The Eller Times.
Eller College of Management, The University of Arizona (logo). The Eller Times.

March 2006

Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.


In the News.

Entrepreneurship Teams Shine at National and International Competitions

MSDx team.
  MSDx team members (left to right) Simran Nirh, Stephen Bassett, Allan Conger, and Marie Wesselhoft.

MSDx and Original Theory, two entrepreneurship teams in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, took top honors in recent competitions.

Original Theory created a business plan for an online retailer that showcases art from college students nationwide. The business capitalizes on the fact that many people want original art but are unable to afford gallery prices. At the same time, many art students produce mature, compelling work but currently have no way of making that work available to a broad retail market.

The Original Theory team of undergraduate students — Alex Farkas, entrepreneurship; Jonathan Pucciarelli, accounting; Greg Rosborough, marketing; and Stephen Tanenbaum, finance — took first place at Queen's Entrepreneur Competition at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Founded in 1987 as a Canadian competition, the event took on international scope to become the leading business plan competition in Canada. Original Theory outshone more than 50 teams in the 2006 competition, earning the $15,000 first prize.

Original Theory team members.

Original Theory team members (left to right): Stephen Tanenbaum, Alex Farkas, Greg Rosborough, Jonathan Pucciarelli, and a Representative from Queen's Entrepreneurs' Competition 2006.


MSDx's plan is built on a patented technology — introduced to the team by a local investor — that allows physicians and others to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis with a simple blood test. Today, no blood test can detect Multiple Sclerosis — alternate testing is expensive, so the disease is often only "caught" after other possibilities are ruled out, and often well into its progression. The MSDx technique is so simple, it can eventually be offered as a home test with the potential to reach well over 500,000 people a year.

The MSDx team illustrates the potential in combining technology and business education and the benefit of Eller's expanded entrepreneurship education, which is accessible to any student at the UA. The MSDx team brings together students from four domains: Stephen Bassett, an applied biosciences master's student; Allan Conger an MBA student; Simran Nirh, a management information systems master's student; and Marie Wesselhoft, a non-degree seeking student with an MBA and a bachelor of science in medical technology.

The S.E.E.D. competition was founded in 2003 by TechKnowledge Point Corporation and aims to assemble resources to transition venture propositions from class projects into up-and-running businesses. The forum brings the most promising collegiate business plans before a panel of evaluators, early-stage investors, and product development specialists who give students specific input on raising capital and maturing their business concepts.

Second Annual Thinking Forward Conference Brings Marketing Leaders to Eller

Thinking Forward award winners.
  Thinking Forward award winners, left to right: Jessica Kirkland, Daniel Shlossman, Kara Shropshire, Elyse Flynn, Tim Lake, and MBA students Ann Smitthipong and Nicole Akre.

On Feb. 17, the Eller College hosted its second Thinking Forward: Leadership and Innovation in Marketing Conference. The event featured notables from the private sector and academia to share insights and information about some of the most important emerging issues in marketing:

  • David Bell: Co-Chairman, The Interpublic Group
  • John Bardis: Chairman, CEO and President, MedAssets
  • Alaina G. Levine: President, Quantum Success Solutions
  • Anil Menon: Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Worldwide Marketing Management, IBM
  • Stan Tims: Group Vice President of Product Planning and Marketing Operations, Siebel Systems
  • Valarie Zeithaml: MBA Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

The Thinking Forward Conference gives students the opportunity to engage in significant professional networking. During the conference, the Department of Marketing also presents the Thinking Forward awards, which allow outstanding marketing students to shadow executives for a day. The Department awarded the following 2006 student-executive shadowings:

  • Nicole Akre (MBA) - Robert Eckert (BSBA '76), CEO and Chairman of Mattel, Inc.
  • Elyse Flynn - Kelly Goodrich (MBA '84), Vice President of Online Assessment Programs at Harcourt Assessment, Inc.
  • Jessica Kirkland – Fred Studer, Vice President of Product Marketing at Oracle Corporation
  • Tim Lake - Jay Geldmacher (BSBA '91), President of Astec Power (Hong Kong)
  • Daniel Shlossman - Executives at Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
  • Kara Shropshire - Tom Kalinske (MBA '68), CEO and Chairman of Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.
  • Ann Smitthipong (MBA) - Rob Matteucci, CEO of Evenflo Company, Inc.

