Zach Pfeffer has always been goal-oriented.
His knack for scoring goals helped him sign a professional soccer contract by age 15. At the time, the native of Dresher, Pa., became the fourth-youngest player to join Major League Soccer (MLS), a professional soccer league based in the United States.
These days, Pfeffer is a rising junior at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, where his career goals revolve around his interest in finance.
“This is the right place for me,” said Pfeffer, a summer wealth management intern at the Philadelphia office of Morgan Stanley. “From my first day at Fox, I have immersed myself in the culture and activities here, and it’s been a great experience.”
At 21, Pfeffer is what some might call a non-traditional undergraduate student. His enrollment at Fox in January 2017 marked the first time Pfeffer had taken courses in a classroom setting in six years.
As an upperclassman at Upper Dublin High School, in Upper Dublin, Pa., Pfeffer had made special arrangements to continue taking coursework in person and online while pursuing a career in MLS. Each day, after a first-period morning class, he would travel to Chester, Pa., for practice with the Philadelphia Union, the MLS club with which he had signed.
“I thought it would be difficult to re-acclimate to the classroom, but it’s been great,” Pfeffer said recently. “I had taken some online coursework while I was playing professionally, which helped keep me engaged and in a student’s mindset. Really, everything at Fox has been a great experience.”
The Union signed Pfeffer in 2010, during the franchise’s first season of existence. The club had planned for Pfeffer, a goal-scoring midfielder, to figure prominently into their future success. Often in soccer, teams will loan younger players who are under contract to other clubs, to allow for that player’s growth and to give him more opportunity to play. Pfeffer’s first loan sent him to Hoffenheim, Germany. The opportunity, Pfeffer said, “helped me mature quickly.”
“It taught me the parallels between careers in soccer and in business, actually,” he said. “They’re both cutthroat and competitive lines of work, and if you’re not performing well, there is always someone who is waiting to take your job. I was able to learn a new language, and it gave me a chance to be independent.”
Pfeffer’s soccer career continued upon his return stateside. The 2015 season served as his apex with the Union. He played in 21 games and scored a pair of goals, none bigger than his game-winner in the final moments of a July 25 match against DC United.
“I remember that goal like it just happened,” Pfeffer said, smiling. “We were playing a home game, I came on in the 75th minute of a 1-1 game. And in the 92nd minute, I took a touch and slotted it home with my left foot. The crowd went wild. That was my highlight moment.”
The Union traded Pfeffer to Colorado before the 2016 season and, though he had options from a number of MLS clubs for the 2017 season, Pfeffer decided to hang up his spikes and pursue a degree in finance. Around the locker rooms in his various career stops, Pfeffer said teammates often called him “the finance guy,” because of his interest in the foreign and domestic markets. A handful of teammates actually requested that Pfeffer — who at the time was completing online coursework — serve as their wealth manager.
“Before practice every day, everybody would be in the locker room killing time by looking at their phones,” said Colorado goalkeeper Zac MacMath, a teammate of Pfeffer’s both with the Union and the Colorado Rapids. “Zach was very well known for checking stocks when the markets would open, or reading the news. (Teammates) would look at him so focused on his phone and people would ask. He was obviously passionate about it.”
MacMath praised Pfeffer for his ability to complete online classes while playing soccer professionally.
“I’m taking some classes now, and I can tell you it’s a very tough task to go back to school when you’re playing,” MacMath said. “But Zach, he’s a well-mannered kid who was raised well by his parents. He was going to be successful no matter what life or career path he chose to pursue.”
Pfeffer isn’t sure of the direction in which he will take his finance degree. He has two years to decide between career opportunities in investment banking, private equity, wealth management, portfolio management, or equity research.
For now, he’s dedicated to his education and his commitments to a few of Fox’s student professional organizations.
Next fall, Pfeffer will serve as the lead analyst for the financial sector of Temple’s renowned Owl Fund Seminar, a two-semester course in which students manage real money — approximately $250,000 — in Temple University’s endowment expressly designated for this class. Students in Owl Fund are required to first participate in Fox Fund, a non-credit virtual portfolio training ground.
“That’s how I first met Zach and, in our interactions, he has shown great initiative and great potential,” said Cindy Axelrod, Assistant Professor of Finance and Director of Financial Planning programs at the Fox School. “Last semester, he often attended Owl Fund classes as an opportunity to meet other students and network with speakers.”
Axelrod added that Pfeffer, in his role as financial sector lead analyst, will be tasked with recommending three stocks for Owl Fund investment during the semester, and analyzing existing stocks from his most-recent predecessors. “These are front-line responsibilities,” Axelrod said, “and Zach is ready to meet these challenges.”
Next semester, Pfeffer also will hold officer roles with the Financial Management Association (FMA) and the Temple University Investment Association (TUIA).
Pfeffer has no plans of giving up soccer entirely. He guided the Owl Fund’s intramural team to the championship round last semester. And through LinkedIn, he has connected with fellow former players like retired MLS goalkeeper Will Hesmer, whose post-playing career is in wealth management.
