search button
newscenter logo
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Follow SDSU  Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook Follow SDSU on Google+ SDSU RSS Feed

SDSU alumna Zeynep Ilgaz '00 (front row, middle) founded Confirm Biosciences. SDSU alumna Zeynep Ilgaz '00 (front row, middle) founded Confirm Biosciences.

Finding the Best People

Aztec connections can lead to job hires that benefit both employers and employees.
By Tobin Vaughn

“Knowing somebody went through the MBA program, I know exactly the level of education they went through because I went through it.”

Zeynep Ilgaz (’00) is an entrepreneur, a CEO, and an instructor at SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center where she is also an advisory board member. As founder and president of San Diego’s Confirm Biosciences, she is an executive always on the lookout for skilled, talented and well-prepared employees to help grow her company.

Confirm Biosciences is a provider of health and wellness testing products and services, supplying businesses and individuals with everything from cholesterol tests to substance abuse screening kits. Approximately a fourth of the company’s three dozen or so employees earned degrees at SDSU.

One of them is Japneet Bajwa (’15), an e-commerce marketing analyst who applied to work at the company after graduating from SDSU’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in December. Ilgaz’s husband, Serhat Pala (’99), who serves as Confirm Biosciences’ chief advisor, came across Bajwa’s application and brought it to his wife’s attention.

“He said, ‘She’s a great candidate,’” Ilgaz remembers. “‘We might not have something for her right now, but we have to meet her.’”

Ilgaz and Pala, both SDSU MBA alumni, were impressed with Bajwa’s accomplishments and background; among other achievements, she had been a dentist in her native India. Once they met her, the deal was sealed.

“We didn't really have a job function for her, but she was just this great person,” says Ilgaz. So they created an internship for Bajwa.

“This is how we hire,” Ilgaz explains. “When we find a great person, it doesn't matter if we have a job, we will create a job for that person because we know that person can make it happen.”

In no time Bajwa was rewarding the trust her employers had placed in her. She was exceeding expectations and proving herself capable of varied responsibilities.

A New Initiative

When the company made plans for a new business initiative, Bajwa was named project coordinator. “But she has many more managerial tasks than her title,” says Ilgaz.

Bajwa is designing and managing the launch of a new business unit for the company, supervising the project from start to finish. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility for a new employee,” she says, “but I think they trust that I can do it.”

A big reason Ilgaz trusts Bajwa is her familiarity with and confidence in SDSU’s MBA program.

“Knowing somebody went through the MBA program, I know exactly the level of education they went through because I went through it,” Ilgaz says. “I know they've got a great MBA, a great education from great instructors and sometimes they even list the instructors, which is so helpful because I know most of them, so I know the type of education they get from those instructors."

Like a Dream

Bajwa appreciates the fact that her boss, who she views as a role model, also has an MBA from SDSU. “It’s great to know someone really understands your experience,” she says.

Like Ilgaz, Bajwa hopes to one day start her own business. She says Ilgaz serves as an inspiration to her of what may be accomplished with an SDSU MBA degree.  

“She has done well with this company,” Bajwa says. “Seeing her, I’m now more confident because I know her MBA course work at SDSU is extremely extensive and she has everything it takes to be a successful leader.

“I don’t know if I have all the skills and qualities she has, but even if I have 50 percent of it I will be very grateful.”

Ilgaz believes Bajwa has all the skills and qualities she needs to succeed. "Japneet is awesome,” she says.

“She is very project-driven, initiative-taking, has great leadership skills, is very analytical - which is exactly what we need in the type of job she is doing now - and doesn't need much guidance meaning once she knows what to do, she will take it on and just get it done. It's like a dream for a company to have people like Japneet.”

Find out more about SDSU MBAs at

To learn more about posting jobs and internships, visit SDSU Career Services.