The Merage School LEADS (Leadership Experience And Development for Success) Program, founded in spring 2018, offers a select group of Merage School undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in professional development, mentoring workshops and networking events with Merage School alumni and community leaders. Through the program, students develop highly valued soft skills that will serve them throughout their education and career. The soft skills include networking, relationship building, responsibility, collaboration, communication, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, time management, personal branding, and leadership.
"While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills are what open most of the doors to come." -Mind Tools
"Literature suggests that hard skills contribute to only 15% of one's success while remaining 85% is made by soft skills." -The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review
Past Business Reception Sponsors
Committee Chair and Mentor
Steve Cooke is a partner in the Securities and Capital Markets practice group of Paul Hastings LLP where he has been advising clients in a wide variety of complex matters for more than 30 years. Steve has represented private and emerging growth companies, public companies and investment banks in numerous capital markets transactions and has substantial experience in mergers, acquisitions, various owner exit strategies, business combinations, joint ventures and other commercial transactions.
Steve also teaches graduate level courses on board governance and business law at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business and business principles for lawyers at UCI School of Law. He is a frequent speaker on governance and securities law topics, has co-authored a chapter in a practice guide for investor relations officers and written articles on the disclosure requirements impacting public companies.
Steve earned his Master of Business and Juris Doctorate degrees from UCLA.
Kimberly Roush is the founder of All-Star Executive Coaching. She holds people BIG! She is dedicated to inspiring and empowering people to tap into their most valuable talents and gifts that allow their unique magnificence to emerge. She is an executive coach, published author, keynote speaker and leadership facilitator. Through her work with senior executives and their teams, Kimberly has helped thousands discover their individual values-based authentic leadership thus paving the way for more meaningful work and greater success, both professionally and personally. As a former national partner with a ‘Big 4’ public accounting firm, Kimberly brings over 30 years of business experience to her coaching with executives.
Kimberly earned her BS in Commerce, majoring in accounting, from Rider University. She is a Professional Certified Coach, a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a CPA (inactive) and is currently enrolled in a post-graduate program in Positive Psychology and Well-Being with the College of Executive Coaching. Kimberly is also the co-author of ‘Who Are You … When You Are BIG?’
Ken Tudhope is the executive director Advantex in Irvine. He leverages his extensive network of contacts and his unique set of talents and industry experiences to deliver customized service in executive search for finance and accounting. Prior to joining Advantex, Ken founded Project Pro Search in order to provide excellent long-term service to clients in Southern California.
He is also the author of The Key: A Networking Guide to Meeting, Connecting and Succeeding, and Tudhope’s Networking Notes, a collection of short articles about networking and relationship building.
Ken has his MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Business, a BA in economics from the University of Washington and is an actively licensed CPA and CMA in California.
Jamie is an experienced and passionate executive with the unique ability to connect leaders and their teams to drive business strategy, improve operations and materialize visions into realizations. As an industry innovator, Jamie has over 24 years of HR experience working in a variety of sectors including food and beverage, hospitality, healthcare, financial, retail, technology and telecommunications.
Jamie is the founder and CEO of Konnect, a nationwide HR consulting company, and most recently as the Chief HR Officer at Forever21 where he has focused on revitalizing and growing the brand’s people and culture. Prior to Forever21, Jamie was the VP of HR at Chipotle Mexican Grill seeing the brand through its transformation. Jamie has also held executive roles at St. Francis Medical Center, UC Irvine Health, Smile Brands and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Jamie holds an MBA from UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.
2021 LEADS Alumni Representative
Ashley Chen is a 2020 graduate of the Merage School and previously served as the president of LEADS for two years. She has grown with LEADS as a member of the inaugural cohort since its inception in Spring 2018. Ashley is a Contract Administrator at Northrop Grumman and in the Business Management Pathways Rotational Program. With a passion for leadership and innovation, Ashley seeks to discover creative solutions to never-ending problems to create better user and customer experiences. She is passionate about community service and truly enjoys networking and building positive relationships with like-minded individuals.
2021 LEADS Alumni Representative
Sam Yosafi is a 2020 graduate of the Merage School and was an active member of LEADS from 2018-2020. As a graduate of the inaugural LEADS cohort, Sam is very passionate about the program and has experienced the benefits LEADS has to offer. Sam is a Venture Capital Analyst at Mark IV Capital where he is responsible for managing reporting, new investment analysis, and working closely with senior management to advise portfolio companies. He is pursuing a CFA designation.
Sandy Nga Lee is the Assistant Director of the Alumni Experience Center at the Merage School. She is an experienced engagement professional with strong skills in cultivating and stewarding relationships, volunteer management, project management, program and service development, student recruiting and advising, and building connections.
Sandy is a proud Anteater who graduated from UCI with a BA in Sociology and has been working at UCI for over 19 years – 14 years with central University Advancement (UA) and over 5 years at the Merage School. While in UA, she streamlined high-level donor stewardship projects and processes while managing the Anteater Ambassadors Network, which gave student volunteers the opportunity to meet donors and alumni. While in Merage School, she focused on student and alumni engagement, pipeline development and special projects where she co-created the Merage Leadership Experience And Development for Success (LEADS) Program with Stephen Cooke, successfully lead the launch of the Dean’s Leadership Circle (DLC) Grant Initiative and the Future Leaders Initiative (a business leadership certificate and leadership development program for underserved high school and community college students), enhanced the Merage Connect/Dinners with Anteaters program, and connected with thousands of alumni (including disengaged/lost alums) for engagement opportunities like mentoring, speaking, recruiting/hiring, joining leadership boards, attending events and more. Those who worked and interacted with Sandy would say that her love for UCI/Merage is contagious and her passion to help, to connect and to collaborate with them is always fruitful.
“LEADS has been with me on my journey from a lost Anteater to a confident Antleader. Even through COVID-19, the program equipped me with the tools, tips and connections to help me jumpstart my career to success. Coming into college and navigating the job search process is not easy. From sharing internal struggles to applicable networking tools, LEADS students are able to connect with a community of peers and mentors. Every LEADS workshop, speaker, conversation and engaging activity brings value to the students at the Merage School that can be found nowhere else on campus.”
“Being part of LEADS has been an incomparable experience. LEADS is unique in the way that it is not a huge time commitment, but you get so much out of it. I always leave workshops inspired and motivated…LEADS really immerses you into the business community in ways clubs and classes don't.”
Your support will enhance the student experience and provide more opportunities for them to develop valuable leadership skills. Here are ways you can make an impact: