Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
Undergraduate and MBA marketing students finished the spring semester with exceptional placements in competitions hosted by the American Marketing Association and the American Advertising Federation, as well as annual awards given at the Eller Thinking Forward Conference.
American Marketing Association Collegiate Conference
“For the first time ever, the conference held a competition using SABRE business simulation software,” says Eller AMA chapter faculty advisor Sue Umashankar. “Four undergrad students from our chapter participated in the competition.” The students — Kitty Lang, Mike Schwing, Michelle Donnelly, Jenny Nakashima — placed first in their division of the competition and were awarded $500.
In addition, the Eller chapter of the AMA was one of three recognized with awards for chapter plan and chapter communications. Umashankar says the awards are a credit to the leadership of Eller AMA president Amy Long and vice president Marc Mutnansky.
American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition
In April, the 19 UA students who make up Studio320 competed in the district finals of the annual American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition. This year’s competition charged teams with creating an integrated, youth-focused campaign to reenergize AOL’s Instant Messenger product.
“Studio320 placed third in the competition, and our plans book received the highest score,” said faculty advisor Ed Ackerley. “The students did a fantastic job of representing our school.”
“Studio320 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Chuck Smith (BSBA Marketing ’08). “It pushes all your business knowledge to the creative and technical limits, with the feel of working in a real ad agency.”
Smith is graduating on May 16. “As much as I love the time spent at Eller and the people I've met, I'm very anxious to begin living life in the real world,” he says. “Eller empowers all of its students with the knowledge to succeed in any business task. Looking back on my time at Eller, Studio320 and the competition stand out as some of my most valuable experiences. It's incredible how much we learned without a textbook!”
American Advertising Federation Public Service Advertising Competition
The American Advertising Federation organized a second competition this year for students to create a public service campaign for Heineken USA; and Eller students Hillery Kemp and Danielle Stephens (both BSBA Marketing ’08) placed second nationally with their concept.
“Danielle was definitely the driving force behind working on this campaign,” Kemp says. “She found out about it through an AAF email and we put our heads together over dinner and came up with a concept the Heineken execs really liked!”
Kemp and Stephens received a $2,500 prize and traveled to New York to present their idea to executives at Heineken USA in April.
“It went wonderfully and it was an experience that we can take with us the rest of our lives,” says Stephens. “We even had the pleasure of meeting the CEO and executive brand manager, which was amazing.”
Both Stephens and Kemp are exploring post-graduation career options, and the competition placement adds value to their respective resumes. “I think it definitely shows that our Eller education has allowed us to apply our skills to real-world cases and scenarios,” Kemp says. “We are both extremely interested in the creative side of business, and this competition allowed us to exercise those skills.”
“It is also nice to be able to represent Eller in a competition, and in turn add value to it as a reputable college,” Stephens says.
Thinking Forward Conference
At the fourth annual Thinking Forward conference, the Eller marketing department brought together students, faculty, alumni, and marketing professionals to explore the future of the industry. In addition to presentations from executives with Leapfrog Online and skinny corp/Threadless, the conference included the presentation of awards to four marketing majors as well as doctoral student Tandy Chalmers.
MBA Gabriela Head and BSBA students Marc Mutnansky, Gregory Wayland, and Karin Wurm were all cited for their academic achievements, leadership experience, volunteerism, and work accomplishments. Each was given the opportunity to shadow an executive for the day. Mutnansky and Wayland have both done so; Head and Wurm will shadow Rob Matteucci of Evenflo and Robert Eckert of Mattel, respectively, in May.
Mutnansky shadowed Jay Geldmacher, president of Emerson division Astec Power, over four days, traveling to Germany, Austria, and Scotland in the process. “Some highlights included traveling on the private jet, sitting in on confidential Emerson board meetings, and getting the chance to meet many different high-level executives,” he says.
Mutnansky would like to work in the music industry after graduation, but says the executive shadowing experience gave him a lot of insight into business. “It topped off my experience at Eller by giving me the opportunity to see how real-life business decisions are made,” he says. “I heard many of the vocabulary words I thought I would never use, and it made me appreciate the education I am getting here at Eller.”
Wayland shadowed Jon Schmieder, director of the Denver Metro Sports Commission, in March. “One highlight of the experience was the barrage of planning meetings I attended for the Frozen Four [college hockey final four],” he says. “But what truly made the experience great for me was the people I was able to meet from companies such as Molson Coors, Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain, and the Colorado Rockies.”
After graduation, Wayland will relocate to the Phoenix area for a position with E&J Gallo Winery. “The experience provided me with a lens through which I saw how the post-college world works,” he says. “As someone who hopes to enter the sports industry someday, I loved seeing the industry from a first-hand perspective. It made me appreciate the wide range of topics we cover within the Eller College — you never know what skills may prove useful in real-world work situations.”
Over the winter break, a group of Eller MBA students traveled to Latin America — but the cost of the trip and the timing meant that not everyone could attend. First-year MBA Marco Valencia Sanchez proposed an alternate, shorter trip this spring to his hometown of Hermosillo, Mexico, the location of more than 100 factories and industrial operations.
“Hermosillo is only four hours away from Tucson, so it’s a great opportunity for people who want exposure to different cultures,” Valencia Sanchez says. “Plus, there is huge value added to developing relationships with companies in Hermosillo. It could be a way to open the door to opportunities such as field projects and internships.”
On the first day, the MBAs met with executives with Ford’s Hermosillo plant and on the second day traveled just outside Hermosillo for a site visit at CEMEX. “Members of the national CEMEX management team flew in from Monterrey and other parts of Mexico to give a presentation tailored especially for us on their strategy for expansion and dealing with issues related to production and the environment,” Valencia Sanchez says.After the business portion of the trip, the students traveled to San Carlos for a weekend on the beach. “For many of the students, visiting Mexico was a first — they’d never even been to border towns like Nogales,” says Valencia Sanchez, who also holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from The University of Arizona. “It was an opportunity to destroy the stereotypes they had about Mexican cities and Mexican workers, and I think it changed a lot of perspectives.”
When Eller MBA ’09 Ryan Shaw heard about a Sony Electronics-sponsored case competition at Texas Christian University (TCU), he jumped at the chance to participate.
“Sony is a company that I have always dreamed of working for,” he says. “It sounded like an excellent opportunity to network with my dream company.”
The competition had an unusual format: instead of working within an all-Eller team, Shaw was randomly assigned to a team with students from top business schools around the country. “My team was composed of students from Georgia Tech, TCU, Indiana, and Emory,” he says.
The team tackled a case involving the Sony Reader, a digital book device that uses paper-like e Ink technology instead of a backlit screen. Shaw’s team placed second, beating out teams with members from Harvard, Berkeley, Kellogg, and MIT. He and his teammates split a $4,000 cash prize, and each received a Sony Reader.
Shaw credits some of his success to the first-semester business communications course taught by Diza Sauers. “I received positive feedback from a couple of Sony executives that related directly back to the style that I have honed through Diza's class,” Shaw says.Perhaps most importantly, the case competition gave him a chance to connect with Sony executives. “We had a ton of face time with the Sony execs,” Shaw says. “I was very lucky to have this chance to put my best foot forward. It opened the door for some pretty extensive networking later in the evening, and I was able to express my interest in a career with Sony. I was invited to contact senior executives directly about employment opportunities in the future.”
The McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship capped off another successful year on April 18 with the final round of the annual venture team competition, sponsored by CB Richard Ellis, and the presentation of awards recognizing community members who support entrepreneurship across Arizona.
SkillIT, a Web 2.0 community that connects technology-savvy college students with techno-challenged consumers, won top honors over a total of 19 teams. “The SkillIT team identified the need for affordable computer tech support,” said Sherry Hoskinson, director of the McGuire Center. “The solution was to connect users in need of support with skilled college students through an intuitive web platform.”
Runners up were Cookie Fusion, cookie shops offering baked-to-order goodies with customer-selected ingredients; Fireguard Industries, marketer of the proprietary VIPER fire nozzle, which puts out fires 40 percent faster with 50 percent less water; and uBike Incorporated, automated bicycle rental kiosk systems for short-term commuter use on college campuses. The SkillIT team members shared a $1,000 award.
The McGuire Center also honored area business leaders for their contributions to entrepreneurial growth and Arizona’s economy.
“Since the inception of the McGuire Center in 1985, we have had enormous support and success from Arizona’s business leaders,” says Hoskinson. “This year’s honorees continue the tradition of fostering innovative ideas.”
The 2008 awards included:
The team members behind uBike Inc. may be preparing for graduation and new careers, but they still hope to launch their venture, which was a finalist in this year's CB Richard Ellis/McGuire Center competition. The uBike concept revolves around automated bicycle rental stations designed for university campuses that facilitate short-term transportation for students, faculty, and staff.
“We are still negotiating with The University of Arizona Parking and Transportation Services,” says Peter Reed, sales manager and BSBA Business Management ’08. “We are also in process of seeking funding from investors and applying for several grants.”
The team, which includes Mary Aranoff, Nick Labriola, Andrew Baranowski, and Jesse Miller Murphy, came up with the concept during a brainstorming session. “Nick brought up the bicycle sharing programs that European cities are using to reduce traffic and congestion,” explains Reed. “We thought we could adapt the idea for university campuses.”
The proposal for UA calls for 15 bicycle pick-up and drop-off points spread out over the campus. Users would simply take a bike from one station and drop it off at a station close to the destination, paying with a credit card, uBike membership card, or a UA CatCard. Riders could be charged on a per-use basis, or through monthly, per-semester, or yearly passes. “uBike takes care of all the back-end operations of maintaining, storing, and redistributing bicycles,” Reed says. “We designed the system to work with existing infrastructure, such as Cat Tran, and have plans to expand to off-campus housing within a two-mile radius.”
After graduation, Reed plans to relocate to Newport Beach, Calif., for a job with Slater Builders, Inc. “I also have plans to continue to work hand-in-hand with uBike and all my team members to see that this project launches,” he says.
On April 11, InFocus Strategic Business Consulting, operated by Eller MBA Will Harris, merged with Green Giants Consulting, a company founded by Eller undergraduate alumni Justin Cummins, Andrew Nicholas, and Martin Reed. Both companies provide tools for planning, growing, and financing small business. It’s a point of pride for all four that they were able to create business concepts that allowed them to stay in Tucson after graduation.
Harris opened InFocus in January 2007. He has built a thriving business over the last 15 months by helping local businesses create business and marketing plans and performing strategic planning and marketing research.
"I was surprised by the huge market that was being largely ignored by the for-profit business development community,” Harris says. “Just because a business is small doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need a strategy, financing, or advice. And just because a business is small doesn’t mean it can’t afford professional consulting."
Earlier this year, Harris was awarded a scholarship to study microfinance in Argentina. He connected with the Eller graduates behind Green Giants Consulting, who will manage his client base while he is abroad."We had just finished a big contract creating an updated business plan for a large solar company when we met Will,” explains Reed. “Working with InFocus will allow us to bring sustainability to many more Tucson-area small and medium-sized businesses.”
In June, Eller College namesake Karl Eller will turn 80 — but students, faculty, and staff celebrated early, surprising the entrepreneur and business leader with a birthday celebration on April 17.
Over 200 members of the College community turned out to enjoy ice cream and cake, and listen to tributes delivered by students from the undergraduate, MBA, and entrepreneurship programs, plus MBA alum Howard Kong of CB Richard Ellis and McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship director Sherry Hoskinson. Wilma and the UA cheerleaders were on hand to wish Eller well, and the entire crowd serenaded him with “Happy Birthday.”
“Intel has forged relationships with certain schools to find ways to foster diversity at the college level,” says Henry Corral, Corporate Services Controller for Intel. “Part of the Intel ‘diversity engagement,’ is providing scholarships for deserving students.” This is the third year Intel has provided scholarships for Eller students, and some past scholarship recipients have gone on to secure positions with Intel Finance.
“Intel’s generous scholarship will help me get closer to finishing my degree,” says Nancy Hernandez, BSBA Accounting and Business Economics ’09. “It’s especially important to me, because next year I will not receive some of the financial help I received this year.” Hernandez plans to work toward her CPA after graduation, and cites a long-term career goal of earning a doctoral degree in accounting, where she would focus her research on the nonprofit sector. For the second summer in a row, Hernandez plans to intern with Ernst & Young in Phoenix.
Rae Murillo, BSBA Finance ’10, also says the scholarship will help her continue her education with a lighter financial burden. “I also plan to allocate a portion of the award to my study abroad trip this summer in London,” she says. “I will be taking courses for two weeks and then participating in an internship with a London-based financial corporation for seven weeks.” The plan is in line with Murillo’s career goals: she hopes to secure a job in investment banking or financial advising with an international component.
“For Intel Corporation, diversity at a corporate level is important and something we value from many perspectives,” Corral says. “It’s more than just representation. If you approach any business problem from a diverse perspective, you’re likely to get a better, more comprehensive business solution.”
Congratulations to Eller marketing students Tommy Bruce and Jessica Anderson, who were re-elected student body president and executive vice president, respectively, by the Associated Students of The University of Arizona (ASUA). At the same time, marketing major Jason E. Mighdoll and pre-business student Nick Macchiaroli were elected senators.
