Sridhar Sundaram, the incoming dean of the CSUF College of Business and Economics

Sridhar Sundaram

When students return to in-person coursework at Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics in fall 2021, the college will be led by a new dean.

On April 12, university and college officials announced that Sridhar Sundaram will take the college’s helm on July 15. Sundaram is currently South Florida University’s Tiedemann-Cotton Dean for the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance and campus dean for the Muma College of Business. Sundaram will replace Morteza Rahmatian, who is retiring from the CSUF business school’s deanship to focus on teaching economics.

A 31-year veteran of higher education, Sundaram has served as a faculty member in finance and has a strong background in academic and professional leadership. An MBA and doctoral alumnus of Southern Illinois University‒Carbondale, Sundaram earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting from PSG College of Arts & Science in Tamil Nadu, India.

Since the 1990s, he has advanced in a number of roles, including department chair, academic director, associate dean and dean. Sundaram has also consulted with regional businesses and served on several boards, including his present role as chair of the board of governors of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and a board member for Saint Anthony’s Hospital.

Sundaram’s wife is Suganthi Sridhar, an associate professor of biology. They have a daughter, Saranya, and a son, Sharath.

Recently, Sundaram helped the business community address the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, undertaking a scholarly project examining the impact of COVID-19 on minority-owned microbusinesses. He is assessing government policies relating to these enterprises and the beneficial long-term implications of these programs.

Looking ahead to his new position at Cal State Fullerton, Sundaram plans to emphasize academic excellence and innovation, building the college’s reputation as a research hub, and expanding the college’s connections to the business community in Southern California and beyond.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to lead the College of Business and Economics to its next level of development and excellence,” he says. “I am impressed by the college’s commitment to the academic success of its students and to regional economic development through its centers of excellence.”

Read more about Sundaram and the leadership change at the College of Business and Economics at CSUF News.

CSUF's Meng Hall With registration dates coming next month, we are near the timeframe to conditionally declare a concentration. Picking a concentration marks the halfway point to completing our degrees. Once we declare, we begin taking courses suited to our chosen concentration and learn more about our interests. CSUF has more than 15 different concentrations ranging from accounting to management, and you may join two concentrations together; with so many options, it can be difficult to choose. Business Undergraduate Advisor Brittany Lane provides guidance for choosing your concentration, how to change it, and other frequently asked questions:

What would your advice be for individuals completely unsure of their concentration?

The Career and Concentration Exploration resources through Business Career Services (https://business.fullerton.edu/Career-Services/CareerExploration) are a great place to start. As you continue working through your required core business courses, think about what subjects you enjoy most. This is usually a great indicator of what concentration would be a good fit for you.

What is the process to declare a concentration?

Students are eligible to declare a concentration once the lower-division business core courses are successfully completed with grades C (2.0) or higher. Reference your Titan Degree Audit for your lower division business core requirements. Once eligible to declare, complete the Business Ethics Quiz with a score of 12 or higher (https://business.fullerton.edu/Programs/Undergraduate/Advising/Ethics), then submit the online Major/Minor Change Form with the concentration of your choice.

What about conditionally declaring a concentration?

If you are taking your last lower-division core courses in the fall semester, you may conditionally declare your concentration in October. If you are taking your last lower-division core courses in the spring semester, you may conditionally declare your concentration in March. Conditional declarations are contingent upon the successful completion of your required courses at the end of the semester. Conditional declarations are not available in the winter and summer.

What if students are interested in two concentrations? What are the best strategies for managing those class schedules?  

You may pursue more than one concentration so long as there are a minimum of 18 unique and distinct units earned for each concentration, and the concentrations are from separate disciplines; for example, you cannot concentrate in general management and human resources management. The best way to manage scheduling is to mix courses from both concentrations each semester for the most variety of subject matter.

Is it too late to change your concentration as a senior? What would be the best advice to an individual at that point?

No, it’s not too late. After you have declared your concentration, you may change at any time. Just note if you have already completed courses for the previous concentration, the change may set you back a bit.

What is the process to change concentrations?

After you have declared your concentration, you may change at any time by submitting an online Major/Minor Change Form (http://records.fullerton.edu/resources/majorminorform.php). Be sure to meet with a business advisor if you have any questions about the requirements of your new concentration.

 

What are the benefits or drawbacks of joint and double concentrations?

