Hot Topic Q&A illustrationWhile the concept has existed since the mid-2000s, gender lens investing is experiencing a popularity boom in recent years. Gender lens investing is the practice of investing for financial return with a dual goal of benefitting women through improving economic opportunities and social well-being.

The reason for the rise of this business trend has been attributed to various factors including #MeToo and the release of data that no longer made the wage gap a subjective topic. For example, a 2017 study by Babson College showed that companies where the CEO is a woman only received 3 percent of the total venture capital dollars from 2011-2013 or $1.5 billion out of the total of $50.8 billion invested.

To dive a little deeper into this topic, Fox Focus met with Ellen Weber, assistant professor in Strategic Management and executive director of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures. Weber is an expert on topics including funding early-stage companies, entrepreneurial ecosystems and women’s entrepreneurship.

Q: Why do you think gender lens investing has become so important in today’s modern business environment?

A: When entrepreneurs sell their companies, many want to invest in startups in order to give back, and this results in a virtuous cycle. When that pool of exited entrepreneurs mostly consists of white men, males typically receive most of the funding, resulting in gaps in funding for women-funded companies. It is only in recent years that we are seeing successful women founders who have money to invest in startups. These days there are many more women entrepreneurs looking for funding and the number of investors has increased.

Q: What impact has this evolution had in improving and shaping global business practices?

A: There is newfound importance placed on the need to measure behaviors in order to change them. For example, in 2015, venture firm First Round Capital ran the data on its portfolio and found that companies with a female founder performed 63% better than investments with all-male founding teams. The cause for the better performance is attributed to diversity of thought and experience perspective.

Q: What is the impact of gender lens investing on culture?

A: Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They seek to solve problems that they understand and experience. So, women entrepreneurs are often solving problems that men would not necessarily see.

In the Fox School community alone, there are dozens of examples of this. Emily Kight, the 2018 Social Impact winner of IEI’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), a business plan competition, developed an in-home, non-invasive urine test that screens for ovarian cancer. In 2017, she was awarded second place for bioengineering a leave-in conditioner to lessen the effects of trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. She was also awarded funding by the Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund.

The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund supports women in entrepreneurship. The Fund provides seed funding ranging from $500-$10,000. Funds are provided with the purpose of supporting companies in proving their concept, and where the money will have a significant impact on the company’s ability to progress.

Q: How is Temple University helping to support women’s entrepreneurship?

A: One of the most exciting things is the ability to offer students and alumni the opportunity to flex their entrepreneurial muscles in a supportive environment with competitions and calls for submission, like the Lori Bush Seed Fund, the BYOBB®, and the Innovative Idea Competition.

There are also a host of women’s organizations for students to get involved in at the Fox School, including Women’s Work, Women Presidents’ Organization, Women’s Village and the Women’s Entrepreneurial Organization.

On a personal level and in classes like Empowering Women Through Entrepreneurship, I place an emphasis on what makes entrepreneurs more powerful. One of the ways to do that is to bring in entrepreneurs who are representative Temple’s student body. I want to show my female students that if they can see it, they can be it.

If you are a student who would like to get involved in entrepreneurship or women in business, feel free to contact iei@temple.edu.

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Ethical Technology illustrationIn the technology industry, the unending pursuit of the next big innovation leaves little room for ethical considerations about data privacy and evolves too quickly for any governing body to create and enforce regulations. For years, technologists have held firm in the belief that they do not need government intervention to regulate their actions, but in light of recent revelations that belief is starting to waver.

The complicated relationship between ethics, regulations and technology came to a head in 2018 thanks to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. When the social network exposed the data of 87 million users to the Trump Campaign’s political consulting firm, consumers began to question whether or not they really had control over their personal information. In a survey conducted that year by Pew Research Center, roughly half of U.S. adults revealed that they do not trust the federal government or social media sites to protect their data. Now more than ever, the pressure is on policymakers to close the gap and regulate the industry. However, the question remains: can you enforce ethical behavior in tech?

Creating an Environment that Supports Ethical Behavior

Let’s start by looking at the workplace. For ethical decision-making to become a part of a company’s practice, there needs to be a cultural and organizational infrastructure in place to support it. Many believe that a c-suite position for ethics and integrity should exist within every organization, and a handful of companies already have that role in place. Leora Eisenstadt, assistant professor in the Department of Legal Studies at the Fox School, believes that it’s a step in the right direction, but for the position to be successful, it needs support from managers and employees at all levels.

“It’s not going to filter up to the chief integrity officer unless the people on the ground are asking the right questions,” says Eisenstadt. Encouraging employees to speak up and challenge their superiors when they sense an issue is crucial to implementing this type of change. “If that is not encouraged, you’re never going to hear it,” Eisenstadt says.

In addition to internal checks and balances, there also needs to be external regulations to hold companies accountable. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently preparing for what could be the most substantial penalty in its history for Facebook, but it’s hardly enough to have a significant impact on the company’s bottom line.

If the U.S.had a comprehensive policy akin to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Facebook would be liable for up to 4 percent of its annual global revenue, or $2.2 billion. According to Anthony Vance, director of the Center for Cyber Security at the Fox School, a penalty of that magnitude is the only thing that will get major corporations to pay attention, as it could have an actual effect on the company’s performance. “Right now, there is no law or major penalty,” Vance says. “So companies treat data as a resource to them; as their own asset that they can mine and resell, which is a huge privacy violation.”

The Role That Policy Can Play

There is hope yet, however, in the California Consumer Privacy Act, which was signed into law in 2018 and will go into effect in 2020. Inspired by GDPR, it will set the bar for online privacy in the U.S. “Now, there’s huge legislative pressure to enact some kind of federal regulation to basically enshrine ethical principles about privacy and law,” says Vance. “For the first time in history, tech companies are pushing the federal government to create a uniform policy.”  

Even with internal and external regulations in place, it’s also vital for us as consumers to play our part and pay attention. There will always be more powerful technological developments on the horizon and new dilemmas to face in the future. It’s not realistic to expect consumers to read through every line of every “Terms of Use” policy they see, but it’s important to be aware of the way a company operates. We have the power to vote leaders into political office that understand the industry and can fight to enact laws on our behalf. “That responsibility doesn’t just rest on technologists,” Vance says, “it rests on us as people.”

How to Be a Responsible Tech Consumer:

  • Install an Adblock extension in your browser if you want to prevent your data from being collected and tracked
  • Be aware that if you’re using a free service, you’re the product of that service, and limit the data you share
  • Find and support political leaders who are tech-savvy and share the same beliefs as you do about privacy and ethics laws  
  • Stay informed on recent events in the tech industry, especially for companies that provide a service you are actively using

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

calculations on a computer screen

Each year, consumers create 16.3 zettabytes of informationenough to fill over 127 billion iPhones. Sorting through all this information is like trying to find a needle in a haystack the size of California.

Within these treasure troves of data are valuable insights waiting to be discovered. Data scientists use statistics, math, and information technology to sort through enormous datasets with millions of variables, looking for patterns. Yet combing through this information takes immense power, not to mention computer memory. So do they sort through it all?

That’s where people like Zhigen Zhao, associate professor of Statistical Science at the Fox School, come in.

Zhao and his statistician colleagues invent new ways to use statistics, overcome computation limitations, and see patterns through the noise. Their discoveries range from a newly patented methodology that enables users to analyze millions of data points in seconds to a new threshold for pinpointing statistical significance.

Deciphering Genetic Codes

Humans have 20,000 genes in our DNA. Much like data, decoding how each gene interacts with another can provide valuable insight, in this case into a person’s health. With over 190 million possible pairs, that’s a lot of variables to test.

“Years ago, 10,000 was considered a big data set, but not anymore,” says Zhao. When using standard algorithms like distance correlation, statisticians run into issues with computation speed, and the old algorithms can’t keep up with the large datasets available today.

Zhao and his colleagues devised a methodology that can analyze all of these variables in seconds. “Our method only takes two-tenths of a second to finish this kind of calculation,” says Zhao. His computer would crash when using older algorithm to analyze a dataset of that size.

“People’s health can depend on a specific combination of their genes,” says Zhao. This revolutionary methodology, which was recently approved for a patent, can identify certain combinations of genes that may help doctors understand medical issues ranging from heart disease and Alzheimer’s to obesity and alcoholism.

Discovering Differences in Education

With millions of pieces of information, statisticians and data scientists often grapple with the problem of false discoveries—inferring a pattern that is not truly significant. Statisticians try to account for these false discoveries, but this may lead to a less complete picture of the data.

Zhao and his colleagues created a new algorithm to reduce the number of false discoveries while keeping more pertinent patterns than other methods. Zhao’s team applied this algorithm to school districts in California, analyzing standardized test scores of students from over 4,000 elementary schools.

The researchers compared pass rates from two groups of students, the socioeconomically advantaged and the socioeconomically disadvantaged. Normally, the advantaged students will have higher scores than their disadvantaged counterparts. However, Zhao used his algorithm to identify schools that have unusually small or unusually large differences between the two populations—where the disadvantaged students were either significantly underperforming or overperforming in statewide math tests.

Their new algorithm found more schools whose populations have significant differences in test scores, providing a more complete understanding of the dataset. “The main idea for this method is to incorporate school district information to get a new threshold,” says Zhao. “The standard method, which doesn’t include this information, can be either overly conservative or overly liberal.” This kind of refined analysis can help district and state policymakers to reallocate resources to support underperforming schools or to imitate overperforming schools.

From education to healthcare and everything in between, Zhao and his fellow statisticians sort through enormous datasets, finding new ways to compute that better our everyday lives.

This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.

Navigation app on smartphone

As consumers, we have said goodbye to hailing taxi cabs in the pouring rain. We have stopped stressing about public transit schedules and delays. Some of us have even found alternative solutions to a costly ambulance ride.

Instead, we just get an Uber.

Ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft are one of the biggest ways people participate in what is known as the “sharing economy,” through which individuals share goods, like homes and condos on Airbnb and VRBO, or services, like labor and freelance work on TaskRabbit and Upwork.

For many, participating in the sharing economy as a consumer is freeing. But how have the suppliers—those who own cars or homes—been affected in the last decade?

Jing Gong, assistant professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School, sought out the answer.

Consumer or consumed?

Using Uber as an example, Gong could see two sides of the same coin. On one hand, the demand side, consumers who use Uber might be more willing to give up their cars in favor of the convenience of temporary ownership, what she called the “cannibalization effect.”

On the supply side, however, Gong could also see that providers may have an incentive as well. Drivers—or those desiring to be drivers—may actually invest in their cars in order to capitalize on the income available in the sharing economy.

To discover the answer, Gong and her co-authors—Brad Greenwood, associate professor of Information and Decision Sciences at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and Yiping Song, associate professor of Marketing at Fudan University’s School of Management—investigated Uber’s entry into different cities in China. Using a unique dataset of new personal vehicle registrations between 2010 and 2015, Gong and her colleagues analyzed new car purchases compared to Uber’s introduction to the country starting in 2013.

Because Uber came to different Chinese cities at different times, the research team was able to use a statistical technique called difference in differences, which mimics a lab experiment, to compare groups classified as controlled or treated. As the platform rolled out, the team used variables in both geography and time to understand Uber’s effects compared to the control cities.

In the paper, “Uber Might Buy Me a Mercedes Benz: An Empirical Investigation of the Sharing Economy and Durable Goods Purchase,” the researchers found that both riders and drivers have become consumers.

“The consumption of Uber needs to be satisfied by more cars being available,” says Gong. “As more people are giving up on public transportation or car ownership, others are seeing the opportunity of becoming a driver, which in return calls for an increase in car sales and trade-ins.”

Entrepreneurs without red tape

The sharing economy has made way for entrepreneurs, sans the red tape.

Gong’s study found that Uber’s arrival to a city was correlated with an increase in new vehicle ownership—about eight percent on average. The researchers estimated that roughly 16 percent of new owners were purchasing their cars in order to become Uber drivers.

The effects were varied when the researchers analyzed key conditions. First, Uber had a stronger effect on the sale of smaller cars than larger cars, with owners placing a high premium on features like fuel efficiency. Second, women were less affected by Uber’s entry into a marketplace, but still experienced a significant increase in car ownership. Finally, young people were more significantly affected, given their higher likelihood to drive for ride-sharing platforms, change jobs, and have more volatile income.

Now, having a car or a home has allowed owners to see an opportunity for financial gain. For those who are unemployed or underemployed, ride-sharing has given them the tools and flexibility of a consistent income.

Effects from Detroit to D.C.

In this study, the researchers disprove a popular myth that Uber’s arrival has people fleeing car ownership. Knowing that buyers are now looking to purchase goods specifically for participating in the sharing economy, how should manufacturers react?

“In order for drivers to stay current while being cost-efficient, they are paying attention to the type of cars they are buying,” says Gong. “Whether it is for style or fuel economy, manufacturers are willing to market specific vehicles in order to draw in drivers.”

With Uber and other platforms, workers are bypassing the formalities of employment regulations. While lawmakers have highly regulated incumbents in the industries, like taxi companies and professional car services, startups have not had to contend with such high obstacles.

“Policymakers are having to reconsider whether this business model can sustain itself without intervention,” says Gong. She suggests lawmakers be thoughtful about reducing regulations on these established industry players to provide a level playing field.

A New Frontier

It is evident that platforms like Uber have changed the economic game faster than industries can keep up.

“The sharing economy is changing the landscape because it’s consumer to consumer,” says Gong. “The dynamics are different because the drivers are consumers of cars but the riders are also consumers of cars. With the manufacturers in the mix, there are more players.”

This research, the first of its kind to analyze the impact of the ridesharing economy on car owners, can provide insights to industries across the sharing economy. The introduction of Airbnb, for example, could encourage more homeownership for those looking to make money in new hot rental markets. Manufacturers of these goods will need to understand, build for, and market to these new customers.

Powered by new technologies and an entrepreneurial spirit, the sharing economy will continue to grow in both importance and prevalence. Yet, the question remains:

Is a new car—and gig—in your future?

This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.

TL Hill presentation
TL Hill, Managing Director at Fox Management Consulting and The Center for Executive Education, describes the collaborative project between Flinders University and Temple University.

Engaging a community and its leaders to build an innovative, entrepreneurial workforce is a huge challenge. However, Flinders University’s New Venture Institute (NVI), with support from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has done just that — and the momentum is not showing signs of slowing down.

NVI’s work has helped grow more than 32 businesses, train more than 3,000 students and workers and implement an entrepreneurial curriculum in a region hit hard by the closing of a Mitsubishi plant in Adelaide, the capital city in the state of South Australia.

Matt Salier, Director at the New Venture Institute, TL Hill, Managing Director at Fox Management Consulting and The Center for Executive Education and Michelle Histand, Director of Independence Blue Cross Innovation, outlined NVI’s journey during their May 28 presentation “Transforming an Innovation Ecosystem in South Australia (or Looking Far Afield to Find Inspiration at Home).”

Universities have a responsibility to train the next workforce through an adaptable, enterprising curriculum, Hill says. In 2013, Flinders embarked on its mission of creating a path to innovative thinking that would benefit not only the university but also the 1.2 million residents who lived in the surrounding community.

Because of Fox’s strong business curriculum and the demographic similarities between Adelaide and Philadelphia, the partnership with Flinders seemed a natural fit. Fox Management Consulting used its expertise to help bring Flinders University’s vision for the future of education to life.

The key to being transformative in education is to be more industry-led, recognizing how businesses are developing and making adjustments to move forward.

“The research is to put industries’ needs at the center and say what is needed to be successful in the future. We tried to take that model to Flinders as well,” Hill says.

With an early framework in mind, Flinders brought 1,000 business people together to think about what competencies should be driving the university’s transformation as it moved toward being more innovative and entrepreneurial in its overall educational offerings.

“We believe that innovation stretches across all disciplines,” Histand says. “So the idea was not to do ‘innovation instead’ but to do ‘innovation with.’”

New Venture Institute successfully worked with government officials to create “entrepreneurial schools” where curriculum built around innovative thinking begins early in a student’s development.

“We better be working with the supply chain of students coming through, particularly from elementary (what Australia calls high school), but even beyond that,” Salier says.

Hill envisions bringing the work being done at Flinders back to Temple and the city at large.

Both Flinders and Temple recognize the importance of being good community partners, he said. To do that, it’s important to recognize the need to “keep one foot in the university setting and one foot in the community.”

Flinders is working with cities located near the campus to think more creatively in working with residents, businesses and industries to improve conditions.

“There are a range of things that have enabled us to have more of an impact in moving the needle on economic areas outside of our own closeted world of the university,” he said.

What is important to keep in mind, Salier said, is to keep pushing the edge of what is possible.

Social consciousness, or the idea that people should be aware of problems both locally and far beyond their own experiences, has existed for much longer than companies led by Fox School of Business alumni like when honeygrow founder and CEO Justin Rosenberg, MBA ‘09, decided to use locally-sourced vegetables or United By Blue started hauling waste out of East Coast waterways. Social enterprise, a modern twist on this socially conscious concept, arrived at the forefront of 21st-century business.

At the Fox School, entrepreneurs are baking in the social enterprise section of their business plan well before they leave campus. And because the Fox School has so many innovative, socially-conscious students and alumni, here are a few across various industries that deserve the spotlight.

Performance Adejayan, Founder & CEO of Perade

Performance Adejayan
Photo by Performance Adejayan

Performance Adejayan, a current International Business Administration major, is passionate about helping her fellow Nigerian-Americans retain their culture and pride. She has channeled that passion into creating a clothing line called Perade. The idea for Perade was born from a simple question Adejayan asked herself: “Why not turn my passion into a business?”

She felt starting a clothing line that reflected her personal identity would be the perfect solution. Unlike the appropriated “tribal print” that can be found at many mainstream retailers, the brand mixes “African prints with western silhouettes” to transport Nigerian culture into wearable pieces for all. By going straight to the source and receiving products from Nigeria, she is giving back to her home and supporting the global economy.

At this stage in her entrepreneurial journey, Adejayan is currently working on spreading the word about Perade. She is building a team of brand ambassadors and influencers to post about and wear her products.

Anthony Copeman, Founder of Financial Lituation & $hares

Anthony Copeman
Photo by Joe V. Labolito

At the heart of every one of Anthony Copeman’s ventures is a desire to provide his generation with the tools they need to succeed financially. Since he was a student studying accounting, Copeman, BBA ’14, has founded a nonprofit (Backyard Business) and a financial coaching program (Financial Lituation), began working for the City of Philadelphia and launched an animated financial literacy YouTube series called $hares.

Both Financial Lituation and $hares help users build toward financial freedom through advice and education on financial literacy in an accessible way, especially for minorities and other disenfranchised groups.

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?’”

Thierno Diallo, Founder & CEO of Sontefa Energy

According to the International Energy Agency, in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million

Thierno Diallo
Photo by Joe V. Labolito

people have never had access to electricity. In Guinea, the home country of Thierno Diallo, BBA ’17, only 53% of urban areas and 11% of rural areas had access to electricity, leaving 8.7 million people without it. With Sontefa Energy, Diallo wants to change those statistics.

“I believe that providing electricity to the people of Guinea, as well as to Africa as a whole, will be the greatest thing that I can ever accomplish,” Diallo says. “The myriad of cultures that are found in my country have always emphasized the importance of helping others.”

The company, whose mission is to empower the future of Africa with green energy, is currently focused on raising capital and is in the process of developing partnerships with solar panel suppliers in the U.S. and overseas. Diallo has developed an engineering team for installment and services, as well as a sales team.

David Ettorre, Founder & CEO of Osprey Drone Services

David Ettorre
Photo by David Ettorre

After graduating from the Strategic Management Entrepreneurship program in 2015, David Ettorre looked to combine the skills he knew he had in order to make an impact on the business world and the environment. He had business acumen, loved working outside and decided to mine the potential of drone technology to shape his career.

“With Osprey Drone Services, me and my team do not just show up with and play with drones. We use technology to solve industry problems,” Ettorre says. Leveraging the accessibility and data collection properties of drones, they offer customers a combination of preventive and predictive maintenance with industrial asset inspection.

Whether that means sending a drone 400 feet in the air to find out if an endangered species of bird has built a nest at the top of a tree or assessing the lifecycle of a wind turbine, the company helps wildlife conservation and their client’s bottom line.

Jen Singley, Keller Williams Philadelphia

Jeniffer Singley
Photo by Joe V. Labolito

Jen Singley, BBA ’13, has been interested in environmentalism since she was a child. For her, it was natural to marry real estate and sustainability. Singley is a real estate agent with Keller Williams and helps first-time home buyers navigate what can feel like an intimidating process. To offer this support, in addition to her day job, Singley hosts first-time buyer workshops in different neighborhoods around the city.

Singley also works with Women for a Sustainable Philadelphia, a forum for encouraging women to connect around a passion for positively impacting the current and future environmental, social and economic resilience of the Greater Philadelphia region.

In an effort to infuse elements of sustainability into her career, Singley offers free recycling bins for clients and organize cleanups in client neighborhoods. “No matter what I am doing for work, I always want to link it to helping Philadelphia and making it a more sustainable, greener place to live,” Singley says.

All of these “extracurriculars” support Singley’s mission to educate herself and teach others about real estate, sustainability and giving back to the City of Brotherly Love.                        

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

Doctor holding clipboard

Sometimes ideas for academic research can come from the unlikeliest of places. Like out of your earbuds.

Hilal Atasoy, assistant professor in the Department of Accounting at the Fox School, was hardly expecting to discover a subject that would lead to years of study while listening to a podcast, but that is exactly what happened.

“I was listening to a story about a cancer patient,” says Atasoy. In addition to being physically and emotionally difficult, having cancer can be costly. The patient explained that during her treatment she had moved and had to change hospitals and doctors several times because of her relocation and other reasons.

“She was saying how difficult it was to keep transferring her tests, results, procedures, and other records. She had to go through this ordeal again and again,” recalls Atasoy. Finally, the patient landed at a hospital with a good electronic health records (EHR) system, and she didn’t need to go to any extra trouble or expense anymore.

