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Fox School Alum Made It “Big” Last Summer on Reality TV Show

By: | October 27th, 2014 | leave a comment

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Cody Calafiore went from big man on campus and business-school graduate to “Big Brother” contestant.

A 2013 alumnus of the Fox School of Business and former Temple men’s soccer player, Calafiore finished runner-up on the 16th season of “Big Brother.” The reality show, which airs on CBS, thrusts strangers into a shared living arrangement without contact or connection to the outside world.

An outgoing 23-year-old with a larger-than-life personality, Calafiore adjusted well to the world of “Big Brother,” where cameras occupy every corner of the house and provide nowhere to hide from scrutiny, speculation and sabotage from his fellow housemates, with whom Calafiore said he forged quick bonds.

“I’m proud of where I came from and I wanted to brag about it, so I’d always talk about that,” Calafiore said. “I wanted to tell people I graduated from the Fox School of Business. Having that confidence to talk about where I came from was nice, knowing people couldn’t look at me like just another college kid.

“I’m not just another college kid. I came from Fox. That was huge for me.”

Calafiore’s connection to “Big Brother” was organic. He said he encountered a casting agent for the show while working a weekend job with an entertainment company in early 2014. The Howell, N.J., native said he doesn’t recall much about the conversation, other than the agent asking him if he’d have any interest in a casting call for the show.

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

“I remember telling the guy, ‘Are you kidding? I’m obsessed with it,’” Calafiore said.

From there, Calafiore said, it was a perfect fit. A recent business-school graduate and a self-described “superfan” of the show, Calafiore said he was told he was an ideal candidate – one who survived all three months of the show’s duration.

Calafiore’s family made the trip out west for the show’s Sept. 24 finale. His parents, Paul and Linda, brother Paulie, and sister Angelina were in the CBS studio when it was unveiled that a panel of Calafiore’s voted-out housemates had chosen Derrick Levasseur as the season’s winner. Levasseur took home $500,000, while Calafiore won a $50,000 second prize.

Despite finishing in second place, Calafiore called his three months on the show “an amazing experience.” He said he had ample preparation for the show’s rigor during his Fox School career.

“Getting through the house was brutal,” he said. “It’s probably the unhealthiest thing I’ve ever done. I mean, you’re staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. on the West Coast and, now that I’m home, I can’t fall asleep until 6 a.m. some nights. But at Fox, I had to put my work in. I spent so many hours at the TECH Center. Between Fox and playing soccer for Temple, that was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Calafiore had a superficial complaint about the show. He said he was not permitted to bring into the house any clothing that bore a corporate logo, which meant most of his Temple and Fox School gear had to be removed from his suitcase.

“Trust me,” he said, “I would’ve been wearing a Temple shirt every day if that wasn’t the case.”

Calafiore’s Temple pride dates to 2010, when he transferred from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., following his freshman year. Desiring a career in business, he pursued schools with stellar marketing and risk programs.

“I gravitated to Fox,” said Calafiore, who majored in Marketing. “My uncle works in corporate America for Cisco, and he always told me Fox was amazing,” Calafiore said. “That weighed heavily on my decision. Then we came for a visit and my father just was enraptured with everything Temple and Fox had to offer. I loved the city, loved the school. I was sold.”

Before heading to California and the “Big Brother” house, Calafiore had filled his resume with a few different ventures.

Following graduation, he had attempted to make a go at a soccer career. The midfielder – who played three seasons with the Owls – signed with Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in February 2013 for a preseason trial, during which he suffered an ankle injury and was released. Calafiore went on to become an associate district manager and sales rep for ADP, LLC. He also had tried his hand at modeling.

“More photos came out while I was on the show than I would’ve liked,” he said with a laugh. “Those got leaked, so I guess I missed out on a good pay day.”

Calafiore had to resign his position with ADP in order to accept his casting call to “Big Brother,” so Calafiore is unemployed for the moment. In between jobs, he held down a two-episode stint on CBS soap opera, “The Bold and The Beautiful,” and he said he might go into business with his brother, Paulie, who owns and operates a gym in New York City.

“Worst-case scenario, I’ll be his business consultant with the gym,” Calafiore said. “That’s not a bad way to make a living, and going into business together is something we always talked about anyway. I can’t complain, really. Life has been great.”

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Fox Professor Receives Best-Paper Award for Health IT Research

By: | October 27th, 2014 | leave a comment

Dr. Hilal Atasoy received the 2014 Young Researcher Award at the fifth-annual Workshop on Health IT and Economics. The honor – conferred during the Oct. 10-11 conference, hosted by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business – recognizes the best research paper led by a junior-faculty member.

Dr. Hilal Atasoy“This is a tremendous achievement and I am honored to have been chosen as its recipient,” said Atasoy, Assistant Professor of Accounting.

Atasoy received the award for her paper titled, “The Spillover Effects of Health IT Investments on Regional Healthcare Costs,” which was co-authored by Dr. Pei-yu Chen, of Arizona State University, and Kartik Ganju, a Fox School PhD student in the Management Information Systems department.

The paper examines whether the health IT investments of one hospital will affect other hospitals in the region through instances of patient mobility, such as seeking a second opinion, changing hospitals out of convenience or due to change of address, among other reasons.

Viewed as a means of improving a patient care while decreasing health care costs, health IT improves diagnostics, decreases medical errors and can utilize the secure sharing of a patient’s medical records between hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. In her paper, Atasoy theorizes that if a patient previously had undergone baseline examinations and received proper care and diagnosis at one hospital, this can reduce spending at another hospital that same patient visits.

“Let’s say a patient first goes to Hospital A which is equipped with advanced health IT systems, and she receives a high quality of care and accurate diagnostics here. Then she moves to Hospital B. This might not reflect on Hospital A’s costs, as this hospital that went through all of the initial testing to determine the appropriate care and necessary treatment for the patient, but it could reflect in Hospital B’s costs,” Atasoy said. “The patient will be in a better health condition at that point of admittance to Hospital B and would not require any of those tests. In a sense, there could be a regional spillover from one hospital’s health IT investments to another hospital’s costs through shared patients.”

“Health IT is seen as a policy tool to reduce the health care costs, however, in most hospitals that adopt health IT system, the costs increase. In this study, we suggest that maybe this is not a hospital-level question, but instead it’s a regional question, with externalities going from one hospital to another. If there are regional spillovers, hospital-level effects may underestimate the societal benefits of health IT investments.”

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PhD student Christine Wegner wins Best Student Abstract Award

By: | October 22nd, 2014 | leave a comment

More than three-quarters of black women aged 12 to 74 are considered clinically obese.

Christine WegnerFor Christine Wegner, a Fox School of Business PhD student and a research assistant in the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), this statistic was a key component in her award-winning research that investigated how social stigmas keep black women from participating in physical activity.

Wegner received the Best Student Abstract Award at the National Recreation and Park Association’s Leisure Research Symposium, held Oct. 14-16 in Charlotte, N.C. The competition selected the best student research in the leisure industry, as it related to current cultures.

Wegner’s work with Black Girls Run! (BGR!), a national organization that uses running to promote physical fitness and health among black women, while combatting stereotypes surrounding the activity, spurred her research. She reacted to how few black women engage in running because of social stigmas surrounding the sport. When coupled with a sedentary childhood, a deficit of black female professional athletes, idealization of a larger body type and issues of hair maintenance, these stigmas have contributed to illness and increased body weight among black women.

To understand this dynamic, Wegner said she reached out to 63,013 black women through BGR! The responses she received helped uncover how the group combats race and gender issues in the running culture. With 70 nationwide chapters, including one in Philadelphia, BGR! teaches black women basic running skills and creates a safe and empowering environment in which they exercise these skills. Working with the organization, Wegner identified confidence, skill, health, time, preference and hair management as six key areas when breaking down the barriers between black women and their athleticism.

“I think that Philadelphia is a good (research) target because of its greater prevalence of obese and sedentary individuals than many other cities like it” Wegner said.

Wegner, whose PhD studies include a concentration in Sport Management, relied upon several skills gleaned from her STHM and Fox School educations to better understand her research results. Wegner hypothesized using information gathered from her courses addressing the nature of organizations to predict that a group promoting a common goal can combat stereotypes held by the majority of its participants. With this in mind, Wegner drew upon her background in leisure activity afforded her through STHM to evaluate how the change in self-identification could result directly from BGR! Participation.

“At STHM, we focus heavily on distinct features and problems within sport and physical activity,” Wegner said. “This focus has allowed me to look at this organization holistically, from both a business perspective that I gained from Fox and from the broader issues in sport gained from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.”

Wegner concluded that, as predicted, participating in BGR! changed the mindset surrounding running in the black female culture to increase the number of women who now identify as black, female and runners. Their increased physical activity has helped reduce the risks of Type 2 Diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses among black women, and has provided a sense of empowerment as they accomplish various athletic and health-related goals.

“The most rewarding part was presenting my work with this organization, and finding out that there were some BGR! members in the audience at the conference,” Wegner said. “Seeing how passionate they were about the power of the organization made me feel that my research was worthwhile.”

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Two Fox students spread their actuarial excellence in Chicago

By: | October 21st, 2014 | leave a comment

Mary Grace Sear and Zilong ZhaoOver the summer, two undergraduate students from the Fox School of Business represented Temple University in the Windy City.

Actuarial science majors Mary Grace Sear and Zilong Zhao attended the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA) Center of Actuarial Excellence Student Summit, held Aug. 14-15 at the Renaissance Hotel in Chicago.

Sear and Zhao were two of the 50 students at the conference, which had representation by 25 CAEs from universities in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong.

The summit included a host of SOA guest speakers, including president-elect Errol Cramer, who offered career advice and tips to help students stay on the right track within their major. The two-day event also featured a communication improvisational workshop emphasizing the importance of listening skills, and another workshop that required the students in attendance to analyze and present case studies that focused on healthcare and life insurance.

“The improv workshop was very informative,” said Sear, a junior from Havertown, Pa., who is also minoring in Management Information Systems (MIS). “The takeaway was that although people worry about how they present themselves, what they look like or what they are going to say next, it is more important to listen to what’s going on around them.”

“I learned a lot from the workshops through the speakers but I learned a lot more from my peers,” said Zhao, a junior born in Baoji, China, whose family now resides in Scranton, Pa. “I was inspired by the students from Canada and Hong Kong because they have amazing actuarial exam progress. I was very interested in what their schools were like and, overall, it was a great networking experience.”

Sear and Zhao were selected to attend the event on the strength of their leadership and interpersonal skills by Dr. Krupa S. Viswanathan, Associate Professor of Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management and Director of Fox’s Actuarial Science program.  

“I chose Mary Grace and Zilong because not only do they possess strong analytical skills, they are both exceptionally well-rounded,” Viswanathan said. “Their strong communication skills were evident in class and through their participation in student organizations because they both held leadership roles.”

Outside of the classroom, Sear serves as Vice President of MIS at Gamma Iota Sigma, the risk and actuarial science business fraternity within the Fox School. Since his freshman year, Zhao has been active on campus. He currently serves as Vice President of Education at Temple Toastmasters, a student professional organization dedicated to communication and leadership development, and is an active member of Gamma Iota Sigma.

Sear and Zhao credited the Fox School with helping cultivate their leadership abilities.

“Fox really prepared me to be a professional,” said Zhao, who is also minoring in Computer Science. “While at the summit I was able to connect and network with people on a very professional level and confidently present the case studies to my peers. I love Temple, I love the program and the professors.”

Sear said her involvement with Gamma Iota Sigma, which hosts a career fair, requires etiquette workshops, resume reviews and mock interviews.

“Everything we learned at those workshops was extremely important because I had the appropriate networking skills to build on my professional contacts and network with various students at the conference,” Sear said.

Looking forward, Sear and Zhao said they are preparing for their upcoming actuarial exams, while also staying involved within the Temple community.

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Fox’s Executive MBA earns highest Financial Times ranking in program history

By: | October 20th, 2014 | leave a comment

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Financial Times Rankings 2014The Executive MBA program at the Fox School of Business improved its global ranking and attained its highest U.S. ranking by Financial Times in program history.

Fox’s Executive MBA moved to No. 58, jumping 17 places in Financial Times’ annual global rankings report. This marks the second-biggest improvement among programs ranked in both Financial Times’ 2013 and 2014 reports.

Among U.S. programs, the Fox Executive MBA earned its best-ever placement, coming in at No. 13. This marks a seven-spot improvement upon last year’s rankings, and represents the seventh consecutive year in which Fox’s Executive MBA has been ranked within the top-20 of the London-based organization’s U.S. rankings.

Financial Times has included Fox’s Executive MBA program in its yearly rankings report each of the last 13 years. Fox and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School were the only business schools in the Greater Philadelphia region to have been included in Financial Times’ rankings.

“Our Executive MBA program leverages critical elements of the Fox School of Business: influential research by elite faculty, a diverse and exceptional student body, and a robust global network of alumni who hold high-ranking positions in various facets of industry,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “Financial Times’ ranking speaks to the quality of our students and alumni, as well as Fox School’s sterling reputation as a leader in business education.”

Financial Times’ 2014 rankings, released Oct. 20, surveyed the Executive MBA Class of 2011 on salary growth, career progress, work experience and aims achieved since graduation. School diversity, measured by international and female students, among other factors, comprises 25 percent of the weight, while “idea generation” – the percentage of faculty with doctorates and research published in a select list of 45 academic journals – corresponds to 20 percent of ranking.

Fox’s Executive MBA is built on face-to-face classroom time delivered one weekend per month and supplemented by interaction with classmates and faculty via WebEx, the premier web-conferencing platform. Online collaboration reduces travel and minimizes the time students spend away from home and office. Fox consulted with 300 corporate leaders to further enhance the program’s curriculum, to offer advanced problem-solving techniques within specific competencies.

Inclusion in Financial Times’ Executive MBA rankings report is the latest in a string of recent national and global rankings that exemplify Fox’s continued upward progression.

  • Fox’s Global MBA, the School’s flagship, full-time MBA program, jumped 20 spots globally in The Economist’s “Which MBA?” report, released Oct. 9.
  • Graduate-program entrepreneurial mentorship at Fox was rated No. 1 in the country, according to a September report by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. The same publications also positioned Fox’s entrepreneurship programs among the nation’s finest, at No. 11 at the undergraduate level and No. 16 for graduate studies.
  • Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management, which ranked No. 4 in the U.S., was one of three undergraduate programs at Fox to be listed among the top-15 nationally in last month’s report by U.S. News & World Report.

“We are proud of these distinctions, which further validate the value and global recognition of a Fox degree,” Porat said.

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Fox School’s Dean Porat engages Union League audience at event in support of Philadelphia’s globalization

By: | October 17th, 2014 | leave a comment

Photo Credit: Paul Coker/Philadelphia Business Journal

At the Philadelphia Union League, Dr. M. Moshe Porat got right down to it. Upon taking his seat beside fellow panelists – four of the city’s top international business executives – Porat offered three reasons why Philadelphia needs to invest in its international students.

“They have innovation, energy and excitement – everything necessary to help Philadelphia compete domestically and globally in the marketplace,” said Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business at Temple University. “They want to come here, and we have the opportunity of a lifetime.”

An invited guest at the Oct. 14 event, Porat participated in the inaugural Global PHL panel, co-sponsored by Philadelphia Business Journal and JPMorgan Chase. In a room of more than 200 of the city’s select business, economic and financial leaders, Porat and fellow experts addressed the need to raise Philadelphia’s global profile and the subsequent economic and industrial impact in doing so.

Philadelphia, home to more than 100 colleges and universities, is an appropriate landing spot for international students, Porat posited. In fact, international students made up more than 10 percent of the undergraduates, 30 percent of graduate students and 85 percent of the PhD students at the Fox School during the 2013-14 academic year.

Photo Credit: Paul Coker/Philadelphia Business Journal

Photo Credit: Paul Coker/Philadelphia Business Journal

Pennsylvania, a top-five host state in the nation for international students, is equally well-positioned for students from overseas. Pennsylvania and nine other states combine to host 61 percent of the nation’s international-student intake, according to the 2013 Open Doors report on International Education Exchange, by the Institute of International Exchange.

Like Philadelphia, Boston is regarded as an education hub on the East Coast. Dissimilarly, though, Boston has a reputation for keeping its international students in the region in the years after they have graduated.

“We are attracting a lot of international students – maybe not as many as we’d like – although we have the capacity to absorb more,” Porat said. “We have more universities within 15 miles of Philadelphia than Boston has.

“The difference,” Porat continued, “is that in Boston, many of these students stay in Boston or in the area, but in Philadelphia they go back to other places. That means we don’t have enough means and actions and ideas on how to retain these students.”

The solution, Porat said, is multi-pronged. On the national level, immigration policies tend to limit the ability of corporations to keep recent graduates of international origins, thus reducing full-time employment offers. Locally, Porat said, universities have to be more proactive in attracting students.

“I think we are all working independently,” he said, “and competition is good, but more (needs to be done) in a coordinated fashion, primarily in China, India, Brazil and Korea, where many of (Philadelphia’s international) students are coming from.”

The panel discussion – moderated by Morgan McGrath, JPMorgan Chase’s Head of International Banking – were: Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’nex Brands and The Rodon Group; Leo Holt, President of Holt Logistics Corp.; Stephen P. Mullin, President of Econsult Solutions, Inc.; and Linda Mysliwy Conlin, President of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.

Those in attendance also heard from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who has traveled extensively to promote international initiatives and promote the city as both a world-class destination for tourism and a possible landing spot for businesses.

Philadelphia, as Nutter pointed out, experienced its first population growth in 60 years, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. He credited increases in immigrant population and improved foreign relations for the population jump. In recent months, Nutter visited with Pope Francis, who is expected to make Philadelphia the first destination he visits during the 2015 World Meeting of Families. Nutter also said he has reaffirmed Philadelphia’s 50-year sister-city connection to Florence, Italy, and has met with business leaders from other international cities.

“People are talking about Philadelphia, around the corner and around the globe,” Nutter said. “I’m out there, and our responsibility is to support your efforts to continue to make our case for Philadelphia.

“Yet we remain, at times, one of America’s best-kept secrets. … We’re a little shy sometimes and not as outgoing and outward as we should be, but we are increasingly taking our place on the world stage and I have no doubt we will succeed in our goal.”

Sometimes, improving Philadelphia’s global profile is regarded as “either too hard, too unpopular or too unimportant,” said Peter Kaldes, Executive Director and Head of JPMorgan Chase’s Global Cities Initiative, but its impact is undeniable. Kaldes pointed out that only 36 percent of Americans hold passports, that only 1 percent of U.S. firms export and that a stunning 41 percent of domestic job creation stems from the international expansion of existing firms.

“We aren’t doing enough to look beyond our borders for (international) growth,” Kaldes said, “but we’re moving in the right direction.”

“The U.S. is a place where people want to study,” Porat added, “so let’s ask, ‘What are we doing to keep them here?’”

Fox alums among those recognized at League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference

LEWAn inspirational day of reflection upon the successes of female entrepreneurs had no shortage of wisdom and insight – beginning with the keynote speaker and carrying through the rest of the program.

“Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Live in the present and envision the future,” said keynote Sarah Hetznecker, at the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference, held Oct. 8 at Temple University’s Mitten Hall.

The event, in its 15th year, focused on educating students, alumni and the community on ways in which women can increase awareness of entrepreneurial initiatives and learn about starting a business, building a team and launching new products into the marketplace.

Temple’s Fox School of Business, the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), the Office of the Provost, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), the School of Media and Communication and Institutional Advancement co-sponsored the event.

Fox Executive MBA alumna Beth Duffy, CEO of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, was one of Temple alumni inducted into the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Hall of Fame.

Her fellow Hall of Fame inductees were: President and CEO of Jeanes Hospital Linda Grass, a 1973 graduate of the College of Health Professions and Social Work, who was instrumental in leading Jeanes’ integration with Fox Chase Cancer Center; and Vice President and Manager of Training at Urban Engineers and Vice President of the Philadelphia Engineering Foundation Carol Martsolf, a 1992 alumna of the College of Engineering and an advocate of development and mentorship in her field.

For Duffy, healthcare has been a lifelong passion. As the story goes, Duffy watched the construction of the former Warminster Hospital in Bucks County from behind a chain-link fence. When the hospital was completed, she applied for a volunteer position and has had an interest in healthcare ever since.

During her acceptance speech, Duffy reflected on a recent vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where she heard “the angelic voices of three little girls” who, for 50 cents, were selling advice and compliments. Duffy coughed up the necessary funds, took a shell from the girls’ basket and unwrapped it when she returned home.

“It’s still on my desk,” said Duffy, who has spent three decades in the Einstein Healthcare Network. “It said, ‘Be a good example. It will inspire others.’ This is my advice today. For me, success is tied to keeping it simple.”

Fox alumnae Phyllis Ludwig and Yasmine Mustafa participated in a panel discussion centered on the characteristics and drivers of entrepreneurship.

Ludwig, the founder and president of Ludwig Business Consultants, PLLC, a CPA firm, referred to entrepreneurship as “a calling. It wasn’t a choice.” She said she remembered, as a 6-year-old, applying price tags to pencils and selling them in school.

Mustafa had a similar story. As a child, she would purchase candy just to resell – sometimes at double the price – once she had arrived to her school.

“Realizing I didn’t have to have all the answers, but having a way to adapt was key,” said Mustafa, who has founded three ventures – 123LinkIt, which streamlines affiliate marketing for bloggers; the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It, a nonprofit that provides mentorship and instructional opportunities for women who lack a tech background; and ROAR, which develops fashionable self-defense accessories for women.

