Jason Mozingo


Jason Mozingo

Jason Mozingo faced the same decision many prospective UCLA students face: enroll at Berkeley or go to school in Westwood. But for Jason, whose parents had gone to UCLA, the decision to become a Bruin wasn’t just an easy one, it was a rewarding one. At UCLA, his bread and butter was economics. Jason took difficult econ classes, including one with Jack Hirshleifer, a long-time professor and well-known economist. However, he also got the opportunity to take classes in other disciplines and meet students from a variety of backgrounds, an experience which he considers one of the best aspects of being a Bruin. Although Jason knew he wanted to pursue a career in finance post-graduation, he was less certain about which sub-sector would most interest him. For students not sure where to start their career (or for those graduating in a tough economy), Jason says do not worry too much about finding the “perfect” job after graduation since building a career is a process, not a single event. Furthermore, that process often includes graduate school or switching industries.

Despite graduating in a recession (early 1990s), Jason started his career in sales and trading at Merrill Lynch’s Los Angeles office. At Merrill he decided investment banking and eventually a career in investing would be a better long-term fit. He also knew he wanted to pursue an MBA. In the interim, Jason decided to join a boutique L.A. based investment banking advisory firm and complete the three-year CFA program. Upon receiving his CFA designation and reviewing his graduate school options, he decided to move to the East Coast and enroll at Harvard Business School. His transition between jobs was catapulted by his HBS experience, which thrusted him into a forum for recruiters from Wall Street’s best firms. He found his calling in private equity during the summer of his M.B.A. program at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, one of the top investment banks at the time. Jason had the fortunate opportunity to work on a live control private equity deal within the merchant banking (private equity) division that closed before he left back for HBS. Working on that transaction confirmed his interest in the field and convinced him to return to the firm’s private equity division for a full-time role after graduation. Moving from sales and trading to investment banking and then to private equity is generally difficult, but for Jason, the connections and experience he earned at Harvard enabled him to make the transition.

After a number of years working in his ideal job, he realized the private equity industry was changing. Witnessing billion dollar leveraged buyouts, acquisitions financed with a significant amount of debt, Jason saw potential for these acquisitions to fail and for the debt used in them to become distressed. Jason knew opportunities in distressed investing would rise and many traditional private equity firms would be unable to profitably invest in distressed debt. Jason identified one newly formed firm that would capitalize on these trends: Centerbridge Partners. Their focus on these two themes with a hybrid private equity and distressed investing model struck a chord with Jason and convinced him to make the difficult decision to leave his firm and join Centerbridge. His story shows another reason to not worry about landing the perfect job right out of college: opportunities and interests change over time.

After eleven years at Centerbridge where he was a Partner leading investments in consumer-related businesses and cumulatively two decades of investing experience on Wall Street focused on large and mature companies, Jason decided he wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial venture and start his own firm. That firm, Passkey Investors, LLC is a family office that invests in earlier-stage growth companies in the consumer and consumer-technology space. In addition to running Passkey Investors, Jason also serves on UCLA’s Department of Economics Board of Visitors, helping the department understand the market demand for different types of data and finance training.

Jason is a passionate UCLA alumnus and advocate of giving back to the school that means so much to every Bruin. UCLA is fortunate to have a wide array of accomplished alumni and he suggests undergraduates reach out to them to gain invaluable insight into potential career paths. UCLA is also no stranger to corporate recruiting events, and he also recommends young Bruins to take advantage of company forums on campus to gauge potential fit after graduation. But as he’s stressed, finding the perfect job out of college might not come right away, and that’s ok. After all, a successful career isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Written by Chris Lane.

Xin Lin

Xin Lin

Xin Lin

Xin’s LinkedIn page, consisting of names that commonly adorn the tallest skyscrapers in Manhattan, reflects the illustrious career of the young alumnus.  In the seven years following her departure from the Hills of Westwood, she has achieved what is considerable success for most people. However, Xin is not most people. Her propitious forays into the financial world is only the beginning of her adventures.

After talking to Xin for a few minutes it becomes apparent that she is constantly looking for new challenges and is willing to work exceptionally hard to bring them to fruition. It was one such adventure that led her to the United States from Singapore. After two years at a community college, she was accepted into her dream school, and began her journey at UCLA. Entering college in the shadow of the 2008 financial crisis, Xin wanted to study something that was not only interesting but also pragmatic. This coupled with her passion for problem solving made Business Economics the perfect fit. Any Junior reading this would be relieved to learn that Xin, like many of them, had no idea which path she would take. During her Junior year Xin was accepted into the prestigious Sharpe Fellows program, through which she was able to develop a strong network of peers and mentors. This network helped her secure an internship at Merrill Lynch. Later in her senior year, she got the opportunity to embark on another adventure in NYC, and she did not hesitate.

