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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

PKE MBA Program Alumni Testimonial


Presidents & Key Executives MBA Alumnus, Tom Konjoyan

Leading a Christian school, Tom Konjoyan dedicates himself to raising a generation of students who have the desire to serve others. Explaining that institutions require quality management to be successful, Tom believes his MBA provides him with the skillset needed to lead his organization effectively. Referencing the cohort nature of his program, Tom enjoys collaborating with other like minded business leaders. Applying his experience in the Presidents and Key Executives MBA program, Tom is committed to educating the next leaders of the world.

Read Tom's Story

"When I think about my purpose, I go back to that idea that, "To whom much has been given, much is expected." So I always feel a responsibility on my part to use all the opportunities that God has given me. I get one chance to really impact this world and so I need to take everything that I can do to really make a difference and really make it better. I'm Tom Konjoyan, I'm the head of school here at Village Christian School. I graduated from Harvard in 1900 and I was really considering a lot of different options of what I wanted to do with my career, and I ended up spending a weekend with a rich uncle, and I thought he was going to offer me a job but at the end of the weekend what he said to me was, "You know what? "If I were you, "I would take the next two years of your life "and do whatever you want." And by that he meant, be a ski bum, go be a lifeguard. And really what that triggered in my mind was my desire to go serve others.

And so that led to the starting of a non-profit with a friend of mine working with homeless Latino teenagers here in the streets of Los Angeles. After the non-profit, which was underfunded like most start-up non-profits are, I went into the banking world for a while but really had a desire to go back into service. A friend of mine who suggested I look at World Vision. And so I had a chance to go work for them, which was a blast. I really enjoyed the mission of World Vision. They're out there truly trying to save the world and trying to help those least fortunate around the world. Come on in, come on in.

During my time at World Vision, a friend approached me and told me about a school that was being built in the Los Angeles area and asked me if I was interested in helping them raise the resources to build the school. And I said, "No, no, I'm saving the world. "Why would I want to go build a high school in Los Angeles?" The thought came across me as, you know, you can spend your time single-handedly trying to save the world or you can raise up a new generation of students who might want to go do the same thing. So it really became an investment idea in my mind, of I could invest in a new generation of students who might have the same passions that I had and could accomplish far more than I could do myself. So the opportunity to build a school in Los Angeles, which ended up being called Oaks Christian, was really one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. To build a school from scratch. And so for me, it was an opportunity to build an incredible new ministry and also fall in love with Christian education, which I did over the 11 years I spent there. We're teaching in a new way because the world has changed because of these things.

So I decided to get an MBA because I realized, having worked at the school for a number of years, that schools are just like any other corporation or organization. They require really good management to be successful. As I looked at Oaks Christian and the needs that they had for leadership, what I realized was the MBA was going to give me the skills that were really going to help me lead the organization. I had strong academic people who could lead the academic side, but what they really needed was a strong business-oriented or organizational management leader who could lead the organization forward and all of the complexities of running a multi-million dollar non-profit. There's my buddy! So I was interested in Pepperdine because I really was impressed with what they were trying to do in terms of educating the next leaders of Los Angeles. But what I didn't realize then, which I really came to love, was the cohort nature of the Presidents and Key Executives MBA program.

After my PKE program at Graziadio, I was ready to lead a school. And at the time, the founding head of Oaks Christian wasn't ready to leave and I started talking to Village Christian. Village Christian was one of those Christian schools around the country that had fallen on really hard times during the recession. And so it was an opportunity to turn the school around. They needed a leader who came in with business skills, marketing skills, the type of things I had developed through the program. It was really, I felt God saying, "Okay, this is the school that needs somebody like you. "Let's go and help this great school, turn it around." The other experience that really impacted me was going to Asia.

As part of our PKE program, we traveled to Hong Kong and Thailand and got a chance to see businesses there. And that really sparked an interest in me, going back to my World Vision days, of could I take this school's mission and I could I apply it to the emerging interests and growth in China and in Korea and in other parts of Asia. And so that has led me down a path to now I'm consulting, doing work helping start schools in these countries. I've been working in China with different schools who want to start American education programs in their school. And so I help work with them to develop those. So if your school wants to work with me, I'd be happy to talk to them.

In hindsight now, as I look back on my time at Graziadio, I thought it was preparing me to lead the school I was at at that time. What I didn't realize, that really it was preparing me to lead my new school because the skills and needs that my new school had, in turning around and really regrowing, was what I learned at Graziadio. And so for me, looking back on it now, it was all in God's perfect timing that I would be at the program when I was and then later be placed in this school which had those same needs. I really feel like I have been inspired by a greater purpose for my life."