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Kathryn Brewer

Kathryn-Brewer2“Kathryn, you’re in!” declared the UCLA admission officer as she immediately recognized the voice on the other side of the phone. Why could an admission officer, who dealt with thousands of students each year, recognize a voice so quickly? It was because she had been receiving daily phone calls from a young Kathryn Brewer, anxious to learn of her admission application status. This kind-of hunger and determination has pushed Kathryn to grow and succeed in her diverse career.

Kathryn believes that it is always important to find challenges and strive for more accomplishment. In fact, it was this philosophy that led her to UCLA. After high school, Kathryn was eager to become an adult, be independent and join the workforce right away. Starting as a Secretary Sales Assistant for Hewlett-Packard, Kathryn vividly recalls a life-changing moment. Her supervisor congratulated her on her excellent performance during her annual review and remarked, “You’re going to be a Secretary 3 in no time!” However, Secretary 3 wasn’t here career ambition and she knew her lack of a college education was capping her potential. Determined, it was on that exact night that she started her application to UCLA. Looking back, Kathryn believes it is imperative to “make the commitment to be the best version of yourself.”.

In addition to the financial and analytical skills that she gained from her education as an Economics major, Kathryn learned two skills that would serve her for the rest of her life – teamwork and perseverance in the face of adversity. Kathryn worked close to a full-time job with her studies. This made it difficult for her to find enough time to study. However, she was able to always form study groups which helped her push through UCLA’s demanding curriculum. Kathryn loved forming as many study groups as possible; to her, collaboration was key to success within the classroom. In her career after UCLA, it was her ability to work with and lead colleagues that helped her achieve remarkable success. For instance, she remembers when she took over a struggling aviation company operating in a tight labor market. She was able to take the company and triple the revenue in less than 2 years. In fact, the company culture she developed had technicians calling to express a desire to work for her company.

Furthermore, Kathryn has the ability to make the best out of difficult situations. This ability again goes back to her college experiences. Kathryn’s father gave her limited funds during her college years. She had a mere $500 per month to cover textbook costs, rent, transportation, groceries, and all of her other living expenses. Oftentimes as the month came to end, so did her cash. However, Kathryn did not complain or simply ask for more money. Instead, she found a solution to the problem. She would go to the Student Center and eat the 5-cent oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This less-than-ideal predicament showed her how to survive and thrive in difficult conditions and possess the initiative to work your way out of a bad situation.

This creed led to some of her proudest moments. Kathryn is a single mother of two boys for more than 30 years. Despite the challenges brought on by this, she attended Whittier Law School, and received her M.B.A. from Pepperdine University while working demanding full-time jobs. One of the defining moments of her life came on the day of her Pepperdine graduation. As she went up on stage to receive her diploma, she could hear her boys cheering from the crowd. Even though they were just children, they had watched how hard she worked for her diploma and appreciated her accomplishment. Recalling this, she says she has never been prouder or felt a greater sense of accomplishment.

Since then Kathryn has held a variety of positions in a range of companies. Though years have gone by, Kathryn remains as excited for new challenges as ever. From being CFO at a baby clothes brand to accepting the CEO position at an aviation company, Kathryn has a rich treasure trove of experiences. In fact, she emphasizes the importance of trying out different jobs to UCLA seniors who might be stuck with the mentality of finding their final job right out of graduation or facing eternal doom. By working in various fields, Kathryn has been able to discover what she’s truly great at. The aggregate of what she’s learned at her many positions in life has been invaluable to her career.  Additionally, no matter which field you are in, it is important to think of problems in terms of their potential solutions. She says that she loves working with people who get excited if challenged with a new problem. Problems are not a hindrance to success but a mechanism through which we can achieve success. When it comes to the risk and uncertainty associated with these problems, Kathryn recalls words from one of her favorite books, The Road Less Traveled, “Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure.” The courage and wisdom we develop from problem solving is foundation to Kathryn’s simple philosophy: “If you put clear intentions into the universe, the universe will conspire to give them to you”.

Lastly, Kathryn believes it is imperative to give back to the community. As a member of the Board of Directors for The Literacy Project, Kathryn adores witnessing “the effervescent joy on children’s faces”.  She reasons that there is a lot we can learn from these children. She recalls an experience when they gave snacks at an event sponsored by the LA Angels called “Readers in the Outfield”. Several of the at-risk children from the program asked if they could take the left-over snacks back home for their siblings. That day, they gave an extra snack box to all the kids to take home. The impact of the joy these kids expressed, brought on not by selfish desires but an innocent and selfless love for their family, was clear by Kathryn’s face as she told us this story. When you give, you get a lot more back.

