Ronald Berryman, MBA '67
Graziadio Spotlight Stories
What do you think sets Pepperdine apart from other schools?
Unlike other educational institutions, I truly believe that Pepperdine educates both the mind and the soul. It was important to me to attend a faith-based institution and it was at Pepperdine that I learned about the importance of living a life of service. Not only does the school’s multidisciplinary curriculum prepare students to be successful professionally, it also teaches students about giving back to the community. The phrase “to whom much is given, much is required” has been ingrained in me since my time at Pepperdine and has influenced how I approach business and life – looking through the lens of how I can give back and how I can make a difference.
Describe your experience at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.
I have dual degrees from Pepperdine and I had a wonderful experience earning both my BS and MBA. I was the first African-American to graduate from Pepperdine’s inaugural MBA program in 1967, which is truly an honor. In addition to meeting wonderful people – both fellow students and professors – I learned financial management and accounting skills that have been invaluable throughout my career in the private sector and in my current work as a certified management consultant.
You’ve had a very successful career working in asset management and at the National Broadcasting Company, among other ventures. How do you like having your own firm, Berryman & Company?
I really enjoy being a certified management consultant; I’ve had the good fortune of working with clients in the public sector, including federal, state, and local governments, as well as Fortune 500 companies providing executive leadership coaching, strategic planning, and financial management, among other services. It can be challenging working for yourself as you have a responsibility to meet monthly professional and personal financial obligations. But it can also be very rewarding; it is up to you to determine your heights and how far you can go. Overall, having my own company has been a very good thing.
What are some ways you are involved in the community?
I’m involved with the March of Dimes and the United Negro College Fund. I also serve as the National Treasurer of the Kappa Foundation, of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where I work to obtain grants to support young men of color. I am particularly proud of my work with the organization’s “Diamonds in the Rough” program which is based on former President Obama’s task force called “My Brother’s Keeper,” which was designed to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
How do you continue to be involved with Pepperdine?
I serve on the Board of Visitors of Pepperdine Graziadio and the University Board at Pepperdine University. I am passionate about mentoring minority and low-income students who desire to study at Pepperdine and I am the founding chair of the Pepperdine University Black Alumni Council which offers scholarships, networking, and mentoring opportunities for African-American students and alumni. In addition, my wife Jacqueline and I created an endowed scholarship for African-American students attending the Graziadio School. I think it’s important for African-Americans who have been successful educationally and professionally to give back so that other African-Americans can have that same opportunity.
What is your impression of Pepperdine and the Graziadio School today?
I think the school is constantly evolving and there are really fantastic and opportunistic programs at Pepperdine. Historically, there has been a void for women leaders in the public and private sectors and I think it is terrific that Pepperdine is involved in closing this gap through the Center for Women in Leadership. I also think Pepperdine does an excellent job of staying current in their teachings; one example is the newly-formed Institute for Entertainment, Media and Culture (iEMC). It was great thinking on the part of University to recognize the importance of the entertainment sector and to amplify its programs to meet the needs of this growing industry. There is a lot of growth ahead for Pepperdine, and the outstanding reputation of the business school and the entire university continues to grow.
What advice do you have for students starting out at Pepperdine Graziadio?
I tell students to be consistent, dedicated, and diligent in their professions. I also think that as business leaders we have a responsibility to give back to the community, so I tell people that in addition to focusing on fulfilling their dreams they need to find time for service. Giving back can come in many forms; the important part is recognizing that we are part of a greater good.