Learning the secrets of success

Corporate alumni inspire students to pursue business goals in popular, new course.
By DeNae Thomas
Assistant Lifestyles Editor 

Course instructor Alexis Bonnell seeks to inspire students. Photo/Faith LynnLike many college students, junior Monica Keyes did not know what she was going to do with her life when she graduated.

“I was really worried about how in the world I was going to accomplish finding the right job and path for my future,” said Keyes, who is majoring in international management with a minor in marketing.

However, opportunities blossomed before her eyes when she joined BA 299, a new course to the business division this semester taught by Pepperdine alumni Mike Costache and Alexis Bonnell.

“I was lucky to hear about the class the same day it started,” Keyes said. “Little did I know it was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The class, more commonly knows as “Success 101,” was not advertised around campus during spring registration, other than an e-mail sent out to students who had been enrolled in a freshman leadership course. Nevertheless, news spread quickly of the weekly motivational guest speakers and inspirational instructors. The course enrollment, which began with 23 students, now exceeds 50 freshmen through seniors.

“I have seen the class grow from a very small group to an extensive family,” freshman Chadron Edwards said. “Not only do I learn a great deal in it, but it is fun.”

The theme of the class, “The essential elements to achieve success at a young age,” is accomplished through weekly guest speakers, out-of-class networking opportunities, resumé and cover letter advice, and learning from the success stories of Costache and Bonnell.

Each Wednesday students are instructed on ways to master an array of successful business techniques ranging from communication etiquette and skillful networking to maintaining a professional image and making a good first impression.

Guest speaker Russell Mohberg, n investment rep. from Edward Jones speaks to the class. Photo/Faith Lynn“I have already learned a lot in the last three weeks about the little secrets of the business and corporate world that really make a difference,” Keyes said. “I have learned to perfect my resumé and interviewing skills along with the rest of the class in hopes of setting a whole new standard for the business world in terms of Pepperdine graduates.”

Weekly motivational speakers are another aspect that has made the course so successful. Last week Russell Mohberg, an investment representative for Edward Jones and Pepperdine MBA alumnus, spoke with the class and gave tips on successful business techniques. The week before, Art Mortell, the author of “The Courage to Fail” and “World Class Selling,” spoke to the class about success and failure.

Mortell is also a friend and inspiration to Costache.

“One of the keys to success is knowing how to deal with and learn from your failures,” Costache said.

The majority of the speakers lined up for the semester are Pepperdine alumni who have become successful in the corporate world and can provide networking opportunities to current Pepperdine students.

Costache said that even those not enrolled in the class are invited to attend the speaker series because the class was recently moved to CBC 100 in order that everyone interested may attend.

Despite the quickly growing class, Costache and Bonnell said they want to continue to provide individual attention to students.

“Through all the growth in the class Mike and Alexis have kept up an impressive level of personal attention to every student,” Edwards said.

Costache and Bonnell are not getting paid to teach the course.  Corporate sponsors have provided books and educational resources in order to help cover some of the costs, including Verizon, Foley Lardner, Ernst and Young, The Wall Street Journal, and Edward Jones.

“Mike and I are teaching this course because we feel it provides essential information that every student needs for their competitive advantage,” Bonnell said. “I think Pepperdine is poised to be in the top 10 schools very soon and I wanted to be a part of putting them on the map.”

Instructors Mike Costache & Alexis Bonnell give success tips to students. Photo/Faith LynnBonnell graduated from Pepperdine in 1999 with a degree in advertising, public relations and marketing and is now a partner in Pioneer Consulting and the vice president of public relations at VMBC.

“I know that if students do what Mike and I did in school, they will have jobs waiting for them when they graduate,” Bonnell said.

Costache graduated from Pepperdine in 1999 and is currently the chairman of Young Professional Global Network, and is working for an investment banking firm and is a partner at Pioneer Consulting, along with teaching the course.

“It’s all about giving back,” Costache said. “Pepperdine’s motto, ‘freely ye receive, freely give’ is a good one to follow.”

Costache is also planning on heading up a business camp at Pepperdine in June, which will provide students with a full week of opportunities to network with successful business people.

“Mike and Alexis have seriously changed my outlook on life and my career in the past three short weeks,” Keyes said. “They are perfect examples of Pepperdine Alumni who have really gone out and taken full advantage of this $140,000 education.”

Overall, Costache and Bonnell hope to provide students with ways to ensure the business success of future Pepperdine graduates. They have been successful in their careers and want to share their techniques with future businessmen and women of America.

“In today’s economy with the job market getting tighter and tighter, getting and keeping good jobs isn’t only hard, it’s a daily battle,” Bonnell said. “We want to make sure our graduates have the armor and artillery they need to win the war.”

All students are invited to hear motivational speakers each Wednesday at 7-8pm.

WHAT: Success 101: The Essential Elements to Achieve Success at a Young Age.

COURSE: Seaver Business Division, BA 299

WHERE: CBB Room 100

WHEN: Jan 8th - April 16th