Kathryn is grateful to UCLA for teaching life’s essential ingredients. She proudly declares, “I’m always going to be a Bruin”. This sense of identity has been important for her as she faces challenges head on. Using her education as a foundation, she is always striving to be better; a better person, a better CEO, a better mother. In the process, she has achieved success not only in her career, but in her personal life despite challenges that could have derailed her.   She hopes her story provides inspiration to others understanding that life is difficult; but having purpose in what you do changes hard work into a labor of love.

By Bailey Brann and Harsh Gupta

Steven Laub

steve-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

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.

Terry Kramer

Terry Kramer can be best described as a master of all trades. He has succeeded in a variety fields including business, public affairs and academia. The epitome of a leader, Terry Kramer has shown the world what it means to be a Bruin.

Terry Kramer

Starting from his days at UCLA, Terry Kramer kept developing his skills based on the demands and context of the task he was assigned. He explains how his journey through multiple fields strengthened the three key aspects of leadership—strategic, operational and people leadership. UCLA kickstarted this journey by teaching and reinforcing these three key aspects; he learned to analyze the situation, understand the competitors and take well-informed initiatives on a diverse set of problems. At the same time, as president of Hedrick Hall, he acquired operational leadership skills by advocating for causes, staging events and more. Combined with school work, he truly learned how to best manage his time to get the job done. He learned to establish connections and have meaningful interactions, skills which became essential to his career outside UCLA.

After a brief stint at Harris Corporation, a technology company, his journey then led him to Harvard Business School. He explains that it is easy to get intimidated by the amount of smart people around, but this pushed him to work harder. The challenge allowed him to acquire skills that were indispensable later on. His advice is that when applying to competitive schools, it is vital to get comfortable with the fact that the competition is tough without getting discouraged and to ultimately develop your own unique “brand position”. Applicants must understand that even though there are a lot of smart people, there are also a lot of great jobs and that each person brings a unique set of capabilities that creates a unique and high-impact learning environment

His educational training helped him rise in a variety of fields, be it Vodafone or his role as US Ambassador. Terry Kramer explains that his experiences in the numerous departments at Vodafone were inspired by a top executive who moved him all over the business. This diverse journey was possible because of the people he built connections with, combined with his interest and willingness to take on new challenges. For instance, he met former FCC Chair, Tom Wheeler who was a key advisor in the Obama administration and informed him of the Ambassador job opening. After five months of background checks and a requirement to sell all of his personal tech holdings, he became the ambassador for the negotiations of an internet and telecom regulations treaty at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai.

When asked why he decided to move around so much, Terry Kramer advised us that we should use the concept of diminishing returns rather than opportunity cost when making career decisions. We must keep on climbing new learning curves and find new opportunities once we begin to feel like we’re settling into a comfort zone. Congruously, we should think big and be ambitious, rather than getting stuck in a conservative and pragmatic mindset. We must take risks if we want to achieve great things. “It is always better to get 90% of a stretch plan than 101% of a modest plan.”

Completing the full circle, Terry Kramer’s path brings him back to UCLA as a professor at Anderson. He started by giving a few guest lectures, acting as a judge for a business plan contest and a faculty advisor for the UCLA Anderson  capstone project focused on a 6 month management consulting assignment yielding a 50 page business plan. Next he was able to develop a course on the mobile communication industry based on strong student interest. Finally, he was additionally asked to teach a foundational course because of technology management encompassing cloud computing, Internet of Things and AI/big data industries. And he certainly loves teaching these to passionate Bruins. You might wonder, with his astounding CV, why did he choose UCLA? He could teach anywhere in the country (especially because he lives in the Bay Area). Pragmatically speaking, at UCLA he would be able to teach innovative courses on technology and drive his own curriculum and teaching approach. And even though he sometimes he takes 6AM flights to LA, once he gets a glimpse of Royce Hall or good ol’ Hedrick Hall, all the fatigue gets replaced with exhilaration.

Furthermore, he strongly believes that it is crucial to serve others along the way. He cannot think of a better way to serve others than by teaching at his alma mater. In fact, Mr. Kramer believes that serving others is one of the pillars to success and biggest source of saisfaction. In the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to get “me-oriented”, but we need to add value for others wherever we go.  Serving others is what defines us as Bruins.

 

–          By Natsharee Pulkes and Harsh Gupta, UCLA Undergraduates

 

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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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