Completing two concentrations will allow you to learn the full depth and breadth of each area of business but will take longer to complete. A joint emphasis blends a few courses from each area of study. It will not be as many classes as a double concentration, but will not encompass the full study of both areas. We recommend checking in with Business Career Services to see if these paths align with your career goals.

As you go through your concentration process, be sure to meet with a business advisor to work out your next classpath. It is OK to change your mind, and you can do so at any time, just make sure to work with an advisor to help craft your schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

CSUF business college students work on an investment project at the Titan Capital Management lab

Photo by Matt Ulfelder

Cal State Fullerton finance students in the applied investment program, Titan Capital Management (TCM), recently demonstrated their prowess in managing actual financial portfolios. On Feb. 26, a TCM team defeated their counterparts from top-level Southland schools, including USC, UCLA and Pepperdine University, in the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute Research Challenge. The competition tasked students with a detailed financial analysis of a major company before a panel of professional judges.

It’s the second year in a row that students of the Cal State Fullerton TCM program have won this competition, which is hosted by the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of Los Angeles.

This year’s victory was particularly impressive when considering that the Titan team rarely, if ever, met in person, due to the virtual environment wrought by COVID-19.

A Program of Challenge and Success

Acceptance to the Titan Capital Management program is indicative of true financial talent. Before getting an opportunity to manage the real-funds investment portfolio, which benefits the CSUF Philanthropic Foundation and student programs, the aspiring financial professionals must undergo a rigorous selection process. This includes a written essay, development and defense of a company research report, panel interviews with faculty and student board members, and assessments on problem-solving and analytical abilities.

The process ensures that students, who manage equity, fixed income or mixed portfolios, have what it takes to thrive in today’s competitive and high-tech investment management and financial analysis fields.

“The key to the success of TCM is that it’s a highly experiential program,” says Jeff Van Harte ’80 (finance), chairman, chief investment officer and co-founder of Jackson Square Partners, and the donor responsible for the TCM program. “The students are applying theory that they’ve learned to real-world money situations.”

Two or three students are assigned to each of the 11 S&P 500 business sectors. Currently, a total of 22 investment students manage more than $2 million in overall assets.

Since March 13, 2020, the program, which had previously been in person, moved to a virtual format. That meant a temporary end to in-person visits to investment companies; although, Zoom meetings with industry professionals continued.

Still, the student-managed portfolios have seen strong returns as stocks have soared in a surprise bull market, and student learning curves haven’t been impacted as society seeks to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.

“The students have missed the human connection, but they’ve done a great job with the portfolios,” says Kelly Ko, finance lecturer and TCM’s director of equity.

Pre-pandemic, TCM donated $30,000 annually to support President’s Scholar and Business Tutoring Center programs. During the pandemic, the donation increased to nearly $80,000, with the Center for Economic Education, the Guardian Scholars program for former foster youth and other university centers and programs as beneficiaries.

Read more about the TCM program and the CSUF students’ successes in this article in The Orange County Register. Or read more of our articles on the TCM program.

Steven Chen, a Mihaylo College marketing professor, provides a look at the marketing behind America's annual sports holiday, the Super Bowl.

Steven Chen, associate professor of marketing at Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics

As CSUF Associate Professor of Marketing Steven Chen watched Disney movies and engaged with princess culture as the father of two young children, he came to notice that many of the animated movies produced by The Walt Disney Company included feminist messaging.

Desiring to learn more about the evolution of such messaging over time, Chen undertook a study of 30 Disney and Pixar animated films produced between 1989 and 2018 that included a female lead or co-lead.

The result: A 2020 study, “Feminism in Youth Media: A Study of Disney-Pixar Animation,” published in Business Horizons journal.

While female leadership in youth animation is limited, Chen and his team discovered that Disney-Pixar had the best record of representation, with 34% of films produced in the past 30 years having a female lead or co-lead. Films by Sony Pictures Animation and the Illumination studio had the lowest rate of representation and never included such women characters.

“A lot of the competitors not only had male lead characters, but their female characters were still the traditional ‘maidens in distress,’” Chen says. “Disney is a little more progressive, but surprisingly, its feminist messaging has not evolved since 1989’s ‘The Little Mermaid.’”

In today’s culture, gender representation is strongly called for in youth media companies. Still, Chen believes that since many large companies are risk-averse, change comes slowly.

