They’ve worked their way to the top, building industries, establishing businesses and setting economic trends. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, business leaders from throughout Southern California will add one more title to their resumes—“professor.”
More than 60 Los Angeles-area business leaders will assume the title of “professor for a day” at California State University, Northridge’s College of Business and Economics. They will share the triumphs and failures that helped them reach success and offer students in disciplines throughout the college advice on how to make it in today’s tough business climate.
“This is a unique and valuable opportunity for our students to have their classes taught by our alumni and friends who have had great success in their careers,” said the college’s dean, William Jennings. “This also is an opportunity for our guest speakers, the ‘professors for the day,’ to meet one another in person. Many have talked on the phone for years but have never met face-to-face. This event provides an opportunity to reconnect and share their experiences.”
The college offers classes in a variety of disciplines—from accounting, economics and marketing to business law, management, finance and systems and operations management—and Jennings said there will be business leaders teaching in every academic department from the time classes start at 8 a.m. until they end at 10 p.m.
Harvey Bookstein, co-founding partner of the Los Angeles-based public accounting firm RBZ, a Cal State Northridge alumnus and a member of the university’s Foundation board, is among those who will be “teaching” a class next week.
“I always try to do what I can to help the students to get a picture of what life is like,” he said. “I enjoy just telling them that it’s not always by the book. The book gives you the tools. You are going to fail a couple times as well as succeed, and if you can learn from your experiences, then you can make it.”
Jennings said this is the fourth year the university has invited business leaders to be “professors for a day.”
“It’s a very successful program,” he said. “The students get to hear valuable advice from leaders in the business world, and those leaders get a chance to inspire young people by their example.”
Among those volunteering to be “professor for a day” are Gary Simmons, CEO of Upside Investments, Jim Maser, president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Dave Malone, president and CEO of Community Bank and Julie Winfield, vice president and controller for Harbor Freight Tools.
—Carmen Ramos Chandler