A Budding Alumni Network at Local Startup GroupSolver

USD alumni smile in front of GroupSolver signRasto Ivanic, president and CEO at GroupSolver

Rasto Ivanic is married to the University of San Diego in more ways than one. Not only is he literally married to Associate Professor of Marketing Aarti Ivanic, but he is also an engaged community member within the university, offering his expertise to the Changemaker initiative and extending data analytics and marketing employment opportunities to USD students and alumni.

Currently, Grace Pu (MBA ‘17), Bryce Tecson (Marketing ‘18), Shayla Hoang (Economics ‘19), and Balbina De La Garza-Villarreal (Marketing ‘20) are all working at Rasto Ivanic’s market research startup, GroupSolver. Although they have each graduated no more than a couple of years ago, Grace currently works as a senior marketing manager; Bryce is a senior business analyst; Shayla is a business analyst; and Balbina is the startup's business and marketing analyst.

“If I were to list all the major contributions [they have] made at GroupSolver, it would probably take more time and space than I have. They are all very unique individuals with their own styles and ambitions. Grace has been building our brand – from our fundamental mission and value proposition to its visual expression. Our website is all Grace. Bryce has become a leader of our analytics team and is a valued thought partner to the senior leadership team and to our clients – including iconic brands from Amazon to General Mills to GreatCall (a really cool local company). Balbina has given a personality to our storytelling and allowed our data and analytics to truly come to life. And we are counting on Shayla’s strong analytical background to help us push our technology to the next level as we continue to build our product.”

USD alumni working at GroupSolver

From left to right, clockwise: Balbina De La Garza-Villarreal, Shayla Hoang, Bryce Tecson

It took just a brief conversation with Professor Aarti Ivanic to get Shayla on her way to landing an internship at GroupSolver upon graduating. Shayla had taken elective marketing research and marketing analytics courses with Professor Aarti Ivanic and -- given her minor in business analytics and interest in data -- was intrigued by a job posting for a business analyst intern position at GroupSolver that Professor Ivanic had shared with her. After completing her internship at GroupSolver, she was hired as a full-time employee.

“As a business analyst, I take clients’ business questions and turn them into research studies. This includes drafting study designs, coding these studies using our GroupSolver platform, and after collecting the data, we analyze and interpret these results, building presentations for these clients.” said Shayla.

Balbina was first introduced to GroupSolver when both Grace and Bryce visited Professor Ivanic’s marketing research class to talk about the company and immediately knew it was a place she’d love to work at. 

“I wear many hats as a business and marketing analyst. Some days I help the analytics team create study designs, code studies on our platform, analyze the data, and build reports. Other days  I am with the marketing team, working on different campaigns and writing blogs. Every day is new for me, which keeps things exciting! I really appreciate that the USD School of Business focuses a lot on group projects. It teaches you a lot about working with others, which happens to be very important at GroupSolver. I also never thought I’d be working so much with data, so it’s been very rewarding to see my growth in that area too,” shared Balbina.  

Given his experience hiring, training and working alongside recent USD graduates, Rasto Ivanic knows better than most what makes our students and alumni uniquely prepared to take on professional roles that require exceptional skills in collecting and interpreting data: “Some of the biggest differentiators of USD graduates are their strong foundation in business analytics, work ethic, and humility as people. And they’re a lot of fun to be around!”


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658