How Rady School Alumni Are Responding to COVID-19

Alumni working at the Scripps Research Institute are conducting a study to improve the real-time surveillance of contagious respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 using data from smartwatches and activity trackers. Through the app-based DETECT study, Katie Baca-Motes (MBA ’09 and Director of the All of Us research project), Royan Kamyar (MBA ’10, physician and CEO and founder of Owaves app) and project manager and incoming MBA FlexWeekend student Lauren Ariniello, along with their colleagues, are crowdsourcing anonymized data across the United States.

“By evaluating individual changes to heart rate, sleep and activity patterns, as well as logged respiratory symptoms and diagnostics test results, the Scripps’ team hopes to complement traditional public health surveillance methods, potentially leading to earlier detection and containment of current and future outbreaks in various geographical locations,” said Baca-Motes.

Rady Alumni Board president Josh Kuss is the Senior Director of Commercial Strategy at Illumina and the commercial lead for the company’s San Diego Emergency Management Team. The team has been working since March “defining and implementing the strategies for how we keep Illumina’s employees safe, while ensuring supply to our customers, many of which are on the front line of SARS-COV-2/COVID19 research, tracing, and treatment. We tackled how to transition to work from home, and are now in the process of determining a sound return to work strategy,” said Kuss.

Krithi Bindal (MBA ’17) is the founder and president of Aroga Biosciences, a regulatory writing biopharma firm which has been donating their scientific expertise to peer-review pre-print literature related to COVID-19 research.

“We are in a period of information overload,” said Bindal. “Misinformation about COVID-19, especially information lacking scientific rigor, can lead to significant risk to the public. I feel it is our duty as scientists to ensure effective communication and to help delineate scientific factual results from fiction. After all, our job as scientists is to find the truth.”

“The name of our company Aroga is based on the sanskrit term ‘arogya”, which means free of disease. We hope to continue to contribute to freeing the world of disease as we help to develop treatments for ailing patients. As we navigate these challenging times, our mission is unchanged and is stronger than ever.”

Richard Castle (FlexWeekend MBA ’13), the co-founder and president of Cloudbeds, a hospitality management software, launched the #HospitalityHelps initiative. The online platform facilitates connections between hotel properties that want to make their beds available to healthcare agencies, organizations or individuals who need them. Within a few days, the more than 1.2 million beds had been pledged at

Andrea Yoder Clark (MSBA ’17), and her consulting company LiveGoode Programs & Analytics is working with 211 San Diego to analyze statewide data collected from regional 211s to support the state of California’s policy response to COVID-19’s impact on most vulnerable populations.

Jaden Risner and Clay Treska (FlexWeekend MBA ’19) founded Family Proud an app to help patients and their caregivers and loved ones manage their care, while they were students at the Rady School. In Spring 2020, the Family Proud platform was updated to include resources and support for those affected by COVID-19.

Snehanshu Tiwari, Vishnu Sharon R. and Sakshi Sharma (MSBA ’18) contacted Professor Ken Wilbur to offer their help reviewing resumes, preparing for interviews or make introductions for current MSBA students graduating this summer. When Professor Wilbur shared this update on LinkedIn, even more alumni offered to help!

Steve Prestrelski (FlexWeekend MBA ’06) is the founder and chief scientific officer of Xeris Pharmaceuticals, which is offering its GVOKE Pre-Filled Syringe—an injectable treatment for diabetes patients who experience severe hypoglycemia—for $0 copay through May 31st.

The team at Indigo Marketing Agency, founded by Claire Akin (MBA ’10). prepared a list of tips for working from home. “Indigo Marketing Agency is a company run almost completely virtually by mothers of young children,” said Akin. “We saw so many of our clients struggling to adapt, so we wanted to offer our tips and tricks for working at home (even with small children) … I believe that we are helping our team members support their families and spend time with their children. It’s the best of both worlds and it provides a highly fulfilling lifestyle!”

Sean Haggerty (FlexWeekend MBA ’17), founder of Protector Brewery, made curbside pickup and delivery available, in addition to offering the brewery’s supply of filtered water available to those in need. Protector Brewery has pledged to donate $1 from each order to Team Rubicon, a non-profit organization supporting veterans impacted by COVID-19.

Sara Jones (Flex Weekend ’13) is the CEO of Plum Blossom Creations. She is offering free workshops on The Big Four of Mental Toughness. “As an Unbeatable Mind student, I learned first-hand the power of the Big 4 of Mental Toughness in my fight against Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I used the Big 4 to feed my Courage Wolf, stare down my fears and thrive through the health crisis that threatened my life.”

