Meet Dr. Ali Vahlhaus

Class of 1991

Dr. Vahlhaus graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Economics with a concentration in International Management. He is currently an Associate Professor of Finance at Escuela de Alta Dirección y Administración (EADA) Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He also works at Vinztituto where he is a Project Advisor and a Business Consultant for strategy, change management, and human capital development. ali_vahlhaus.jpg

"Sonoma State University was the very place that I was shaped as a business professional. It was a combination of the location, the faculty, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) program, the student population, and the school itself that invoked a pleasure and an appreciation to learn about international business and economics," Dr. Ali Vahlhaus, Sonoma State University Alumni and EADA Business School Associate Professor of Finance said.

Dr. Vahlhaus was an international student in the joint Sonoma State University and DAAD. The international exchange program focuses on connecting people from around the world to universities like Sonoma State University.  For Dr. Vahlhaus, the most influential professor at Sonoma State University was Dr. Robert Girling, Professor of Business Administration, who has extensive international business consulting and social entrepreneurship experience.

Dr. Girling has taught in Brazil and the West Indies, and was a Director for Regional Development in Jamaica. Dr. Vahlhaus shares the same international interests, which allowed the two of them to connect. Dr. Vahlhaus was inspired by Dr. Girling's book, The Good Company, a book that presents 18 influential case studies involving start-up and well-known international companies and socially responsible enterprises. The companies focus on making the world a better place by meeting the basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs of their employees, customers and suppliers. The companies also practice sustainability by promoting earth-friendly technologies and production systems.

"The School of Business and Economics teach our students the value of the triple-bottom line, including social equity, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity. Ali's dedication to learning and applying these principles among others has afforded him a successful international management career," Dr. Robert Girling, Emeritus Professor said.

Upon graduating from Sonoma State University, Dr. Vahlhaus joined many successful start-up manufacturing companies. He later worked on international merger projects for the Feyco Treffert Group, a supplier of sustainable industrial wood coatings with manufacturing plants and projects in Maylasia, China, and the United States. He later became the CEO of the Feyco Treffert Group.

Dr. Vahlhaus' advice to current students is to "reflect on who you are, what you are passionate about, and therefore what you are good at.  If you want to compete effectively, be yourself.  Nobody can be as good at being you as you!  Second, look for a company that is authentic (i.e., walks its talk) and matches your values."

For more information about Sonoma State University's economics and business programs, please visit The School of Business and Economics.

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