UCI Paul Merage School of Business alumni are applying Edwards Lifesciences' matching gift program to double their impact in diverse ways. From left to right, Christian Johnson, MBA '17, Jenny Huang, FEMBA '18, and Keith Boothroyd, FEMBA '96. • Tyler Robinson/UCI

Alumni Leverage Edwards Lifesciences Matching Gift Program to Double Impact

July 22, 2019 • By Jessie Yount

When Keith Boothroyd, FEMBA ’96, gives to the UCI Paul Merage School of Business, the impact of his gift doubles because of the matching gift program at Edwards Lifesciences, where he is a senior director of finance and business unit controller.

“What I’m able to donate is matched dollar for dollar,” said Boothroyd, who has been with Edwards for more than 19 years. "It’s a wonderful benefit of working at Edwards, and it allows me to amplify my gift to the school.”

Boothroyd and his family have deep roots at UCI. Both he and his wife attended UCI for undergrad, during which Boothroyd studied business economics and played on the UCI Men’s Volleyball Team. When he decided to get his MBA, the Merage School was a natural choice, where he could continue to build his network at an up-and-coming business school. 

Today, he continues to return to the UCI campus to catch the UCI Volleyball Team in action, and, of course, to attend community and networking events at the Merage School.

In addition, Boothroyd supports the Leadership Experience And Development for Success (LEADS) program. Founded in 2018, this program 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.  

At a recent event hosted at Edwards, Boothroyd recognized Annie Chen, BA ’20, an incoming intern who will work in the company’s Surgical Structural Heart  business unit this summer. “In highlighting Annie, we were able to talk about the opportunities and internships that we offer at Edwards, which I believe is one of the premier companies to work for in Orange County.” 

Currently, Boothroyd is part of a new leadership team and business unit focused on transcatheter mitral and tricuspid therapies. “We’re trying to replicate another highly successful business unit, which focuses on transcatheter aortic therapies,” Boothroyd explained.

“The new unit is projected to generate revenues of $40 million by year’s end in a market that is projected to be $3 billion in size by 2024. However, it is the opportunity to work for a company focused on helping as many patients as possible that makes it such a pleasure to work at Edwards Lifesciences.”

Alumna finds network at Edwards, Merage

Jenny Huang, FEMBA '18, a Senior Analyst, National Accounts, in Healthcare Solutions at Edwards Lifesciences, attends activities where Merage and Edwards support one another, such as LEADS events. She also returns to the Merage School quarterly to participate in peer-to-peer advising sessions, which she utilized as a graduate student at Merage.

In addition, she is a member of the Dean's Leadership Circle. "I felt that it was important to give back to the school financially," she said. "I also wanted to continue building my network, and sharing my experience, my thoughts on classes and professors, with prospective and current students." 

When Huang enrolled at the Merage School, she wanted to refresh her management skills, strengthen her finance skills and develop a business mindset that was both strategic and global. It didn't hurt that the Merage School is located in the heart of a booming biotechnology and medical devices hub, either. 

Just prior to graduation, Huang joined Edwards Lifesciences. "The company has a strong network of Merage alumni, and it feels like being home. It gives me a bridge to network with people that I might not otherwise interact with."

Matching gifts enable alumnus to replicate his transformative experience abroad for others

Christian Johnson, MBA ’17, believes the best classroom is a foreign country. It was for him, after all: He had a transformative experience in Cuba and Vietnam as an MBA student at the Merage School.

That experience is why Johnson now uses the company matching gift program at Edwards Lifesciences to give back to the Merage School, giving to a specific program to help others gain from an experience abroad like he did. 

“I used my corporate gift match to fund a global health sponsorship for the UCI Center for Global Leadership & Sustainability, so that other students at the Merage School could immerse themselves in a foreign country, understand the healthcare dynamics of that country, and partner with local organizations to make a difference for patients,” Johnson said.

Johnson cites the Merage School’s experiential opportunities, whether working at a biotechnology startup in Orange County or partnering with nonprofit foundations in another country, as the most valuable benefit of an education at the school.

“I was able to visit local businesses in Cuba and explore the market in Vietnam with my professors and classmates, and those experiences equipped me with a mindset and abilities to leverage global skills at a company like Edwards,” Johnson said. 

As a member of Edwards’ inaugural Strategic Leadership Development Program, Johnson has traveled to emerging markets in South America and Asia, worked on strategy for new devices in Europe and the United States, and worked on initiatives to bring artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to aid in the detection of cardiac disease and the management of patients. Now, he has his sights set on the future, particularly focused on developing and bringing new technologies and devices to global markets to help patients suffering from heart disease.

When Johnson arrived at the Merage School, he was convinced that he would continue his entrepreneurial endeavors after graduation. However, Merage alumni introduced him to Edwards, and he was immediately taken with its investment in the creation of innovative devices and technologies for patients suffering from heart disease – a leading cause of death around the world.  

"I've always been excited about solving a grand, global problem, and that's what excites me about the startup world," Johnson added. "But when I was introduced to Edwards, I was drawn to its genuinely patient-centric values, loved its dedication to dreaming big and creating new innovations, and I felt like there was an entrepreneurial spirit within the company."