Roche Diagnostics North America, of which Matt Sause (FlexWeekend MBA ’06) is president and CEO, developed the first available commercial test kit for the novel coronavirus, which was granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.

Do you know of a Rady School of Management alumni responding to COVID-19? Please email with more information.

April 8, 2020 0 comment
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Dear Members of the Rady Community:
As news is shared regarding developments around the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, I’m following with diligence, and thinking carefully of how this will impact the ensuing course of events in each of our lives and those closest to us, our school, and the world.

Fortunately, a team of experts from the UC San Diego leadership team and health care experts are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health and San Diego County Public Health to ensure the ongoing safety at the university and within the community. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders is the first priority for us as we put plans in place to ensure continuity of programs and teaching.

UC San Diego has a dedicated website with resources and updates available as developments for the Novel Coronavirus 2019 are shared, and the Rady School of Management will be adhering to all policies put in place as a campus and within the University of California system. Any changes or measures taken are done with the greatest care in order to protect each within our community in addition to those who are most vulnerable to the disease.

Specific messaging surrounding the rescheduling of any events impacted by these changes will be shared in the coming weeks as information becomes available. At this point in time, we have prioritized contingency planning of immediately impacted classes and programs, and ask for your patience with any questions or inquiries coming in to various departments as we manage this transition.

To our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and all of our friends and supporters: I understand that these challenges require greater creativity, agility, and patience in each of our daily lives, and I want to express my gratitude for the resilience you are demonstrating and will continue to share with one another.

I am proud of the efforts and work being led by researchers at UC San Diego and worldwide to address the uncertainty of the Novel Coronavirus 2019. This important work truly embodies the translation of ideas to impact that our school represents.

I recognize that as a community we are still faced with many unknowns as we work together through an unprecedented chapter in our lives. This is also an opportunity for us to embrace the different ways in which we are able to communicate, to connect, and to be supportive of one another.

I’m thinking of each of you during this time, and will work to keep you informed in the days and weeks ahead.

In gratitude,

Lisa D. Ordóñez, Ph.D.
Dean, Rady School of Management
Stanley and Pauline Foster Endowed Chair

March 20, 2020 0 comment
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Read the Research Paper Ranked Best in Class for Social Impact by Financial Times

Raise your hand if you’ve got a smartphone next to you. This one’s for you.

Brain Drain,” a 2017 research paper co-authored by Rady School professor Ayelet Gneezy and Ph.D. graduate Kristen Duke (Ph.D. ’19), was recently recognized as having the highest social impact according to a best in class survey by Financial Times.

Gneezy and Duke’s research tested the “brain drain” hypothesis, that the “mere presence” of your smartphone might make it more difficult for you to engage with the task at hand, even when you’re resisting the temptation to actually check your phone. (Their research suggests that it does.)

Now raise your hand if you’ve just thrown your phone out the window.

To measure social impact, Financial Times first asked business schools to submit up to five research papers published within the last five years for consideration. Using Altmetrics, Financial Times measured “the online resonance that each [research paper] had with the wider world beyond universities,” including data such as academic citations, blog references and tweets. “Brain Drain” received an Altmetric score of 3956, more than five times higher than the second-highest-scoring paper.

Another paper, co-authored by Rady School Professor Sally Sadoff, “The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance,” was also recognized among the top 100 results in the survey.

February 25, 2020 0 comment
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How to Increase Your Authenticity When Speaking in Public

You’ve rehearsed your pitch over and over again to prepare for the big meeting. So, how do you tell your story without sounding rehearsed?

Let’s ask Associate Professor of Marketing Rachel Gershon.

Gershon’s research focuses on understanding and improving human decision making with a focus on social and prosocial behavior. Some of her research looks at perceptions of authenticity.

In the paper Twice-told tales: Self-repetition decreases observer assessments of performer authenticity, Gershon and her co-author describe how we generally assume social interactions to be unique. When we find out that someone is repeating themselves, we find them to be less authentic, and in turn, we feel less likely to want to engage with them in the future.

Watch the video below for a research-backed tip on how you can repeat a performanceand still appear authenticthe next time you speak in public.

February 21, 2020 0 comment
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Four Tips for Facilitating Change in the Workplace

Lessons shared by male allies at the ASCEND Executive Women’s Forum:

“A year from now, we want to be able to say, ‘Yes, look at the changes that we were able to make in the community. Look at how we were able to put this into action.’” Tasha Ross, Director of Corporate Relations for the Rady School of Management addresses a room of 40 women at the recent ASCEND Executive Women’s forum.

ASCEND, a triannual event produced by and at the Rady School of Management gathers select women in executive leadership positions across San Diego to evolve beyond discussion of the challenges they face and move toward pushing boundaries and solving issues.

