• Career Conversations 2019

    Redwood High School's Career Conversations will be returning at lunch starting in January. This "brown bag" lunch series is a great way for students to explore a variety of career paths. 

    Presenter bios below

Date Name Career Focus Position
Tues Jan 15 Geordie Stephens Entertainment Director of Commercials, Helo (advertising agency)
Wed Jan 23 Jill Steinberg Marketing Sr. Director, Global Marketing, Mobile at Razer
Thurs Jan 24 (Art Museum Panel) Jen Northrop Marketing Chief Marketing Officer, SFMOMA
Thurs Jan 24 (Art Museum Panel) Yoshi Miki Art Curator of Art, Independent
Tues Jan 29 Terry Fitzsimmons Firefighter SFFD Paramedic Firefighter
Tues Feb 5 Mark Barden Advertising/Brand Mgmt Partner, Brand Consultancy, eatbigfish
Tues Feb 12 Chuck Templeton Entrepreneur/Venture Capitalist Managing Director, S2gVentures
Wed Feb 13 John Geoghegan Journalism Director, Archival Division, The SILOE Research Institute
Tues Feb 26 Natalie Alavi Engineering President/Owner, NBA Engineering
Wed Feb 27 Rod Fiegel Legal Partner, Littler (employment law)
Thurs Feb 28 (Life Sciences Panel) Cindy Morgan Life Sciences Director, Masters Program in Genetic Counseling, UCSF
Thurs Feb 28 (Life Sciences Panel) Sylvia Arias-Montez Life Sciences Customer Success Program Manager, QT Ultrasound
Tues March 5 Larry Knott Software Engineering Sr Principal Engineer, Autodesk
Wed March 6 Barbara Kinney Photojournalism Sr Photo Editor/Photographer, Emerson Collective
Thurs March 7 (Medical Career Panel) Patty Rodgers Health & Medicine Senior Physician Assistant, UCSF
Thurs March 7 (Medical Career Panel) Sara Heller Health & Medicine Pediatric Nurse/Navigator, Stanford Children?s Health
Thurs March 7 (Medical Career Panel) Eva-Marie Christman Health & Medicine Home Based Primary Care Lead Physical Therapist, SFVA Medical Center
Tues March 12 Matthew Blair Food Service Founder/President, World Wrapps Restaurants
Wed March 13 Blaine Corren Public Affairs/ Communications Specialist Judicial Council of California
Tues, March 19 Helene Walters Health & Medicine Pediatrician, MD, Marin General Hospital & Marin Community Clinics
Tues March 26 Mervi Pankalainen Entrepreneur Founder/CEO, Mightifier
Thurs March 28 (Medical Doctor Panel) Jay LaBourene Health & Medicine Cardiovascular Surgeon, Kaiser Permanente
Thurs March 28 (Medical Doctor Panel) Ramy Ibrahim Health & Medicine Chief Medical Officer, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
Wed April 3 Robert Koen Sales & Business Sales Leader, Amazon
  • Redwood High School Career Conversations

    2019 Schedule

    Bios and Descriptions of Talks



     Tuesday, Jan 15
    Geordie Stephens
    Director of Commercials, Helo (advertising agency)

    Geordie works with advertising agency creatives to bring commercial scripts to life at Helo. He works directly with brands to write and concept ideas and scripts and then films them. His work involves writing, directing talent and understanding light, narrative storytelling, and cinematography.

    Geordie’s talk will take students through one complete project of being a director. From the idea, to casting the actors, to location scouting, storyboarding frames to film, and then to show a finished :30 second commercial. He will also speak about how he became a director… what classes he took that inspired him, his journey through art school, and how he broke into the business.

    He states that he loves his work because “it is my true passion… and doesn’t feel like a ‘job.’ “Every day I get to be creative, express my view on the world (I do comedy dialog) and work with exceptional people around me.”

    Wednesday, Jan 23
    Jill Steinberg
    Senior Director, Global Marketing, Mobile at Razer

    Jill is responsible for marketing Razer’s mobile phone to gamers around the world. Prior to recently joining Razer, she had over 15 years’ experience at Ubisoft marketing videogame software titles.

