Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
This time of year, I am always pleased when I ask students if they are looking forward to school starting and I hear “Yes!” I take heart that the Eller College cohort creates the kind of community in which students enjoy learning and collaborating with like-motivated friends.
Our job is to ensure that students’ Eller experience allows them to enter business or public management with the confidence and skills for steadily increasing responsibility and career progression.
This year, we plan to challenge our students to grow academically and personally while feeling supported by the faculty and advisors in the Undergraduate Program team.
This week, McClelland Hall is buzzing with energy and enthusiasm. I hope you fondly remember the excitement that the beginning of the fall semester brings.
For students throughout the Eller College, summertime didn’t necessarily mean that the living’s easy — the prime internship season found MBA candidates tackling substantive managerial challenges and undergraduates often getting their first taste of life in the corporate world.
The list of companies that attracted Eller interns this summer is broad — Volvo, The White House Office of Political Affairs, XM Radio, ABC, Sony Electronics, Van Der Moolen, just to name a few – and the experience accrued by the students is an essential step in building a successful career.
We checked in with a few students to see how their internship experiences stacked up.
Hurrem Ergan, MBA ’07
Reporting directly to Jay Geldmacher, the president of Emerson subsidiary Astec Power, and to vice president of strategic planning and business development Scott Ziffra, Hurrem Ergan tackled three major projects for Astec. In two of the projects, he provided strategic advice to the company regarding mergers and acquisitions that could significantly enhance Astec’s business base. “Because of the depth these two demanding projects afforded, they served as a capstone to integrate my professional and educational MBA experience,” Ergan says. “The result was an extraordinary experience in marketing, strategy, accounting, and finance.” Ergan plans to seek a position in the corporate strategy division at a multinational corporation. “My first job at an American organization made me keenly aware of the strategic importance of knowledge in global markets for career development and expanded my international perspective,” he says. “Today, after my internship, I feel confident that my skills and values can translate into sustained success if I take the necessary steps to develop them into powerful leadership tools.”
Michael Reza, MPA ’07
Michael Reza spent his summer working with the California Community Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations and public institutions with funds for health and human services, affordable housing, early childhood education, and the arts. Reza worked across all departments of the organization. “It gave me a 360º perspective of the foundation and its operations,” he says. His main task was assisting in the re-design of the foundation website, creating and editing content, training the staff on functionality, and working with the developers on theme, conceptualization, and more. Reza also worked on an internal task force to develop a new marketing and branding strategy for the organization. But, he says, “The most valuable experience of my internship was not in the projects that I worked on, but an extensive conversation with the president and CEO of the foundation, Antonia Hernandez.” Hernandez was recently named as one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles by LA Times Magazine. “I will take the personal stories, vision, passion, advice, and lessons learned that she shared with me as guiding principals in both my professional and personal development for years to come,” Reza says.
Ryann S. Hackett, Finance ‘07
As a summer associate at JP Morgan Chase, Ryann Hackett served in a support function for the trading desk — she booked trades, worked with sales assistants to ensure that trade specs matched up, confirmed trades with clients, and updated price changes on the company’s securities investments. Hackett also worked on the implementation of a new software system JP Morgan Chase developed to improve profit-and-loss reporting efficiency. “My position in this implementation included defining each step of our business processes for every aspect of trade support: trade capture, pricing, profit-and-loss reporting, risk reporting, reconciliations, value-at-risk reporting, and regulatory reporting,” she says. Ultimately, Hackett would like to work in securities sales. “Trading is much more analytical and complicated than sales,” she explains, “And the best way to differentiate oneself as a salesperson is to truly understand trading methods. So for me, spending the summer getting my feet wet in trading is the best possible experience for my career goals.”
Jarrett Hines, Marketing and Entrepreneurship ‘07
During his time in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) Technology Transfer Division, Jarrett Hines had the opportunity to lead three projects and assist on many others. In addition to his time working on a bio-tech project and on a launching venture which licensed LANL technology, Hines worked with developing company VIA Corp, which has devised a new way to create a semiconducting compound. “These projects all centered around market entry in some way,” Hines says. “I had the unique opportunity to take technologies and go through an aspect of the commercialization process with them. During this process I was able to spend time with many inventors, serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, licensing departments, and the like.” In addition to learning about the critical stages of product development, Hines says he gained insight into common entrepreneurial pitfalls. “This internship let me step into one of the top Department of Energy facilities in the nation and be exposed to the exciting entrepreneurial world of technology transfer,” he says.
Vidya Chellappan, Marketing ‘07
When a family friend told Vidya Chellappan about Anbalayam — a nonprofit home and school for mentally challenged orphan children in a remote village in India — she knew it was exactly what she was looking for in a summer internship. Sustained by the personal funds of one social worker, the institute supports 40 children in a 15-by-60-foot space. “The condition of Anbalayam itself was horrible,” Chellappan says. “The chairs and tables were broken, walls almost torn apart, roof was falling apart.” Her goal was to spread the word about Anbalayam, and generate enough funding to purchase new land in Sirkali so that the children could live more comfortably. Chellappan made regular trips to Chennai to solicit funds from major companies. She also helped identify land in Sirkali on which to build a new facility for the children, and before she left, they were able to put a down payment on the land. Back in the states, she helped organize a Tamil Association event that raised enough money for Anbalayam to pay off the land. “For me, this was a life-changing experience,” says Chellappan. “To know that I’ve done something that can potentially make a huge difference for these children’s lives really was the best gift that I could ask for.”
Justin Miller, MIS ‘07
This summer, Justin Miller interned with The University of Arizona Center for Computing and Information Technology (CCIT), taking part in the implementation of campus-wide wireless capability — not just data but also voice. “My role was to lay out the desired location of the access points on the building blueprints,” says Miller. “After we assigned where the access point would go and everything was plotted, we would contact our contractors and have them start the installation to our specs.” In addition to creating and maintaining documentation of the work — before it had been completed — Miller also created campus-wide maps which have been used online and in presentations to provide weekly status updates. “This internship gave me a chance to work with NEC and Cisco Systems,” says Miller. “Watching their work flow and style has helped me to see what I have in my future in an IT-related career. I also had the chance to network with some of the people I may look to work with next year after graduation.”
In September, the former editor of The Economist — the world's leading weekly magazine on current affairs and business — will deliver the Eller College’s annual Fathauer Lecture in Political Economy.
Bill Emmott — editor of The Economist from 1993 to 2006 — will deliver an address titled “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Making the Case for Globalisation” at 5 p.m. on September 27 in McClelland Hall's Berger Auditorium, with a reception to follow. Reservations are required for this free event: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On August 19, 48 Eller Evening and Weekend MBA and 11 master’s in finance candidates gathered at Crowder Hall to celebrate graduate convocation.
Distinguished faculty awards were presented to associate professor of economics John Drabicki and marketing department senior lecturer Steven Permut.
Of Drabicki, nominating MBA candidate Eric Roberts noted, “His ability to so succinctly encapsulate the concepts presented during class elevated his lectures beyond the ordinary, and his good humor spilled into his examples so naturally as to make one reconsider calling it the ‘dismal science’.”
Nominating evening MBA candidate Georg Haubner noted that three-time faculty award winner Permut led “discussions in class that were based on current business and market issues. They were always very much related to real-life challenges companies are facing today.”
Fletcher McCusker, CEO and board chairman of Providence Service Corporation, delivered the event’s keynote address, and advised graduates that employers are seeking tenacious risk-takers who have honed their entrepreneurial instincts.
“What makes a great pitch is a great entrepreneur,” McCusker told the graduating class. “We bet on the jockey, not the horse. From today on, you are a jockey.”
McCusker founded Providence Service Corporation in 1996. The company provides accessible, effective, community-based counseling and social services as an alternative to traditional institutional care.
On May 2, 2007, the Eller College will honor a faculty member with the first Gary Scrivner Excellence in Finance Teaching Award at the annual A Night with the Stars event. The University of Arizona Foundation funded the award in honor of its retired senior vice president of finance and administration, Gary N. Scrivner.
"I was very pleased and honored that the UA Foundation chose to recognize me with this award," Scrivner says.
Scrivner was instrumental in establishing the Eller College's Applied Portfolio Management Program along with program director Don Seeley and Department of Finance head Chris Lamoureux. In the program, a mixed class of graduate and undergraduate students manages a $750,000 UA Foundation endowment over a two-semester period. The portfolio has outperformed its benchmark since the program's inception in 2000.
"It's a neat program," says Scrivner. "I was glad to be a part of making it happen."
According to Lamoureux, "The program would not have gotten off the ground without Gary's support."
"Now," he continues, "it is one of the most popular classes in our curriculum and has directly affected the ability of our students to get jobs."
From the outset, Lamoureux wanted to ensure that this course was not about picking stocks. It is an opportunity for students to develop an understanding of delegated portfolio management, including client relationships, risk management, and reporting. Since the program’s inception, Scrivner has served on the investment committee of the student managed portfolio, and has met with the class each semester, representing the Foundation's interests as a client.
As such, Lamoureux says, it is fitting that Scrivner's name be associated with an integral part of the finance department's mission.
"The finance department has always stressed superlative teaching," says Lamoureux. "We have to deliver courses that bring the real world into the classroom, and I'm delighted that this award allows us to publicly recognize faculty members who do just that."
Earlier this month, seven Eller College alumni and Eller College Associates were honored by Tucson Business Edge magazine with “40 Under 40” awards.
The awards recognize 40 up-and-coming business and community leaders under the age of 40 — leaders the business journal believes will "take Tucson into a prosperous future."