“Everyone I’ve met and spoken with has been so supportive,” Pfeffer said. “Having that world and work experience certainly made for a smoother transition and it almost feels like I have an advantage. I’m a competitive person, and that translates to my past and my education.
“Those skills are transferable, and I think that’s why my time at Fox has exceeded all of my expectations.”
Christopher Wallace, MBA ’10 | Managing Director, GrowthPlay
Hometown: Syracuse, N.Y.
“Sales teams often aren’t aligned with their organization’s strategy,” says Fox School alumnus Chris Wallace, managing director of GrowthPlay. In his recent Harvard Business Review article, co-written with author and Harvard Business School lecturer Frank Cespedes, Wallace discusses how organizations typically spend three times more on sales than advertising. Yet these companies deliver, on average, 50-60 percent of the revenue predicted in sales forecasts. An edited version of the old John Wanamaker quote is applicable: “Half the money I spend on sales is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” (Wanamaker’s original quote was: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted…”)
Throughout his career, Wallace has dedicated time, effort, and brainpower to solving unique sales effectiveness challenges like this one. This is still true in his role at GrowthPlay, where he partners with clients to drive revenue growth and elevate selling from a transaction to a value-added experience.
Recently, GrowthPlay conducted a study of over 700 sales professionals, middle managers, and senior executives to determine why organizations aren’t getting the return they expect from sales. The study concluded the problem occurs due to misalignment with communication, perception, awareness, sales team organization, processes, and other factors that hinder reps’ ability to deliver value to customers. It isn’t as simple as “our people can’t sell,” which is a trap many companies fall into. The findings prove that even in the digital age, sales remain a people-centric discipline.
Wallace’s passion for sales force effectiveness started early in his career. In 2006, he left his position in sales and marketing at the PGA Tour and joined the entertainment division of Comcast to sell cable television programming. He worked at Comcast as a regional director for over five years, and during that time decided to pursue an MBA.
“I looked at a variety of programs I chose the Fox School because of the flexibility of the Executive MBA program, the school’s reputation, and its vast alumni network,” he says. “I was very eager to advance in my career, and even more eager to learn what drives business and sales strategy, finance, and profitability.”
One year after he graduated from the Fox School, he founded Incite, a sales force strategy and effectiveness firm. In January, GrowthPlay acquired Incite in order to diversify its portfolio of clients and strengthen its position in the sales effectiveness market.
“I could never be where I am today if I didn’t earn my MBA,” he says. “It changed my career, and helped me see the value of putting people at the center of any business strategy. Today, I help develop better performing sales teams using the skills, knowledge, and business acumen I learned at Fox.”
When asked to give advice for prospective and current MBA students, Wallace says, “Start your MBA program with a plan, but be willing to widen the scope of what you think you can do. I never intended to be an entrepreneur, but I saw a need in the marketplace and reacted. Be open to changing your path.”
Jimmy Guardino, BBA ’10 | Associate Director of Facultative Reinsurance, Aon Benfield
All fun and games: One of Guardino’s newest pastimes is mahjong, a Chinese tile-based game. “Most of my fiancé’s friends are both shocked and delighted to hear that I’ve learned the game, mostly because they think I will be an easy target.”
Jimmy Guardino, BBA ’10, has lived and worked in Singapore since 2012, when he joined Aon Benfield. There, in one of the world’s leading hubs for the facultative reinsurance industry, Guardino oversees the brokering of reinsurance for insurance companies that are seeking unique facultative solutions for their property and casualty risks throughout Southeast Asia.
To stay connected, Guardino regularly consumes American programming like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Daily Show,” and “Saturday Night Live.” “I live for shows like that. Most American expats here do,” he says. “In those first few months away from home, anytime I could catch an American show on TV or even just hearing Taylor Swift over the radio in a taxi, those moments were surreal. It was when I realized firsthand the sheer level of influence American pop-culture has even on the other side of the world.”
The Norristown, Penn., native took a circuitous route into his field. Guardino played in a touring band during his Temple days. The Economics major learned of an internship opportunity at Malvern-based Cevian Intermediaries, an independent reinsurance broker and intermediary. After graduation, Guardino worked with Cevian and, while on an assignment in Bermuda, began networking with an executive from Aon Benfield.
“I had returned to the Philadelphia area for about six months when I received a call in the middle of the night. That was when I found out about this opportunity in Singapore,” Guardino says. Aon Benfield offered to cover Guardino’s travel arrangements to Singapore from Philadelphia, including all moving expenses. If he didn’t care for the job, he was told he could move back at the end of his two-year contract. Guardino asked himself, “What is there to lose?”
The move has paid off. Guardino is an associate director of facultative reinsurance with Aon Benfield, assisting clients with the management and transfer of risk. He specializes in the placement and negotiation of facultative policies related to terrorism, political violence, property, power generation, and contingency.
Outside of his professional career, Guardino is a competitive cyclist on an amateur Asian tour, participating in racing events in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
He also is recently engaged to a Singaporean colleague whom he met for the first time at a work event in October 2013.