Disney’s advantage: historical female lead characters in productions such as Snow White and Cinderella, which set a precedent and make it easier for the company to incorporate more gender diversity.

Read more about Chen’s research and conclusions in this CSUF News article. Or read more of our articles on marketing education and research at CSUF.

Amanda Thatcher

Amanda Thatcher ’10

Cal State Fullerton business alumni are making an impact throughout the professional world, including in the legal field. In January 2021, CSUF finance grad Amanda Thatcher ’10 became a partner in the business transactions practice group at Lewis Roca, an Am Law 200 law firm serving clients globally in complex litigation, intellectual property, business transactions, gaming, government relations, labor and employment, and regulatory counseling.

Lewis Roca is the firm that litigated Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court case giving rise to “Miranda Rights” that had a significant impact on law enforcement around the world.

Thatcher represents clients in business and personal planning matters; she was recognized as a Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star for business/corporate law in 2020 and named by The Best Lawyers in America “Ones to Watch” for tax law in 2021.

The University of New Mexico J.D. grad discusses her career, CSUF experience and inspiration for her fellow Titans – especially women – in this interview with CSUF Business News. Read More

Gamze Cetin, a Turkish German who attended CSUF as an international student, in Dusseldorf

Gamze Cetin, a Turkish German, in Dusseldorf

While a student at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf in her native Germany, Gamze Cetin spent a year abroad at Cal State Fullerton’s business college in 2016-2017, gaining firsthand knowledge of the U.S. business culture. She was among the nearly 1,000 international students, representing every inhabited continent, who gained a business education at the College of Business and Economics each year in pre-COVID times

Today, Cetin works in risk and reputation and data management services for Deloitte Deutschland in Düsseldorf. And though a graduate of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, she maintains strong ties to CSUF, recognizing the importance of her Fullerton experience in her preparation to compete in today’s global business environment.

“I always wanted to study abroad, especially in the U.S. One day, I decided to just do it and live the dream I always had. An amazing adventure began with enrolling at CSUF,” recalls Cetin. “I took a lot of seminars and classes that were acknowledged at my college in Germany. I completed a part of my studies at Cal State Fullerton, which was incredibly precious.” Read More

Senior finance student Isaac Alferos’ journey began his freshman year through the Male Success Initiative at CSUF when he read Between the World and Me, a novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book ignited Alferos’ passion for reading for the purpose of experiencing the liberating words that authors publish about the difficulties of racial injustice.

With the tumultuous summer of 2020 and the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others, Alferos found the book’s words supported his path to discovery.

“My anti-racism journey was coming to accept the reality that racism cannot confront: I have every right to exist as the fullness of who I am. In fact, I have a responsibility to do so. A responsibility to myself, my community, my ancestry,” says Alferos.

Through his year of self-healing, he has also served as the executive director of the Black + Brown healing project in addition to his own healing-based writing and research.

Read more about Alferos’ journey and watch his video here: http://news.fullerton.edu/2021/02/self-awareness-leads-to-personal-anti-racism-journey/

 

Kylie Tonie, a CSUF undergrad student part of the 2021 SBI Competitions.

Kylie Tonie, an undergraduate CSUF business student part of the 2021 SBI Competitions.

Cal State Fullerton business undergraduates and MBA students again took top spots at the National Small Business Institute Consulting Project of the Year Competition in 2021. The wins, announced on Feb. 26, were again presented virtually, demonstrating student versatility in providing real-world consulting for Southern California businesses.

The MBA students were awarded first place for the 14th time in the past 30 years. Their project was on behalf of Irvine-based Rate Highway, which offers automated rate position technology for the auto rental industry. Jack Mixner, a retired management lecturer, provided guidance for the graduate students.

The undergraduate team placed second with their project on behalf of Acumen Group, a Signal Hill-based distribution consulting agency. Adjunct Management Professor Travis Lindsay, manager of the Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Startup Incubator, provided mentoring and direction for this project.

“These two student projects utilized a learning process called experiential learning, which is a fancy term for learning by doing,” says John Bradley Jackson, director of the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship. “For example, we have all learned to walk and talk, not by being shown or told, but by practicing and refining our technique. The same learning process applies to student consulting. The students were challenged to engage with a real business, analyze the situation, make recommendations, and implement a solution all with in a 15-week semester. The students’ learning is extraordinary while our business clients get an incredible value.”

