In the early ’80s, John Milligan, BBA ’75, faced a choice: remain in a dead-end job or set out on his own. Milligan decided to move on, build his own diverse accounting firm and create opportunities for minorities. over 30 years later, his business Milligan & Company LLC is the largest minority-owned CPA firm in the Philadelphia region and a champion for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
As a teen in Norristown, PA, Milligan never thought about owning a business or attending college. He dropped out of high school after 10th grade and joined the Navy, serving for four years. After two years of junior college in California, Milligan returned to the Philadelphia area. On the recommendation of a friend, he enrolled at Temple University.
Being one of the few students of color in his classes, he felt out of place at school but he received support and guidance from his professors. They encouraged him to consider public accounting, connected him with employers and coached him through interviews. Milligan graduated magna cum laude with an offer from Coopers & Lybrand, the largest accounting firm in the city at that time.
Milligan left Coopers & Lybrand after nine years when it became apparent that leadership was not ready to make an African American a partner at the firm. However, his experiences there were formative. Not only did he learn the basics of public accounting and auditing, but he also learned about entrepreneurship and running small businesses.
“I had a mentor [Bruce Cohen] at Coopers & Lybrand who really helped me focus not only on becoming a good auditor but also being a good entrepreneur,” says Milligan. “So when I made my decision to leave, that experience and that mentoring really helped me prepare to start my own CPA firm.”
With his staffing choices, business practices and outside endeavors, Milligan has surpassed his initial goal to establish a more diverse accounting firm. Today, approximately 50 percent of Milligan & Company’s employees are minorities and 75 percent of the employees are women. He has made a commitment to support minority-owned businesses in his personal and professional life.
One of the most important decisions he made was to get involved in government programs for small businesses and work with government agencies. Milligan & Company was, for a number of years, a member of the Small Business Administration’s 8(A) Business Development Program. This program offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. After outgrowing the program, Milligan’s company now provides assistance to other businesses seeking 8(A) certification.
Milligan & Company managed the Philadelphia Minority Business Development Center for eighteen years. “That was very rewarding,” he says. “We helped literally hundreds of businesses with their business and marketing plans, and get bank loans.”
Milligan also created a nonprofit, the Greater Philadelphia Minority Business Strategic Alliance (GPMBA), a network of twenty organizations dedicated to promoting the growth of minority business enterprises with shared resources and collaboration. While GPMBA is no longer operational, one of their most important partnerships remains; Milligan sponsors SCORE, a network of expert business mentors, by providing them with office space in Center City.
Milligan’s interest in community service isn’t limited to his work with entrepreneurs and small businesses. He has served on the boards of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Norristown Area School District Education Foundation, and Montgomery Hospital in Norristown. He is currently the president of the Greater Norristown NAACP. The Fox School Department of Accounting will honor John Milligan with the Community Service Award at the 2019 Accounting Achievement Awards.
“It’s rewarding to be able to have an impact on people and their lives and know somehow you helped other people reach their full potential.”
When they met as freshmen in Hardwick Hall, Khadijah “Kay” Robinson, BBA ’04, and Kiana “Kay” Muhly, BBA ’03, had no way of knowing that they would grow and flourish as best friends and business partners.
During their time at the Fox School, they honed their skills, Kiana in accounting and Khadijah in marketing and entrepreneurship. They were both very involved with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), a student professional organization (SPO). During their time in the organization, with Khadijah on the board and Kiana serving as the president of NABA, they worked together to expand the reach of the SPO, recruiting members who were not strictly pursuing careers in accounting but were looking to enhance their professional network and skills.
After graduation, Kiana began working in one of the big four accounting firms and became a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. She gained real-world experience in internal and external audits with companies of all sizes, including an international nonprofit. Then, she left the corporate world to focus on her family and smaller business ventures. Khadijah built a successful career in procurement, project management and most recently working in real estate for the U.S. General Services Administration in Philadelphia.
Kiana and Khadijah remained close, bonded by friendship and a shared entrepreneurial spirit. As their individual careers took shape, so did their company Kay & Kay Group, a joint venture that they founded in 2014. The mission of the company is to create innovative products that function easily and solve everyday problems.
Their flagship product, Aqua Waterproof Headwear, was inspired by a common challenge that women face whenever a vacation or a rainy day rolls around: a fashionable way to go swimming or enjoy life without getting their hair wet. Once they had the idea to develop stylish, breathable and completely waterproof headwear, they did research and found that there was nothing else like it on the market.
“We knew that we had a hit after talking through our idea with friends, family and focus groups. It resonated with everyone,” they say. “Not just African American women, but women across all walks of life. When we went to file a patent, even the agent loved the concept for Aqua Waterproof Headwear.”
They note that the key to their success while juggling their own families and careers is to treat Kay & Kay Group not as a side project or hobby, but as a business in its own right. Kiana and Khadijah have weekly meetings to discuss tasks, brainstorm new ideas and ensure that all “i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed when it comes to the quality and legitimacy of their product.
“We work together well,” Kiana says. “I am all business. I take care of the accounting and licensing, and I am very strict. Khadijah is so creative and is great at connecting with people and building relationships. Our skills support and complement each other.”
When it comes to the future of their business, they are tight-lipped about the details but say, “We are going to waterproof everyone’s lives.”
Lisa Peskin, MBA ’86, never thought she’d work in sales.
“I had the same negative connotations most people do of the pushy, obnoxious car salesman,” says Peskin, whose focus in the Fox School of Business MBA program was marketing. “But my opinion of sales certainly changed; now I’ve been doing it for 31 years.”
Peskin started her own sales training and management company in 2003. In 2010, it evolved into Business Development University.
“BDU works with salespeople, and if they’re underperforming, we help them get their numbers,” explains Peskin. “If they’re average, we figure out how to get them good. If they’re good, we get them great. And if they’re great, we figure out how to turn them into superstars. We maximize the performance potential of the people we work with; we help each person and each team drive the numbers.”
Peskin, in addition to being the CEO of BDU, is presently writing a book. The topic? Sales!
“The focus of the book,” she says, “is what I wish people told me back in 1986 when I started in sales. I had to make so many mistakes, and I wish someone had taught me the fundamentals so I didn’t have to figure it out on my own.”
With her upcoming book in mind, we asked Peskin, who in the past has worked with Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute to create workshops for students on similar topics, to share some of her sales secrets.
1. Have a well-defined game plan
“Most salespeople wing it every day; there’s no rhyme or reason to what they’re doing. How many coaches come into a game without a game plan? Doug Pederson, the Eagles’ coach, clearly had a well-defined game plan in their game against the Vikings. Salespeople need that, too. They need activity goals and result goals.”
2. Build strong networks
“In 1986, when I started in sales, it was dialing for dollars. There was no such thing as the Internet, or email, and it was all about knocking on doors and picking up the phone. The best way to fill your pipeline with good prospects is building a strong network of centers of influence who will be able to refer business on a consistent basis. The close ratios will be much higher if they come through networking.”
3. Leverage your existing customer base
“I have a concept called ‘squeeze the lemon.’ It’s not making lemonade out of lemons, it’s making the most out of every opportunity, every meeting, every day. Everything we do should be purposeful. A lot of times salespeople aren’t purposeful when it comes to their existing client base. The best way to get referrals is from happy customers.”
4. Uncover key information
“You must uncover the prospects needs and what they need to know. They need to know qualifying information, decision-making process and criteria, timelines, budget, and so on. Most salespeople are good at uncovering what the prospect needs, but not what they need to know to make the sale. They need to take a consultative approach.”
5. Prepare a customized presentation
“Most salespeople do what I call ‘showing up and throwing up.’ They go into presentation mode before they find out what the prospect cares about. When you walk into a physician’s office, they hand you a clipboard. Then you go into another office and they ask you the same questions and they take your vitals. Then the doctor does a full examination and they send you to get more tests and then they offer a diagnosis. Salespeople need to act more like doctors and not offer a diagnosis before they’ve done proper discovery.”
6. Handle objections effectively
“Most salespeople don’t try to handle objections, and the ability to properly and effectively handle them at the beginning and end of the sales process is critical. Objections aren’t a bad thing; salespeople have to stop thinking about it like that. Instead, they need to examine specifically why the prospect is objecting. There are six different objection handling techniques that we use to train people.”
7. Formulate a solid closing strategy
“Closing begins at the very beginning of the sales process. If you don’t set it up properly, you’re going to sound like a pushy, obnoxious car salesman trying to close at the end. There are about nine closing techniques. My favorite is the assumptive close, where if you’ve done everything right, you should be able to assume the sale.”
8. Maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated
“This is the most important thing. Are you willing to do what it takes to be successful and are you committed to it? The fact is you’re going to get way more ‘Nos’ than ‘Yesses,’ so you need a strong attitude, work ethic, and to stay motivated. In sales, you never get to take a breather because you’re only as good as your last month, last week, and last quarter. Attitude and motivation trump everything.”
Learn more about Fox MBA programs.
For the first time ever, the Fox School of Business is coming to a city near you! During the 2019-2020 academic year, we are hosting a series of events called Fox on the Road in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. The goal of these sessions is to offer professional development and career services and to bring the Fox alumni community together in their own backyards.
The events will feature a keynote speaker to present on a hot industry topic and will focus on providing opportunities for Fox graduates to learn from and connect with their fellow alumni.
If you have any questions or ideas about how to make this event series more valuable for you, email Stephanie Nissen, director of student experience and alumni engagement, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming soon: Details on speakers, cities and more.
When you graduate, you automatically become a member of the Fox School of Business Alumni Association (FSBAA). This membership means you’re eligible for many benefits, resources, and opportunities at the school. There are also alumni events locally and across the country that bring the Fox community together for professional development, networking and comradery.
Click here to learn more about how to get involved in the Fox alumni network.
A little over a year ago, Joël Da Piedade, Nassera Seghrouchni, and Habibou Djima met as classmates in their Fox Executive MBA program in Paris, France. Today, they are business partners. These three EMBA graduates decided to take the work from their capstone project and create an actual consulting company.
“Our capstone customer was the COO of a French [tourism] organization,” explains Nassera. “We rapidly developed a consulting relationship while doing the strategic audit. We enjoyed the collaboration together, how we managed the challenges constructively to successfully help the COO transform his organization and manage the risks.”
Throughout their experience working on the capstone project, Joël, Nassera, and Habibou soon realized the market need for a dynamic tourism consulting firm. The group researched several existing companies experiencing similar challenges faced by their capstone customer. This demonstrated there was a significant opportunity coming to fruition.
The most impactful part of the group’s capstone experience was the individual relationships they created. Joël quotes the group-spirit, learning from his classmates, and challenging each other as the most memorable part of his capstone experience. “Each of us was engaged to deliver the best [product] and help each other.” The support provided by their teammates gave the group the confidence to take their capstone project to the next level and launch their company.
“Axiom Et Associes is a consulting firm in strategy and transformation,” says Nassera. “The goal is to help organizations such as SMEs [and] non-profits define and implement their strategies and transform by being innovative, ambitious and pragmatic. Axiom Et Associes provides consulting and solutions in transformation (360, digital), customer experience, operation excellence, and business development strategies.”
Learn more about the Fox Executive MBA program.
With his organization Philly Financial Planning, Thomas McDevitt, MBA ’02, has made it his mission to help empower Philadelphia’s most economically disadvantaged citizens. The nonprofit, currently in the startup phase, provides the tools and education necessary to make smart financial decisions over time and across all levels of literacy.
“Right now, we are seeking strategic partnerships with organizations,” McDevitt explains. “Philanthropists, faith-based organizations, local government officials, community and neighborhood leaders, Philadelphia-based corporations, learning institutions, banks and financial services firms can all play a meaningful role in helping us to achieve our long-term strategic goals of closing Philadelphia’s wealth gap.”
As part of Philly Financial Planning, McDevitt also hopes to roll out The Eagle’s Nest, a spin-off idea inspired by popular TV show Shark Tank. Local Philly entrepreneurs will have a chance to pitch for startup or expansion financing. An integral part of this service will be teaching inner-city entrepreneurs how to write a comprehensive business plan. His team is also working to kick off a city-wide Stock Market Challenge, where participants can win cash prizes for selecting top-performing stocks over defined, measured periods.
McDevitt has a rich history of giving back and educating diverse communities. After graduating from the Fox School with an MBA and a concentration in Finance, he co-founded a professional continuing education company, McDevitt & Kline, LLC. The second half of the organization’s namesake, Dr. Bill Kline received his PhD in Strategic Management from the Fox School in 2012. He currently oversees the daily operations at the firm as the business grows on a national scale. Since its inception, the team has provided continuing education courses to over 7,000 attorneys and CPAs.
Last year, McDevitt also became an IRS Enrolled Agent, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP). During this tax season, he is leveraging his expertise to give back to even more members of his community by providing affordable, low priced tax resolution services and financial literacy training for Philadelphia working families and small business owners.
“The financial literacy programs that exist in Philadelphia today are definitely not addressing the root causes of generational poverty,” McDevitt explains. “In my various roles, I hope to change that by providing transformative, lifelong learning experiences for Philadelphians.”
What was it like to be a woman earning a doctorate degree forty years ago? Dr. Gloria Thomas, PhD ’80, has firsthand experience.
Today, Dr. Thomas is an accomplished researcher, a dedicated professor, and an esteemed administrator at Baruch College.
But in 1980, she was a trendsetter for women at the Fox School of Business.
