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The Eller Times

January 2009 : Happy New Year!

Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.

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In the News.

Eller Students Conclude Semester with Challenging Case Competitions

For Eller undergraduate and graduate students alike, the end of the semester meant putting coursework and presentation abilities to the test in a series of competitions judged by professionals from corporations around the state.

Justin Hart
  First-year Eller MBA student Justin Hart found that the Intel Case Competition tied together the first-semester curriculum.

Intel Case Competition

Eller MBAs come into the program confident about their presentation skills, but in the first-semester Business Communication program, they find out exactly how much polish they need to get to the next level.

Through the Business Intelligence Quotient (BIQ) process, student teams are assigned a company based on their professional goals. Then they take on increasingly complex presentation challenges, all of which are filmed in order to assess abilities and identify areas that need improvement.

The experience culminates with the Intel Case Competition, in which the teams deliver analyst presentations to a judging panel of Intel leaders.

“The case presentations are designed to educate and convince Wall Street analysts to cover our company’s activity to drive stock investments,” explains first-year MBA Justin Hart. “The presentations are an opportunity to demonstrate our knowledge of our BIQ companies, presentation skills, and all the business concepts that we’ve learned during our busy first semester of business school.”

The presentations include discussions around marketing, strategy, and financial analysis — all topics covered during the students’ initial semester in the program and framed through the example of the BIQ company. The top three teams competed for a $5,000 prize provided by Intel.

Forrest Branch, Athena Childs, Matt Nigrelli, Pete Mitelholzer, and Linda Valesquez took top honors working on a presentation using BIQ company AstraZeneca.

“The competition is a great way to tie together all the concepts that we’ve learned so far,” Hart says. “It also sets us up for the spring semester by preparing us for our field projects. It gave me the unique experience of presenting to experienced business professionals and developing ‘big picture’ strategic planning.”

View.  View more about experiential learning in the Eller MBA program.

xACT winning team.
The winning xACT team (left to right): Case Giacomelli, John-Mark Bantock, Kourtney Nelson, Yerbolat Zhumakhmetov, and Dominic Giovannetti, with senior lecturer Phillip Blanchard.  

PricewaterhouseCoopers xACT Competition
By Taylor Albers, Journalism ’12

In November, over 60 Eller students participated in the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Tax and Accounting Campus Competitions (xACT). PwC organized the event to promote collaborative thinking, teamwork, and communication.

xACT focused on general business issues with real-world implications, and students ranging from sophomores to graduate students participated on 12 teams. “We also had terrific support from eight faculty members who served as advisors to each of the teams,” says Elizabeth Pruett of PwC, who organized the event.

The students were given a case that required them to analyze two business scenarios for a utility company that was unable to meet its customers' demands. The first option was to invest $25 billion internally for research and development; the alternative was to acquire a key competitor with a significant supply of resources, also at a cost of $25 billion. The students acted as mock PwC consultants to evaluate the scenarios and arrive at a solution for the company to provide secure, reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy supplies in the short and long-term.

“There were no right or wrong answers and all teams did a great job with their presentations,” explains Pruett. “The winning team had a thorough understanding of the case and clearly articulated the pros and cons of each alternative.”

The first- and second-place teams each received $1,000, while the third-place team received iHome theaters. The winning team members — John-Mark Bantock, Case Giacomelli, Dominic Giovannetti, Kourtney Nelson, and Yerbolat Zhumakhmetov — will have their presentation video submitted to the PwC’s national office for the chance to win a trip to New York City and $10,000.

View.  Learn more about the action learning at the Eller College.

MIS 304 Competition participants, with MIS lecturer Roberto Mejias (left).
  MIS 304 Competition judges and student preceptors, with MIS lecturer Roberto Mejias (left).

MIS 304 Competition

This semester, management information systems and other undergraduate students in MIS 304 found out first-hand how tough it can be for corporations to manage technology in order to improve business practices.

Each team of students was given a Fortune 500 company to work with. The assignment was to choose two application types, research the available software, make recommendations, perform a cost analysis, and develop an implementation timeline. A team of judges from companies including IBM and Raytheon Missile Systems put their conclusions to the test in final presentations.

Marketing senior Serida Fong says her team explored software solutions in debt collection and customer relationship management for their assigned company, American Express. They presented to a panel of judges along with several other teams. “It was really interesting to see how other teams approached their problems,” she says. “Based on how they responded, you could tell who in the team was in marketing, who was in finance, and who was in MIS.”

