Regina Regazzi

June 21, 2010

When Regina Regazzi arrived in Los Angeles for the first time to visit UCLA Anderson in 1995, she felt at home immediately. She explained, "A friend and I had just visited Northern California and then driven down the coast. The minute we hit L.A., it seemed I knew my way around. My friend said, ‘It's unbelievable. You belong here.'"

First thing Regazzi knew, she was at an information session on the roof of UCLA Anderson's former building where she saw boxing promoter Don King, a guest for the evening, and met Dean William Pierskalla. "It all just clicked and I decided I had to come here. I hate to be dramatic, but it was one of those magical moments," she said.

A native of the East Coast, Regazzi had been an undergraduate at Colgate University in upstate New York and then spent two and a half years as a research associate at Greenwich Associates in Connecticut. "Greenwich Associates was a great launching pad for business schools," she said. "The expectation was that after two or three years, you'd go off to business school. So I started researching it." This led to an MBA fair, followed by her visit to California.

Friends warned Regazzi that a move west to attend UCLA could be permanent. She told them that couldn't be the case since UCLA has alumni all over the world. The more she thought about how moving to Los Angeles could expand her horizons, the more it made sense to choose UCLA. She now considers it to be one of the best decisions she has ever made.

At UCLA Anderson, Regazzi felt challenged to keep up with classmates. "I thought the academics were really hard," she said. "It was so different from anything I had ever done." But student activities were reminiscent of her undergraduate experience. "So many students were involved in extra curricular activities," she said. "But what's so different from a lot of other schools is that they actually run them. At a lot of business schools, the staff and faculty run extra curriculars."

Regazzi ran orientation for the class of 1998, was a teacher's assistant in entrepreneurial studies, played roller hockey, was a member of the tug-o-war team as part of the Challenge-4-Charity Program, performed at Cabaret and served as one of three fund-raisers for Anderson Affiliates - among other activities. She remembers that there were so many things to choose from that it could be overwhelming if you weren't super focused.

Regazzi had an epiphany as she looked around a crowded Korn Hall with four sections of students combined for economics. "At that time, I had only known these people for six weeks, but I realized that some of them were going to be my best friends for life," she said. "And it was true. While we were in school, we tended to gravitate toward those we had met in our sections during orientation but, after graduation, my friendship circles became much wider, spreading across the country and around the world."

Following graduation, Regazzi accepted a job with Bank of America and moved to San Francisco where she became president of the Bay Area Chapter of the UCLA Anderson Alumni Network. It was the first of several roles with the association that led to her election as president of the board in 2009.

UCLA Anderson's Alumni Board is comprised of 85 members dedicated to serving the school's 37,000 alumni. Within the board is a 16-person executive committee. Each member of the committee has a specific focus such as career management, online services and development. In addition, there are three members-at-large who are also working on projects. The board is very active, according to Regazzi.

One major objective is to give prospective students a personal welcome to the school. Alumna Dominique River initiated a process in which alumni board members call everyone accepted by the MBA and Fully Employed MBA Programs to provide information and answer questions.

"We hope to smooth the transition from prospect to student to alumnus," said Regazzi, "so we are starting at the very beginning by reaching out when someone is accepted. We're creating touchpoints and that's really important."

The alumni board has also focused on social networking. Facebook pages have been created for each class and each chapter will soon be featured on Facebook and Linked-In. "We're putting more emphasis on industries," said Regazzi. "It's going to be one of our areas of focus for the next couple of years. It will be another way to get people engaged and interested."

Networking is the key to the UCLA Anderson alumni experience, Regazzi explained. "Networking has been one of the best parts of my experience here," she said. "This school values its network, and I really encourage people to take advantage of it - whatever that means. If it means showing up in Shanghai to meet Dean Olian, go ahead. If it means getting together with alumni in Japan - do it. If it means helping plan an event in D.C., Philly or Boston - absolutely. If it means giving back to the school by doing mock interviews or helping with resumes - have at it. There are many ways to cater to your own interests while giving back."

Regazzi has recently been leveraging the network to help launch an executive search firm in New York City specializing in financial services. The move followed a difficult decision to leave banking. "I had to do a lot of soul searching," she said. "I spent six months thinking about what I really wanted to do. So, while reading the postings from the Parker Career Management Center, I came across one for executive recruiting. I knew a little bit about it - but not a lot - so I started researching and doing informational interviews."

Regazzi bounced the idea off friends in her own network. "People were bending over backwards to help me," she said. "They said I would be perfect. People were calling to introduce me to people. It was great."

Leaving Bank of America, she joined one of the top search firms on the East Coast. "I ended up getting a job at the best of the best," she said, "and it was hands-down the best training I've had for anything, anywhere. I learned what delivering a top-notch product in executive recruiting was about. I also learned how to do search in asset management."

Then, Regazzi was recruited by a boutique executive search firm - but soon realized her move may have been a mistake. "It was the worst cultural fit ever," she said. Regazzi wondered if she had picked the wrong industry - but people assured her she hadn't.

"So I said, ‘Well, I don't have responsibility for anybody but myself. I've got some money set aside. Why don't I give this a whirl on my own?' I had a great network that covers a broad spectrum. I had experience. And I decided you've got to go when the opportunity arises."

Regazzi left her job in January, 2008 and spent the rest of the year launching a business. Everything from getting incorporated as an LLC to completing a business plan and getting counsel from family and friends.

"Many people in my network had started businesses and many were well connected," she said. "Everyone was very encouraging. But it took a long time to get everything ready and, by the time I launched, it was December, 2008 - one of the worst times in history."

Instead of becoming discouraged, Regazzi undertook a pro bono search for her alma mater, Colgate University, which helped refine her processes and deliverables. She has also been informally giving guidance to people embarking on a job search or helping them think through various opportunities and how to approach them. She encourages actively leveraging ones networking to get in front of as many people as possible and open oneself up to new opportunities.

Regazzi's firm, Artume LLC, has begun attracting clients, but her outlook for the near future is cautious. "Companies are starting to hire," she said. "In mid-to-late fourth quarter of 2009, I started to feel a thaw in the market - like people were thinking about hiring. But nobody in financial services has taken the lead yet. They are making a few strategic hires - but nobody is particularly bullish."

So Regazzi continues to lay the groundwork for her future while completing her term as president of the Alumni Network. "My UCLA Anderson experience has been so rewarding that I wanted to give back," she said. "That's why I got involved. It was also a way to stay connected to my friends and to the faculty and staff. I've gotten back so much more than I've given. It has been amazing."

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