That got Atasoy thinking. Since the HITECH Act of 2009 made the migration of patient information from paper files to electronic health records mandatory, many studies have investigated whether this shift actually benefits hospitals, as electronic health records systems are costly to implement.

The results of previous research, particularly around healthcare costs, have been inconclusive. Studies point to the likelihood that costs actually go up—not down—as electronic health records systems are put into practice, at least for the individual hospital in question. But Atasoy’s research looks beyond the adopting hospital to the region surrounding it. “The question we’re asking in the study is whether the impacts of the electronic health records go beyond the adopting hospital.”

It’s common for someone to have a dermatologist at one hospital, get a mammogram at a different hospital, and see a primary care doctor affiliated with a yet a third institution, especially if that person lives in a city. When you factor in the costs at not only the individual hospital that adopted EHRs but also the costs at surrounding hospitals where there are shared patients, Atasoy has found that there is a marked cost-saving benefit after all. Estimates suggest that if one hospital in each area adopts an EHR system, it would add up to a net reduction of $18 billion in healthcare costs nationwide.

To conduct her research, Atasoy relied on several data sets. “We tracked information about the adoption of electronic health records systems at almost all the hospitals in the U.S. from 1998 to 2012,” she says. She also used Medicare data, census data, and HIMSS data (a dataset that comprises information about EHR use across the country). Atasoy and her team used statistical analysis software to interpret the numbers and come to their conclusions about the costs and benefits of EHR beyond the walls of any one hospital. Her research was published last year in the journal Management Science.

Atasoy notes that implications for her research extend beyond the healthcare sector. “It shows the importance of connections across different organizations. Businesses might be connected, for example, through shared customers,” she says. “Obviously, the firms are focused on their customers and their purchases and all the information they have on their customers right within their business, but there are many organizations that share customers or share suppliers. They have these connections.”

Her work on hospital-level data led into her current research, which focuses on patient-level data and seeks to identify the cost and quality of care benefits that could come with the widespread sharing of EHR between health institutions. “We’ve learned that only 20 percent of doctors use electronic health records, and what we’ve seen suggests that there are significant benefits to patients when doctors do use them,” says Atasoy. This seems to be especially true for patients living with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

Atasoy hopes her research will help spark a discussion about the value of hassle-free information reciprocity at hospitals, something that, on a policy level, she believes needs to be incentivized. Just as she began to look at the bigger picture, viewing hospitals regionally as a group and not individually, viewing a patient’s multi-year health journey and not just a single procedure, she hopes hospital administrators will zoom out, too.

“One big problem with healthcare in the United States is that it’s very fragmented,” says Atasoy. Her work reveals that a hospital isn’t an island and that the free flow of information will ultimately benefit everyone’s bottom line.

This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.



The spring semester was busy for the students for the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program; the MAcc students used the past semester to learn about career management from Al Chiaradonna, visit Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and finalized their post-graduation employment plans.

Al Chiaradonna, a senior vice president at SEI and Temple University alumnus, presented during a MAcc Colloquium on Feb. 21 about century career management. He has spoken all over the world on topics ranging from industry dynamics and global talent management to leadership, business strategy, change management and work-life integration.

Speaking to the MAcc class, Al talked about his personal career journey and provided key career advice. He encouraged students to focus on learning opportunities and to chase experiences, not titles. He also discussed how the students must embrace technology as it is changing the working environment and allowing for more flexibility in the workplace. The empowering conversation was appreciated by the students, who asked many follow-up questions about managing their careers in accounting.

The following month, the MAcc class spent a full day Washington, D.C. visiting the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The students visited the offices of both organizations and heard about audit and regulatory issues from PCAOB and SEC representatives. This is the eighth visit by the Fox School MAcc program to these agencies.

The MAcc students graduate in September 2019 and are ready to enter the workforce. Nearly all students have secured jobs.

StudentCompany
Jonathan AngelineErnst & Young (EY)
John BaroneBDO
Matthew BetterBDO
Daniel BoehlertEY
Henry CammisaEY
Joseph CannellaKreischer Miller
Danielle CarrRSM
Zaynub CheemaPricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
Walter ChrobocinskiVeralon Partners
Yanning CuiDeloitte
Elizabeth CusminaProtiviti
Rosa EspinalKPMG
Michael FiorillaPwC
Robert FirthEY
Sophia FoxRSM
Timothy FurmanKPMG
Kimberly GablerEisnerAmper
Luis GironPwC
Shane GrapsyDeloitte
Justin GrothmannEY
Alana JosephPwC
Skylar KatzEY
Bryan KingGrant Thornton
Trung (Tony) LePwC
Charles LehmannRSM
John LowryPwC
Meghan MacdonaldPwC
Michael MintzerEY
Monique MohammedEY
Mikella MonacelliRSM
Chelsea NataleBDO
Emily NatrinPwC
Priscilla PerezKPMG
Cole PetaEY
Alex SchwintDeloitte
Tyler SeeligKPMG
Alamelu Mangai SockalingamRSM
Mary TangKPMG
Matthew ThompsonBaker Tilly
Andrew VilaProtiviti
Xiqing (Claire) XuDeloitte
Wendolyn YangMitchell & Titus
Melisa YetkinDeloitte



Congratulations to the 2019 MAcc class! The next cohort starts in Fall 2019.

Greetings from Alter Hall! Here is the Spring 2019 Footnotes from Fox. What have students, faculty and our alumni been up to? We search out and dispense the news about department doings to loyal readers.

