Born and raised in Orange County, Robin Follman-Otta is a Chief Executive Officer, wife, mother of two, a retired international operatic soprano, educator, and an entrepreneur. Robin performed as one of the top leading ladies in the operatic industry for more than 30 years throughout the world, and is one of the primary leading ladies to come out of Orange County.
Robin has recently been the recipient of the Influential Leader Award in 2018 by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). In 2017, the National Security Organization presented Robin with the Women in Defense “Service to the Flag Award.” Robin was honored by the Girl Scouts of America with the 2017 Celebrate Leadership Award. She was recognized in 2016 by the Orange County Business Journal (OCBJ) with the “Women in Business” Award, and the “Longevity Award – Family Owned Business.” And has received other awards, including Artist of the Year from Arts Orange County; and Outstanding Contributions in Education Through the Arts from the Orange County Department of Education.
Since retiring from the arts world in 2012, Robin has led the team at Markall Inc. as CEO, along with its manufacturing arm, RA Industries, LLC, as a privately held, woman- and minority-owned full-service engineering and fabrication completion center that has operated in Santa Ana, CA, for three generations, spanning more than 60 years. Markall is one of the top fabrication and repair centers in North America with highly refined experience in machining precision parts using exotic raw materials, including cobalt, nickel, Inconel, beryllium copper, titanium and thermoplastics. Markall serves the Aerospace & Defense; Commercial; Energy; Entertainment (Animatronics); and Medical industries and owns and occupies a 70,000 square-foot campus in Santa Ana that incorporates onsite specialized manufacturing facilities and an international repair center. The company also has a presence in Houston, TX, New Orleans, LA and Anchorage, AK.
In addition to managing her family’s manufacturing companies, she functions as Chief Operating Officer for their adventure destination fishing lodge in Alaska, Katmai Lodge along the famed Alagnak River near the legendary Brooks Falls in the Katmai National Park.
Ms. Follman-Otta received her AA degree locally at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Taking advantage of Orange County’s educational resources, Follman-Otta in 2015 earned an Executive MBA degree from Chapman University, and now serves as a Governor on the Chapman University Board of Governors as well as the Board of Counselors for the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University. She continues to support the arts community by serving as CEO of the Follman-Young Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)3 public charity; founder and CEO of the Katmai Lodge Alaska and Markall Inc. Foundation for Disease & Disability Awareness; being an active member of the Segerstrom Center of the Arts support group, Angels of the Arts; as well as acting in an advisory position to Pacific Symphony’s Opera Support Task Force. For the past 2 years, Mrs. Follman-Otta has been designated by the Orange County Business Journal’s (OCBJ) OC500 as one of the most influential people in the Orange County business community.
Q&A with Robin
What is the most important lesson you learned from your parents?
Resilience. Resiliency, pick-up, dust off, keep going. That’s what serves me every single day. In everything you do, do it right the first time and finish it completely. Don’t let things hang. Because then it will haunt you.
What class had the biggest impact on you while at Chapman University?
Since I’ve left, statistics and finance. And that’s because I got through it. And just having knowledge of that gives me great confidence walking into a room.
What was your favorite TV show growing up?
Oprah. I love her, I met her once. I think I was 20 and I was performing. I was in the Disney’s American Teacher’s Awards, and I was one of the performers and she just sat there by herself in the wings. She was wonderful and amazing and inspiring.
What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside work?
My children. Because they’re just, everything that has to do with them I want to take up myself. Whether it be sewing, any project for Girl Scouts. My son, they are my hobby they are what I choose to enjoy every day. For me, I do like to sew, I really enjoy sewing I don’t get to do it very much.