A media innovator in New York, a budding scholar in Athens, Georgia (we’ll forgive her) and an accomplished finance executive in Miami Beach. In celebration of their professional success and devotion to their alma mater, Warrington alumni Kim Kaupe, Bridget Stomberg and Steven DeRose received the 2014 University of Florida’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni ages 35 or younger who have distinguished themselves in their profession and community.
Take a moment and discover what makes these Warrington alumni so exceptional...
In a digital world, Kim Kaupe (BSBA ’08) decided to make her mark in publishing, a supposedly dying industry.
Her family and friends were skeptical, to put it mildly.
“They all thought I was crazy,” Kaupe said. “It was definitely risky. We weren’t out of the recession—it was still in full force in New York. People were just really shocked that I would leave a job with a 401(k) and a salary to go off on my own. But I believed in this idea, and that it could be something great.”
Kaupe’s gamble paid off, and the Heavener alumna has made her mark with, ZinePak, which produces custom interactive publications for music fans.
A major reason for ZinePak’s success is that it targets “superfans,” a niche audience that craves every bit of paraphernalia and information about their favorite musicians.
“We’re looking for that person who knows every single song, every single record, goes to every concert and is screaming and crying in the front row,” Kaupe said.
Kaupe said that although these “superfans” are consuming the majority of their media digitally, they still want something tangible. That’s the space ZinePak fills. The specialized magazines ZinePak produces for clients such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, KISS, Toby Keith and Taylor Swift, also include items such as temporary tattoos, perfumes and nail decals that fans relish.
“These fans may be streaming concerts from home or downloading movies to Apple TV,” Kaupe said. “But you can’t download a temporary tattoo or perfume. Fans still want something to hold, to have an experience that is special.”
While ZinePak’s growth has been impressive—$25 million of merchandise sold since the company was founded in Jan. 2011—Kaupe said the company is poised to expand into other fields notably video games, DVDs and Latin music.
Bridget Stomberg (BSAc ’00, MAcc ’02) built a career most in her field would envy. She was a manager at one of the Big 4 public accounting firms, and served as tax director at one of the world’s largest Asian-themed restaurant chains and a Fortune 500 technology company—all in the span of seven years.
She was successful and content, but not fulfilled.
Fulfillment, however, would soon arrive. Thanks to some friendly prodding and an extraordinary opportunity, Stomberg left public accounting to pursue a lifelong passion: Teaching. She is now an Assistant Professor in the J.M. Tull School of Accounting at the University of Georgia.
“My education did a lot for me, and I know how important it is,” Stomberg said. “It was very appealing to be a part of that, to give people the skills they needed to master their careers. I felt that would be more rewarding.”
Stomberg’s transition to academia was made easier in 2008 when the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), in conjunction with the nation’s major accounting firms, established a fellowship designed to increase the amount of accounting professors with real-world experience in audit and tax. Stomberg said friends and colleagues repeatedly forwarded her emails about the fellowship because they knew of her desire to teach. A year later, Stomberg was a part of the inaugural class of 30 accounting professionals to receive the fellowship. She received her Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Texas in 2013, and was appointed to her position at Georgia shortly thereafter.
“My work background is definitely a plus in the classroom,” Stomberg said. “Anytime you can bring in real-world experiences, it’s more interesting. I love it when we hit that triangle where the textbook, practical experience and research come together.”
Ten years ago, Steven DeRose began his career in investment banking.
It wasn’t easy breaking into the industry.
“I was a student at a time when the MSF Program (Master of Science in Finance) was in its infancy,” DeRose said. “My goal was to find a position in the world of investment banking, and, at that time, there were no firms that actively recruited from UF.”
DeRose landed a job at Wachovia Securities and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina after graduation. His early challenges are a major reason he is dedicated to helping students from the MSF Program (The William R. Hough Program). DeRose (BA ’03, BSBA ’03, MSF ’04) has been one of the program’s most active alumni, appearing in MSF’s Speaker Series, returning to campus to offer interview coaching and personally ensuring that alumni stay connected to the program and continue to support it. His advice and support have been instrumental in the success of MSF students and graduates.
“My involvement comes from a desire to give back to a program that was a driving force in the start of my career,” DeRose said. “Today, there is a long list of bulge bracket investment banks and financial services firms that recruit students from UF for their analyst programs.”
The MSF Program isn’t the only one close to DeRose’s heart. He is also an avid supporter of the College’s Master of Science in Real Estate Program (The Nathan S. Collier Program). DeRose, a Vice President at Starwood Mortgage Capital, said his exposure to real estate while at Warrington played a major role in his success.
“The pivotal point for me was a real estate finance class that Dr. David Ling taught, where he wed a lot of the concepts that I had learned in finance courses with real estate,” DeRose said. “Everything clicked for me after that class.”