Cal Degree Makes Alumna's Dream Come True
By Carol Menaker
When Myrna Hennessy, BS 88, set her sights on becoming
a CPA, she was only 14 years old. Her family gave her
one piece of advice, "You have to go to Berkeley."
"I've been very lucky. I wanted to be a
CPA and the first step was going to Cal," says
Hennessy. "Climbing the corporate ladder as a
Hispanic woman has its own set of obstacles, but as
soon as I mention Cal, doors seem to open more easily,"
says Hennessy, who describes herself as 'hard-core
Blue and Gold'. "Cal gives you instant recognition
that this person has had an excellent education. The
fact that you could get such a superior education that
was so affordable was extraordinary."
Today the 38-year-old Hennessy is the CFO of the recreational
activity products company, Wham-O, Inc., the company
that in 1958 introduced the Frisbee. For Wham-O, the
rest is history. The Hula Hoop, Slip'n'Slide,
Superball, and Hacky Sack have become the toys that
generations of kids remember best.
"Everyone has a Wham-O story to tell,"
says Hennessy. "Now I have children who are at
the perfect age to enjoy our products, and the kids
Hennessy joined Wham-O in 1998 as their Corporate Controller
and has since worked side-by-side with engineers, inventors,
graphic designers, marketing, and sales people to move
ideas from the imaginations of inventors to retail store
shelves around the world.
"In 1997 Wham-O was formed as an independent
company with the purchase of several Mattel product
lines so there was no existing infrastructure,"
says Hennessy. "This is the kind of company that's
growing so rapidly you never know what each day will
bring," she continues. "That's the
fun thing about the company. There is no routine. I
can count on closing the books every month, but everything
after that can't be predicted."
In 2003, Hennessy was promoted to CFO, three years
ahead of her personal goal to become a CFO by the age
of 40. She easily credits her Cal education and a strong
network of Cal colleagues and friends with helping her
to achieve her goal.
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