When most of us think of the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, we think of two of the most diverse and well designed animal parks in the world.
The Zoological Society of San Diego manages those two parks as well as the Institute for Conservation Research. The business professional that shoulders responsibility for the Society's $230 million budget is San Diego State graduate, Paula Brock ('78, accounting).
Brock, a native of Paterson, NJ, moved with her family to San Diego when her father's job transferred them to the West Coast. She started her college career studying literature at the University of California at San Diego. During that same time, she was working in retail where she eventually took up some of the bookkeeping responsibilities.
"To my surprise, I loved the logic of it," said Brock. So Brock transferred to SDSU where she joined the accounting fraternity of Beta Alpha Psi and found supportive and nurturing faculty.
"I decided to change my major to accounting, but UCSD did not offer a degree in business. Since SDSU had a great reputation in that field, it was a natural fit."
"Dr. Vern Odmark and Dr. Sharon Lightner provided me with the solid foundation that has benefitted me throughout my career."
Upon graduation, Brock took a position with Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG) where she stayed for 11 years. After she left KPMG and worked at another private firm for five years, Brock and two partners struck out on their own to form their own accounting firm, Brock, Tibbitts & Snell, which specialized in due diligence and securities.
One of Brock's clients at KPMG who followed her to her own firm was the Zoological Society, who engaged BT&S for special projects. In mid-2001, they asked her if she would be interested in becoming their CFO. "I loved the organization and from that point on, I was sold," said Brock.
Eleven years later, Brock still loves working at the Zoological Society. She said her favorite elements of her job are "the mission, the people, the complexity of the organization, and the ability to be involved in local and global initiatives in ways I would never have expected – for example, being involved in the launch of the San Diego Zoo Global Centre for Bioinspiration."
Brock's expertise in her work and love for her field of study have contributed greatly to her success which forms the basis of the advice she offers to today's SDSU business student:
"Become extremely proficient in your area of study. Become so comfortable with it that it is second nature to you. Once you have done that, your mind will be free to reach out into areas you never would have expected."