Four students from the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity— Julie McCollum, Abby Spachman, Sarah Arroila, and Brandon Kim — joined School of Public Administration and Policy lecturer Sarah Maxwell as judges at the 2008 Better Business Bureau Business Ethics Awards in April. Paul Melendez, director of the Eller Ethics Program and a member of the Better Business Bureau's board, coordinated the students’ participation.
“Almost all of my current research focuses on social and word-of-mouth interactions between consumers online,” says Eller College assistant professor of marketing Yubo Chen. “I also study social networks, which have always been there, but previously happened offline.”
Chen’s three most recent papers explore different facets of these topics: word-of-mouth as a new element of the marketing/communications mix, third-party reviews and marketing strategy, and word-of-mouth versus observational learning.
“Consumers are so connected now because of globalization and technology,” Chen says. “I’m interested in how that influences consumer behavior and corporate strategy.” Even though his research focuses on consumers and firms, Chen points out that online social interactivity has broad applications, including government and public policy. He points to boycotts of the Beijing Olympics as an example. In April, Chinese consumers drove a counter-boycott of French retailer Carrefour after messages spread online alleged that one of the firm’s major stockholders was sponsoring pro-Tibet independence demonstrations.
“Because consumers are so connected, ideas become widespread very quickly, and then a social movement begins,” he says. In a paper published in Management Science, Chen and coauthor Jinhong Xie of University of Florida examine the implications of online consumer reviews for companies. "Pre-internet, companies had almost full control of information. Now online consumer reviews eliminate this capability. This creates a tremendous challenge for firms,” he says. “Companies now need to proactively adopt an open policy, and be more transparent about their products and themselves. This helps them to reduce the potential damage of inaccurate information from online consumers.” At the same time, he says, companies can now gain more control of word-of-mouth; pre-internet, it was not a decision variable for companies.
Today, companies can facilitate word-of-mouth by allowing consumers to publish reviews online, as Amazon.com does. In the same paper, Chen argues that online consumer reviews can function as free “sales assistants” to a company. “No product is a perfect match for everyone’s taste,” he says. “Consumer reviews can help customers identify their matched products and increase their willingness to pay."
Another of Chen’s papers, published in Marketing Science, considers the firm’s strategic response to professional reviews in magazines. “These are the most authoritative reviews, so if you get a bad review, you think your product must be dead,” he says. “But whether the review is good or bad, the firm can base pricing and advertising strategy on the information.” The firm may want to plaster its best-reviewed product with endorsement stickers, but Chen’s theoretical analysis suggests that may not be the best strategy.
“It can contribute to the creation of price wars, and both companies could get hurt,” he says. A company with a poorly-reviewed product might want to lower the price, but the paper indicates that reducing advertising might be the better strategy. “Some badly reviewed products are still a good match for consumers,” he says. “For example, Hummers get bad reviews, especially for gas mileage, but reducing advertising might be a better strategy than lowering price.”
Chen recently completed a follow-up paper that investigated consumer response to word-of-mouth versus observational learning through a natural experiment on Amazon.com. “Interaction between consumers or individuals used to be difficult to study,” he says. “Now consumers interact online, so you can observe and measure these social interactions.”
For Calline Sanchez, working for IBM turned out to be the perfect fit. “It’s like a candy store for me,” she says. “From the moment I walked onto the IBM campus, I knew this was a place offering vast and diverse opportunities."
After graduating with his BSBA in finance, David Baum spent six months traveling Europe. He then purchased an existing company — 1st Signs, a full-service sign company serving the metro Phoenix area — but his first day on the job turned out to be memorable for other reasons. Baum started on September 11, 2001.
Now, he says, “The business is growing at a nice rate; we’ve grown 500 percent in five years.” In addition to serving clients throughout the Valley, Baum says the company works with a lot of national clients and did a number of projects for the Super Bowl.
Baum is responsible for business development and also back-end production, making sure that the company can support its customers’ needs. “There’s a lot that you need to take into consideration with signage,” he says. “There’s the client’s vision versus the landlord’s specs versus the city’s restrictions. It’s a moving target, so it keeps us challenged, and we always try to under-promise and over-deliver.”
He credits the Eller College with getting him off to a good start. “I had a great time at the UA, and it really prepared me for my role in business.”
Through 1st Signs, Baum also works with nonprofit organizations including the Metropolitan Phoenix Boys and Girls Clubs, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, and the Jewish Community Center. “It’s important to get involved in the community,” he says.Last year, Baum had the opportunity to connect with his alma mater — the Eller College selected 1st Signs to produce building signage for its Scottsdale campus. The company’s expertise in navigating Scottsdale city ordinances was key.
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