C-Suite Spotlight is pleased to announce The Top 25 Executives of Los Angeles for 2023. Often referred to as "The City of Angels,” LA is a sprawling Southern California city and the center of the world’s film and television industry. Though as a city with such a diverse economy and broad range of sectors, LA is driven by much more than Hollywood. It’s home to a fast-growing and immense high-tech industry, a world-leading creative economy, tremendous aerospace and advanced transportation strength, a rapidly increasing amount of venture capital investment in startups, and the nation’s largest manufacturing base and international trade industry. This year’s awardees are C-level executives who aren’t strangers to the spotlight, working at some of the most recognizable companies in the world, from Walt Disney Studios, Experian, and Mattel to Spacex, Ticketmaster, and Taco Bell.
Among this year’s awardees is Donald Evans, Chief Marketing Officer of The Cheesecake Factory. In his previous role at The Walt Disney Company, he was pivotal in successfully publicizing the studios' biggest animated releases. Awardee Tomas Kokko, EVP and Chief Financial Officer at Harbor Freight Tools, helped drive a cumulative annual revenue increase of around $4.5 billion per year over the past decade. Also awarded is Abigail Lovell, Chief Sustainability Officer of Experian. Lovell is currently driving to expand Experian’s corporate responsibility efforts and investment.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 25 Executives of Los Angeles for 2023.
1. Brett Ladd
Chief Operating Officer of Government, Sodexo
Brett Ladd is the Chief Operating Officer of Government at Sodexo. He’s also a member of Sodexo's North America Regional Leadership Committee. Ladd first joined the company in 1988 as the Senior Vice President of Government. Ladd brings over 30 years of global leadership experience to Sodexo.
He started his career as a production manager with Marriott Management Services and has held positions in Sodexo's Universities and Schools segments as an in-unit General Manager, District Manager, and Operations Vice President. Outside of work, Ladd enjoys working with non-profit organizations and supporting all aspects of the military community.
2. Greg Wright
Chief Operating Officer, California Medicare, UnitedHealthcare
Greg Wright is the Chief Operating Officer of California Medicare at UnitedHealthcare. UnitedHealthcare is a Georgia-based brokerage firm that provides health insurance products and services for individuals and businesses. Wright joined the company in 2005 as Regional Vice President of Secure Horizons. He later went on to become the Regional President of Medicare and Retirement and then the CEO of Southern California Medicare.
Before UnitedHealthcare, Wright was the VP of Network Management at Pacificare. Before that, he was an Associate Regional VP at FHP. Wright graduated from the University of California, Irvine, The Paul Merage School of Business with an MBA.
3. Matt Shaw
Chief Development Officer, North America, Taco Bell
Matt Shaw is the Chief Development Officer of North America at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is the world's largest Mexican-inspired quick-service restaurant brand. Shaw first joined Taco Bell in 2007 as the Director of Franchise Finance and Strategic Development. He's held various roles of increasing responsibility over his 16-year tenure, including serving as Vice President of Franchising and General Manager of Canada.
Before Taco Bell, he was at Yum Brands as a Franchise Development Director and Real Estate Manager. Before this, he was at Taco Bell Corp. as a Senior Financial Analyst. Earlier in his career, he was a Financial Analyst at In N Out Burger. Shaw graduated from UCLA Anderson School of Management with an MBA and an undergraduate degree in economics from UC Irvine.
4. Jamie Voris
Chief Technology Officer, The Walt Disney Studios
Jamie Voris is the Chief Technology Officer of The Walt Disney Studios. He oversees the development and implementation of technology strategies and innovations that broadly support Walt Disney Studios and its business objectives. Voris first joined the company in 2010 as Vice President of Marketing Technology. He is an accomplished technology leader with over 18 years of experience.
Previously, Voris was a Chief Technology Officer at the National Football League. Before that, he was a VP of Technology at Playboy Enterprise. Voris earned an industrial and operations engineering undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.
5. Dr. Paryus Patel
Chief Executive Officer, Prime Healthcare
Dr. Paryus Patel, MD, is the Chief Medical Officer of Prime Healthcare’s Region III-VI hospitals and the Corporate Chief Medical Officer for Prime Healthcare. Region III-VI includes Prime Healthcare's 20 acute care community hospitals located in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
Dr. Patel is a triple board-certified physician with more than 25 years of experience in the fields of critical care medicine, internal medicine, and pulmonology. He received his medical degree from MS University, Baroda Medical College in Gujarat, India. He then continued his training at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, where he was named Chief Resident of Internal Medicine. Then he honed his skills as a Fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Transplant Medicine.
