Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
This semester, Eller College students were treated to two conferences that supplemented class work with real-world insights into sales and global trading.
Office Depot Sales Summit Draws Marketing Students Interested in Sales-Focused Careers
For the third year, the Eller marketing department hosted a sales summit, sponsored this year by Office Depot. Office Depot Professor Shankar Ganesan and senior lecturer Vic Piscitello organized the event, which 85 undergraduate and MBA students attended.
“The conference provided an opportunity for students to learn about emerging trends and issues in personal selling and sales management,” says Ganesan. “It also let them test out the waters and connect with people at all levels in the industry — from senior executives to mid-level and front-line employees. So in addition to offering good content, it was a terrific networking opportunity for the students.”
The participating executives came from a variety of industries, including high-tech, television, and pharmaceutical. Keynote speaker Kathleen Perkins, CEO of Optics Report, spoke about her transition from the cosmetics industry to high-tech software, and the commonalities in her approach to sales, exhorting the students to be good listeners when they work with clients.
“I was interested in attending the conference because I knew there were going to be some pharmaceutical sales reps speaking and I am very interested in going into that field,” says Sheree Turner, BSBA Marketing ’08. “I was also able to network with the reps. I got contact information and have followed through in connecting with them after the conference.”
“Overall, the reason I attended the Sales Summit was to gain a greater understanding of possible sales position in the respective industries of the guest speakers,” says Paul Nisson, BSBA Marketing ’08. “My biggest take-away was the diversity of sales positions available within these industries and the possible opportunities that exist.”
Global Business Program Hosts Conference on Business in the Middle East
Sue Umashankar, director of Eller’s Global Business Program, organized the Global Perspectives Conference, the first in a planned series. “The purpose is to introduce the Eller community of students to global trading issues,” explains Umashankar. “This conference focused on the Middle East.”
Liesl Riddle, professor of international business at George Washington University, and Bader Bin Saeed of the United Arab Emirates Embassy, spoke to an audience of undergraduate students interested in international work. Riddle’s research focuses on how social networks contribute to the globalization of emerging markets, particularly the role they play in business associations and foreign direct investment. Bin Saeed is a career diplomat and is currently head of the media section at the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C.
“I attended the conference because I wanted to learn more about global business issues,” says Dyana Reck, BSBA Marketing ’08. “I think the greatest point I took away was that societies are greatly benefitted by engaging in business outside their borders. Countries like the United Arab Emirates are benefiting their people by educating them about global business opportunities.”
“It has always been my goal to work for a corporation with a world-class sales function in an international setting,” says Carmen Taylor, BSBA Marketing ’08, a Spanish minor. “I continue to focus on expanding my knowledge and experiences to lay a strong foundation for such a position and the presentation about the advances being made in the United Arab Emirates at the Global Business Conference helped broaden my perspectives of international affairs.”
Over spring break, a group of Eller undergraduates embarked on the annual New York City Study Tour: Exploring the Networks of New York — an opportunity to visit a variety of firms, especially financial institutions. But this year students got a lot more than they were expecting, since the week they traveled was also the week of the Bear Stearns collapse.
“Visiting New York City during a really turbulent time was interesting to observe,” says Yerbolat Zhumakhmetov, BSBA Finance ’09. “Many people on Wall Street were worried. As some of them shared with us, they were either looking for a new job or doing their best to remain at the current workplace.”
“From a student’s perspective, it was the perfect learning environment to see how large investment banks react to news like that,” says Tracey Wahlberg, Finance and Business Economics ’08. “Seeing trading floors with only moderate trading activity taking place instead of being highly active was something unique. Also, discussing the future of finance with associates and traders from major investment firms on the Street was better than anything a class or book could have taught me.”
Among their activities, the students toured Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, and Citi. “I was able to see first-hand how the floors were organized, how Bloomberg monitors worked, and the specificity of each trader’s realm of expertise,” says Wahlberg. “It really allowed me to connect everything I've learned in my investment and international finance classes to real life.”
Visiting the investment banks was also a highlight for Zhumakhmetov. “My after-graduation goal is to have a career in investment banking,” he says. “The study tour made a significant positive contribution toward that goal. I had the chance to observe the companies not just from their websites, but from the inside: the people on the job, the interaction among them, and the overall environment within the organization.”
Walhberg also felt that the trip was great preparation for her career. “It helped me choose specific areas of finance I am interested in,” she says. “I also established clear goals and timelines for my early steps in obtaining a coveted position in a top investment bank on Wall Street.”
Walhberg will graduate in December. “I am a finance major studying in the west trying to compete for the toughest entry-level positions in finance against kids from Ivy Leagues and schools with major east coast connections,” she says. “This trip gave me the confidence to go up against them, and really made me realize that if I can log the long hours and apply a great work ethic, I can compete with the best of them.”
On March 25, The University of Arizona honored Regents Professor of MIS Jay Nunamaker during Innovation Day at the UA. The award singles out top research faculty and recognizes their achievements in their respective fields.
Nunamaker is an expert in computer-supported collaboration as a way to enable people to work together, communicate, share information, organize ideas, draft policies, and make decisions anywhere, anytime. He founded the Eller College MIS department and led it for 20 years, and is currently director of the College’s Center for the Management of Information (CMI). He also founded the company Ventana Inc., now called GroupSystems.
Nunamaker’s research has wide-ranging applications, including computer-based deception detection. He and CMI director of human communication research Judee Burgoon investigate the latest technologies for identifying people, such as biometrics and retina scans, through research projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Academy for Credibility Analysis, among others.
It’s this body of research that Nunamaker credits with making the UA an attractive partner to the Department of Homeland Security in the agency’s newly formed Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration (COE BSI).
The COE BSI is a $21 million, renewable six-year project that brings together the expertise of U.S. universities, Mexican and Canadian institutions, government agencies, technology companies, and national laboratories to pursue a broad mandate of border-related research, education, and training. The University of Arizona will lead the $15 million research component of the partnership and the University of Texas at El Paso will lead the $6 million educational component. Nunamaker has been appointed director of the COE BSI and Elyse Golob of the UA Office of Economic and Policy Analysis will serve as associate director and oversee immigration projects.
This project will be featured in the upcoming issue of Eller Progress magazine.
This semester, Deloitte & Touche created a case competition for Eller teams comprised of MBA and undergraduate students to challenge their ability to devise effective business solutions in a condensed timeframe.
“Deloitte asked us to solve a real consulting case,” says MBA ’09 Akshat Gupta, who headed up a team of three undergraduates: Danny Hartman, Alan Ajzen, and Christel Rivera. “The client was The Galaxy Group, an international retailer headquartered in New York.”
“The case was about aligning the company’s technology, specifically its website, with its overall corporate strategy in the context of a competitive and dynamic industry,” says MBA ’09 Lucas Young, whose team included undergraduates Ed Laber, Kellen Geselbracht, and Paul Cervantes.
Young and Gupta both say the experience was positive. “We got to work on a real-time consulting case and given the time constraints — only one and a half days — it really pushed us to the limits and brought out the best in us,” Gupta says.
“We had really good skill sets on the team, which made it easy to determine the roles we each would perform,” says Young. “I think that the most important thing that the case competition offered was a chance to see how the skills we are learning at The University of Arizona would be evaluated by members of the business community.”
Young’s team took top honors, splitting a $500 cash prize among the members. In addition, the students had the opportunity to meet Sharon Allen, Deloitte & Touche’s chairman of the board, in an informal roundtable discussion.
“I had a great experience learning from her,” Gupta says. “She discussed her role and experience at Deloitte and fielded questions about Deloitte and the consulting industry as a whole.”“It was very interesting to see the accounting and consulting industries from the perspective of someone of her status,” Young says. “And, as a fellow University of Idaho alum, I was inspired to see how far she has gone in her career.”
Angel investors were on The University of Arizona campus in March for the inaugural Southwest Angel Summit, organized by the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and the Desert Angels of Tucson.
“More than 20 angel investors came from California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona,” said Bob Morrison, executive director of the Desert Angels and mentor-in-residence of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. “Their contributions to regenerating economies and stimulating growth are significant, and we were pleased to provide a venue for them to come together and discuss regional priorities and opportunities for collaboration. The summit was so successful that we will be doing it again next year.”
The investors also participated in the annual Innovation Day at UA. “It was especially exciting to connect these high-level investors to innovating faculty researchers at The University of Arizona,” said Sherry Hoskinson, director of the McGuire Center. “But we were also pleased that they formally reviewed our entrepreneurship students’ ventures in a tradeshow format.”
The angels reviewed more than 20 student teams, and invited top-placing teams Cookie Fusion, Fireguard, LenSense, Renewabuilt Energy, System Green, and UBike to make formal presentations following the tradeshow. After the presentations, students and investors gathered for a recognition ceremony and reception hosted by the McGuire Center and the Desert Angels of Tucson.
“It was an extraordinary opportunity for the students to refine their ‘pitch’ to working investors,” says Hoskinson. “Since the angels evaluated the teams in an expo format, their engagement was unplanned and fluid — resulting in an experience that we could not duplicate in a business plan competition.”
The event was the first segment of the McGuire Center / CB Richard Ellis Spring Venture Development Showcase, which continued April 4 with the semi-final round of the students’ new venture competition, and concludes April 18 with the championship round.
50 Mile Farms is one of 19 exceptional ventures developed this year in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. The project revolves around the concept of urban agriculture.
“Urban agriculture is just growing food in urban areas, close to the end consumer,” says team member Tom Strong, MBA ‘08. “Traditionally, this has been done through community gardens and green roofs. 50 Mile Farms is a development of these approaches on a much larger scale.”
The basic concept is not new to Strong: while working for a natural foods cooperative in Atlanta, he and a friend conceived an urban farming project around hydroponically grown arugula and basil to be sold in the co-op as private-label, local food products. That project did not work out, but when Strong began the Eller MBA program, he found three classmates with similar interests.
Engineer Joshua Scott had previously tried developing a food distribution venture based on improved networks between local farmers; nonprofit manager Courtney Martin had an interest in the alternative-fuels movement; and project manager Patricia Ewanski had investigated sustainability in the construction industry.
Together, the team fleshed out the concept for a venture that would grow food in or near the city to ensure as much local distribution as possible. “Since that means working through supermarkets and restaurants, we needed a growing system that could produce food with the high quantity and consistent quality that those vendors require,” Strong says.
The venture uses a decades-old hydroponic system that could achieve that end, but Scott was able to improve the system by developing a technology to increase productivity and decrease labor. The method is especially effective for growing lettuce. “Lettuce is one of the least locally-grown foods out there,” Strong points out. “Over 85% of all domestic lettuce is grown in the Southwest.”
The team plans to launch the business. “We're hoping that 50 Mile Farms can change the entire model for how food is grown and distributed all over the world,” says Strong. “Our vision is a renewed urban landscape where everyone has easy access to food that's fresh, tasty, healthy, environmentally responsible, and grown within a few miles of where they live. To do that, we have to make our cities into places that can grow lots of food — that are, basically, more like farms.”
In March, The University of Arizona presented Bay Area executive F. Warren Hellman with the 2008 Executive of the Year Award. Hellman is the chairman of private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC, which he co-founded in 1984.
In addition to addressing luncheon attendees from the community, Hellman met with three student groups, including a portfolio management class, entrepreneurship venture teams, and undergraduate leaders. “We believe that private equity is at its best when it is making a real contribution to the health of the company,” he told one of the student groups. “Our current fund, our sixth fund, is investing $8 billion of outside capital, of which $400 million is our own. One thing I’d ask of any private equity investor is how much skin do they have in their own game?”
Hellman and his firm work with sophisticated institutional investors, such as city and state retirement funds and university endowments. Hellman says the companies they purchase become partners, not clients, and that those relationships often become friendships, as is the case with College namesake Karl Eller.
Hellman told the luncheon audience that his greatest accomplishment was building the team at Hellman & Friedman. “We’ve been able to recruit people who try to be the whole package,” he said. “It’s like a pentathlon — you don’t have to be the fastest runner or the best swimmer or the best archer — but you have to perform reasonably well at each. Our team understands that the complete package matters, including their personal passions.”
His own personal passions are many and varied: Hellman is a runner and endurance equestrian rider, and a five-string banjo player. He also founded and sponsors the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
Student recipients of scholarships funded by Jim Click met with the automotive group leader for an informal luncheon in March.
“I found him incredibly approachable, fascinating to listen to, and genuinely interested in the things that we, as recipients, had to say about our studies, goals, and plans,” said accounting major Loren Devine, who plans to enter the Master of Accounting program after she graduates with her BSBA in 2009.
Devine says the scholarship helped her keep her pre-schooler in daycare. Her husband is on active duty in the Air Force, and was deployed last spring and summer. “He returned only days before school started in the fall to the news that he would most likely be redeploying again soon,” Devine says. “With daycare slots difficult to come by, that meant leaving my daughter in the facility for the fall semester and continuing to carry the cost of her care, without the bonus Tom receives for family separation when he is deployed.” Devine’s husband was redeployed just before the start of the spring semester. “This scholarship eased the financial strain,” she says.
Like Devine, business management major Andrew Kewer says the scholarship went a long way to making ends meet. “Without financial help, I would be unable to complete my college education,” he explains. “I am completely self-supporting and receive no assistance from my family. This makes it extremely difficult for me to pay for school, but with help from people in the community, a college education has become a reality and opportunity for me to reach my full professional and personal potential.”
Kewer says he enjoyed the opportunity to meet Click and get insight into his personal life. “I felt that Mr. Click was a caring person, who is very committed to helping people who are placed in disadvantaged positions to succeed,” he says. “I appreciated that he seemed to take a personal interest in getting to know each of us.”“Mr. Click’s father was the role model who ensured that he understood the responsibility we have to make every effort to help those in need,” adds Devine. “He’s devoted to programs that help to further the education of young people who do not have the means, to college students who have struggled to get through school because of life challenges, and to ensuring that graduates with disabilities have an avenue to find gainful employment by making business leaders aware of the intelligence and talent that often may be overlooked.”
For the second year in a row, Amar Gupta, Thomas R. Brown Chair in Management and Technology at the Eller College, has earned a prestigious IBM Faculty award. Gupta was selected for his vision, research, and willingness to share his work in the public domain. IBM Distinguished Engineers Kenneth Day and Kenneth Boyd, of Tucson, Ariz., have worked closely with Gupta as he continues to refine his research on the production model he calls the 24-Hour Knowledge Factory. In February, Gupta also released a new book, Knowledge Reuse and Agile Processes: Catalysts for Innovation.
Trina Callie, assistant dean of the Eller MBA program, co-authored a paper, "The Hiring and Compensation Practices of Business School Deans," which has been accepted by the Review of Higher Education. The paper reveals that business school deans are substantially restructuring full-time faculty, adopting a model that increases reliance on non-tenure track instructors.
As part of the Arizona Blue Chip Leadership Program, finance major Olabamidele Olanubi has been working on an international service project to create a library in Ghana. “When you give back in less fortunate communities, you give people an opportunity to expand beyond their physical boundaries, and towards a brighter future,” he says. Olanubi and his team are collecting books for the project through April 20; contact GhanaLibraryProject@gmail.com for more information.
Catherine Herman, Eller Executive MBA ’09 and director of corporate communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been named an AZ’s Finest honoree by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Arizona Chapter. Herman is one of 20 honorees of the program, which spotlights influential businesspeople from around the state.
Over the past two decades, the percentage of U.S. equities held by institutional investors such as mutual funds and pension funds has more than doubled, says Eller assistant professor of finance Eric Kelley. “I’m interested in how institutional investors influence the market,” he says. “How do these players affect stock prices?”
