Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
On November 2, more than 250 Arizona-based entrepreneurs, businesspeople, investors, and university faculty and students gathered for a day-long workshop to explore the critical steps in commercializing new technology.
This is the ninth year of the event, says IdeaFunding chairman Larry Hecker. This year was a different approach in that it was a partnership with the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College and the UA Office of Technology Transfer.
The McGuire Center and the Office of Technology Transfer brought in the Invention2Venture workshop, explains McGuire Center director Sherry Hoskinson. Invention2Venture was designed by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) in conjunction with the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The workshop content is complemented by the expertise of local speakers.
Sixty-five entrepreneurship students participated in the event, says Hoskinson. The Kauffman Foundation also provided 33 scholarships for innovating faculty to attend.
The IdeaFunding conference also annually recognizes an individual with the Thomas R. Brown Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. "The first recipient was Tom Brown" says Hecker. "He was the prototype, the perfect example of what we are trying to promote." Brown developed the technology that would form the basis of his successful, Tucson-based Burr-Brown Corporation in his garage. The company was sold to Texas Instruments in 2000.
This year, IdeaFunding presented the award to Sarah Smallhouse (MBA '88), Brown’s daughter and a trustee of the Thomas R. Brown Foundation. "You don’t have to be the head of a company to provide meaningful support to entrepreneurs in the community," says Hecker. The Thomas R. Brown Foundation supports technology and management excellence and has made a significant difference in Southern Arizona by funding faculty positions and student scholarships.
Smallhouse had expected to present the award to someone else. We turned the tables on her, says Hecker. He and Kauffman Foundation president Carl Schramm made the official presentation.
Students from 21 universities — including schools from Canada, China, and Mexico — gathered at the Eller College on October 26 and 27 for the annual International Ethics Case Competition.
“Business professionals face ethical dilemmas large and small throughout their careers,” says Paul Melendez, director of the Ethics and Honors Undergraduate Programs and a School of Public Administration & Policy lecturer. “The competition grew out of the need to prepare students for that reality.”
Each university sent a team of two students to formally present their analysis of an ethical case, authored by Melendez and distributed in advance. Teams examined a proposal for a bank to offer loans to illegal immigrants using IRS-assigned Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, a legal practice with significant ethical gray areas. Students considered the bank’s potential revenue vs. risk, as well as factors including neighborhood revitalization and public perception as they prepared their recommendations.
In the first round of the double-blind competition, teams were divided into regions, and gave presentations to a judging panel of business leaders. That afternoon, the four regional finalists presented to the full judging panel and an audience of nearly 200 students.
“Four finalists emerged from the 21 teams,” says competition judge and Department of Economics executive-in-residence Bill Bowen. “There were five teams in the region that I judged, and though we ultimately selected BYU to go forward, it was close. There were some darn good teams.”
Philip Arias and Sarah McMullin of Brigham Young University ultimately took top honors, winning a $1,500 cash prize to split, and the University of Wyoming came in second. “It was a horse race between one and two,” says Bowen. “BYU was even better in the longer regional round, but they demonstrated that they understood the case, developed a conclusion, and made a strong impact in presentation.” He notes that they were one of the few teams to come out in front of the podium and engage the judging panel with eye contact. McMullin, he says, didn’t even use notes during the team’s engaging presentation.
University of Washington came in third, and University of North Dakota came in fourth. The University of Texas-Austin and Pennsylvania State University each won Bright Line awards for arguing highly ethical positions.
Announcing the Eller College Arizona Youth Entrepreneurship Award Sponsored by 1st National Bank of Arizona
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of 1st National Bank of Arizona, the Eller College of Management is recognizing entrepreneurially-minded high school students across the state.
“We want to demonstrate that anyone can be entrepreneurial,” says Eller College associate dean Pam Perry. “If a student has an interest and the right resources, he or she can turn an idea into reality.”