Building Executive Expertise

Leadership and Negotiation Strategies for Executives.The Eller College launches a non-degree, open-enrollment Executive Education program in May aimed at helping business leaders — from top executives to mid-level managers — develop creative responses to increasingly complex issues.

The first program offering, Leadership and Negotiation Strategies for Executives, focuses on refining skills to build and manage work teams and negotiate more successfully. The program will be taught by Russell Cropanzano, professor of Management and Policy, and Barry Goldman, associate professor of Management and Policy.

“As one of the nation’s up-and-coming business schools, our work inherently requires that we stay abreast of the shifting demands of organizational leadership. Tailoring that knowledge to the market to serve today’s leaders benefits all of us,” said Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College of Management.

Leadership and Negotiation Strategies for Executives will be offered May 15-18 at the Eller College of Management at The University of Arizona. Visit or call 520.621.4008 for information.

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Eller Presents.

Up Close and Personal with Toyota Leader James Press

John Underwood, James Press, and Paul Portney.
  Top: National Board of Advisors chair Jon Underwood (left) and Eller College dean Paul Portney (right) present the 2006 Executive of the Year Award to Toyota's James Press.
Bottom: James Press talks with Eller College undergraduate students.

James E. Press met with MBA and undergraduate students at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa as part of the March 10 luncheon honoring him as The University of Arizona Executive of the Year.

As president and COO of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Press leads one of the most innovative automakers in the world. Eller students had the chance to talk with Press about that experience up-close, asking about his leadership style, Toyota's competition, and how they could distinguish themselves and promote success in their careers.

Press offered advice reflecting the "servant leader" philosophy he adopts, one in which, as a head of the organization, his most important role is to serve the best interests of stakeholders: employees, customers, dealers. "You can learn a lot from sources you wouldn't expect," he told students, in line with this philosophy, relating how some of his best teachers are security guards at the office or people who work in the mailroom.

"The things you need to really do well in business is not what you're learning in school," Press said. "They're things that are inside each of you." For Press, those three things — a positive attitude, enthusiasm, and creative thinking — hold the key to success in any endeavor. Beyond that, look to the future, he advised: "Start with the end. When you retire, what do you want people to say about you at your retirement party? How do you want the Earth to be better off because you were here?"

"Jim is one of the world’s very best executives," said Paul Portney, Eller College dean who worked with Press and Toyota when he was head of Resources for the Future. "His leadership style is unassuming yet produces powerful results. His story is one of a passion for excellence and an immutable respect for others. We can all learn from Jim’s example."

A final piece of advice from Press echoed an important refrain at the Eller College: "Never, never, never give away your integrity. Your integrity is all you have. If you give that away, you have nothing."

Gary Libecap Honored for 21 Years of Leadership

Gary Libecap and Karl Eller.

Gary Libecap, left, and National Board of Advisors member and College namesake Karl Eller, right, hold Libecap's memory box.


The Eller College National Board of Advisors honored Gary Libecap at its spring dinner this month. Libecap stepped down from his position as director of the Karl Eller Center/McGuire Entrepreneurship Program last year, a role he'd held for 21 years.

The new director of the Karl Eller Center/McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, Sherry Hoskinson, paid tribute to Libecap, reflecting on the many years she'd worked with him, having first joined the Karl Eller Center as a student liaison in 1996. In her remarks, Hoskinson pointed to "two things that truly distinguish legacy from simply successful." First, the Center is thriving, a testament to his leadership in creating a sustainable organization still growing in scope and influence. Second, however, Hoskinson noted that the gap created by his leaving, "was, and is, very real. Great leaders who are also great humans, as well as great friends, are very rare."

Libecap was the Karl Eller Center's founding director in 1984. Under his leadership, the program became a national leader and is today ranked #8 and #13 at the undergraduate and graduate level respectively by U.S. News & World Report, and ranked #2 nationally by Entrepreneur magazine. Libecap's work in the field was pioneering, as UA president Peter Likins observed: "Gary Libecap was developing entrepreneurship as an academic discipline long before other schools of business and management recognized the need to adapt their curricula to changing times."

At the dinner, the College presented Libecap with a memory box commemorating his contributions to Eller entrepreneurship, featuring photos of his work with students, faculty, and the entrepreneurship community over the past 21 years.

Robert Frank Illuminates "Expenditure Arms Race" in 24th Fathauer Lecture

Robert Fraink.
  Robert Frank, 2006 Fathauer Lecturer

Which world would you choose? A) You and your family live in a 4,000-square foot house, others live in 6,000-square-foot houses, or B) You and your family live in a 3,000-square foot house, others live in 2,000-square-foot houses.

With this question, economist Robert H. Frank of Cornell University opened the annual Fathauer Lecture in Political Economy on Feb. 23. The answer gets at what Frank describes as an "expenditure arms race" — people in all but the uppermost socioeconomic class channeling money into measuring up to near peers — those in the class just above them — and diverting money from other areas. Families today, for instance, might choose between saving for retirement and sending their kids to an average school vs. sending their kids to a great school but not having enough to comfortably retire on.

These kinds of problems are compounded, Frank argues, by much more swiftly widening gaps between the classes as compared to past years. From 1979 to 1999, after-tax income for the lower 20 percent of society experienced a nine percent increase, while the top five percent of society enjoyed a 201 percent surge. The discrepancies have a cascade effect, Frank observes. The frame of reference for those just below the uppermost class shifts, so people in that group spend more, which in turn shifts the frame for the class below them, and so on.

Frank traces many of the problems Americans face back to this phenomenon: longer hours at work, reduced savings, more private debt, and more public debt as people, feeling financial crunched, are less willing to pay for public services like education, drug treatment and drug use prevention, and programs to ensure quality food, air, and water.

Frank's talk marked the 24th anniversary of the Fathauer Lecture, an event endowed in 1996 by Isabel and Walter Fathauer, who were deeply interested in political, economic, and social issues. Past Fathauer lecturers have included Nobel Prize winners Gary S. Becker, James M. Buchanan, and George J. Stigler; renowned professors James Q. Wilson, Caroline M. Hoxby, John B. Shoven; and Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind.

Eller College dean Paul Portney.

Save the Date

Meet the Dean

Please join us to meet Dean Paul Portney, visit with fellow alumni, and learn about our new Executive MBA Program and other Eller College updates.

April 4, 2006

5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Phoenix, AZ
Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe and Emporium, East Lanai
15205 N. Kierland Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Hosted by Joey Rodolfo,
Director of Men's Design, Tommy Bahama

Drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

RSVP by March 31.

April 6, 2006

5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Chicago, IL
American Marketing Association
311 S. Wacker Dr.
Ste. 5800
Chicago, IL 60606

Drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

RSVP by March 31.

For more information and to RSVP, visit the Meet the Dean website.

Leadership Speaker Series

All are welcome to join us as these accomplished professionals share their personal insights and experiences. Unless otherwise noted, each event is at the Eller College's McClelland Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

March 23
Patrick Kuhse.Patrick Kuhse
Business and Ethics Speaker/Consultant

After running from the international police for years, Kuhse turned himself in and spent four years in prison for a white collar crime. Alarmed that he might end up on the wrong side of the nation’s 75 percent rate of recidivism, Kuhse set about interviewing thousands of fellow inmates to better understand the critical thinking errors that had led to their crimes. Today, Kuhse tours the country, speaking on ethics to students at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and other leading institutions, as well as professionals at corporations such as Boeing and Merrill Lynch Trust Company. Last fall, he was appointed the Eller College Ethics Fellow in Residence.
March 30
Lloyd Sydney.Lloyd Sydney
Director of Human Resources, Bourn Partners, LLC

As HR director, Sydney plays a key role in oversight of Bourn Partners, LLC and its $700 million of properties under development and/or operating management in Austin, Omaha, Phoenix, Southern California, and Tucson. Sydney formerly held HR leadership positions at Thermo Electron and one of Eaton Corporations largest manufacturing divisions. He's also held positions as an HR executive in high technology or biotechnology companies and began his professional HR career at Ford Motor Company and Schlumberger Limited.
Upcoming Speakers
  • April 7: Mark C. Lapman, Ph.D., CFA, CEO, Independence Investments
  • April 13: Jay Geldmacher, President, Astec Power

For information, contact Tammy Farris:

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Ensuring the Future.

Ratoff Family Establishes Three-Year Fellowship

Doris and Steven B. Ratoff have established the Ratoff Family Fellowship at the Eller College. The three-year gift will be awarded to an outstanding associate professor, not yet selected.

Steven Ratoff has long been a supporter of the Eller College. He has served on the National Board of Advisors since 1998, has given financial support to the College through the Business Partners Program, and has served as a judge for Eller's entrepreneurship Business Plans Competition.

Ratoff's early career was with Arthur Andersen & Co. He spent many years in the global pharmaceutical industry, holding top executive positions at CIMA Labs and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

Ratoff went on to serve as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Brown-Forman Corporation before becoming a venture partner with Proquest Investments, a biopharmaceutical venture capital firm.

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Eller's Finest.

Suzanne Cummins in classroom.
  Management and policy lecturer and fellow Suzanne Cummins takes creative teaching to a new and distinguished level.

University Honors Cummins for Creative Teaching

Suzanne Cummins, lecturer and Faculty Fellow in the Department of Management and Policy, was honored this month with The University of Arizona Foundation Leicester & Kathryn Sherrill Creative Teaching Award.

This university-wide honor distinguishes one individual each year in recognition of outstanding innovation and creativity in teaching.

Head of the Department of Management and Policy Stephen Gilliland nominated Cummins as "one of our most gifted, dedicated, and innovative teachers." He detailed how Cummins has gone far beyond professional obligations in order to bring resources to the College and improve student writing skills. "She is truly a faculty member who puts students and their learning experience first," Gilliland wrote in his nomination.

Cummins also created new ways to engage students in class, reinventing "participation" with in-class writing assignments that allow students to work independently or in teams, a method that's proven compelling, lively, and effective. Since implementing the new model, mean test scores in Cummins class have risen ten percent.

Gilliland isn't the only one who appreciates Cummins teaching. Her evaluations from students (incidentally, Cummins teaches 800 to 900 students a year in her Business Law, Ethics, and Society class, literally every undergraduate at the Eller College!) describe her class as "both captivating and enlightening; a stellar combination," and "an excellent primer to law school … a reason to wake up in the morning," and describe her as "one of the best teachers I've had at the U of A — I loved her style, enthusiasm, energy … Teacher of the Year quality."

Outstanding Faculty Recognized for Course Innovations

Judi Doing.
Judi Doing

Sandra Rothschild.
Sandra Rothschild
Cindi Gilliland.
Cindi Gilliland
Kathy Kahle.
Kathy Kahle


Six members of the Eller faculty were honored at the National Board meeting dinner in March.

Dean’s Undergraduate Course Grants were presented to Judi Doing, senior lecturer, accounting; Alan Malter, assistant professor, marketing; and Sandra Rothschild, adjunct instructor, business communication. The College awards the grants to faculty who best propose innovative ways to improve their curriculum.

Doing proposed converting a variety of teaching materials for use on a tablet PC to make her course flow more efficiently.

Malter will introduce videoconferencing to the curriculum of his International Business Environments course, allowing Eller students to work on joint projects with students at a leading higher education institution in Mexico.

Rothschild will use the grant to purchase digital video cameras to record student presentations, facilitating more rapid and frequent feedback and progress tracking compared to recording tools now used.

The Dean's Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence was presented to Cindi Gilliland, senior lecturer, management and policy; and Kathy Kahle and Chip Ruscher, respectively associate professor and lecturer, finance.

The award recognizes excellence in teaching that integrates theory with real-world practice and uses learner-centered education strategies.

Gilliland, whom students consistently give top scores in evaluations, was recognized for a number of initiatives, including using role-play exercises to develop empathy for effective management, and giving students the experiential learning opportunity to develop actual training programs for companies, benefiting them as well as the business community.

Ruscher and Kahle were recognized for their use of case studies to bring together two core finance courses. This semester, undergraduate students in the Corporate Financial Problems course and Investments course teamed up to analyze multiple aspects of the Google IPO, conduct a valuation analysis of the company, and present their findings. The project let students integrate knowledge from the two classes while learning from real-world events.

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Research Report.

Reweighing the Gold Standard in Measuring Sexual Harassment

Barbara Gutek.
  Barbara Gutek, Eller Professor of Women and Leadership

Have you ever been sexually harassed at work? How do you know? How do you define sexual harassment? And was your experience an isolated issue or part of an organizational problem?

The answers to these questions aren't just interesting to researchers, they're vital to judges since U.S. courts first recognized sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination in 1976.

Often sexual harassment cases have relied, in part, on results of the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ) administered to large numbers of employees once a court has accepted a plaintiff's case. The SEQ, a self-report survey, was developed in 1988 and has since been lauded by some social scientists as "the gold standard" in psychometric measurement of sexual harassment and "solid science in the courtroom."

That esteem, however, was ill placed according to Barbara Gutek, Eller Professor of Women and Leadership in the Department of Management and Policy. Gutek has been studying gender and discrimination issues in the workplace since the 70s, before most people had even heard the term "sexual harassment," and when she first encountered the SEQ she immediately thought it had serious flaws.

It wasn't, however, until 2002, when defense lawyers for Dial Corporation asked her to serve as an expert witness testifying on the validity of the survey, that Gutek began a concentrated study of the SEQ.

Acting on behalf of nearly 100 female Dial employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — established in 1965 to enforce then-new Title VII prohibitions against discrimination — and their lawyers had administered the SEQ to Dial personnel in an attempt to prove widespread sexual harassment. The legal team then incorporated the survey's results into a report to be used by one of their expert witnesses.

Based solely on Gutek's in-depth analysis of the SEQ and its findings over the years, the judge in the Dial case ruled the survey evidence inadmissible, noting that the SEQ "presents inherent reliability problems" and "lacks validity" and that these factors and others "render the SEQ scores devoid of any objective meaning."

Gutek and her research team, graduate students Ryan O. Murphy (Columbia University) and Bambi Douma (The University of Montana, Missoula), later detailed the findings that overturned the SEQ's courtroom dominance in Law and Human Behavior (August 2004).

They documented, as a fundamental problem, the fact that researchers used multiple versions of the survey, which was continually evolving. "One study cannot be compared with results from any other study," they pointed out. Also, the survey didn't measure what was "legally" defined as sexual harassment, but rather, a poorly defined construct of the psychological experience of being sexually harassed.

Another key problem: One SEQ question asks, "Have you ever been sexually harassed?" Consistently, far fewer respondents answer "yes" than the number of respondents that "test positive" for having been harassed based on answers to other questions.

The team pointed out serious problems stemming from these and other flaws. Most importantly, they found that the SEQ over-reports the prevalence of sexual harassment. In turn, researchers using it overestimate how many people fail to identify sexual harassment for what it is; they also underestimate the percentage of sexual harassment that's actually reported.

While no one celebrates the killing of sacred cows, Gutek points out that studies like hers are important, even if they seem to set back gains in progressive legislation.

"It's a bit embarrassing to see a poor instrument like this in organizational behavior research," she says. "It's better to fix it from within. We need good, solid instruments for this kind of work. I have no doubt we can do a lot better."

With the SEQ demonstrated unreliable, what recourse do employers or employees have when it comes to managing sexual harassment?

Gutek points out that courts have often emphasized the importance of policy in their rulings. However, it's not enough to simply have any policy in place. A good policy will have clear and easy options for recourse, will give employees opportunities to register concerns with people outside their report hierarchy, and will also clearly outline the actions a company will take to investigate concerns and deal with inappropriate behavior.

Beyond that, companies should ensure that they have "the right people in the right places" for dealing with sexual harassment, Gutek stresses — people who are objective and thoughtful and who take the issue seriously from both the organization's and individual's points of view.

"In general, I'd like to see companies focus more on respect," Gutek adds as a final thought. "That doesn't mean you can't tell a joke, but don't make people the butt of a joke. I once thought that this respect could eliminate the issue." She's since amended that thought slightly, recognizing that some harassment stems from pathologies, not just a lack of respect. "But," she concludes, "I still believe that respect would solve most of our problems."

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Alumni Spotlight.

The "Can Do" Eller Ethic
Trent Jung, MBA '05
Assistant Vice President of Operations and Technology Planning, Consumer Bank Division, Citibank N.A.

Trent Jung.

Trent Jung, MBA '05, rides an "upward spiral" of results in the challenges he faces with Citibank N.A.


On his first day as a management associate with Citibank, N.A. in Japan last year, Trent Jung expected introduction, orientation. It was the Friday before a three-day holiday, a light day. Instead, Trent's boss told him there was a problem in one of their operational units, a problem that had so far proven unfixable. Trent's assignment: Check out their process and come up with a solution.

A little bewildered, Trent wondered if it might be a test, but either way, he was up for it. "It's my first job," he thought. "I'll do my best, that's what I do." He found out who the key people were at that operation, then went to meet with them one by one, introducing himself (he was, after all, a complete stranger) and asking to get on their schedule the following week. It was a long process, stretching Trent's first day out to 11 p.m.

That weekend he worked his network for help — former co-workers, Eller alumni, and others — and put together the skeleton of a plan. The following week, he met with each key person, gathering feedback, revising his plan. After three days, Trent proposed a solution to a problem that had been troubling the organization for years.

That kind of performance pays off: Today Trent is assistant vice president of operations and technology planning for Citibank N.A.'s Consumer Bank division. His supervisor said that Trent is the only person in the company's history to be promoted after just six months, and the new role fits him well. It's a job that nicely combines his former experience, working in IT and enterprise resource planning, with the broader management knowledge gained with his Eller MBA.

"Doing the MBA program, I had a chance to study so many different areas I'd never thought about before," Trent explains. "Now, whenever I get a new assignment, whatever it is, at least it's something I've heard about two or three times in the MBA program. It's given me confidence — I know I can do whatever is given to me."

Beyond just the knowledge the Eller MBA gave him, Trent traces his "can do" attitude back to the program, as well. While everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly, he recalls that his English wasn't up to par. Because of the language barrier, he realized that when a U.S. student might study four hours for an assignment, he would have to study six for the same level of understanding. So he would study eight, making it his goal not just to do as well as others, but the best he could.

As a result, Trent says, he learned that he could accomplish what he put his mind to, as long as he approached it with a positive attitude. "In my work before the Eller MBA program, sometimes I was skeptical and didn't want to get new assignments, I would try to avoid them," he says. The Eller MBA, with an atmosphere that's challenging and supportive, changed all that. "Now I never want to be a freeloader," he says." I want to contribute to my team whatever skills I can offer. I volunteer."

This approach to school, work, and life has created what Trent refers to as an "upward spiral." When you take on something with a positive attitude, the result is good, he explains. That gives you more confidence, which makes you more proactive, more likely to take on additional challenges and succeed. Complaining or just sitting back accomplishes nothing. "Trust me," Trent says, with a final word of advice for current students. "I've done that. It never helps. Try to find something good in every situation."

The Business of Scientific Progress
Tara Monteleone, B.S.B.A. Marketing '05
Business Development Associate, TGen Drug Development Services, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)

Tara Monteleone.
  Tara Monteleone combines her science and marketing degrees in business for cancer treatment.

Ever since she was a kid, Tara Monteleone has had a passion for science. A high school class turned her on to genetics, and though she wanted to work in the sciences, she also knew she didn't want to be a doctor or a researcher spending all day in a lab.

With these reservations in mind, Tara completed two degrees as an undergraduate at The University of Arizona: one a B.A. in ecology and evolutionary biology, the other a B.S.B.A. in marketing from the Eller College.

Armed with an education in both business and science, Tara took a strategic approach to finding a job that would combine the two domains. She checked out the Bio 2005 convention — a huge annual gathering of biotechnology experts and organizations — and looked around for companies in or near Phoenix, the city she called home after leaving Alaska as a young girl.

What she found was the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), where her education and persistence earned her a job as a business development associate last July.

A non-profit organization, TGen is in the business of translational research, the scientific work that takes discovery from the lab to clinical and commercial applications. The company works with scientists from all over the world, pharmaceutical companies from giants down to two-person start-ups, clinicians, and just about everyone else in the web of people needed to take innovation to market.

Tara works for TGen Drug Development Services (TD₂), a wholly owned subsidiary of TGen focused on the development of drugs for treating cancer. The company acts as a sort of super-consultant in drug development, working with scientists researching new compounds, advising them on strategies for development and approval, helping to design studies for FDA pre-clinical and clinical trials, advising them on which compounds hold the most promise, etc. TD₂ adds expertise and experience to the equation for a fee, and the researchers retain intellectual property.

"It's an amazing concept, really," Tara says of the company. Amazing enough that she has no opposition to the extra work her job sometimes requires: the learning curve on the technical side has been steep, and Tara climbs it with "homework," reading and studying nights as needed to better understand the heavy science bantered about in meetings with world-class scientists. For Tara, the return is worth the investment. "I feel honored to be working alongside them," she explains.

Tara traces her willingness to take on that learning curve, in part, to the Eller experience, where students are encouraged to take initiative and go above and beyond basic expectations. "At Eller, you definitely learn to work hard. You develop a strong work ethic," Tara says. You also learn leadership and a willingness to "go out on a limb," she notes, lessons that have led to her taking on more responsibility with every opportunity.

Those opportunities come along often at what is still a very young division of less than twenty employees. "When working for a small company, a start-up, you wear many hats," Tara explains, "everything from ordering food for a meeting to helping to write the business plan." With a mix of bewilderment and satisfaction, she notes that she's currently developing a CRM database, though she never saw herself doing anything IT-related, and adds, "I'd definitely advocate for someone starting at a small company — you learn so much, more quickly."

In the end, the challenges and many hats are all rewarding to Tara, both for the learning opportunities they present and for the pride she derives from her job. "Working here, you feel like you're making a difference in people's lives," she says. "It makes all the hard work worth it."


In the News.
Eller Presents.
Ensuring the Future.
  Eller's Finest.  
Research Report.
  Alumni Spotlight.  



Cutting Edge

This month, Fortune Small Business named the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program among 10 cutting-edge programs across the country, calling it "one of the oldest and most competitive in the U.S."

Learn more.  Learn more.

Eller Executive MBA

Eller's 14-month EMBA for experienced professionals starts August 2006 in Phoenix. Info sessions in Phoenix are April 5 and May 10. Visit to learn more.

Learn more.  Learn more.


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