CIS Board of Advisors

The CIS Board of Advisors is made up of eight members from well known LA-based money management firms.
The Board serves as an active classroom participant and hosts many of our company site visits and comes to campus for guest lectures.  The Director routinely consults with the Board for their guidance and input.  The Center also benefits from the financial support, formal publications and “door openings” help it receives from the investment management firms the Board represents.


David Iben
Kopernik Global Investors, LLC

Mr. Iben, CFA is the Managing Member & Founder of Kopernik Global Investors, LLC.

Prior to Kopernik Global Investors, he was CIO at Tradewinds Global Equities Fund where he directed the firm’s equity and fixed income investment activity, including portfolio management, research, trading, and risk management. As CIO, he also chaired the investment oversight committee. Mr. Iben helped launch the Tradewinds international investment platform after six years at NWQ. He was previously chief executive officer, lead portfolio manager, and founding member of Palladian Capital Management and, prior to that, senior portfolio manager at Cramblit & Carney.

Mr. Iben began his career with Farmers Group Inc. where over the course of 14 years he served as senior analyst, lead portfolio manager, and director of research for both equity and fixed income strategies. At the time of his departure in 1996, Mr. Iben was acting as Farmers’ chief investment officer responsible for $16 billion of investable assets.

Mr. Iben received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, and an MBA from USC Marshall School of Business. He earned the chartered financial analyst designation in 1984 and is a member of CFA Institute and CFA Society of Los Angeles.


Michael Reilly
The TCW Group, Inc.

Mr. Reilly is the Chief Investment Officer of the Equities Group and Director of U.S. Equity Research. He joined TCW in 1992 as an Equity Analyst after working four years in corporate finance at Security Pacific Bank. In 1995, he assumed co-portfolio management responsibility for TCW’s Latin America, Emerging Markets and International Equities investment strategies. Subsequently, from 2002-2005, he was co-Portfolio Manager of the Société Générale Asset Management (SGAM) global equities team prior to assuming leadership of the U.S. Equity Research department in 2006. Mr. Reilly graduated valedictorian of the University of Southern California with a BS in Finance and a BA in Spanish and also received his MBA from the University of Southern California. He was recipient of the Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Fellowship for a year of postgraduate studies at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. He is a CFA charterholder.


Robert L. Rodriguez
First Pacific Advisors, Inc.

Mr. Rodriguez is the principal and CEO of First Pacific Advisors, Inc. (FPA), an investment management firm that strives to provide consistent, long-term and superior services and returns for clients.  Mr. Rodriguez, who joined the firm in 1983, manages equity separate accounts, the FPA Capital Fund in the Small/Mid-Cap Value equity style, and the FPA New Income bond fund.  As of December 2002, he managed more than $2.9 billion.

Prior to joining FPA, Mr. Rodriguez served as Senior Portfolio Management in the Chairman’s Department of Kaufman & Broad, Inc.  He was also a portfolio manager at Transamerica Investment Services, Inc., which is now part of the AEGON Insurance Group, one of the top 50 largest public financial companies in the world ranked by assets.

Mr. Rodriguez holds a BS in business administration (magna cum laude) and an MBA from the University of Southern California.


James P. Sarni
Payden & Rygel Investment Management

Mr. Sarni CFA, is a managing principal at Payden & Rygel and is a member of the firm’s Executive Management and Global Investment Policy Committees. Mr. Sarni oversees the firm’s low duration investment strategies totaling in excess of $30 billion.  He serves as a senior portfolio manager who advises pension funds and other institutional clients.

Prior to joining Payden & Rygel, Mr. Sarni was a vice president and senior portfolio manager at First Interstate Bank where he managed the trust department’s commingled bond funds as well as institutional client portfolios.

Mr. Sarni is a member of the board of advisors of the Center for Investment Studies at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and a board member of the Washington, D.C.-based Investment Advisor Association.  He is past president of the Los Angeles Society of Financial Analysts and a member of the CFA Institute where he has played an active role in educational and mentoring programs.  He is also past president of the St. Philip the Apostle School Board of Trustees, a former member of the School Board of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and past Chairman of the Academy of Business Leadership.  Mr. Sarni has also been a regular guest on CNBC as well as local and national radio business programs.

