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Orange County CEOs named to national Ernst & Young honors

Three local executives were selected as the top national representative in their field

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: November 20, 2012 03:45 PM

Top to bottom: Masimo Corp. Chairman
and CEO Joe Kiani; Mobilitie LLC Founder
and CEO Gary Jabara; Blizzard
Entertainment President, CEO and
Cofounder Mike Morhaime
Ernst & Young, the global professional services and accounting firm, has named the honorees of the 2012 National Entrepreneur of the Year program, held earlier this week in Palm Springs. Three CEOs of locally based companies were named as the national honorees for their respective industry categories

Ernst & Young held its regional Orange County Entrepreneur of the Year awards in June, naming five local executives as the top innovators in the categories of Business Services (John Raymont, founder, president and CEO of Kurion Inc.); Real Estate and Hospitality (Gary Jabara, founder and CEO of Mobilitie LLC); Life Sciences and Public Service (Joe Kiani, chairman and CEO of Masimo Corp.); Technology (Mike Morhaime, president, CEO and cofounder, Blizzard Entertainment); and Consumer Products (Andy Fathollahi, CEO of Incipio Technologies).

Those five executives were included as part of the National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program in Palm Springs this month. The event included a five-day Strategic Growth Forum, where business leaders met to share new ideas and information on a broad range of topics including brand development, healthcare, executive leadership, and more.

Of those five executives, three were named as national honorees, from a field of a total of nearly 250 nominees across all categories. Joe Kiani of Masimo was recognized in the category of Life Sciences; Gary Jabra of Mobilitie LLC was honored in the category of Real Estate, Construction and Lodging; and Mike Morhaime received national honors in the area of Technology.

Kiani’s firm, Masimo Corp., designs and manufactures medical devices, among them an improved pulse oximeter, a device that measures the pulse and oxygen blood level. Kiani joined a firm manufacturing a similar product shortly after earning his master’s degree in engineering from San Diego State University, but was torn between the company’s model for a low-cost alternative and his own ideas for a higher quality design.

“I was surprised they didn’t want to go to the superior option,” Kiani said. “I never really liked the low-price business model because there’s always a way for someone to come along and beat you on cost.”

Despite being offered a CEO role at the company, Kiani left to found Masimo, where, with a lot of hard work he was rewarded with a call from a doctor at Queens Valley Hospital in West Covina in 1994, informing him that, thanks to his product, the physician was able to save a child’s life.

Gary Jabara pioneered the notion of leasing cell tower space for the mobile communications industry, using the commercial office leasing market as a model. His company, Mobilitie LLC, allows cellular carriers to build and expand their coverage in ways that were not previously available to them. Telecommunications companies were usually limited to either buying or building their own towers, or leasing space on existing towers whose owners –– usually competitors –– would place restrictive clauses on their leases. “Our business model allows us to offer infrastructure terms and conditions against which no other firm can compete,” Jabara said.

Mike Morhaime of Blizzard Entertainment revolutionized the online gaming industry his company, which would become an internationally recognized leader in interactive entertainment. Growing from a small gaming firm to one of the largest in the industry, Blizzard has become a global enterprise, releasing several game titles each year to record sales numbers.

Morhaime is credited with developing a unique cultural environment of feedback and collaboration among teams at Blizzard, by keeping development staff involved in the executive decision-making process. Once the development team completes a project, the staff is invited to collaborate with the executive team on the next game project. Being kept “in the loop” gives the creative team a greater sense of ownership on the projects they’re working on, and, exponentially, a number of “game of the year” awards and several “best places to work” honors, according to Ernst & Young.

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