Alumni Highlights

May Alumni Highlight: Nick Ciafardini (’14)

Senior Consultant in the Advanced Analytics Solution at Protiviti

Personal Bio:

Nick Ciafardini is a Senior Consultant in the Advanced Analytics Solution at Protiviti, a global consulting firm in New York. Nick’s experiences include working with a variety of top financial service organizations to enhance their business performance through efficient model risk management and governance. His work has focused on risk based financial modeling, with a heavy emphasis on compliance with regulatory expectations and comprehensive capital reviews. He has managed engagements at several leading financial institutions, interacting with different types of credit, market, and operational risk models.  Nick holds a B.B.A in Business Economics with a minor in Finance from the University of San Diego.


  • What advice do you have for current economics students?

Be engaged and your own curator of information. More and more key decisions being made at businesses around the globe are driven by data, so now more than ever, it’s imperative to have the skill set of being able to digest, manipulate, and interpret data and results. USD offers a great array of classes that give an understanding of economic concepts and theories, but there’s only so much that can be covered during a class period. To further understand why certain business decisions are made, I’d encourage current students to take what they’re learning in the classroom and leverage it while reading and researching news about business decisions.

  • What were the most useful or fun econ classes you took?

One of the major experiences I was able to talk about while I was interviewing for my first job was my senior seminar thesis paper, which I wrote about pitch effectiveness in Major League Baseball. The paper allowed me to do two things: 1) demonstrate my understanding and expertise over an individual topic, and a topic that I was passionate about and 2) find common ground with the person interviewing me – we had a lengthy discussion about baseball in general. In one discussion, I was able to demonstrate the technical skillset I needed for the position and also the soft skills of being personable and conversational with someone I had just met.

March Alumni Highlight: Jacqueline Maida (’14)

Financial Data Associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Personal Bio:

Jacqueline Maida is a Financial Data Associate in the Data and Statistics Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Prior to her position at FRB NY, she worked as a Financial Institutions Analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Jacqueline’s experience primarily involves the analysis of financial and non-financial regulatory reports filed by banking institutions regulated by the Federal Reserve System (FRS). She has performed targeted bank examinations as a member of FRS local and national examination teams. Jacqueline holds a B.A in Economics from the University of San Diego.


  • What advice do you have for current economics students?

Get to know your professors! Attend office hours, ask to grab coffee, or have a separate meeting.  Take advantage of this opportunity. USD is a very unique environment where the professors are truly invested in the lives of their students, even beyond graduation. These opportunities are not available at all universities. I was lucky enough to become close with a few of my professors who I still talk to today (4 years after graduation). I consider them my mentors and am blessed to have their continued guidance.

  • What were the most useful or fun Econ classes you took?

There are so many to choose from! Senior thesis was the most rewarding experience as an economics undergrad as it allowed me to apply all the skills I learned in the prior four years. The thesis process was also a great go-to topic to discuss in job interviews and a handy writing sample for job applications. Business Cycles & Forecasting was one of my favorite courses as the curriculum was challenging, fun, and taught skills that I still find useful today.

February Alumni Highlight: Pete Murphy (’86)

Lead Market Development Manager at Robert Bosch LLC

Personal Bio: 

Pete is the Lead Market Development Manager for Robert Bosch LLC, a Stuttgart, Germany based multi-national firm with 389,000 employees, 450 subsidiaries and regional companies in over 60 countries, and sales and service partners in roughly 150 countries. Bosch draws on software and sensor technology to connect many things with each other, e.g cars, homes, buildings or industrial technology. Pete recently relocated from San Diego to Chicago at the Bosch North American headquarters after stops in Arizona and Hawaii. Previously, he was with Dun & Bradstreet (Australia), Charles Schwab & Co. (San Francisco) and ING Investment Management (Scottsdale, AZ). Originally from Scottsdale, AZ, Pete had the privilege to play basketball for USD ’84-’86 and, after graduation, move to Australia to play 4 more years in the Australian Basketball League with Gold Coast.

  • What is a favorite memory of your time at USD?
    What I remember and loved most about my time at USD was the “smallness” of the campus.  The classes were a perfect size and the interaction with our professors was frequent and meaningful.  You can walk through the campus and enjoy the view of the ocean and the architecture of the buildings. This is very unique to USD, and I made sure that I appreciated that each and every day.
  • What advice do you have for current economics students? 
    Engage with your fellow Business School classmates and faculty at every opportunity!  There is a rich diversity of culture and thought at our school, and you will come away with a full and unique perspective on topics that you will cover in your futures.  These new perspectives will stay with you, and you’ll recall them in a way that will leave you feeling like you’ve had experiences that not everyone has the opportunity to have experienced.  You will be amazed!
  • What did you learn at USD that helped you most in your career?
    Taking chances that may seem scary at the time will turn out to be your most fulfilling experiences and fondest memories.  Had I not been a USD student, the opportunity to live and work in Australia would not have happened.  Work hard, have goals, and keep putting yourself “out there” for those once-in-a-lifetime chances.
  • What were the most useful or fun Econ classes you took?
    I LOVED my Econometrics class the most, and I think I have used that experience the most in my career.  I also enjoyed my upper-level marketing classes.  I always hear that “Econ” is about numbers, but it’s not!  Econ is a Social Science, and we are able to support or disprove those social assumptions through the numbers.  I know I’m going on and on about this but Econometrics was my favorite class and I still use it today!
  • How did your Econ major help prepare you for your current career?
    It provided me the ability to quickly look at data and information, review its validity and accuracy, then creatively apply that information to a positive solution.  Yes there are numbers in Econ but it’s the application of those numbers and information that makes the difference.  The numbers simply represent a result or activity.  It’s the application of that information to improve and advance people’s lives and experiences that is important.
  • When you were interviewing for your first job out of college, what experiences at USD did you talk about?
    With USD being a small community, there was always plenty of personal interactions.  You knew just about everyone, so you couldn’t walk around campus and ignore people like you can at these mega-universities with 30K-40k students!  This teaches you to look people in the eye, say “Hello!” and engage.  That’s a very meaningful skill to have in most any career.
  • Are there any Econ courses that you would recommend taking in preparation for job interviews?
    The aggregate of all the courses is what’s going to help – speech, religious studies, logic, marketing, etc.  Being a well-rounded individual with many experiences always helps.  Specializing and limiting your exposure to other functions and disciplines can be done at a later time once you’ve found your passion.