"An entrepreneurial approach to strategy and problem-solving is essential to success in any industry," says R. Patrick Lamb, BSBA Entrepreneurship '93 and president, Mortgage Division of 1st National Bank of Arizona. "It's important to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation of business leaders, and this award does just that."
The Arizona Youth Entrepreneurship Award will recognize six outstanding high school students with cash prizes of up to $2,000 during the College's annual business plan competition in the spring. Like college undergraduates and MBAs, the high school students will develop presentations that they will deliver to a panel of judges including college entrepreneurship students and Arizona business leaders. Business ideas will be judged based on innovation and sustainability, as well as overall presentation.
Student submissions should address questions including what is the problem that the idea solves, what population does it affect, how will the problem be solved, what resources are needed, and how does the student know the venture will work.
Application materials and more details will be available at www.AZBizIdeas.com in early December. Any student currently enrolled in an Arizona high school may enter the competition.
Increased scrutiny in the wake of corporate ethics scandals has underscored the need for effective business communications — and in the court of public opinion, “no comment” can sound a lot like “I’m guilty.”
This semester, first-year MBA students took on a crisis communications assignment in which they represented a medical company that knowingly released defective implant devices. With the company facing a federal criminal investigation and the possible derailment of a planned merger, it was up to the student teams to defend the company’s actions to internal stakeholders — a mock board — and to the media.
“Our business communication lecturer, Diza Sauers, brought in a journalist who grilled us for 10 minutes — an eternity,” says Gabriela Head (MBA ’08). “It is experiences like this that help you toughen up, think on your feet, and develop an enormous sense of awareness and confidence.”
“The students did well overall,” says C.J. Karamargin, the reporter from the Tucson Citizen who grilled the students in class. “The groups that came later did better because they observed the types of questions I was asking.”
“My group was interviewed by CJ at the beginning of the process,” says Courtney Martin (MBA ’08). “We were able to watch the first two groups interview, which gave us expectations of the types of questions that would be asked. CJ took a new approach with each group, focusing on a different facet of the crisis each time.”
“It was challenging for them,” says Karamargin. “They had to defend a corporation that was less than honorable.”
“After I read the case, I found it very difficult to identify one reason why this company should have a license to operate,” says Martin. “After further analysis, we were able to identify ways that the company could reshape the way they do business.”
“The process of managing a crisis involves developing a coherent strategy,” says Sauers. “This exercise showed students the importance of getting on message and controlling the outcome.”
The communications class runs the full first semester of the MBA experience, providing students with a number of real life simulations to assist them in acquiring critical skills that assist in thinking strategically and communicating with success.
“I had never had any training on how to handle crisis communications,” says Chris Gray (MBA ’08). “I learned that statistics may be important, but in crisis communications, they are often of little importance. One must convey compassion to those injured and be extremely well-prepared to handle any possible question."
On October 27, the Eller College of Management and the College of Engineering recognized individuals who have made significant contributions to business and technology at the annual Technology and Management Awards Luncheon.
Donald Paul, chief technology officer of Chevron Corporation, was named Technology Executive of the Year.
“A big challenge for people with technical backgrounds is developing
the broad perspective necessary for making business decisions,” Paul
says. “It’s also a challenge to learn how to develop and nurture
talented people and to share success across the organization."
“I started in research and it was a short time — maybe three years — before I wanted to take on a field project in exploration operations,” he continues. “I was appointed technical supervisor on an exploration vessel.” Paul says that one of the first things he realized was that to be successful, he needed to rely on the expertise of the people he was supervising and develop their trust.
“It was a life-changing experience,” says Paul. “I realized that my academic knowledge was of little value in this real-world setting and I was going to have to engender their confidence in order to succeed.”
Now, Chevron is celebrating the success of discovering a major new oil trend in the Gulf of Mexico, which could be one of the largest domestic sources of oil since the Alaskan pipeline opened in 1977.
Along with Paul, the Eller College of Management honored PIMCO managing director James F. Muzzy (Eller MBA ’63) with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Gem Gravure president and CEO David J. Gemelli (Eller MBA ’72) with the Distinguished Service Award. The College of Engineering recognized Cropper Auto Group owner and operator Gary Cropper with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Bechtel Corporation senior vice president Mary Moreton with the Distinguished Service Award.
For seniors Lauren Liguore (Business Economics, ’07) and Josh Cohen (Accounting and Entrepreneurship ’07), their last year at the Eller College of Management is their first year of a lifetime of involvement. Together, they developed and are co-chairs of the Senior Class Gift project, designed to inspire their peers to stay connected to the Eller community.
“It came about through [undergraduate associate dean] Pam Perry’s university management class,” says Cohen. “The class is a series of projects, and one of them was to identify a problem in the college and find a solution.”
“The problem we identified was low alumni participation,” says Liguore. “The solution we developed is the class gift.” According to Eller statistics, 15% of the college’s 56,000 alumni are donors. Adding to the challenge, the College has lost touch with 20% of alumni.
“What we want to achieve is to change the perception that education is like a transaction where you pay your tuition and then get your degree,” says Cohen.
“At Wharton, there is 98% participation in alumni giving,” says Liguore. “That is because the students view it as a relationship, not a transaction that has a beginning and an end.”
As part of their strategy, Liguore and Cohen developed a giving campaign targeted to their peers. They began by building awareness and giving presentations to classes, using a quiz format. “We’d ask, what percent of your education is covered by tuition,” says Liguore. “At the end of the presentation, they’d all know the answer is 17%.”
Now Liguore and Cohen are planning events to generate pledges and hope to secure nearly 100% participation before May. The commitment they are seeking – a pledge of $50 payable over five years — guarantees that the College will not lose touch with alumni in those critical first years in the job market when young graduates frequently relocate.
In October, they presented their plan to the College’s National Board of Advisors. “The Board members were very positive and made great suggestions,” says Liguore. She and Cohen are planning to coordinate one of those suggestions, a by-major competition for Senior Class Gift participation.
To date, says Liguore, they have reached $3,000 in pledges. But more important than the grand total, says Cohen, is “the culture of leaving your legacy — leaving a place better than when you came to it.”
On October 20, parents and students gathered at McClelland Hall to celebrate the academic achievements of over 500 undergraduates.
“The Salute to Excellence honors business students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher,” says Eller Scholars president Julie McCollom (Accounting with Honors, ’07). In addition to recognizing students of academic distinction, the event recognized faculty-nominated students for their intellectual curiosity, integrity, and active involvement in class.
The five recipients of the first $10,000 McCord Scholarships — Matthew Baum, Sasha Meschow, Amrietha Nellan, Daniel Sands, and Stephanie White — were also announced.
McCollom was the MC for the event, and says she was thrilled to see her peers in the Honors program recognized. “Eller Scholars gives bright students an opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities,” she says. “It’s something I’ve really valued during my time at Eller.”
Through the Eller Scholars, McCollom has attended
the Emerging Leaders conference, an annual networking opportunity
for business honors students nationwide. She says the conference made
her realize the unique qualities of the Eller program: “No other school does anything like
the business plan semester that all Eller undergrads participate in,” she
says. “We call it the hell semester at Eller, but it’s worth
In the past month, three recent Eller College graduates and one Ph.D. candidate have been recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments.
Eric Wu, BSBA Business Economics ‘05
On October 30, Eric Wu got the news: he has been recognized by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the country’s top entrepreneurs under 25. Wu is one of only 25 individuals selected from a pool of 300 nominees.
Wu co-founded LivebyCampus, an online property rental listing service for students, with fellow Eller alum Jon Lange (BSBA Accounting ’05). “LiveByCampus is operational at Arizona State University,” says Wu. “We are currently expanding to Northern Arizona University and The University of Arizona, with a launch date set for December 1, 2006.”
Wu is director of operations for the company. “Our expansion strategy is geographically driven, with plans to expand to all southwest campuses by the end of 2007,” Wu says. “Our revenue for 2006 is expected to be $50,000, $350,000 for 2007, and in excess of $1 million in 2008.”
Will Harris, MBA ‘06
Will Harris, a recent Eller Evening MBA program graduate, was recently awarded the Rotary International Peace Fellowship to earn a master’s in international relations at the Rotary Center in Buenos Aires. “The Eller MBA sparked my interest in economic development around the world,” says Harris. “In particular, an international management class I took with Brent Chrite taught me the challenges that multi-national enterprises face in developing countries. Our class discussions inspired me to dedicate more time to understanding those problems and perhaps someday helping to work in developing countries to foster development.”
The Rotary fellowship is awarded annually to 70 applicants worldwide in a highly competitive process. “I will be attending the Universidad del Salvador, a private university in Argentina,” says Harris. “My thesis will focus on the effects of economic development on peace and conflict in Latin America. I'll be spending the next year working, honing down my thesis topic, reading histories of contemporary Latin American history and economic policy as well as taking Spanish classes.”
Harris is a Wisconsin native who earned his undergraduate degrees in Spanish and history from the UA. He spent two years working for the Arizona State Legislature, then took a position in the UA Human Resources department before enrolling in the Eller Evening MBA program.
He and his wife, Iza Ferreira, a native of Southern Brazil and current UA student, will relocate to Argentina in 2008.
Ling Zhu, Ph.D. ‘07
Ling Zhu, a Ph.D. candidate in Management Information Systems, was recently selected as one of only four National Science Foundation Young Scholars in a nationwide competition by the National Center for Technology and Law. Zhu and the three other Young Scholars — from MIT, Princeton University, and the Woodrow Wilson Center — traveled to Beijing in October to attend the U.S.-China Forum on Science and Technology Policy.
Zhu presented his research on U.S.-China business-to-business e-commerce adoption at Renmin University and the National Center for Research on Science and Technology for Development. “The research is based on survey data collected from electronics and textiles firms in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the U.S.,” says Zhu. “The results of our analysis indicate that industrial and governmental encouragements are the most powerful facilitators at the beginning stage of business-to-business e-commerce adoption.”
Nita Umashankar, BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship ‘03
This month, Nita Umashankar, a second-year Ph.D. student at UT-Austin, was awarded $50,000 to support a nonprofit that she founded called Achieving Sustainable Social Equality through Technology (ASSET). The funding came from the GlobalGiving Olympics, a donation challenge which awards funds to the participating nonprofit project that raises the most money.
ASSET has partnered with non-governmental organizations and corporations to offer computer literacy programs to children of sex workers in India. Currently, ASSET is offering classes in Chennai to 20 children, and hopes to expand to four cities next year. The organization plans to leverage technology to enhance the skill sets of the children and eventually facilitate their employment in the IT sector.
According to a new paper co-authored by Eller College associate professor Barry Goldman and professor Barbara Gutek of the Department of Management and Organizations, blacks and whites file approximately similar percentages of employment discrimination lawsuits.
The authors generated detailed descriptive statistics from previously unpublished Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data. "The data is a survey of all the employment discrimination cases filed in 2005," says Goldman. "Some interesting trends emerged."
Of the total number of cases filed under the primary federal antidiscrimination laws (Title IV, Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Pay Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act), 38.7 percent of suits were filed by blacks and 34.5 percent were filed by whites.
"The perception among many is that these laws are in place primarily to protect blacks," says Goldman. "But what we discovered is that all races seek protection under these statutes. It's the proportion of protections sought that differs by race and by each statute."
For example, blacks filed the highest percentage of discrimination suits on the basis of race under Title VII, whereas whites filed the highest percentage of suits claiming discrimination based on age, gender, or disability. 78 percent of all race discrimination charges were filed by blacks, compared with 9 percent (out of 26,871) filed by whites. However, when they looked at the other three antidiscrimination statutes, the researchers got a slightly different picture. Blacks filed one fifth of the claims under the disability statute (20 percent), equal pay act (22 percent), and age discrimination act (20 percent), whereas whites filed approximately one half of claims under each of these statutes (disability – 54 percent, equal pay – 52 percent, and age – 50 percent).
