Have you recently bought a greeting card at a store and noticed someone looking over your shoulder, observing your behaviors, and jotting down notes? If so, that someone might have been Fox School alum Ali Moore.
Moore, MBA ’16, is the founder of Groundswell Greetings, an online greeting card company that makes artistic, hip, forward-thinking cards with millennial consumers in mind. One of the ways Moore conducted research before launching her company was by lurking around card aisles to see what people were buying.
“I stood in the card aisle at drug and grocery stores a few times every week and watched people. It was creepy, but very anthropologic,” recalls Moore, who studied anthropology as an undergraduate. “I tried to figure out what cards people were attracted to, how they responded to different types of card, whether they flipped them over to look at the back, what price points they were attracted to, and on and on. I did a lot of research in the wild.”
If you’re looking for a birthday card with Beyoncé or Frida Kahlo on it, or a wedding card for a same-sex couple, Groundswell has what you’re looking for. Plus, they’re all designed by Philadelphia-based artists: One of Moore’s goals is to harness the creative economy and energy in Philly, and she plans to slowly increase the brand’s radius by launching in other cities.
5. You’ve Done Your Research
“I tried to learn as much as possible about the industry and my competitors. There are a lot of designers that create gorgeous cards, but I wasn’t seeing people capitalize on that by pairing it with a super-modern, user-friendly e-commerce experience. I did a lot of research on other direct-to-consumer brands and what those experiences are like. For instance, Dollar Shave Club is one that everyone knows about. Millennials love door-to-door brands that disrupt traditional industries, and I wanted to harness that. I had read a case study in business school about American Greetings—which, along with Hallmark, is the other big card company—and it was about transitioning the industry to the digital era and how it would survive. I thought it was fascinating because I love cards, and most people I know love cards, yet there was this consumer niche that hadn’t been capitalized.”
— Groundswell (@groundswellgtgs) July 25, 2017
4. You’ve Found Your Consumer
“The way we still buy greeting cards at physical stores and that they take up floor space at CVS is astonishing to me. I wanted to come up with an idea that connected fresh content that spoke more to millennials—let’s get rid of the sparkly butterflies and the cheesy poems—and make things that are more relevant to how people communicate in 2017. Everything from the look and words in the cards, to also considering, for example, how there aren’t many gay wedding cards or Ramadan cards. I wanted to attract a more diverse audience, and create a place where you could get a greeting card no matter who you are. And to this day, it blows my mind in greeting card aisles the amount of sophomoric, fart joke cards that make so much money. Who wants that? Who loves these cards? No one I know wants that card on their birthday. I’m honing in on a specific niche: people who care about recycled paper and care about a locally made product that’s really artful and playful.”
3. You’re Willing to Fail
“I was nervous about failure. I had a lot of support from friends and family, but I was nervous about risking my professional reputation. I had a great thing going with Comcast and I walked away from it, so I was worried about how this would look on a resume if I failed. I know many small businesses don’t work out, so I’m aware of all the obstacles I’m facing. I tried to weigh general advice, like that you should stay in a job for at least a few years, with the impulse of wanting to do my own thing. I was insecure about falling into these millennial stereotypes about how the grass is always greener, and that we can’t sit still, and that we’re always looking for something more exciting. Right now, I don’t have any regrets. But it’s good to talk to a lot of people and get a lot of opinions before you do it. Definitely calculate your risks. Even if I fail, I won’t regret it. Even if I go back to working for someone else, I’ve gained some really valuable knowledge.”
v v v excited to introduce a couple of our #phillystyle holiday designs, which you can soon find (among others) at fave center city shopping spot @tselaine! 💌 . . . #jawn #cityhall #williampenn #happyholidays #holidaycards #tistheseaon #pretzel #menorah #architecture #santa #sleigh #reindeer #hanukkah #christmas #merryxmas #sneakpeak #greetingcards #stationery #phillymade #whyilovephilly #visitphilly #phillylove #giftguide #phillystylesnaps
2. You’re Prepared to Break Rules
“In business school, everyone told us not to try to change people’s behavior, but here I am trying to do exactly that. I’m trying to get people to stop going to CVS and Walgreens to buy cards they’re disappointed in. Instead I am moving that purchase process online. I need to get people used to ordering their cards online, and that’s a big challenge. There are so many great competitors out there, so I have to constantly be thinking about how I can get people’s attention and get people excited about the brand in a new way.”
1. You’re Ready to Be Your Own Boss
“One thing that’s been really hard for me is knowing what to do every day. All of a sudden, you’re the master of your domain and you don’t have someone telling you what to do. It’s a bit paralyzing. Now that the company is operational and legally sound and I have a product and all the supply chains are in place, I wake up every day and think about how I can get a new customer. I think about how I can raise brand awareness and how I can sell a card, and there are millions of ways to answer those questions. I created a massive list of things to do—like have coffee with a new collaborator, learn more about digital advertising, talk to local press, attend an industry event—and there are literally a billion things. I try to knock five to 10 of them out every single day.”
Learn more about the Fox School’s Global MBA program.
Every brand has a story to tell and they often need help telling it. This is where Lauren Moreno comes in.
Moreno, MS ’16, is the co-founder of Team 624 Communications, a Philly-based firm that develops and executes social media and content strategies for small- and medium-sized businesses in the fashion and lifestyle space.
“I’ve always loved working with small businesses,” says Moreno. “And I always knew I’d go into business for myself.”
Soon after completing her MS in Digital Innovation in Marketing at the Fox School, Moreno and longtime friend Kaitlin Cleary launched 624. Their many clients include Printfresh Studio, a textile design studio that runs a stationery brand and a fashion line, and Whimsy Greenville, a wedding-focused gifts and stationery company. We recently caught up with Moreno and asked her to share some of the big marketing mistakes brands make with their social and digital content strategies (and lack thereof). Here’s what she said.