The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship supports undergraduate- and graduate-level academic programs in entrepreneurship, as well as practical guidance for Orange County startups, whether founded by Titans or others in the community. They also offer consulting to area businesses with the expertise of CSUF students and faculty.

Read more of our articles on entrepreneurship and management.

student looking at open laptop screen on campusIn addition to earning a degree, there is an entrepreneurial portion of the Cal State Fullerton student population that makes starting a business part of their undergrad experience. If being your own boss is one of your goals, Just Business offers tips for starting a business during college:

Get Realistic About Your Finances

Money is a significant factor in starting and scaling a business, but it should not be a limitation. If you have even a small sum to spare, it could be enough to get you started, and you can always reach out to investors later on when you begin to scale. Try to self-fund whenever possible to minimize debt.

Prioritize

With classes, extracurriculars and work, it can be difficult to find a spare few minutes during the day. Instead of watching Netflix or scrolling through social media, dedicate that time to your business: Even 15 minutes can make a difference. It is important to put your education first, so focusing on maintaining rather than growing the business can give more flexibility in your schedule. Your business should be something you are passionate about, so working on it does not seem like a chore but rather an enjoyable project.

Combine Your School Life and Business

Courses may be applicable to tasks in your business. For example, a marketing course assignment on Canva could turn into a post on your business Instagram. This also allows for feedback from professors to make the best possible products for your project in the future. Financial courses may help to get your finances straight and understand the funding aspect of your business.

Ask for Help

You may think you can do everything yourself, but it gets more complicated as the business evolves. Understanding when to bring in help and where to turn when you start having questions is important to growth. Everyone has a different skillset, and a team of diverse individuals can make a big difference.

Travis Lindsay, Cal State Fullerton adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, suggests finding people you have worked with in the past, getting a freelancer for specific needs or searching for others with similar passions. To find a team, “you need to just get started making connections and be open about what you are working on,” Lindsay says. “You don’t need to explain every last bit of information about your idea when you first meet someone, but you have to get that process started.”

Be Realistic

Deadlines that are too tight or goals that are way too ambitious with time constraints are destined to fail. Continuing to understand your limitations and setting realistic goals are more beneficial in the long run, especially as a student. You still have your classes to pass and other commitments to attend to, so give yourself flexibility.

Know Your Worth

No matter your age or experience, if you have results to back up your skillset, you have more value. When pricing your services or product, it is important to keep those elements in mind as you may be undervaluing them, which could lead to profit loss. Be confident in what you bring to the table and the success will follow.

Take Advantage of School Resources

The Center for Entrepreneurship offers many resources for students. During the center’s Titan Fast Pitch competition, students pitch their business idea to a panel of judges to get feedback and real-world pitch experience. Students also have access to entrepreneurial mentors who can offer valuable insight.

CSUF’s Startup Incubator offers students “six months of one-on-one coaching by one of our experienced mentors, one of our student consulting projects to help them develop a go-to-market strategy, and advisement from CSUF Startup Incubator staff,” says Lindsay.

For college students, the added stresses of other commitments make creating a startup difficult, but not impossible. To be successful as an entrepreneur, says Lindsay, you should also “be the person in the room who has the most curiosity.”

For more information about the Center for Entrepreneurship, click here.

The team at Modern Wealth Design, Irvine, California.

Team members Adam Carr ’10, left; Nicole Lujan ’16, center; and Hannah Sullivan ’19 at Titan-owned-and-operated Modern Wealth Design in Irvine.

Cal State Fullerton finance grads are at the forefront of the Orange County financial sector providing wealth management and planning advice to residents in every stage of the lifecycle, from career entry to retirement.

Modern Wealth Design (on Instagram at @modernwealthdesign) an Irvine-based financial planning firm, was established by two Titan grads. For more on the startup and its impact, and how you can get started in financial planning as a life skill or career path, we turn to Nicole Lujan ’16 (finance), founding partner and financial planner:

In a nutshell, what is the story of Modern Wealth Design?

I always knew I wanted to have my own business, help people and work with numbers. By taking numerous business courses at CSUF, the financial planning track made me realize that being a financial planner was my dream career. I started working closely with fellow finance alumnus Adam Carr ’10 (founding partner and financial planner) back in 2015, and we created our own financial planning practice, Modern Wealth Design. Since then, we have hired several staff members and added a junior financial planner, also a Titan finance grad, Hannah Sullivan ’19. Every day is different, and it never feels like work! Read More