    She will discuss how she fell into the film industry and later gaming; where she has been for nearly 20 years.  She will share some cool campaigns she built for very popular games like Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, Just Dance... 

    Jill loves the pace and innovation in the gaming industry and finds it is a very exciting space to work in. She enjoys building a team and bringing on people from all over the world whom she can learn from.

    Thursday, Jan 24
    Art Museum Career Panel
    Jen Northrup
    Chief Marketing Officer, SFMOMA

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, currently the largest museum of modern and contemporary art in the USA. Jen is responsible for marketing, communications and visitor experience. Prior to SFMOMA, she worked for the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and Ralph Lauren luxury brand in New York City. Jen’s talk will focus on a recent Augmented Reality experiment SFMOMA undertook to attract a non-art audience to an exhibition. She enjoys telling stories and using data to solve problems and grow businesses.

    Yoshi Miki
    Independent Curator of Art

    Yoshi is an independent, international Curator of Art. He develops and organizes art and history exhibitions for museums. Yoshi researches artifacts and reads historical documents, and then develops an exhibition including fundraising, community building, and designing the gallery. He likes working with the local community, corporations, government, and foreign institutions to develop international exhibitions. 

    Tuesday, Jan 29
    Terry Fitzsimmons
    SFFD Paramedic Firefighter

    Terry provides emergency medical care in an urban environment with a very high call volume, fire suppression and hazard abatement. He will describe the necessary training and education required for this career and suggest short cuts in terms of employment options and best work experience.

    He likes its unpredictability, intensity and the very real impact you could make. It provided many peak experiences that resulted in great confidence. He stated that they often quoted the phrase "a million stories in the naked city" because you never knew what lifestyles or behaviors you would encounter.


    Tuesday, Feb 5
    Mark Barden
    Advertising/Brand Management
    Partner, Brand Consultancy, eatbigfish

    Mark provides ideas and advice to companies big and small about how to make their marketing more effective so they can sell more stuff.

    He will discuss the variety of opportunities in the world of marketing from brand management positions at companies, to the variety of communication, PR and sponsorship agencies; the range of skills needed, from business smarts, to creative thinking, to computer science. Additionally, he’ll discuss his own journey from selling Guinness door to door, to making ads for Nike, to being cast as a Buddhist monk in a TV commercial.

    Mark loves the variety of the challenges in his work. He has to figure out how to explain Twitch, which sports bra is the best, and why you should invest in things called Exchange Traded Funds. It’s rarely boring.

    Tuesday, Feb 12
    Chuck Templeton
    Entrepreneur/Venture Capitalist
    Managing Director, S2gVentures

    Chuck works with entrepreneurs who are inventing companies that are disrupting the food system to help make it more sustainable, healthy and mitigate climate change. 

    He is excited to talk about and answer questions on what it's like to be an entrepreneur or an investor who invests in entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs are creating the jobs for the future and making life better for millions of people around the planet. 

    Chuck believes that entrepreneurs are creating new and exciting businesses that keep America a competitive nation and he gets to help them fulfill their vision and mission. They are some of the most creative risk takers in our economy. 

    Wednesday, Feb 13
    John Geoghegan
    Director, Archival Division, The SILOE Research Institute

    John specializes in reporting on unusual inventions that fail in the market, despite being innovative. He has written two non-fiction books on this topic as well as a PBS documentary, and over 100 magazine and newspaper articles for Wired, The New York Times and numerous other publications.

    John will talk about the pros and cons of a journalism career including how to get started in the profession. He loves journalism because it pays him to learn about subjects that interest him.

    Tuesday, Feb 26
    Natalie Alavi
    President/Owner NBA Engineering

    Natalie’s company provides mechanical and electrical engineering and construction management for large public and private sector projects such as airports, Underground Metro stations and tunnels, Airforce, BART, and high rise buildings.

    Natalie will discuss how mechanical and electrical engineering is related to the construction business and what the significance is.

    She enjoys the creativity of her work; providing new infrastructure while preserving the environment and reducing the carbon footprint.

