Ana Klein

Ana Klein ’95 (Accounting), MBA ’10, CFO and Vice President, Sunsweet Growers, Inc.

Agriculture has played a key role in shaping the life of Ana Klein ’95 (Accounting), MBA ’10 as far back as she can remember. Klein was born into humble beginnings as the oldest of five children raised by parents who worked as farm laborers. Since then, she has risen the ranks to become vice president and CFO of Sunsweet Growers, Inc., the world's largest handler of dried tree fruits—namely prunes—with an annual revenue of $340 million.

"California is a powerhouse in the nation when it comes to the revenue and jobs generated by the agriculture industry," says Klein. In fact, the California Department of Food and Agriculture reports crop revenue in the state reached $34 billion and the industry employed a record number of 417,000 people.

The first in her family to go to college, Klein graduated from Sac State with a degree in accounting before completing her MBA. "My parents had about four years of education between them. Despite this, they were always very encouraging and pushed me and my siblings to pursue our education," says Klein, who attributes much of her success to early lessons of hard work and perseverance.

After graduation, Klein She quickly landed a job as an auditor handling banking and agriculture accounts, including that of Sunsweet. In 1999, she became the company's finance manager and in just four years was named the Yuba City-base Sunsweet's first female and youngest CFO.

"Sunsweet is a grower-owned cooperative that produces around 60,000 tons of prunes each year," Klein adds. "Many aren't aware of the fact that California is the only state that grows prunes and right now we have more demand than supply."

While California growers still provide the majority of fruit procured, Sunsweet is turning to other countries, including Chile and Australia, to help supplement the supply.

"We enjoy opposite seasons with Chile, but a very similar climate. This year we are importing 15,000 tons of prunes from South America that will be sold here in California," Klein says.

Sunsweet has grown to become one of the top 100 most recognized brands in the world.

"Next year we celebrate our centennial anniversary," Klein adds. "We must be doing something right."

This article was originally published in the Spring 2016 edition of Sac State Magazine.

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