Sahil Punamia


Sahil Punamia

Like many of UCLA’s students, Sahil hails from northern California growing up in the quaint suburbs of the Bay Area. Growing up in high school, he was actively involved with his marching band, playing the alto saxophone and piano. Interestingly enough, Sahil’s affinity for jazz music and the opportunity to play for the marching band was a pivotal reason he attended UCLA, a testament for his passion for music and the creative arts. Despite being initially rejected by UCLA, Sahil was offered a spot on the UCLA marching band after he created a last-minute audition tape that attracted the attention of UCLA’s band director.

Having graduated UCLA in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a minor in Film Television & Digital Media Studies, Sahil’s decision to major in Economics was primarily motivated by his desire to learn about various aspects of business and finance. Moreover, he was impressed by the range of electives and lab courses offered by the Economics Department. He recognizes that drawing students to the major means balancing a fine line between theoretical coursework and courses that are more practical and professionally geared in nature. He believes UCLA recognizes this and that the narrative is slowly starting to change as fields like financial engineering and behavioral economics emerge.

Despite his rocky path getting into UCLA, Sahil has directly contributed to some of the university’s greatest facets. In his time here, he served as the President of Bruin Consulting and was one of the nine founding fathers of Sigma Eta Pi (SEP). With his friends, he realized the lack of entrepreneurship fraternities on the entirety of the west coast while fields like medicine, business, and law had full-fledged professional fraternities. By adopting a collaborative mindset, they were able to establish the first entrepreneurship fraternity on the west coast. The time he spent working with these organizations at UCLA taught him how to cultivate trust, work with a breadth of personalities and become a galvanizing leader without overstepping any boundaries.

All the time spent gearing towards professional development helped prepare Sahil for his role as an L.E.K consultant upon graduating. During his time at L.E.K, he forecasted industry trends, developed OTT media strategies and worked on over 35 different engagements spanning 3 years. Despite the tremendous learning curve, Sahil remarks that it was an invaluable experience. That said, as time went on, he wanted to transition out of consulting. Eventually, he turned to the media company Discovery Communications, whose programs he had watched since his youth. This gave him the chance to work on content strategy, marketing, and distribution across various Discovery Communication platforms.

Now Sahil serves on the Marketing Planning & Analysis team at Netflix. He describes his role as that of an internal consultant, leveraging data-driven insights and conducting market research to better support Netflix’s creative marketing & PR teams. He contends that success in the media industry and any industry, for that matter, requires being able to lead and understand what motivates the people around you. Figuring out how to best align the objectives of various stakeholders is a skill that will go a long way. Moreover, Sahil firmly believes that success in his field implies constant learning and that anyone seriously interested in pursuing a career in the media industry needs to be prepared to learn every day about the changes taking place, shifts in consumer behavior, new mediums of distribution, content providers etc.

Aside from growing his own professional career, Sahil seeks to make a tangible impact on the careers of our Bruins. His started his company The Aspiring Professional to coach students one on one and provide career guidance at a personal level. Moreover, he serves on the board of the UCLA Alumni Association and has conducted numerous career-focused seminars for UCLA students at the career center. Having gone through the arduous recruitment process, he knows the challenges students face when it comes to securing a job. His seminars have no doubt shaped the careers of countless students, who enjoy his practical and actionable approach to navigating the recruitment process. To him, the satisfaction gleaned from making a tangible difference in their lives is an unmatched feeling.

In his quest to strike a good work-life balance, Sahil takes the time to go for long drives and regularly attends improv comedy shows. Moving forward, he hopes to continue growing his speaking and coaching practices whilst fostering more meaningful relationships with UCLA and other universities. Ultimately, that is the legacy he would like to leave behind.

By Adithya Kumar and Marcella Pensamiento

Steven Laub


Steven Laub

Like many of our Bruins, former alumni Steven Laub embodies the traits of passion, determination, and resilience. These are the very same traits that shaped his illustrious career as a former consultant and top executive at numerous public semiconductor companies such as Lattice Semiconductor, Silicon Image and until recently, the Atmel Corporation where Laub served as President and CEO for a decade. Unlike many UCLA graduates, what makes Laub’s story unique was his background and unusual foray into the technology industry.

