Events and Workshops

registerTechnology and Business Leadership Seminars

tech and biz

A certificate of completion will be available to students attending 5 out of 6 seminars
This event co-sponsored by the Career Center, College of Engineering & Computer Science, the College of Natural Sciences and Math and the Center for Practical and Professional Ethics.

"People recognize and appreciate respect and professionalism. These are the soft skills that many of my peers—engineers—lack and do not seem to place as much importance on in their job. I realized that you can be the most technically savvy individual but if no one can work with you, that is a career-limiting scenario."
--Krista L.R. Hardie
Process and product quality specialist, Hamilton Sundstrand
Quote from Workforce Diversity magazine

The goal of The Technology & Business Leadership Seminar Series is to help students become industry-ready. In addition to technical expertise, new employees in technology and business need to know how to:

  • market themselves
  • communicate effectively
  • work in teams
  • make ethical decisions
  • manage people

They must be ready to function in an organizational culture that is increasingly global and diverse.
This seminar series offers six consecutive two-and-one-half-hour workshops facilitated by professionals with backgrounds in business and technology. Students attending this workshop series will be better prepared to succeed as professionals upon entering the workforce and may find they are more inclined to seek leadership and management opportunities while in school and in the workplace.

Industry Sponsor


List of Seminars

Friday, March 15, 2013
You are the CEO of Your Career
9:00 - 11:30 am
Foothill Suite, 3rd floor
Presenter: Mark Babbitt,

Friday, March 22, 2013
Working in Diverse Teams
9:00 - 11:30 am
Foothill Suite, 3rd floor
Presenter: Laurie Bringuel, SMA America

Friday, April 12, 2013
Making Good Choices: Ethics for Technology & Business Professionals
9:00 - 11:30 am
Orchard Suite, 2nd floor
Presenter: John F. Gisla

Friday, April 19, 2013
Personal Branding and Networking for Your Employment Search and Career
9:00 - 11:30 am
Orchard Suite, 2nd Floor
Presenter: Derek Zumwalt, Vanir Construction Management

Friday, April 26, 2013
Communication Skills to Get You Hired, Promoted, and Double Your Salary
9:00 - 11:30 am
Orchard Suite, 2nd floor
Presenter: Chris Harris, Business Owner & Consultant to the Largest Engineering Companies in California

Friday, May 3, 2013
Practical Leadership: Where Are the Leaders?
9:00 - 11:30 am
Orchard Suite, 2nd floor
Presenter: Harlan Coomes, SMUD


For more information, contact Audrey Harris

Seminar Descriptions

You are the CEO of Your Career

Presenter: Mark Babbitt of

Date: Friday, March 15

As our economy continues to struggle, young professionals are successfully building their careers by taking an entrepreneurial approach to their career development. They are, in effect, becoming CEO’s of their careers.
In this discussion, participants will review the most effective success mechanisms being leveraged by “Career CEOs”, including:

  • Learning the steps necessary to move past the “applicant” mindset – and toward building a “pitch” similar those used by CEO’s when selling their company’s value proposition
  • Leveraging their value proposition on social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook
  • “Selling” the transferable skills and experience gained through internships, volunteer experiences and education
  • Learning how to become relevant in their community, industry and sphere of influence – even before they begin their job search

Mark Babbitt
CEO and Founder of YouTern

Mark Babbitt is CEO and Founder of YouTern, where emerging talent connects with startups, non-profits and entrepreneur-driven small businesses through high-impact, mentor-based internships. Through dynamic experiential education, YouTern enables future business leaders and entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between the college classroom and the “Real World” – making them far more employable in a competitive marketplace.

Mark is also a serial mentor, and was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desired Mentors” list. He has been quoted on internship, experiential education and career matters in Forbes, Mashable, and ReadWriteWeb. In addition to, Mark contributes to Business Insider,,, and Intern Advocate.

Mark is the father of five, grandfather of two, coaches high school and youth football and baseball, and lives near his favorite trout stream in the High Sierra near Lake Tahoe.

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Working in Diverse Teams

Presenter: Laurie Bringuel of SMA America LLC

Date: Friday, March 22

This presentation will focus on diversity in the workforce. The discussion will be on ways to relate to all cultures, experiences of different cultures, cultural competency, and diversity all in relation to the workforce.

In the seminar, the presenter will conduct activities that allow the students to be interactive participants, and reflect on their experiences as well.

Laurie Bringuel

Director, Human Resources, SMA America LLC

In today’s economic climate, the largest engineering, business, and tech firms team with professionals all over the world so it is crucial to understand how to work with diverse populations. This seminar will cover:
• Real world application of diversity in the workplace.
• Importance of learning how to work with diverse teams.
• The role of diversity in a global organization or multicultural workplace.
• How personality types impact the workplace.
• How stereotypes can impact workplace productivity.
• Ethics and diversity.

Laurie Bringuel has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources and has worked in technology related fields for over 20 years. Brignuel is currently the director of human resources for SMA America. She has gained a wealth of knowledge to share with students about working in diverse teams, as SMA has headquarters all over the world. SMA is the world leader in solar inverter technology and manufacturing and takes pride in a product range of inverters compatible unmatched technological innovation, strong service support and educational programs.

Before working at SMA America, Bringuel served in various roles for Teichert Construction for 14 years. In her role at Tiechert, Laurie developed diversity programs to bring her team mates and new incoming staff a greater understanding of how to work with other individuals to create the strongest teams possible.

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Making Good Choices: Ethics for Technology and Business Professionals

Presenter:John Gisla

Date: Friday, April 12

This session will introduce students to some of the major ethical issues in the engineering and science professions, provide them with some practical ethical decision making skills, and provide an opportunity to practice these skills with a sequence of cases to resolve.