In two recent papers, Kelley approaches the question from two different angles, one short-term, and one with a longer horizon. The short-term paper, “Institutional Investors and the Informational Efficiency of Prices,” co-authored by Ekkehart Boehmer of Texas A&M, looks at the intra-daily process of how stocks are bought and sold on a trade-by-trade basis. “We found that the more institutional investors are involved, both in terms of their ownership and their trading, the smaller pricing errors tend to be in the short-term,” Kelley says.
In the second paper, “Institutional Investors and Stock Prices: Destabilizing and Stabilizing Herds,” Kelley and co-author Roberto Gutierrez of the University of Oregon investigate herding — when a disproportionate number of institutional investors are buying or selling a stock. Herding can occur for a variety of reasons, for example, institutions may simply be trading on the same information.
“We’re finding an asymmetric effect,” Kelley says of their results. “When institutional investors buy stocks as a herd, prices are pushed away from fundamental values. We observe a subsequent correction over the following two years.” On the other hand, if institutional investors sell a stock en masse, the price tends to decline over the following one to two years, ultimately reaching fundamental value.
“In so far as an investable strategy for the individual is concerned,” he says, “our evidence suggests that it doesn’t make sense to follow institutional investors when they buy as a herd; but if they are exiting a stock that you own, you should do so as well.”
Like a growing number of professionals in highly specialized fields, Christopher Dore saw and seized an opportunity to advance his career with an MBA.
Dore holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology, and his research has focused on Maya archaeology in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. But when he was in school, Dore says, he was undecided about whether to pursue an academic or applied career. He worked for a variety of firms, all the while taking adjunct faculty positions at various institutions, including the UA. “I straddled the line,” he explains. “Then about eight years ago, I decided to focus on the applied route.”
Opportunities were limited for private-sector work in Yucatán. “I fell back on my methodological expertise in geospatial technologies,” he says. “I applied those skills in compliance archaeology in the western United States.” Dore started his own consulting firm specializing in geospatial services — mapping and analysis of features on, and under, the surface of the earth through technology such as satellite remote sensing. “There are two components to archaeological data: what you find and where you find it,” Dore explains. “I was looking at the where-you-find-it part of the equation.”
Dore sold his firm to Tucson-based Statistical Research, Inc., and ran the resulting geospatial department of the company until he was promoted to chief marketing officer. By that time, he had begun to think about going back to school for an MBA. “As my own career progressed and I moved up, I needed stronger business skills,” he says. On the macro level, he also saw the degree as an opportunity to advance in the changing industry of cultural resource management and historic preservation.
“Our industry was created in 1966 with the passing of the National Historic Preservation Act,” he says. “The new demand for archaeological services was initially met by archaeologists in academia and museums. In the late 1970s, though, the private sector began to develop.”
During the 1970s, barriers to entry were low. “A couple of archaeologists and a pickup truck were about all you needed to enter the market,” he says. “We now have a billion-dollar-a-year industry.” An industry-wide transition is now taking place, with the original owner-operators of companies transitioning to retirement.
“I saw the trend and realized that professional management with both business and heritage skill sets would be needed,” he says. Like many specialized fields such as medicine or engineering, cultural compliance firms were often led by individuals with strong technical expertise but limited business skills. “I saw an opportunity to have a foot in both worlds,” Dore explains, “And I soon discovered the new Eller Executive MBA program.”
He entered the first Phoenix class of the program and graduated last year, then accepted a position with cultural resource management firm Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc., based in Eagle, Colo.
Dore credits the Eller MBA with providing him with the skills he needs to lead the company. “I emerged with a good tool set — I had good ideas about new business models, but I didn’t have the tools to make those ideas happen,” he says. He also says the program offered the chance to connect with students from a variety of backgrounds, including government, nonprofit, and large corporations. “I found that the business problems I was having as an archaeologist were not unique,” he says. “I now have access to a valuable network of colleagues from the Eller program who I can count on to give me candid, confidential advice about the business issues I face. This is probably the best program take-away and I plan to take advantage of it for a long time to come.”
Nicole Forzano has an unusual resume. Her professional accomplishments are there, just like you’d expect: academic success in finance, president of the Professional Women in Business Association at Eller, and awards she received through that organization. Then there’s the submission wrestling.
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