December Alumni Highlight: Meredith Burrus (’11)

Head of Research at Bespoke Partners

Personal Bio: 

Meredith is the Head of Research for Bespoke Partners, a San Diego based executive search company and trusted advisor to leading private equity firms in the software and technology market. She leads a team of six researchers that drive the company’s efforts to find, recruit and place C-level and VP-level executives. Prior to joining Bespoke in 2014, Meredith worked for both public and private companies in the financial sector. Originally from Park City, Utah, Meredith traded the mountains for the beach in 2007 when she arrived at USD as a freshman and has resided in La Jolla ever since. She graduated in 2011 with a degree in Economics and minor in Business Administration.


  • What did you learn at USD that helped you most in your career?

I learned how to be efficient and hands-on at USD. Being directly responsible for both individual and group projects is an essential learning experience and helped me learn how to work smarter, not harder. Economics classes at USD were small and the chance to participate greater.  USD classes incentivized me to become thorough yet efficient while studying. Not only was Economics a great subject to study with awesome classes, it provided me with the knowledge management building blocks I use every day in my career to be more successful.

  • What were the most fun or useful Econ classes?

The most useful Econ class was Senior Seminar. I had Dr. Narwold, and, with his guidance, I performed regression analysis on grocery store prices in various demographic areas. I collected my own data and found fascinating trends. After this and other projects involving real-world business questions, I was better prepared for the marketplace.

The fun classes for me were Game Theory, Sports Economics, and Urban Economics. It’s not Econ, but I’m going to have to throw Natural Disasters in there as well!

November Alumni Highlight: Dax Bermudez (’14)

Financial Analyst at Visa

Personal Bio:

Dax Bermudez is a Financial Planning &Analysis professional at Visa, a leading payments technology company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previously, he worked in Visa’s Procurement and Supplier Risk Management organization. During his tenure at Visa, he has leveraged his critical thinking skills and business acumen to develop a reputation for high quality work and expertise in data analysis, which has led to two promotions.

Dax is very proud to be a first generation immigrant from Nicaragua. He moved to Sacramento, CA at age 6 and later worked at his parents’ small business. There he learned practical business and financial skills, but, most importantly, the value of hard work. At Del Campo High School, Dax participated in the Academic Decathlon, and discovered he has an affinity for economics. He enrolled at USD and double majored in Economics and Political Science. He graduated with honors cum laude.

In his free time, Dax enjoys playing basketball in Visa’s recreation league, golfing on the weekends, traveling, and watching Tarantino’s latest films. He feels most satisfied when he helps others and contributes meaningfully to his community. To that end, Dax has recently sought and successfully received appointments to two Bay Area non-profit boards, the YMCA of Silicon Valley and CASA of San Mateo County.

  • What was your most useful and/or favorite economics class at USD?

Applied Micro Economics with Dr. Ma was my favorite and most useful economics class. The principals and real cases we studied in that class have helped me understand my industry’s competitive landscape and business decisions Visa makes vis-à-vis competition.

  • What advice do you have for current economics students?

Master the fundamentals! You’d be surprised how many personal and professional financial decisions become easier to make and understand with a mastery of basic economic models/theories like Nash equilibrium and opportunity cost. Also, learn a second language and study abroad to practice it! Besides being fun and practical, employers are always more likely to hire you when you have language skills and a rich cultural background.

Connect with Dax on LinkedIn:

October Alumni Highlight: Diamond Innabi (’16)

Merger and Acquisition Analyst at Software Equity Group

Personal Bio:

Born in Upland, California to Middle Eastern immigrants, Diamond Innabi was a firm believer in the “American Dream.” She was determined to be the first in her family to graduate college and enter the business world. Being one of three daughters and having attended an all-girls Catholic high school, Diamond not only realized the difficulties she would face entering a male-dominated industry, but also how strong and tenacious women could be in the face of adversity. Diamond fulfilled her and her family’s dream by graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in Economics and becoming an intern at Software Equity Group, a boutique merger and acquisition advisory firm. Diamond has been vital to the company’s success. As an intern, she was instrumental in closing one of the firm’s most successful transactions. She was also the only intern to be promoted to a pre-analyst role and became one of just two interns in SEG’s 25-year history to be offered a full-time position upon graduation. She has worked on multiple successful transactions across six different software industry sectors during her first three years at SEG. Diamond has also recruited and trained three new analysts during her short tenure at the company. She is very active in her community, volunteering at multiple non-profits focused on at-risk youth, animals, and battling homelessness.

  • What was your most useful and/or favorite economics class at USD?

Senior Seminar was my favorite AND most useful course at USD. I was able to integrate my professional, personal, and educational interests with my project on the effect of R&D spending on the value of software companies. At the time, I was interning at SEG and had a deep interest in the intersection of software, technology, and business, so being able to perform my own empirical analysis was tremendously exciting.

  • What advice do you have for current economics students?

Intern! Intern! Intern! I can’t stress the importance of internships enough. Whether or not the internship leads to a full-time position, it’s important to learn what industries interest you and what roles you enjoy.

Connect with Diamond on LinkedIn: