HOW I MADE IT

SUCCESS STORIES: HOW I MADE IT

  • He's looking for the secret recipe to educate business leaders

    He's looking for the secret recipe to educate business leaders

    The gig: Deryck van Rensburg is the new dean of Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management in Malibu. He took over in November after spending 32 years in international business with consumer-products giant Unilever and then Coca-Cola Co. His task: To reinvigorate the business...

  • Ultra Mobile CEO David Glickman finds his calling

    Ultra Mobile CEO David Glickman finds his calling

    The gig: David Glickman, 51, is co-founder and chief executive of Ultra Mobile, a prepaid mobile carrier that provides low-cost, no-contract SIM cards with a focus on immigrants living in the U.S. The Costa Mesa company leases wireless telephone and data infrastructure from T-Mobile. The pitch: Glickman...

  • Apoorva Mehta had 20 failed start-ups before Instacart

    Apoorva Mehta had 20 failed start-ups before Instacart

    The gig: Apoorva Mehta, 30, is the founder and chief executive of San Francisco grocery delivery start-up Instacart. Over the last four years, he has grown the company to more than 300 full-time employees and tens of thousands of part-time grocery shoppers. The start-up offers on-demand and same-day...

  • How Beverley Kruskol found success in the male-dominated construction industry

    How Beverley Kruskol found success in the male-dominated construction industry

    The gig: Beverley Kruskol owns  M.Y. Pacific Building Inc., a painting and construction company she co-founded in 1993. The 68-year-old supervises as many as 30 workers on projects including commercial properties, single-family residences and high-end homes, where her firm handles painting, drywall...

  • TaskUs co-founder Bryce Maddock provides helping hands for tech start-ups

    TaskUs co-founder Bryce Maddock provides helping hands for tech start-ups

    The gig: Bryce Maddock, 30, is co-founder and chief executive of TaskUs, a Santa Monica company that describes itself as “a progressive, new-age outsourcer” that handles customer service, call-center operations and other functions for start-ups as well as established firms. Revenue reached $80...

  • This Newport Beach wealth advisor grew up poor in a war-torn African country

    This Newport Beach wealth advisor grew up poor in a war-torn African country

    The gig: Joe Duran, 49, is the founder and chief executive of United Capital, a Newport Beach wealth management firm that’s trying to become as much a tech company as an investment shop. The company manages money but describes itself as a “financial life management” firm — one that invests clients’...

  • Astrologer Chani Nicholas doesn't care if you approve of her

    Astrologer Chani Nicholas doesn't care if you approve of her

    The gig: Chani Nicholas, 41, is an astrologer who writes horoscopes and teaches several online classes through her website, Chaninicholas.com. Her weekly takes are not of the “on Thursday, you’ll find a new boyfriend” variety. Nicholas regularly veers into the world of leftist politics and has...

  • How I Made It: Karina Drees sees advances in commercial space travel in Mojave

    How I Made It: Karina Drees sees advances in commercial space travel in Mojave

    The gig: Karina Drees, 40, is chief executive and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port, a commercial flight test and research facility. It is the birthplace of innovative aircraft like the Voyager, which flew around the world in 1986 without stopping or refueling, and SpaceShipOne,...

  • How I Made It: EagleRider co-founder Chris McIntyre

    How I Made It: EagleRider co-founder Chris McIntyre

    The gig: Chris McIntyre is co-founder of EagleRider, the world’s biggest motorcycle tourism company. EagleRider, based in Hawthorne, offers bike rentals and sales, guided tours, branded apparel and related merchandise. Operating in 27 U.S. states and offering tours from 30 global locations, the...

  • He learned by studying greatness

    He learned by studying greatness

    The gig: Gotham Chopra, 41, is a journalist turned documentarian whose six-part series, “The Religion of Sports,” recently began airing on the Audience Network. Chopra previously directed the 2015 Showtime documentary “Muse,” about future Hall of Fame basketball player Kobe Bryant. Another of Chopra’s...

  • From teenage science project to Nasdaq

    From teenage science project to Nasdaq

    The gig: Andrew Ritter, the 34-year-old founder of Ritter Pharmaceuticals in Los Angeles, created the original form of the firm’s lead experimental drug by testing it on himself when he was in eighth grade.  Ritter has been working on the project — which he says could be the first government-approved...