As the first woman to obtain a doctorate from the Fox School, Thomas received her PhD in marketing, a field that is now predominantly women, but was all men during her tenure at Temple. “Women were very uncommon in business PhDs, even marketing, when I was in school,” she recalled. “And I rarely saw women at conferences.”
Dr. Thomas is currently a professor of marketing and the Director of the Zicklin Undergraduate Honors Program at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, City University of New York. Thomas praises her experience at Temple University for the appreciation she has developed towards public institutions.
“Temple has taught me to believe in public education,” Thomas professed. “I went to Baruch right from Temple and we have really smart students from all over the world with parents who don’t speak English or have any money.” After years of private schools, Thomas’ experience at the Fox School helped her appreciate the value of diversity in education. “Cultural exposure makes public institutions more valuable and it gives students opportunities they normally wouldn’t have,” she said.
With undergraduate degrees in math and art history, Thomas pursued a doctorate in marketing. Following graduation, she went straight to Baruch, where her roles included professor, associate dean, and director of the doctoral program. She currently serves as director of the business honors program.
“My current role is my most favorite,” Thomas said. “Many students at large public schools don’t get the attention they would at a private school, but I make sure to give that attention in my honors program.”
Thomas credits her mother, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s law school in the 1940s, for her then unconventional educational choices. “I grew up thinking everyone was equal. I never thought that [by going to business school] I was going into a man’s profession,” Thomas said.
That ‘man’s profession’ has changed. Today, 50-percent of PhD students are women at the Fox School, compared to 45-percent for all business-focused doctoral programs in the United States, according to the Council of Graduates Schools’ 2017 report.
Thomas did not let any obstacles get in her way of her goals. “It never occurred to me that women couldn’t do whatever they wanted to,” she recounted. “In reality, many women [at that time] didn’t even know they had options.”
“It never occurred to me that I didn’t.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
This Sunday, March 17th is the one day of the year that everyone can experience the Luck of the Irish. Many people celebrate the holiday in different ways, such as cooking up some corned beef and cabbage, going to parades, and playing St. Patrick’s Day themed games.
At the Fox School of Business, we love the opportunity to eat, drink and support alumni at the same time. Create your own “Temple Made Bar Crawl” or pop by any of these alumni-owned businesses this St. Patrick’s Day!
Love City Brewing Company
Melissa Walter, EDU ‘11, met her future husband and business partner over a keg of beer at the friend’s New Year’s Eve party. As their love grew, so did their interest in brewing craft beer. The story of Love City can be summed up in nine simple words: “Love for each other, for craft beer, for Philadelphia.” They have 15+ beers to choose from, as well as a host of signature cocktails, wine and cider. The bar often hosts local food trucks like 2 Street Sammies, Ole Tapas and more.
Charlie was a sinner. & Bar Bombon
If you are looking to spend Paddy’s Day in a classy joint drinking cocktails and munching on vegan food, look no further than Charlie was a sinner. or Bar Bombon, owned by Nicole Marquis, TFMA ’05.
Charlie was a sinner. is an all vegan Midtown Village bar with small plates and strong drinks. The dark, moody bar is great for a date or small get together. This is not your typical bar to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but for some, that could be its allure.
For a bit of holiday cultural fusion, stop by Bar Bombon, a vegan Puerto Rican spot serving arepas, tacos, empanadas and more. Even if the weather is cold, drinking a salted grapefruit margarita or a Hotel Nacional De Cube (white rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple and lemon) you will feel like you could step out of the bar and onto a beach.
Victory Brewing Company
Friends from fifth-grade and beyond, Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, TYL ‘85, used their shared love of beer to open their own brewery in Downingtown, PA. Victory Brewing can be found at their 300-seat brewery in Downingtown, Parkesburg, Kennett Square and in retail stores across the tri-state area and beyond. So, even if you plan to stay home and hang with friends on Sunday, you can pick up a six-pack of Victory Brewing beer.
No matter what vibe you are going for to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, there is a bar or a beer to fit the bill and support the Temple University community at the same time.
Glenn Booraem, BBA ’89, leads the Investment Stewardship team at Vanguard, voting for more than $5.5 trillion worth of investments and engaging with more than 700 different companies last year.
Booraem returned to the Fox School Feb. 5 as a one-day Executive in Residence. Shortly after arriving on campus, Booraem was a guest lecturer in a classroom with Professor Lalitha Naveen and several PhD students from the Accounting, Finance and Strategy departments. He also met with administrators, faculty and staff and attended a Translational Research Seminar in the new executive conference room at 1810 Liacouras Walk.