Probably still abuzz are the minds of attendees with warm memories from the Third Annual Accounting Achievement Awards dinner, held May 1, 2019 at The Lucy by Cescaphe. We hosted over 260 guests, including Temple University Provost JoAnne Epps, the Fox School Interim Dean Ron Anderson and most of the members of the Accounting Circle Executive Committee. This was both the most successful and most fun of the three of these events we’ve held. Six Fox alumni were recognized during the festivities. A story in the newsletter provides more revelations and photos.

Our MAcc students are at it again — earning top scores on the CPA Exam! This time it’s Valerie Brooks, Melissa Cameron and Colleen Diehl. Melissa, now an audit associate with Deloitte, says, “Having three of the fifteen top scorers in the state in our cohort is a testament to what we gained from the MAcc program.” Thanks for your apt acknowledgement.

Joshua Khavis, a 2019 Accounting PhD graduate, will joining the faculty at University at Buffalo SUNY in the fall after he defends his dissertation at the Fox School during the summer. Congratulations are due, Joshua — you’ve done us proud. Read more about his accomplishments within.

Rita Cheng, president of Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, is another successful alumna from the department’s accounting PhD program. The Fox School recognized her this spring with its inaugural PhD Alumni Diamond Award. This and more stories await you within.

This is the 20th edition of Footnotes from Fox that I’ve signed off as Chairman. Having scored a score of newsletters, I am about to depart for a sabbatical year in 2019 – 2020. Elizabeth (Betsy) Gordon will begin as the new head of the Fox School Department of Accounting on July 1, 2019.

It’s been an honor to have led the Department of Accounting for 13 years. I am sure Betsy is capably prepared to don the mantle of leadership. There’s a story to come on her thoughts about and vision for the department.

I want to acknowledge my colleague Sheri Risler. She has been continuously helpful, nudging and urging in the right combination, and has been a glue that kept the production of this newsletter going for 10 years. I could not have done it without her!

As is ever the case, you get full disclosure when you read Footnotes from Fox.

Professors and student standing together
Daniel Isaacs, legal studies professor, Avner Ronen, civil and environmental engineering assistant professor and Vidya Sabbella, a current MBA student
By Joseph V. Labolito

The  Fox School is focused on making a positive impact on its students, community and the global business world. This focus can be seen as a through line across much of the school’s research, including the current interdisciplinary industrial ecology project by Daniel Isaacs, legal studies professor, Avner Ronen, civil and environmental engineering assistant professor and Vidya Sabbella, a current MBA student.

The project works to address a combination of interconnected desired outcomes that are global in scale and go beyond creating a sustainable supply of lithium. A primary goal of the team is to illustrate a practical application of industrial ecology for business systems in order to reduce wastes and serve as a basis for innovation and intergenerational justice.

“Business, technology, science and education should not be siloed. With broader educational opportunities like this one, environmental issues can be the drivers of innovation,” says Isaacs. “Students and leaders alike need to start thinking about business in terms of what their obligations to future generations should be.”

The Interdisciplinary Dream Team

Dan Isaacs, director of the Global MBA program, teaches business ethics, sustainability in business, corporate governance and more at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research seeks to align economic incentives with ethical behavior.

Professors and student in the lab
By Joseph V. Labolito

Dr. Avner Ronen is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Temple University. His research interests include water and wastewater treatment, membrane separation process, nutrient recovery from wastewater and more.

Vidya Sabbella is currently pursuing an MBA in health sector management. She spent the majority of her career working as a pharmacist in India. When she moved to the U.S. and spent time volunteering at local hospitals, she became determined to pursue a career where she could help ensure efficient management practices for healthcare institutions.

They are working together in order to uncover whether or not the use of desalination, or the process that takes away mineral components from saline water, can replace traditional, more environmentally impactful methods of extracting lithium. This collaboration of business and science sets a new standard for how business schools can think about the future of the industry and the role that sustainability can play within it.

The Role of Lithium in the Modern World

Lithium is and will continue to be an invaluable resource for the U.S. and beyond. According to sources such a Mining.com and Bloomberg, lithium demand is expected to increase by 650% by 2027 from companies that produce batteries to power electric cars, laptops and other high-tech devices. 

But why should society rethink the ways it is currently extracting lithium? Traditional lithium extraction methods have significant environmental impacts, such as water pollution and depletion, soil damage and air contamination. In contrast, lithium recovery from seawater has a negligible impact and uses naturally occurring resources. It also makes good business sense, as it would be more cost effective and energy-efficient for organizations that use lithium as part of their manufacturing processes.

Where Chemistry and Market Research Meet

If Ronen and Sabbella’s work on the chemistry side of the project is successful, the team will have created a new, sustainable method of extracting a resource whose value will only increase over time.  

From there, Dan Isaacs and the Fox School will assist with the business side of the project, helping to commercialize lithium desalination. Together, Isaacs and Sabbella will conduct market analysis and develop a business plan.

The exercise presents a unique opportunity for Sabbella to combine her scientific past with her future in business. “Being a pharmacist and MBA candidate, I believe this is a perfect blend of my background qualifications and experience and my future as MBA graduate,” Sabbella says. “It’s a great opportunity to apply the concepts that I am learning every day at the Fox School to develop a business model. By working in the lab, I have a chance to utilize my chemistry knowledge.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

mosquito in high definitionVictor H. Gutierrez-Velez never expected his work to lead him to the topic of public health. His expertise lies in remote sensing science, analyzing data such as satellite images. “Every day, numerous satellite images are taken,” says Gutierrez-Velez. And the information drawn from these images has both academic and commercial applications.

For example, satellite images can help prescribe management, fertilization, irrigation, and other activities in precision agriculture, according to Gutierrez-Velez. They can help the insurance industry assess risks related to flooding or other natural disasters, or to verify crop insurance complains. Satellite imagery can allow energy companies to pinpoint the ideal location for solar panels. And this kind of data, it turns out, can even come in handy when it comes to fighting certain diseases.

