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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Richard Parry: A Management Professor with a Legal Perspective


Professor Parry

Risk management and business law are important aspects of the contemporary business world.  CSUF Management Professor Richard Parry uses his experience as a litigator to teach these subjects in Mihaylo’s MBA program. He shares the outlook for this industry, practical tips for students interested in pursuing such a career and the factors that set the MBA program apart as a world-class opportunity for aspiring professionals.

Richard Parry has a unique background for a business professor. Prior to pursuing an academic career, he was a civil litigator, representing plaintiffs and defendants in product liability cases in Los Angeles and Orange County. He graduated from the University of Denver and received his law degree from the Loyola of Los Angeles Law School.

Parry’s specialty is risk management, specifically relating to business litigation. He has written several scholarly articles about protecting the constitutional rights of both employee and employer in the contemporary business world, including Protecting Employee Rights and Prosecuting Corporate Crime: A Proposal from Criminal Cumis Counsel, which appeared in the Berkeley Business Law Journalin 2013.

Parry believes that business law and risk management are growth industries.  “The cost of litigation and the risk of criminal prosecution of businesses make this an area of exceptional importance to companies,” he says. “The best way to get a job in this or any field is networking.”  For an introduction, he suggests that undergraduates take MGMT 246 – Business and Its Legal Environment. “It is the most important college course you will ever take,” he says. The course covers criminal, civil, contract, employment and constitutional law as it relates to the business world. “Students interested in risk management may also participate in the on-campus Financial Risk Management Association,” he says. This student club meets on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. during the fall and spring academic semesters. Students can contact Jeff Jolley for more information.

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Titan Travels: Eli Garcia Encourages Students To Step Outside Their Comfort Zones

Mihaylo College lives out its mission to produce globally aware business leaders and provide international immersed experiences to students. The Center for International Business assists in creating and supporting international study initiatives for business students through the Business Europe Study Tours (BEST) Program, the Heidelberg Program, and the Business Honors Study Abroad Program. This post is the last installment in a series of six articles written by Elizabeth Garcia ’14, narrating her unique study abroad experiences in Florence, Italy. Elizabeth is currently enrolled in a semester long program at the Lorenzo de’Medici International Institute in Italy, through CSUF’s Global Student Experience.

“39 Reasons Studying Abroad Ruins Your Life” was the name of a recent BuzzFeed article I angrily read through. Yes, the espresso tastes richer in Italy; yes ice cream will simply never be as satisfying as gelato; and yes, the sunset over the Arno River is a spectacular sight I never want to forget. Despite these profound, yet subtle observations, I bear a slight grudge against those who insist I just experienced the best time of my life. Not only do I disagree with that statement, I challenge him/her to ask how one phenomenal experience can be the ‘peak’ of anyone’s life when there is so much more to experience. Studying abroad was not even a plateau let alone a peak for me, the best is yet to come.

arno river

Sunset from the Ponte Vecchio and Arno River

Aside from adding ‘conversational Italian’ onto my resume and being able to talk about how adaptable and flexible I am during a job interview, the two greatest takeaways from my studies abroad are appreciation and taking risks with conviction. Traveling the world offers a front row seat to the exciting ambiguous consequences of your every decision. Six months ago, I decided to spend my last semester as a Mihaylo undergraduate in Florence, Italy and my story has developed and unraveled in ways I could have never imagined. With that being said, I urge students, peers, and colleagues to pursue your unique interests without fear disguised as practicality. Try something impractical and out of the ordinary, be the captain of your own ship and have fun doing it.



It has been such a pleasure sharing stories of my time abroad with Mihaylo business peers. As an official alumna, I hope to continue to be involved with the CSUF community and give back to the school that has given me so much opportunity and motivation.  If you have any questions about my time abroad, are interested in studying abroad and want to chat, want to give me some feedback, or simply want to grab some American coffee (I’ll have tea) at Starbucks, feel free to email me at Thank you for reading and I hope you all take the time to discover the magic in travel, taking risks, and gratitude.

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