  • Motivated to make a difference, she helped find breakthrough HIV treatments

    Motivated to make a difference, she helped find breakthrough HIV treatments

    The gig:  From her office on the second floor of the Marion Davies Children's Health Center at UCLA, Dr. Yvonne Bryson works the phones in her role as protocol co-chair for a global health study on treating babies early for HIV infection. "We have a number of infants enrolled around the world in...

  • A lifetime of listening, a voice for business interests

    A lifetime of listening, a voice for business interests

    The gig: Tracy Hernandez is chief executive of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, a nonprofit business advocacy group that she helped get off the ground in 2008. BizFed is a coalition representing more than 160 business groups, 325,000 employers and 3 million jobs. Members include chambers...

  • The boy with rock star dreams now heads Fender electric guitar company

    The boy with rock star dreams now heads Fender electric guitar company

    The gig: Andy Mooney, the son of a Scottish coal miner, couldn’t afford the Fender guitar he longed for as a child. Now 61, Mooney is chief executive of Fender Musical Instruments Corp. The company, based in Arizona but run from Los Angeles, makes the iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster electric...

  • She built a career on killing bugs without poison

    She built a career on killing bugs without poison

    The gig: Pam Marrone, 60, heads Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis, Calif., a leader among start-ups competing for a slice of the market in natural pesticides. Unlikely start: Feeding worms was Pam Marrone’s first job at U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto Co. That may seem like an inglorious assignment for...

  • How I Made It: Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero built Mendocino Farms by learning from mistakes

    How I Made It: Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero built Mendocino Farms by learning from mistakes

    The gig: Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen are the husband-and-wife team behind Mendocino Farms, a fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in gourmet sandwiches. The Studio City company has 13 locations in Southern California, with another two slated to open soon in La Jolla and Tustin (the latter...

  • How I Made It: Lisa Sugar grew a blog into a global media empire

    How I Made It: Lisa Sugar grew a blog into a global media empire

    The gig: Lisa Sugar, 40, is the founder and president of PopSugar, the global media company headquartered in San Francisco whose eponymous lifestyle website attracts more than 100 million visitors a month. Sugar oversees strategy for the business, which has expanded to include e-commerce website...

  • Kirstin Harper-Smith is helping build downtown Los Angeles

    Kirstin Harper-Smith is helping build downtown Los Angeles

    The gig: Kirstin Harper-Smith, 32, is senior project manager at Boston-based Suffolk Construction, where she is supervising the building of a 525-unit apartment tower on Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles. The 888 Grand Hope Lofts project by L.A. developer CIM Group will eventually rise 34 stories,...

  • How I Made It: Dogged determination took Jacob Jaber from top video gamer to Philz Coffee CEO

    How I Made It: Dogged determination took Jacob Jaber from top video gamer to Philz Coffee CEO

    The gig: Jacob Jaber, 29, is chief executive of Philz Coffee. Jaber took over the coffee business from his father — the “Phil” in Philz Coffee — in 2005, and expanded its footprint from the original coffee shop in San Francisco’s Mission District to more than 30 locations across California and...

  • How I Made It: Stephen Cheung went from cutting threads in a sweatshop to cutting global trade deals

    How I Made It: Stephen Cheung went from cutting threads in a sweatshop to cutting global trade deals

    The gig: Stephen Cheung, 37, is president of World Trade Center Los Angeles, which is charged with promoting local businesses overseas and attracting foreign investment to the region. Before that, Cheung worked as director of international trade for the Port of L.A. and served as an aide to two...

  • How I Made It: Jess Lee's unlikely path to running Polyvore

    How I Made It: Jess Lee's unlikely path to running Polyvore

    The gig: Jess Lee, 33, is the chief executive of the social e-commerce site, Polyvore. Unlike most CEOs, who are usually part of a company’s founding team or brought in specifically for the job, Lee was hired as Polyvore’s first product manager before being promoted to the top. In her eight years...

