Shabnam “Shane” Karimi and Connor Hauck are at different ends of the academic spectrum, but on Thursday, the recent graduate student and a college freshman, respectively, had the same objective — to get some sage advice of Cindy Basso Eaton ’89 (BAcc) at USD’s Knowledge Transfer alumni and parent panel on international business.
“She understands the business of international politics because of her work with Global Healing,” said Karimi, who this month earned her degree from the School of Business Administration’s Master of Science in Global Leadership program. “ I liked that she understood exactly where I was coming from when I asked her about it.”
Good advice was available for all USD students in attendance at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. Basso Eaton was one of three USD alumni on the panel — Jorge Guerra ’84 (BBA finance) and Everett Hernandez ’87 — and there were two USD parents, Diego Piacentini (P ’15) and Hector Cuellar (P ’12), providing insight through their respective international business careers and job search tips.
Basso Eaton had a 16-year stint with Global Healing, a U.S.-based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing modern medicine to developing countries. Formerly its president, vice president and CFO, she’s now a Global Healing board member as she pursues a law degree, her international experience also includes work as a tax accountant in Paris and manager at InterOccidental and Ernst & Young in St. Petersburg, Russia. She moved into non-profit work as the co-founder and president of Peter’s Children, an organization devoted to improving Russian children’s lives in oncology ward of three medical facilities.
Hauck (pictured, above left, with Basso Eaton) has global business career aspirations. He said Basso Eaton’s experiences and her advice to be curious when an international opportunity presented itself, spoke to him.
“I wanted to explore the things she referred to, how she was moved by the difficulty that people were faced with in Russia and how it made her think about a career change,” Hauck said. “When she talked about having that curiosity and the politics for non-profit organizations, it was really valuable.”
Event moderator Denise Dimon, USD’s associate provost of international affairs, put it best after having each panelist introduce themselves: “They all took chances, they each did something that took them out of their comfort zone.”
Key takeaways during the program included the importance of knowing at least a second language, understanding “cultural sensitivity” when doing business as an American in a foreign country, having true passion for the work, and to “nurture your networks.” Connecting with classmates, faculty, involvement in student clubs, Greek Life, and participation in sports and more are essential to unlock potential career paths down the road.
Guerra, born and raised in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, came to San Diego and is one of three siblings to attend USD. His interest in finance while at USD helped him when he left a family business in Mexico and pursued work in the U.S. He sold insurance for two years before moving to Merrill Lynch for 20 years as an international financial advisor. He’s now a senior vice president with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Hernandez (pictured, middle, with Guerra and Basso Eaton) is president, CEO and Chairman of the Board for the Latin American Multimedia Corporation and is president of Avanze Inc., a multicultural research and consulting firm serving U.S. multinationals in variety of business areas. The San Diego native spoke of his full-time job at a grocery store while attending USD, which helped him to understand the value of hard work, education and time management.
Piacentini (pictured, left) is the senior vice president for Amazon in its international retail operations, but prior to that he was vice president and general manager for Apple Computer Europe. The Bocconi University of Milan, Italy graduate resides in Seattle and has advisory board participation with international interests.
Cuellar (pictured, right) is president of a global investment bank, McGladrey Capital Markets LLC, one of the nation’s leading mergers and acquisitions advisors for deals under $1 billion. He has more than 30 years of experience in corporate and investment banking and international mergers and acquisitions and other financial aspects. He’s also a director of the Mexican-American Legal and Educational Defense Fund and has received numerous honors as a top Latino business leader.
While international business was the natural connection for the five panelists, Piacentini and Hernandez were among those who enjoyed the chance to give back.
“I wish I’d had something like this when I was a student,” Piacentini said. “I think it’s very important to develop a passion for what you’re searching for. The students here were humble and they listened well.”
Hernandez said he appreciated the chance to see many familiar USD friends in attendance and that his return to campus for the Knowledge Transfer event allowed him to share some of the personal enrichment he gained while in college and how current students can benefit.
“It’s a chance to mirror the model,” Hernandez said of being a panelist. “Everyone on this side of the table has been on the other side before (where students are now). This is a chance to apply your faith, the values and education you’ve learned at USD and apply it. Don’t be afraid.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
Thursday’s USD Knowledge Transfer was the final one for the 2011-12 academic year. To view video from past events, which are hosted by the Office of Parent Relations and USD Parent Board and co-sponsored by different organizations on campus, click here.