Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
In January, full-time and evening Eller MBAs journeyed to Chile and Argentina on an optional trip designed to add a global context to their business education.
“The trip gives our full-time and evening MBA students the opportunity to visit an exciting part of the world and, in doing so, develop a deeper understanding of industry, politics, and cultural nuances of the particular area,” explains assistant dean Trina Callie, who led the students.
“I hoped the trip would expand my knowledge of doing business in Latin America,” explains full-time MBA candidate Derik Robinson. “I am interested in working there, so I appreciated the opportunity to visit so many different businesses in Argentina and Chile.”
“I went on the trip to expand my horizons beyond the world of banking,” says Kathleen Garrison, a district manager with Chase. “You can vacation anywhere, but this type of trip offers valuable exposure to other ways of doing business.”
“One highlight of the trip was the ability to see some major contrasts that exist between Argentina and Chile, two countries that share a very large border,” says Robinson. “There are many differences between the two countries, economically, politically, and culturally, and the tour was able to capture those contrasts effectively.”
“In Argentina, everything is framed by the 2001 economic collapse, which was not an issue in Chile,” says Garrison. “It made me appreciate the financial environment of the country we live in.”Garrison also says that the trip opened her eyes to the poverty problem. “Before, I never understood the impact that microloans could make,” she says. “On the trip, I saw how a $1,000 loan could really change someone’s life.”
In the first study of its kind in Arizona, research economists in Eller’s Economic and Business Research Center found that astronomy and planetary and space science have a $252 million economic impact in Arizona.
"Astronomy and space sciences put Arizona on the map internationally,” says Vera Pavlakovich-Kochi, lead author of the study. “Many relationships with industry, especially optics and defense, are developed by this research."
Pavlakovich-Kochi and Eller research economists Alberta Charney and Lora Mwaniki-Lyman limited the scope of their study to economic impacts associated with research at Arizona’s three universities, astronomical observatories, and related research organizations, such as federal laboratories. They analyzed detailed survey responses from 22 organizations across the state to generate conclusions.
"We defined ‘economic impact’ very conservatively," says Charney. "We looked at the expenditures that were made in Arizona and measured the flow of money once it is re-spent in Arizona." Specifically, they assessed the industry’s job and wage-generating capacity.
Their report concludes that astronomy and planetary and space sciences research had more than a $252 million impact on Arizona's economy in the 2006 fiscal year. During the same period, these industries generated more than 3,300 jobs. The University of Arizona alone contributed $120 million to Arizona’s economy, along with nearly 1,900 jobs.
“We also looked at out-of-state visitor spending and tax revenue,” Pavlakovich-Kochi says. "Even so, we focused on a small part of the picture, and we know there are much larger impacts that we did not include in this study."
The 2008 Financial Times rankings are out, and the Eller College ranks high in entrepreneurship and information technology (IT), coming in at #6 and #9 worldwide, respectively. The Eller full-time MBA program is ranked #27 nationwide.
This month, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship was also recognized in WOMEN 3.0 magazine’s listing of the top 50 MBA programs for entrepreneurship. The Eller Executive MBA was also highlighted in the magazine’s listing of 50 best programs for working professionals. The results were announced in the magazine’s February-March issue.WOMEN 3.0 magazine debuted in 2006, and is a business, investing, and wealth-building resource for professional women.
Last fall, when the media was reporting on the mysterious, widespread disappearance of bee colonies, Gordon Wardell was there — not just with a theory, but with a solution to the problem.
Wardell, an entomologist who has studied bees since the late 1970s, says bee colonies are falling prey to poor nutrition. “Bees are like humans,” he says. “If you’re well-fed and well-rested, your immune system can withstand a lot.” In the absence of good nutrition, bees are susceptible to parasites, microbes, and bacteria.
Wardell has been working on a solution through his company, S.A.F.E. R&D, LLC. “The need for a nutritional supplement was seen in the beekeeping community for years,” says S.A.F.E director of research Fabiana Ahumada-Segura. “We took on the challenge.”
The pair developed a nutritional supplement for bees called MegaBee, then performed studies to assess its effectiveness. An independent lab reviewed MegaBee against other formulations, and MegaBee performed well. “It increased the colony population by 30 percent,” says Ahumada-Segura. “We were excited and decided to take it into the market, but we are scientists; we don’t have a business background.”
“Taking the product off the lab bench and putting it in the marketplace was a scary process,” says Wardell. He built the company from the ground up, starting modestly and gaining traction through Small Business Innovation Research and USDA grants. “I took small steps in building the company and had a clear vision of where I wanted to go,” he explains.
About that time, Wardell and Ahumada-Segura met Jim Jindrick, a mentor at the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship who teaches the Innovation Principles and Applications course, which is open to non-degree seeking students.