Since 2001, Booraem has led Vanguard’s investment stewardship efforts. He is involved in several industry initiatives, including the Investor Stewardship Group, the Investor Advisory Group for the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and is a frequent speaker on corporate governance matters.
He has been named to the National Association of Corporate Directors’ Directorship 100 list every year since 2010 and is considered one of the most influential people in corporate governance.
As the investment stewardship officer at Vanguard, Booraem is an expert in board governance and how it aligns with long-term value for organizations. Booraem explained that the majority of Vanguard investments are index funds, and so Vanguard buys shares in all the companies listed in a fund, such as the S&P 500, the Russell 500 or the FTSE 200. As a result, Vanguard holds shares in more than 13,000 companies around the world on behalf of 20 million clients who have invested $5.5 trillion through the firm.
“Because we are going to own all of those companies we want to make sure they are run well in the long-term interests of their owners,” Booraem says. “That really starts with the board of directors. The board of directors is the group that works for us as shareholders to select management. They hire and fire the CEO, they oversee management and they incentivize management through compensation.”
Vanguard has three ways it influences board governance and corporate management to ensure they are aligned with creating long-term value for investors. Booraem explained:
First, they are the proxy vote on all the shares their investors hold. At annual board meetings, the stewardship team votes on all the items on the ballot for a given company.
“We’ve got a really simple mission, to take a stand for all investors, treat them fairly and give them the best chance for investment success,” Booraem says. “From a governance standpoint, taking a stand for all investors by using our voice and our vote to support better governance of companies we believe adds value and that gives our clients the best chance for investment success.”
When Vanguard has questions or concerns with a particular company, Booraem or another member of the team will approach the board or management for a one-to-one conversation. Vanguard engages with a company when there is an item on the ballot that they are concerned with, or if there is a crisis such as a data breach or a scandal involving management or executives.
“Having the opportunity to talk to management or the board gives us the ability to wander into the shades of gray,” Booraem says. “We have black and white opportunity on the ballot but engagement gives us the opportunity to steer our discussion in the right direction.”
The third form of influence the stewardship team has is through regular interaction with the board and management teams of companies.
“We expect to largely, by virtue of the index funds, practically be a permanent owner of the stock over the long term,” Booraem says. “If we see gaps in their board composition, or if they have difficulty articulating how their capabilities are aligned with long-term strategy, that gives us an opportunity to say, ‘your shareholders should better understand the linkage between what you are doing on the governance side and long-term value.’”
What are index funds?
Index funds are a form of mutual funds. Mutual funds are money pooled together by a group to invest in stocks, bonds or other securities, and controlled by a manager. An index fund is a mutual fund with a portfolio of securities designed to match the components of a market index, such as Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The purpose is to provide broad market exposure with low operating costs and relatively few changes in the portfolio.
A self-described “octopus woman,” Rakia Reynolds, BBA ‘01, is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, strategist, storyteller, marketer and fashionista, often all at once.
Performing this work-life balancing act and re-defining what it means to work for herself has been a learning experience for Reynolds. When she is not caring for her family, Reynolds is running her public relations agency, Skai Blue Media, which is based in Philadelphia. Working with brands like Comcast NBCUniversal, Dell, the Home Shopping Network (HSN), United By Blue, Ted Baker and others including Serena Williams’ clothing brand, is not exhausting for Reynolds. It’s invigorating her.
“The most successful people are the ones who find the secret sauce where work doesn’t feel like work,” says Reynolds in a 2017 interview with Marie Claire. “You wake up before your alarm goes off. You know the elevator pitch of your company without having to practice. You know what your career path is if you and yourself thinking about it at night.”
In addition to her role as founder and CEO of Skai Blue Media, she is currently serving as the face of Small Business for Dell, speaking at conferences and online about the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in small business technology. Reynolds also currently serves as the president of the Philadelphia chapter of Women in Film & Television and the event’s chair of the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications.
She makes it a habit to give advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and students. Her top recommendation is to build a trusted circle, or team, to lean on. She calls it a “FriendTor” advisory board. FriendTor is a term coined by her former chief of staff, Almaz Crowe. “These people are your unpaid trusted source for honest feedback and confidants for tough decisions ranging from how to be decisive in your decision-making to how to pick the right investor. They’re those who will help you to find your true north when things look like they are going south,” she explains. Reynold’s credits her FriendTors and her family for making her success a possibility.
Reynolds will not stop until she makes each and every one of her dreams a reality. “I want everything,” Reynolds says. “And I really don’t let anything stop me when it comes to having everything, because I really believe that that’s an attainable goal.”
