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Fox-MC’s partnership with Deloitte continues for it’s seventh year

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 | by: Debora Charmelus | no comments

On October 17th, Management Consulting (Fox-MC) and Deloitte Consulting continued their long-lasting partnership with a session at Deloitte’s Philadelphia offices. For the past 7 years, consultants at Deloitte have helped the Fox-MC MBA student associates perfect their research analyses and presentations. During the event, Fox-MC teams present their findings and strategies to a group of seasoned executives led by Deloitte Senior Managers or Partners who then provides vital feedback on both content and form. The Deloitte consultants run the associates through the same rigorous review that they apply to their own teams.

The Deloitte-Fox School alliance began when Rich Cohen, a Principal at Deloitte ], visited Fox-MC to listen to the students present their research findings. He and TL Hill, the Managing Director of Fox-MC, came up with the idea of Deloitte hosting reviews for the teams – an idea that has been evolving ever since, from three or four teams once a year to five to nine teams twice per year.

The Deloitte review is hugely important for the Fox-MC students who receive expert advice from seasoned professionals and often find themselves challenged and empowered to deepen their research and sharpen their insights. Perhaps surprisingly, the review is also popular among Deloitte consultants, many of whom return year after year, even as others sign up.  The benefits for the Deloitte consultants genuinely enjoy helping MBA students tackle real problems for client firms: What the consultants have to say is valuable and the students listen!

Over the years, Deloitte and Fox-MC have adjusted the sessions to make the experience more collaborative, improving the experience for both the students and consultants.  Deloitte has also been able to provide valuable suggestions for improving the Fox School’s MBA program, while hiring several graduates.  Looking ahead, Cohen sees the members of Deloitte becoming more involved with both Fox-MC and the Fox MBA as they continue to flourish.

 

Students find a way to give back through Fox Board Fellows

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 | by: Debora Charmelus | no comments

A photo of Temple University's Fox School of Business's Greg DeSheilds.

Fox School of Business’s Greg DeSheilds speaking at the FBF Kickoff Breakfast.

“Students realize the critical role social entrepreneurship plays in addressing the world’s problems. They recognize the importance of giving back, and they want to contribute…”- Anne Bayless, Associate Director, Fox Board Fellows

Philadelphia is a city that cares.  Many of its residents demonstrate their commitment to their neighbors and communities by donating time and money to local non-profit organizations.  The Fox School of Business supports this type of social responsibility and volunteerism through its Fox Board Fellows program, which is a collaboration with Fox Net Impact. Graduate students who enroll in the program, the FBF fellows, take a course on non-profit management, serve as non-voting board members with local non-profits, complete a project for their sponsoring non-profit, and in exchange, receive one-on-one mentoring from an experienced member of the non-profit’s board. Through this experiential learning opportunity, students use business skills to provide fresh insight to non-profit leaders, while learning what it takes to lead an effective non-profit organization and serve as a productive member of the board.  Both the students and the boards also expand their networks. Anne Bayless, Associate Director for Fox Board Fellows, explains that the program is designed to offer a meaningful experience for both the fellows who enroll in the program and the non-profit organizations that support them. “The Fox Board Fellows program is great for students who enjoyed volunteering in the past but now have less time for their passion” says Farrah Al-Mansoor, Fox ’14 MBA Candidate and Vice President of Fox Net Impact.

When Fox Board Fellows initially launched in 2009, 6 students were placed on the boards of various non-profit organizations such as Girls Inc., Make a Wish Foundation, Operation Understanding and Fair Food. For 2013-2014, there are 23 students serving 20 different organizations across the city in various ways!

Each non-profit crafts a distinct project for its Fox Board Fellow.  For example, one students helped Habitat for Humanity develop a social media presence, while another helped Habitat refine its Re-Store business model. A Fellow placed with Philadelphia VIP helped create an analysis of their case load that became one of the foundations of a new strategic plan.

The collaboration between Fox Board Fellows and Net Impact works well for both programs. Fox Board Fellows maintains relationships with local non-profit organizations, while Net Impact recruits new Fellows each academic year.  Together, Fox Board Fellows and Net Impact dream up new ways to serve both students and the non-profit community.

Although Fox Board Fellows has come a long way, there are refinements in the works. Bayless wants to create an Alumni Advisory Board for the program, so that alumni who have completed the program will guide the students currently in the program as they navigate the complexities of board governance, a volunteer project, the rest of their classwork, and of course their work and family lives.  Further, in the coming year, Bayless hopes to find a corporate sponsor for the program, which will support additional networking opportunities, speakers, and other events that benefit the fellows and their non-profit sponsors.

Beyond Fox Board Fellows, Bayless hopes that one day the MBA program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business will become the quintessential program for those interested in non-profit management. The combination of the Fox Board Fellow experience, other social entrepreneurship classes, Fox Management Consulting, and participation in Net Impact will give students the necessary skills and reality-driven experience to succeed in a career in non-profit management.

 

Building Better Business Models; An interview with Alexander Osterwalder

Posted on: August 21st, 2013 | by: Debora Charmelus | no comments

You might be surprised to hear that Alexander Osterwalder, entrepreneur and noted business scholar, believes that many firms focus too much attention on selling their products and services. Instead, he encourages them to take a more holistic view, shifting focus from building a better product to building a better business model. Firms that do this typically out compete firms that simply offer a “better product,” and ultimately, they create lasting value for themselves and their customers.

In this interview with Fox School of Business faculty member Dr. Andrew Maxwell, Osterwalder discusses his method for building effective business models.  To Osterwalder, the right business model can be the difference between success and failure, citing Nestle’s Nespresso as an example. When Nestle launched the Nespresso brand, it nearly failed, until the firm adjusted the business model to suit market realities.  With changes in place, Nespresso was a success.

Osterwalder examined alternate business models of hundreds of large and medium companies to develop this framework. Its biggest benefit, Osterwalder notes, is not establishing an optimum business model, but exploring alternate business models that highlight the different outcomes of the firm’s choice. In this way, the business model canvas helps organizations build consensus on the business models that best fit their firms.

Fox Management Consulting (Fox-MC) emphasizes Osterwalder’s approach within its consulting and MBA capstone course. Through Fox-MC, MBA student teams conduct rigorous market research and use those findings to evaluate and develop business models that highlight new opportunities for clients.

This video is product of a collaborative partnership between Canadian Innovation Centre and Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.  If you are interested in learning about business models, consider the Fox’s Masters of Science in Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship.

 

Fox Management Consulting graduate launches health start up

Posted on: August 5th, 2013 | by: Debora Charmelus | no comments

Fox Management Consulting encouraged us to think outside of the box with the clients and develop solutions to problems.”- Michael Mittelman, CEO of PHmHealth

Michael Mittelman, MBA ‘10,  is a busy man.

When we connected with him to discuss his career path after graduating from the Fox School, he had just finished mentoring young adults on the upsides and pitfalls of entrepreneurship. The right candidate for the job, Mittelman knows what it takes to transform an idea into a business.

Mittelman’s company, PHmHealth began with his own experience. After his grandmother became seriously ill, he saw how difficult it was to oversee her home health care. This led him to create a system that helps home health care agencies increase credibility and maximize patient care. PHmHealth’s smartphone app allows a patient’s friends and family to be able to manage the care of their loved ones even from afar, and most importantly, helps healthcare providers focus on patients. Instead of staring at laptop, trying to shuffle through loads of red tape, healthcare providers can now clock-in by using  Near Field Communication technology, a radio frequency technology that is in most Android devices.

In 2012, Mittelman and PHmHealth won the Fox School of Business’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, which validated the concept and provided a boost to the company. The competition provided him with mentorship from experienced professionals and a cash prize.  During our interview, Mittelman emphasized the importance of vetting an idea. To win the Be Your Own Boss Bowl, Mittelman had to conduct market research, understand the funding structure of his business and put together the right team. These are principles that he learned while completing his Fox Management Consulting capstone project, as a Fox School Student.

During his time at Fox Management Consulting, Mittelman, a team of students and an executive project manager developed a market entry plan for a Japanese firm. Since the company did not yet have a US presence, Mittelman and his teammates functioned as the firm’s ground team. The team conducted high-quality primary and secondary research, and developed an innovative use for the product – one that would fair well within the US market. This was a lesson that Mittelman claims to have helped him as his own business is approaching the market.

The experiences Mittelman gained at Fox Management Consulting resonated with him when he was competing in the Be Your Own Boss Bowl. Through Fox Management Consulting, Mittelman learned how important product differentiation can be. The knowledge he gained by completing hands-on market research also taught him the value of understanding his product, his market and his competitor. Perhaps the most important lesson he learned during his time at Temple’s Fox School of Business was how funding is the crux of any start-up.

Mittelman uses some of the lessons he learned from Fox Management Consulting and as an entrepreneur to teach to those in the QED program at the Science Center.  ”Our Fox Management Consulting clients and professors expected us to demonstrate leadership and innovation,” Mittelman states.  ”These lessons have really helped me develop my own business.”

 

#askfoxmc

Posted on: July 15th, 2013 | by: Debora Charmelus | no comments

What is perhaps the most compelling part of Fox Management Consulting is the knowledge of our program’s staff. Whether the topic is entrepreneurship, leadership, or planning, those who are a part of Fox-MC are more than willing to share their expertise when confronted with a question. Keeping this in mind, Fox-MC wanted to provide a way for any person to connect to our executive-level faculty in the most efficient way possible. This is why we are introducing the new hash-tag #askfoxmc.

The knowledge within our practice is not limited to just business but also encompasses graduate and undergraduate studies, sustainability, innovation and social entrepreneurship. Those who use this tag on social networking sites can #askfoxmc about business planning, university programs, and so on and receive a response almost immediately. Students who are a part of Fox-MC can use the hash-tag to talk to project managers and exchange ideas with other students. Our clients can use the hash-tag to obtain updates on their projects. Those who want to know about MBA programs can receive honest information from faculty. Business owners and entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with Fox-MC can receive reputable business consulting- all in 140 characters or less.

Try it out now on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram and let us know, what would you #askfoxmc?

 

Fox Management Consulting contributes to MidAtlantic Farm Credit financing program

Posted on: July 11th, 2013 | by: Brandon Lausch | no comments

Farm Fresh Financing LogoMidAtlantic Farm Credit, a local agricultural lender, has announced new financing and credit options for new-generation farmers and local food-system organizations through its Farm Fresh Financing program.

MidAtlantic Farm Credit, along with Fox Management Consulting (Fox-MC) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, conducted market research in 2012 that showed that many new-generation farmers and local food-system organizations – such as community supported agriculture programs and marketing consortiums – do not utilize traditional financing options due to weak collateral, poor or inadequate credit histories, and/or cultural disinclinations to borrow money.

Fox Management Consulting is a six-credit, strategy-consulting course for MBAs that integrates academic instruction, work on a live client project and coaching from an executive mentor.

“We’re very happy to see the local food movement continue to grow and attract new growers in new areas,” MidAtlantic CEO Bob Frazee said. “Our Farm Fresh Financing program is designed to help additional producers enter the market, as well as to help current producers grow their businesses to meet a growing demand.”

“The Farm Fresh Financing program is designed to overcome the challenges that typically confront new-generation farmers,” added Frazee, referring to producers who distribute their products through local food channels, and who practice sustainable farming methods, often on a small-scale basis. “Farm Credit has a mission to serve all of agriculture, and we’re excited about the ways our new finance program can help this growing market.”

Sandy Wieber, senior vice president of marketing at MidAtlantic Farm Credit, said the Fox-MC team, through quantitative and qualitative research, helped define the diverse group that Farm Fresh Financing can benefit.

“The students were amazingly, wonderfully professional and listened very well to us,” Wieber said. “They packaged their research together, including identifying the unique challenges for this group. The students conducted detailed interviews that really captured the flavor of the market.”

Farm Fresh Financing coordinates with the lender’s existing StartRight program, which provides resources and financing for young, beginning, small and minority farmers. MidAtlantic Farm Credit is an agricultural lending cooperative owned by its member-borrowers. It provides farm loans for land, equipment, livestock and production, crop insurance, and rural home mortgages. The co-op has more than 10,500 members and approximately $2.1 billion in loans outstanding.

Farmers who are interested in applying for a loan through MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s Farm Fresh Financing program may call 888-339-3334 or visit mafc.com.

 

EMC program on its 5th project for key industry partner Aquiline Capital Partners

Posted on: May 15th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments

Geoff Kalish, partner of global private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners, entertained the pitch with caution.

James W. Hutchin, an insurance-industry veteran who landed a faculty position at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, was proposing that Aquiline sign on to an experiential learning program, the Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice, in which MBAs consult for paying clients.

“We pride ourselves on being a specialist investment manager, and we think that the domain knowledge we have is part of the appeal to our limited partners,” Kalish said recently at firm headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York. “The notion of utilizing MBA talent, who may or may not have any background in financial services, to do something useful for us? I was a little skeptical.”

That was 2008 – and five projects ago.

Aquiline, a $2 billion fund, now ranks among EMC’s strongest clients, one that offers a wide variety of projects for students.

“Industry partners such as Aquiline are invaluable to EMC, as they provide the access, guidance and opportunity for our students to meaningfully impact business processes and strategy,” Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat said.

In return, Aquiline and its portfolio companies receive cost-effective consultants who are enthusiastic and driven and who can leverage their student status to get results. Under the guidance of project managers, either full-time faculty or industry executives, the students work to produce professional-grade reports on issues ranging from market-entry strategies to mergers and acquisition opportunities.

Geoff Kalish, partner of global private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners, at firm headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York. Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University Photography

“Bright. Got access to people, and in the end information, that we probably wouldn’t have on our own,” Kalish said of EMC students. “Jim’s pitch was, is and will be, I’m sure, that people talk to MBA students differently than professionals who might be gathering information from a competitive standpoint. The MBA students seem to get access to good information.”

How it began

It all started in 2008 with a Full-time MBA project, managed by Hutchin, examining the environmental insurance market and brownfield redevelopment opportunities. The four-person team presented its research findings in a comprehensive 200-page report at the end of its first semester and designed a strategy, in light of its research findings, in a 30-page scenarios report the second semester. The team also developed a 45-page business plan. The team’s project summary noted positive client feedback: “the work was commercial grade and actionable.”

Two years later, a team of International MBAs explored market-expansion opportunities for Wright Risk Management Holding Company, comprised of two subsidiaries: Wright Risk Management, a fee-service insurance agency, brokerage and consultancy arm; and WRM America Indemnity, an insurance underwriting arm.

In 2011, International MBAs consulted for Clear2Pay as it considered introducing ClearPark Payment Processing, a payment gateway service, into the U.S. market, and last year’s Aquiline-commissioned project involved identifying growth opportunities for Fidelity National Flood Insurance. The latest project, ongoing in the Spring 2013 semester, focuses on a market-entry strategy for one of Aquiline’s financial technology holdings.

Walker Tompkins, retired president and CEO of American Express Credit Corp., has more than 35 years of experience in banking, marketing, liability and money management. He oversaw both the Clear2Pay/ClearPark project and Aquiline’s current project.

Tompkins said the ClearPark assignment distinguished itself because, at the time, its focus on mobile-payment technology was brand new and ever changing.

“One week you’d decide on a strategy and the next week it basically blew you up,” he said. “Every time they reached a conclusion or thought they had a direction, they had to change again. So it was very real life. The world around you is fluid, it’s not static, and the fact that things weren’t static, it was a challenge for the students.”

