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Gap Finance Chief Visits UCR


Gap Inc., Chief Financial Officer Visits UC Riverside

Byron Pollitt Returns to His Alma Mater, Credits UC Riverside with Helping Launch His Career

(May 11, 2004)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — www.ucr.edu — Byron H. Pollitt Jr., chief financial officer at the Gap Inc., and a 1973 graduate of the University of California, Riverside, spent Tuesday touring the campus and taught two classes in the first of the campus’ Professor For The Day events.

Professor For The Day guests, whether distinguished alumni or other friends of the campus, are invited to visit UC Riverside, to impart their insights and wisdom to students by teaching a class or two in their areas of expertise, and to talk with students in unstructured settings.

Pollitt received his bachelor’s degree in business from UC Riverside, and went on to receive a master’s degree from Harvard Business School. He joined the Gap Inc. in January 2003, after spending 13 years at Disney.

On Tuesday, he taught a morning class in finance and investment and an afternoon introduction to business class.

“I love any opportunity to teach and to share whether it’s with the employees of the GAP or Disney or whether it’s the students of my alma mater, so it’s a real treat for me to come back,” he said.

Between classes he met residents at the Aberdeen and Inverness residence hall, met with student clubs and organizations and with Rajiv Banker, the dean of the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management.

“I’m a firm believer that you always give back from where you’ve taken and UC Riverside launched my career in the sense that it was a tremendous experience while I was here,” he said. “It helped me get into the graduate school that really set the course for how my career unfolded.”

During his time in the classroom, Pollitt discussed the role of a chief financial officer, used the Gap as a case study of a company in rebound and took a look back at his time as an undergraduate at UC Riverside, more than 30 years hence.

If he had it to do over again, Pollitt told students, he would have focused more seriously on a foreign language.

“Given the global nature of business nowadays, a second language is enormously valuable,” he told a class of about 100. “I would pick either Mandarin or Spanish.”

But the well-rounded education Pollitt received at UC Riverside that covered a wide variety of disciplines set the foundation for his business success. He recommended that today’s students should also focus broadly.

“Take the minimum number of business classes and get a well-rounded education,” he said. “The requirement to round the students so that we came out with a full breadth of exposure to a lot of different disciplines, in hindsight, was absolutely superb preparation for my life and career to come.”

He also cited UC Riverside’s attention to the student as an individual with aiding in his preparation.

“I loved the notion of going to a school where the class sizes were small, interaction with the professors was easy and frequent, and it got me in the habit of getting more serious about the areas which, ultimately, I chose as a profession,” he said.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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