The paper — coauthored by Goldmand and Gutek, along with doctoral student Jordan Stein and associate professor Kyle Lewis of the University of Texas-Austin — is the first complete review of employment discrimination literature from the past 25 years and will appear in The Journal of Management.
Scott Shapiro began his career in stocks and real estate, but he really hit his stride in the medical industry.
In the wake of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, tax sheltered real estate investments were no longer profitable, so Shapiro was weighing his options. Then he came across a German company looking for pacemaker sales reps.
“They wouldn’t consider me at first because I had no medical background,” says Shapiro. “I came back to them after doing exhaustive research and they took me on as an independent rep on straight commission.”
Then Shapiro formed his own company, Advanced BioMedical Devices, eventually adding a laser for unblocking clogged arteries and an ambulatory EKG monitor to the company’s roster. “I had three people working for me in a four state region,” he says. “And then I sold the company and made a lot of money.”
Shapiro became national sales manager of a surgical laser company, but his entrepreneurial instincts kicked in when he found a biochemist in Australia who developed technology to deliver drugs into the bloodstream via a nanoparticle skin cream.
“It’s called transdermal drug delivery,” says Shapiro. “This method can increase the effectiveness of drugs, lower the dose required, and virtually eliminate potential side-effects in the stomach and damage to the liver compared to drug administration by pills.”
Shapiro formed the company CellMedics, Ltd., based out of Las Vegas, to commercialize the method. “We’re a specialty biopharmaceutical company,” he explains. “Drug delivery is a $50 billion market today and is estimated to be a $75 billion market by 2008. We have a significant product differential advantage entering that market.”
Shapiro says that the company has completed the clinical data gathering phase and is currently working on licensing and strategic partnerships. “We recently applied for and received a grant to fund research in preventing and treating skin cancer,” he says. “And we’re applying for a grant to fund transdermal delivery of protein drugs, such as insulin.”
He says that hundreds of drugs could be formulated for transdermal delivery, including cardiovascular medication, anti-inflammatory drugs to treat arthritis and pain, statins to lower cholesterol, and even aspirin therapy.
“It’s been eight years,” says Shapiro. “We started from scratch, and now it’s gone from an idea to a company with a strong patent portfolio, on the verge of finalizing licensing deals with major pharmaceutical companies.”
Anne Durazo always pictured herself working in the scientific or technical fields, but by the time she entered the chemical engineering program at Villanova University, she also planned to complement her scientific degree with an MBA.
“Lab was always like recess to me,” she says. “But I love to get out and talk to different people, so being in the lab on my own is not my idea of a good day on the job.”
She entered the Eller MBA program in 2004. “I was awarded a great scholarship and I liked the small size of the program,” she says. The location was also a plus – her parents are both UA alums and had recently relocated to Tucson.
Now, she says, “My MBA has given me an overall understanding of business. Along with my engineering degree, I feel I’m prepared to be involved in many different industries and in many different functions.”
Durazo accepted a position in Raytheon’s Business Development Leadership Program earlier this year. “It’s a fast track to management,” she says. “I’m currently in government relations.” Although the rotation doesn’t include lab time, Durazo notes that there’s a definite benefit to a scientific background. “I definitely understand more about the technical side of the company," she explains.
Combining technical understanding with business savvy was something she was able to hone in a summer internship at Los Alamos National Laboratories. "I worked in the Tech Transfer Office in a team of six to coach scientists and local entrepreneurs through the process of starting businesses using their high-tech innovations."
During her time at Eller, Durazo was president
of the National Association of Women MBAs. “You can read a book
and teach yourself a subject without spending the money to get the
degree,” she says. “It’s
crucial to take part in working groups, community events, and extra projects,
because networking and leadership are important strengths.”