Carol Tomé came to the Daniels College of Business immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming. She started her career in banking, and became director of banking at Johns Manville Corporation in 1988. Eventually, she became vice president and treasurer of Riverwood International Corporation in Atlanta, a packaging unit of Manville. In 1995, Tomé was recruited to join The Home Depot as its treasurer—the company had just 14 stores at the time. “I’m the grandmother of the company!” says Tomé.
Today, Tomé is The Home Depot’s CFO and executive vice president, corporate services. Her advice to Daniels students: “There are always opportunities for the best students. Know who you are and what you want, and you’ll make the right decisions for your career.”
In 1965, Barry Hirschfeld joined the family printing business, A.B. Hirschfeld Press, a Denver institution that began in 1907. A real estate investor from a young age, Hirschfeld didn’t initially see himself joining the family business, but after graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a BS in business management and earning his MBA at Daniels, his father recruited him. In 1984, Hirschfeld took over the company when his father passed away. In 2005, A.B. Hirschfeld merged with three other printers to become National Hirschfeld. Today, he’s back into real estate development—he founded A.B. Hirschfeld and Sons with his son, Hayden—and serves on several boards, including those of National Jewish Health, Colorado Concern and Mountain States Employers Council.
After an internship with the San Francisco Juvenile Public Defender and volunteering for the Peace Corps, Jenni Stanford came home to Colorado to attend DU.
“The dual JD/MBA degree was a big draw for me. I had a strong interest in business law, and an in-house legal internship in telecommunications and another internship in Nairobi, Kenya, really solidified that.” After graduating in 2011, Stanford accepted a business analyst position at The Broe Group, a private equity firm in Denver. She came upon the position through her DU network. Stanford uses both of her degrees to evaluate prospective investments, conducting company research and planning projects. “DU helped me build great relationships and that’s so important. I’m a recent graduate and I am already seeing the fruits of those relationships.”
Loan Vo came to the University of Denver intent on becoming a pediatrician. But toward the end of her undergraduate education, she decided that business was a better fit. “I love kids and thought becoming a doctor was the best way to help them, but I realized that wasn’t the only way,” she says.
Since graduating from Daniels, Vo has enjoyed a career in investment banking and advising, but she has also put her business skills and broad network to use in philanthropy. An alumna of the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, which helped her become the first college graduate in her family, Vo is dedicated to giving back. She is the founder of the Tennis with the Stars charity tennis tournament, which raises money for several Denver nonprofits that help at-risk youth. “You can make a big difference doing little things. Giving back doesn’t take a lot of effort; it just takes passion and a small amount of your time.”
After graduating from Daniels, Joey Ham sought a role that would allow him to focus on his passion for education. He took a staff position with Colorado Senator Mike Johnston. Through colleagues, Ham met the director of the Denver office of the Institute of International Education (IIE), which is known for its Fullbright program. Impressed by Ham’s leadership experience and business education at DU and Daniels, the director soon offered him a position in their newly created GlobaLeadership Exchange. Today, Ham manages the program, which provides leadership and social entrepreneurship development to international students and professionals.
“GlobaLeadership Exchange helps transition people from potential leaders to change agents, so I draw on my Daniels experience all the time, telling people that you don’t have to be in a position of power to change the world—you can do it on any level,” Ham says.
After earning a degree in history from the U.S. Naval Academy and serving for six years as an officer in the Marine Corps, Matt Eichmann sought something different. He moved to San Francisco and became an advisor to high-net-worth individuals, but quickly discovered that he wanted a fundamental business education. His wife was also looking at graduate schools, and the couple focused on Colorado. “I liked what I saw in Daniels,” says Eichmann. “It just felt right.”
During school, Eichmann became an avid networker and grew interested in the natural resource sector. During his first year at Daniels, he was accepted into Newmont Mining’s CFO rotational internship program, and upon graduation, was hired as a senior analyst in Newmont’s Investor Relations department. Today Eichmann is a manager and is working toward other leadership positions. “At Daniels, the quality of people—administration, faculty and staff—was top notch. I could not be where I am today without my Daniels education. It’s given me a foundation from which to build, and has provided me with the tools to be tactically and technically proficient in this new career.”
Jargal Dambadarjaa came to Daniels under a U.S. AID Scholarship seeking skills to help his native Mongolia’s fledgling capitalist society. Upon graduating, Dambadarjaa returned to Mongolia to become the CEO of Capital Bank, and later co-founded Mongolia International Capital Corporation. Today, Dambadarjaa runs XacLeasing Co., whose mission is to increase the competitiveness of Mongolian enterprise. He’s a well-known advocate for transparency in government, foreign investment and citizens’ rights. “Daniels classes had an inherent focus on values,” Dambadarjaa says. “I took away much on corporate social responsibility and the role of government in promoting an attractive business environment.”
After a successful career in the telecommunications industry at companies such as AT&T and Teletech, Louise Atkinson took the helm as president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado in 2010. “When I learned about the Foundation’s mission of helping Colorado women be self-sufficient and that there was an educational component to what they do, I knew it was a perfect match,” says Atkinson.
Atkinson is an active volunteer for DU. She served on the DU Alumni Association’s Board of Directors for a decade and was president for two years. In 2010, Atkinson and her husband, Bill, established a scholarship foundation for women students of the Women’s College or Daniels. “I am so grateful for what DU did for me,” she says. “I believe in the power of education, and I feel compelled to give back.”
After four years working in the hospitality industry, Charles Bloomfield decided the time was right for an MBA. “I chose business school over law school because I wanted to solidify my quantitative skills,” says Bloomfield. “I felt business would give me a broad platform to do whatever I wanted to do. And I chose Daniels because I loved Colorado, and Daniels and DU had a great reputation.”
