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Meet the EMBA 101S Cohort

Spring 2014

Eddie Balderasr

Eddie Balderas
Associate Professor

Bridgepoint Education

Eddie is currently working at the Department of Public Social Services for the Los Angeles County. Prior to this, Eddie was an adjunct professor teaching courses to undergraduates in topics such as leadership and management. Eddie also retired from the U.S. Marine Corps where his primary job was in supply chain management and logistics. There he was responsible for a multi-million dollar aeronautical inventory, operations, training, consulting, and office administration, while supervising personnel. He has a bachelor of science in organizational behavior, masters of science in organizational leadership and he is lean six sigma black belt-trained.


Rial Barnett

Rial Barnett
Private Wealth Advisor
Merrill Lynch

Rial is a private wealth advisor within the Merrill Lynch Private Banking & Investment Group. He uses his extensive experience working with officers and directors of public and private companies to manage both global investment decisions as well as the myriad of intricate details involved with corporate insiders. Rial has a significant understanding of concentrated stock positions, executive compensation techniques, hedging strategies, and restricted stock trading requirements. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, Rial worked for Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. He began his focus in corporate services with Hambrecht & Quist, in the Private Client Service Group.


Mark Bichsel

Mark Bichsel
Vice President - Information Technology
Unitrans International Corporation

Mark is vice president of information technology at Unitrans, an international logistics company. He leads the IT team in supporting five branches across the United States, ensuring availability of information services to internal and external clients. Mark has been with Unitrans for eight years, working in Operations, IT, and Accounting. He successfully led a yearlong project of evaluating and implementing a cloud-based logistics, accounting, and CRM system. Prior to Unitrans, Mark worked for reinsurance company Swiss Re as IT project manager and senior application engineer. He earned a bachelor's degree in multimedia arts from Middlesex University in London.


Benjamin Chase Chandler

Benjamin Chase Chandler
Chandler Advisors, LLC

Chase is the founder of Chandler Advisors, LLC, a financial and business consulting firm. He began in the industry in his early 20's with one of the largest planning firms in the U.S. He was featured as a 'Mover and Shaker' in Arkansas Business Journal in the summer of 2009 and is a member of the President's Council at Harding University. Chandler has authored two books and enjoys traveling and reading. Chase is married to Beth Chandler who runs various strategic operations Chandler Advisors.


Dr. Wei Chen Dr. Wei Chen
Product Manager
PPG Industries

Dr. Chen is a product manager with 14 years of experience in aerospace, electronics, and consumer product industry. He oversees product design, development, and commercialization; while advising manufacturing, quality, distribution, as well as business planning and strategy reviews. As a recipient of numerous and prestigious fellowships, a published author, and a product inventor, Dr. Chen specializes in innovation management and corporate entrepreneurship for medium to large market cap companies. His career highlights include commercializing multiple product offerings with major aerospace OEMs at Henkel and overseeing product launch activities for a 60M business unit at PPG.


Marc Desjardins Marc Desjardins
Vice President
Centria Commerce Inc. and DJM Capital Inc.

Marc has 14 years of professional experience in investment management, particularly in the industries of life sciences and real estate. Now, he is seeking for new business opportunities for DJM Capital, a private holding company in Montreal, who owns controlling interest in Fiera Capital and Centria. Since 2008, as part of the management team at Centria, he helped achieve targeted yields of investors, improve operations by more than 25%, and build a successful company. Marc earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from HEC Montreal and a bachelor's degree in biology from University of Quebec, Canada.


Rushell Gordon

Rushell Gordon
Senior Director, Global Consumer Affairs
Herbalife International

Rushell is a change leader, team builder, and skilled operations and program manager who drove global programs and operations to achieve on-time and on-budget delivery of aggressive goals for over 18 years. Rushell is senior director of global consumer affairs for Herbalife, a global nutrition company. She established the Consumer Affairs department three years ago, increased visibility for product quality issues to implement the appropriate solutions, and ensured ongoing compliance and education of all Herbalife products. Rushell has a bachelor's degree in organizational communications and a master's degree in spiritual psychology.


Avi Lee Kaplan Avi Lee Kaplan
International Sales Manager
Barco Uniforms, licensee of Grey's Anatomy Professional Wear

Avi excelled in the international arena by developing strategic business opportunities and operations within the apparel industry. During her career as acting general manager and National Sales director for a West Coast mill, she spearheaded performance fabrics for Nike and Adidas. Later, she was instrumental in pioneering sustainable, eco-friendly products with Walmart and Disney. While fully employed, she also taught textile science and manufacturing during a brief tenure at FIDM. As sales director, she has increased revenue growth in untapped markets through departmental restructuring a creative innovative distribution channel with key targeted countries. Avi attended DAAP at the University of Cincinnati.