5. Not Having a Unique Voice
“You can’t be everything to everyone. A lot of brands don’t intentionally try to do that, but they end up doing it by not paying attention to how they’re talking to their customers and to what message they’re sending. We develop brand voice to stand out from the competition and to have a consistency that builds trust. We work with clients to develop personas, and that makes it easier to speak to particular audiences and to what they care about. This makes it more tangible—to say, ‘A customer who cares about how her clothes are made is going to be more interested in the details of the clothing we’re promoting, in hearing the story behind the clothes, than how other people are wearing the clothes.’ One recent client saw that their main competition’s social strategy included a lot of social speak, like ‘omg’ and ‘lol.’ But the client was telling a very different story: They were more serious, more thoughtful. We developed their voice to capitalize on these brand traits and show how different they were from the competition.”
4. Not Engaging Followers and Building Community
“Social media is a great customer service tool and it’s important to answer questions promptly and respond to people’s comments. Beyond that, social media is also about being part of the conversation. When brands come to us and want to increase their Instagram following, posting pretty pictures and having a consistent voice isn’t enough: They need to interact with followers and other influencers. Otherwise, they won’t see the results they want. You have to be aware of the conversations your customers care about, then find a way to drive that conversation and be a part of it.”
3. Obsessing Over Going Viral
“Some clients are obsessed with the idea of things going viral, but things don’t just go viral. There’s a lot of planning and strategy, and most often a lot of money put behind it; it doesn’t just happen on its own. Distribution strategy is just as important as the content itself, and you need to look to paid social to get that content to the people who care about it.”
2. Posting Identical Content Across Platforms
“There’s no reason for your customers to follow you on Instagram if you’re posting the exact same content on Facebook. We work with clients to tailor content that fits into the ecosystem of each specific social platform and on strategically choosing which platforms brands use in the first place. We’d rather them do one platform really well than do two or three poorly, and just use the same content across them all.”
1. Not Having a Goal-Based Strategy
“We have a lot of brands that are active on all these channels, and they’re creating great content, but they’re not clear on how the work they’re doing is aligned with their business goals because they’re not taking time to develop a good strategy. There should be a good business reason, for instance, for creating an Instagram profile. And it’s important to plan the content and what you’re actually sharing so you can be consistent with your brand voice and image. What you’re putting into the world needs to have an impact on your business, otherwise you’re wasting your time. Small businesses have limited resources, so they need to make the most of what they have while ultimately providing value to their customers.”
Learn more about the Fox School’s specialized masters program in Digital Innovation in Marketing.
“Don’t be afraid to take chances,” says Richard Henne, BBA ’15. “You have to try something new even if you fail, because you can learn from failure.”
Henne is the co-founder of Ivory Ella, an apparel company that donates 10% of its net profits to Save the Elephants and other charitable organizations. Along with five friends, Henne launched the company in 2015. Now they have nearly 100 employees, a 40,000 square foot office space, and have donated over $1 million to important causes.
On Saturday, Henne gave the keynote address during Temple University Alumni Weekend’s Lead and Learn Summit. Hosted at the Fox School, the topic was failure, namely how a series of alumni entrepreneurs have been able to spin their failures into victories.
We asked Henne to share with us a few of the mistakes he made along the way to Ivory Ella’s success. From overseas raids on intellectual property pirates to driving a U-Haul truck around the country seeking inventory, here are some of the ways Henne learned from his mistakes.
1. Not Having a Business Plan
“We had no business plan, no customer service strategy, no idea what we were going to do. We took a T-shirt design, put it online, and it went viral. We were chasing our tail the entire time. It was hectic. We didn’t lockdown supplies, printers, employees, anything. We sold out 500 shirts in 15 minutes, so once we hit that preorder button, we were chasing demand for the next year. I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way, but it was a good problem to have. Definitely have a plan in place before you launch.”
2. Not Having a Talent Hiring Plan
“When you’re in a situation like we were, we were desperate for help. We hired friends, family members, and pretty much anyone who would come work for us. We didn’t have a talent scout, we didn’t have people looking for experienced managers, we just brought in anyone we knew who worked hard and was willing. Things worked out, but it wasn’t the most effective approach. You have to be careful when you bring in talent; it shouldn’t just be a shotgun spread kind of approach.”
3. Trusting Everyone
“Not being in the industry for long, and not knowing how big business worked, we went from a company that started in a basement to shipping our millionth order last month. It’s stressful and you’re put in situations you aren’t prepared for. We would have a lot of suppliers tell us, “We’re going to get this to you, it’s going to be perfect, don’t worry about it.” And nine times out of 10, those promises were fake. People will tell you what you want to hear, then won’t deliver. With our company, we started off wanting to do the exact opposite: We set goals, then we try to blow them out of the water, and never come up short. Various suppliers promised us shirts, and that fell through, so I spent the first few months driving around the country in a U-Haul truck buying shirts and driving them back to our factory. It was crazy.”
4. Underestimating Scale
“When we started, we were in a basement. We quickly rented out a storage space, and outgrew that. Then we moved to a section in a strip mall, where we bought two printers, hired a big staff, and a had big front room. That lasted three months, then we rented out the car dealership across the street, which we used for storage. That only lasted three months before we outgrew it. Then we moved to Mystic, Conn., where we shared a building with Aqua Massage International, so on the other side of the building, these guys were making aqua massage beds. From there we finally found a 40,000 square foot warehouse in Westerly, R.I. I can’t imagine we’ll have to grow again, but having a plan in place for growth and space would’ve initially saved us a lot of time and money. Our new location is huge. We only use about half the space right now; the other half is a basketball court and recreation area for our employees. We have a lot of space to grow. And we’ve learned how to manage our inventory, so as long as we stay on top of that, we shouldn’t have to expand again. Who knows, maybe an international office is in the future.”
5. Not Preparing for Intellectual Property Issues
“We have counterfeits all over. We take down about 100 a week. We even conducted a raid on Chinese soil to shut down a factory, but when we got there it was abandoned. It’s been an interesting process, and it wasn’t something I knew about going in. Like with so much else, we’ve had to learn fast. Other manufacturers steal our designs, so if we sell a shirt for $31.99, they sell it for $9.99. We donate 10%, they don’t donate anything. It’s people who want to wear the brand but not pay the cost. Big brands deal with this every day, but not knowing from the beginning this was going to be such a huge epidemic for us, it left us unprepared out of the gate. IP is huge, so think about it and have a plan before you jump in.”
Greg Silvesti, MBA ’09 | Director of Global Customer Insights, Patient Technologies and Personalized Medicine, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
On being a Philly lifer: “I am a die hard Eagles fan—season tickets have been in my family since 1962, and the last home game I missed was in 1988. And I spend my summers down the shore in Stone Harbor. We’re total beach people, you can find us there every weekend.”
If you want to develop a great product, you need to know where to start. “You need to have a human-centric approach,” says Greg Silvesti, Director of Global Customer Insights at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, MBA ’09. “You don’t start with the technology, you start with the individual. Unless you have a firm understanding of the individual and the problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll be lost.”
Silvesti has been at the forefront of the thriving intersection of health, technology, and innovation. He previously worked at Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb. For the last two years, he has worked with Teva, a multinational pharmaceutical company where one of the main goals is to “go beyond the pill.”
“The pharmaceutical space is being commoditized very quickly,” explains Silvesti, “so we’re going ‘beyond the pill’ and creating new business models, new technologies, and new ways to promote health and wellness without simply relying on a drug. When I joined, I brought in a new process for understanding who our customers are—whether they’re caregivers, patients, family members, or health care providers—and a human-centric attitude to product development.”
One big project Teva has been working on, in collaboration with IBM Watson Health Cloud, is the development of a portfolio of connected inhalers for asthma patients. Connected to GPS and mobile devices, it monitors treatment goals, as well as environmental factors that might impact patients (such as pollen counts and allergy forecasts) to offer predictive health solutions.
Silvesti’s approach and his ability to stay ahead of a rapidly changing industry was honed at the Fox School.
“The best thing at Fox was the final semester capstone and the consulting engagement,” recalls Silvesti. “It gave me a snapshot of moving into a company I wasn’t familiar with, and having to get up to speed and developing a different approach to solve their specific challenges. Coming into a company with 40,000 employees worldwide, I had to teach the organization on the fly how to do things differently. There are a lot of strategies and tactics I’ve taken from Fox and brought to Teva to align the organization and drive innovation. I learned a lot in that class.”
Jessica Do Tully, BBA ’10, studied Finance at the Fox School of Business, and moved to New York City following graduation. Her work with J.P. Morgan required back-and-forth stints in London. While she enjoyed her job, entrepreneurship was always in the back of her mind. A few years later when her friend started a small business that helped companies develop wellness programs for their employees, Do Tully decided to join and gain exposure to the world of entrepreneurship.
“Since I was little, I’ve always had a fascination with creating things,” Do Tully said, “and working for my friend’s business let me learn so much, including what type of business I’d want to build someday.”
But what kind of business? Like any would-be entrepreneur, Do Tully looked for an opportunity in the marketplace. An avid coffee drinker and fan of handcrafting her own coffee, she read Amazon reviews of existing coffee-brewing systems and spotted some interesting trends—issues that she and other coffee drinkers shared. For instance, she saw that consumers, for fear of chemical leaching, had been moving away from coffee brewers in which hot water contacted plastics.
That’s when Do Tully set out to develop Palmpress, a personal craft coffee press that works for hot or cold brew coffee. It allows for personal customization to taste and strength, and utilizes a stainless-steel and silicone design and a reusable filter.
“We will start by producing a limited run of Palmpresses,” said Do Tully, who already has begun taking pre-orders.
“Today’s coffee drinkers are more knowledgeable than ever. They want to connect with their coffee experience,” said Do Tully, who is based in Miami. “Palmpress not only gives you full-flavored, freshly pressed coffee, but also an enjoyable coffee-making ritual. It’s a proper coffee break. So the next step, for me, is planning distribution and sales.”
A glimpse into a day in the life of Jessica Do Tully:
8:00 a.m. Wake up and get ready for the day. Stretch. (Leftover pad Thai for breakfast.)
9:00 a.m. Work from home this morning. Catch up with our manufacturer on production status. Book flights for the Home & Housewares 2017 tradeshow in Chicago.
11:00 a.m. Head to Per’La coffee roasters, where I’m meeting with Paul Massard. He’s Per’La’s managing partner and a licensed Q grader, which means he is certified to identify and grade coffee quality. Today, I got to check out Per’La’s facility, learn a bit about coffee roasting, and—of course—we Palmpressed a few coffees! We tasted Per’La’s light roast Kenyan, which was delicious. (I’m always excited to taste test and get feedback on Palmpress from awesome coffee experts.)
1:30 p.m. Freshly caffeinated, I head to my co-working space and settle in at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami. Catch up with Dean DiPietro, Palmpress’ product developer, on the latest product news and next steps. Next, I grab lunch to eat at the desk. I speak with two advisors about an upcoming meeting with a distributor, and prep for an upcoming presentation for my accelerator program, WIN Lab.