“Meeting Jacelyn was what really helped me to complete the transformation from ‘I am here on an assignment,’ to ‘Singapore could be my home for the foreseeable future,'” he says. On a personal level, as a result, Guardino considers himself fully engrained to life in Singapore. Well, at least most aspects of it.
“Singapore is located approximately 88 miles from the equator, so the temperature ranges from 70 to 95 degrees every day, with humidity,” he says. “The sun rises and the sun sets at the same time. It’s kind of like the (1993) movie ‘Groundhog Day.’
“There are days when the stress of work gets to you, and you envy friends and family back home. But I don’t regret moving here at all. It has paid off in more ways than one. I just don’t know where the time went. It feels like only last year that I was deciding whether to make the move. Now I’m here and my life has forever changed for the better.”
The Fox School of Business at Temple University, founded in 1918, is on the cusp of its centennial. In advance of this major milestone, a doctoral program at the Fox School celebrated an important first.
The first students of the inaugural cohort of the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program (Executive DBA) earned their degrees May 12 in a graduation ceremony at the Temple Performing Arts Center.
Launched in 2014, the Executive DBA annually gathers an intimate cohort of as many as 25 business professionals, each with an average of 20 years of industry experience and at least one graduate degree. The three-year, part-time doctoral program is designed to teach the tools of applied research that will enable its students to solve complex business problems and create new knowledge.
Representing this graduating cohort are business professionals and leading executives from the Philadelphia region; as far across the country as Washington state; and as distant as Chile, Dubai, and Mauritania.
One graduating member, in the days following commencement, received an expanded senior-leadership role within La-Z-Boy Incorporated. Darrell D. Edwards, the company’s senior vice president and chief supply chain officer, is now also responsible for branded manufacturing, regional distribution centers, and research and development.
“Personally, it is extremely gratifying to see our first set of students receive their degrees,” said Dr. David Schuff, Academic Director of the Fox School’s Executive DBA program and Professor of Management Information Systems. “Their dissertation research reflects the kind of highly practical, rigorous work that we had in mind when we conceived the Executive DBA program. I am confident all of our graduates will make an impact on practice as well as academic scholarship.”
The Fox School’s Executive DBA affords immediate return on investment. Students convene three times each semester in residencies held at Convene at Commerce Square, located in Center City Philadelphia, where intensive weekends provide face time between students, professors, and mentors that help guide the Executive DBA candidates through the program and in preparation for their research projects and dissertations.
“I found the best part of the program to be the residencies,” said Diana Kyser, chief operating officer of SWK Technologies, a New Jersey-based technology solutions company. “Three times a semester I was able to get away from my daily life and spend three days discussing, learning, and debating fascinating subjects with highly intelligent and accomplished classmates, instructors, and invited industry experts.
“I am so busy with my day-to-day that I never get time to think and reflect or hear the opinions and experiences of people outside of my work and social circles,” she continued. “In every class I found myself jotting down great ideas or improvements to my current work that I would have never thought of on my own.”
For Edwards, exposure to the most-contemporary critical thinkers within the business community carried great value.
“You can be certain you will not only receive a top-level educational experience, but your degree will be respected globally,” said Edwards, the La-Z-Boy Incorporated executive. “Since the Fox School has such a strong reputation, you are not only learning from Fox’s world class faculty, but from a highly selective peer population, as well.”
Momentum behind the Fox School’s Executive DBA program continues to soar.
The program recently entered an expansion partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing. The program will equip students from Tsinghua’s People’s Bank of China School of Finance with the same curriculum that drives the Fox Executive DBA, with the program led by faculty from Fox and Tsinghua.
And in 2018, Temple University will host the Executive DBA Council’s annual International Engaged Management Scholarship Conference, following the 2016 conference in Paris and the 2017 session in Tampa, Florida.
“Our students have played a major role in shaping the program, impacting everything from the curriculum development, to the second-year research workshops, to the dissertation process,” said Schuff. “Training executive students to do high-quality research requires a unique support system, and I am proud of the infrastructure the faculty, mentors, and program directors have created for this program.
“We hope to keep our alumni engaged, beginning with this graduating cohort. We want to bring them back to offer advice to current DBA students as they develop their research. We also want them to continue working with Fox faculty, continuing to bridge the gap between theory and practice.”
Sometimes it’s OK to use the “F word.”
In fact, sometimes it’s good to drop some “F bombs.”
Obviously, we’re talking about “failure” here.
That was the magic word at the Lead and Learn Summit held at the Fox School last Saturday as part of Temple University Alumni Weekend 2017. With a keynote address by Richard Henne, BBA ‘15, the co-founder of apparel company Ivory Ella, the panel featured five Temple grads talking about how, during the course of their diverse entrepreneurial journeys, they succeeded by learning from their mistakes. (Read our interview with Henne about “5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Will Learn From” here.)
There were many valuable lessons learned from the success stories told by the Owls on the panel, which included Philly Startup Leaders executive director Yuval Yarden, KLN ’13, REC Philly co-founder Dave Silver, KLN ’13, and United By Blue founder Brian Linton, CLA ’08.
The big takeaway? Don’t give up, because there is wisdom in failure.
