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Greg Buonaccorsi

Greg Buonaccorsi

Greg Buonaccorsi

There’s a lot more that goes on at a Dodgers game than Clayton Kershaw striking out batters or employees serving hot dogs to spectators. Behind the scenes lies an intricate operation comprised of hard-working, innovative individuals collaborating to put on the experience millions of fans adore. Greg Buonaccorsi lives out this dream by merging his love for sports with his interest in business, a marriage of passions that began long ago.

Greg did not originally envision himself being admitted to UCLA, much less attending. But as an avid sports fan and enthused student, he couldn’t resist the possibility of contributing to the university’s athletic program while simultaneously learning from influential professors teeming with insights. The school’s pallet of prestigious athletics coupled with its academic reputation made Westwood the perfect fit for him.

For Greg, reinforcing his passion for business stemmed from interacting with a variety of different fields, as he dabbled with architecture and engineering before concentrating on his aptitude for business. He then enrolled at UCLA as a business economics major, an area of study that he felt “had a perfect marriage between the practicality on the business side, and the critical thinking on the economics side.”

Coming from a small hometown, Greg sought out numerous avenues of support to adjust to the vastness of UCLA, and found a home in the basketball program built by Coach John Wooden.  Having arrived in Westwood after supervising his high school basketball team’s operations, he marketed his managerial experience to obtain a position in college basketball’s most storied program. He acted as a manager for all four of his years at UCLA, and served as head student manager in the 1994-1995 season, the same year the Bruins emerged victorious to claim their record-setting 11th national title.

“Being part of a program that Coach Wooden created was an absolutely phenomenal opportunity. A few months before season, I’m in my hometown. The next thing I know, I’m in Pauley Pavilion looking up at national championship banners.”

In addition to the unforgettable experiences Greg accumulated through the basketball program, he also absorbed valuable skills in the classroom that would serve him for the rest of his life. One of Greg’s most memorable teachers, Professor David Ravetch, not only taught him the complexities of accounting, but also inculcated a dynamic approach to learning. Greg quickly discovered that his key to success did not lie merely in his propensity to comprehend the material. He understood the necessity of learning to apply the material to new and challenging situations he had never seen before, a skill that transcended his academic performances at UCLA and permeated into a key tool in his professional endeavors.

Upon graduating from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in business economics, Buonaccorsi integrated his education with his passion for sports and sought out a position at accounting firm Ernst & Young, who at the time audited professional sports organizations such as the Los Angeles Clippers. Working on the Clippers engagement allowed Greg to thrive under the mentorship of Anderson alumnus Dan Beckerman, whose guidance influenced Buonaccorsi to pursue a graduate education before returning to industry.

Following his graduation from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, Buonaccorsi held positions at venerable institutions such as the New York Times and Warner Brothers. While financial planning for journalists might not have been a perfect marriage of his two passions, he gained valuable experience that proved vital in his return to a competitive sports industry. Greg understood that jobs in sports management have little turnover, and individuals who work such positions generally reap the benefits for as long as they deem reasonable. His largest piece of advice to a prospective sports businessman? “If you’re not able to get into sports immediately, find the best job you can find within your functional area (such as finance), and do the best you can at it.” Buonaccorsi made his return to sports by assuming the position of Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at the Charlotte Bobcats.

After delving back into industry, Greg faced no shortage of challenging professional experiences, but a sense of obligation to his family encouraged him to geographically transition back to the West Coast. In 2014, Buonaccorsi utilized his networking skills to promote himself for a position with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was subsequently hired to fill an opening in the franchise’s Finance Department. His breadth of work might not be the face of the organization in the same way Clayton Kershaw’s statistics captivate the Dodger faithful, but his collaboration with a vast group of high-achieving individuals proves fundamental to operating a professional sports club that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Now serving as a Senior Director, Greg and his team look for ways to expand their operations beyond baseball and often explore worthwhile startup investments, a practice not all franchises undertake.

“We’re always stretching and reaching for those new opportunities,” Greg said. “To be at an organization that doesn’t just think of themselves solely as an MLB franchise, is really interesting.”

Communication skills serve as one of the hallmarks of Greg’s occupation, as a mere understanding of financial analysis does not suffice when conveying complex proposals to employees from the nearly fifty departments he partners with. He says his “soft skills’’ are imperative in assuring that the meticulously-crafted plans of his department are optimally implemented to improve the operations of the franchise.