“The fact that we had outside judges assessing us was really valuable,” she continues. “And now we have a better understanding of how management makes decisions about information systems.”

View.  Learn more about management information systems.

Undergrads, MBAs, and MPAs Turn Managerial Expertise to Volunteer Projects

MIS students lead toy drive.
UA Latin fraternity Lambda Theta Phi members organized a toy drive through the corporate social responsibility portion of their MIS 304 class.  

Any time he speaks with students, college namesake Karl Eller is sure to tell them that “the more you give, the richer you are.” His message is getting through.

In November, some 350 students in business and public administration turned their considerable organizational skills to volunteer and charitable works throughout Tucson.

“We’re currently dealing with economy-wide fallout from corporate decision making that can, in part, be traced to greed,” says Eller College dean Paul R. Portney. “For that reason, it’s especially nice to see that there is a new generation of socially responsible business and public administration students on the way up.”

Eller College Philanthropy

On November 22, 250 undergraduate students volunteered for Tucson nonprofit organizations including the YMCA, Arts for All, and Ben’s Bells. The effort was part of Eller College Philanthropy day. “We approach different nonprofits in the community and explain that we have a huge student workforce that we can deploy to complete big projects,” says Sarah Diaz, coordinator of career initiatives at the Eller College.

Undergraduate students volunteered outside of Eller College Philanthropy, as well. Members of the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity assisted with the Better Business Bureau’s recycling event, Shredfest ’08, in which over nine tons of paper was collected, shredded, and recycled. Ami Doshi and the Eller College Student Council coordinated a food drive with the Community Food Bank (CFB), which resulted in 1,924 pounds of food, or 2,405 meals, according to Jacob Coldsmith of the CFB.

View.  Get more information about Eller College Philanthropy.

Eller MPA Ryan Ball
  Ryan Ball, MPA '10, leads the Basket Brigade.

MPA Basket Brigade

Just before Thanksgiving, first- and second-year MPAs delivered turkey and all the trimmings to five families from the Southside Community School. First-year MPA Ryan Ball brought the idea to the MPA Student Association and collected money and food donations from about 60 MPA students, as well as from faculty and staff of the School of Public Administration and Policy. The collection followed the model established by the Anthony Robbins Foundation's Basket Brigade project. "The spirit of giving and random acts of kindness show the selflessness of the students of the MPA program,” said Ball. “Thanks to their support, along with that of SPAP faculty and staff, the Basket Brigade was a huge success.”

View.  Learn more about the School of Public Administration and Policy.



Larry Hecker and Robert Shelton
Eller MBA admissions director Marisa Cox works on the exterior of a Habitat for Humanity home.
Photo by Amanda Thomas.



Eller MBAs Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
By Taylor Albers, Journalism ’12

Come spring 2009, Darlene Brent will move into a brand new home with her daughter and three foster children, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Tucson, the Eller MBA, and Howenstine High Magnet School.

95 Eller MBA students and staff have been working on Brent’s Habitat home every Saturday since October.  A Habitat home is a simple house built by community members and the future owner of the house. The community raises approximately $80,000 for each home and literally builds the house from the ground up. “Each Habitat office is staffed by wonderful individuals who are very active in the community to raise funds that assist in the completion of a house,” says Kristina Cook, MBA program manager. “The Eller MBA program believes in giving back to the community within and outside of the university.”

The house will be sold to Brent at cost, and her low mortgage payments will help with the construction of future Habitat homes.

McGuire Entrepreneurship at Work.

Business / Law Exchange™ and University Office of the General Counsel Partner on Trademark Seminar

Sherry Hoskinson
  McGuire Center director Sherry Hoskinson.

In order to explore ideas at the intersection of business and law— particularly new ventures — the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and the James E. Rogers College of Law created the Business / Law Exchange™. In addition to offering a mock law firm class, the Exchange has partnered with other organizations to present talks and seminars.

This month, the Exchange collaborated with The University of Arizona’s Office of General Counsel to present an overview of trademark law, available at no cost for business managers and development officers at the University.

“This is the second year we’ve co-sponsored this event,” says UA attorney Steve Adamczyk. About 50 people attended the talk, which featured Christy Hubbard, partner of the intellectual property and technology practice group at Lewis & Roca LLP.

“She did a great job of giving an overview of key trademark issues that are useful to entrepreneurs in naming their business venture, products, and services,” says McGuire Program mentor Jim Jindrick. “I was impressed by the amount of material she covered in just an hour and plan to have her speak to my class this spring. Selecting a name for a product or business is one of the hardest tasks for an entrepreneurial team. Half of our teams this year still haven't settled on a name!”