Pooja Bhalla, IMBA ’11, who worked on the project, said the team had to navigate its own group dynamics while managing a relationship with a European client and ultimately deciding whether investment or a strategic closure was the best option.

“EMC is one of the most important experiences you can have at Fox because it forces you to apply everyday coursework with real clients,” said Bhalla, now a segment marketing manager at a global natural catastrophe modeling company based in Boston. “Overcoming obstacles and executing meaningful deliverables at every stage provided a sense of true achievement.”

Teammate Dominick Chillemi, IMBA ’11, saw Aquiline’s ClearPark project as his first choice because he wanted to work in private equity after graduation. He now does, and he credits his preparedness and professional success to Tompkins and Fox faculty.

“Anything that I handed in for the EMC with Walker I was much more nervous about than anything I hand in to my bosses today,” Chillemi said. “The EMC experience was harder on me than anything I do professionally. And I say that with no reservation. I literally pull out a lot of my EMC notes during projects now.”

Chillemi said EMC taught him to ask as many questions as necessary to get the information needed – and to not be afraid while doing it. “The smartest person in the room is often the one who is least concerned about looking stupid,” he said.

He also grew to appreciate the less glamorous side of consulting, describing his EMC experience through the reaction of an immigrant after reaching Ellis Island. “‘I’ve learned three things: the streets aren’t paved with gold; they aren’t paved at all; and they expect me to pave them.’ That’s exactly what it’s like being a consultant.”

Article written by Brandon Lausch

 

Commerce Chains of Power & Influence

Posted on: May 10th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments

Business is a fundamentally human endeavor – which is to say that it is both social and political.  Power and influence matter, and are a critical part of the analysis of strategic opportunities.

Mapping the chain of commerce is a great way to visualize the interplay of power and influence in a series of market exchanges.  To map the chain of commerce, one simply traces the flow of money backwards from the ultimate customer through the industry to suppliers, and the flow of goods and services from originators through the industry to customers. At each step along the way (the rectangles), resources and knowledge are transformed from an input into an output, and then sold across market exchanges (red circles) to the next organization in the chain.

Chain of Commerce

When drawing the chain of commerce, it is important to focus on the critical flows – not the myriad possibilities – that flow through most organizations.  It is also useful to think about types of firms, not specific firms. The chain of commerce offers many insights.  It helps the analyst determine the boundaries of the industry, the competitors, and the critical markets.  That is, one way to define an industry is simply to identify the cluster of firms that serve the same function in a chain of commerce, serve the same customers, and compete to control enough of the space to capture value effectively.

For example, in the book industry, the core publishers control packaging, editing, wholesaling and sales, but there are niche firms that specialize in each of these activities.  The industry includes all of these firms, but the critical markets turn out to be the market between authors and publishers and the market between publishers and retailers.  The firms that can control these can capture a disproportionate share of the resources flowing through the chain.

Book Publishing Chain of Commerce

As the above diagram illustrates, money talks – or at least indicates who has negotiating power. But this picture is only a snapshot – one that was accurate in about 2000.  Before 2000, the publisher controlled as much as $7.00 of the $10.00 paid by a reader; by 2010, the publisher’s portion was closer to $3.00.  What happened?

As useful as the initial picture is, the real value of analyzing the commerce chain has to do with how power and influence evolve. There is nothing automatic or static about such a chain.  Instead, external and internal forces constantly push and pull on the chain, leading to broken, rearranged and otherwise changing links.  Chains evolve over time to fit specific contexts,* as do their norms, cultures, technologies and dominant players.

Thus, for nearly 100 years, the publisher controlled the chain of commerce and commanded the lion’s share of the resources flowing through it.  They did this in two ways: by being the broker between authors and readers, and by providing the capital required to convert ideas and images into commodities to be bought and sold.  One norm that emerged during this period was the norm that wholesalers could buy books at a steeper discount than retailers.  Eventually, retailers (starting with Borders, but soon including Barnes & Noble), opened their own warehouses and demanded wholesale discounts – a battle they won once their chains grew to enough scale.  This shift in power towards the retailer resulted in a wave of consolidation amongst publishers, and squeezed out the independent sales groups and wholesalers.

