Archive for ‘Alumni Spotlight’

Alumni Spotlight on Phil Garcia

by   |  05.29.18  |  Academics, Alumni Spotlight, College Decisions, Faith Infusion

Phil Garcia graduated from ACU in 1999 with a degree in marketing. We asked Phil to reflect on his time in the College of Business and asked how that shaped his life post-graduation. Phil said, “The most fundamental thing I took away from ACU is my Christian faith.  I did not arrive at ACU with a relationship with Jesus Christ, but I was very quickly influenced by the Christian friends and professors who took time to get to know me.  Being a Christ follower is core to everything that I do. My faith has allowed me the success I have because I am genuine and ethical with all of my business practices. Both clients and co-workers know that I am real and I care about them outside of our work relationship.  I believe many of my professors showed me what humility and authenticity look like by the way they worked with me and lived their lives both on and off campus.”

Phil Garcia

In his work as a Senior Vice President in investments, he provides professional asset management and consulting for client’s investment portfolios.  His clients are business owners, corporate executives, foundations/endowments and retirees and Phil finds great joy in helping clients reach their goals and funding a lifestyle that they’ve grown accustomed to. Phil believes that being a Christian creates positive occasions for him to live out his faith with his work.  He says, “It encourages me to be humble, allows me to give grace and mercy to those around me, and creates authentic relationships. Being real and vulnerable with people has opened many doors and created great business opportunities. My authentic relationships have created clients and friendships that have become like family, and much of my business growth can be attributed to referrals from these clients.”  

 

Phil says that students need to know that business is about relationships. “Students should make all the friends and connections they can. Meet board members, trustees, guest speakers on campus, etc. I made the mistake of limiting my interactions with my social club for most of my time at ACU, and that kept me from making many connections that could have helped me in my career.  People whom you have a relationship with are more likely to make introductions for you in the business world, and this is what leads to success.”

 

When reflecting on his favorite memories while at ACU, Phil said that Welcome Week was an incredibly positive experience for him as he was the first in his family to attend college and had some trepidation after moving 8 hours away from home. He said, “I met people that became lifelong friends and eventually led me to finding the Lord my junior year. Pledging Knights introduced me to a great group of men, and some fun experiences like Sing Song and intramurals.  We still meet once a year for an annual fishing trip and they provide me with a solid foundation for moral support. They are the true meaning of ‘iron sharpening iron’.”

 

Phil also says that one of the most significant memories he has was having a private Bible study with Dr. Rick Lytle.  He goes on to explain, “His simple invite and desire to take an interest in me has impacted my life forever.  We still have an ongoing relationship, and he still plays a significant role in my life. I attribute a large part of my success to that faithful servant of God.”

 

Phil says that the absolute BEST memory he has from his time at ACU is meeting his wife, Brittney Binder (’00).  He says, “She is the backbone of our family, and without her I wouldn’t be who I am today. She wanted to travel the world with her International Business degree, but selflessly gave that up to raise our family, encourage me daily and be there for others.”

 

Phil advises incoming freshmen to “Make friends with everyone!  Do all the activities that you can possibly do….even if they might not sound cool.  Be authentic, volunteer, tryout, put your phones down and do life!”

 

Phil says he didn’t plan on attending ACU. He explains, “ I just want to share about my beginnings…I did not come from a privileged home. No one in my family  had ever gone to college, and I had no help or expectations on what I should do. By the grace of God (and some great family friends) I landed at ACU. I had never heard of ACU until the summer after my senior year.  On a whim, I applied and was accepted and a month later, I was dropped off at my dorm. I was scared and felt alone. I had no way to pay for school, and I ended up taking out loans for all the years I was there. I feel that in order to understand my success, others need to know my background.  Looking back I can see God’s hand in all of this, and I know He had a plan for my life. I am forever grateful for my time at ACU and the path it paved for my life!”

Spotlight on Jonathan Rugamba

by   |  05.14.18  |  Academics, Alumni Spotlight, COBA Events, Faith Infusion, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized

Meet Jonathan Rugamba, one of our newest COBA alumni. Jonathan graduated on Saturday, May 12th, with a double major in accounting and finance. After graduation, he will be returning to his hometown of Kigali, Rwanda. His goal is to build up an equity firm within the next 10 years through which he can channel as many job opportunities as possible for the people of Rwanda.

