May 12, 2006
John Matise ('00) Named COO of Small World Kids
Firm creates specialty toys and educational products
LOS ANGELES - Matise has been named chief operating officer for Small World Kids, Inc. The company, the parent of Small World Toys, develops, manufactures, markets and distributes high-quality specialty toys and educational products. Prior to joining Small World, Matise headed Matise Capital, a private equity investment and turnaround operations consulting firm.
“Originally, I looked at the company as an investment opportunity,” Matise said. “Then, in 2004, our CEO asked me to join Small World’s board of directors. So, I was very familiar with the company when I decided to join as chief operating officer full time.”
As COO, Matise has several key areas of responsibility. One is to maximize the operations to accommodate growth and the other is to maximize the return to investors. In addition, he evaluates any merger and acquisition opportunities that might come Small World’s way. “What’s interesting about my current position is, considering I had a former career as a management consultant, this is a perfect marriage of my management consultant skills and my private equity skills.
Matise was a management consultant when he made the decision to attend UCLA Anderson. He credits his time at the school with increasing his all-around business skills.
“I think the best thing my Anderson experience did for me was help me become a more well-rounded executive,” he said. “When I left I had knowledge of all the business disciplines including marketing, sales, operations, finance, human resources and accounting. It just made me a better-rounded person.”
After earning his MBA, he went to work for Encore Venture Partners, then spent time with a private equity firm, Wedbush Capital Partners. From there, he decided to branch out on his own.
Now, he finds himself in the toy department.
“The fact that Small World had been in business for 40 years, was a market leader for its product niche and had a strong distribution network of over 3000 customers (retail stores) made it a very appealing opportunity,” Matise said. Perhaps the only downside is that he isn’t on the product development side, he doesn’t get to spend his day playing with the toys. “But from a personal standpoint, I have a six-month-old son and he tests out the toys.”
With all that is going on in his career, Matise still finds time to remain involved at UCLA Anderson. He is formerly the chair of the Venture Capital and Private Equity Alumni Group, a position that also holds a seat on the Alumni Relations board. Though no longer the chair, he is still on the board of that outreach group.
Perhaps too new in his current position to be looking ahead, Matise was still willing to compare the advantages of working for his own firm (Matise Capital still exists, though mostly dormant at the moment as Matise dedicates “120% of his time” to Small World) and being an officer in a thriving company. “Each has its pros and its cons. I would say that I enjoy what I’m doing right now, but who knows what the future holds.”
About UCLA Anderson School of Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management is ranked among the top-tier business schools in the world. Award-winning faculty renowned for their research and teaching, highly selective admissions, successful alumni and world-class facilities combine to provide an extraordinary learning environment.
The mission of UCLA Anderson School of Management is to be a global leader in management education, research and service. Established in 1935, UCLA Anderson provides management education to more than 1,400 students enrolled in MBA and doctoral programs, and some 2,000 executives and managers enrolled annually in executive education programs. UCLA Anderson alumni number more than 34,000 graduates around the world dedicated to continued networking, professional development and educational activities.