Mr. Sarni holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. He earned an MBA with an emphasis in finance and a BS from the University of Southern California.


Sheldon M. Stone
Oaktree Capital Management, LLC

Mr. Stone is a founding member and principal of Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based institutional money manager specializing in alternative investment strategies.  Mr. Stone manages the firm’s domestic high-yield bond portfolios and has supervisory responsibilities for Oaktree’s European high-yield bond activities and Mezzanine Fund.

Prior to forming Oaktree, Mr. Stone was a Senior Vice President of Trust Company of the West (TCW) and became Managing Director two years after his arrival.  He worked at TCW for ten years before leaving with four associates to form Oaktree.

After completing his MBA, Mr. Stone spent five years as a Director in the Corporate Finance Department of the Prudential Insurance Company of America.  After Prudential, Mr. Stone spent two years at Citibank as a high-yield bond research analyst before joining TCW.

Mr. Stone serves as a trustee of Bowdoin College and serves on the National Advisory Board for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth.  He also is on the Board of Governors of the California Community Foundation, where he chairs the Investment Committee, and is a member of the World Presidents’ Organization.

Mr. Stone holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an MBA in accounting and finance from Columbia University.


Larry D. Tashjian (Chair)
CAM Capital Advisors

Mr. Tashjian is President and CEO of CAM Capital Advisors, an opportunistic valued based manager in all asset classes. Prior to starting CAM Capital Advisors, he was Chief Executive Office of Provident Investment Counsel (PIC), a Pasadena-based investment company that specializes in growth stocks across all capitalization. During his time with PIC (1981 – 2005), Mr. Tashjian was an integral part of the company’s growth.

In 1995, he was intimately involved in the sale of PIC to United Asset Management, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. He would go on to serve on its board of directors. At the time of the sale, PIC was one of the largest money management acquisitions in the history of the industry.

Near the end of 2000, United Asset Management was acquired by Old Mutual PLC (OM) the largest and oldest financial institution in South Africa. With PIC once again on the move, Mr. Tashjian was, again, instrumental in negotiating a successful monetary transaction for the principals of PIC for a change in corporate governance.

Prior to joining PIC, Mr. Tashjian worked for the Bank of America, both in retail banking and Corporate Finance. His professional career in investment management spans over 20 years.

Mr. Tashjian’s community and corporate activities include directorships of Annandale Gold Club where he served as its president in 2001, Bavarian Specialty Food Products, Southland Title Corporation until it was sold in 2004 to Land America Financial group a New York Stock Exchange company, and the San Gabriel Valley chapter of Boy Scouts of America. He currently serves on the advisory council of the USC Entrepreneur Program, the advisory boards of Linage Capital Partners and PGP Capital Advisors, and the National Advisory Council for the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University. He helped found and now serves on the board of directors for Professional Business Bank in Pasadena, California.

In 2002, Mr. Tashjian conceptualized and funded the Center for Investment Studies’ Capital Markets Training Room. He and his wife, Karen, continue to ardently support the Center for Investment Studies and the Student Investment Fund. Mr. Tashjian has served as the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Investment Studies since the inception of the center.

Mr. Tashjian holds a BS in Finance and an MBA from the University of Southern California.


Suh-Pyng Ku
Vice Dean of Graduate Programs, CIS Director, Professor of SIF and USIF

Suh-Pyng Ku’s teaching and research specialties include corporate finance, portfolio management, and security valuation. Professor Ku is the instructor for the MBA and the Undergraduate Student Investment Fund classes. In addition, she serves as the Vice Dean for Graduate Programs and Director of the USC Marshall Center for Investment Studies. Previously, Professor Ku served as USC’s vice provost and executive director of continuing education and summer programs. Prior to that, she served as USC’s chief technology officer for enhanced learning, Associate Dean for Marshall MBA Program and Marshall’s chief information officer. She is the 2014 Golden Apple Teaching Award Winner for the Full-Time MBA Core Program and a 2014 Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring Award Nominee, USC Office for Parent Programs. Professor Ku received her Ph.D. degree in Finance from USC.