What do rock/pop singer Jason Mraz, and accounting professional Barbara Wight have in common?
Both are San Diegans and both are affiliated with Taylor Guitars. Mraz has made Taylor his guitar of choice and Wight has been Taylor's Chief Financial Officer for the past three years.
Wight ('87, accounting/'96, Executive MBA) started college knowing exactly what she wanted to do since she was already working as a bookkeeper. "Every business needs accountants," said Wight. "But I realized that my career options would be limited if I did not pursue my degree."
Wight chose to pursue her accounting degree at San Diego State University because
SDSU has a great reputation as a business school and it was affordable and local.
Wight graduated Magna Cum Laude from SDSU in 1987. In 1990, she began working for T-Systems International, a private, family-held San Diego company that made irrigation systems. But she realized that she had more to offer the company "than just reporting on the historical results," so she enrolled in SDSU's Executive M.B.A. program and completed that degree in 1996.
Eventually, Wight was promoted into the company's chief operating officer and chief financial officer position, but change was on the horizon. When T-Systems' founders died, the next generation made the decision to sell the company. Wight's experience and education helped her prepare the company for sale by working with investment bankers to finalize the transaction when the company was sold to John Deere in 2008.
In 2009, Wight was approached by El Cajon-based Taylor Guitars who offered her the position of CFO in their company.
It has been a good fit for Wight in that her favorite element of Taylor Guitars is its people. "We have great people throughout the entire chain of the music industry – from the suppliers to the employees to the music dealers to the artists," said Wight. "Everyone is passionate about music and we all love filling the world with music every day."
And her biggest challenge? Being overly ambitious on a project with a short amount of time, which goes back to her days as an EMBA student.
I still remember the look on Dr. Penrose's face when I described the complex research project I wanted to complete within a short period of time.
"He gently 'adjusted' my ambition and helped me pick a project that was actually achievable," said Wight. "To this day, I need to regularly challenge myself on how much can realistically be done in any 24 hour period."
Still, Wight encourages today's SDSU students to stay ambitious and to enjoy the learning process.
Students should treasure this time as an opportunity to learn everything you can about business and life in general. Find a way to love the learning process for the sheer joy of learning. As an executive, I'm always interested in hiring people who truly love learning.