Josh Ayers

Think you have what it takes to be the next Steve Jobs? Although he won’t likely be giving away too many company secrets, Peter Oppenheimer, Apple Inc.’s chief financial officer and senior vice president, is coming to Cal Poly Friday to speak about the company’s success and to recruit promising business finance students.

“I’m a big believer in Cal Poly’s learn-by-doing philosophy,” Oppenheimer said about his alma mater. “We certainly have that same attitude of hands-on innovation here at Apple.”

Oppenheimer graduated with honors from Cal Poly in 1985 with a degree in agricultural business. From there, his education and career quickly moved away from agriculture and up the corporate ladder to where he now stands as the second key executive for Apple, just under CEO Steve Jobs.

He’ll be speaking at Cal Poly on Friday about Apple’s successful business model and some of the things young professionals should be doing while in college if they’re interested in moving into the corporate world.

Apple recruiters, including current interns and recent Cal Poly graduates, will also be scouting for promising finance students to participate in their finance development internship program. “We’ll be looking for the best and the brightest business students,” Oppenheimer said, “those who have excelled in the classroom and show innovation.”

As CFO, Oppenheimer oversees Apple’s massive financial department, including the controller, treasury, investor relations, tax, information systems, internal audit, facilities, corporate development and human resources functions. He also serves on the company’s executive committee as senior vice president.

Even with his success at the multi-billion dollar computer company, Oppenheimer said, “I was always believing, and I still do, that I would someday get back to the agriculture side of the business world.”

Oppenheimer believes he learned many of the skills that have now carried over to his executive career while an agricultural business student at Cal Poly. “Cal Poly is really about helping students gain real world experience,” he said. “I really valued what I learned in class and through the enterprise programs that the College of Agriculture offers.”

The Oppenheimer family recently donated $200,000 toward a new meat processing facility at Cal Poly, where he worked as a student. “I think that for students to be able to work in any of the enterprise programs really helps them gain a real world experience they don’t get in the classroom,” he said.

After graduating from Cal Poly, Oppenheimer began working for Wells Fargo Bank in its farm lending program, but quickly discovered that it wasn’t a career he was interested in and moved on to graduate school.

He received his master’s degree from Santa Clara University before spending six years working for Coopers and Lyband in their information technology consulting department. From there, he moved on to Automatic Data Processing Inc. where he served as CFO for one of the company’s four business units.

Oppenheimer joined Apple in 1996, working first as Corporate Controller and Senior Director of Finance for the Americas before earning his current position.

University President Warren Baker asked Oppenheimer to serve on the executive board of the Cal Poly Foundation and he agreed. “I felt like it was a great way to contribute back to the school,” he said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with really great, energetic people who are passionate about Cal Poly.”

He has managed to stay firmly involved with Cal Poly, coming back to the campus about four times a year, although Friday will be his first time giving a motivational speech to the campus. Oppenheimer will speak in the business building silo (03-213) at 11:10 a.m. Friday. Turnout is expected to be high, so arriving early is encouraged.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *