Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
As part of the full-time MBA curriculum, all students participate in a semester-long team field project. Group leader Serena Jain and her team worked with Carondelet Health Network, Southern Arizona’s oldest and largest non-profit health care provider.
The Eller MBA office matches field projects to students’ expertise or industry of focus. For Jain, an MBA-MD dual-degree student, it was an ideal project. The consulting projects also give students the opportunity to work in real-life settings, while offering their expertise to organizations.
Jain and her team were responsible for helping Carondelet enhance its diabetes chronic care model. To that end, Jain and her team “assigned a cost value of how much is spent per diabetic per year; we found that it rises exponentially as the health condition of a patient gets worse.”
The model shows the cost savings that could be realized by directing more time and effort to prevention and early management of the disease. “The creation of the model has benefits extending to all parties,” says Jain.
Allocating more funding up front will not only benefit patients, but “insurance companies are also paying less over time and physicians are funded based on patient outcome, providing extra motivation to keep patients healthy,” says Jain.
A team of Eller College undergraduate students competed against 26 other undergraduate and graduate schools in the Loyola Marymount University Intercollegiate Business Ethics Competition in April. Each of the competing teams presented analysis of a self-selected ethics case to a judging panel. The Eller team presentation focused on the Tata Nano, a new, India-produced sub-compact car billed as the “least expensive car in the world.” The Eller students delivered and finished at the top of the undergraduate division.
For Gabrielle Johnston (BSPA and BSBA Management ’10), the hardest part was selecting the topic to present in competition. “We researched current events and sought out the help of our faculty advisor, Paul Melendez,” she says. Melendez suggested the Tata Nano because he had just begun writing an ethics case on the topic and knew that the vehicle was going to roll off the production line in April. “The timing was perfect,” he says.
The students were required to deliver a 20-minute presentation on the ethical, legal, and philosophical issues of their case. “They spent countless hours researching, developing their presentation, and rehearsing,” says Melendez. The team met three times a week for four months in order to deliver the best presentation they possibly could. “It was a long process, but overall the time and effort we spent each week were rewarded by the results of the competition,” says Brittany Smythe (BSBA Business Management ’11).
The team believes that the Tata Nano needs more safety features, that it should run on alternative fuels, and that Tata Motors should assist in developing India’s infrastructure in order to accommodate the increased number of vehicles on the roads. “Not only did I have the experience to research and talk about a topic on such a professional level, but I also learned a lot about other ethical dilemmas that students researched and devoted their time to,” explains Smythe.
The students made it to the final four, placing 3rd against international MBA teams, and won the Kerrigan Award. “I feel this competition will give me something solid to put on my resume and has provided me with more experience presenting in pressure situations,” says Lee Klein (BSBA Business Management and Entrepreneurship ’10).
Smythe agrees. “As a sophomore and first-semester cohort student, I know there are many more presentations that await me, and this competition has provided me with the experience I need to be confident in public speaking situations.”Melendez is also thrilled with the results of the competition. “As a faculty member in ethics, I couldn't be prouder. The topic was received well; the depth of analysis, sophistication of recommendations, and delivery was worthy of a finalist finish.”
The University of Arizona Advertising Federation team, consisting of 12 students from five different majors, participated in the 2009 National Student Advertising Competition in Salt Lake City last month. The students’ awareness campaign against binge drinking won them 4th place against schools from Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
Competing teams were tasked with designing a campaign and presenting it to a panel of judges. “First, we did a lot of research on why college students drink, what they think binge drinking is, and what kind of campaigns and advertising methods work or don't work on them,” says Katie Hundere, the agency director for this year’s team. “From there, we began brainstorming ideas on how to reach students in a meaningful, effective way.”
“We realized that the classic red cup was a symbol for college drinking,” explains Evan Singer (BSBA Marketing ’10). “We presented the symbol of the solution: the green cup.” Their Green Cup Movement helps students understand what binge drinking is and encourages them to drink less alcohol: the smaller, 10-ounce green cups have less alcohol in each drink, versus the iconic red cups, which hold 16 ounces.
The team was exceptionally proud of the campaign that they presented to the judges. “Trying to reduce binge drinking among college students, something that is embedded in their culture, is a tough task to achieve. We all believed that our campaign could really make a difference,” says Singer.
Matisse Miller (BSBA Marketing ’10), the marketing director of the team, says, “This was my second year on the team. I know that participating in this competition will rank as one of my best college experiences because it really exploited my passion for marketing and gave me the opportunity to gain insight and first-hand experience.”
In April, Kate Thompson and Lisa Eisenberg traveled to El Segundo, California, to shadow Mattel CEO and Eller alum Robert Eckert for the day. The students both received Eller marketing department Think Forward awards. The Eller Times checked in with them for an update on the shadow experience.
In Her Words: Kate Thompson, BSBA Marketing ’09
The entire day was full of amazing opportunities and exciting events. We arrived on a Wednesday evening, went straight to meet Robert Eckert, and just sat in his office and talked. He asked us about ourselves, school, our future, etc. Mr. Eckert is very easy to talk to, comfortable to be around, down-to-earth and very genuine and sincere. He is a humble leader and has created a culture at Mattel that makes you want to stick around for a long time. Lisa and I went to dinner with just Mr. Eckert, which gave us a chance to get to know him even better. We asked questions about Mattel, talked about his family, his dogs, our families, his background and history, etc.
The next day we arrived at his office, which is full of toys, of course, and began one of the coolest days of my life. We attended a meeting on corporate responsibility in the Presentation Theater which discussed current and future initiatives for "playing responsibly." We then went to an internal Spring product line review for Barbie, which was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It was like a fashion show. We then headed up to Mr. Eckert’s office and met with the executive vice president of worldwide operations and saw him present a SKU update to Mr. Eckert. We learned how they are trying to cut operating costs.
We also attended a design concept review for the Global Citizenship Report, which is to debut this summer. We saw a design agency present their concepts for the report. They asked us for our input as well. Around noon we ate lunch in the Mattel Cafeteria, where Mr. Eckert likes to eat every day since it gives him a chance to interact with Mattel employees he normally doesn't get to see that often. We ate lunch with Geoff, the senior vice president of corporate responsibility. Once we finished lunch, we headed back to Mr. Eckert’s office and met with the senior vice president of human resources.
In the afternoon, we headed over to the newly renovated Design Center (where we got our picture taken in front of the life-size Hot Wheels car) and learned a lot about designing, creating, and producing Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, etc. We even got to record our voices in the recording studio which they inserted into a Barbie and gave to us as a gift. That was quite exciting!
I am so thankful to Eller, specifically the marketing department, for creating the Thinking Forward Awards. It gives students a unique and unforgettable opportunity. What other students get to say "I shadowed the CEO of Mattel for a day?" Eller can teach me about business, but moving away from the classroom and into the corporate setting has allowed me valuable insight and overall visibility from the CEO's perspective.
In Her Words: Lisa Eisenberg, BSBA Marketing ’10
Shadowing Robert Eckert was an amazing experience. We did so many things that it’s hard to pinpoint some highlights, but here are some that jump to mind. The first day we arrived, we had a private dinner with Mr. Eckert. It was truly an experience to talk to Mr. Eckert on such a personal level in a social context. This was after seeing him in the workplace; we had a completely different perspective of him during dinner.
Another cool highlight was when we were given a tour of the design center. We were shown many toys that they are planning to release over the next year and learned a lot about the Barbie-making process. This is something that very few people outside the company get to see. We also met Robert Best (from Project Runway) who designs for the collector’s edition.
I believe this opportunity added to my Eller experience by validating all the tools I have learned in the cohort. It was interesting to see cost-benefit analysis used in all the meetings as well as business communication throughout the building. I hadn’t realized how the things I am learning are going to benefit my work experience or even further my abilities in the workplace; however, the shadow experience opened my eyes to the reality of my education and the valuable tools that I have learned thus far and will continue to learn.Meeting Mr. Eckert was an absolutely amazing experience and he really is a great person. He taught me many things about life and careers that he may not even realize. Overall, the experience has inspired me to truly achieve my dreams and not settle for the easy path. Things may not always be easy, but Mr. Eckert said to make sure you do things right and you’ll never find yourself in trouble — it’s just finding that right path.
On April 24, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated its 25th annual year-end competition. The landmark came just one day after U.S. News and World Report released graduate rankings that placed the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at #10 overall and #4 among public institutions — the last major top-ten ranking for the Center to crack.
"The rankings news is a great way to close the academic year," says Sherry Hoskinson, director of the McGuire Center. "Movement among the top 10 is very difficult in the type of reputational assessment that the ranking uses. It's particularly gratifying in that it shows that our peers are indeed aware of the caliber of our program."
As for the competition, this year included a format change that saw the 21 student venture teams presenting their concepts to the judging panel in a three minute "rocket pitch" format. The judges awarded the $1,000 first-place prize to Josh Hottenstein (MS MIS '09) and Myles Lewis (master's in applied biosciences) of Verdant Earth Technologies, an environmentally friendly manufacturer of turnkey crop growth systems.
Runners up included BigFootHD, BonVita Workshops, Owl Towels, and Superior Medical Instruments.The event also recognized entrepreneurial leaders including Eller College dean Paul Portney, UA Rogers College of Law dean Toni Massaro, Greg Coxon, Marie Wesselhoft, Charles and Candace Nelson, Stephen O'Neil, and Mark and Jacques Cook.
Integrative medicine — which considers an individual's mind, body, and spirit and seeks to include both conventional and alternative methods of treatment — is a growing segment of the health care industry. But most alternative treatments aren't covered by insurance, and individuals may hesitate to invest their money in alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
Enter BonVita Workshops, LLC.
The venture team, a finalist in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship's 2009 year-end competition, proposes a series of one-day and weekend experiential events for the public. "We want to provide a venue where people can learn and experience how conventional western medicine and complementary alternative medicine can be integrated to treat a person's entire mind, body, and spirit," explains Kash Kelloff (MBA '09). "Our one-day experience is a low-cost event that provides a general overview of treatments with a specific focus on selected topics. The weekend experience provides more in-depth information and allows the attendees to more deeply experience the practices of integrative medicine."
BonVita has partnered with the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, founded by Dr. Andrew Weill, to provide curriculum guidance and direction for the series. Kelloff's wife works at the Center, which is interested in strengthening its relationships with other UA units. "I had had some conversations with operations director Mark Folger prior to the entrepreneurship program orientation, but the actual idea was developed as one of the summer assignments," Kelloff says.
Now that the program is over, Kelloff and his team are investigating the possibility of launching their business and considering issues including timing and location. "There is still a large amount of ground work that must be completed in solidifying the company entity and formalizing our relationship with AzCIM," Kelloff says. "We have a strong panel of advisors including individuals who are well-versed in the areas of integrative medicine. We are also investigating the possibilities of partnering with a large New York event planning/marketing firm."For more information, contact the BonVita team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TriSports.com — founded by McGuire Center alum Seton Claggett nine years ago — has been named a "Best Place to Work" by Outside magazine. Among 30 companies, TriSports.com was ranked 18th.
"It's a real honor to be recognized as one of Outside's 'Best Places to Work.' Our company has really grown from our garage days and we always envisioned creating an environment where our employees would love to work," says Claggett. "To know that we were selected based on what our employees had to say is what makes this so special, and shows that our vision has become a reality."
TriSports.com is an online and retail triathlon shop created for triathletes, by triathletes. It carries triathlon equipment, apparel, and hard-to-find necessities including triathlon wetsuits, bike travel cases, aero race wheels, hydration systems, aerobars, and more.
The company's employees benefits include onsite fitness classes, reimbursements for gym memberships and ski passes, flexible hours, travel benefits, and opportunities for on-the-clock community service. TriSports.com employees also sponsor and volunteer for many community teams, clubs, races, and athletes.
Respondents to Outside magazine's survey also cited a new TriSports.com commuter program: employees who ride to work on their bicycles earn store credit towards the bike gear they need with every mile ridden to and from work.
Once again the annual undergraduate Night with the Stars honored graduating seniors, outstanding alumni, faculty, and staff.
Craig Haubrich (BSBA Marketing ’95) was recognized as the Eller College Associate of the Year, and Matt Boltz (BSBA Finance and Entrepreneurship ’07) and Joe Peccolo (BSBA Finance ’07) were named outstanding young alumni.
In April, ten master’s in finance and Eller MBA students traveled to Los Angeles for a day-long tour of the Playa Vista development as part of a new commercial real estate development class taught by Edward Dyl, the Sheafe/Neill/Estes Professor of Finance.
Playa Vista is a sustainable development that provides critically-needed housing, commercial office space, and neighborhood shopping in the middle of the city, while adding parks, preserving the environment, and restoring hundreds of acres of wetlands. Its chairman and CEO, Steve Soboroff, is an alum of the Eller College.
