Inside USD

Brandon Christopher: One Extraordinary Torero

Monday, October 15, 2012

Brandon Christopher doesn’t settle for ordinary. Equipped with a voracious appetite for life, Christopher is constantly taking steps toward his vision of the future, which includes owning businesses in multiple industries and creating a powerful personal business brand.

“I have plans to start in investment banking, I want to pursue an MBA and be an entrepreneur,” he said. “I want to have my own clubs, restaurants, wineries, hotels, things like that.” He’s already listed as the CEO of JBSC, Inc.

The University of San Diego junior’s academic and extracurricular commitments are testament to his desire. He’s pursuing three majors — business marketing, finance and Communication Studies. He’s taking 18 units this fall, including an internship in private wealth management at Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). He’s also marketing director for USDtv and a vice president for USD’s Entrepreneurship Club (E-Club).

Just last week he attended a conference in New York City that was ripe with networking opportunities in the financial world. So how does he balance it all?

“I have to plan everything strategically, and you can put that word in all caps,” Christopher said with a laugh. It’s applicable to what he’s doing and what he hopes to do in the future. “I want to be great. I want to have great experiences. I want to learn as much as I can, taking all of the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained at USD, to be very successful.”

Just having three majors seems daunting. It’s not unprecedented, though, but many students major in one or two subjects or, perhaps, one major and minor multiple subjects. A heavy academic load isn’t new for Christopher, who took 20-plus units for two semesters and did summer school in one year at Palomar College before transferring to USD in 2010.

“I feel these three majors will be paramount to my future success,” Christopher said. “They each add so much to each other and they can help me build a formidable corporation.”

Christopher’s fondness for USD started when came to Copley Library to study while still at Palomar. When he became an official student, he soon found his place within the School of Business Administration (SBA).

“I’m such a big fan of the business school because of all the opportunities it provides, how they mold you into a leader and as a person capable of being successful,” said Christopher, who reads SBA Dean David Pyke’s blog, is connected with Pyke on LinkedIn and, when their paths cross, is greeted by name.

Christopher’s academic interests extend into summers, too. He took an economics course at Harvard University in 2011 and a consumer behavior marketing class at the University of Washington this year.

Christopher is a regular visitor to SBA Career Services Manager Christy Bergheim’s Olin Hall office. Through her assistance, he has connected with alumni, including Rob Magnusson ‘97 (BAcc.), an asset management vice president at Goldman Sachs.

“It’s another door opened for me because of USD,” Christopher said. “There’s a good system in place here. It’s a great way for an alumnus to give back. He enjoyed his time at USD and, because I’m here and I’m studying business, he was happy to share a bit about the industry and what he does. He was interested in what I’m doing.”

Bergheim said working with passionate students like Christopher is rewarding for her, too.

“I love working with him,” she said. “I know he’s really going places. Together we looked up several alumni on LinkedIn. I’ve helped coach him on how to contact alumni and other professionals. He took control of the process and reached out in a professional, courteous way. Brandon has done everything right in terms of networking with fellow Toreros and being fearless about follow-up with busy investment bankers. This is the best strategy for breaking into such a competitive industry. He checks in with me regularly and I always like hearing updates on his job search. I offer my help whenever he has a question or wants to bounce an idea off of me.”

Other SBA attributes include top faculty, a global focus through the Ahlers Center for International Business, and the SBA Professional Development Passport Program, which complements classroom teaching with opportunities for students to gain a well-rounded sense of the business world.

Christopher touted USD faculty members who’ve delivered positive reinforcement and direction, such as Communication Studies Professor Greg Ghio, who taught him in a public speaking course.

“Having great public speaking skills is essential and Professor Ghio’s class was a big help. I will always be speaking publicly,” Christopher said. “Good public speaking skills let you handle your own PR.”

He also praised Jenny Wang, an SBA adjunct marketing professor, who has 15 years of business marketing experience with Dell, 3M, Yahoo! and Warner Bros. He had access to Wang’s real-world insight for a Fundamentals of Marketing course.

“Having a professor with real industry experience was very helpful,” he said of Wang. “After taking her class, I felt like a more strategic student.”

Christopher also likes USD’s Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation. “USD is the perfect school for the Ashoka designation. This school makes people challenge what they know, makes them critical, logical thinkers who can apply critical reasoning. I think USD makes Changemakers, even without the designation, because of its holistic approach, which makes people want to go out into the world and change it.”

Definitely anything but ordinary.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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