The January 2020 ASCEND Forum focused on engaging with male allies to change the conversation – to see more inclusive leadership across San Diego businesses.  First, Professor Uri Gneezy presented research about workplace inequities that he and his colleague, Professor Ayelet Gneezy, are conducting for a forthcoming book. For instance, most office spaces have the temperature controls set at a lower temperature, one that is often too cold for female employees. While this is a small example, it is one that most can relate to and highlights some of the questions posed in the book. 

Three others: Lenny Comma, CEO of Jack in the Box; Navy Captain Al Worthy and William Molloie, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers were invited to speak on a panel as male allies.

Facilitated by Panthera Leadership CEO and Executive Coach, Felicia Lyon, and including questions from forum members, the panel offered actionable insights about what men and women of the workforce can do to acknowledge bias and facilitate change in the workforce.  

1. Don’t put the pressures of the world on yourself.

Tell us if this sounds familiar. Lunch time is approaching and you have a long to-do list before the next big deadline. You head to the kitchen to heat up your food, which you’ll eat at your desk while you work. In the kitchen, you run into a colleague who asks how your presentation went yesterday.

“Fine,” you say. “I’ll send you a recap before the end of the day.” The microwave chimes, you grab your food and keep walking.

Your interactions are brief and transactional. Who has time for anything else?

“The outcome is that relationships aren’t built within brief interactions, and if you just take a little pressure off of yourself, you may be able to build stronger relationships,” says Comma. “Trust and believe in yourself. No one is going to be perfect. Don’t put pressure on yourself just because you believe that the world is putting pressure on you. Instead, be yourself. People are most attracted to you and want you to do your best work for the organization because you are you. If you can’t do your best work there and be you, then go somewhere else.”

2. Expand your network.

In a recent study, LinkedIn reported that among people who applied for jobs directly on their platform, those who asked for a referral from one of their connections were nine times more likely to get the position.

The caveat here is that our networks typically consist of people who look just like us. “Ducks pick ducks,” said Captain Worthy. This perpetuates a lack of diversity as employees move—or don’t—up the ranks of an organization. And a lack of diversity is straight-up bad for business.

“When there’s a decision to be made, different perspectives only make it better,” Molloie said. “That requires breaking the mold of ‘I’m comfortable with people like me and we all get the same answer.’ Because that might not be the right answer.”

Comma adds: “When you have multiple women on a team, the conversation tends to get more real. Women have had to navigate through the ‘good old boy’ conversation. Women have figured out how to challenge and change the conversation more than men who haven’t had to go through as much adversity. The process tends to be richer.”

3. Don’t overlook the middle.

From 2011-2013, Captain Worthy served as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Naval Aviation Enterprise. After every forum or program they produced, Captain Worthy said he always asked one question: What do we do now?

“We realized that the only time men were hearing this conversation was when they were already at the top,” Captain Worthy said. They were eager to get it done, but in a 100,000-person organization, how do you instill change?”

Realizing this, Worthy’s team began bringing men in middle management to the diversity and inclusion conversation. “The men in the middle need to grow with the women next to them so that the culture changes below and these managers effect change as they rise through the ranks,” he said. “It can’t just come from the top.” 

4. Practice transparency.

Years back as a manager working his way to partner, Molloie coached his child’s soccer team. Driving from the office to soccer practice took at least an hour and 15 minutes, which meant that three days a week, he needed to leave the office at 3 p.m. to get to practice on time.

After about a year of “sneaking out early,” Molloie found himself waiting for the elevator next to a PwC practice leader.  Molloie immediately thought, ‘Oh crap, I hope he doesn’t ask me where I’m going.’ The practice leader was anxiously hitting the button, and said, ‘If this elevator doesn’t come, I’m going miss rugby practice! I have to get home!’”

Molloie realized he need not hide where he was going. Seeing a leader in his organization take the time he needed—and not apologize for it—made Molloie realize he could do the same. 

“If you’re not transparent, you’re prolonging the projection that ‘this never happens,’” Molloie said. “Although this is hard, if it’s not acceptable , you don’t want to be there. So be transparent. Only good can come from that. It may not feel like that all the time, but only good will come from that.”

At Rady, we believe in community partnerships. If you would like to connect to discuss ways to engage with the Rady School of Management, please contact

February 18, 2020 0 comment
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Accounting Professionals Share Their Best Career Advice for Students

Career fairs can be nerve-wracking affairs. We all want to make a great first impression on potential employers. So, how do we do that? We asked several accounting professionals attending a recent Meet the Firms — an accounting career fair hosted by the Rady School to introduce undergraduate accounting minors and MPAc students to dozens of employers — to share their best pieces of advice for students.