“We signed up for the class to hone our business skills,” Wardell says. Jindrick pushed Wardell and Ahumada-Segura to consider licensing production of the MegaBee formula to a commercial milling operation. “We couldn’t just go with any grinding mill,” explains Wardell. “The individual particle size is very important to the formulation and we really needed a company that could mill to our specifications.” Jindrick counseled them to consider licensing for the short term and evaluating down the line. Wardell and Ahumada-Segura found a mill in Yuma that could grind the MegaBee formulation to spec, and they launched S.A.F.E.’s first product in the fall.
Other products are in the works. “It’s a moving target,” says Ahumada-Segura. “We are continuing to improve it and we’re looking at alternative treatments to other bee diseases.”
Wardell says they are currently conducting grant-funded research into eliminating honeybee parasites. “One of the reasons we did end up licensing is that it gives us the opportunity to do what we do best,” he says. “We’re a great research team.”
Urban Institute president Robert Reischauer and AXIA Healthcare Management founder L. Ben Lytle drew full-house crowds at their respective talks at the Eller College.
Reischauer delivered the 2008 Fathauer Lecture in Political Economy, addressing the economics and politics of health care in 2008 and beyond. Reischauer expressed optimism about the climate for change, but outlined significant obstacles to reform, including the need to create a system that can expand access, moderate costs, and ensure quality, objectives that often work against each other in practice.
Lytle presented a talk on health care business opportunities that are arising from demographic shifts. Through a survey of demographic data, Lytle suggests that future generations will be older and more sedentary, as well as more urban, more mobile, more electronically integrated and dependent, and more sophisticated health care consumers. Lytle discussed possible ramifications for business.
Last year, Eller MBA alum Edward Long (’94) decided to give back to his alma mater by establishing an MBA scholarship. “The University was generous to me,” he says. Long worked as a graduate teaching assistant during his time at Eller, and used the MBA program as a springboard to change careers.
“I started as an engineer with IBM,” he says. “I wanted to apply my math skills, but engineering wasn’t doing it for me.” After earning his MBA, Long was accepted into Merrill Lynch’s training program and officially began his Wall Street career. During his six years with Merrill Lynch, Long helped to create the company’s first institutional asset management group.
Then Long accepted a vice president and portfolio manager position with Lazard Freres and Co., LLC in New York, where he co-managed the firm’s $7 billion domestic equity portfolio. In 2005, he joined investment firm Gillespie, Robinson & Grimm in Greenwich, Connecticut.
This is the second year that Long’s scholarship fund has benefited Eller MBAs, but funding is only one way he helps out — he also talks to students when possible to offer career advice and a bit of Wall Street wisdom. “I can offer general guidance and explain how the industry works,” he says. “I can also help them think of unconventional ways of getting into this business.
That was the challenge facing Rich Rochelle (MBA ’07) during his last year in school. “At the time, I was having very little success with my applications to investment firms and, even though my resolve to find a job in the field was strong, there’s no denying that it was a bit discouraging,” he says. “Then I found out that part of my scholarship gift came from Mr. Long and I was just thrilled. It really lifted my spirits to have a direct contact with someone in the industry who had been through the same experience.”
Rochelle contacted Long, and the two set up a time to talk. “He asked me which area I wanted to be in, and I did not have a good answer at the time,” says Rochelle. “That pushed me to research more and narrow my focus.” Now Rochelle is a compliance analyst with PIMCO. “A few months into my new job, I even got a message from Ed on the Bloomberg,” he says. “He had looked me up just to ask how things were going!”
Rochelle says that he left a full-time job to go to school, so the scholarship support was essential and helped him focus. “The implicit moral support in scholarship gifts is perhaps a less considered effect, but it is without a doubt significant,” he adds. “I hope that I can one day meet Mr. Long in person, shake his hand, and thank him once again for making a difference.”
McClelland Professor of Economics Ronald Oaxaca is the winner of the American Society of Hispanic Economists (ASHE) inaugural Academic Achievement Award. Oaxaca’s research examines issues related to underrepresented groups in the American labor market and proposes solutions to these issues.
In her award letter, ASHE president Marie T. Mora cited accomplishments including pioneering the “Oaxaca Wage Decomposition Technique,” now used worldwide to test issues related to wage differentials among racial/ethnic/gender groups; published research on issues related to labor market outcomes among racial/ethnic/gender groups; and serving the economics profession in numerous advisory positions, including as a member and chair of the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups.Oaxaca received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1971 and joined the Eller College economics faculty in 1976. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and honors, most recently the Kalt Prize, given annually to an exceptional Ph.D. mentor in the Eller College economics department.
In December, the Korean Securities Association recognized Eller associate professor of finance George Jiang and co-author Tong Yao with an award for their working paper “The Cross-Section of Stock Price Jumps and Return Predictability.” The award was given at the International Conference on Asia-Pacific Financial Markets in Seoul.
“In this paper, we separate small changes in stock prices from large and infrequent changes, known as jumps, in stock prices,” explains Jiang. “We document that return differences across stocks of different size, book-to-market ratio, and liquidity are largely realized in the form of jumps. The paper further examines the implications of such patterns on asset pricing theory and portfolio optimization.”
Jiang’s research in the Eller College finance department explores applied finance and financial econometrics.
This month, the Arizona City/County Management Association will present its Esser Scholarship Award to MPA student Rebecca Kunsberg at its winter conference in Sedona.
Kunsberg, a second-year MPA, entered the School of Public Administration and Policy program while working full-time at KUAT on campus. She continues part-time for KUAT as well as part-time for the Town of Marana City Management office.
“The scholarship gives me an opportunity to meet professionals in local government and urges me to continue to learn more about regional issues in Arizona,” says Kunsberg.
The Esser Scholarship program began in 1973 in honor of Charles A. Esser, former City Manager of Phoenix. The scholarship recognizes exceptional public administration students at Arizona’s three universities.
Craig Smith — assistant professor in the School of Public Administration and Policy — joined the Eller College this past fall. Smith earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental science along with an MPA. He spent time working as a manager for the federal government before earning his Ph.D.
These interests converge in his research, which includes contract management, collaborative and network management, and environmental management.
“I’m interested in how managers collaborate in government, business, and nonprofits,” says Smith. His work examines individual, one-on-one relationships between people in different organizations. “I’m not trying to map out the network,” he explains. “I’m looking at relationships inside networks to see how people interact across organizational boundaries.”
In his recent paper “Employment, Privatization, and Managerial Choice: Does contracting reduce public sector employment?” Smith and his coauthors studied the so-called shadow workforce.
“There’s an assumption that government contracting has resulted in job loss in the public sector,” he says. The paper, which focuses on local governments, suggests that these jobs have simply changed, and that now full-time employment is shifting to part-time employment. “On the macro level, jobs appear to be shifting away from the traditional civil service model to a more at-will, flexible employment model,” Smith says.
Smith is currently engaged in three strains of research: contract management and examining the human resource implications of contracting for services; contract design and municipalities’ capacity to effectively negotiate cable franchise agreements; and local governments’ considerations in adopting open space policy.
Keith Baron began his career in Washington D.C., took a detour to Kazakhstan, and eventually found his way to Sedona, Ariz.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown, Baron ran a retail photographic lab in Washington D.C. This experience in small business, combined with volunteer work at a GED program, turned out to be a transferable set of skills for economic development work in the Peace Corps.
“I was looking for an opportunity to take on public service work with an extended international challenge,” he explains. Baron spent his Corps service in Kzylorda, Kazakhstan. “I taught business and economics classes at the university there,” he says, and he was already planning the next steps of his own career in business.
“I was pretty sure I wanted to get my MBA, so I applied at the UA while I was still in the Peace Corps,” he says. “I was looking for a state school with a good entrepreneurship program.” Baron says he would like to run his own business one day, but always planned to work for awhile before tackling that goal.
After completing a temporary project for Tucson Electric Power, he joined the Sedona-based Enchantment Group, which operates resort properties in two states. The company has the same entrepreneurial energy that The Fountains offered. “It was exactly what I was looking for,” says Baron. “It gives me additional opportunities. The smaller the company, the more areas I get to take on: capital projects, operational finance, new projects, anything.”
Baron says it’s also given him experience in two different real estate asset classes — senior housing and hospitality. “There is a complex underlying business to running a senior housing community or a hospitality property, and you need to understand both the operational side and the real estate side. They’re two separate skill sets.”With its two thriving properties — the Mii Amo Spa was named the #1 destination spa in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine — Enchantment Group is poised for growth and expansion. “Now there’s opportunity for me to grow with the company,” Baron says.
John Clayton Condon graduated from The University of Arizona with degrees in business economics and mechanical engineering, and knew he wanted to work in the energy sector abroad.
“I spent my first year at ExxonMobil in Houston, and after continually talking to my supervisor, was able to move overseas to my current position with the liquefied natural gas marketing group with ExxonMobil in Doha, Qatar,” he says. “I realized that sometimes taking something as an interim step can get you places you could not reach directly out of school.”
Now, Condon is an analyst in the business support group. “I’m mainly responsible for coordinating our planning efforts, and developing financial analyses that are used to support management decisions.”
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