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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

OC Leader Board: An OC Center for Leadership

Selena-Andria Liu, a freshly graduated alumnus of California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), earned her business degree in Accounting and minor in Asian studies while navigating college life with a disability called cerebral palsy.

For four years, she participated in several programs at the Giles-O’Malley Center for Leadership, which features the Leadership Scholars Program to provide self-motivated students with a platform to connect with industry executives, develop their leadership and career readiness, and serve through volunteer efforts in the community.

Liu, who spoke at the center’s annual awards ceremony on May 12, told the audience of more than 400 that she already has a job lined up at Ernst & Young, the second-largest accounting firm operating in Orange County.

Kim Letch, who is in charge of E&Y’s US West Coast Region Private Equity, also spoke at the event, welcoming her to the firm.

Letch, who has worked at EY for 31 years including as its top OC official, knows Liu is yet another example of the power of the Giles-O’Malley Center for Leadership.

2 Important Facts

At the forefront of any conversation about the Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics (CBE), and its impact on Orange County are two prominent facts.

First, about 2,700 business students annually graduate from the university, the largest supplier of business grads in Orange County. Second, over 80% of those business graduates stay in Orange County to raise their families, grow their careers and build their businesses.

When we say that CBE is creating Orange County’s business workforce, there are real numbers behind that proclamation. Many OC employers already know this, telling us not only that a large percentage of their employees are Titans, but also arrive well-prepared and ready to work on day one.

Serving as the largest accredited business school on the West Coast—and second largest in the nation—comes with great responsibility. We are committed to the professional success of our graduates, and to creating an effective and enduring path of social mobility for our students and their families.

We are equally committed to serving as a core partner with the OC and greater SoCal business community to improve their organizations.

Excellence in Leadership

A steeple of excellence at Cal State Fullerton is the Giles-O’Malley Center for Leadership.

Named in honor of our transformative alumnus Terry Giles and his wife, Kalli O’Malley, the center is nationally celebrated for its student-focused educational programs and equally recognized as a resource serving the OC business community.

Giles and O’Malley serve as joint inspiration for our students, and the center bearing their name is a physical manifestation of Giles’ storied career in business, law, servant leadership, and his generous service to and philanthropy poured into his alma mater.

The center’s had incredible support from OC business leaders who sit on its 19-member board of directors like Charlie Zhang, founder of Pick Up Stix; Jessica Word, CEO of Word & Brown General Agency; and Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing.

It’s not hard to see why business leaders are involved after they meet the charismatic Jay Barbuto, a professor of management who founded the center in 2011.

Barbuto is a world-renowned management researcher, famous for his seminal works in servant leadership, emotional intelligence, and work motivation, having published over 106 journal articles and his research has been cited more than 10,000 times and utilized in over 65 countries across six continents.

The Needed Soft Skills

What makes the Giles-O’Malley Center for Leadership unique and effective are the myriad and enriching programs and activities it provides.

About 500 students earning a wide variety of degree—not just business—annually access programs and activities that fuel their leadership journeys and empower their dreams. The center annually distributes $50,000 in student scholarships, which are entirely merit-based earned through engagement in the center’s programs.

Through programs like Leadership Scholars and Emerging Titan Buddy’s Program, our scholars build essential soft skills, develop keen leadership abilities, receive executive mentoring and establish a network with business leaders from throughout OC.

The center also wants to help businesses in Southern California by offering a series of programs and activities that bring leadership development on-site to businesses, are focused on nationally relevant and locally driven issues, and are infused with proven research.

One example of these programs is our Bringing Learning to Work program, which invites companies to host CSUF professors for a series of lunch-and-learn programs customized to the challenges facing their business or industry.

To learn from business leaders, the center created “The Leadership Voice,” a television program that is available online and via cable television across Southern California. The shows so often broadcasts on monitors around campus that we joke that we see Jay much more often on TV than in person!

At its annual awards program held at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, four individuals were honored: Robert E. Grant, CEO of Strathspey Crown, lifetime achievement; Eric Goodman, CEO of Mountain View Services, community engagement; Everett Sands, CEO of Lendistry, innovation; and Nicole Suydam, CEO of Goodwill OC, strategy.

Four companies also received awards: Pimco, Providence St. Jude Medical Center, Volocity Vehicle Group and Haskell & White.

A New Home

Our dream is a new distinct home for the Giles-O’Malley Center for Leadership.
Plans are underway for a new $20 million building on our campus. This three-story building will serve as a hub of study and exploration of the topic of leadership not only for CSUF and its students, but for businesses across OC and SoCal.

The new Center for Leadership building will provide foundational fuel to elevate our research, enrich our teaching, power our practical application of leadership studies and serve as a hub of leadership learning for all academic areas.

This 21,392-square-foot building is funded entirely through philanthropy and non-state sources, and will be a resource for all of Orange County.

We invite the Orange County business community to join us as partners as we grow leadership studies. More information can be found at:


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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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