a background in computer science, she wants to use her skills to help organizations understand people better.  

November 6, 2018 0 comment
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Building and developing is in Keegan McNamara’s (MBA ’10) nature – whether it be in real estate ventures or supporting community-based initiatives. As the principal of a real estate company, with more than 20 years of experience in the business, McNamara is well-versed on how to build a project from the ground-up. But his newest project goes beyond acquisitions, entitlements, and construction – it’s about leveraging his success in the industry to support a flourishing nonprofit.

McNamara came to the Rady School during a pivotal moment in the United States’ economic history. Three days after beginning his MBA program, the 2008 stock market crash hit, decimating the economy.

“Three days before my first day at Rady, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and that was really the first domino in the entire meltdown of the economy,” he said. “Throughout my journey at Rady, it seemed like things were getting worse in the economy every day. Every Friday the FDIC would announce a new list of banks that they were closing down. It was surreal.”

Initially, McNamara was uncertain of the value of obtaining an MBA or not in an increasingly uncertain job market, but the crash reaffirmed his decision.

“Because I was a real estate person, I was kind of on the fence about going back to school,” he said. “I wanted to get an MBA – it was a goal of mine. But once the subprime market hit a year before the 2008 recession, I thought, ‘Now’s a really good time to get another degree.’”

When it came to selecting an MBA program, the choice was easy for McNamara. With a focus on entrepreneurship and an innovative approach to curriculum, McNamara knew the Rady School would arm him with an arsenal of skills and tools to succeed in all aspects of business.

“The reason I went with Rady’s MBA program is that I wanted a broad business background,” he said. “I didn’t want a real estate specific MBA. I also wanted to go to the best school in town.”

With an already thriving professional resume, McNamara pursued an MBA to help him acquire the tricks of the entrepreneurial trade to help him launch his own business. After graduating from Rady, he launched McNamara Ventures – a real estate development and investment company focused on residential and mixed-use properties.

Giving back by paying it forward

Through the success of his business, McNamara has found that the best part of his career has been giving back to the community. During his time at the Rady School, a classmate introduced him to the Barrio Logan College Institute, an afterschool program designed to help students in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego succeed. After attending a fundraiser event, he was hooked.

Initially, McNamara used his skills and real estate ties to help the organization find a new and improved facility to operate in. But once he learned more about the organization’s incredible reach and influence – such as boasting a 100 percent high school graduation rate of program participants, with 100 percent of students choosing to attend college – McNamara decided to get more involved with Barrio Logan College Institute. He now serves on the Board of Directors and has various roles on Executive Leadership committees.

“It’s such an inspiring organization – 100 percent of the kids go to college!  And they are usually the first in their family to graduate from high school, let alone attend college.  The more I give to this organization, the more I get back,” he said. “I’ve met so many incredible people from the community and the kids are extremely driven and motivated. It’s inspiring to see them succeed and pursue their passions and dreams.”

In addition to helping BLCI locate the perfect permanent home, McNamara’s team has pledged to donate to the organization. His team recently completed the construction of a townhome project, Guild on 30th, and with the help of key consultants on the team and an anonymous donor, the combined efforts raised $30,000 to support the BLCI mission.

Lessons learned

One of the most important lessons McNamara learned during his time at the Rady School? Networking and building relationships.

“The relationships I’ve built over the years with classmates, alumni and the professors have been invaluable,” he said. “The Rady network is constantly growing – there are so many events and opportunities to meet with business experts and venture capitalists. I have a much broader network of folks who are outside of the real estate industry, in the tech field, the science world, and so many friends who are extremely successful.”

McNamara also feels compelled to give back to the school and program that has given him so much. He recently joined the Rady Alumni Board and is working to increase communication and engagement to ensure alumni stay connected to campus. He also presents in Rady classes, and emphasizes the importance of getting involved with socially-responsible ventures like Barrio Logan College Institute.

Becoming more connected to Rady helped McNamara get even more involved with his altruistic side. This summer, his worlds collided when he fostered his connections and brought Launchpad – a Rady program that introduces high school students to Rady School entrepreneurial resources and the startup community – to the kids of the BLCI.   The weeklong program gave the future entrepreneurs a chance to foster business ideas and even pitch their companies to a panel at the end of the week.

Finding a balance between personal and professional life is a difficult one to achieve, but McNamara’s connections to his community and alma mater have made the transition from one to the other seamless.

“It’s easy for most of us to get stuck in our day-to-day routines because we’re so busy at work and it’s hard to imagine taking time to give back,” he said. “But giving back is an essential part of being a balanced person and the rewards are so tremendous.”

Next Steps

McNamara’s plate is full, but he sees his busy schedule as a privilege and a calling. He and his BLCI team are working to expand the program, both in scope and location.

