What Every Business Student Should Know About the Economies of the Middle East

Jerusalem Skyline

Skyline of Jerusalem, one of the Middle East’s most iconic cities. PHOTO FROM: http://ramp1885.com/city-style-snapshot-jerusalem

The Middle East is of vital concern to the world economy, which is only heightened by the continued armed conflicts in this region. Mihaylo Economics Professor Jane Hall examines the economic performance of this region, the headwinds it faces going forward and the practical implications for business graduates.

The recent history of the Middle East is a story of unending armed conflict and war. However, a quieter transformation has been occurring in the region as the Middle East economies have embarked on the road to economic development and vitality. Today, the Middle East economies are of paramount importance to the world, not the least for their oil industries. This concern is heightened by the ongoing tensions in the region, which threaten to dampen, if not derail, these vital economies.

Mihaylo Economics Professor Jane Hall, instructor of ECON 336 – Economies of the Middle East, provides business students with a background on the Middle East economies, the political factors that shape this region and the major challenges and opportunities expected in the future.

Defining the Middle East is perhaps the first step in understanding the economic conditions of the region. For the purposes of her course, Hall considers all of Southwest Asia – from Iran in the east to Turkey in the west, the Arabian Peninsula in the south and Egypt in the southwest – as the Middle East. Hall excludes the countries of North Africa, other than Egypt, in this definition.

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Mihaylo Alumnus Uses Business Degrees to Propel Him to Success as an Entrepreneur and Author

A Mihaylo undergraduate and MBA alumnus, Michael Oates shares his success as an entrepreneur and author of the historical novel Wade in the Water. He gives practical advice on how to succeed as a startup in the Southern California restaurant industry and shares the inspiration for his novel, which discusses one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

Michael Oates. Image from http://authormichaeloates.com

Michael Oates. Image from http://authormichaeloates.com


Michael Oates, owner of Café Hidalgo in downtown Fullerton and author of the historical novel Wade in the Water, is a 1992 graduate of Mihaylo’s MBA program. During the past 20 years, he has used the knowledge gained from his degrees to become both a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant industry and an author. Oates credits much of his success to his Mihaylo education.

“Receiving my MBA from CSUF has given me confidence and credibility in both the restaurant industry and the business community at large,” he says. “Yes, there were a lot of classes to take, exams to study for, papers to write and a wealth of knowledge to absorb, but the benefits went far beyond that.”

He believes that the practical skills he learned in his classes has helped him perform basic accounting, marketing and management for his business, yet he believes that it is the reputation and commitment attached to a top-notch college education that opens doors. “Higher education, especially a program such as Mihaylo’s, where heavy class loads and high expectations are the norm, builds a strong, resilient character that others see, colleagues are drawn to and bosses cannot help but notice,” he says.

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Professor Thomas Explores the Growing Field of Marketing Analytics

ThomSunilMihaylo Marketing Professor Sunil Thomas has a passion for marketing analytics, a rapidly-growing field that requires business savvy, technical skills and attention to detail. Thomas recounts his personal background, the outlook for the marketing analytics industry and strategies for student success at CSUF and beyond.

Sunil Thomas is a marketing professional with an emphasis in marketing analytics, and his research has included studies of slogans, brand image revitalization and brand placement. Combining an educational background, professional experience in the consumer-goods industry and research studies as a professor, Thomas teaches courses that provide an overview of marketing and specialized marketing analytics studies for both undergraduate and graduate audiences.

“Marketing analytics is a field that’s growing rapidly, and companies are actively seeking students who have analytical skills,” Thomas says. “To meet this demand, the marketing and ISDS departments have created a joint Marketing/ISDS concentration.” This program combines technical education and a marketing emphasis to create well-rounded graduates. Students can utilize this training to participate in projects that help major corporations improve their performance and service. “In the past, my students have worked on projects for companies such as Honda, Starbucks, WMF and General Motors,” Thomas says.