To that end, partnering with colleagues with expertise in biology and public health, Gutierrez-Velez, assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts, has recently been drawn to an unlikely research subject: mosquitoes. Specifically, the tiger mosquito (scientific name: aedes albopictus). What’s so interesting about this tiny, blood-sucking bug?

“It’s worrisome. They can spread the Zika virus and other dangerous diseases,” says Gutierrez-Velez.

In 2016 when the Zika pandemic caught his interest, mosquitoes dominated the headlines. Once thought to be limited to tropical and subtropical regions, the tiger mosquito had expanded its territory into most continents. Climate change plays a role, but these mosquitoes are also particularly aggressive. They’re among the 100 most invasive species in the world. In the 1980s, they were first spotted in the U.S. in Texas. Today, they reach as far north as Connecticut. Their presence in Pennsylvania remains an ongoing public health concern.  

For his project, a recipient of the Office for the Vice President of Research‘s Targeted Grant Program and supported by the Data Science Institute housed at the Fox School, Gutierrez-Velez decided to look at multiple datasets, including climate data, information gathered from sampling for the presence of the tiger mosquito, land cover data, and census information. Gutierrez-Velez believes that with these and other datasets as inputs, machine learning and advanced algorithms can be used to predict the locations of tiger mosquito populations in advance of the season.

One of the most interesting possible findings of this research is that the tiger mosquito is less of a rural dweller than previously thought. “What we’re finding contradicts conventional wisdom about where these mosquitoes live. They are becoming domesticated animals. They prefer to be where lots of humans are living closely together—in cities. Because they love our blood,” says Gutierrez-Velez.

Scientific curiosity led Gutierrez-Velez to census data, which is not necessarily an obvious source of information to predict the presence or absence of a small flying bug. “If they feed on humans, human behavior should have something to do with it,” he says. And it does seem like including this data makes for a more accurate prediction about where the mosquitoes will go next.

Gutierrez-Velez’s ultimate goal for the project is to perfect a reliable working model that can be used to predict the upcoming mosquito season. Knowing that a particularly bad mosquito season is about to start will give officials the opportunity to plan in advance.

For example, the most affected areas can be targeted for treatment before the problem becomes unmanageable. Residents could be strongly cautioned in advance of the season to deal with housing-related conditions, such as places that collect standing water, which act as mosquito breeding areas. In the event that mosquitoes are spreading Zika or another virus, these protections could even save lives.

“There’s a lot we can do if we have a model that can say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a bad year for mosquitoes, get ready,’” says Gutierrez-Velez.

This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.

In the Winter 2018 issue of Fox Focus, readers were introduced to a group of Fox students who were among the first to participate in the school’s new and improved Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Core Curriculum. The curriculum was redesigned with innovation in mind and focuses on topics such as critical thinking, communication and quantitative reasoning skills.

Fox undergraduate students use these skills every day. The editorial team checked in with Nasir Mack, Meredith Orme and Robert Zurzolo to see what has changed for each of them in the last year.

Nasir Mack
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

Nasir Mack, a business management major, has taken on more leadership roles in his extracurricular activities. He is now the strategic partnership coordinator of the Fox Student Philanthropic Society, and he is involved with the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, which is a diverse group of students working shape the school’s culture. He is also starting to explore whether he wants to major or minor in something that will build upon his creative, artistic side, such as Marketing.

“Last year, I was constantly grinding away and pushing for more and more. Now that I am more comfortable in myself and my education, I am learning to stride and pace myself,” Mack says.

Meredith Orme
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

Meredith Orme, now double majoring in accounting and legal studies, is involved with student professional organizations (SPOs) on campus and is an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since her freshman year, Orme discovered that she is interested in a career in forensic accounting.

“While my classes have taught me a lot, I think the most important skill I have learned is how to present myself,” Orme says. “I am much more sure of myself and confident in who I am and what I want. I am not only more confident in how I present myself, but in my set of skills. I’ve also learned how to communicate effectively and how to be much more straightforward.”

Robert Zurzolo
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

Robert Zurzolo, after changing his major a few times over the course of the last year, decided on double majoring in finance and accounting in order to pursue a career in investment banking or private equity. Currently, Zurzolo is studying abroad at Temple University’s campus in Rome, Italy. In addition to attending classes and exploring Europe, he has gotten back to his hobby of playing soccer.

“I feel that I have grown as a student; I take more pride in my assignments,” he says. “During my time abroad I have become more appreciative of the opportunities that I have been given, both here and back at home, and it has also reaffirmed my desire to travel as much as possible in the future.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

The 2018-2019 academic year was a transformative one. It saw the establishment of programs including a flexible 30-credit Master of Science in Statistics and Data Science, and the opening of centers like the Fischer-Shain Center for Financial Services. The school also embarked on a journey of strategic reinvention in order to set the stage for the future of the Fox School.

Since the strategic planning process began, the Fox School community has been part of the process. The Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTF) engaged students, faculty and staff via in-person activities and events and alumni via virtual town halls. All of these groups were surveyed and participated in focus groups in order to share their ideas and expectations for the mission, vision, culture, values and goals for the school.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

“It’s really an exciting time to be a part of Fox,” says Meredith Okenquist, director of the alumni career and professional development for the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD). Okenquist is also a member of the SPTF and a part-time MBA alumna. “There has been a tremendous effort to really assess where we have been in the past as a school, where we are currently and how we are going to move forward.”

