Recognizing distinguished alumni from Oceanside High School
Born and raised in Southern California, Robert Opiat was dedicated to physical fitness and never lost his love for surfing. Following his graduation from Oceanside High School in 1962, he embarked on a career in the world of business and finance that would take him all over the world. In 1966, he graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics from UC Santa Barbara. He continued his path in higher education at UCLA and the University of Bristol, where he earned a Rotary International Fellowship to the School of Political Economics in Bristol, England. In 1971, he completed his MBA in International Finance at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. Known by his peers as an exceptional talent, he went to New York in 1971 and joined the credit department of Chase. Subsequent positions followed in London and Paris, and then Hong Kong, where in 1978, he formed his own merchant bank. Eventually, he was lured back to Orion Bank in London, a consortium bank in which Chase was a leading shareholder. In 1984, he moved to Midland Bank, with stops in Singapore and Sydney, Australia. Eleven years later, Robert joined the Swiss Bank Corporation, where he founded the Australian chapter of the Chase Alumni Association. During a five-year period in Auckland, New Zealand, he oversaw a retirement village, hospital and nursing home business for Met Life. His return to Sydney included positions as the COO of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and in-house investment banker for the Public Private Partnership business, a subsidiary of Bilfinger Berger AG. Known for his enormous generosity of spirit and keen ability to mentor others, Robert passed away at age 65 on May 2, 2010 in Spoleto, Italy. In the words of one former colleague, his most memorable attributes are likely to be his “considerable personal style, curiosity and genuine interest in people.” He is survived by his wife, Desiree-Ann, and two step-daughters, Estee and Amelia.