Others on the panel included: Claire Laver, former executive director of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark and current operations director for Legacy Restoration, LLC; and Shelly Salamon, owner of Fairmount Bicycles and the Philly Bike Tour Co.

“This conference helps aspiring entrepreneurs learn what is necessary to take an idea, product or service and turn it into a revenue-producing business,” said Betsy Leebron Tutelman, Temple’s Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Communications. “It is a great opportunity to hear from entrepreneurs and leaders who have traveled the road to success and encountered the bumps and challenges common in startups.”

“The information discussed and connections made at this conference are invaluable, ” Tutelman added. “These panelists have overcome the challenges inherent in launching and growing a venture into a successful enterprise. Students come away with real insight into how to bridge classroom learning to real-world success.”

The League for Entrepreneurial Women’s conference is only one way that Temple University embodies entrepreneurialism. Recently, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked the Fox School of Business No. 1 in the nation for having the best graduate-program entrepreneurial mentorship. Also, Fox’s undergrad and graduate entrepreneurship programs No. 11 and No. 16 in the nation, respectively.

The Fox School has always had a history of a strong entrepreneurship program, said IEI Executive Director Ellen Weber, and it’s spreading throughout the university. Temple President Neil Theobald laid out his vision at the beginning of the semester with six pieces and one of them is to be a leader and “encourage entrepreneurship across all disciplines.”

“I think there is a basic belief here at Temple that through understanding entrepreneurial concepts students can take control of their careers,” said Weber. “An entrepreneurial student is one who can identify an opportunity, identify solutions to meet that opportunity and then execute on it. That’s the skills we are trying to teach through our entrepreneurship programs. I think this is why we got the ranking. Our programs are a combination of academic rigor as well as hands on practice.”

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Big Data Institute has big ambitions for Year 2

By: | October 17th, 2014 | leave a comment

The bar graph is dead.

It’s a bygone relic of an era intimidated by 1.28 billion Facebook members and 3 billion computer users globally. These numbers are not as daunting as they once were; rather, they are now the tools used to determine anything from favorite food to political preference.

This is big data, the new face of statistical and computational analysis.

Big data is the collection of data sets so large that it is difficult to process them with traditional methods. As the volume, velocity and variety of these sets increases, so does the need for informed analytics.

The Fox School of Business created the Big Data Institute for just this purpose.

In existence for more than a year, and with the assistance of seed money provided by Temple University Provost Hai-Lung Dai, the Big Data Institute strives to blend several programs and encourage natural synergies among big data researchers, students and firms, while seeking to become a global leader in research, education, industry practice, and technology transfer of big data.

For Dr. Paul A. Pavlou, Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives at the Fox School of Business, the Institute represents a year of work supporting students and professors engaged with large data.

“The amount of data created in just an hour or minute is tremendous. We need new techniques and approaches to make sense of this data,” Pavlou said.

The Institute has five centers with individual specializations that include big data usage in mobile analytics, social media, health sciences, oncology research, statistics and biomedical informatics. These centers have used big data to connect brain imaging to successful advertisements, to use technology to create vast amounts of DNA for clinical study, and, in the School Tourism Hospitality and Management, to decrease dissatisfaction in the leisure industry, among other research projects.

“One of the unique advantages we have is that the Statistics department is housed in Fox. We try to leverage that to have different conversations,” Pavlou said.

The Institute and its centers are funded by data enthusiasts from Temple University, the federal government, affiliated firms and commercial groups, as well as start-ups the Institute helped get off the ground. With the aid of these associates, and partners in the private sphere, the Institute seeks to continue its research into cutting-edge data analysis.

In its pursuit of this goal, the Institute’s Center for Web and Social Media Analytics has capitalized on the data generated each minute from the 74 percent of adults using social media.

For Dr. Sunil Wattal, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS), this data is critical. “There is not a whole lot of awareness of what firms can do with social media,” Wattal said. “The Center provides firms with a way to quantify the value of social media and use the data to derive some interesting insights about their business.”

The Center logs onto social media to help firms such as Aerospace to understand consumer tendencies at the microscopic level. Combing through Twitter or flicking through Instagram, the Center decrypts consumer preferences for the latest fitness craze to political party affiliation. This data is then synthesized into something that anyone, from pollsters to yogis, can use to further their goals.