“We’ve had a number of people who are active in the industry come in and talk with this class,” explains Dyl. “We’ve also gone on site visits, and we thought Playa Vista would be a great trip.” Soboroff, like many real estate developers, operates a highly entrepreneurial company; Dyl says that meeting with successful developers is inspiring to the students who come into the program “with that gleam in their eye.”
Sheena Lye (MMF ’09) was one of the students on the trip. Click here to read about her experience, which included a trip around the block in Soboroff’s new electric Tesla sports car.
For more information about the Playa Vista development, watch Soboroff’s 2008 Distinguished Speakers Series lecture.
Transportation costs for the students were donated by Eller alum Lisle Payne, chairman of Jackson Street Partners.
For more information about how you can get involved with student projects, contact Jane Prescott-Smith at email@example.com.
Congrats to Eller MBAs Kyle VanderLugt and Mauricio Torres-Benavides for winning the P3 Student Design Competition for Sustainability in Washington, D.C. Read about their experience or watch a video about VanderLugt’s agriculture-aquaculture project.
Congrats also to Jeffrey A. Hursh (MBA ’03) for being named one of Inside Tucson Business’s nine Up & Coming professionals who are making a difference. Hursh was chosen from over 70 nominations, He is being recognized not only for his work at Snell & Wilmer, but also for the work he does with Beads of Courage — a Tucson-based national not-for-profit organization that provides arts-in-medicine, supporting care programs for seriously ill children.
The Eller MBA program recognized outstanding faculty and students in May. Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics Price Fishback received the Full-Time MBA Faculty of the Year Award; adjunct lecturer in accounting Tom Klein received the Evening MBA Faculty of the Year Award; and McCoy/Rogers Fellow and associate professor of management and organizations Lehman Benson received the Faculty Leadership Award.
Nicole Akpoyraie (MBA '09) was presented with the Ray H. Johnson Leadership Award, which was established by Johnson and his colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers to recognize individuals whose personal and professional leadership have made a substantial difference at the College. Kelly Gilliam (MBA '09) was presented with the Rogers Service Award for volunteerism.
Eller Students Awarded UA Medals of Achievement
On May 16, six students were honored with The University of Arizona's prestigious undergraduate achievement medals during the 140th Commencement Ceremony — including two Eller undergraduate program graduates. Jessica Anderson was awarded the Merrill P. Freeman Medal and Nancy Hernandez was awarded the Robert Logan Nugent Medal.
Anderson was also named Eller's Outstanding Marketing Senior. Throughout her undergraduate career, Anderson has been involved in numerous clubs and honoraries including Primus Freshman Honorary, Sophos Sophomore Honorary, Chain Gang Junior Honorary, Eller Scholars and Chi Omega fraternity. Anderson was also a leader in student government, becoming the person to serve two terms as first executive vice president of the Associated Students of the UA. She will join Microsoft as an associate product manager in Redmond, Wash.
Hernandez was born in Mexico. She grew up in the border state of Sonora, in a town south of Yuma, Ariz. She is the first member of her family to earn a four-year degree. Hernandez is active in Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a global organization in which students use the business concepts they learn in class to develop projects that create economic opportunity for others. This year in SIFE, Hernandez was part of a team that designed a case competition for students called Duel in the Dumpster, which challenged college students to build a green/environmentally-friendly product using recyclable materials. Hernandez says that her five years in SIFE were a great experience. “It offers a way to give back through community service while improving my resume,” she says. “It’s helped me develop as a student and as a person.”
Hernandez is also the UA Hispanic Alumni's Outstanding Senior Award winner. Next she will begin work for Ernst & Young, specializing in auditing practice. She plans to become a Certified Public Accountant and expand her career by entering the forensic accounting area with master's and doctorate degrees.
Metro Tucson garnered almost $1 billion from Mexican visitors during the period July 2007 through June 2008, according to a new report by Vera Pavlakovich-Kochi and Alberta Charney of the Eller Economic and Business Research Center.
In 2007-2008, some 65,000 Mexicans came to Arizona to legally work, shop, and visit family and friends — every day. The money spent by visitors from Mexico adds up to $7.3 million per day. Many Mexican families make weekly shopping trips to Tucson, resulting in a 245% increase in economic benefit since 2001.
