Inaugural IMPACT Speaker Series

April Arnzen speaking with student in Flaum Grand Hall

The Whitman School is hosting a new IMPACT Speaker Series in order to build bridges with global business leaders that help to provide insight into the types of challenges and opportunities that are taking place in industry. It ensures that top executives can easily share their perspective and helps reinforce positive role models and how the education that is taking place in the classrooms is applicable to the real world.


April Arnzen

April Arnzen, Micron

April Arnzen, executive vice president and chief people officer at Micron Technology, discussed the art and science of building and managing a global workforce and explored the workforce implications of Micron’s historic investment to construct the nation’s largest semiconductor manufacturing facility in Central New York. She also gave practical advice on how to look for positions at Micron as it enters the region, why mentors are important, and tips on what to do and not to do when looking for positions during her talk in January.


Arnzen leads Micron’s people strategy, establishing a culture that embraces performance, growth and inclusion for its global workforce. She also serves as president of the Micron Foundation. Since joining Micron in 1996, she has led the transformation of Micron’s people programs and is passionate about strengthening diversity, quality and inclusion at Micron and surrounding communities.


Arnzen serves on two nonprofit education boards and is frequently a speaker in women’s leadership forums. She earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management and marketing from the University of Idaho and in 2018 she graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program.



Ethan Brown

Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat

Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat, a company dedicated to building meat directly from plants, spoke with our students in November 2023. Brown gained an appreciation for agriculture and the natural world from his father—a professor, conservationist and hobby farmer. This interest shaped the direction of his career, where he sought to make a contribution to climate change through the clean energy sector. In 2009, he founded Beyond Meat.


As part of the company’s efforts to advance human health, Beyond Meat has partnered with the Stanford University School of Medicine and established an agreement with the American Cancer Society to further research on the health and nutritional benefits of plant-based meat.


Beyond Meat is routinely recognized for its brand affinity and leadership position, including being named among Newsweek’s Most Trusted Brands in 2023, Time 100 Most Influential Companies in 2021 and a United Nations 2018 Champion of the Earth. Brown holds an MBA from Columbia University and an M.P.P. from the University of Maryland.



Buddy Valastro

Buddy Valastro, Celebrity Baker

On March 19, Buddy Valastro, celebrity baker and Cake Boss from his popular show, visited the Whitman School to interact with students, including lunch with Whitman Leadership Scholars and one-on-one conversations with students pursuing food-related startups.


Valastro, who took his family business, Carlos Bake Shop, to new heights, says his success comes not only from hard work but from an ability to see the business from different angles—as well as a bit of luck. He’s always had an instinct to see where the money was.


In 2008, cable network TLC reached out to him about a baking show, and Valastro pitched Cake Boss. It happened quickly, and soon the reality show about his showstopper cakes and the interaction of his family at Carlo’s Bake Shop became the No. 1 cable show, aired in 225 countries, seen by almost a billion people over nine seasons.


Currently he is focusing on tourist destinations like Las Vegas and Times Square. The original Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, remains open.



David Owen

David Owen, Wells Fargo & Co.

On March 19, David Owen shared his experiences and lessons learned from his more than 20 years as a senior executive in financial services and banking, and offered his perspective on current and future opportunities for students in the industry and gave advice for those entering the field of finance during his talk in February.


Owen is the head of global operations for Wells Fargo, leading a team of more than 85,000 people who provide middle- and back-office operational services for Wells Fargo’s five lines of business. Owen joined Wells Fargo in June 2020 as the company’s chief administrative officer.


Before joining Wells Fargo, Owen led wholesale digital for JPMorgan. Before that he served as chief administrative officer of JPMorgan Chase and chief financial officer of the Consumer & Community Bank, which encompasses consumer banking, home lending, card services, auto finance, business banking and Chase Wealth Management.


Owen’s experience also includes leadership roles at Bank of America and Booz Allen Hamilton. He served in the Army Reserves and is a graduate of the Army Airborne School. Owen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MBA from George Mason University.

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