Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
Just 14 months ago, 55 business professionals began the Eller Executive MBA program in Phoenix. Now, as they graduate, we checked in with them to see how their experience in the program affected their careers.
“During the program, we went on an international trip to China and Japan,” says Lee Woodward (MBA ’07). “In September, my company [Honeywell] approached me about a regional HR job based in Shanghai.”
On the trip, the students met with executives doing business in China, and Woodward says the experience gave her insights into critical challenges and other talking points during the interview process. Now, she and her family are in the process of relocating to Shanghai, where they will be permanently based starting the first week of January.
Brian Gill (MBA ’07) also changed jobs when the program wrapped up. “My ROI from the Eller MBA program has been pretty significant in that I went from being a mid-level manager to a CEO in a new organization,” he says.
Gill is CEO of Sonora Behavioral Health, which was founded in 1994, but was recently acquired by Haven Behavioral Healthcare. The organization provides treatment services for individuals with behavioral and chemical dependency issues.
“I recently started in that role and I can honestly say that I’m using the tools and skills I learned in the Eller MBA program immediately,” Gill says.
Woodward has also found that she’s using material from class on the job. “There was a conversation at work about absorption costs because our inventory dropped,” she says. “I knew that conversation. My business acumen is stronger now, and that allows me to participate.”The experience also left her with unanticipated benefits: “Probably the biggest thing for me, especially being a woman in business, is that this is the first time I’ve had a network of women professionals outside of my own workplace.”
In November, 450 Eller undergraduate juniors took part in a communications case competition judged by Tucson-area business leaders.
The business students reviewed a case about the 2006 E. coli outbreak in Taco Bell restaurants. Then, in teams of four and five, they recommended a communications strategy for Taco Bell leaders. Public administration students worked in teams with local nonprofit organizations to create funding proposals for real initiatives.
“From my perspective, this competition is one of the most rewarding aspects of the Eller education,” says business communication instructor Randy Accetta, who organized the event on behalf of the Business Communication program. “The students get to see the risks and rewards of their work through the perspective of outside judges.”
Amrietha Nellan (BSBA Business Economics ’09) was on one of the winning teams. “I have to say that working with my team through the entire process was the most beneficial aspect of this competition,” she says. “It allowed our team's interaction and goals to extend beyond what we normally are required to achieve in other team projects. It was also an exciting way to channel our competitive spirit.”
Lon Huber (BSPA Public Management and Policy ’09) was on a winning public administration team — he and his group worked on a grant for an elementary school and Big Brothers Big Sisters. “My biggest takeaway from the competition was the realization and verification of how far I have come in my two-and-a-half years of giving presentations for Eller classes,” he says. “From a bumbling freshman who always forgot his lines to a relatively smooth-talking, persuasive, and passionate speaker, I have come a long way.”
“Overall, I thought the students were very well prepared,” says Bill Viner, president of Pepper-Viner Homes, and one of the competition's 50 judges. “They were confident, composed, and comfortable in their presentations and did an excellent job communicating their thoughts. It was fun to be around so many bright, engaging young adults.”"The opportunity to apply everything we've learned for the semester is by far my biggest takeaway from the competition,” says Clayton Hamilton-Alexander (BSBA MIS ’09). “The feeling I had after the presentation helped dull the growing pains of the course. And it reaffirmed my avoidance of fast food!”
Over the past semester, graduate students in management information systems (MIS) have been analyzing and developing IT solutions for Tucson companies and nonprofit organizations.
“I am a big fan of experiential learning,” says assistant professor Alexandra Durcikova, who developed and teaches the course. Each semester, she identifies local companies that face specific IT challenges. “I’m looking for projects that match what I’m teaching in class,” she explains.
Durcikova divides the class into diverse teams, taking into account experience, gender, and even country of origin. The teams review one-page summaries from the companies and then bid on the projects. She makes the final assignments, and the students work closely with the companies throughout the semester.
“Most of the students have a good understanding of the technical side,” Durcikova says. “The goal is to get them to think about the big picture of business. What is it that the client wants to achieve? How can technology support the business strategy?”
“Our team sought to identify how Raytheon Missile Systems can measure the value of its knowledge management initiatives — specifically communities of practice and wikis and blogs,” explains John Wahlman (MBA and MS-MIS ’09).
“It’s a great learning experience on both sides,” says Raytheon Six Sigma expert Daniel Kuz. “The students offer new thinking around subject matter and help us modify our practices accordingly.”
“My biggest takeaway was a fairly in-depth knowledge of knowledge management best practices," says Wahlman. "Raytheon also provided training and certified our team in the methodology of Raytheon Six Sigma.”
In addition to learning about business process, Durcikova says the students also learn about working with clients. “As a project progresses, the team will find that the client may need something slightly different than they originally thought, and the scope changes,” she explains. “We work with a lot of case studies, but this is an experience I could never create in the classroom!”“It’s a great forum for knowledge sharing,” says Kuz.
Changing corporate culture isn’t a safe bet, and it isn’t as simple as issuing a memo. But Louise Francesconi — president of Raytheon Missile Systems — already knows that, because she’s done it.
In October, Francesconi spent an evening with undergraduate and graduate students in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program on topics including the need to take risks on innovation and the importance of knowing your own strengths in building a successful career.
Francesconi has headed up Raytheon’s Missile Systems division since 1996. In that role, she set up a department charged with developing technology that will eventually replace the company’s current products. “We want to own the technology that will make our current missiles obsolete,” she told the students. “The stock market is driven by growth, and that can come at the top line or the bottom line. We don’t want to cut our way to growth, we want to grow our way to growth.”
She also exhorted the students to identify their core competencies. “Don’t give in to the temptation of a title and a raise,” she said. While she was a manager in financial planning at Hughes Missile Systems (later acquired by Raytheon), Francesconi was offered a promotion to HR director. She turned it down because she knew that the aspect of her job that she loved wouldn’t be there: “I loved using numbers to tell a story no one could see.”
When she started at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Francesconi says the odds were stacked against her — she was the youngest person to fill the role, she didn’t have a technical background, and she was working in a male-dominated industry. These odds didn’t slow her momentum. “I’m not ambitious, I’m competitive,” she said. “The biggest thing I’ve done here is create an environment where people can learn and take risks.”
This year, the Eller College offered its first course through The University of Arizona’s collaboration with the Yangtze International Study Abroad (YISA) program and the Nanjing Normal University in China.
Students from the Eller College and other colleges at The University of Arizona participated in the international management course, which was taught by Bob Tindall, associate professor emeritus of management and organizations.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for students to learn from case studies of U.S. and European firms that are conducting operations in China, but also to learn about the globalization strategies of Chinese companies expanding to become large multi-nationals,” explains Tindall.
“Professor Tindall's class was a great way to get my foot in the door of studying international business,” says Nicholas Barry, a pre-business sophomore. “I'm interested in pursuing the international business certificate once I gain professional admission to Eller, so I figured this would be a good way to start.”
Students analyzed U.S. firms including Motorola, Kodak, General Motors, and Coca Cola, as well as European multinationals such as Spanish apparel company Zara and communications firm Ericsson-Panda.
“The China study abroad program as a whole is a wonderful way to gain further insight into Chinese culture,” says Barry. “I am set on employment that involves travel and international trade. The more experience I can gain while in school, the better.”
“This course is a way for the Eller College to extend its presence internationally, and expand its international activities,” says Tindall. “It also lays the groundwork for undergraduates to spend a full semester or a summer in China.”
The YISA program offers other UA classes in China, on topics including political science, Chinese studies, and anthropology. Interested students should go online to YISA-china.org, or contact Scott Bird at sbird@YISA-china.org.
According to a Federal Trade Commission survey, an estimated 10 million Americans discovered that they were the victims of some form of identity theft in 2003.
Businesses are increasingly concerned about how to ensure that consumer information is secure. Now graduate students at the Eller College have the opportunity to meet the marketplace need for professionals with IT security savvy by acquiring Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) certifications through their coursework.
“CNSS certificates are mandated by the Department of Defense, and are becoming more important to corporate leaders charged with protecting the security of their data,” explained Eller College IT director Lance Hoopes. “Eller College graduate students who complete the certification will be better equipped to identify IT threats, and more skilled at risk management and analysis.”
Hoopes, along with Roberto Mejias, Faculty Fellow and management information systems lecturer, and Jay Nunamaker, Regents and Soldwedel Professor in MIS, worked through a rigorous application process to submit two courses to CNSS in August. The courses were recently approved for official certification.“These CNSS certificates are an important first step in establishing the MIS department as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance,” said Nunamaker. “Acquiring this status ensures that the College is sending executives to the marketplace who have a better understanding of the threats and risks to information systems.”