7:45 p.m. Meet up for dinner with two friends visiting from New York City. Their flight is early the next day, so we opt for takeout and wine.
10:30 p.m. Open up the laptop to work on Palmpress’ financial projections, and to help inform business planning and fundraising. Send additional specifications to our manufacturer.
12:00 a.m. Lights out.
Ford Motor Company invited Asian reporters to its China research and development facility in Nanjing for a press opportunity around the time of the 2017 Chinese New Year.
Outside of a casual conversation with David Schoch, MBA ’78, president of Ford Asia Pacific and chairman of Ford China, the attending reporters were told to bring their spouses and children and enjoy a litany of holiday-themed events on January 28.
That’s when Schoch saw a young boy off to the side, who had strayed from the other children in the room and set out to play by himself. The boy told Schoch of his affinity for trucks, at which point Schoch passed the boy a handheld display model of Ford’s latest F-150. The boy’s smile began to gleam as brightly as the gloss on his new shiny blue toy truck.
“He was over the moon,” said Schoch. “Some of my colleagues told me later that he was playing with that truck for the rest of the afternoon. We made his day and maybe someday, he’ll be a Ford customer. Or even better—a Ford employee.”
That moment exemplified Schoch’s people-focused, relationship-driven leadership style with Ford Motor Company, for which he has served in varying capacities and across six continents for the last 39 years.
Schoch, who earned his MBA from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, oversees every aspect of operations at Ford Asia Pacific, one of the world’s rising markets for automotive purchases. In his role, the 65-year-old Schoch manages Ford’s strategic initiatives in that region of the world.
But above all else, Schoch said, he values his “people-development” opportunities.
“I am a big believer in helping young leaders think through their personal leadership journeys, to arrive at what they want to accomplish in their careers,” said Schoch, a native of Wayne, Pa. “I spend a good deal of time teaching and sharing experiences within leadership-training programs.
“Like that young boy I connected with, it gives me great satisfaction, as a leader, to relate to everybody with whom I interact.”
‘Every business needs someone like Dave’
Schoch’s career with Ford took off quickly after he earned his MBA with a concentration in Finance from the Fox School in 1978. He joined the Dearborn, Mich.-based company as a financial analyst with Ford’s Cleveland Engine manufacturing facility in Brook Park, Ohio.
From there, and following a number of domestic promotions, Schoch leapt at an opportunity to work overseas. He accepted an appointment as business planning manager of Ford Europe, a role he held from 1989-1993.
Schoch credits his wife, Carol, for the encouragement to pursue international business opportunities within the company.
“I had many offers coming out of Temple, but the reputation of Ford in finance stuck out to me,” Schoch said. “My wife said, ‘The writing is on the wall. Go for it.’ I did, and it’s been a great journey. She also was instrumental when we made the decision to relocate our family overseas, and that has been another wonderful part of our lives.
“What’s interesting to me is that there’s not a week that goes by that one of my three daughters doesn’t send me a note and say, ‘Hey Dad, you’ll never guess who I talked to from Brazil.’ Or they say South Africa. Or Germany. It sure has broadened their perspectives of the world, which is much different than when I compare it against myself at their ages.”
In addition to his position in Europe, Schoch returned to Ford Europe in 2004 as CFO, and in 2009 became CFO of the Americas.
Each step, he said, has proved integral to his professional and personal development. Schoch pointed specifically to his involvement with Ford’s commitment to social initiatives. In particular, he referenced a program initiated in 1997, while he was working within Ford’s South Africa division. The program sought to educate the company’s employees on the country’s HIV/AIDS pandemic, which affected three percent of the nation’s population in 1996, but had risen to 10 percent by 1999.
Initiated by Lewis Booth, one of Schoch’s colleagues from the plant, the educational program halted production in both of Ford’s South Africa plants for a day. Booth called upon a local theater company to demonstrate the disease’s impact on a family. The company then appointed peer educators and provided access to preventative measures like prophylactics. Still operating today, the program has received nationwide acclaim in South Africa, and earned the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence in 2002. Booth and Schoch traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the award.
“Every business needs someone like Dave, who you know always will speak up on difficult subjects,” said Booth, who retired in April 2012 as Ford’s executive vice president and global chief financial officer. “And no one ever doubted Dave’s motives. It was always about doing the right thing for the business, the company, the employee, or whatever other subject was under discussion.”
The HIV/AIDS educational program, Schoch said, “was the a-ha moment for me in how industry should look to give back and support the community.”
Another of Schoch’s initiatives in South Africa, Booth said, involved a local preschool attached to the Ford plant in Pretoria, one of the country’s capital cities. There, Schoch often met with students and teachers, and ensured the school would receive support from Ford in the form of donations and gifts.
Along the way, Schoch did not publicize his efforts. “He never told me he did this,” Booth said. “The school told me because it was important to them.”
‘If I can give back in a small way, I can make a big difference’
In recent years, the Asia Pacific region widely has been identified as a capacious area of middle-class growth. As a result, consumers have driven the automotive market while becoming first-time car owners. What some might view as a significant challenge, in having to meet the growing demand for vehicles in this region, Schoch believes it represents an area of significant opportunity.
Schoch speaks often of opportunity with regard to his professional heights and those of others.
On a Spring 2016 visit to Philadelphia, Schoch met with students from the Fox School’s Executive MBA program. He shared insights from his international business career, and provided a glimpse into the functions of Ford’s Asia Pacific operations. Best of all, according to Schoch, he interacted with students whose career aims reminded him of his own.
“If nothing else,” he said, “I was trying to capture their imagination of what they want to be, and further indicate that if you put your mind to it, and go for it, you can reach your aspirations. The follow-up emails and questions that the students sent afterward were quite rewarding to me.”