Jonathan Rugamba

Rugamba will be creating the start-up with a team of 5 of his “fellows” back home. Three of the team members build software and the other teammates will work to find clients to purchase the software. He said the start-up is still struggling to get off the ground but they hope for the best in the future. When asked how being a Christian will mold his work with co-workers and clients,  Jonathan said that “I think most of my Christian values of love and unity will be vital in forming a strong team bond.”

 

When asked how the education and experiences at ACU and in COBA have helped him ​prepare for ​life ​after graduation, Jonathan stated, “Future is always the future, we can only guess at what it truly holds. We may feel prepared but we can’t certainly be sure. However, I have really gained a lot of knowledge, and that is the best preparation in my opinion. Knowledge never expires but grows.” One of Rugamba’s favorite experiences while in COBA was his time in STAR (the Student Trading and Research class) because it most mimicked the reality of the business world.

 

Rugamba’s advice to current students who want to follow this same type of work is to find your strength and remember that this is a never-ending journey. He advises incoming freshmen to “Have an end-in-mind, work towards it, love people and try to find the best in them. However, you are the best judge for yourself so the challenge lies in your hands. And above all strive to make sure that one day you will live your dream.”

 

Young Alumni Spotlight: Allison Phillips

by   |  03.02.18  |  Alumni Spotlight, COBA Alumni, Data Analytics, Outcomes, Uncategorized

Allison (left) in Norway with her college roommate.

Allison Phillips graduated from the College of Business in 2015 with a marketing degree. She is currently working for Deloitte Consulting as a Data Scientist for clients and lives in Denver, Colorado. She is also passionate about traveling and her job allows her to pursue that.

 

Q: How have your foundations at ACU and in COBA helped you in life post-graduation?

A: During my time in COBA, I had the chance to lead student organizations, conduct research with faculty, and launch a student-run analytics consultancy through Wildcat Ventures. These experiences gave me the chance to gain experience as a researcher and consultant really early in life, which made my transition from school to work much easier. Professional skills aside, COBA gave me a lengthy list of mentors who guided and supported me as I tried to figure out the career direction I wanted to pursue. Having adults in my life who listened and gave me honest opinions about the decisions I was making has had a huge impact on the way I make decisions in my personal and professional life.

 

Q: Can you describe your work in data analytics and the experiences you’ve had with your company?

A: I’m currently a Data Scientist in Deloitte’s Consulting practice, which allows me to work with different clients to understand what has happened, predict what will happen in the future, and make more effective decisions with that information. I’ve gotten to work with companies as well as federal agencies, and I enjoy the challenge of learning about new industries and continuing to develop my technical skills while solving a wide variety of business challenges. In a given week, I work with teammates from all across the country to write code, conduct statistical analysis, design experiments, build slides, and brief clients. I’ve met some really incredible people at Deloitte, and it’s been fun to work with teammates whose backgrounds are very different than mine.

 

Allison with friends hiking Machu Picchu in Peru.

Q: What should students who are interested in data analytics be doing while they are in school to prepare for that after graduation?

A: Students interested in analytics should take data mining and programming classes to understand if they enjoy the kind of work they would be doing as a data scientist. Outside of class, students should look for relevant internships, opportunities to conduct research with faculty or job openings at ARG (the analytics piece of Wildcat Ventures). A lot of different paths lead to analytics careers so I would recommend learning some basic technical skills and looking for opportunities to apply those in ways that interest you.

 

Q: Would you share some of your favorite memories or experiences of traveling? How do you balance that with work?

A: I love traveling and definitely take advantage of all my time off! One of my goals is to visit all 59 National Parks, so I spend a lot of weekends hiking and camping with friends. Last year I also hiked to Machu Picchu with a big group of friends, road tripped through Norway with my college roommate (where we tried to break into a house that turned out not to be our AirBnB), and traveled through Southeast Asia with my family, where we ziplined to the tallest treehouses in the world. Learning about different cultures and experiencing ways of life that are different than mine is really important to me, and I’ve been lucky to have colleagues who are supportive of that. Plus it’s super fun!