Southern California Business Leaders Offer Advice to College’s Students

On Sunday two prominent Southern California business leaders visited Thomas Aquinas College to share their acumen, their stories, and their insights with the College’s students. In two simultaneous, 90-minute sessions, students had their choice of meeting with Jim Partridge, owner and president of Smith-Emery Co., a construction engineering firm in Los Angeles; or Jerry Deitchle, chairman and CEO of BJ’s Restaurants, Inc.

“It was a terrific experience for our students to get to speak with these accomplished businessman and to get a glimpse of some of the ways they may put their liberal education to use upon graduation,” says Mark Kretschmer, the College’s career counselor. “Mr. Partridge and Mr. Deitchle were very generous with their time and counsel, answering our students’ questions about the nature of their work and industries.”

An engineer by training, Mr. Partridge discussed the ways that the College’s students could employ their four years of mathematical and scientific training to pursue an engineering career. He also shared details about work his company is doing for the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco and Oakland, and invited them to tour the company’s laboratories.

Meanwhile, Mr. Deitchle, who additionally has held executive positions with Long John Silver’s and The Cheesecake Factory, spoke about how he rose through the ranks of the food-and-beverage industry. He further told the students about BJ’s management-training program, encouraging them to apply as they approach graduation.

“In the classroom, our students are blessed to develop the problem-solving and analytical skills that will serve them well in any line of work,” says Director of Development Robert Bagdazian, who arranged the visits. “But when it comes to starting a career, the wisdom of someone who has been there before is invaluable. We are honored and grateful that Mr. Deitchle and Mr. Partridge would share this wisdom with our students, who will no doubt benefit greatly from the experience.”


Posted: January 23, 2013

Jim Partridge

Jim Partridge, owner and president of Smith-Emery Co.,speaks with the College’s students

“Thomas Aquinas is already the preeminent Catholic college in the country.”

– John Cardinal O’Connor (†)

Archbishop of New York

(1999)