Schoch’s connection to Fox runs deep. He has made arrangements to meet with Fox Global MBA students in May 2017, led by the Fox School director of international programs Phyllis Tutora, on one of their international immersion trips through China.
A number of Schoch’s former colleagues referred to him as a “people person.” Kiersten Robinson, a 22-year Ford employee who serves the company as its executive director of human resources, used the term “quanxi.” It’s the Chinese word for an individual who values the importance of relationships.
“He does not push people to listen to him because he is the president,” said John Cheng, Ford Asia Pacific’s director of integration. “He shows genuine respect to all, no matter which level you are.”
With Schoch at the helm since 2011, Ford Asia Pacific has more than doubled its workforce and has employed a workforce culture “that has become a competitive advantage for us,” Robinson added.
“While Dave has a lot to be proud of, his greatest contribution has been in building a strong, talented, and confident team,” Robinson said. “Dave inspires others to go beyond what they thought they were capable of, and in doing so, he inspires a sense of loyalty and purpose I have not seen from other leaders.”
As part of his style, Schoch has made a habit of routinely encouraging members of his team. He sends individual welcome letters to every new employee who joins Ford in Asia Pacific, “and we have hundreds of new employees each year,” Robinson said. Schoch also writes personal thank you and congratulatory notes to acknowledge employee promotions or significant work accomplishments.
“What I’ve learned in my career,” Schoch said, “is that you don’t always get from point A to point B. It moves around. I think I’ve taken a lesson from when Henry Ford started the company. He didn’t invent the car, but he invented the assembly line, reduced the cost to manufacture the product, and doubled employees’ salaries with the vision of creating a better world. That’s how he changed the way the world moved.
“For me, if I can give back in a small way, I can make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
Booth summed up Schoch’s impact and four-decade tenure with Ford in seven words.
“It’s a better place with him here,” Booth said.
A short film produced by Shpat Deda, a 2015 graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business Global MBA program, received the British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Short Film.
Deda served as one of five producers on the short film, Home, which calls attention to the plight of refugees worldwide. The 20-minute film depicts a British family leaving its comfortable life and experiencing uncertainty and violence as refugees. The term “reverse migration” has been used to describe the plot of the film.
Deda accepted the BAFTA award, along with writer and director Daniel Mulloy, at BAFTA’s Feb. 12 ceremony in London’s Royal Albert Hall, to honor the year’s top contributors to British film.
In addition to its BAFTA win, Home also has claimed top prizes at 11 separate film festivals. It received donations from Open Society Foundation-London, USAID, and United Agencies in Kosovo to make the production possible.
The film holds special significance to Deda, an ex-refugee from Kosovo.
“No more than 18 years ago, I and the majority of the Kosovo cast and crew who worked on this film, were among the one million Kosovans displaced and turned into refugees as a result of a devastating war that was tearing our country apart,” Deda said. “In our misfortune though, we were fortunate enough to be living during a time when the world was one of open hearts and open doors. It’s what ultimately saved the lives of so many of us. My hope today is that we can be able to say the same for the millions of refugees out there who are frightened, facing an uncertain future, and without a home at this very moment.”
Jim Solano envisioned a career as a certified public accountant, after graduating Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Solano ultimately became a CPA and launched his accounting firm, before pursuing a career in a completely different line of work.
The Philadelphia-area native has represented more than 800 athletes and coaches from the National Football League (NFL) during a lengthy career as a professional sports agent. At least one player or coach from 19 Super Bowls has counted Solano as his agent, and Solano said he has represented too many all-league players to count.
His path toward that line of work was coincidental.
“There were a few football players that at the time had lived in my building, the Society Hill Towers,” Solano said. “I got to know them and they were really impressed with the fact that I was a CPA, a college professor, and owned my own accounting firm. I helped them with some advice on taxes at first, and then they told their friends. And those friends told other friends, and before you know it I’m representing them.”
Solano earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and MBA degrees – all in Accounting – from the Fox School. He joined the School’s faculty in 1969, after attaining his MBA and becoming a CPA. It was then that Solano realized the multitude of career paths available to him. Today, he’s on faculty at nearby Philadelphia University.
“What I learned in accounting and business gave me a great foundation to start a business on my own,” Solano said.
Solano has represented legendary Philadelphia Eagles players like Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, and Seth Joyner, and Eagles head coaches Buddy Ryan and Ray Rhodes. He was the agent for 18 of the 40 players who saw the field in Super Bowl XV, in which the Eagles lost to the Los Angeles Raiders.
These days, Solano has branched into golf. He represents a half-dozen clients, and still maintains his representation of a few NFL coaches.
“I could fill 10 pages of memories with what I’ve done,” said Solano, who remains in contact with many of his clients. He even was asked to be the godfather to a number of his clients’ children.
Although his work keeps him busy seven days a week and 12 months a year, Solano said he is not willing to give up any one of his professions. He best describes his professional time management as “a Venn diagram.”
“The time I’m busy with teaching, I’m not busy as a CPA or as an agent, and visa versa,” he said. “I love teaching. I love the impact that I have on my students’ lives. I truly believe that if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Solano said his professional success cannot top his life’s greatest work: being a family man. He and his wife, Teri, have one daughter, Lesley, and three grandchildren, Jack, Kate, and Andrew.
“They are my entire world,” Solano said.
Fox School of Business alumna Esosa Ighodaro designed a mobile application that can monetize the art of snapping selfies.
Ighodaro combined her love of social media and fashion by developing COSIGN, an app that allows users to directly shop for products that they see in social-media posts. Users can include product information by tagging what they are wearing in the image, creating a social media-meet-shopping experience.