6. Donald Evans
Chief Marketing Officer, The Cheesecake Factory
Donald Evans is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Cheesecake Factory. He’s responsible for all aspects of the company's marketing and branding, including planning and executing marketing strategies, social media, and other publicity campaigns.
Previously, Evans spent 11 years with The Walt Disney Company, most recently as Senior Vice President of Animation Marketing for Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios. In that role, he was responsible for all aspects of strategic marketing, including traditional and digital campaigns, publicity, research, media, and in-theater marketing, resulting in successfully publicizing the studios' biggest animated releases. Evans served as CEO of 33 Consulting, a firm he founded, whose clients included creative agencies such as Wieden + Kennedy and mOcean, where he developed film marketing and strategy plans, as well as clients such as Activision. Evans graduated from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management Northwestern University with an MBA and a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University.
7. Steve Totzke
President and Chief Commercial Officer, Mattel
Steve Totzke is the President and Chief Commercial Officer of Mattel. He’s responsible for driving Mattel’s growth in markets worldwide and overseeing Mattel’s unified global commercial organization, which is a key pillar in the company’s strategy to transform Mattel into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company. Totzke first joined the company in 1995 as Director Of Sales.
Previously, Totzke was a VP of North American Sales at Spin Master. Before that, he was an Account Manager Key Account at Wrigley. Totzke earned an MBA from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and an undergraduate degree in marketing from Fanshawe College.
8. Manu Gopinath
Chief Operating Officer, UST
Manu Gopinath is UST's Chief Operating Officer. Gopinath is responsible for leading the company's business operations, executing UST's business strategy, and ensuring operational excellence company-wide. He’s also responsible for client and partner relationships and new business development for UST across North America, Spain, and Latin America. In addition to his role as COO, Gopinath is passionate about building innovative and high-performance environments. He also oversees UST's global people practices, including employee experience, talent acquisition, talent, workforce management, and talent platforms.
As one of the first few employees at UST, Gopinath has had various roles during his 23-year tenure. He joined as a Software Engineer and then went on to become the Head of Global Business Development and, eventually, Chief People Officer. Gopinath graduated from the University of Calicut with an MBA and from Mahatma Gandhi University with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.
9. David Landsberg
Chief Financial Officer, Panda Restaurant Group
David Landsberg is the Chief Financial Officer of Panda Restaurant Group. He leads the finance, accounting, strategy, and tax groups, manages the company’s banking relationships, and searches for investments and acquisitions. He was formerly the Vice President of Real Estate-West and Vice President of Business Planning, responsible for leading Panda’s strategic and annual planning process.
His previous experience includes roles as Senior Associate of the Windsor Park Group, a boutique strategy and acquisition consulting firm, Assistant Vice President at Tokai Bank of California, and Assistant Vice President at City National Bank. Landsberg has an MBA from UCLA Anderson School and a Bachelor of Science in finance and political science from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
10. Tomas Kokko
EVP and Chief Financial Officer, Harbor Freight Tools
Tomas Kokko is the EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Harbor Freight Tools. During his 13-year tenure, Kokko has helped drive a cumulative annual revenue increase of around $4.5 billion per year over the past decade, coupled with higher operating profit margins leading to increasingly higher levels of record profitability.
Previously, Kokko was a Senior Management Consultant at Bain and Company. Before that, he was an Investment Associate at D.B Zwirn and Co. Earlier in his career, he worked with Credit Suisse First Boston as an Investment Banking Analyst. Kokko earned an MBA in finance and strategy from UCLA Anderson School of Management and an undergraduate degree in business administration and finance from Ivey Business School at Western University.
11. Abigail Lovell
Chief Sustainability Officer, Experian
Abigail Lovell is the Chief Sustainability Officer of Experian. She assumed her role of leading Global Corporate Responsibility in April 2017, adding to her responsibilities overseeing Shared Marketing functions for North America, which she has led since 2014. Lovell is currently driving to expand Experian’s corporate responsibility efforts and investment. She oversees the global social responsibility and social innovation program, which positively impacts business performance and employee engagement. She's been with the company since 1997.
Lovell graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts in marketing and English.
12. Sudarsan Thattai
Chief Information Officer, Lineage Logistics
Sudarsan Thattai is the Chief Information Officer of Lineage Logistics. Thattai is responsible for all facets of the company’s information technology. He and his team focus on optimizing technology to drive customer value, expand service capability and make a global impact.