There were many more Alumni Weekend events on campus, including Dîner en Cherry, a massive dinner held at a secret location where everyone dressed in Cherry and White. Check out some photos below.
Photos courtesy of Temple University.
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“Don’t be afraid to take chances,” says Richard Henne, BBA ’15. “You have to try something new even if you fail, because you can learn from failure.”
Henne is the co-founder of Ivory Ella, an apparel company that donates 10% of its net profits to Save the Elephants and other charitable organizations. Along with five friends, Henne launched the company in 2015. Now they have nearly 100 employees, a 40,000 square foot office space, and have donated over $1 million to important causes.
On Saturday, Henne gave the keynote address during Temple University Alumni Weekend’s Lead and Learn Summit. Hosted at the Fox School, the topic was failure, namely how a series of alumni entrepreneurs have been able to spin their failures into victories.
We asked Henne to share with us a few of the mistakes he made along the way to Ivory Ella’s success. From overseas raids on intellectual property pirates to driving a U-Haul truck around the country seeking inventory, here are some of the ways Henne learned from his mistakes.
1. Not Having a Business Plan
“We had no business plan, no customer service strategy, no idea what we were going to do. We took a T-shirt design, put it online, and it went viral. We were chasing our tail the entire time. It was hectic. We didn’t lockdown supplies, printers, employees, anything. We sold out 500 shirts in 15 minutes, so once we hit that preorder button, we were chasing demand for the next year. I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way, but it was a good problem to have. Definitely have a plan in place before you launch.”
2. Not Having a Talent Hiring Plan
“When you’re in a situation like we were, we were desperate for help. We hired friends, family members, and pretty much anyone who would come work for us. We didn’t have a talent scout, we didn’t have people looking for experienced managers, we just brought in anyone we knew who worked hard and was willing. Things worked out, but it wasn’t the most effective approach. You have to be careful when you bring in talent; it shouldn’t just be a shotgun spread kind of approach.”
3. Trusting Everyone
“Not being in the industry for long, and not knowing how big business worked, we went from a company that started in a basement to shipping our millionth order last month. It’s stressful and you’re put in situations you aren’t prepared for. We would have a lot of suppliers tell us, “We’re going to get this to you, it’s going to be perfect, don’t worry about it.” And nine times out of 10, those promises were fake. People will tell you what you want to hear, then won’t deliver. With our company, we started off wanting to do the exact opposite: We set goals, then we try to blow them out of the water, and never come up short. Various suppliers promised us shirts, and that fell through, so I spent the first few months driving around the country in a U-Haul truck buying shirts and driving them back to our factory. It was crazy.”
4. Underestimating Scale
“When we started, we were in a basement. We quickly rented out a storage space, and outgrew that. Then we moved to a section in a strip mall, where we bought two printers, hired a big staff, and a had big front room. That lasted three months, then we rented out the car dealership across the street, which we used for storage. That only lasted three months before we outgrew it. Then we moved to Mystic, Conn., where we shared a building with Aqua Massage International, so on the other side of the building, these guys were making aqua massage beds. From there we finally found a 40,000 square foot warehouse in Westerly, R.I. I can’t imagine we’ll have to grow again, but having a plan in place for growth and space would’ve initially saved us a lot of time and money. Our new location is huge. We only use about half the space right now; the other half is a basketball court and recreation area for our employees. We have a lot of space to grow. And we’ve learned how to manage our inventory, so as long as we stay on top of that, we shouldn’t have to expand again. Who knows, maybe an international office is in the future.”
5. Not Preparing for Intellectual Property Issues
“We have counterfeits all over. We take down about 100 a week. We even conducted a raid on Chinese soil to shut down a factory, but when we got there it was abandoned. It’s been an interesting process, and it wasn’t something I knew about going in. Like with so much else, we’ve had to learn fast. Other manufacturers steal our designs, so if we sell a shirt for $31.99, they sell it for $9.99. We donate 10%, they don’t donate anything. It’s people who want to wear the brand but not pay the cost. Big brands deal with this every day, but not knowing from the beginning this was going to be such a huge epidemic for us, it left us unprepared out of the gate. IP is huge, so think about it and have a plan before you jump in.”
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United States ambassadors representing 21 African nations, along with their commercial attachés, gathered at Temple University’s Fox School of Business April 26 for a full-day workshop on economic opportunity.
Presented by Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), the 2017 African Ambassadors Capacity Building Academy addressed economic growth opportunities between the United States and Africa and trade policy, through lectures from Fox School faculty and expert practitioners, discussions, and an evening reception hosted by Dean M. Moshe Porat.
Phyllis Tutora, Fox’s director of international programs and CIBER, and Dr. Kevin Fandl, academic director of Fox’s Global Immersion programs, welcomed guests.
“What I really want to focus on today is not the past, but where we’re going,” said Fandl. “The future is bright, the opportunity in Africa is great, and I hope that all of our speakers convey this message. There is really a land of opportunity, and if we can navigate properly, we will get there.”
The first of the day’s speakers — Katrin Kuhlmann, president and founder of New Market Labs — addressed the intricacies of trade, development, and rule of law.