Ighodaro credited her time at Temple University for helping her develop “a competitive edge.”
“I worked hard to get ahead and stay ahead while I was at Temple,” said Ighodaro, who graduated from the Fox School in 2008 with a degree in Finance. “I was surrounded by students who always pushed me to do my best work, and that gave me a competitive edge later in life.”
Two years ago COSIGN took Kickstarter by storm and, in 2016, it finished as a runner-up in a national competition organized by AT&T and was set to appear on “Project Runway.” Her idea for it came about quite organically.
Ighodaro had secured a management association position with Citigroup in New York City. What started off as a compliment on a subway platform from a complete stranger during one of her commutes unfolded into an ongoing business partnership. Abiodun Johnson is the co-founder and technology mastermind behind COSIGN, and he met Ighodaro as they waited for a train. They shared a lengthy conversation, exchanged contact information, and together built COSIGN.
To get the business off the ground, Ighodaro worked in corporate banking for more than six years and saved as much as she could before making a move into the tech field to support her work with Johnson and their concept for COSIGN.
“The journey is expensive,” Ighodaro confessed. “I talked to everyone about investing, even my doctor, and anyone that would listen. Most said no, but I was just persistent.”
The COSIGN duo launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2014, just as Ighodaro left corporate banking. Skeptical at first, the two realized their app showed promising results once they had created a video that explained its usage. In just 30 days, COSIGN raised $41,000 on Kickstarter – enough money to build the first complete prototype of the application.
“That validated for me that people cared about what I had been working on in my basement for so long,” Ighodaro said.
In May 2016, AT&T’s Agility Challenge picked COSIGN as one of its 10 national finalists. The competition awarded cash prizes for the small business ventures that demonstrated an understanding, embrace, and appreciation for agility in their daily pursuits. COSIGN finished as a runner up, and netted a $10,000 prize.
COSIGN, which has now partnered with more than 1,200 brands and retailers, features more than 20 million products – from fashion and beauty to even electronics – in its database for users to search, tag, share, and shop.
COSIGN is set to appear on Lifetime’s Project Runway: Fashion Startup in November 2016. The series showcases aspiring fashion and beauty entrepreneurs as they pitch their concepts to a panel of investors in the hope of securing funds.
“I’ve always found it intriguing and something that just came naturally,” Ighodaro said of becoming an entrepreneur.
Now she’s living her dream, one selfie at a time.
Arjun Bedi, MBA ’87, is the Fox School of Business’ 2016 honoree for Temple University’s Gallery of Success.
The Gallery of Success showcases banner alumni from each of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges with a display in the lower level of Mitten Hall, located on Temple’s Main Campus.
Bedi is a senior leader within Accenture, a worldwide professional services company that provides strategy, digital, consulting, technology, and operations services. He serves as a Managing Partner and leads a significant part of Accenture’s Life Sciences business. He has been with the firm for more than 25 years, and a partner for 16 years.
Since becoming partner, Bedi has held several leadership and management roles, including leading the Global Life Sciences Research and Development practice (2006-2012) and more recently leading the High Growth Bio-tech sector (2012-present). Additionally, he recently took on leading one of Accenture’s largest Life Sciences client relationships.
Bedi has worked with the top 15 global life sciences and the top 10 bio-tech organizations, in areas of management strategy, share-holder value management, IT strategy, and global operating model optimization, among others. His functional expertise span the entire Life Sciences value chain, from drug discovery and development to commercial, supply chain and enabling functions like strategy and finance.
Bedi earned his MBA in Computer Science and Information Systems from Temple’s Fox School of Business in 1987. He previously received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics (honors) from India’s Delhi University in 1984.
A trio of Fox School of Business graduates recently visited Temple University’s Center City campus to lead a discussion on meeting the challenges of today’s healthcare climate.
Representatives from Tandigm Health spoke to students from Temple’s College of Public Health May 16 in an interdisciplinary crossover course that covered leadership, strategy, and problem solving within the healthcare field. More than 25 students from the Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Master of Science in Health Information Management programs attended the presentation.
“It’s not a single person winning a race in healthcare. In fact, it’s a team effort, with a goal of better provider and consumer experience” said Dr. Amy Lynch, Professor of Occupational Therapy, who invited Tandigm’s leadership team to Temple. “They offered an incredibly dynamic lecture that highlighted much of what they learned at Fox – challenging students to be thoughtful in evaluating healthcare challenges, while also covering the spirited nature of leadership embedded in innovative and collaborative thinking.”
Tandigm Health joined the Philadelphia healthcare landscape in 2014 in partnership with Independence Blue Cross, the region’s largest insurer, and HealthCare Partners, which provides physician-office management services. Tandigm compensates physicians for keeping their patients healthy and free from hospitalization, as opposed to paying them for services rendered.
Tandigm president and CEO Dr. Anthony V. Colleta, MBA ’06, director of informatics Antonio Tedesco, MBA ’04, and vice president of operations Brett Huberman, MBA ’00, received postgraduate degrees from the Fox School.
“In our value-based health care model, we partner with primary care physicians by engaging them with meaningful incentives to deliver high-quality care, enabling them with relevant technologies and data, and empowering them with resources and programs that deliver necessary care where and when patients need it,” Huberman said.
A 2015 study published in Health Affairs identified the nation’s top-50 hospitals for cost vs. marked-up charge, and six of them were located in the Philadelphia region. Huberman called Philadelphia “the highest medical-cost city in the country, one that’s home to 40,000 providers and 34,000 specialists.”
“We imparted to the students the value of data information in forming solutions,” Huberman said. “It was inspiring to speak to Temple students about our model. Education is a two-way street, and this provided us with an opportunity to give back to our Temple roots.”
