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Orfalea College of Business

Paying It Forward

John Peck headshot
Written By Jayan Kalathil

Jon Peck (Economics, '16) believes in paying it forward. Peck works in financial planning and analysis at YouTube, covering YouTube spaces, content operations, partnerships, music and strategy. As the finance business partner for these areas, he helps his colleagues with spend governance, budget management and annual planning.

Peck's early professional success has made him appreciate those who helped him along the way.

"I only got to where I am today because of the people before me who invested their time and treasure in my development, and so I want to lead by example and do that for other Cal Poly students," he said.

And he has done just that by setting up a planned gift that will provide two endowments to supplement the salaries of adjunct accounting faculty at Cal Poly.

A career in finance and accounting wasn't always on Peck's radar. "I almost didn't go to Cal Poly because I was unsure about what I wanted to study," he said. Initially enrolled as a computer science major, Peck switched majors to economics his sophomore year and, partly inspired by Professor Tad Miller's Introduction to Accounting class, he decided to pursue a concentration in accounting. After graduating from Cal Poly, he earned his master’s degree in accounting, graduating with distinction from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. His first post-college job was in Google's rotational finance program.

In many ways, Peck feels his Cal Poly education helped to prepare him for a career at one of the world's largest companies.

"Google is like many companies where there isn't a rule book," he said. "You are put in these situations where you need to navigate ambiguity, think critically and problem solve. Cal Poly's Learn by Doing philosophy really prepares you for that."

Even though he's a fairly recent graduate, he feels it's very important that he give back to his alma mater. "I think it's important to establish a habit of giving. Start with a small amount and get into that habit of regularly giving,” he said. “Since I've graduated from Cal Poly, I've made a lot of smaller donations, but recently I've decided to make a planned gift. I know that it’s unusual to make a planned gift at my age, but I think it's really important to invest in future opportunities for Cal Poly students."

Peck wants his fellow young alumni to consider following his example, even if they are just starting out. "I think it's important as young alumni not to get into this mindset that just because you can't give a lot, you shouldn't," he said. "Everything and anything helps."

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