Recognizing what's meaningful

Eric Sussman

"To me, life is all about connections and relationships, and about giving back"

After two minutes with Eric Sussman it's clear why he's been voted Teacher of the Year 13 times by UCLA Anderson's MBA students. He has been described as dynamic, energetic and engaging. And, as one student says, "He makes accounting fun — and no one makes accounting fun."

To which Eric passionately responds: "Accounting is fun and fascinating! For God's sake, it's the language of business — it's how all organizations, whether private or public, forprofit or nonprofit, communicate!"

Eric, who recently celebrated two decades of teaching at Anderson, says a professor is a storyteller who takes data points and weaves them together in a dynamic, engaging tapestry. "In my next life, I want to be either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert," he jokes. "They are intellectual and funny, and the closest thing to a professor."

It's hard to believe that teaching wasn't always part of Eric's plan. Initially a pre-med student, Eric found his true passion during a macroeconomics class. After graduating from UCLA in 1987 with a degree in business and economics, he needed to earn some extra income while starting to work at a real estate investment firm. He was asked to teach one class at Anderson, and before he knew it, there was no looking back.

"It's what Steve Jobs said about connecting the dots looking backward," says Eric. "I made these choices and they've led me to where I am today, teaching what I love." Outside the classroom, Eric is president or managing partner of several investment and real estate firms.

"To me, life is all about connections and relationships, and about giving back," says Eric, who has been a UCLA donor for 33 years."Giving back is about recognizing what's been meaningful to you. I give because I recognize how ridiculously blessed I've been here."