Healthcare policies and regulations have a direct impact on the careers of occupational therapists like Caroline Welch, a Temple OTD candidate.
“There is a strong push and need for improved quality of career and patient outcomes, both at a lower cost,” Welch said. “As a full-time clinician, my knowledge and understanding of the business side of healthcare is limited. That is one of the main reasons why I found Tandigm’s presentation to be such an interesting and beneficial learning opportunity.”
The Fox School offers an undergraduate program in Healthcare Risk Management and a minor in Healthcare Systems Management. At the graduate level, Fox offers an MBA in Health Sector Management and a Master of Health Administration degree program.
When Rob Lawton and the rest of his team arrived in Flint, Mich., with 60,000 water bottles in two trucks, a line of 20 to 30 trucks quickly began to pile up – a sign of how desperate the need was for fresh water in that region of the country.
After the state of Michigan in April 2014 switched the city of Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to water from the Flint River, many residents started calling attention to the water’s strange smell, taste, and color. It was later determined that Flint River water was highly corrosive and had caused lead from outdated pipe systems to leak unhealthy elements like lead into the citizens’ water supply. Until pipes could be replaced, citizens were told to drink, bathe, and cook only using bottled water.
That’s why Lawton, a 2013 Marketing alumnus of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, and others like him led a group effort to bring aid relief to Flint.
Lawton received a phone call in January from his friend Nehemiah Davis, the founder of nonprofit organization The Nehemiah Davis Foundation, which works on creating community outreach programs like food drives, back-to-school drives, and more. Davis knew Lawton frequently used large commercial trucks in his line of work as the owner of audio-visual production company Mid-Atlantic FX.
“(Ingram) said, ‘If we go through with this idea, will you be able to get us some trucks?’” said Lawton, who was happy to oblige.
Before departing Jan. 24 on the nine-hour drive from Philadelphia to Flint, Lawton and others turned to social media to spread word that they’d be collecting donations of bottled water. The response was so great, Lawton said, that he needed to add a second truck for the drive. (A tow truck company, in particular, Lawton remembered, arrived with a seven-truck fleet to deliver pallets of water bottles.)
“It was really amazing the amount of support that we received and we were able to effectively enrich the lives of others who are going through this terrible experience,” Lawton said.
Upon arrival in Flint, the team began unloading water onto the street. Each person received two cases, unless he or she had a greater need and represented more than one family. They first delivered to Flint’s lower-income communities, where access to fresh water drop-off zones was reduced to firehouses and municipal buildings.
A documentary to be titled “#Philly2Flint,” created by fellow team member Melissa Robbins, inspired a social media campaign. Soon after, other travelers to Flint shared their experiences with similar hashtags.
Lawton said he will always remember the reaction of the community members to his team’s bottled water delivery.
“There was this one lady,” Lawton said. “We just started loading water bottles in her car and she had this smile that was ear to ear. It was heartwarming. All I have to do is turn on my faucet for something that made her so appreciative. And at that moment, I could tell she really needed it. I’ll never forget that. “
Fox School of Business alumnus Justin Rosenberg is returning to his roots.
The founder and CEO of honeygrow, Rosenberg announced that he plans to open a location of his Philadelphia-based, fast-casual restaurant on Temple University’s campus in the fall. The store would utilize commercial space within Morgan Hall, a residence hall located at the southeast corner of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
With seven stores currently and plans to open nine more by the end of 2016, honeygrow offers fresh-to-order salads and stir-fries that are made with seasonal, local ingredients.
“Temple University is on the rise, and it’s a location that I’m beyond confident will work,” said Rosenberg, who earned his Fox Global MBA in 2009. “I’m a Temple guy, I wrote a chunk of my business plan for honeygrow at Alter Hall, and the business is very much a #TempleMade concept. This makes perfect sense.”
The Temple University location would feature an innovative interior design, new ordering kiosks, and seating for up to 50 patrons, Rosenberg said.
For Rosenberg, honeygrow’s upward progression in the last 12 months has been “moving pretty quickly,” he said. In June 2015, honeygrow received $25 million in investment funding from Miller Investment Management to support further expansion of honeygrow and updates to the company’s technology platform. This spring, Rosenberg said honeygrow’s corporate headquarters will relocate from Center City Philadelphia to the city’s Fishtown neighborhood.
“We’ve renovated a warehouse where we’ll have 30 corporate employees to supplement the 300 employees we have in the field,” he said. “That’s where we’ll have our commissary, where our chef and culinary director David Katz will work on our sauces, dressings, and beyond. There has always been a deep passion for the product – inclusive of where we are sourcing it to how we are training our staff to prepare it, care for it, and work with it. Everything counts.
“For 2016, with stores opening from Washington, D.C. to the New York City metro area, I couldn’t be more excited about honeygrow’s future than I am right now.”
Even in shaking hands with Sheila Hess, she vibrates with positive energy. Framed by the Philadelphia skyline in the near distance, she’s off talking about the city with an infectious and genuine enthusiasm that only makes sense for Mayor Jim Kenney’s newly appointed City Representative.
“Philadelphia just energizes me,” said Hess, 46.
Hess earned her undergraduate degree from Temple University’s Fox School of Business in 1991, with a concentration in Human Resource Administration (now Human Resource Management).
Her enthusiasm and genuine love for helping others pushed her resume to the top of the pile at Independence Blue Cross, where she would spend the next 24 years of her career working in human resources and making her mark upon the organization and Philadelphia. She met Kenney more than 20 years ago at a volunteer fundraiser. Inspired by his goals for the city, she volunteered for his recent mayoral campaign. Impressed with her panache and grasp on the city’s pulse, Kenney wanted her to represent the city.