Now fully immersed in his professional ventures, Buonaccorsi still fondly reflects on his time at UCLA and the gratifying sensation of graduating from an institution he never imagined attending. “If you told me when I was in high school that I would graduate from UCLA…I would have been extremely shocked. Graduating from UCLA was my biggest accomplishment.”

Greg still remains an active Bruin, administering guidance to undergraduate students through the UCLA One program, as he hopes to inspire the next generation of leaders in business and finance. Buonaccorsi notes that the most invaluable piece of wisdom he can express to an aspiring young leader is to “utilize the four years of college to experiment with different ideas and to discover what is most authentic to yourself.” Once that happens, he remarks, it is essential to become a sponge for knowledge, to hone your craft, and become an expert in that field. Doing so, he concludes, will ease the decisions that an individual will come across as she explores her professional path.

By Andreas Papoutsis

Michael Terry

UCLA alumnus Michael Terry’s sprint in the business world is comparable to his time as an Olympic track runner: fueled by boundless energy and determination. Terry graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a degree in Business Economics and later received an MBA from the Anderson School of Management. He currently works as an Executive Vice President in Account Management at PIMCO.

With the diversity and talent present at UCLA, excellence was Terry’s only option. Adopting a ‘constructive paranoia’ mindset, which is hard work induced by the realization that there are more challenges on the way, continually pushed him to thrive both as a student and as an athlete. Moreover, it prepared him for new endeavors that rapidly came around the corner. In fact, as Terry fondly recalls, his most memorable race was right after graduation at the Atlanta Olympics, and less than three weeks later, he had to start working at PwC.

Michael Terry

Terry emphasizes the importance of learning in diverse settings and engaging with people of different views and backgrounds, especially since UCLA epitomized his philosophy of ‘contrast brings clarity’ by giving him a rich multicultural experience. To this point, he encourages Bruins to take advantage of college by getting to know people outside of their major. Another way to become more open-minded and think clearly is to travel. Having backpacked in Europe during the summer of his junior year, he found the experience to be truly enriching and worthwhile. So it is no surprise that today he has traveled to 83 countries.

It was also at UCLA where Terry met one of his mentors, Professor Stephen Cauley. Having understood the difficulty of managing academia and athletics, Professor Cauley took Terry under his wing during Terry’s junior year and offered him valuable advice that he still remembers. A few years after graduation, Terry had made a name for himself in day trading and was featured in Business Week. Upon reading this article, Professor Cauley reached out to Terry and provided some personalized advice for ways Terry could join his lifelong career goals with his passion for the financial markets. Terry took the advice and used the next few years (including his time at UCLA Anderson) to successfully network and position himself for a Sales and Trading role on Wall Street.  In hindsight, the professor’s words helped steer Terry’s career sprint into a marathon, as he now finds himself thriving in his role at one of the world’s premier investment management firms.

As Terry talked about his career, he emphasized emotional intelligence and openness to change as important, but often overlooked, drivers of success.  Terry has learned that the ability to influence coworkers and clients is essential and that it has less to do with what you already know; it’s how well you listen and react.  Also, as technology and globalization rapidly impacts all industries, Terry would have a hard time hiring someone that has never failed, as resiliency is becoming more important than ever before. He underscored that new graduates should focus their attention on not only being ‘right’, but also being liked.  While Terry believes UCLA students already excel at this, the ability to effectively collaborate is crucial.

Having been through the process himself, Terry has experienced constant personal development and success throughout his career. The relationships that he built throughout his time at UCLA contributed to pushing him forward and provided lifelong friends and mentors. Even now, he works alongside many fellow Bruins who share a bond through their Bruin spirit.

By Natsharee Pulkes and Radhika Ahuja

Julie Lee

Julie Lee

You may have not heard of Julie Lee, but you have definitely heard music on Vevo. A founding member of Vevo, Julie helped revolutionize the music video industry. Immigrating to the United States as a child, Julie embarked on a journey that has since taken her across the world. Today, Julie is a business executive, entrepreneur, leader and mother.