  • Building furniture and community

    Building furniture and community

    The gig: Francisco Pinedo, 53, is chief executive of Cisco Bros., a fast-growing manufacturer known for environmentally friendly design and practices in its home furnishings business. Carrying the Cisco nickname that Pinedo has answered to since his childhood in Mexico, six Cisco Home stores operate...

  • Cooking his way to better health — and a restaurant empire

    Cooking his way to better health — and a restaurant empire

    The gig: Young Lee, 56, is chief executive of the Flame Broiler, a Santa Ana-based fast-casual restaurant chain. Lee opened the first Flame Broiler restaurant in 1995. More than two decades later, the company has expanded to 180 locations — nearly all of them operated by franchisees in five states....

  • How I Made It: Ernest Wooden Jr.

    How I Made It: Ernest Wooden Jr.

    The gig: Ernest Wooden Jr., 66, is president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. He took the position in January 2013, to replace retiring chief Mark Liberman. Before starting his current position, Wooden worked for nearly 50 years in the hospitality industry, starting...

  • O.C. bank's young CEO has long resume, stellar credentials

    O.C. bank's young CEO has long resume, stellar credentials

    The gig: Steven Sugarman, 41, is chief executive of Banc of California, an Irvine lender that’s one of the largest and fastest-growing banks in Southern California. He became CEO of the bank’s holding company, Banc of California Inc., in 2012, at age 38 — young for any chief executive, especially...

  • 'Bad Moms' producer Suzanne Todd learned to follow her instincts

    'Bad Moms' producer Suzanne Todd learned to follow her instincts

    The gig: Film producer Suzanne Todd has received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and her movies have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide.Todd has produced films for almost every major studio, with credits including “Alice in Wonderland,” “Memento” and the “Austin Powers” trilogy. Early in...

  • How I Made It: Clarke Miyasaki turned Stance into official sock-maker of NBA and MLB

    How I Made It: Clarke Miyasaki turned Stance into official sock-maker of NBA and MLB

    The gig: Clarke Miyasaki is executive vice president of business development for Stance Socks. He has helped the venture capital-backed San Clemente firm reach a national audience by securing deals with the NBA and the MLB to become the leagues’ official sock-maker. Upbringing: Miyasaki grew up...

  • How I Made It: Elena Grewal leads Airbnb’s data scientists

    How I Made It: Elena Grewal leads Airbnb’s data scientists

    The gig: Technology companies collect data about the pages people look at, the links they click on, and the things they search for. At Airbnb Inc., it’s Elena Grewal’s job to figure out what all that data means. Grewal, 31, is the interim lead for data science at the $25.5-billion San Francisco...

  • How I Made It: Event planner Tony Schubert gets the party started

    How I Made It: Event planner Tony Schubert gets the party started

    The gig: Tony Schubert, 44, owns Event Eleven, an event production company he founded in 2001. Schubert’s company produces large-scale events, including designer fashion shows, blockbuster film premieres, celebrity weddings, product launches, awards show after-parties and dinners. Among Event Eleven’s...

  • How I Made It: Susan Kresnicka, cultural anthropologist at Troika Design Group

    How I Made It: Susan Kresnicka, cultural anthropologist at Troika Design Group

    The gig: Media companies can be caught by surprise by the immense cultural appeal of their fiction. That's where Susan Kresnicka enters. The 48-year-old cultural anthropologist, who works at Troika Design Group in Los Angeles, has brought social science in to figure out why something becomes popular...

  • Racing into a motorcycle design empire

    Racing into a motorcycle design empire

    The gig: Motorcycle entrepreneur Roland Sands was a boy racer who broke a few track records riding — and broke a few bones crashing. He retired at 29 and went to work full time for his father's motorcycle parts business. When that enterprise got sold, Sands opened Roland Sands Designs, creating...

  • How Clif Bar's Thao Pham found community — and came to help others

    How Clif Bar's Thao Pham found community — and came to help others

    The gig: Thao Pham, 44, is the vice president of community at Clif Bar & Co. and the executive director of the Clif Bar Family Foundation. Her team of eight people works with non-profits, organizes volunteers and ensures that the Emeryville, Calif., food company gives back to the communities from...

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