UCI alumnus Reza Jahangiri Economics ’00 is the founder and CEO of American Advisors Group, the nation’s leader in reverse mortgage loans. Jahangiri focuses on purpose-driven leadership. He admits he did not start his professional journey with a values-based organization in mind, but over the course of several years, he has witnessed the bottom-line benefit of doing good.

Expand Purpose-driven Leadership within Your Organization: Four Takeaways from the Recent LEADS Talk with Local CEOs

June 10, 2021 • By Laurie McLaughlin

During a recent online discussion presented by the Leadership Experience and Development for Success (LEADS) program at The UCI Paul Merage School of Business, guest speakers Reza Jahangiri Economics ’00, American Advisors Group founder and CEO, and Leadership Alliance of Orange County President and CEO Mark Percy joined Dean Ian O. Williamson to discuss purpose-driven leadership within public and private organizations and companies.  

Their conversation explored observations and advice for creating and navigating a values-based business culture:  


  • The future will be purpose-driven and profitable: Leaders of organizations, both public and private, are realizing that using influence for good is changing the game. This does not mean profit should not be your focus: The goal should be creating human alignment to activate, innovate, make money and prosper.  


  • Healthy businesses live their values: A corporation performs better when a purpose-driven mission is embedded in its structure and evident in its culture from the very start. Clearly, this not only benefits the greater community, but it also results in better engagement rates, bottom-line numbers, employee fulfillment and retention and positive customer reviews and loyalty.  


  • Start from within: Your organization does not have to solely solve outside societal issues to contribute to the greater good. You can solve problems for your customers, create avenues for your employees to be part of “giving back” and ensure your organization is proactive in creating a culture of trust, opportunity and support for a diversity of employees and ideas.  


  • Take advantage of the journey, no matter what it is: For jobseekers who may not immediately find a position within a purpose-driven organization, be patient. The journey is rarely a straight line, and finding what you value and care about takes time. Taking a job that meets your financial or geographic needs right now builds character and skills. Expand your marketability so that you are ready to pivot when the right opportunity arises.  


Click here to view the entire May 6, 2021 conversation covering a range of topics, including Jahangiri’s path to purpose-driven leadership, the forward-thinking issues Orange County CEOs are grappling with and the importance of sustainable generational leadership.