When asked why she chose finance for her first job, Xin unabashedly remarked that there was no romantic Cinderella story. She was not sure of her career path and wanted a career that would enable her to grow. As a member of a generation constantly bombarded with platitudes like “follow your dreams”, it was extremely refreshing to hear someone talk about the quotidian reality. “There is nothing wrong with saying that I need the money,” believes Xin, due to the need to pay her parents back for the cost of tuition. Contrastingly, she also believes that the financial motive soon begins to erode. After the first few years, if you do not find your job interesting you will be dragging yourself to work. One needs to strike a balance. She further elaborates that the field you choose after graduation may not be the end-all. As you grow as a professional your priorities begin to shift. Conveniently, she herself was the perfect example.  After seven years on Wall Street, during which she rose to position of Vice-President at Goldman Sachs, Xin’s financial needs were met. However, she felt that her growth was approaching a saturation point. She shifted her priorities to using her financial expertise to create impact on a micro-level. With this in mind, Xin recently decided to take go on a sabbatical and contemplate her next adventure.

Xin posits that her success was a result of her ability to expose herself to new experiences and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. While at UCLA, Xin pushed beyond the circle of international students and actively tried to gain exposure to different backgrounds. Additionally, she was extremely self-motivated and entrepreneurial. When we asked her about the feared long working hours in finance, she said no one ever forced her to work, and that what you do in the office matters more than how many hours you spend there. She always wanted to learn as much as she could as soon as possible. This ability to go the extra-mile gave her an enhanced knowledge base which she could use to add value to whatever room she entered. Besides, she emphasized confidence and assertiveness as key qualities to succeed in her field. Throughout her education, she was taught to stand out and ask questions. She was constantly encouraged to not shy away and let her curiosity shine. These experiences shaped her ability to be comfortable in the limelight, which she believes to have contributed significantly to her promotions in the workplace.

Xin’s journey represents the trials and tribulations that await so many of us as we prepare to step into the “real world”. However, it also embodies the life-lessons and triumphs that we will have the privilege to experience if we do it right. More importantly, it teaches us that whether you are an incoming Freshman, a graduating Senior, or an experienced professional on a hiatus, the adventure is just beginning.

by Qiuyu (Simon) Dong and Harsh Gupta

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

Gary Ghazarian

Gary Ghazarian

The allure of the investment industry has long attracted numerous successful UCLA alumni. For Gary Ghazarian, it was no exception. With over 25 years’ experience in the field, he currently serves as the Director of Operations for Marketable Securities at leading alternative investment firm Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. Having pursued a degree in Economics at UCLA, he fondly recalls his memories here; sitting at the front row of almost every basketball game, scoring the first goal in IM soccer for the Armenian Student Association, and most of all, meeting his wife while working part-time on campus in his senior year.

Gary’s foray into the field of investment management began when he found a stockbroker internship from the job postings listed at the campus career center. Ironically, the day he called inquiring about the internship was Black Monday in 1987 when the market was down over 20%. It is his firm belief that with disruption comes opportunity and that we should use these opportunities to add value where we can.

Recalling the limited number of job openings in competitive firms, he stresses the importance of networking. Networking allowed him to hone his interpersonal skills, and, combined with his specialized skill set, has enabled him to win the trust of clients while opening new doors. His advice to young Bruins is to reach out to UCLA alumni, including himself and his colleagues, who are more than happy to let students do informational interviews and ask questions they may have about the field.

After furthering his education with an MBA degree in corporate finance, Gary went on to work at the investment consulting firm Wilshire Associates. After several years at Wilshire an opportunity arose at a client firm – Kayne Anderson Rudnick, which is a traditional and conservative equity management firm. After a few years there, he went on to work for Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, which was formerly affiliated with Kayne Anderson Rudnick. He described the move by saying, “They told me they were growing rapidly and that they needed help on how to go about it. So they basically asked me to come over, figure out what needed to be done, and do it”. He states that the variety of issues that arise is what makes his day interesting and fascinating. Moreover, he shares that in fast moving markets it is crucial to be able to multitask and prioritize – a skill that comes with years spent on the time-pressured UCLA quarter system.

Above all, Gary shows the spirit of a True Bruin as he proudly speaks of his role in supporting UCLA Operation Mend – which provides intensive reconstructive surgery and physiological and psychological medical treatment to post-9/11 veterans free of charge – both financially and personally as a volunteer in their “Buddy Program”. He and Kayne Anderson’s charitable foundation were recognized in Congress by Representative Julia Brownley for their support of veterans.


-By Natsharee Pulkes, UCLA Undergraduate