The event was especially valuable to university employees. “One area that’s confusing to university administration is that they’re often not aware that we already have strong trademarks at the University,” says Adamczyk. “We’ve worked hard to create and protect these trademarks and administrators can use them as well.”

View.  Listen to the presentation as a free podcast at the UA iTunesU portal.

Alumni Update: AZ CarMart Connects Sellers and Buyers of Used Cars
by Taylor Albers, Journalism '12

AZ CarMart founds Josh Berger and Travis Hannon work with a client.
AZ CarMart founds Josh Berger and Travis Hannon work with a client.  

Josh Berger and Travis Hannon, 2002 McGuire Program alums, identified a need in the Tucson community and recently launched a new business to meet that need: AZ CarMart.

The company facilitates private party vehicle sales by renting out display and transaction space in one central location. Each weekend, buyers and sellers of cars, trucks, boats, RVs, and motorcycles are able to conduct sales themselves in spaces provided by AZ CarMart. 

Berger and Hannon worked together on a different venture in the entrepreneurship program. The initial venture idea, an all-in-one automotive aftermarket shop called X-Celeration, combined previously separate tasks such as window tinting, car stereo/alarms, lift kits, and off-road packages.  “Going through the entrepreneurship program gave us both understanding and confidence regarding business,” says Berger. “It taught us how to convert a promising idea into to a full-blown business and reminded us that taking risks can lead to great things.”

Their new company eliminates the hassles and safety concerns often associated with selling used vehicles. Rather than deal with salesmen who have commissions in mind, or trying to schedule numerous appointments to view vehicles, buyers can browse the large lot of private party vehicles at their own pace. “We have thought about doing this particular idea since college,” Berger says. “We always thought Tucson was a great market for it because we see vehicles parked along curbs all over the city. With market conditions sagging, we felt this was a good time to offer our services, which emphasize value and efficiency.”

With the success of AZ CarMart, Berger and Hannon are currently looking for expansion opportunities, as well as improving their current location and business model.

View.  Learn more about the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.

Venture Team Update: Notehall

Notehall founders Sean Conway (BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship '07) and Justin Miller.
  Notehall founders Sean Conway (BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship '07) and Justin Miller.

Taking a cue from College namesake Karl Eller, who had an early entrepreneurial venture at the UA selling class notes, this year Eller alum Sean Conway (BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship ’07) launched a new website aimed at helping students succeed academically. is a social networking site in which students can seek out supplemental class materials, such as class notes and study guides, or connect with classmates to find or form study groups.

The idea came about in October 2007. “I was visiting UA, and I ran into one of the members of the Entrepreneurship Club, Justin Miller,” explains Conway. “He said, ‘I have a great idea,’ and it was, so we tweaked it here and there, and ran with it!”

Conway says he and Miller are especially proud of the idea because the concept also allows students to earn money by facilitating the sale of their own class notes and study guides. “I lived off savings and worked on it full-time for a year, while Justin amazingly balanced Notehall and school,” says Conway. “Our weaknesses are each other’s strengths — that's why it's been the perfect team.”

Conway teamed with Associated Students of The University of Arizona to officially launch on September 16. The site has attracted 8,000 registered users and has had 62,000 visits in three months.

“We have a patent-pending technology and are currently seeking further investment to expand to colleges throughout the country,” he says. The database of study notes already stands at over 1,000 documents, and Conway is planning to reach out beyond The University of Arizona beginning this spring.

“The program definitely gave me the skills and confidence to feel like I could start my own business, even at this age,” Conway says.

Eller Presents.

Annual Economic Outlook Predicts a Tough Year Ahead

Marshall Vest   Gerry Swanson  
Marshall Vest, Economic and Business Research Center Director.   Gerry Swanson, Thomas R. Brown Chair in Economic Education.  


Eller economists aren’t predicting a fast turnaround for the current economic downturn. At the annual Economic Outlook luncheon, Marshall Vest and Gerry Swanson predicted that 2009-2010 would see a longer and deeper recession than the U.S. has experienced since the Great Depression.

With consumers pulling back on spending, Swanson says, economists are concerned about the possibility of deflation. “We have wonderful tools to fight inflation,” he says. “But we don’t have tools to fight deflation; there’s no magic bullet.”