This is what makes Rakia Reynolds a Go-Getter. Read more about her and the other Fox School of Business Go Getters by clicking here.
Throughout the month of February, the Fox School of Business is highlighting the voices and businesses of esteemed entrepreneurs, executives, volunteers and more. These talented professionals are striving to make the world a more diverse, inclusive and accessible place for future generations.
Since joining the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) as an undergraduate student at the Fox School, Tamika Boateng, BBA ’06, made the organization’s motto, “Lifting As We Climb” her personal mission. Studying asset management and risk, Boateng became passionate about helping others while on her personal journey. Along with helping others in her undergraduate class, Boateng mentored a young woman in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and through networking found a personal mentor of her own.
“My mentee helped immerse me in Philly culture and showed me so much of what the city has to offer,” she explains. “During that time we also spoke about our lives and shared experiences. We helped each other grow and learned so much from one another.”
Today, Boateng is a management consultant for financial services at PricewaterhouseCoopers and is a board member for Settlement Music School, one of the largest and oldest community schools of the arts in the U.S. The organization offers instruction in music and the arts to children and adults, regardless of age, background, ability or economic circumstances.
She has over 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining PwC, Tamika served the Global Head of Bank Strategy and Relations at Vanguard. She has led global teams and had oversight of globally significant investment banks in Canada, Europe, Australia and Hong Kong. Tamika has extensive experience in investment platforms, strategy, risk and transformational initiatives in custody, transfer agency, fund accounting, endowments, donor advised funds, institutional asset management, third party oversight and brokerage services.
After graduating from Temple, Boateng went on Drexel University to pursue a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Innovation and The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania for an Investment Management Analyst Certification.
“Being a student at the Fox school not only expanded my professional network and education, but it also helped me understand my passion. I learned how to harness and use my authenticity to navigate any situation,” says Boateng.
Throughout the month of February, the Fox School of Business is highlighting the voices and businesses of black entrepreneurs, executives, volunteers and more. These talented professionals are striving to make the world a more diverse, inclusive and accessible place for future generations.
To balance his impressively extensive workload, Anthony Copeman, BBA ‘14, chooses to work smart. Since he was a student studying accounting at the Fox School of Business, Copeman has founded a non-profit, began working for the City of Philadelphia, and launched an animated financial literacy YouTube series aimed at millennials called $hares.
His non-profit, Backyard Business, was born while he was still working on his undergraduate degree at Temple. The mission of the organization was to empower inner city youth to create businesses that met the needs of their community. But then Copeman decided that, if he really wanted to make an impact and inspire youth to embrace entrepreneurship, he needed to practice what he preached.
As a result, Financial Lituation came to fruition in 2016. What started as an Instagram account filled with financial inspiration evolved into a one-on-one financial coaching program, and then a digital platform hosting online workshops. The Financial Lituation website describes their mission best:
“FINANCIAL LITUATION is millennial-infused, digital platform which focuses on helping you reinvent your finances and reimagine your freedom. We believe that your mindset is the primarily currency for building wealth, and money is second. We help you start the journey towards financial freedom through mindset, movement, money, and maintenance.”
To build on this vision, Copeman came up with the idea of $hares. The series teaches financial literacy in an accessible way for millennials that might not have had exposure to finance topics. “My desire for starting $hares was to offer a creative way to reach millennials and help them understand personal finance concepts,” he says. “Financial literacy isn’t taught in the classroom. That may be a good thing, because if it can’t be taught in a relevant way than it shouldn’t be taught at all. With $hares, I want to bridge that gap.”
With an unprecedented amount of student debt, a volatile financial future, as well as lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth than generations past, it can be uncomfortable downright frightening for millennials to talk about finances. When reflecting on the impact that these ventures have had on his audience, particularly millennials and underrepresented groups, Copeman says that $hares creates a safe space for people to be open about their money experiences and goals.
“Our goal is not to preach money, but rather freedom,” Copeman explains. “And that’s why millennials who engage with our content feel comfortable sharing their stories. All of our animated characters are approachable and relatable to the everyday millennial.”
While the entrepreneurial spirit flows freely through Copeman, after completing a year and a half of national service with AmeriCorps from 2013 to 2015, he decided to continue on the path of helping others by becoming a civil servant with the the City of Philadelphia. He is currently working in family court, but is in the process of transitioning to a new position in financial services.
Looking to the future, Copeman is committed to scaling the impact of his various projects, measuring the results, and trying new things. “I am constantly inspired by innovation and creativity. I’m always asking myself, ‘how can I leverage my passion and put my own creative spin on it?’”
