Patrick Devine ’87, MBA ’91 named Distinguished Alumnus
BY SARAH STANEK
Patrick Devine ’87, MBA ’91 found his way to Cal State East Bay on a path familiar to many fellow graduates. The 2010 Alumnus of the Year came to the U.S. in search of opportunity, leaving his native Ireland at just 18. By the time he began thinking about college, he was a working adult with a family and a career. Living in Castro Valley made then-Cal State Hayward the convenient choice.
As he soon discovered, though, it was also the perfect choice. “I always remember coming up the hill to campus into this cocoon of safety,” he says. “There was friendliness, lack of stress, sunshine, and the view. Everyone was equal, just students working together.”
Though he left Ireland more than 30 years ago, Devine’s voice retains a hint of an accent recalling his early jobs on the East Coast — particularly a stint as a bartender he says would have horrified his mother. He also worked in construction, on an automobile assembly line, and in other odd jobs before coming to California, as he put it, almost completely broke.
When interviewing for an entry-level analyst position back in the 1980s, Devine says he worked out math problems longhand rather than admit he was unfamiliar with calculators. He got 100 percent correct — and got the job.
That position led him around the world as a consultant and eventually to Chabot College and CSUEB’s College of Business and Economics for a bachelor’s degree in finance. He followed that up with an MBA in management sciences, working full time throughout his undergrad and graduate work.
“For older students, the focus is different,” he says. “When you’re giving up evenings away from home and family, you’d better be bringing home good grades. The teachers need to be good and worth your time. And Cal State East Bay has always had outstanding professors.”
Devine has worked in the high tech industry for decades, developing a specialty in compensation and incentive programs. He’s been with some of the region’s top companies, including Seagate and Applied Materials, and is now Senior Director of Global Incentive Compensation at Oracle Corp. — a Silicon Valley powerhouse and one of the world’s largest software companies.
Devine and his international team manage Oracle’s global incentives, acquisitions, and integrations that have, to date, cost more than $60 billion and include over 50 companies. His worldwide team meets face-to-face a few times a year, connecting across continents and time zones primarily by phone, e-mail, or virtual meetings.
It’s a management environment he could not have foreseen as a business student. “It requires a different style of management, and a different mindset to be able to work that way managing a team,” he says. “It’s an adjustment not everyone can make.”
Devine is generous with his time, working with grassroots groups in Castro Valley on issues such as incorporation and representing the community against cell phone tower placements. He’s a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee and past president of the Toastmasters Club. He also regularly opens his home to host get-togethers for softball and golf potlucks for his daughters’ teams, gatherings for coworkers, and even a recent wedding. Devine also volunteers as strategic advisor on the finance council for the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.
Working with the diocese and other community groups isn’t like corporate work, he says. Rather than simply getting paid to get it done, “you go out and draw people in, wrap them around a common goal.” One of the largest of those projects was his work on financing and construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Light overlooking Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
Devine also has shared his time and expertise with CSUEB, returning as a guest lecturer for graduate business courses. Additionally, he teaches courses in compensation management for the Human Resources Management Certificate Program offered by the CSUEB Division of Continuing and International Education since 1999.
In nominating Devine for the award, CSUEB Professor Emeritus John Kilgour says: “He is very good, always invites the students to contact him if he can be of any help to them. I know that a number of students have and really appreciate his help. He reports that he has students calling him five or six years later with compensation-related questions.”
“We all have gifts — but it is not a gift unless you give it away to someone,” Devine says. “I have received many gifts and breaks along the way, and I feel obligated to help others in the same way. When you help someone, there’s a feel-good factor — and gifts are never missed, because they do good for the recipient and the giver.”