“These declarations are a cornerstone in the foundation we are building for the future of our school,” says Interim Dean Ronald Anderson. “This process of identifying the important qualities of an institution allows us to build our future from the ground up. With a defined vision and mission guided by our culture and values, we can create a significant and substantial set of goals to pursue in our next five to seven years.”

It is the culmination of all of these activities that serve as the basis for the Fox School’s Strategic Declarations:

VISION

To transform students’ lives, develop leaders and impact our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research.

MISSION

The Fox School of Business transforms our students into socially responsible professionals and leaders, through engagement with Fox communities committed to lifelong learning, service and the advancement of management practice.

CULTURE

The Fox School of Business is home to a community focused on excellence in the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge. The Fox School thrives on collegiality, collaboration and competition, guided by a strong sense of ethics and trust. We foster transparency, open communication and inclusion. Grounded in the power of our values, we combine thought leadership with an entrepreneurial spirit to develop future leaders. We reward innovation and encourage everyone to be forward-thinking, entrepreneurial, action-oriented and empowered. Our community is strong, diverse, connected and proud.

VALUES

Values define the principles that guide expected behavior in an organization. Our shared values guide our actions and describe how we behave in the world.

These values are the underpinning of our culture and the essence of our mission.

  • Collaboration: We work together to achieve common objectives, and we recognize, reward and encourage cross-disciplinary efforts.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: We encourage and respect diversity in all forms and perspectives, and we create an inclusive, welcoming environment where everyone is emboldened to reach their full potential.
  • Empowerment: We support, recognize and reward people by providing them with the tools and resources they need to learn, develop and succeed. In so doing, we challenge and encourage one another to persevere and excel in these pursuits.
  • Ethics and Integrity: We create an atmosphere where trust, honesty and transparency are expected, valued and recognized.
  • Innovation: We embrace innovative thinking, unique action and challenging norms while seeking solutions that solve problems and have a positive impact on our community.

More information about the strategic plan will be unveiled this summer. Stay tuned!

Student In Class on Laptop

A personalized touch can make all the difference.

When you log into Amazon, Netflix, or Facebook, one of the first things you see are recommendations for products, shows, or friends you may know—all based on things you have already bought, watched, or liked.

Recommender systems have eliminated the time-consuming effort of understanding and anticipating what exactly users want, sometimes before they know they want it. Using vast collections of detailed data points, data scientists can create a trail of digital breadcrumbs, which follows Internet users as each sale, search, and interaction becomes part of an algorithm for new suggestions. These platforms can predict and encourage your next shopping sprees, binges, and bucket lists.

In the private sector, companies have long been using technology-enhanced learning in order to proactively suggest and anticipate their consumers’ choices. But how can these mechanisms be most effectively applied to academia?

“We have to learn something new every day,” says Dr. Konstantin Bauman, assistant professor in the Management Information Systems (MIS) Department at the Fox School of Business. “With the traditional path, we go to university, take some courses, meet with the instructor once a week, and go to lectures. But today, there are many different types of tools and materials available online that are able to educate large groups in a personalized and direct way.”

Educational companies like Coursera, Lynda.com and the Khan Academy already use recommender systems to suggest courses their users may like, based on their history. Bauman, however, wanted to know whether personalized e-learning can help students struggling to comprehend a particular subject.

“Education is one important application of recommender systems for society to target materials for specific learning paths,” says Bauman.

Bauman, along with co-author Alexander Tuzhilin of New York University’s Stern School of Business, examined the personalized e-learning systems approach with the help of a tuition-free online university. By using curricula from 42 classes and test results from 910 students over three semesters, the researchers created a system to pinpoint—and address—specific areas within a student’s comprehension that needed improvement.

The team reported their findings in the paper, “Recommending Remedial Learning Materials to Students by Filling Their Knowledge Gaps,” which was published in MIS Quarterly in 2018.

In this real-life experiment throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, Bauman’s team identified where students’ knowledge waned and provided materials to supplement these gaps. “Instead of revising the entire lesson, we provided catered lessons to fill those gaps,” says Bauman.

The students had diverse backgrounds, from both the United States and developing countries, and studied in a variety of programs, from business to computer science to art history. The researchers split the students into three groups: a control group that received no recommendations, a group that received non-personalized recommendations, and a group that received recommendations tailored to the individual student.

Bauman and his team created taxonomies that mapped all the topics covered within a specific course, built a library of remedial learning materials, and matched test questions with course topics. After analyzing test scores, the researchers identified the students’ weaknesses. The students in the non-personalized group received generic recommendations for the course, while students in the personalized group received remedial materials for specific topics that were identified via testing.

“First, we showed that most of the students who received our recommendations found them relevant and helpful,” says Bauman. Second, the “average” students, who received a test score between 70 and 90 in previously taken courses, were most affected by personalized recommendations. “These students improved their performance on the final exams significantly more, in comparison to their prior performance before they received personalized recommendations than the students from the control group.” For this subset of students, the personalized group received an average grade of 83.22 in their final exams, while the control group scored an average of 79.39.

The study received limited interactions with students who were classified as “falling behind” (those whose previous grade averages were below 70) as only six students who received personalized recommendations actually clicked on the materials. Similarly, students who were “excellent” (with average grades above 90) were less likely to need remedial lessons.

Bauman found that, by determining specific materials needed to supplement their understanding, students saved time and energy in preparation for their exams.

“Learning systems have the capability of picking up patterns and behaviors that can clearly predict necessary methods that are worthwhile and timely,” says Bauman. For students and professors, time that may be used to teach a specific lesson can be accomplished through recommender systems, saving more time for interactions that encourage new ideas and understandings.

One thing is for sure—when it’s time to come back for more, a new suggestion will be waiting.

This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.

John Milligan
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

 

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.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.