“Right now we are in negotiations for a long-term lease for an incredible property that we hope will be the forever-home for BLCI,” he said. “Our current lease is expiring in a year, so we need to move again.  I love urban infill and community revitalization, and this will be a tremendous opportunity for an adaptive re-use of two buildings that have served the community of Barrio Logan for two generations already.  The owners are incredible people who have the vision to see their properties creating an even longer-term legacy in the community.  I’m so honored to play a small role in helping the organization grow and move into new space.”



November 2, 2018 0 comment
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Making the decision to pursue an MBA degree is no easy feat. There are a number of intricacies to consider before determining which program is worth the commitment. For Julian Ames (MBA ’20), his decision was made easy – it was a choice to continue his father’s legacy in his favorite city.

Originally from Washington D.C., Julian earned a psychology degree from the University of Vermont. After graduation, he worked as a youth counselor, personal trainer and in the sales and digital marketing sectors. While he found success in his position, he knew that in order to move up in his career, obtaining an MBA from a prestigious university was the logical next step.

“I decided to apply to a number of MBA programs because I wanted to have options, but I wasn’t sure what I really wanted,” he said. “I got accepted into a number of programs, such as Northeastern, Maryland and Pepperdine, but none of the programs stood out to me. I was looking for a program that could help me channel my interests and passions into a career, or help me start a company of my own.”

Whenever Julian sought advice, he turned to his father Brian. An accomplished entrepreneur and economist, Brian was a graduate of Harvard Business School who emphasized the importance of hard work and education in Julian’ life. Brian was born and raised in La Mesa, a city within San Diego’s city limits, and spent a number of summers visiting his beloved hometown with his family in tow for vacation. The first time Julian stepped onto the warm sands of Mission Beach, he pledged to find a way to return to San Diego for good.

Julian and Brian devised a plan to make that dream a reality – Brian would retire and pursue entrepreneurial efforts, and Julian would apply for the MBA program at the Rady School of Management.

In addition to its proximity to the beach, Julian was drawn to the Rady School for its unique approach to business school. Although the school presents opportunities for students to connect with top-tier companies, Julian appreciated the emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship – traits his father asserted were imperative to his success in the business world.

In July of 2016, Brian was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor. Despite his uncertain future and a schedule jam-packed with doctor’s appointments, surgeries and treatment plans, Julian and Brian made the decision to soldier on with the plan.

And then the acceptance letter came – Julian was accepted into the Rady School of Management Full-Time MBA program.

“I remember that moment vividly — when I opened my acceptance letter, my dad was so pumped,” Julian said with a smile. “He was so excited for me, and he was also, in a way, pretty pompous – knowing that he had inspired me to do this, and seeing me follow through with goals I set for myself.”

Soon after Julian received his acceptance, Brian’s condition took a turn for the worse. Julian chose to defer his acceptance to the Rady School and leave work to spend time with Brian. Brian passed away on December 21, 2017.

“I can’t speak enough about how wonderful of a human being he was in all facets of life. He wasn’t just my father — he was my best friend,” Julian said. “He was my mentor in life and in business. He was extremely intelligent, outgoing and easy to get along with. A real bright light. We had always planned to drive across the country together and move out to San Diego, so to honor him, I followed through with our plan.”

Why Rady?

Confronting grief while pursuing an advanced degree is not an endeavor for the faint of heart, but Julian finds strength channeling his father’s spirit – in perseverance, determination and positivity.

Julian embraces his father in all aspects of his life, applying his work ethic to his schoolwork, jobs, fitness and entrepreneurial efforts. He looks to the advice – both solicited and unsolicited – that his father bestowed upon him in times of uncertainty and to find strength in facing challenges. But when asked about his decision to attend the Rady School of Management, Julian is confident he made the right choice. As he approached the midpoint of his first quarter, he reflected on the facets of Rady that attracted him to the school in the first place.

“If your goal is to be an entrepreneur, more focused on the startup experience, the Rady School is the perfect place,” he said. “If you’re aiming to secure a specific job title at a company you’ve had your eye on, Rady can help you with that as well.”

While Julian is interested in pursuing a number of career options – such as product development, large-scale marketing and even developing his own fitness resort — he is excited to explore the entrepreneurial opportunities, with prospective company ideas abound.

“I’m looking forward to getting involved with the StartR Accelerator, as well as Lab to Market because these entities can actually facilitate funding and guidance for your ventures,” he said. “These programs make Rady unique – there are several entities in place that are geared towards entrepreneurs and startups.”

To say Julian has hit the ground running would be an understatement. He has already leveraged the Rady Alumni Network, reaching out to alumni to connect with potential internship opportunities, is signing up for career fairs, making friends with his cohort and reaching out to faculty — all things he believes his Dad would have suggested.

“It’s definitely been a challenge, but when I let that ‘Brian Ames’ part of me come out, all good things happen — in relationships, in business, in all aspects of my life. ”






October 18, 2018 0 comment
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