Previously, Thattai served as SVP of IT Services at UTi Worldwide and held technology leadership positions at Cisco Systems and DFS Group. Earlier in his career, he was the Head PMO of APAC at Thomson Multimedia. Thattai has a master’s degree in management of IT from the University of Sunderland.
13. George Bedar
Chief Information Officer, LA Fitness
George Bedar is the Chief Information Officer of LA Fitness. He first joined the company in 2005. Previously, Bedar was a program manager at Microsoft. Before that, he was the CIO at CKE Restaurants, Inc. Earlier in his career, he worked with CACI International Inc as a Program Manager. Bedar began his career in the Marine Corps, where he served in a variety of roles during his 20 years of active duty. This included Supply Clerk and A-6E Intruder Naval Flight Officer to Master Instructor of Computer Science at the U.S. Naval Academy. Bedar earned a master’s degree in computer science from Stephen F. Austin State University and an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Houston.
14. Bret Johnsen
Chief Financial Officer, Spacex
Bret Johnsen is the Chief Financial Officer of SpaceX, an American spacecraft manufacturer, launcher, and satellite communications corporation headquartered in Hawthorne, California. Johnsen oversees the long-term financial development of the company, interfacing with the financial community and managing the company's internal financial operations.
Before joining SpaceX, Johnsen was a CFO at Mindspeed Technologies, Inc. Before that, he was the VP and Corporate Controller at Broadcom. Earlier in his career, he worked with Coopers and Lybrand as an Auditor. Johnsen graduated from San Diego State University with a master’s degree in finance and from the University of Southern California with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
15. Ron Japinga
Chief Executive Officer, Guitar Center
Ron Japinga is the Chief Executive Officer of Guitar Center. He was previously the Executive Vice President of Supply Chain at the company, where he shared his vast knowledge of retailing throughout the company to positively influence Guitar Center's overall performance.
Before Guitar Center, Japinga had an 8-year career at West Marine, where he was the Executive Vice President of Merchandising, Planning, and Logistics. Prior to that, he was a VP-level executive with Kohl's Department Stores. Before this, he was at DFS Group Limited and Macy's. Japinga graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in aviation technology.
16. Yagnesh Vadgama
President and COO, Magellan Health
Yagnesh Vadgama is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Magellan Health. He has been with Magellan for over six years. Currently, as the Vice President of Autism for Magellan, Vadgama oversees both the autism and ABA (applied behavior analysis) products for Magellan nationally. His team of BCBAs and licensed clinicians provide a unique experience in ABA UM as they all have a similar experience to Vadgama with real-world experience. He also engages in the decision-making process for ABA both at Magellan and nationally, with participation in work groups such as ICHOM, speaking at conferences and universities, and developing outcome measures for the field of ABA.
Previously, he was at Beacon Health Options as a Clinical Manager. Before this, he was at McRory Pediatrics, Love 2 Learning Consulting, and Autistic Children Education Services (ACES). Vadgama graduated from National University with a master's degree in human behavior and UC Irvine with a bachelor's degree in psychology and social behavior.
17. Ginny Davis
Group Chief Information Officer & Chief Strategy Officer, Technicolor
Ginny Davis is the Chief Information Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of Technicolor. She joined Technicolor in 1996 and worked her way up through various IT leadership roles before finally becoming the CIO of Technicolor USA in 2005. By 2007, she was promoted to CIO. Today, she’s responsible for the development, execution, and leadership of group strategy for enterprise information technology and cybersecurity.
Before joining Technicolor, she spent five years in the pharmaceutical industry at McKesson, leading the deployment and management of various technologies. Davis is an active member of the following organizations, Kudelski Security Advisory Board, Convergence Technology Council for Media and Entertainment, Women in Technology (WITI), and the CIO/CISO Academy at UC Berkeley. Davis has a degree in computer information systems from the University of Michigan, and in 2005 she completed the Executive Management program at London Business School.
18. James Xu
Chief Technology Officer, GUESS?
James Xu is the Chief Technology Officer of GUESS? Inc. Xu first got his start in 1993 as a mainframe developer at Guangzhou Zhiyu Software, Ltd. From there, he went on to CCD Online Inc. before eventually rising to Senior Programmer and Analyst at The Wet Seal Inc, which was his most recent position before joining GUESS. Xu graduated from the Institute of Guangzhou Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), with a Ph.D. in organic geochemistry. He also has a master’s degree in geochemistry from Nanjing University China as well as an undergraduate degree in geology.