    Wednesday, Feb 27
    Rod Fiegel
    Partner, Littler (employment law)

    Rod is a partner at Littler, an international law firm that specializes in employment law. Rod specializes in the laws pertaining to how employers can investigate and use background checks, including criminal records, in hiring and other personnel decisions. He mostly defends large class-action lawsuits, some of which have had up to three million potential class members.

    He will cover what it is like to be a litigator and to partner with businesses daily, as well as his career path and what classes helped him with his current work.

    Rod will discuss why he finds his job interesting nearly every day and the enduring relationships he has with many of his clients and colleagues. He has worked at Littler since 1997.

    Thursday, February 28
    Life Science Panel
    Sylvia Arias-Montez
    Customer Success Program Manager, QT Ultrasound

    Sylvia manages a team of tech support scientists that consults with customers on how to do experiments, how to use the company’s products, and provide troubleshooting guidance. She will cover “beyond the bench” career options for scientists. Sylvia enjoys developing the scientists on her team to think about their impact to fellow scientists and establishing business processes that are both efficient and effective.

    Cindy Morgan
    Director, Master’s Program in Genetic Counseling, UCSF

    Cindy is currently developing academic curriculum for UCSF. She will share typical genetic counselor careers in direct patient care (e.g. oncology, prenatal, pediatrics, cardiology) and commercial industry (e.g. diagnostic labs, pharmaceutical cos, education, policy).  Cindy believes that genetics goes beyond understanding ancestry, helping in diagnosis, getting at the ‘why’ of health conditions, and aiding in treatment. She loves that genetic counseling provides constant opportunities for lifelong learning, exposure to ethical challenges, and deep interpersonal interactions.


    Tuesday, March 5
    Larry Knott
    Software Engineering
    Senior Principal Engineer, Autodesk

    Larry currently designs and implements web services (cloud software) used by Autodesk web and desktop applications. He will talk about how he arrived at software engineering, cool things he’s done and what the job entails.

    Larry enjoys his work because every day he gets to research, design and engineer solutions to complex software problems that enable his customers to make things. "If you’ve ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a great film, chances are you’ve experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with our software."

    Wed, March 6
    Barbara Kinney
    Senior Photo Editor/Photographer, Emerson Collective

    Barbara is a photojournalist who has worked as a photographer and photo editor. She is currently on staff at the Emerson Collective, a social advocacy group that supports Criminal Justice Reform, Immigration Reform, the Environment and Education.

    She will discuss her past experience as a White House Photographer and as Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 campaign photographer. She will bring a copy of her newly released book on the Hillary campaign #StillWithHer: Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Moments that Sparked a Movement.” She will also talk about her work with Foundations which has taken her to Africa, Asia, Mexico and Haiti.

    Barbara really enjoys photographing people in their everyday lives, whether a President of the United States or a working mom who is trying to make ends meet. Her work has taken her all over the US and many other countries. Her goal is to tell their stories through photographs.

    Thursday, March 7
    Medical Career Panel
    Patty Rodgers
    Senior Physician Assistant (PA) of Orthopedic Surgery at UCSF Medical Center

    Patty takes care of patients who have just had orthopedic surgery and need to recover before being discharged. She will discuss the requirements for getting into PA school and how this career is a good option for people who want to practice medicine without the sacrifice that is required for medical school. Patty finds the science interesting and likes that this profession allows her the flexibility to spend time with family.
    Sara Heller
    Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse/Navigator at Stanford Children’s Health

    Sara cares for children with blood disorders and cancer. She is based in an out-patient clinic and does 50% clinical work and spends the other 50% of her time on the advice line, educating nursing staff, obtaining medication and treatment authorizations. Sara’s career path includes many different nursing jobs and graduate school. She will talk about the differences between some nursing programs and provide insider tips on how to get into nursing school.

    Eva-Marie Christman
    Primary Care Lead Physical Therapist at Veteran Affairs Medical Center

    Eva-Marie sees her role as a home-based Physical Therapist (PT) as a movement coach. She will share the character traits valuable for a profession in PT as well as the college courses and volunteer/work experiences needed to apply to PT or PTA school.  Eva-Marie loves helping people recover from an injury or learn to move more efficiently.