“We’re in an interesting time globally, and I think it’s a time of both challenge and opportunity,” she said. “No longer are these issues for every country to think about individually and I think that change is how we have to think about some of these things. What we’ve been missing in the whole discussion on trade is that we haven’t really focused enough on how trade actually impacts people. We don’t think about what happens when you start looking at the enterprise level or start looking at those who are working in the economy.”
The Fox School’s Dr. Ram Mudambi, Perelman Senior Research Fellow and the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategy, followed with a presentation titled, “Trade Facilitation, Economic Growth and Global Value Chain.” Mudambi also led a case study, accompanied by breakout-group activity. Afterward, Lida Fitts, regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, discussed building bankable infrastructure in Africa.
Following a brief break, Fandl offered his presentation, “Trade Compliance — Institutions and Enforcement Mechanisms to Generate Growth,” and a case study on effective institutions that included breakout groups as well.
In a day in which opportunities for growth were discussed at length, the biggest takeaway for all attendees, Fandl said, is in the creation of a more-informed and well-rounded populace.
“Great opportunity exists for trade between Africa and the United States; however, significant barriers in infrastructure, institutions, and governance remain,” Fandl said. “And thanks to programs like this, which provide opportunities to learn about best practices and to connect a diverse set of African representatives to colleagues and key policymakers, we are working to close the knowledge gap.”
Undergraduate students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business earned first place at a prominent national analytics competition.
The team of three Management Information Systems (MIS) students took home the top prize in one of four competitions at the Eighth Annual Association of Information Systems (AIS) Student Chapter Leadership Conference and Competition, held April 13-15 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
The students —sophomore Rebecca Jackson, junior Zoe Weiner, and senior Run Zhu — won the conference’s AmerisourceBergen Analytics Challenge, which required them to provide solutions to the worldwide diabetes epidemic.
Another team of MIS students from the Fox School finished in second place within the security case study competition, also held at the AIS student-chapter conference. The students — Sean Dougherty, Marlea Tremper, Noah Gottlieb, and Xiaozhou “Hana” Yu — were tasked with solving a presented problem with the best application of information systems and technology knowledge.
Fox’s team in the Amerisource Bergen Analytics Challenge submitted its entry virtually in March, before learning that it had been among the ones chosen to deliver its findings at the national conference less than a month later.
“We had been working on this project for at least six hours a week since the start of the semester,” said Jackson. “Every time we saw one another, we were talking about the global diabetes epidemic. … When we were announced as the first-place finisher, it felt like a long-promised conclusion. The work we put in was worth it.”
Jackson and Weiner commended the work of MIS and Fox School faculty, specifically faculty mentor and Assistant Professor Jeremy Shafer, for their support in readying the team to deliver its winning presentation.
“The world-class MIS faculty were of great help in preparing us,” Weiner said. “They shaped us into better analysts, presenters, and salespeople.”
Added Jackson: “I can’t tell you how many times we visited with (Shafer) and shared our ideas. Dr. David Schuff, Professor (Laurel) Miller, and countless others helped, as well. This award belongs to the MIS department as much as it belongs to us.”
Temple’s AIS student chapter has a legacy of excellence. It received the 2015-16 Distinguished Chapter Award, which placed it among the four-best chapters in the nation. Fox School faculty, in partnership with AIS and with the support of a top MIS student, published and released its second installment of the Information Systems Job Index — a national report demonstrating the strength of the IS field.
It’s not often that an undergraduate degree in accounting leads to a career in poetry, but that’s exactly the path followed by Major Jackson.
Jackson, a graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, noted that his love for reading and writing grew stronger after taking a literature course with poet and Temple professor emeritus Sonia Sanchez. From there, Jackson never looked back.
Since graduating from Fox in 1992, Jackson followed his passion for writing with a job at Philadelphia’s Painted Bride Art Center. He has since gone on to become the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont.
Jackson has written four collections of poetry: Roll Deep (2015); Holding Company (2010) and Hoops (2006), which were both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry; and Leaving Saturn (2002). With the hopes for another collection in the works, Jackson’s untraditional path has proven to be a success.
His list of accolades includes a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.
A recent conversation with the Fox School alumnus:
Q: Tell us about your time at Temple and Fox. What was one of the most valuable lessons you learned as an undergraduate student?
Jackson: “There’s so much that I can recall. Fortunately for me, I grew up in North Philadelphia and Germantown. It’s one of the great urban educational institutions and many friends arrived there from all parts of the city, so it felt like a continuation of communities that I had already been a part of. But I was able to make new friends from New York, Chicago, and New Jersey. My life in the classroom was quite rigorous, and I appreciated the instruction. Having attended Central High School, I had a pretty solid education in literature and wanted to continue my education in that direction, and so I took a number of classes in Temple’s English department. During my senior year, my advisor told me if I had stayed another semester and taken several more classes, I could have double majored.
“As student-chapter president of the NAACP, I was heavily involved in the life of the university outside of the classroom, which proved crucial for me. It deepened my sense of community and accountability to my peers, faculty, and administration. I had quite the social life and pursued my academic life with rigor, and yet, I also wanted to assert myself as a leader. It was terrific to figure out how to balance all of that.”
Q: How did you transition from accounting to poetry and English?
Jackson: “My life as a writer begins in earnest with courses that I enrolled in at Temple University. Just before the end of the fall term, I heard Professor Sanchez read poems at a Kwanzaa celebration. Not having registered for all of my courses, I was so taken by her presentation that I enrolled in a black women’s literature course. She was as dynamic in the classroom as she was on the stage that evening. Around that time, too, my friend at Temple University, Wadud Ahmad, and I began reading our poems together with a musician friend of ours, Ali Barr. We all met at Temple University and clicked. We co-published a chapbook of poetry and the owners of the fine restaurant and jazz club Zanzibar Blue hosted a book party for us.
“Having worked as a work-study student hanging lights and working the sound board my senior year, after graduation I was able to secure a job at the Painted Bride Art Center as finance director, which at that time, prided itself on being an institution run by artists. After having been there almost six months, one morning I woke up and asked myself, ‘What is the art that I practice?’ I realized then that I wanted to make writing poetry my daily practice. The Painted Bride had poets who were on staff, Aaren Yeatts Perry and Lamont B. Steptoe, who became somewhat like big brothers to me, and would let me know of opportunities to read my work around town and what books to read — so again, community. At some point I applied for a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, which allowed me to not work in a traditional nine-to-five job, but supported me for two years as I wrote poems. I wanted to continue my education, and so attended the University of Oregon’s graduate program in Creative Writing. Four years later, when my first book Leaving Saturn won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, I applied for a job at the University of Vermont, and I’ve been teaching here ever since. It’s been a long journey, including becoming a father, marrying, divorcing, marrying again, and finally being happy with my life, all of which has fed my creative engine.”
Q: Are there any similarities between accounting and poetry?
Jackson: “Accountants take financial snapshots of organizations, institutions, and people, particularly when we go to create financial documents. Yet, there’s also a story that those numbers tell. Similarly, poetry attempts to interpret and amplify life, in the telling of a story such as a ballad or in capturing a feeling; this is particularly the role of lyric poetry, especially in its efforts to give a portrait of an individual’s interior life. The material language of poetry is words; and the material language of accounting is numbers. It takes an imagination to understand their correspondences.”
Q: What inspires you the most when it comes to writing, and why?
Jackson: “Having grown up in a household where literacy and education were stressed, I was long a reader before I was a writer. The story of human existence is told in our literature. Our survival is contingent upon the stories we tell and the songs that we sing and the poems that we utter. What inspires me are those stories, but also very simply watching my children grow into the spirited, soulful human beings that they are; I live in a state whose natural wonders spark my imagination. Also, my wife’s cooking (inspires me), as well as all of the performative and visual art I’ve taken into my body over the years. I think we have a capacity as human beings to not only imagine the world through art, but also to create it and recreate it. I feel a very special gratitude and privilege to do what I do, which is to get inside language and create poems that hopefully will resonate with another human being.”
Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role at the University of Vermont?
Jackson: “As a teacher, the most rewarding part is inspiring my students to become writers themselves, but also to cherish good poems and for them to get inspired to write poems. I am very proud of my students who have gone on to publish poems in journals or have gone on to graduate school to pursue their own life and practice as writers. You know, poets are decent human beings, on the whole. It is really a special moment for any teacher to watch a young person actualize into a fuller and evolved person, and specifically for me, to watch them grow in their art.”
Q: What’s next for you?
Jackson: Recently, I organized a collaborative, online poem among 250-plus poets in celebration of President Barack Obama (“Renga for Obama”) at the Harvard Review, and am looking forward to it being published as a book, which will take another round of effort, but one that I am dedicated to seeing through. Meanwhile, I am working on my next collection of poems. Hopefully it will publish next year, by the time of my 50th birthday. That would be five books for five decades and evidence that I did the work of synthesizing a life into art.”
How does Philadelphia’s designation as the United States’ first World Heritage City impact its hospitality and tourism industries?
Students, faculty members, and industry leaders gathered April 19 at Temple University for a program addressing that very question.
Temple’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) co-sponsored the event — “Leveraging the World Heritage City Designation to Build New Business Opportunities.”
“It is absolutely essential to us that Philadelphia does not simply remain an aspect of those tall buildings in Center City,” said Zabeth Teelucksingh, executive director of the Global Philadelphia Association. “We must get into the communities and make sure everyone in Philadelphia understands why this is important to them, why this is important to their city, and what they can do to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Teelucksingh’s organization has worked to ensure the city’s growth since the 2015 announcement of Philadelphia’s World Heritage City designation. In addition to positioning the city internationally oversees, the Global Philadelphia Association hopes to promote international consciousness within the region.
There is value to both approaches, said Julie Lemiuex.
The executive committee vice president of Quebec City Government and Advisor for the Organization of World Heritage Cities, Lemiuex shared her thoughts on the impact of World Heritage Cities as the keynote speaker at the event. Quebec City, which welcomes 4.6 million tourists annually, has held its designation as a World Heritage City for 32 years.
While Lemieux oversees urban planning, culture, heritage, brand image, communication, and major cultural events in Quebec City, she admitted that implementing a new vision of heritage in Quebec’s capital city has not been an easy feat.
“The concept of heritage is changing and new technologies are here,” said Lemieux. “We have to update our practices and add more synergy between stakeholders in the community. You’re doing a great job here in Philadelphia, and we have to do it more in Quebec City.”
Commitments to help execute that vision include the encouragement of citizen participation, prioritizing city heritage as part of the day-to-day lives of every citizen, and the support of business owners in maintaining their heritage buildings—the latter of which has reaped plentiful benefits for Quebec City.
“Heritage increases our collective assets and creates wealth,” Lemieux said. “We get $50 million in public and private investments just in Quebec City, and the government gets $100 million from heritage in the city. It’s important because it justifies the investments.”
In an effort to improve, Lemieux said she has looked to other heritage cities for inspiration.
“Lyon (in France) is a good example for me because heritage is everywhere in the city. You can feel it,” she said. “They marked territory on the streets, so when you walk, you can see it, too. In Quebec City, we haven’t done that yet and I want to do it.”
Getting lost in big-picture projects can consume one’s thoughts, Lemieux said, which is why she recognizes the seemingly small factors that produce large-scale results in the hospitality and tourism sectors of a city.
“It helps to smile,” said Lemieux. “You have to show people a smile to welcome tourism. The taxi drivers are very important because that’s the first contact a visitor has when he or she exits the plane. If the taxi driver doesn’t look like he or she likes the city, then you as the traveler are not sure, either.”
Lemieux, Quebec City’s Vice Mayor, remained in Philadelphia following the event and engaged with various stakeholders around the topic of best practices for the promotion of commerce and tourism. Her visit included meetings with faculty and researchers from STHM, and leaders from the public and private sectors affiliated with the Global Philadelphia Association and a tour of Philadelphia’s Independence Mall area.
Temple’s CIBER, an event co-sponsor, receives support by a grant from the United Department of Education with the purpose of promoting U.S. economic competitiveness. The CIBER program has been working on research and programming to increase the volume of international tourism to the Greater Philadelphia region. Connections to World Heritage Cities across the globe enhance these efforts with limitless potential.
For Cynthia Jordan and Ari Moore, winning a national championship has always been the goal. It’s just that neither figured they would require 17 years to accomplish it.
The Temple University alumnae celebrated an NCAA women’s basketball championship in early April, as staff members of head coach Dawn Staley’s team at the University of South Carolina.
“To witness a day like (April 2), and winning the national championship, it puts everything into perspective,” said Jordan, South Carolina’s Director of Basketball Operations.
“It’s what you work your entire life to achieve,” added Moore, Special Assistant to the Head Coach.
Jordan and Moore have known Staley since 2000. The duo signed national letters of intent to comprise Staley’s inaugural recruiting class at Temple, where she served as head coach for eight seasons. Jordan and Moore played for Staley at Temple from 2001-05.
Today, they are critical components to Staley’s operations in Columbia, S.C., and applying their Temple educations on a daily basis. Jordan earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the Fox School of Business, and a Master of Science in Sport Business from the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM). Moore graduated from STHM with a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Recreation Management.
To them, education has served as their professional foundation.
In her role, Jordan coordinates team activities and all aspects of its travel arrangements, and works directly with players to keep them academically stable. She previously worked for Staley as video coordinator at Temple, from 2007-08, and in a similar capacity for two seasons at South Carolina.
“Fox was tremendous,” said Jordan, a native of Chesapeake, Va. “It provided me with the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, and the skills to make decisions regarding pricing, market demand, and negotiation. STHM helped to extend that knowledge base.”
Moore organizes community outreach opportunities for the South Carolina women’s basketball team and oversees the team’s Mentors Program, which bridges female community leaders in Columbia with current players, in addition to managing Staley’s day-to-day itinerary,
“STHM gave me the foundation to excel,” said Moore, who hails from Cleveland. “I’ll never forget the Senior Seminar (professional development) capstone because of the nature of my job. Working in sports, it lends itself to fun and excitement. What I learned at STHM was to have fun, but pay attention to the details and get the job done.”
A week after South Carolina won its first NCAA championship in program history, the team celebrated once again with a parade through Columbia. Jordan and Moore had come a few wins short of a national title during their playing careers at Temple, which made for a sweet moment that each relished this time around.
Both agreed that they would not be in their current positions without Staley or Temple University.
“As a hard-headed 18-year-old player, I didn’t understand or appreciate what I know right now,” said Moore, the mother of two young children. “(Staley) helped me mature into a professional woman, and that wouldn’t have happened unless I followed her to Temple for my college career.”
Said Jordan: “I’m fortunate to have played at Temple for Coach, who I’ve known half of my life. Words can’t describe what all of this means to me.”
The foremost-credentialing body of collegiate business schools worldwide has recognized Temple University for its commitment to entrepreneurship.
The Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has selected the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA) as one of 35 elite entrepreneurship initiatives globally for its Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge.