A key area of research, said Wattal, is how a crowdfunding organization can convince more people to donate to campaigns. Chief among the Center’s findings is that, contrary to the belief that Internet popularity grows exponentially, the more popular a campaign, the less likely it is to receive more funding. Working with a particular company, the Center has proposed design changes to combat this issue.

“There’s a community that gets created on these sites, and you can measure how people influence each other,” said Wattal.

In 2015, the Center will use funds received from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to host a big data and privacy conference, bringing together federal agencies, online giants such as Google, and interested parties to discuss personal privacy in the Big Data age.

To keep students abreast of the latest in data analysis, the Fox School’s MIS department has introduced its newest university-wide course, Data Science. It is available to all students and has allowed business students to improve their data usage in the business world.

“We’re constantly surrounded by data. If you can get the average employee to take this data and get some insight on their own you can give them an advantage over the rest,” said Dr. David Schuff, Associate Professor of MIS and instructor for the Data Science and Data Analytics courses.

Schuff said he begins with the basics – teaching business majors and minors in his Data Analytics course how to use data-mining software, like SAS Enterprise Miner, to examine data and identify its pertinent characteristics.

“We want them to be able to look at cause-effect relationships in business data and use some basic tools to analyze that data and use the results to make better decisions,” Schuff said.

Using the basic skills Schuff teaches, students can use data to examine consumer preferences, such as using sales receipts to predict which goods are bought in tandem and how strategic sales can maximize profits. Broadening the scope, if politicians want to know a Facebook friend’s electoral value, they need someone who can use big data to decipher the sentiment behind a Facebook post. For Schuff, this person is someone who is, “comfortable with data,” and can fuse tools gleaned in business classes to decode the human psyche.

Data professionals “know what you can do with data and so they know how to support the marketing function. These people aren’t going to be just data scientists, …but business people who are working with data,” Schuff said.

Schuff aims for his students to move beyond the bar graph- and pie chart-models to create and analyze more sophisticated visualizations to better integrate data in their professional lives. These students get hands-on experience using SAS products, as well as Tableau software, both of which are currently used in the analytics industry.

“We really want people to touch the tools they would be using in industry so they can speak from experience,” Schuff said.

Fox alumna Yasmine Mustafa driven by personal, entrepreneurial freedom

By: | October 15th, 2014 | leave a comment

To Yasmine Mustafa, launching a successful business venture is more than entrepreneurship; it’s the pursuit of a freedom that’s unavailable in other professions.

Mustafa, an accomplished entrepreneur, uses this freedom to make life a productive experience. And she doesn’t take freedom for granted.

A 2006 alumna of the Fox School of Business, Mustafa has taken the Philadelphia start-up scene by storm, having launched three successful ventures in the past eight years. Following graduation, she won Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB) in 2010 with her premiere venture, 123LinkIt. She also holds the record for the most “Innovative Idea” awards from Temple University, with three consecutive wins, from 2006-2008.

“What I used to do at Temple is jot down every idea I ever had,” said Mustafa, 32. “A lot of ideas I worked on were around things I experienced.”

To appreciate Mustafa’s entrepreneurial spirit is to understand its origins. A refugee of the Persian Gulf War, Mustafa and her family immigrated to the United States in 1990. Settling in Royersford, the family of eight owned and operated a 7-Eleven franchise where Mustafa eventually worked as a cash-register operator. Despite her humble start, Mustafa believes immigrating to America allowed her to “cheat the birth lottery.” In her native country, of Kuwait, Mustafa said, women were expected to attend high school, agree to an arranged marriage and start a family. Owning a business, she said, would never have been in the cards.

“My life had already been planned for me,” Mustafa said. “I think about that a lot.”

Despite her refugee status, Mustafa was labeled an illegal immigrant when her parents failed to apply for refugee citizenship. She was subsequently denied financial aid to assist in the college admission process. Her father, who did not approve of his daughter’s career choices, abruptly halted her tuition payments before leaving the family to return to Kuwait. Mustafa worked 70-hour weeks in under-the-table jobs to pay her way through Montgomery County Community College, where she maintained a 3.8 grade-point-average and earned an Associate’s degree, and eventually Temple’s Fox School of Business.

After seven years of juggling work and school, Mustafa had a Fox education and was prepared for her professional career.