    Tuesday, March 12
    Matthew Blair
    Food Service
    Founder/President, World Wrapps Restaurants

    Matthew is the founder of World Wrapps Restaurants.  He oversees the entire company.  Currently, they have two stores and he runs operations/marketing and oversees a training and accounting team as well. He is responsible for looking for new locations as they grow from 2 to 4 restaurants by the end of next year.

    He will discuss World Wrapps' transformation from World Wrapps 1.0 to 2.0.  The original Founders bought it back 3 years ago to refresh the concept's brand/menu/design.

    Matthew finds the most enjoyable thing about what he does is watching his team grow.  The number of promotions and jobs he creates is the most satisfying part of his job.

    Wednesday, March 13
    Blaine Corren
    Public Affairs/Communications Specialist
    Judicial Council of California

    Blaine is a Public Affairs/Communications Specialist at the Judicial Council, which oversees the entire state court system in California. He communicates with individual local courts, the media, and the public to keep them updated on the major cases, changes in the law, and advances in how our justice system works.

    He will tell you how he got to his current job and the typical things he does, what subjects and/or majors you should study to go into communications, and the career options it presents, such as working in government, sports, entertainment, or other industries.

    Blaine enjoys the variety of tasks he performs, such as writing news releases and feature stories, as well as creating and sending out tweets and videos. He also gets to work on interesting legal issues and feels lucky that he can say “I help to improve the justice system in California.”

    Tuesday, March 19
    Helene Walters
    Pediatrician, Marin Community Clinics and Marin General Hospital

    Helene has two distinct activities: one is as a primary care pediatrician in a community health center and the other is as a pediatric hospitalist at our county hospital. She will cover the ‘soft skills’ integral to the job and will also talk about the challenge of being a foreign graduate to becoming a licensed MD. What Helene enjoys the most about her job is the personal interaction with kids/teens and their parents using a team approach as well as her cultural competencies.


    Tuesday, March 26
    Mervi Pankalainen

    Founder/CEO, MIghtifierMervi is the founder and CEO of educational technology startup Mightifier. Their positive culture program for happier and safer schools increases relationships and decreases bullying and isolation. As CEO, her job is to make sure that her team members can succeed. Mervi believes that any one of us can change the world. If you think that something needs fixing, it can be you to come up with a solution and change people's lives. The thing she enjoys the most about her work is visiting classes and hearing from kids how they love making each other happy with Mightifier. 

    Thursday, March 28
    Medical Doctor Panel
    Jay LaBourene
    Cardiac Surgeon, Kaiser Permanente

    Jay has been a Cardiac Surgeon for the past 25 years.  He practiced at Kaiser Permanente in SF. Jay has done all types of cardiac surgery: coronary bypasses, aortic/mitral/tricuspid valve repair/replacement, and aortic surgery in the chest. He was also trained to do non-cardiac thoracic surgery (lung and esophagus). Jay will discuss the joy of medicine and surgery.

    Ramy Ibrahim
    Chief Medical Officer, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

    The goal of Parker Institute is to develop new therapies for cancer patients. Ramy would like students to start thinking about the different roles that MDs can play in discovering and developing newer and better medicines for patients. He will talk about the challenge of dealing with the unknown and having to deal with risk-benefit trade-offs to make decisions. Ramy gets great satisfaction in seeing his hard work eventually become a drug that is widely available and helping patients.


    Wednesday, April 3
    Robert Koen
    Sales & Business
    Sales Leader, Amazon 

    Robert leads partner sales for Amazon Web Services - Amazon's cloud computing division. He previously led sales for Amazon Fashion.

    Robert will talk about how he developed his passion for marketing and sales and how he ended up working at Amazon. Robert has been an entrepreneur and has worked in more than 40 countries, but has always been focused on building sales teams, mentoring young talent and creating new business in the technology industry. Find out what makes someone a great sales and marketing professional and why selling is the most important function in most companies.

    Robert says Amazon is by far the best place he’s worked. He loves working with super smart people, experimenting with new ideas and helping customers innovate new ways of doing business.