In fact, she is just as energetic and driven today as she was when she first arrived at UCLA. A natural leader, Julie served as President for a business club on campus. She remarks that the greatest thing about UCLA was the network and mentors she had. In particular, one of her most influential mentors was Dr. McGarry, the former chair of the UCLA Econ Department. A confluence of great beginnings happened as one of Julie’s first Economics classes was also one of the first classes taught by Dr. McGarry at UCLA. Julie remarks that Dr. McGarry mentored her outside the classroom even though she had no obligation to do so. These interactions taught her the importance of learning through experiences, and understanding how the knowledge you learn in the classroom translates into the real world. Perhaps the most crucial impact in Julie’s life was when Dr. McGarry encouraged her to apply to the Departmental Scholar Program (DSP). Julie was initially hesitant about the program, since it required her to add another year to her education which was beyond her financial means. However, Dr. McGarry told her to apply for the Regent Scholarship which would fully fund her education. Heeding her advice, Julie applied to both the programs. Given the high bar of being accepted into into the DSP, Julie thought she had no shot. However, Julie was wrong: she got accepted as a Department Scholar and a Regent Scholar.

The Departmental Scholar Program proved to be the highlight of her life at UCLA. She got the opportunity to interact with graduate students who had a lot more experience than she did. She considered this to be an extremely humbling experience as she realized she was not the smartest person in the room. In addition, the graduate students came from a multitude of countries and walks of life. This was an enriching experience and prepared her for life outside UCLA. Furthermore, graduate classes were much more intimate. She believes the camaraderie that came from suffering together allowed all of the students to become extremely close. The is exemplified by the fact that she met Dr. Nahm, her best friend of twenty years on the first day of classes. Dr. Nahm, who is currently the Chair of the Economics Department at Kookmin University, and Julie are still as close as they were during their time at UCLA.

After graduating with a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in 4 years, Julie entered the professional world by working at Ernst & Young. She describes moving into the professional world as being dropped into the ocean. However, due to mentors like Dr. McGarry, she was able to wade in the water through her numerous internships while still at school. Furthermore, by studying Business Economics at a large school, her transition into professional life was made much easier. She decided to work at EY because she wanted to understand the service industry and learn how to professionally manage money. She believes that these skills are important whether you are a CEO, CIO, or President, all of which are positions she has held in the past 20 years.

After working at EY for a few years, Julie worked for Universal Music Group and then decided to move onto a project where she would have a larger impact. Beginning in the early 2000s, there was a substantive surge in music video demands; however, revenues for music companies like Sony and Universal were stagnant. To fill this void, Julie incubated a joint venture by Sony, Universal and Abu Dhabi Media which ended up as Vevo. While working at Vevo, Julie worked with companies like Google to redesign how music videos were distributed to consumers in the age of the internet. She played a key role in devising the hyper distribution model where consumers can access content whenever and wherever they want. Using then unheard-of media channels like YouTube and AOL, Vevo helped revolutionize how music is heard today. Vevo’s relationship was a landmark one in that it set the stage for a publisher ecosystem that ultimately paved the way for multi-channel networks.

However, revolutionizing the world’s music doesn’t come without hard work and long hours. Working at Vevo eventually began to take a toll on her work-life balance. “While incubating Vevo, I incubated a little boy” wryly comments Julie. In the years after her son’s birth, she spent a lot of time at work and not enough with her son. One day, when she was working on the Asia strategy for Vevo in Singapore, her 4-year-old son asked her why she was working. Julie had no answer. On the flight back to LA, she contemplated the simple question her son had asked, and the very next day, she decided to start a ten-month transition process onto her next adventure.

After departing from Vevo, she traveled the world with her son for 9 months which allowed her to spend quality time with him. It was her son’s curiosity that drove her to start EdTwist, a curated search engine for children. The project partnered with entities like UNESCO and JPL to foster curiosity among children. However, EdTwist eventually began to move in a direction which was beyond Julie’s realm of expertise. This subsequently spurred Julie’s recent move to Hong Kong to serve as the Chief Innovation Officer at Edipresse Media Asia, a premium media company inspiring, enabling and connecting communities of discerning consumers across Asia with brands including Asia Tatler. As an Asian mother, she wanted her son to live in Asia and become a true global citizen. She believes that although LA is described as a melting pot, it is really a salad bowl and the best way to learn about a culture is to live amongst its people. With a desire to work in a dynamic growing economy, she looks forward to the adventures which Asia has to offer.