In recent years, online auction hubs eBay and Yahoo! have introduced “Buy It Now” auctions, which offer the seller the option to set a buy price while listing an item for sale.
Bidders may then either bid in the auction or accept the buy price. A bidder who places a regular bid is uncertain whether he will win and, if he wins, how much he will pay. A bidder who accepts the buy price, however, wins the auction immediately at the buy price.
For impatient bidders, it’s a winning solution. But what motivates sellers to jump on the “Buy It Now” bandwagon and auctions with a buy price?
“At first blush, the concept of a ‘buy it now’ price seems hard to understand,” says professor of economics and Eller College vice dean Stan Reynolds. “Why would sellers want to put a cap on their potential revenue?”
Reynolds and fellow professor of economics John Wooders explored this issue in a theoretical paper, “Auctions with a Buy Price,” which will appear in the journal Economic Theory.
The paper describes how sellers can capitalize on bidder uncertainty by offering a “Buy It Now” price on eBay or Yahoo auctions, and concludes that sellers who offer “buy now” prices may realize a significant increase in revenue. So what is the magic formula for choosing a “Buy It Now” price that will yield the most revenue?
The answer: it depends. Wooders recommends informed experimentation. “You are likely to get market price for a commodity item,” he says. But in the realm of collectibles or one-of-a-kind items, there is significant opportunity to increase revenue through a well-chosen “Buy It Now” price.
Eller economics Ph.D. candidate Quazi Shahriar is currently testing the conclusions demonstrated in Reynolds and Wooders’s paper. “He has collected data from thousands of eBay auctions and will empirically estimate how bidders balance the trade-off between the immediate gratification of purchasing at the buy price vs. the delayed and uncertain outcome associated with auction participation,” says Reynolds.
Shahriar has also conducted experiments in the Economic Science Laboratory to determine whether the theoretical results of Reynolds' and Wooders’ paper are borne out in a controlled setting. The preliminary data indicates that the theoretical research holds up. The auctions with a buy price yielded more revenue than auctions without a buy price, and this difference is statistically significant. In every session of Shahriar’s experiments, the auctions with a buy price yielded more revenue than auctions without a buy price.
Shahriar is also delving into a recent addition to eBay seller options — now sellers can choose to use “best offer” auctions in which the bidders are allowed to submit only a single bid consisting of their best and final offer. “It’s what economists would call a first price auction,” notes Wooders.
Howard Kong earned his undergraduate degrees in math and French from Vanderbilt University, but he says, “Since the job market for French-speaking mathematicians wasn’t great, I began looking at other options.”
An internship with the PGA Tour — working dawn until dusk at eight tournament events — led him to the sports industry, and he secured a position in the Marketing, Licensing, and Promotions Department of the NCAA.
“The sports industry is hyper-competitive,” he says. But a couple things made it less desirable: “The pay isn’t great, and the channels of upward mobility are really hard to work through.”
Kong began considering other options, including a master’s degree in sports administration, but ultimately he decided to explore a broader path by earning his MBA. While investigating MBA program options Kong received a “six degrees of separation” phone call from Robert Davis, first vice president of CB Richard Ellis in Tucson, and a former UA swim coach who sat on the Eller College National Board of Advisors.
Davis worked under Cedric Dempsey, former UA athletics director and president of the NCAA while Kong was there. Nudged by the UA admissions director to make the call, Davis said it was the first time he had to recruit a student in 20 years.
Kong made the trip to Tucson, and eventually enrolled in the Eller MBA program. While at Eller, Davis became his mentor, and created a position for Kong at CB Richard Ellis.
“Bob has been with CBRE for 20 years,” says Kong. “When people think of CBRE in Tucson, they think of Bob Davis and his partner Bill DiVito. It’s been great to carve out a niche, learn, and contribute in that established group.”
At CBRE, Kong is part of a four-person team. “We all work together to divide and conquer,” he says. Now the team’s total projects value over $200 million, a nice feat for a small, but growing town like Tucson.
In addition to brokerage — the core of the company’s operation — Kong says his team focuses on working with investors to place $90 million in investment sales.
Though he’s moved away from the sports industry professionally, Kong still keeps a hand in. He is the chairman for an annual golf tournament at the Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain for Junior Achievement of Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that creates business education programs for K-12 students.
“I got involved with JA as an MBA student,” says Kong. While at the Eller College, he taught classes through the JA program at Mansfield Middle School. But now he is focused on helping the organization reestablish itself as a community leader: the golf tournament he chairs raised $115,000 this year, a notable achievement for a tournament that is only in its second year.
“We’re working to make it the premier nonprofit charity event in Tucson,” says Kong. The Gallery will host the world’s top 64 golfers for the Accenture Match Play Championship in April, which Kong says adds to the prestige of the event. “We want to make sure that our tournament is on par — no pun intended — with its beautiful setting.”
And, he says, it’s a way to be involved in the Tucson community and give back to future generations of business leaders.
One Year Out: Vintage Success