Upon graduating UCLA in 1980 with a B.A. in Economics, a subject that captivated him since junior high, Laub attended the Harvard Law School to pursue his initial career interest in the field of law. It took him two years, however, to realize that this was not his true calling and immediately after graduating, he switched gears and began to work as a management consultant for Bain and Company. When pressed why, Laub recalled how management consulting allowed him to gain exposure to a multitude of industries while picking up vital skills along the way, which he best described as “almost like acquiring an MBA education without going to business school”.

Without question, this exposure certainly paid off. After having several technology companies including a few semiconductor firms as consulting clients, he was offered a job with Lattice Semiconductor Corporation. The young consultant initially turned down the offer, only to later be offered the position as Vice President and General Manager at the same company. He knew if there was ever an opportunity to get involved in the tech business world, this was it.

Although it is highly unusual for someone with a non-technical background to head a technology-based firm, this notion never impeded Steven Laub. When his CEO sought to hire him, the company’s board of directors questioned why a man with a legal background and no prior engineering or technological experience was a good fit for the role of a VP at a semiconductor company. His CEO replied by describing Laub as highly intelligent, ambitious and willing to work very hard – an identity that Laub believes fits several of our Bruins. He believes that individuals who are passionate and determined to work hard will attract mentors and be given the opportunity to do more. Working to forge these relationships are of the utmost importance.

That said, even with valiance and an excellent work ethic, his transition into the industry was not one of ease. Despite not being acclimatized to the technology sector, early on he was advised to spend two thirds of his first two years at the company in the engineering division. He attributes his sudden immersion in the engineering department as a key part in overcoming the steep learning curve ahead of him. Although this may seem radical, Laub believes that this is one of the most efficient ways to assimilate into new career environments; by working in the departments or roles that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to think.

The qualities that Laub possesses which have enabled him to achieve his tremendous degree of accomplishments are similar to those he looks for in hiring individuals. Aside from being effective team players, Laub looks for people that are capable of putting the needs and goals of the firm ahead of themselves. Most importantly, high integrity and character are absolutely necessary to succeed at every company he has led. He contends that truly passionate individuals who are hungry to accomplish goals for the greater good will leave a mark.

Given his success, it is easy to see that Laub was comfortable in not allowing his degree to solely determine the trajectory of his career. However, several students face the overwhelming concern of how important their major is in determining their career opportunities. Laub contends that most students either enter college not knowing what major to pursue or they pursue a major in order to break into an industry they envision themselves working in. He says that while picking a best fit major is important, it is by no means the only determinant of your future career – especially since many people, including himself, end up changing their careers at some point.

Due to the manner in which UCLA influenced his career, Laub would not have done much differently. He received what he believes to be an outstanding education at UCLA under the tutelage of notable professors like John Riley of the UCLA Economics Department. Despite an engaging and rewarding academic experience, Laub looks back and believes that he could have involved himself more in the breadth of courses and events UCLA offered, especially in the theatre and arts. Although back then he had little desire for those areas, he reflects upon it conceding that with age grows an appreciation for such forms of creative expression.

These days, what initially motivated Mr. Laub to wake up every morning remains the same. He lives for challenge, the opportunity to learn and the chance to give back to his communities. While the stresses of running firms and managing people can seem unappealing to some, these are aspects he thoroughly enjoys. Far from having retired, he continues to challenge himself and to advise others. Laub currently serves on the board of a semiconductor company, the advisory board of a tech-focused private equity company and the board of a public charter high school in the Bay Area. He is now at a point in his life where he can focus on giving back and aiding others with his wisdom.

Mr. Laub leaves us with advice regarding tackling change – a topic all too familiar for him. Most people will graduate, find a career, realize it is not their passion and will have to confront the possibility of a change. Mr. Laub adds that by taking ownership of your actions and finding the courage to make life-changing decisions, you open yourself to a potentially better path. One might have a steady income, a marriage to sustain and a family to support, so change will not come easily. However, the Bruin champions the belief that “having the courage to live the life you desire” will make the ultimate difference.

by Adithya Kumar and Marcella Pensamiento