Throughout the month of February, the Fox School of Business is highlighting the voices and businesses of black entrepreneurs, executives, volunteers and more. These talented professionals are striving to make the world a more diverse, inclusive and accessible place for future generations.
From his work as an assistant professor of Marketing at Howard University to co-founding the Our D.R.E.A.M Foundation, Dr. Johnny Graham, PhD ‘16, has made it his mission to give back to his hometown of Baltimore using his expertise and access.
In his role at Howard, Dr. Graham conducts research on brand management and teaches introductory courses on marketing management and marketing analytics. He received both his undergraduate degree and MBA at the University of Maryland-College Park, where he was a Banneker Key-Scholar and Dean’s Scholar. He then went on to earn a doctorate in marketing from the Fox School.
In addition to his esteemed status as a scholar, Graham is an experienced jazz musician and entrepreneur. He previously served as chief partner of his own strategic consulting firm, Graham & Peters LLC, which specialized in helping young professionals in their entrepreneurial pursuits.
During his time as a PhD student, he was inspired by working with the Philadelphia Future’s program and the ever-present desire to give back to Baltimore. He used that passion and partnered with his fellow entrepreneur and former college classmate Justin Peters to develop the philanthropic concept that would revolutionize their careers.
“Creating something that would be engaging, but also informative for young people was important to us,” he says. “We wanted to expose youth from our community to avenues of economic opportunity, while also building their overall personal development and life skills.”
What started as an idea to organize a week-long youth entrepreneurship camp, in Baltimore evolved into Our D.R.E.A.M, a nonprofit organization aimed at entrepreneurship-based education for youth in underserved communities. Graham leverages his wide range of knowledge on business topics such as marketing research and strategy to establish the vision and program curriculums for Our D.R.E.A.M.
Through the organization’s cornerstone program, The Y.E.S. (Youth Entrepreneurship Startup) Program, Baltimore-based students learn basic business concepts and are given access to resources to help them develop leadership and communications skills, and to fuel their entrepreneurial spirit. The program regularly features lectures and activities led by local entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Since its inception in 2015, the YES Program has served 70+ students from 30+
different schools across the Baltimore metro area.
In 2018, the Y.E.S Program partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Baltimore City for the Teen Biz Challenge, which resulted in 11 students receiving over $28,000 of business startup funding.
With the largest cohort in the program’s history and the Mayor’s Office partnership, the organization has gathered more momentum than ever before. Dr. Graham and the rest of the Our D.R.E.A.M team used their connections within the business world to provide
student participants with volunteers to help them further develop their business ideas.
“The students came up with so many brilliant, tangible ideas, a mobile smoothie stand, a reinvented toothbrush, a hygiene subscription-based service and so much more. They showed business ingenuity and intuitiveness that I certainly did not have when I was their age,” said Dr. Graham.
When Dr. Graham looks toward the future, his goals are to grow holistically as a business thought leader and academic, and to make even more impact in the classroom, in his field, and in his community.
Kate Zipin knows what empowerment looks like. As the founder and director of Own Your Awesomeness, a program that uses summer camps to help high school girls take pride in who they are, she has seen empowerment in action.
“Last summer towards the end of camp I asked the girls to spend some time writing an introduction for themselves,” Zipin remembers. After several minutes, Zipin invited the women to present their introductions to the group.
“I thought that maybe two or three girls would want to share,” Zipin recalls. Instead, five girls immediately raised their hands.
“The first girl went up and talked about her family, and when she was done the room exploded in applause,” says Zipin. “Another talked about wanting to be the first in her family to go to college.” By the end of the session every girl but one had shared her story to affirming words and raucous applause.
“I was really proud of them,” Zipin says, “but maybe more importantly I could see that they were really proud of themselves and each other.”
Since she started Own Your Awesomeness three years ago, Zipin has watched teens find their voices. Through open dialogue about cultural issues impacting women, skills building workshops that teach girls how to change a tire or use power tools, and activities that keep the girls moving and having fun together, these young women create a sense of pride in each other and themselves.
Seeing the program’s impact is not an issue. The struggle for Zipin (and most nonprofits) is measuring that impact. More and more grants are requiring data as part of the application process, and even individual donors appreciate metrics as a way of ensuring their money makes a difference.
To help her address the need for data, Zipin reached out to the Fox Board Fellows program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Fox Board Fellows was created in 2000 to match skilled MBA students with non-profit boards for year-long partnerships supported by coursework.
“Fox Board Fellows is a win-win for its nonprofit partners and the Fellows,” says Program Director Maureen Cannon. “Nonprofit partners benefit from hosting an experienced, passionate MBA student as a non-voting, working board member. Fellows gain valuable insight and perspective on the realities of nonprofit management and are better prepared to be effective board leaders in the future.”
