Five successful California State University, Northridge graduates reunited on October 29th at the Business Honors Association (BHA) and Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) Alumni Panel event. This was the first time the two organizations collaborated on an event, which featured five panelists who graduated from CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics in 2003-04 and started their careers in public accounting.
Kate Jackson, Vice President of Development for the BHA, and Julius Loredo, Director of Alumni Relations for BAP, wanted to coordinate an event that would be both inspiring and valuable to students.
“[We wanted] an event that would inform our students about the value of their degrees, the value of creating strong bonds with your peers, and the value of hearing stories from successful individuals [and alumni], said Loredo.
Jackson and Loredo’s conversation about the event led into mentorship and the two decided that their mentors—Sevan Aratounians and Michael Lundberg—would serve as the perfect speakers; as a result of their mentorships, both Jackson and Loredo received offers from Deloitte and KPMG. They rounded out the panel with the participation of Nazarian College alumni – and friends of Aratounians and Lundberg – Michael Sudjati, Richmond McMurray, and Bobby Narayan.
Now successful businessmen, Aratounians, Lundberg, Sudjati, McMurray, and Narayan first met at different points as Freshmen and Sophomores at CSUN. Sudjati, McMurray, and Aratounians all started their post-graduate careers at KPMG’s audit practice. However, Lundberg and Narayan started at Deloitte’s audit and tax practices, respectively. They each achieved managerial status at their respective firms before moving on to pursue other ventures and interests.
“We all met in various [classes] or through various organizations on campus [like the Business Honors Association],” Aratounians said.
Throughout the event, the five panelists shared their experiences navigating their careers, pursuing graduate degrees, and discussed the rarity of certain opportunities, as well as why a person should take them. The men kept their answers light-hearted, yet informational, often referring to the help they received from one another as students and now, as professionals. As the event came to a close, the panelists answered a variety of questions from audience members and were given honorary plaques by the BHA and BAP.
“It was special. [The event] went really well. [We] cannot say we came in with a planned outcome. Rather, it was nice to come back to school, share our journeys, and connect with current students,” the five panelists stated in agreement.
After five years at KPMG, McMurray moved on to pursue an MBA and JD at Harvard Business and Law School, then he went to work for Latham and Watkins before transferring to Athene Holding Ltd. Sudjati decided to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, including being a controller for an oil and gas company, starting his own restaurant Ramen Champ, and becoming a CFO and CMO at GEARY’S Beverly Hills. Narayan went a similar route following his time at Deloitte—receiving his MST from USC shortly before transitioning into the world of fashion and owning his original design and service company, Withered Tree LLC.
Aratounians and Lundberg decided to remain at their practices and continue building their careers in public accounting. Eventually, both men became partners of their respective firms. Aratounians was most recently designated as a KPMG partner.
“For those who are Partners at a Big 4 firm, [our degrees have] been the arena in which we have developed careers. For those who branched out, [their degrees were] part of a fantastic start to a career, one which taught valuable lessons [that] came in handy regardless of career path,” Lundberg said.
Even with such hectic lives, the five panelists stay connected and support each other as much as they can. They all cherish their friendship and relationships made while studying at CSUN, and speak highly of their time studying in the Nazarian College.
When asked to offer some words of advice for current and future CSUN students the five panelists agreed on a motto of “Work hard. Be exceptional. Trust the process." Sudjati also emphasized the importance of having something to focus on during hard times. "Whether it is leadership within an organization or starting an entrepreneurial venture, having a focus on serving others is a clarifying “Why” to [concentrate] on especially during the challenging moments," he said.