“Working under-the-table, blue-collar jobs gives you immense motivation to be your own boss,” Mustafa said in a post on her blog,

Mustafa credits the late Chris Pavlides, former Program Director of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), for nurturing her innovative spirit upon her arrival at Fox. Pavlides, to whom Mustafa refers as her first mentor, helped refine her ideas. Mustafa graduated magna cum laude and received Temple’s “Entrepreneurship Award,” a prestigious honor given to the single graduate with the highest grade-point-average in their specific major. Coupled with her three-year internship experience with Team and a Dream, a Philadelphia-based marketing company, Mustafa networked in the business world before pursuing her first business venture, 123LinkIt.

An online service that maintains bloggers’ operational responsibilities, 123LinkIt grew until Netline Corporation acquired it in 2011, thus freeing Mustafa to continue creating.

Currently she empowers today’s female entrepreneurs through her work as leader of Philadelphia’s chapter of Girl Develop It, an organization that advances women’s interests in the technology industry and caters to women looking to get into software development.

“I’m passionate about women’s issues because of where I’m from and … the inequality that exists,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa’s newest venture,, is specifically geared toward women. A customizable device intended for women to wear, the module connects to an app that triggers an alarm and calls the authorities in the event of an attack. Mustafa said the inspiration for the device came after learning of a sexual assault that had taken place on a neighborhood block she frequented.

“The idea just clicked on how to use technology to make self-defense better,” Mustafa said.

As takes off, Mustafa returned to Temple in October to speak at the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s annual conference. Sharing a personal anecdote of buying candy from her father’s 7-Eleven and selling it to classmates for twice its price, Mustafa said she believes daily life presents an opportunity for entrepreneurship.

Drawing upon her time at the Fox School, Mustafa remains undaunted in the competitive entrepreneurship market and actively engages with her consumer base. Money, power and prestige aside, Mustafa’s only goal is “to leave an impact on the world,” she said.

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In City of Brotherly Love, Fox alumna prepares to open co-working space for her entrepreneurial sisters

By: | October 13th, 2014 | leave a comment

Photo of Melissa Alam

Courtesy Melissa Alam

Attempting to find a comfortable place in Philadelphia in which to work was not a simple quest for Melissa Alam. That’s why the Fox School of Business alumna took a proactive approach.

“I was working out of coffee shops and living rooms and, after two years, I realized there needed to be a comfortable space for ambitious women to use,” said Alam, a 26-year-old from Carol Stream, Ill.

This month, Alam will open her co-working office space called The Hive. Located at 2nd and Race streets in the Old City section of Philadelphia, The Hive offers ambitious and creative women a place to work, a space to network and an opportunity to brainstorm with other similarly innovative women.

About eight to 10 women daily can occupy the space, which will be affordably and competitively priced, Alam said. Whether someone is a blogger, an entrepreneur, a start-up business owner or a remote worker, Alam said they will find an atmosphere at The Hive that supports the free flow of ideas.

“There’s nothing better than having the support of other women in the same room going through the same thing you are,” she said. “About 25 women are interested, and they are women who have the mentality that they can accomplish whatever they want. The Hive will be a place where we can get excited about each others’ successes and businesses.”

The Hive is not the only business Alam has initiated. Last June, she created an online magazine, Femme & Fortune, which covers topics ranging from culture, self, technology, career and style. Alam, who majored in marketing and international business at the Fox School, attributes the success of her entrepreneurial endeavors to her Fox education and her participation in Temple’s multi-cultural organizations.

Alam’s success has caught the eye of her alma mater.

Ellen Weber, Executive Director of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, which is based at the Fox School, invited Alam to attend the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference Oct. 8 at Mitten Hall. According to Weber, Alam’s story is inspirational for those who wish to pursue the same path and open co-working spaces or simply work in Alam’s space after graduating.

“She is a positive role model,” Weber said. “She is someone who is taking some risks that seem to be working, and students can learn from her to take control of their own careers.”

Alam will host her first event at The Hive Oct. 16, for National Boss Day. Looking forward, Alam hopes for her businesses to gain more national attention.

“As for The Hive, I would love to open up new spaces in different cities,” she said. “I am also co-hosting a conference in April with another Temple alumna, Antoinette Johnson, of At Media, called FemmeCon – aimed toward female executives and entrepreneurs to network with and mentor one another.”

Alam’s opportunities out of college would not have been possible, she said, if she hadn’t learned during her Fox career to jump at opportunities.

“Stay hungry and take every opportunity you can get, because you never know where you will meet people who will help you out in the future,” she said of her personal mission. “If you aren’t happy with the job hunt you are going through out of college, make your own job. That’s what I did and that’s the entrepreneurial spirit that’s rising here in Philadelphia.”

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