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Voices of Vision & Visionaries: Alumni Share Success Stories

Feb. 14, 2014

Prior to the Feb. 13 Vision and Visionaries celebration honoring four distinguished and honorary alumni, the award recipients gathered in the Titan Student Union Theater to share how their experiences at Cal State Fullerton helped shape their career success. Here are some of their observations about their education and careers:

Joseph G. Cervantes
Senior Executive Vice President of Operations
R.D. Olson Construction
Honorary Alumnus Award

"I'd advise students to find their passion. I point out that you're going to be working for a long time. You might as well enjoy what you're doing. I once worked 70 days straight but it wasn't so bad because I had a passion for what I was doing."

"When it comes to motivating people, I think you need to remind people that we're in the problem-solving business. Staff members sometimes just focus on what's wrong. They need to come up with solutions, too. And prioritize. When you focus on what's most important, some of the other, less important duties will fall to the side."

Daniel K. Huckabay '03
President, Commercial Surety Bond Agency
Recent Graduate Achievement Award

"College was a turning point for me. I was a 'troubled youth.' But I saw college as a way to change my life and Cal State Fullerton had a huge role in helping me. I was very busy with classes in marketing, finance, business law — but I also joined a fraternity and had a social life. I learned how to balance."

"Students often don't understand and appreciate the time they spend in college. I'd encourage students to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them. When they graduate, it's helpful to find a mentor. I eventually bought my company from my mentor. He also told me to surround yourself with people who are better than you."

Darrell F. Jodoin '85
Director of Design and Engineering
Disneyland Resort
Distinguished Alumnus Award

"As an engineer, I was always interested in how things worked — I didn't envision becoming a ride designer. I was interested in cars and boats. But if you're open to opportunities, good things can happen. I would also advise engineering students to realize that much of their job may also involve salesmanship and marketing. You have to explain the process and sometimes convince people why a certain approach may be better than another."

"If you have employees who don't want to be part of the solution but just want to commiserate, you need to call them out. The demands of your work require that you can trust your people and have frank conversations. Constantly focusing on the negative doesn't help."

Julie Miller-Phipps '83
Senior Vice President and Executive Director
Kaiser Permanente
Distinguished Alumna Award

"You need to look for worthwhile work and then find people you trust to work with you. You also want people who can tell you what your strengths are. You'll often hear about your weaknesses but the key is to maximize your strengths. For instance, I'm methodical and strategic. I'm not necessarily an idea person but I can implement anything. So I surround myself with people who develop ideas and then I work hard to implement them."

"Your staff should be directly involved in solving problems. People feel empowered when they offer suggestions. And managers are thrilled to see staff taking initiative. It builds morale if employees see they can make a positive difference."

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