Robert Day Scholars practice the 'Art of the Pitch' in leadership development workshop

For the third year in a row Robert Day Scholars at CMC practiced pitching senior executives (who also happen to be CMC alumni) in a “Pitch Day” workshop that is designed to give students the opportunity to develop and practice all-important presentation skills that they will use early in their careers.

On February 5th, 34 students participated in six morning pitch sessions, which took place in the Bauer Center. The sessions were limited to 25 minutes (15 minutes for the pitch and 5-10 minutes for questions and answers) and were followed at noon by lunch at the Athenaeum and a feedback session where the students were given feedback by the panel of business executives (Richard Chino ’90, Maureen Downey ’93, Lee Ann Gliha ’96, Benjamin Hunsaker ’04, Allison Robinson ’92 and Mark Robles ’78) who had evaluated their presentations.

“I thought the day was valuable for the students since they had an opportunity to practice their oral communication skills while making a persuasive argument to an executive,” said Brian Dennis, Director, Administration and Programs for the Robert Day School. “The feedback they received will be invaluable as they find themselves in similar situations early in their careers.”

For many students the prime benefit of Pitch Day is that it affords them their first taste of real world business experience, taking them out of classrooms and into a business setting where they strive to be, in essence, pitch-perfect.

“The executive for whom I presented my pitch, Mr. Robles, told us at the luncheon: ‘If you think you are talking too slow in a presentation, slow down some more,’” said Amber Falkner ’16. “Many of us will be entering fast-paced careers in finance after we graduate, so we have trained ourselves to have the mindset of ‘faster is better,’ but when it comes to presenting, the opposite is true. Though we may have to quickly put together a presentation, we should slow down significantly when presenting it. By slowing down, the audience has more chances to interject and ask questions, making the presentation feel more like a back-and-forth conversation.”

Falkner said she will be joining Wells Fargo Securities' Consumer, Healthcare and Gaming group as an investment banking analyst after graduation and that Pitch Day is a great primer for future presentations she knows she will make in her career.

“At some point in my career, I will be tasked with presenting to a room filled with important people,” she said. “And when that time comes, I want to be comfortable with my presentation abilities and style. Unlike presentations I make for my classes for which the only feedback I receive is a letter grade at the end of the semester, the executives at the Pitch Day provided us with feedback both individually and as a whole group at the luncheon. I found this detailed feedback to be very helpful in thinking about my strengths and weaknesses in presenting and crafting my personal presentation style.”

The best piece of advice Ian Campbell M’16 received in his feedback session was from Lee Ann Gliha ’96 who told him to “‘engage the audience.’ When walking into a room she suggested to ask the audience about the weather, their travels, or anything to make it interactive and loosen the atmosphere,” Campbell said.

He added that many people under prepare for presentations and underestimate their value. “Great presentations are capable of opening up myriad opportunities while sub-par presentations can leave others with a bad impression of your abilities, work ethic and potential. Learning how to become a better presenter through practice will help improve future presentations of mine in which I have more skin in the game.”

Campbell will begin work for Harris Williams Middle Market in San Francisco this June.

This was the second year that Richard Chino ’90 participated in Pitch Day offering his expertise to RDS students and he thought that the presentations were, on the whole, compelling.

“The strengths were good eye contact and comfort with public speaking,” Chino said. “The weaknesses were in setting the objective of the presentation with the audience. For example it wasn't clear sometimes whether I should consider buying a stock or if they were seeking my feedback on what they were considering doing. The feedback I gave was to make clear your objective for the meeting and define what you want to get out of the meeting so it's clear to everyone.”

Payam Vadi M’16 who will be joining Jeffries as an Investment Banking Analyst in the company’s Silicon Valley technology group, took away an “exceptionally valuable insight” from Pitch Day.

“I should know just as much about the competitive landscape and major players in the industry as the company I am pitching,” he said. “What distinguishes the Pitch Day presentation from other presentations I have made in the past are the sorts of questions I received about my thought process and analysis. As students we have given numerous presentations in our classes, but the questions that our professors and peers ask aren't on the same level as those that a practitioner who has been in industry for decades will ask.”   

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Richard Chino ’90
Chino graduated from CMC with a major in economics/accounting and mathematics.  While at CMC, he was a four-year member of the baseball team. After graduating, he spent five years in management consulting with Theodore Barry & Associates and Gemini Consulting, received his MBA from Northwestern University and spent a year at Silicon Graphics Inc. In 1998, he was part of the team that invented sponsored search at GoTo.com/Overture and continued on with Yahoo which acquired Overture.  After leaving Yahoo, Richard joined another start up, MeziMedia, where he worked on comparison shopping engine, Smarter.com, before that company was sold to ValueClick.  Since 2010, Richard has been investing in small startup companies.  Richard also serves on the board of trustees for CMC.

Maureen Downey ’93
Maureen Downey is a Principal in the Global Secondary team at Pantheon Ventures and focuses on sourcing, analyzing and executing secondary and direct investment opportunities in the private equity sector as well as emerging market investments with an emphasis on Latin America. Prior to joining Pantheon, Maureen was a Vice President in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs, & Co. Maureen joined Goldman Sachs in their London office in 1998 in the Leverage Finance and M&A Group and then later transferred in 2003 to the San Francisco office to cover the healthcare sector. Maureen graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors with a B.A. dual degree in Economics and Philosophy, Politics and Economics from CMC and holds an MBA from Wharton's Graduate School of Business.

Lee Ann Gliha ’96
Lee Ann Gliha is a Managing Director and Head of Media in the Houlihan Lokey's Media & Telecom Group. She is based in the firm’s Los Angeles office. Lee Ann has worked as a media investment banker for over 15 years, with extensive experience across all product areas, including buyside and sellside M&A, debt and equity financing, liability management, restructuring, and valuation. Lee Ann has deep sector expertise, having executed transactions in each of the television and radio broadcasting, newspaper, magazine, B2B, cable network, digital media, movie theater, and other out-of-home entertainment sectors.  In 2011, she was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Investment Bankers by Investment Dealers’ Digest. Lee Ann graduated summa cum laude from CMC with a B.A. in Economics.

Benjamin Hunsaker ’04
Ben Hunsaker is a Managing Director at Beach Point Capital Management where he is the head of Structured Credit and manages the Beach Point Securitized Credit funds. Ben has 10 years of investment experience most recently as a Portfolio Manager at Western Asset Management where he was responsible for structured products. Prior to WAMCO, he was a Senior Analyst at Countrywide Securities Corporation in the structured finance and banking group responsible for securitizing ABS and MBS. Ben received a bachelor's degree in economics and accounting from CMC and an MBA from the Drucker School of Management.

Allison Robinson ’92
Allison Robinson is a Vice President and the Manager of the MUFG Americas Credit Analyst Training Program in Los Angeles.  In her current role she manages all aspects of this program’s training curriculum which includes both classroom and virtual teaching/delivery as well as content and course development for advanced training modules. In addition, Allison develops policy and product-specific in-house training content for various wholesale lending segments across the MUFG Union Bank footprint. Allison graduated from CMC with an Economics and Government Dual Major.

Mark Robles ’78
Mark is a Principal and Managing Director of Alta Pacific Wealth Management LLC in Mission Viejo, California.  Mark has over 35 years of investment experience with leadership roles at AG Edwards, Wachovia Securities and Merrill Lynch as a Senior Vice President-Branch Manager.  Notably, Mark was an advisor to the County of Orange, and a member of the investment commission for the City of Mission Viejo. Mark specializes in active portfolio management for high net-worth relationships, utilizing alternative investments.  Mark holds a B.A. degree in Economics from CMC.

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