Vest counters that deflation in some segments can be good: “Last year, gas was over $4 a gallon,” he says. “Now it’s about $1.60.” It was one bright spot in a prediction that indicates that things in the Tucson economy will get worse before they get better.

View.  View the 2009/2010 Economic Outlook Forecast


Save the Date

William K. ReillyDistinguished Speaker Series with William K. Reilly, Founder, Aqua Partners International and former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Thursday, January 29, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.
McClelland Hall's Berger Auditorium

"Leadership Challenges in Three Sectors"

Students at Professional AdmissionsUndergraduate Professional Admissions Interviews
Friday and Saturday, February 20 and 21, 2009
McClelland Hall

Help interview students who are applying for entry into the professional phase of their Eller careers:

Maria BartiromoDistinguished Speaker Series with Maria Bartiromo, Closing Bell Anchor and Wall Street Journal Report Host
Wednesday, March 5, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.
McClelland Hall's Berger Auditorium

The Global Economy and a New President: The Impact on You

UA logoUA Executive of the Year Award Luncheon
Tuesday, April 1, 2009
The Westin La Paloma : Tucson

Save the date for the presentation of The University of Arizona's annual Executive of the Year Award.

Raymond SpencerDistinguished Speaker Series with Raymond Spencer, CEO, Strategic Business Unit - Financial Services, Capgemini
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.
McClelland Hall's Berger Auditorium

Topic not yet announced.

Ensuring the Future.

Intuit Sponsors Extraordinary Women Tea

Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things Networking Tea.

On December 5, Eller College students from the National Association of Women MBAs and the Undergraduate Professional Women in Business connected with extraordinary Tucson women at a networking tea sponsored by Intuit.

“We’ve all had that feeling of meeting an incredible woman and thinking, ‘How does she do it?’” says associate dean of undergraduate programs Pam Perry. “At the networking tea, we recognize hard-working women in the Tucson community who accomplish excellence in their professions, community, and in support of family.”

The students honored 12 leaders from industries including technology, media, nonprofit, finance, marketing, and more. Erlina Edwards, HR business partner at Intuit, delivered the keynote address. Stephanie Bader, director of service delivery improvement with Inuit Payroll Services, was recognized with an award in the technology field.

“It was wonderful to absorb the energy and eagerness from the students, and to be able to provide a bit of advice, no matter how small,” Bader says. “It’s so important for women, both those who are already successful in the business world and those who are just starting in their careers, to support each other, and events such as this one provide a marvelous opportunity to further the networking and interactions. I applaud Eller and Intuit for committing the time and resources to this initiative and the women who accrue the benefit.”

View.  View online photo gallery from the Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things Networking Tea.

View.  Learn about how you can invest in Eller, or donate online at

Eller's Finest.

Notable News from the Eller Community

  Steven Permut   Ken Smith   Shyam Jha
  Steven Permut, Marketing senior lecturer.   Ken Smith, Eller Distinguished Service Professor of Economics.   Shyam Jha, Eller EMBA lecturer.

On November 15, the graduating class of Executive MBAs recognized Steven Permut with a faculty award for Outstanding Module, Phoenix (Customer Value Proposition) and Ken Smith and Shyam Jha with faculty awards for Outstanding Module Tucson (Strategic Innovation).

View.  Learn more about the Eller Executive MBA program.

The ASSET India Foundation, which aims to educate children of sex workers and girls rescued from trafficking, has been awarded a $10,000 Purpose Prize. The foundation was founded by Nita Umashankar (BSBA Marketing ’07)

50 Mile Farms, a venture developed in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, has built a second prototype greenhouse for its hydroponically-grown lettuce and was featured in the Arizona Daily Star.

Research Report.

  Price Fishback   Amar Gupta
  Price Fishback, Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics.   Amar Gupta, Thomas R. Brown Chair and Management and Technology.

Research Briefs from Eller College Professors

Economic historian Price Fishback, Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics, recently posted an article on The New York Times Freakonomics blog called “What Do the New Deal and World War II Tell Us About the Prospects for a Stimulus Package?” It’s a follow-up to an earlier post on the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation.

The current issue of IEEE Computer featured a cover story by Amar Gupta, Thomas R. Brown Chair in Management and Technology: “The 24-Hour Knowledge Factory: Can It Replace the Graveyard Shift?”

Writing the article turned out to be a test of the 24-hour knowledge factory. Working on a short timeframe with doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students while he was traveling abroad, Gupta says, “We worked on a cyclic basis between India, Omaha, Tucson, California, and India!”