Chimesa Medina Chimesa Medina
Estimating and Pricing Specialist
The Boeing Company

With more than 14 years of experience, Chimesa currently performs as a subject matter expert at The Boeing Company for estimating and pricing bids, acquisitions, contracts, and proposals. Her professional journey has contributed to the commerce of a vast array of defense aerospace and aviation products and services for NASA, MDA, USAF, NAVAIR, and multiple foreign military forces. Chimesa's experience includes interfacing with regulatory administration officials, developing policies and procedures, managing irregular operations, feasibility, logistics, as well as training and mentoring others to develop analytical skills. With a bachelor's of science in aerospace, she is able to provide both technical and business insight.


Farzad Nazir

Farzad Nazir
Quality Assurance Manager
PRC Desoto, PPG Aerospace

Farzad is a QA manager for Sealants Business of PPG Aerospace, a world leader in aerospace sealants and coatings industry. Farzad directly supervises a total of 25 employees. His responsibilities include quality control functions for all the manufactured products, final batch acceptance testing, and tackling customer complaints from all over the world, managing the Quality Management System (AS9100) and heading lean six sigma projects. Farzad earned his bachelor's in textile science and a master's in materials science and engineering with concentration in polymer chemistry from Clemson University of South Carolina. He is also an active lean six sigma black belt.


Iliana Nikova

Iliana Nikova
COO & President
Vasilio, Inc.

Iliana is a young ambitious entrepreneur, who strategically leads Vasilio Inc. with confidence and innovative grand design to increase worldwide online sales by quickly becoming a top-rated seller in e-commerce. She is a dynamic, multilingual chief of operations, who implements managerial tasks, human resources and marketing policies, sustains company's growth, and manages revenue. The Bulgarian businesswoman obtained her bachelor's degree in international relations and political science from Lake Forest College in Illinois. Iliana is looking forward to successfully expanding her company by applying newly acquired knowledge from Pepperdine University.


Ariana Nobel

Ariana Nobel
General Manager
Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

As the general manager of the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, the third oldest polo club in the United States, Ariana is responsible for all aspects of the business: operations, financial performance, strategic planning, and customer service. Prior to becoming the youngest general manager hired, Ariana was the assistant general manager for three years. Before joining the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Ariana worked at DreamWorks S.K.G. in the Feature Development Department as a creative assistant. Ariana earned her bachelor's degree in cinema-television arts from California State University, Northridge.


Kathryn Parrnelli

Kathryn Parrnelli
Operations Officer
United States Marine Corps

Kathryn is a career defense financial manager, serving 26 years in various senior finance leadership positions in the Marine Corps. Most recently, she served as operations officer at the largest Marine Finance Office located at Camp Pendleton, providing accounting and financial oversight to five military installations in the southwest region of the United States. While deployed, Kathryn was accountable to over 100 nation building projects during Operation Iraqi Freedom, highlighted by providing strategic pay support during the first Iraqi elections held in 2005. Kathryn earned her bachelor's of science in business management, human resources from Park University.


Eddie Will Sifontes

Eddie Will Sifontes
Master Scheduler
PPG Aerospace

Eddie is currently responsible for scheduling and planning material flow through various areas in an aerospace manufacturing company. The material being scheduled has to be in line with customer on-time delivery expectations, as well as to ensure that revenue is maintained on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis that matches with management and corporate expectations. Prior to his current role he was vice president of operations for a primary/broker dealer in charge of settlements, asset allocations, loan funding and securities issuance through various lending vehicles. His desire is to continue expanding in his current role, return to the securities' industry, and/or take advantage of new opportunities that may arise in quest for educational growth.


Linda Sim

Linda Sim
Ventura County Credit Union

Linda Sim, CFO at Ventura County Credit Union, offers an insightful perspective on business. Her expeditious climb to the executive level was characterized by assertiveness, an ability to learn by experience at a demanding pace, and quick maneuvers through fluctuating financial markets. Linda has taken on more tasks that are integral to the organization. She also produces successful strategies to holistically improve the credit union and strives to continually improve her knowledge base and networks in the workforce outside of the financial world. Linda enjoys spending her free time with her two wonderful teenagers.


Brendan Wolfe

Brendan Wolfe
School Age Site Director
Kids Klub Child Development Centers

In his current role with Kids Klub Child Development Centers, Brendan runs after school and camp programs for K-12 grade children. He is heavily focused on developing new educational and recreational programs, building training modules, and managing staff. In his 10 years with Kids Klub, Brendan was an integral part in growing the summer camp from 40 children per summer to 180 children per week. He is excited to partner with ownership to open new lefts and oversee even more services. Brendan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a double major in political science and theatre and performance studies.