Immediately after graduating, Bloomfield launched a 15-year career in information technology, sales and marketing, and consulting. An entrepreneur at heart, he and a partner started TerraNova Wines in 2007, a wholesale distributor of boutique wines. “We’re very focused on sustainable agriculture, on bringing to market wine that is true to its heritage,” he says. His business philosophy is similar to that of Daniels: “There’s a right way and a wrong way of doing things, and that’s so important to teach.”
In fall 2008, Cherry Creek High School teacher Ann Moore developed a character-development curriculum for at-risk students. She called it “Cowboy Ethics,” inspired by Jim Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West. Today, the Cowboy Ethics curriculum has been implemented in school districts around the country, and Moore serves as executive director of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership.
Launching her teaching career in 2005 after 17 years in business sounds unusual, but Moore says the foundation has helped her tremendously. “My business background has very much enhanced the value I bring to the classroom,” she says. Her heart may be in teaching, but Moore is forever grateful for her business and ethics education. “Daniels was a pioneer of ethics in business. I believe it is a college that was ahead of its time.”
In 2009, Dafna Michaelson embarked up a 50 in 52 Journey—in 52 weeks, she traveled to 50 states “to meet the people who are moving America forward and helping to solve community problems.” Upon her return, she founded the Journey Institute, which continues the mission of the Journey by helping others mobilize their communities to action.
Prior to the Journey Institute, Michaelson was the director of volunteer services at Denver Health and the director of the DU Holocaust Awareness Institute. Her job at DU led her to Daniels. “I felt that the best way to grow and build the Holocaust Awareness Institute was to run it like a business, but I needed business training.” Today, in addition to running the Journey Institute, Michaelson is the founder of Women as Social Entrepreneurs and TEDxCrestmoorParkWomen. “When I graduated from Daniels, I knew how I could have an impact. It wasn’t just business knowledge I gained—it was the ability to make a difference.”
A former systems development engineer, Mike Niyompong started his post-Daniels career at Hitachi Consulting. But soon, Niyompong sought a role where he could make a greater impact—characteristic of his Daniels experience, during which he ran the Ambassadors program, co-founded Out for Business and served as co-president of Net Impact. Through networking, he met Christine Benero, president and CEO of Mile High United Way. Before long, she hired Niyompong as VP of technology and facilities. “Every day, I see firsthand the impact of what we do. I am able to put to use the skills I learned at Daniels and throughout my career to help people who need Mile High United Way.” Niyompong also continues to stay involved in his community as a member of the 2011 class of Leadership Denver. “My involvement and leadership at Daniels made me a better student. Today, I’m a more effective employee because I’ve carried over the same principles.”
Zac Ryon discovered early on in law school at the Sturm College of Law that becoming a practicing attorney wasn’t the path for him, so he also pursued a master of international management and an MBA. After graduating, Ryon completed PhD coursework, taught at various colleges and worked in the public and nonprofit sectors. Eventually, he was recruited by Serenic Software, which develops and implements accounting software for nonprofits and NGOs.
“Being a consultant is like being a teacher,” Ryon says. “Besides the intellectual challenges and gratification of helping worthy nonprofits, I enjoy the lifestyle. I can work from anywhere.” Ryon is moving to London in Spring 2012 to help Serenic expand into Europe. He attributes his adaptability to Daniels. “My awareness of the value of other perspectives and cultures is the greatest takeaway from Daniels.”
When Josh Cashman started law school at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, he also discovered an interest in business. “My work was in investment management, and I thought it might be enhanced by a quality MBA program,” says Cashman. He enrolled at Daniels—while finishing up his JD at the Sturm College of Law. While he was at it, he decided to earn an MS in finance too.
Today Cashman runs Denver-based Intrinsic Valuation—his second business valuation firm—which he and a partner cofounded in 2010. “Our goal is to be on the leading edge. We service a small base of clients who value having a direct line to the product.” Cashman says he’s grateful to his alma mater for helping build his business foundation. “These colleges have exceptional, out-of-this-world professors.”
Gretchen Gagel’s MBA from Daniels helped lay the foundation for a 20-year career in leadership positions with FMI Corporation—a Raleigh-based management consulting and investment banking firm—Coca-Cola Bottling Enterprises and Ralston Purina. After earning a master of nonprofit management at Regis University in 2004, Gagel joined the Women’s Foundation as CEO for five years. After a year-long stint at the Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco, in early 2011, Gagel came back to Colorado to join Daniels as assistant dean of advancement and alumni relations. “I have had a passion for higher education my entire life,” says Gagel, who is a first-generation college graduate. “I had an incredible experience in my MBA program here at Daniels, and I was a Heckman Scholarship recipient, so I understand the value of scholarships for students.”
As a senior at Utah State University, Julianne Salisbury had a business idea for a study-abroad marketing company. She pitched it to Washington D.C.-based Student Horizons and was brought on in 2005 to help launch Beyond the Books, which educates prospective students about colleges’ experiential learning opportunities. “I felt an MBA would help me translate that into my next career opportunity,” she says.
Her last quarter at Daniels, Salisbury participated in the Peak Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition, and proposed ideas to the subject company, Propadoo.com. She met Propadoo founder Jim Mueller, and in Spring 2010, Salisbury joined ReignNet (now The Great Online), another of Mueller’s companies. “Daniels enabled me to see the bigger picture,” she says. “I loved the focus on ethics and sustainability, and the case competitions and class projects gave me opportunities to network with business leaders.”