View.  Learn more about research and innovation at the Eller College.

Alumni Spotlight.

International Start
Kevin Kraus : MBA '99
Director of Marketing : Ventana Medical Systems

Kevin Krause
Kevin Kraus, MBA '99, with his wife and daughter.  

From a young age, Kevin Kraus expected that one day, he would work abroad. “My family ingrained a global perspective in me,” he explains. When Krause was in middle school, his father, an executive with IBM, was transferred to the company’s Paris office.

The family made the transition to France. “I didn’t speak a word of French when we got there,” Kraus says, but his interest in gymnastics proved to be a good bridge builder, and he grew proficient at the language.

Kraus studied international affairs at George Washington University, then joined a French firm. “The company I was working for had clients in the U.S.,” he says. “I was in the U.S. for vacation, and they asked me to go a meeting in Austin.” Krause flew out and attended the meeting. “I was completely unprepared,” he says with a laugh. “I was great at translating, but I realized that I needed substance. I needed to go back to business school.”

Kraus took his GMAT and was accepted into the Eller MBA. He completed an internship with Ventana Medical Systems. “I started with them as a part-time employee during my second year of the program,” he says. “It was so valuable, because the classes were applicable to what I was doing at work.”

He’s been with the company since then, starting as a product manager, transitioning into sales, and now beginning a new role in strategic marketing. “The most surprising thing to me is that I got away from the international side of business,” he says. Although he is based in Tucson, Krause still travels extensively. “I’ve also been able to keep up the French over the years,” he says.

He’s also finding more intersections between work life and home life: his wife, Heather, recently joined Ventana Medical Systems from Rainbird Corporation. The couple met in the Eller MBA program, and now has a two-year-old daughter. “When we graduated, we both found opportunities in Tucson,” he explains. “Now we’ll be in staff meetings together,” Krause said. “And there’s a lot more shop talk at home!”

View.  Learn more about the Eller MBA program.

L.A. Story
Alyssa Schwender : BSBA Business Management '07
Rotational Assistant : Media Rights Capital

Alyssa Schwender

Alyssa Schwender, BSBA Business Management '07, is a rotational assistant with Media Rights Capital in Los Angeles.


When Alyssa Schwender was growing up in Colorado Springs, she never imagined herself moving to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. But that’s exactly what she did after graduating from the Eller College.

“I didn’t know anyone when I got to L.A.,” she says. “I had an interview with Warner Brothers, but that didn’t work out. Lionsgate had a lot of international postings, so I applied for one and got a call back for a position with the director of corporate development and interviewed with her.”

During her junior year at Eller, Schwender did an internship in London with a small music management firm, which sparked her interest in the entertainment industry. Then she took an international management course with professor Amar Gupta, Thomas R. Brown Professor of Technology and Management. “For the class, I had to write a paper on a topic in international business,” she says. “He told us to write about something we were interested in, and I was interested in the way the entertainment industry was outsourcing to India.”

The paper came up in her interview with Lionsgate, and she got the job. “My boss was also impressed that I had a business background, that I could read a balance sheet,” she says. “It gave me a foundation for a lucrative career out here.” Schwender started out working as an assistant to the director of corporate development, but then her boss left the company.

“I moved to a different department, but I didn’t enjoy it as much,” Schwender says. “Then I got a call from my old boss, who had moved to Media Rights Capital.” Her old boss encouraged her to apply for a position with the company, and Schwender did. In her interview, that paper she wrote for Gupta’s class came up again. “We talked about it for most of the interview,” she says. “It’s amazing that it’s what helped me stand out when I interviewed at Lionsgate, and that it intrigued my boss enough that it stuck with her after she left.”

Now Schwender is in an assistant rotation program with Media Rights Capital, working in a variety of areas. The company is a global financier in film, television, and digital production. It currently has three films in post-production, and has financed a series of short animated films by Seth MacFarlane (The Family Guy) called the "Cartoon Cavalcade of Comedy."

“I never imagined pursuing a career in this industry,” Schwender says. “I attribute a lot of it to Eller — it helped me figure out what I wanted to do.”

In a tough industry to break into, Schwender is finding her niche. “Creative was not my strong suit,” she says. “Rather than try to focus on that, I focused on finance. It’s important to understand what skills you have to offer.”

In This Issue:

In the News

McGuire Entrepreneurship at Work

Eller Presents

Ensuring the Future

Eller's Finest

Research Report

Alumni Spotlight









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