The struggle also opened an opportunity for a new entrant, Amazon, to open an alternative, online channel to customers.  In fact, Amazon was welcomed by publishers as a lever in the struggle with the large chains – until it became so large that it began demanding even larger discounts than the retailers!  Feeling the heat, retailers and publishers even tried merging – eg., Borders merged with German publisher Bertelsmann – although today, only the largest publishers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are still standing in the US market.

But amidst the rubble are numerous small publishers, retailers, online distributors, and even packagers of new, multi-media offerings.  Are these the beginnings of a new order in publishing, or mere left overs? This is where the chain of commerce tool can help.

– TL Hill, Managing Director

 *To take a small example, probably as the result of geography, the norm in the UK is for the publisher to bear the cost of shipping a book from warehouse to shop, whereas in the US, the norm is for the retailer to pay the freight.

 **All data in this piece is pulled directly from the records of my publishing company.

 

A Snippet of Fox Management Consulting

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments

We put together a simple, short video on what Fox Management Consulting strives for.

 

An EMC Student’s Experience

Posted on: April 16th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments

Daniel Stillman, a student on an EMC team, writes about his experience when he traveled to Australia with his team to meet with their partner, Flinders, and to present to their client, Clevertar:

“My final spring break of my college career was spent traveling with four other students around the world to Australia. The trip to Australia working with the undergraduate Enterprise Management Consulting was incredibly rewarding. Not only did I gain valuable cultural insight, but it enhanced the education I have received here in the classrooms at Temple University.

Myself and four others journeyed over 20 hours in the air to Adelaide, South Australia to consult for a technology start-up company funded by Flinders Partners. We spent the next two days working on our research report for our client, Clevertar Pty. Ltd. It was intense, but we were able to pull together as a team and delegate tasks in order to complete the goal. 

Tuesday morning Justin LoPiccolo and I presented our research report in PowerPoint form to Flinders Partners, representatives from the university, and business executives from the Adelaide area. We received great feedback from the audience, whose main questions were ones we would later be solving in Phase 2 of our research and the strategy report.

Team presenting to the client.

Team presenting to the client.

Our next formal presentation was on Thursday. In between the scrub session and the final presentation, Justin and I spent hours rehearsing and refining our slides and speech to make sure we impressed the client. This time I spent some time networking beforehand to make myself more comfortable with the audience. The strategy worked well for calming me before presenting. The presentation could not have gone better! Justin did a fantastic job laying out the story for the client, and I presented the facts and recommendations from our research. There were no major objections to our presentation that morning.

In between all of the presentations and working on the research report – the team spent some time roaming Adelaide and seeing the sights. One night we attended the Fringe Festival at the Garden of Unearthly Delights. I attended a comedy show, and we roamed around the festival admiring the sense of community there and how wonderfully decorated the place was! Another day we spent adventuring. We saw the countryside, and went to Cleland Wildlife Park. There were kangaroos roaming around that we were able to pet and feed! We also saw wallabies, emus, tasmanian devils, and wombats. It was an amazing experience. On the way back, I even spent my layover visiting the Opera House in Sydney! An unexpected bonus sight.

EMC team feeding Kangaroos

EMC team feeding Kangaroos.

Working with a real client whose business problems have not been solved yet has been an incredibly new and rewarding experience. Preparing case studies in class has always been valuable, but this semester I have had the chance to apply the concepts I learned in class towards creating a real business solution. The client has expressed gratitude and approval of the work, and hopes to work with Temple again in the future. All of the benefit gained from this project was more than can be placed on my resume because I have gained real-life experience that will improve my outlook on future situations and give me the tools to make better business decisions. There was no better way to spend my last spring break of my college career!”