My Story: From Gallo Wine To UCLA’s Anderson School

UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management

UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management

Regrets? I wish I had the opportunity to know some of my classmates more deeply than I did, particularly some international students because they tend to engage at a lower level with campus happenings. I wish I had known some of my Chinese classmates who had never been to California before they arrived here. And if I wasn’t involved in student government, I would have really loved to have taken some classes outside of Anderson. It’s set up so that it’s easy to do. I am going into life sciences and it would have been so great to tap one of the best life sciences programs in the world. If i could do it over again, I would put more attention toward that.

I am really grateful for having a family that is loving and supportive. In addition to that, they put a high value on education and academic pursuits. That was the first priority when I grew up. That was drilled into me and I got the opportunity to go to UCLA twice. It would have been just as easy to be born into a family that didn’t understand the importance of education.

In my first year in the MBA program, I joined the Riordan program and became a mentor to underrepresented minorities who want to try to go to college or graduate school. A lot of these kids come from households were education is just a black box. Their parents don’t know what the SAT is or how to navigate this competitive journey into a good college. The vast majority don’t understand the value of education.

If I were dean, what would I try to change? Alumni engagement. About 15 years ago when we were a discount value proposition, that left a looser tie between the people who left the program and the school. So it leaves us with alumni who don’t have the same emotional connection to the school that some of our peers do. It is a disservice to them and to the current students who are yearning for a deeper and more meaningful alumni interaction. Judy will tell you that is one of the reasons we are underfunded compared to our peers. It has left us in this place where we are a half step behind. That was a big focus for me. I have a vice president of alumni development, Zubin Davar. He and the rest of my team were able to accomplish a lot on that front in a 12-month period. That has made me really bullish on what we can do on that front.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.