At the annual Economic Outlook, Eller economists Marshall Vest and Gerry Swanson cautioned that the Arizona economy may already be in recession. The nation’s economy is also struggling to overcome multiple shocks, including the downturn in housing markets, turmoil in financial markets even beyond sub-prime mortgages, and skyrocketing oil prices.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season won’t give way to accommodate the coming end of the tax year, but now the Eller College has introduced a quick, easy way to remember your alma mater in your charitable giving: secure online donations.
Whether you are the parent of a current student, or an alumnus who wants to give back to the learning community that helped shape your career, your gift will benefit the next generation of business leaders.
You can direct your gift to student scholarship funds, to the College’s exceptional team of researchers and teachers, or to the department or program of your choice.
It will just take minutes to give back: Click here to invest in Eller now, or call 520.621.2301 for more information.
This year, the Eller College economics department awarded the first annual Ed Zajac Prize for best doctoral student paper to Joseph Cullen for “Clustering Behavior of Cable TV Firms: Implications on Price and Quality.”
The prize was named in honor of Eller professor emeritus and retired department head Ed Zajac by two of his former colleagues: Bruce Greenwald and Kenneth Kroner.
Greenwald — now a professor of finance at Columbia University — is a noted expert and in-demand speaker on value investing. Early in his career, Greenwald was hired as a research economist by Zajac at Bell Laboratories. “Bruce donates the honorariums from his talks to various causes,” explains Mark Walker, Eller economics department head. “This year, he decided that Ed is his cause!”
Greenwald directed $25,000 to the economics department in Zajac’s name, and then Kenneth Kroner — who taught in the economics department before moving on to Barclays Global Investors — matched that donation to create an endowed gift. “We wanted to do something in perpetuity,” explains Walker, “so we established the Ed Zajac Prize to be awarded at our annual competition for best doctoral student paper.”
Zajac headed the Department of Economics from 1983 to 1991, and taught a core doctoral course for many years. Zajac is beloved by colleagues and students alike. “Here’s something that’s really cool that not many people know about Ed: he created the world’s first computer-animated movie,” says Walker. “Now there’s Toy Story and Ratatouille, but in the beginning there was just Ed.”
Zajac was the first head of the Bell Telephone Laboratories economic research division; but before that he was a Bell Labs engineer. In 1961, he produced a short computer-animated film to demonstrate a satellite stabilization system. The film is cited in books on animation history, and has toured U.S. museums as part of a computers and art exhibition for Syracuse University.
Steven Permut, senior lecturer in marketing, was honored with the Outstanding Module Teaching Award at the November graduation ceremony of the Eller College’s first Phoenix Executive MBA class. The EMBA has 13 modules and over two dozen faculty during an intensive 14-month program for senior managers. This is Permut’s fifth teaching award since coming to Eller in 2001 from the Yale School of Management, where he served on the marketing faculty and was executive director of executive education.
A paper published last year in the Academy of Management Journal by Eller associate professor of management and organizations Joseph Broschak and Alison Davis-Blake (University of Minnesota) was among three finalists chosen by the Academy of Management as best paper this year.
The paper, “Mixing Standard Work and Nonstandard Deals: The Consequences of Heterogeneity in Employment Arrangements,” continues a line of inquiry that Broschak has made one of the foci of his research.
“More and more organizations are using nonstandard employees — temporary or part-time workers — alongside their full-time staff,” he explains. “The question we were interested in was what happened to full-time people who worked with nonstandard coworkers? Does the composition of the workgroup matter?”
It does. Broschak and Davis-Blake discovered that full-time employees in workgroups with larger proportions of temporary workers are less satisfied with their colleagues and supervisors. “This happens for a few reasons,” Broschak says. “One, [having more temporary coworkers] makes their jobs more complicated, since they are always training new people; two, helping temps can get in the way of full-time people completing their work; and three, the jobs of full-time employees have diminished status when temporary workers occupy similar jobs.”
The effects are particularly strong for people at lower levels of the organization because this is where full-time and temporary workers are most similar. “The more full-time employees must interact with temporary workers to perform their jobs, the more likely they are to experience the negative effects,” Broschak adds.
Traditionally, organizations have treated temps as a separate workforce, excluding them from employee-only events and limiting the extent to which full-time and temporary workers interact socially at work. “This has the opposite effect of what they intend,” Broschak says. To ameliorate the negative effects on full-time employees, Broschak found that it was important to encourage social interaction among all workers, and include temp workers in things like holiday parties.“Managers should think more carefully about managing nonstandard work arrangements,” Broschak says. “Treating the population of nonstandard employees as a separate workforce has unintended consequences for everyone. Companies would be better off finding a way to integrate temps into the workplace.”
This fall, McClelland Professor of Accounting Leslie Eldenburg’s research into maquiladoras — or offshore production in Mexico — was featured in The Economist. The full paper appeared in the summer issue of the Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance.
Maquiladora manufacturing is the result of a 1965 production arrangement by the U.S. and Mexico which allows U.S. firms to take advantage of low labor costs in Mexico. On the surface, these reduced labor costs seem like a bottom-line boon to American firms, but Eldenburg’s paper reveals that might not be the case.
“People forget transaction costs, which can be hard to identify and quantify,” explains Eldenburg. Poor infrastructure, workforce problems including high turnover, long lines and red tape at the border, and lack of suppliers in Mexico contribute to the erosion of labor savings. But since these transaction costs are difficult to measure, Eldenburg and her co-authors Francisco Roman (Texas Tech University) and Jenny Teruya (University of Hawaii) compared performance of a sample of firms using maquiladora production against a sample of similar firms not using maquiladoras to generate their results.
“Maquiladoras and their partner firms may want to scrutinize operations,” says Eldenburg. “But our findings represent an average. Some firms, such as those with volatile income or those we define as low-tech, are still benefiting from these arrangements.”
Guillermo (Bill) Quiroga earned his undergraduate degree in sociology, and had a full career in social services before applying to the Eller MBA program.
Quiroga started his career in adult probation, counseling disabled juveniles and adults. Then he got involved with the Model Cities program, and eventually worked with ex-offenders at the state employment office. Quiroga, a member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, also spent time as the director of the Tucson Indian Center. That was when he realized he was ready to consider a graduate degree.
“I wanted to get the tools I needed to find avenues for economic development in the Native American community,” he explains. While in the MBA program, Quiroga was also accepted into the McGuire Entrepreneurship program.
He partnered with Anita "Teena" Hayden to create a business plan around the production of herbal supplements by Native Americans using sustainable growing techniques. “I felt that farming was a part of me,” he says. “We are an agricultural tribe, and this business was something we could do to return to our tradition of growing natural products.”
When Quiroga and Hayden launched Native American Botanics in 1998, the herbal market was booming. It’s since waned, just as organic and locally grown markets have exploded. “When the herbal market went bust, it left a lot of people holding the bag,” Quiroga says. “We were able to weather the storm with federal dollars.”
Quiroga’s years in social services sustained the company: his grant-writing experience has resulted in $1 million in grants over the years. Native American Botanics recently introduced a line of herbal teas, but Quiroga says it’s still a struggling small business.“As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to look at the positive all the time,” he says. “We have a business with a lot of potential, but we haven’t had the success we would like, and I still consider us a startup. We’re looking for a partner to move forward and grow.”
Dawn McCrory, BSBA MIS and Marketing '02, is a senior business process analyst.
Dawn McCrory’s first job after graduation was in marketing, her second was in programming, and now her third combines the two — a perfect match for her Eller degrees in marketing and management information systems (MIS).
As a senior business process analyst with Kyocera Wireless Corp. in San Diego, McCrory is responsible for orders-related Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, ensuring that the company’s orders are fraud-free. “It’s a small department, so I’ve been able to take on a lot of responsibility,” she says. McCrory is the IT contact for her department and helps with troubleshooting and enhancements. “I also manage the intranet, so I get to do some web development,” she says.
She’s been with the company for three years now, after moving to San Diego from Phoenix where she first worked in the events department at Arizona Heart Hospital before taking a position with Computer Sciences Corporation. “While I was there, I worked with ColdFusion on a consulting project for Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson,” she explains.
McCrory says her position with Kyocera is a good mix of her technical and marketing backgrounds. “When I was at Eller, the MIS department focus was on the analytical side, reviewing processes and delivering technical recommendations,” she says, but many of the IT listings she saw on the job market at the time were focused on implementation.
“I didn’t want to get that technical,” she explains. “Kyocera started as a manufacturing company, but now much of that is outsourced.” McCrory cites her marketing background as helpful in understanding how the company is evolving.
Last year, McCrory married fellow Eller alum Craig McCrory (BSBA Business Management ’01). “Now we’re planning our second honeymoon,” she says — a trip to Southeast Asia.