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Winter 2005 CalBusiness  
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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 love them."

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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Myrna Hennessy, BS 88

Myrna Hennessy, BS 88
Emeryville, California

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