Julie attributes her success to her affinity to take calculated risks. She argues that as economists, we should never take decisions without considering the short and long-term return of our decisions. She often agreed to work for less money if the opportunity was a new adventure that promised good returns. Furthermore, her decisions are made based on four major factors: money, people, legacy and location, emphasizing that you need to understand your expectations and priorities.  When she was fresh out of college, money was a very important factor. However, as her career progressed, her focus shifted away from earning money and towards other people and her own legacy. Her advice for students would be to embrace risks. An easy life is not an interesting life. Risks are intimidating at first. However, climbing over one mountain will give you the confidence and the motivation to climb over the next mountain. As you continue to take risks, you will become more and more comfortable with overcoming hurdles. She contends the importance of finding a network of people that support you when you fail. Her success would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Lee, her husband, and Dr. Nahm, her best friend (both extremely successful fellow Bruins). Going to UCLA has enabled her to acquire both a close network of supporters and a handle for calculated risk taking which has brought her success in her professional and personal life.

By Harsh Gupta.

Lauren Lucido Watkins

Ever since the 5th grade, Lauren Lucido Watkins knew she wanted to be a Bruin. There was no rhyme or reason, nor strong family legacy ties – Lauren was simply drawn to the prestige that came with the name and the energy that radiated from everyone who spoke about the university. Without ever considering a second option, she accepted her offer and graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a BA in Business Economics and a minor in Accounting.

Lauren Lucido Watkins

Lauren has always been a strategic thinker and natural problem-solver. Lauren attributes her first venture into the realm of strategy and consulting as a core member for the Daily Bruin, first working as an intern, moving to internal advertising sales, and ultimately working as the assistant manager during her junior and senior years. In a time where the technological revolution was on the cusp of breaking through, Lauren and other members of the Daily Bruin were tasked with countering the demise of print paper and shift to online news platforms. While figuring out how to generate revenue beyond print and assessing the internal structure of the Daily Bruin, Lauren realized the importance of aligning your team with your business needs. Without a strong people strategy, she knew that business changes couldn’t follow. Lauren followed her passion, which culminated into an internship in Los Angeles with Deloitte Consulting in their Human Capital practice.

Lauren excelled as a top analyst while at Deloitte. She worked in their organization and talent group for two years before being approached by Christian Dior, who at the time was looking for business-minded candidates to take part in their re-launched management training program. Lauren knew that an opportunity in high fashion may not come again, so she decided to take a leap of faith, recognizing a greater end goal, and leave her job at Deloitte. Within a week, Lauren went from being a consultant advising clients, to working the floor at the Christian Dior Boutique on Rodeo Drive learning all facets of the luxury retail landscape. Such a drastic change in environment is no easy feat. Lauren believes her time spent at UCLA working at the Daily Bruin contributed to her successful transition between two very distinct worlds. She draws parallels between working at the Daily Bruin and her first work experiences at Christian Dior, both times in which she was a part of a group of people whose main focus was working as a team to grow the business in a fast-moving environment.

The Daily Bruin was not Lauren’s only extracurricular activity at UCLA. Lauren is a sister of Kappa Alpha Theta, serving as the Internal Social Chair and VP of Membership, and was the Consulting Director of the Undergraduate Business Society during her senior year. In terms of academics, her favorite class she took while at UCLA was Real Estate Investments, taught in tandem with professors and students from the Anderson School of Management. She has used many of the learnings to assess investments in her own life, including purchasing a home in San Francisco.

Upon transitioning to Christian Dior, Lauren spent one year in Beverly Hills focused on client development strategies and was then promoted to Christian Dior’s New York flagship where she was tasked at driving sales and overseeing the shoe department. Fast-forward to present day and Lauren has scaled the corporate ladder, now the Assistant Boutique Manager for the Christian Dior boutique in San Francisco, which she helped to open last year.

As a lover of high fashion myself, I was keen on hearing about how Lauren acquired such a vast knowledge of the high fashion realm in order to be working at one of the powerhouses in the industry. Her advice was to constantly stay active in obtaining knowledge and keeping an eye on the ever-changing landscape of fashion. I also asked her if there was any advice she wished she could say to her college-self. “Be fearless, take risks, and do [things] you’re passionate about.” Lauren reminded us that unless you put yourself out there, you can never truly reap the rewards from all the opportunities in life.

Written by Katie Kim, Undergraduate

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