Own Your Awesomeness was matched with Fox Board Fellow Teena Bounpraseuth, a full-time student in the Global MBA program. A native of Philadelphia, Bounpraseuth says non-profit youth programs were a big part of her own childhood in the city.
“Growing up, I was part of the youth arts workshop program through the Asian Arts Initiative,” says Bounpraseuth. “It gave me an opportunity to learn more about my Asian American identity in a safe and inviting space and to see how art can be used in bridging communities. The Initiative was really important to me as a teenager and I see Own Your Awesomeness doing similar work with the summer camp. Kate and her team are amazing. They’re helping to build a network of strong, confident, and independent women.”
One of Bounpraseuth’s most vivid memories of that time was watching an Asian American spoken word duo. “Just to see the confidence in those women meant so much to me. Seeing them ooze confidence, knowing their history, embracing it, and that empowering them — It helped set an example for me.”
To help Own Your Awesomeness quantify their impact, Bounpraseuth interviewed leaders from several nonprofits throughout the city that work with youth. “Everyone measures impact differently,” she says. “The key is that your metrics are actionable, manageable and comparable, and most importantly that they align with your organization’s mission.”
Bounpraseuth also led the board through a logic model. This tool helps organizations think through how their resources and activities translate into the outputs and broader impact they hope to have.
“The Logic Model was helpful,” Zipin says, “because it gave us a chance to get on the same page about our goals. Now that we have those articulated, we can ask questions in our assessments that specifically apply to those goals.”
Bounpraseuth’s project helped Own Your Awesomeness define what metrics they should be tracking, and also highlighted that some things make better stories than charts. “One thing I’ve learned is that, even if people have a lot of numbers, there’s still a lot left up to interpretation,” she says. “Some things are just very difficult to calculate.”
This month as Zipin wraps up three weeks of camp she will distribute surveys about leadership and confidence, skills building, and plans for the future. Part of Zipin’s impact will make it onto those surveys.
But some of Zipin’s work, uncovering the intangible awesomeness of each of these women, can’t be relegated to a page. Women have laughed at themselves, talked about hard issues, played touch football, and changed tires. Some of that impact will just have to play out in the lives these women forge in the years to come.
Fox Board Fellows just matched another cohort of Fellows with nonprofits! To get a fellow at your nonprofit contact Maureen Cannon at Maureenc@temple.edu.
For the second time in a row, another successful alumnus of the Fox School, Kevin Hong, PhD ’14, won the prestigious 2018 Early Career Award by the Association for Information Systems. This award recognizes individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already made outstanding research, teaching and service contributions to the field of information systems. Last year Gordon Burtch, PhD ’13, was awarded this honor.
Hong is an associate professor of information systems, director of the IS PhD program, and co-director of the digital society initiative at the W. P. Carey School of Business of Arizona State University. “I feel really honored and lucky to have won this award,” Hong says. “I attribute who I am as a researcher today to my experiences and associations at the Fox School.”
We spoke with Hong to learn more about his journey.
Who were your mentors at the Fox School?
A lot of people at Fox have inspired me and taught me not just be a better researcher, but also a better person. Paul Pavlou was my advisor and mentor through the years. I learned so much from him, including how to write and publish papers.
If Dr. Pavlou is my research mentor, I’d say David Schuff is my teaching mentor. I watch all his videos and learn how to engage students while teaching. I also get ideas and examples to share with the students in the analytics class from him.
How did the Fox PhD program support you in achieving your degree?
The rigorous curriculum and training at Fox have helped me a lot. During the time I was a PhD student, Fox had recruited many world-class faculty members who were also high profile researchers from prestigious universities. They had solid training and the required expertise to teach the students state-of-the-art methodologies which I still use today.
What are some of the current research projects you’re working on?
My primary stream of research has been studying how to design and evaluate the efficiency of digital platforms. I also plan on taking a sabbatical next year to explore new technologies like artificial intelligence, and how humans and AI can collaborate better to develop newer streams of research.
What is your advice to current and prospective Fox PhD students?
What’s most important to be successful is to take initiative. Don’t merely do what the advisors ask you to do. Try to start your research early on. Discuss those ideas with your advisors and lead those projects. The environment created for research at Fox is truly amazing and you should take advantage of it, perform and deliver. For a doctoral student, the culture here teaches you to put research before everything and truly nurtures you to succeed in your academic career.
Read more about the previous Fox alumnus to win this award.
Learn more about Fox School Research.