19. Peter Casciani
Chief Financial Officer of North America, Ticketmaster
Peter Casciani is the Chief Financial Officer of North America at Ticketmaster. He first joined the company in 2010 as Vice President of Financial Planning before going on to become Senior Vice President of Finance.
Previously, Casciani was a Senior Director of Finance at Live Nation Entertainment. Before that, he was the Director of Finance and Business Planning at Disney. Earlier in his career, he worked with Disney Interactive as a Senior Manager of Finance. Casciani graduated from Loyola Marymount University.
20. Greg Morris
Chief Commercial Officer, Entegris
Greg Morris is the Chief Commercial Officer of Entegris. In this role, he’s responsible for all customer-facing aspects of the company. During his 20-year tenure, he held numerous roles of increasing responsibility, including as President of Data Storage and VP of Global Field Operations.
Before joining Entegris, Morris was a General Manager at Entegris Upland. He ran a wholly-owned subsidiary, responsible for all business functions, IT, finance, engineering, and manufacturing. He graduated from Albion College with an undergraduate degree in economics and accounting.
21. Brian Krakower
Chief Information Officer, BJ's Restaurants, Inc.
Brian Krakower is the Chief Information Officer of BJ's Restaurants, Inc. Prior to joining BJ’s, Krakower served as Chief Technology Officer for Restaurant Revolution Technologies, a restaurant order management technology solutions company. Before this, he was employed by California Pizza Kitchen, Inc., operator and licensor of casual dining restaurants, as Vice President of Information Technology. Krakower previously served as Senior Director of Information Technology Corporate Systems for The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated and worked at House of Blues Entertainment as its Senior Director of Information Systems and Technology. Krakower graduated from the University of California, Riverside, with an undergraduate degree in math and computers.
22. Chris Poydenis
Chief Revenue Officer and Partner, Influential
Chris Poydenis is the Chief Revenue Officer and Partner at Influential. He’s responsible for generating and managing revenue streams and cultivating Influential's relationships with agencies, brands, resellers, and Fortune 500 partnerships. He also leads the company’s sales team implementing strategies to generate various revenue streams.
Prior to Influential, he oversaw celebrity endorsements at Premiere Networks and was a Media Sales Executive at iHeartMedia. Before this, he was the Assistant to the Vice President of Motion Pictures at Imagine Entertainment and an Agent Trainee at WME. Poydenis graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
23. Michael Trento
Chief Customer Officer, Monster Energy
Michael Trento is the Chief Customer Officer of Monster Energy, a producer, and supplier of energy drink beverages. Trento joined the company in 2005 as Vice President of Sales, National Accounts West. In this role, he managed a large network of regional and national account managers, directors, and administrators. He helped increase EBITDA and improved expense control via the implementation of the budget and standard cost systems.
Before joining Monster Energy, Trento was a National Account Executive at 7up/RC Bottling. In this role, he balanced operating budgets and implemented strategies to drive revenue and increase shares. Trento graduated from Citrus College.
24. Gina Murphy
Chief Revenue Officer, Beautycounter
Gina Murphy is the Chief Revenue Officer of Beautycounter. Murphy is an experienced Chief Revenue Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the consumer goods industry. She joined the company in 2012.
Before Beautycounter, Murphy was the Vice President of Sales at Arbonne International. She provided strategic direction for two departments and managed a team of 12 responsible for sales incentives, recognition, sponsoring training, and field development programs. Before this, she was the Vice President of Sales at Dove Chocolate Discoveries and Vice President of Communications and Events at PartyLite Gifts, Inc. She's also worked at Tupperware, Open Invitation, The Longaberger Company, The Dollywood Company, and Chi Omega Fraternity Executive Headquarters. Murphy graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with an undergraduate degree in English and history.
25. Keith Brandon
Chief Marketing Officer, Hardware and Home Improvement, Spectrum Brands
Keith Brandon is the Chief Marketing Officer of Hardware and Home Improvement at Spectrum Brands. He first joined the company in 2012 as a Sales and Marketing Director. During his 10-year tenure, Brandon has had numerous roles of increasing responsibility, serving as Sales and Marketing Vice President and Marketing Vice President before going on to assume his current role.
Previously, Brandon was a Sales and Marketing Director at Stanley Black and Decker Inc. Before that, he was an Operations Manager at Honeywell. Earlier in his career, he worked with Dnaa Incorporated as a Manufacturing Automation Development Engineer. Brandon earned an undergraduate degree in industrial technology from Murray State University.