John GMr. John Gisla
Mr. John Gisla has both a Bachelors degree in civil engineering and a degree in law. He has served as the Agency Attorney for the US Army Corp of Engineers (1975-83) and as Assistant US Attorney, US Attorney's Office, Sacramento (1983-2007). He has been appointed as a Lecturer at UC Davis Dept of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, teaching their course, Professional Responsibilities of Engineers (1975-present).

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Personal Branding and Networking for Your Employment Search and Career

Presenter: Derek Zumwalt, Talent Acquisition Manager, Vanir Construction Management

Date: Friday, April 19

This presentation will include an overview of professional "personal" branding and how to apply it to an employment search and the early stages of a career. Additionally we will explore a variety of ways branding and networking can be utilized in establishing leverage for a job search, career, and future success. The lecture will include an interactive conversation on the subject and activities to help students begin identifying, defining, planning, and applying personal branding. We will visit examples and experiences of best practice and failure examples of branding and networking.

The expectation of the class is students will leave with an understanding of the value of a personal brand, how it can be applied to their career, and job search/networking tools/resources to start building their brand and network.


Mr. Derek Zumwalt

Derek Zumwalt knows the importance of possessing a personal brand - an understanding and badge of who you are and how you apply it to your personal and professional life. Facing challenges early on in his career he quickly realized that having a personal brand would be something that would set him apart from others and open up the opportunities he sought. Through a progressive and goal-inspired career he regularly uses his personal/professional brand to develop unique opportunities for himself and others. Derek has a reputation for providing open, unfiltered guidance and presentations while using real-world cases and scenarios to highlight success and failure.

Possessing over 16 years of experience in Human Resources Leadership with an emphasis in Talent Acquisition, Employment Marketing and Personal Development, Derek has many amazing stories to share on an active, growing career. His background spans a career of working both as a consultant and employee with a variety of organizations in the areas of recruitment, workforce planning/strategy, branding, training and development. Currently Derek is the Director of talent Acquisition/HR for an International Construction Management firm headquartered in Northern California, which provides program management solutions to public and private entity clients throughout the world. In his roles as both a consultant and employee Derek has regularly developed smart and innovative solutions to meet the demands of growing organizations while always focusing on professional development of employees and others. Derek is a regular presenter and chair of various organizations in Talent Acquisition and a person who consistently makes it a point to help others in networking and professional development.

As a father of five ranging from ages three to seventeen Derek and his family live a busy, active, and often chaotic life. You will regularly find them up on a mountainside hiking and climbing or on long road trip throughout the United States. At home Derek enjoys having a fierce college rivalry - his wife a CSUS (Go Hornets) alum and his son a UC Davis (Go Aggies) alum – the tension in his home during the Causeway Classic is epic!

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Communication Skills to Get You Hired, Promoted, and Double Your Salary

Presenter: Chris Harris, Business Owner & Consultant to the Largest Engineering Companies in California

Date: Friday, April 26


Chris Harris

Chris is a small business owner, consultant, and is highly sought after speaker to teach her expert knowledge of effective workplace communication skills to engineering, technology, and business professionals. She is very passionate about teaching young engineers to utilize these skills to not only help them get promoted, but to also double their earnings.

Chris’s role has been to develop soft skills in her teams of engineers – private and public service – to enable them to clearly communicate what’s important to public, clients, media, and work colleagues. “Engineers who can communicate effectively in the work place, in the market place, in meetings, and with the public are the ones who rise to the tops of their professions,” Chris Harris.

Chris earned her B.S. in engineering (UC Davis 1975) with an independent major so she could use her technical knowledge in writing and communicating. Within three years, Chris started up a small business that targeted this growing and very specialized niche within the engineering profession.

Chris’s firm has teamed with 20 of the top 100 international engineering companies listed by Engineering News Record. She has worked with more than 100 engineering, environmental, scientific testing, construction management, and public outreach firms. She has worked for most major cities in California, including Sacramento and San Francisco, but by far, Chris’s most rewarding work has been for the City of Los Angeles.

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Practical Leadership: Where are the Leaders?
Presenter: Harlan Coomes, SMUD

Date: Friday, May 3

Students will participate in opportunities to learn and exercise practical leadership skills from within an organization. The seminar focus is on the concept that leadership begins before your career starts, with an emphasis on practical leadership skills that can be applied today and provide a foundation to build on for tomorrow.

The teaching format will be a "facilitated discussion" with a mix of lecture, interactive and group activity, and participatory learning reinforcement exercises and knowledge checks. Students will prepare a brief personal leadership action plan for their exclusive use that ties together the concepts presented in the seminar.

About Harlan S. Coomes

Supervisor, PARC- Engineering
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)

Professional Experience

Harlan Coomes has been in the energy industry for over 25 years. His work encompasses commercial nuclear power station operations, energy efficiency and demand side management program planning and implementation, green energy program planning and operation, and supervision. His experience also includes energy efficiency projects in Ukraine and Russia.

Currently, he is responsible for engineering and technical staffing resources and training in the SMUD Distribution Services business unit. His responsibilities include managing staff; coaching and mentoring; managing the process of hiring, training, and evaluating staff; developing and delivering training; and supervising a workgroup of approximately 66 staff. He recently led the development and delivery of a leadership training series for persons in a non-supervisory lead role.

He has many years experience leading the development and delivery of innovative energy-related programs and services. His current project is the development of “Sacramento Solar Highways”, a joint project with SMUD and the California Department of Transportation focused on placing solar photovoltaic generation systems on the region’s highways.

He is involved locally and regionally with a variety of organizations including the Northwest Public Power Association; California State University, Sacramento; Drexel University; and DeVry University.

Education: B.S. Nuclear Engineering Technology, California State University, Sacramento, 1996.

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For more information, contact Audrey Harris
(916) 278-7636

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