As Eric Heikkila was packing to leave Hong Kong after a 1997 business trip, he happened to watch a CNN report of a fire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains near the Arcadia home he shares with his Hong Kong-born wife, Sylvia.
After returning to Southern California, he walked into his living room and found his wife engrossed in the reverse – a televised report in Cantonese of news in Hong Kong.
“It’s as though I had stepped into the TV in Hong Kong and stepped out of it at home,” marveled Heikkila, an associate professor of policy, planning and development.
Heikkila tells the story by way of illustrating the subject of a keynote event to be held in connection with “Southern California in the World and the World in Southern California” (SC/W).
A highlight of the six-month-long exposition of USC’s many and varied international links, the Feb. 10 event will explore some of the myriad ways in which the fates and fortunes of Southern Californians are increasingly entangled with those of people halfway around the globe. Addressing the subject will be three prominent businessmen who have prospered by capitalizing on such links:
• Ronnie Chan, the USC trustee who chairs the Hang Lung Development Corp. Based in Hong Kong, the firm is active throughout the world. Chan is a 1976 MBA graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business, and his family recently gave $1 million toward the university’s new Internationally Themed Residential College. In 1995, Chan received the Marshall School’s International Award for Business Excellence. Among other things, the award cited his role as founder and manager of the Morningside Group, a privately held investment concern that invests primarily in industrial companies internationally.
• Jon Jerde, the celebrated urbanist and architect who chairs the Venice, Calif.-based Jerde Partnership International. The firm, which has designed projects on every continent except Antarctica, is currently designing projects in Tokyo, Osaka, Taipei, Warsaw, Hamburg, Milan, London, Salt Lake City, Kansas City and Niagara Falls. Jerde is a 1965 graduate of the USC School of Architecture and sits on the school’s board of councilors. In cooperation with the USC Architecture Guild, his family recently endowed a traveling fellowship for fifth-year architecture students in his name. Meanwhile, friends and associates are raising funds to establish a visiting critics position in his name.
• James McNulty, chairman and CEO of the Pasadena-based Parsons Corp., a full-service engineering and construction company operating across the United States and in 80 foreign countries. With degrees in management, nuclear physics and engineering, McNulty has more than 30 years of experience in technical and administrative direction, including research, development, implementation of major engineering, construction and government programs.
“We tend to get so wrapped up in what we’re doing here and now that we lose sight of our actions’ repercussions abroad,” said Heikkila, director of SC/W and organizer of this keynote event. “Likewise, we often lose sight of happenings around the globe and fail to note their effects here at home. These three eminent speakers will tell how they’ve succeeded by using global and local junctures such as these. They will show us how we, too, can be more successful by recognizing local connections to the broader picture.”
University Professor Kevin Starr, the state librarian of California, will wrap up the afternoon program with summary remarks.
The seminar runs from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in USC’s Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall, Room 101. Admission is free, but reser vations are re quired. Call 740-5728 for reservations or more information.