"This spending has occurred even when our regional economy shows signs of recession," says Pavlakovich-Kochi. "It has offset to a degree the effect of the declining regional economy." Mexican visitors are not afraid to spend their money during the economic crisis because they are more used to it and better prepared, she says. Concerts, shows, casinos, and Tucson tourist sites offer further inducement for these visitors to stay overnight; and, says Pavlakovich-Kochi, "Overnight visitors always spend more than day trippers."
Though Mexican visitors currently have a major impact on the Southern Arizona economy, metropolitan Phoenix cities and Las Vegas have also ramped up efforts to reach this coveted tourist market. In addition, revised peso valuation translates into a higher U.S. cost for Mexican tourists. Tucson and Southern Arizona will have to work to maintain the current level of 24 million Mexican visitors annually."Maybe we had an extraordinary year of Mexican visitors and expenditures in Arizona," says Charney. "But it will continue: it is not something that will be erased overnight."
Christopher Brophy’s career trajectory hasn’t been traditional, but that’s been a positive that he partly attributes to his Eller MBA. “One of the best things about the program is that nobody limited me to any one role,” he says. “The focus was on a generalist education, which helped expand my opportunities and prepared me to follow any of the paths that came along.”
Brophy grew up in Connecticut and came to The University of Arizona as a member of the Men’s Swim Team. “I started out as an astronomy major but later switched to religious studies,” he says. When he graduated, there was a shortage of math teachers in Tucson, and Brophy put the experiences of his early college career to work in the classroom. “I began as a substitute before getting my emergency certification,” he says, “I spent two years teaching but ultimately decided I wanted to change career paths.”
Brophy re-enrolled in the MBA program and joined MGM MIRAGE after graduation. “I started out in corporate strategy working on special projects, including financial analysis and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance work. One of my main projects was in the corporate retail division, where I worked on the accounting processes and systems.”
With that experience under his belt, he was lured away by The Breakers, a resort in Palm Beach, Florida, as their retail controller. “From there, I became the director of technology projects and operations,” he says. Then, just a few years into his career with The Breakers, he spoke with a contact at MGM and learned about a new, sustainability-focused position with MGM MIRAGE. That conversation lead him back to Las Vegas.
“The division I’m in was originally formed to focus on energy-saving initiatives,” he says, “It’s now evolved to include all aspects of environmental sustainability.” Brophy is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of programs to reduce the environmental footprint of MGM MIRAGE operations.
Brophy’s role in sustainability for MGM MIRAGE allowed him to work with legislators on national environmental policy initiatives.
“I had the chance to work with Senator Harry Reid’s office on the merits of different energy policies,” he says. “When the Economic Stabilization Act passed in October, some of the policies we discussed were addressed in the bill.”
Brophy says the breadth of his professional experiences has been rewarding. “I truly enjoyed teaching children, and learning about different businesses,” he says. “I’ve found that the more experiences I’ve embraced, the more intrigued I’ve become about how I can add value and improve the bottom line.”
Just three years after graduation, Sarah Armand has landed a great position in the entertainment industry: she works in advertising with Scripps Networks, which include HGTV, Food Network, and Fine Living.
During her junior year, Armand secured an internship in the advertising sales department at the Discovery Channel, and right away she was hooked. “I loved the entertainment industry and advertising,” she says. The internship didn’t lead to an immediate offer, but one of her Discovery contacts helped her secure a position with Turner Networks, which include TNT and TBS. “I was there for about ten months, and then I was offered a job with Scripps,” she says.
At Scripps, she is charged with maintaining client satisfaction. “I mainly work with foreign auto sellers, the food and wine industry, video gaming, and films,” she explains. “I help build advertising plans and brainstorm marketing opportunities.”
It’s getting to be an especially busy time for Armand — every year around Memorial Day, the networks roll out their television schedules for the coming year and place upfront ad sales. The cable stations follow shortly after. Upfront ad commitments on network television are expected to drop this year due to the weak economy, which could be a boon for cable. “Cable can compete really well,” says Armand: in addition to costing less, cable ads can target niche consumers.
Armand says that, over the last few years, she’s seen a real change at Scripps. “We’ve moved into much more online sales and product integration,” she says. “For example, we recently did a Disney promotion with the movie Up in the HGTV Dream Home. Almost three years ago, there were no partnerships with films and studios. I’ve watched our company come full-circle on that. ”
Armand credits her Eller experience with helping her succeed in the workplace. “Getting to work on a lot of teams is really helpful,” she says. “It’s important to understand the dynamics, to play to your teammates’ strengths, and to mold your own strengths to create a good balance.”
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