What employers want to see at a career fair:

“Someone that we can get along with in the workplace and that would have a professional demeanor when we place them in front of clients.” – Natalie Allen, UC San Diego alum and audit associate at KPMG

“Come out, be your true self. Definitely be prepared. Have some questions prepared for us to give feedback so we can get a dialogue. But then also ask us about who we are.” – Nick Winicki, UC San Diego alum and senior audit associate at Deloitte

“Communication skills. Definitely. We always say that you can always teach someone something, but it’s hard to teach soft skills to students.” -Rey Bada, staff accountant at Weworski & Associates

Next steps after a career fair:

“I think the students should think about what they’re most interested in and what they’re looking for in a career. If they’re in accounting, think about whether you’re interested in tax or audit so you can find the right path for you.” – Megan Chatman, tax manager at Gatto, Pope & Walwick, LLP

“Make sure you get business cards and then follow up with them afterwards. So every follow-up email I sent, I tried to include something we talked about so they’d remember me.” – Nick Winicki

Best advice for a job interview:

“Just be yourself, be punctual. Do some research about the firm and come up with really good questions to ask the interviewer and just try to make an impact.” – Michelle Koh, tax content analyst at Intuit

“It’s fine to be nervous. It’s fine. It happens to everyone. But the opportunities are out there and you have to be a go-getter. Go for that.” – Jose Palacios, UC San Diego alum and commercial credit underwriter at California Bank and Trust

“Be yourself. I think we all have a tendency to get nervous during a job interview but do what you can to keep your nerves calm and just really be who you are.” – Megan Chatman

“If you don’t know kind of the ins and outs of the bank and have really looked into why you’re excited to work here, it’s hard for us to see you in those positions.” – Nicole Wells, campus recruiter at California Bank & Trust

How to advance in your career:

“Participate some way in the community, whether it’s through volunteering time in the nonprofit, or being able to have a little bit of background of what it is to be in the workforce and become a little bit more knowledgeable.” – Cynthia Solomon, UC San Diego alum and relationship banker at California Bank & Trust

February 11, 2020 0 comment
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This post originally appeared on AACSB.

When Suman Kanuganti (MBA ’14) arrived at the Rady School of Management, he knew he wanted to leave with an idea that would change the world—he just wasn’t sure where to start. An impactful course in entrepreneurship incited Kanuganti to pull from his experience to address a societal need. A question was posed to the class: How can entrepreneurship inspire positive change in the lives of others?

Motivated by a perseverant friend with deteriorating vision, Suman decided to use his engineering skills to help empower visually impaired individuals to achieve their full potential. Launched by Kanuganti in 2015, Aira was created to help visually impaired individuals navigate the world with more freedom and autonomy. By leveraging leading technologies, such as smart glasses and mobile devices, Aira connects users with a network of trained remote human agents to provide them with instant access to information and assistance in the physical and digital world, when and where they want it.

Aira is one of today’s fastest-growing assistive communities, revolutionizing travel, commuting, and shopping for visually impaired individuals. Aira users are able to connect to agents who are able to see a user’s location and surroundings, providing a clear, live auditory narrative of the user’s environment in virtually any daily activity.

Through partnerships with Lyft, airports, Walgreens, universities (including the University of California San Diego), sports stadiums, museums, and other lifestyle venues, Aira has brought its assistive service to millions across the U.S. and around the world. As the technologist and innovator who co-founded and serves as president of Aira Tech Corp., Kanuganti is reducing barriers and empowering people who are blind or have low vision to fully engage, explore, and experience the visual world.

Kanuganti is an active alumnus at the Rady School of Management, and has hired five other Rady School alumni to Aira. He has also worked with Rady School faculty to host two capstone projects for the Master of Science in Business Analytics. In addition, Kanuganti has spoken at several events to share his story with students, including a TEDxUCSD talk in 2017.

January 28, 2020 0 comment
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We all know the struggle of sticking to New Year’s resolutions. We start strong, and then by February, our willpower to resist a plate of french fries or commit to a gym routine is gone faster than, well, said plate of fries.

What can we do to make healthy habits actually stick?

Associate Professor of Marketing Wendy Liu has answers. Liu specializes in consumer judgment and decision making, focusing on the cognitive and emotional basis of consumer choice, social interactions, and well-being.

Her recent research topics include decision making under complexity, self control decisions, and the role of emotions and social motivations in customer behavior. She also studies consumer behavior in medical and health domains.

Watch the clip below for a quick tip on how to see your new habits all the way through December.

January 21, 2020 0 comment
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