Mihaylo’s MBA program provides a particularly strong opportunity for aspiring business professionals, Thomas contends. “Students at CSUF’s MBA program get individualized attention as well as access to the resources and infrastructure of one of California’s largest business schools, “ he says. “In other words, they get the best of both worlds.” Thomas teaches MKTG 565-Strategic Marketing Intelligence and MKTG 443-Marketing Analytics as part of Mihaylo’s MBA program, which has programs in business analytics, marketing and information systems, among others.

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Paving the Path Toward Academic Success

Farifteh Shahbazian helps guide students ‘toward the best path to graduation.’

Students commonly procrastinate when it comes to taking a prerequisite course. They often are unaware of their mistake until they cannot register for the classes they need unless that prerequisite is fulfilled. Constructing an academic roadmap, and avoiding unnecessary delays, like missed prerequisites and other unintended detours, is extremely important to your academic success.

To help you navigate your academic journey as smoothly as possible, the dedicated advisors at the Business Advising Center are here to help. Each advisor focuses on giving academic guidance and providing you the tools you need to succeed.

Farifteh Shahbazian assisting a student in the advising center.

Farifteh Shahbazian assisting a student in the advising center.

“Our objective is to help our students achieve their academic goals and to graduate,” says Farifteh Shahbazian, senior undergraduate advisor. “We help them eliminate academic roadblocks and guide them toward the best path to graduation.”

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with an academic advisor to devise an academic plan at the start of your program. Meeting with an advisor at least once a semester ensures that you are on track and meeting your degree requirements on time.

Shahbazian personally works with between five to 20 students per day; however, the Business Advising Center can see up to 100 students a day during their busiest times. Located on the first floor of SGMH, the center offers academic advising to students on major degree requirements, course selection, transfer course evaluations, declaring a concentration, graduation requirements and other university policies.

Mihaylo College is one of the only colleges on campus that has full-time staff members as professional academic advisors, and the center is open four days a week for walk-in advising.

Shahbazian assisting a student in the advising center.

Shahbazian meeting with a student to discuss their academic goals.

The most important thing to remember as an advisor, says Shahbazian, is that each student is unique and that she must meet him or her halfway. “When I’m advising a student, I take the time to fully listen to their concerns and strive to completely understand their situation and needs in that moment.”

She collaborates with the students to create a plan of action and encourages them to make their own decisions. What she finds most rewarding about her job is seeing students overcome obstacles and learn about themselves.

“Sometimes in an advising session, I can see a student having an ‘aha’ moment – that moment when everything clicks,” she says.

Shahbazian has worked in mental-health therapy, LGBTQ counseling, cognitive training, and high school counseling. She holds a Bachelor of Science in human services and a Master of Science in counseling from Cal State Fullerton. As a CSUF graduate student, Shahbazian worked as a new admit advisor to MBA and graduate business students. After graduating from the master’s program, she accepted an offer as a full-time senior advisor at Mihaylo College during spring of 2012.

Aside from seeking an academic advisor, Shahbazian also encourages students to take advantage of their time as a student. “Get involved on campus, study abroad, do internships, take some electives,” she says. “Some of the relationships you build in college will be life-long. These are the experiences you will never forget, and you will have stories to tell your grandchildren!”

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Professor Hoffman Innovates Course Design

Professor Randy Hoffman

Professor Randy Hoffman

Student success and participation has increased dramatically due to the innovations of Mihaylo Accounting Professor Randy Hoffman. He created an award-winning hybrid course design for a challenging undergraduate accounting course.  

Online coursework has been a prominent feature of CSUF for several years, but Mihaylo Professor Randy Hoffman is taking online learning to a different level.

Hoffman has designed his ACCT 201B Managerial Accounting course as a unique hybrid course, with two days per week of small-group discussion and in-class work combined with live online lectures and exercises. The hybrid format was first offered as a pilot program in fall 2011. It now serves 95 percent of students taking ACCT 201B. Hoffman notes that the pass rate has increased from 57 percent before the hybrid model was adopted to 80 percent today.

The hybrid format seems to help students memorize course concepts better. “With online assignments spread throughout a week, students are now looking at the online material four, sometimes five, times a week, which helps them retain the material,” he says. Lecture notes, transcripts and study helps assist students.

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