“Once he offered me the job, I didn’t hear anything else he said. It was such a dream come true,” Hess said.
In addition to being an ambassador and a leader of the city’s official welcome wagon, as City Representative, Hess participates in meet-and-greets with anyone – from international dignitaries to the millions of visitors the city attracts. Hess also steps in as the face of the city when the mayor cannot attend events, bestowing city proclamations, citations, and ceremonial gifts in recognition of community organizations. She also is a steward of special events, including Police Athletic League (PAL) Day at City Hall, the Police and Fire Memorial Service, and the Mayor’s Centenarians’ Celebration.
Hess is already looking forward to placing Philadelphia in the national and international spotlight, building upon its Lonely Planet designation in February as a top U.S. destination, its new title of World Heritage City, and its selection to host the Democratic National Convention this August.
“A good leader has a good ear, and though we can’t change everything, we can make it work on some level,” Hess said. “It’s all about seamless communication and working together.”
Hess originally hails from California, but her family relocated to her mother’s native South Philadelphia neighborhood so Hess could receive treatment for spina bifida, a spinal cord birth defect, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. When asked of her disability, Hess considers it a gift – one that allowed her to become a Philadelphian.
“I’m Philadelphia’s biggest fan,” Hess said. “I root for all of our sports teams, win or lose, and I always will.”
Hess’ passion for Philadelphia kept her close to home when she chose Temple. Raised in the city’s Catholic school system, she was drawn to Temple’s reputation and its innovative and diverse campus life. Having been a mathlete in high school, she pursued her skill with numbers and enrolled in the Fox School as a Finance major. However, her path would deviate as she realized her talents didn’t align with her heart’s desire. After one human resource course, she knew what she was meant to pursue.
“I could just see HR in my personality. I love being the face of an organization. That’s just inside me,” Hess said.
Hess works with several non-profits, including Back on My Feet and Variety – The Children’s Charity — a charity assisting children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities. In her limited free time, Hess and her husband, Mike, enjoy gardening. Always a fan of bringing out the best in something, Hess likes to buy wilted plants and nurse them back to life.
“It’s just fun to watch things grow,” Hess said.
Much like Philadelphia’s reputation, as its new City Represenative.
For Rens Buchwaldt, leading a company through potential financial turmoil is just another day at the office.
The former Chief Financial Officer and interim CEO of FloraHolland, the Netherland’s premier flower auction, has spent more than 30 years navigating the financial pitfalls of the world’s leading companies and yanking them from the brink of economic disaster.
“Staying one step ahead gives me the ability to lead,” Buchwaldt said. “Quite often the conclusion is obvious, but changing circumstances can convolute that. My job is to see through the distractions.”
Buchwaldt received his MBA from the Fox School of Business in 1984. Since attaining his graduate degree, his highly analytical mind has allowed him to navigate changing workplace dynamics—including the merger of two of the Netherland’s largest flower auctions to create FloraHolland.
Tapped to become its interim CEO when the merger yielded insufficient results and failed to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing market, Buchwaldt leveraged the talent of his staff so that FloraHolland’s combined strength was both fiscally responsible and dedicated to a quality product. During his tenure as interim CEO and later as its CFO, the company restructured for the first time in 100 years and eliminated a deficit that plagued its ability produce the flowers that made it famous.
“I’ve never been in a position to do anything by myself, and it’s key to assemble a team that balances out each personality and expertise,” Buchwaldt said. “I try to be more of a coach than a boss.”
Managing expectations and boosting morale was essential in his ability to pull Icon Media Lab — an internet consulting company — out of a sudden nose dive when the dot-com bubble burst. The company, formed during the height of Internet business development, quickly felt the effects of the shaky medium when its services became both defunct and too easily duplicated.
“The company just went under,” Buchwaldt said. “We slimmed down from 2000 to 800 people. That’s a hard situation in which to motivate people.”
For Buchwaldt, the kind of nimble maneuvering required to keep Icon Media Lab afloat was a part of the education he had attained as a graduate student at the Fox School of Business. (Originally from Bussum, a town located just 10 minutes outside of Amsterdam, Buchwaldt attended the Nyenrode Business University to receive his undergraduate business degree.) With a passion for finance, Buchwaldt augmented his skills by throwing himself in to the Fox School curriculum, finding particular success using Michael Porter’s highly lauded book, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors.
“Temple’s MBA offered me a lot of interesting options,” Buchwaldt said. “The students were very serious and brought real-life experience. From a business perspective, it was an eye-opener.”
Buchwaldt entered the industry eager to gain the same real-life experience, and joined the National Cash Register (NCR) Corporation, a global computer hardware and online technology firm in Dayton, Ohio. Sitting at the table with senior executives, Buchwaldt relied upon Porter’s principles of cost leadership, differentiation and focus to demonstrate his ability to resolve almost any problem. He spent 14 years at the company before moving on and eventually settling in at FloraHolland.
After spending a significant amount of time abroad, working for FloraHolland was Buchwaldt’s homecoming and he credits the company with helping him return to his roots.
“Tulips are about as Dutch as you can get,” Buchwaldt said, laughing. “(FloraHolland) is very technical and fast-paced, but it’s all about the beauty of nature, feelings, and action.”
At 54, Buchwaldt is preparing for his first break since 1984 and looks forward to spending time with his sons, 11-year-old Florian and 8-year-old Marnick, while examining his next steps in industry. As he figures it out for himself, he counsels those just jumping into their professional careers to be fearlessly original.
“Don’t follow in anyone’s footsteps, make your own,” Buchwaldt said. “If you look at my career, I’ve taken risks, but each leap has been a learning experience.”