Download Hi-Res Image • Merage School alumnus and CNN contributor Ryan Patel '08 addresses attendees at the 2018 Alumni Day gathering. • Photo by Chris Lee

Merage Alumnus Ryan Patel Discusses the Importance of Global Diversity at 2018 Alumni Day

July 09, 2018 • By UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Having worked in various leadership roles at Pinkberry, Wet Seal Inc., Jamba Juice and other well-known companies, Ryan Patel is also a contributor on the CNN network.

Global business executive Ryan Patel has traveled the world, and his endeavors include expanding Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt chain of stores, from 95 locations to 270 stores in 23 countries while he served as the company’s vice president of global development. He is also a frequent contributor on the CNN network, and in 2017, he was named by Inc. Magazine as one of nine executives making a difference by using his brand to change the world.

At the Merage School’s annual Alumni Day on June 23, 2018, Patel served as keynote speaker and explored the power of influence and how to utilize it appropriately as a leader. 

“There is a learning curve when it comes to building a global team. No team is the same, so it is important to understand each member’s strengths and weaknesses [and] what fuels them to work best together,” said Patel to the more than 120 guests at the alumni event.

“Then over time, figure out the best approach for that particular group. Identifying a team’s needs requires diverse thinking and the ability to view different perspectives when analyzing situations.”

Patel’s deep knowledge in economies, innovation, strategy and consumer trends has made him an expert in growing publically traded businesses, as well as startups, worldwide. In addition to Pinkberry, he has worked at Wet Seal Retail Inc., Jamba Juice, BJ’s Restaurants Inc. and Panda Restaurant Group Inc. He earned a Fully Employed MBA from the Merage School in 2008.

“Location, demographics, culture, etcetera all contribute to the strategy of creating a global team. Embrace different cultures and integrate shared values for optimal results,” said Patel, who is also a public speaker and entrepreneur, and was awarded the 2015 Executive of the Year award by the LA Business Journal and Special US Congressional Recognition for outstanding service to the community.

“Creating a safe and understanding community that is reflected in workplace culture stimulates those qualities. For example, gender equality is imperative, not just because I believe it is the right thing, but from the different vantage points of consumers connecting with a company that has shared values,” he said. “A strong and inclusive team, where everyone’s voices are heard, creates overall strong results for the company. It’s a win-win situation.” 

Patel also had advice for future business leaders: “Be curious about other industries, not just the one you know. I am a big believer in understanding all facets of the business. To stay ahead, one has to truly understand either what is being disrupted or what innovation is coming in different industries.”

In reflecting on his UCI experience and how it shaped his career as an executive, Patel praised the caliber of his fellow classmates. “Throughout my time at UCI, I was able to interact with so many people from various industries and backgrounds, which provided me with quite a bit of unique insight.

“This created a great foundation for understanding how to work with and manage diverse teams as a future board director and during my tenure as vice present of global development at Pinkberry.”

To learn more about Ryan Patel, visit and follow him on Twitter @RyanPatelGlobal and LinkedIn - Ryan Patel.