Alumna Highlight: Anne Beech, MBA '19
Anne Beech, MBA '19
Director, Regulatory Compliance and Investigations - Electric Ops
Pacific Gas & Electric
Anne, who has worked for 20+ years at PG&E, was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and moved to the East Bay when she and her husband started their family. A first-generation Filipina, raised by both parents, she learned hard work and sacrifice from an early age - watching her parents work as full-time accountants, as well as alternating second jobs and/or night shifts over 15+ years to ensure they could cover their children’s educational costs and household bills.
During college, she worked a number of jobs to help cover her school and living expenses - from sales to banking, accounting and even working in the SFSU bookstore, Anne’s work ethic played a huge role in her journey. Her career at PG&E began right after graduation from college, exploring various accounting departments through their College Rotation Program. Again, her exemplary work ethic came into play, as she took on additional jobs on top of her full-time job at PG&E to pay down her college loan debts and save for a down payment on her first house. Over time they were able to upgrade to a larger house and retain their first as an investment property.
Anne has held various positions during her time at PG&E including roles in Accounting, Audit, Finance, Investment Planning, Process Excellence, Regulatory Compliance, Quality Management, and Governance and Analytics. She’s worked across several organizations, including Controller's Organization, Internal Audit, Customer Care, Gas Operations and Electric Operations. Currently, Anne is the Director of Compliance and Investigations in Electric Operations (EO), overseeing (3) key areas - Compliance, Data Response Unit (DRU), and Investigations.
Tragically, in late 2018, Anne’s father was diagnosed with cancer and found it had spread throughout his body. His guidance and unwavering support, combined with the support of her husband, mother and family allowed her to successfully complete her studies. He was able to witness her complete her final class but unfortunately did not make it to her graduation.
Why did you choose Saint Mary’s College? Did you consider any other Universities?
I chose Saint Mary’s for its small community, Lasallian education, and hybrid online and in-person program. I considered other MBA programs - USF, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Santa Clara. PG&E has many Saint Mary’s alumni who talk very highly of the school and their MBA programs.
What is your fondest memory of Saint Mary’s?
I really enjoyed the opportunity to apply our learning and be consultants to help non-profits in one of my classes. I also enjoyed my Economics class, which had a very lively professor. Professor Margitay-Brecht taught in a way that made the entire class truly learn politics, government, various economies, analysis, and how to be a better global citizen.
What was the most valuable thing you learned in Grad School and/or about yourself?
I enjoyed reading the many business cases, talking about what we learned, and exploring how other companies succeed, grow, develop, and fail. I liked how we applied conceptual leadership concepts and integrated what we learned in our assignments and group projects. During COVID, many of the business cases shed light on key industries we read about during our EMBA program (e.g., the end of brick and mortar, increased use of grocery deliveries, huge uptick of business transactions with Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+, supply chain, social media/marketing, etc.).
Did you have a mentor or anyone that influenced you greatly during your studies? (faculty, staff, alumni or external)
For about 10 years, I've been thinking about doing my MBA, but the timing didn't work out due to balancing work and family. The Graduate Business recruiting team was very consistent in following up to see my interest every year. Finally, my parents and my husband said to me that “no time is a good time”. Ironically, my dad urged me to enroll in the program as he was able to help take care of his grandkids - this was when I enrolled in the Fall of 2017. Very sadly, he passed away and missed my EMBA graduation ceremony in early May 2019, however he was still around when I attended my last class of my EMBA program and knew I finished.
What skills (technical or soft skills) did you gain at SMC that you put to use now in your career?
I significantly improved my communication, including my confidence when speaking to executive leadership. I frequently use concepts from our strategy and entrepreneurship classes, revisiting mission, vision, and strategy when rebuilding teams and/or new processes. I also enhanced my excel skills, allowing me to better provide guidance and direction to my broader team.
How did you balance work and school?
During the program, I learned to finish work timely. I did most of my homework after class and on the weekends. It was definitely challenging to balance work, family, and school. My husband and parents helped with picking up/dropping off kids, watching them on weekends when I had class, and alternating with my older sons for their sports/activities. When I had to do my school work, I tried to find space at my office, sometimes in the car, and eventually rented an office so I could study quietly.
Were you presented with a challenge or obstacle during your time at SMC? How did you overcome it? What skills or resources did you use/learn/apply to overcome this challenge?
Due to a reorganization in mid-2017, I was fortunate to keep my job and ended up getting a larger scope of work with more resources. At this time I had been a manager for over 10+ years, yet I was bypassed for a director role. For some reason, I continued to get passed up for promotion opportunities so I decided to think about next steps in my career and/or go back to school. In late 2018, my family and I found out that my dad had cancer. Through all this I was encouraged by my parents and family to keep at it with school and finish the program. It was great to have my husband step up to help with the kids. My mom, an independent woman and the person I truly role modeled after, was a source of inspiration when my dad began chemo and radiation therapy.
How do you think attending Grad School has benefited your personal and professional growth?
Personally, it’s sparked my interest to learn and read. I see myself referring back to what I learned and see how I can better strategize, revisit my operational plans, and coach/develop my teams.
Professionally, I’ve improved how I present myself, I’ve enhanced my verbal and written communication skills, and applied various learnings from my EMBA in my day-to-day operations. I use many of the tools I’ve learned in my EMBA program to strategize, revamp processes and controls, and better collaborate with teams.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I volunteer at my children’s schools via auction events, community service, classroom/parent activities, and strategic planning. I also support local non-profits via financial contributions, auction planning, and fundraising event facilitation. In my free time, I enjoy supporting my kids - with their sports and dance activities, reading my favorite mystery books, and working on home projects. I’m a huge Golden State Warriors fan. I am currently a season ticket holder. I had a chance to watch them play and win the playoffs in 2017 and 2018. Recently, I've gotten back to walking and jogging.