TUEA’s work with Temple University Hospital and Independence Blue Cross in the Urban Health Partnership Initiative earned this coveted distinction. In conjunction with Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, this partnership strives to create, develop, validate, and implement new programs that will decrease the prevalence of negative health conditions and maximize treatment outcomes for those already suffering from these conditions.
“In short order, this evolving partnership is responsible for the creation of an all-day innovation event and an urban health track in Temple’s renowned business plan competition, the Be Your Own Boss Bowl,” said Alan Kerzner, Director of the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy and Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the Fox School of Business. “As we continue to engage Temple alumni, members of the community, and beyond, we will further realize that the possibilities for this initiative are endless.”
AACSB sought submissions for entrepreneurship centers or entrepreneurship-specific programs that demonstrate leadership in creating cutting-edge business innovations through student learning and experiential education. AACSB received more than 120 nominations from 21 countries for its Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge.
All winning submissions received recognition at AACSB’s International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) April 23-25 in Houston.
Accredited by AACSB International, a distinction held by less than 5 percent of the world’s business schools, the Fox School of Business at Temple University is home to TUEA. In September 2016, Temple further strengthened the reach of entrepreneurship education across all 17 of its schools and colleges through the introduction of TUEA.
The Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy works to create a faculty community of practice around entrepreneurship by incorporating entrepreneurship education into the curriculum of faculty members from all disciplines. TUEA also offers seminars and services to students, faculty, and staff at Temple, while encouraging the creation of new entrepreneurial activities and participation in existing ones.
Greg Silvesti, MBA ’09 | Director of Global Customer Insights, Patient Technologies, and Personalized Medicine, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
On being a Philly lifer: “I’m a die hard Eagles fan—season tickets have been in my family since 1962, and the last home game I missed was in 1988. And I spend my summers down the shore in Stone Harbor. We’re total beach people, you can find us there every weekend.”
If you want to develop a great product, you need to know where to start. “You need to have a human-centric approach,” says Greg Silvesti, MBA ’09, director of global customer insights, patient technologies, and personalized medicine at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. “You don’t start with the technology, you start with the individual. Unless you have a firm understanding of the individual and the problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll be lost.”
Silvesti has been at the forefront of the thriving intersection of health, technology, and innovation. He previously worked at Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb. For the last two years, he has worked with Teva, a multinational pharmaceutical company where one of the main goals is to “go beyond the pill.”
“The pharmaceutical space is being commoditized very quickly,” explains Silvesti, “so we’re going ‘beyond the pill’ and creating new business models, new technologies, and new ways to promote health and wellness without simply relying on a drug. When I joined, I brought in a new process for understanding who our customers are—whether they’re caregivers, patients, family members, or health care providers—and a human-centric attitude to product development.”
One big project Teva has been working on, in collaboration with IBM Watson Health Cloud, is the development of a portfolio of connected inhalers for asthma patients. Connected to GPS and mobile devices, it monitors treatment goals, as well as environmental factors that might impact patients (such as pollen counts and allergy forecasts) to offer predictive health solutions.
Silvesti’s approach and his ability to stay ahead of a rapidly changing industry was honed at the Fox School.
“The best thing at Fox was the final semester capstone and the consulting engagement,” recalls Silvesti. “It gave me a snapshot of moving into a company I wasn’t familiar with, and having to get up to speed and developing a different approach to solve their specific challenges. Coming into a company with 40,000 employees worldwide, I had to teach the organization on the fly how to do things differently. There are a lot of strategies and tactics I’ve taken from Fox and brought to Teva to align the organization and drive innovation. I learned a lot in that class.”
“You’re in for quite an adventure,” said IBM Senior Vice President and CFO Martin Schroeter to a huge crowd at the Liacouras Center during his keynote address for the Fox School’s undergraduate commencement on Thursday, May 11. “A big change starts tomorrow, and from here on, your success will be aligned to the questions you ask more so than your answers to them.”
It was timely advice from Schroeter, BBA ’86. He emphasized quality of life in choosing where to work after graduation, and he advised the nearly 1,000 undergraduates of the Class of 2017 to “find an institution that aligns with your intuitive approach to problem solving.” He also mentioned the increased recognition the Fox School is earning internationally.
“Our stock has been appreciating in value,” said Dean Porat during his introductory address, citing the Fox School’s recent surge in business school rankings. He also noted some Class of 2017 success stories, including that of Brandon Study, the founder of Understand Your Brand, an apparel company whose goal is to raise awareness of human rights and environmental issues.
The students were represented by Tammylynn Rodriguez, who gave a moving speech detailing her 14-year-long struggle to overcome numerous obstacles—including her family losing their home to a fire—to earn her BBA at the Fox School. She referred to herself as an “untraditional story” while praising Temple for being the kind of university that allows someone to be “a wife, a mom, a full-time employee, and a student” at the same time. “Not someday—today,” Rodriguez exclaimed about earning her degree.
The graduate ceremony was held the next day Friday at the Temple Performing Arts Center. Liang Chen, MBA ’90, the CEO and executive director of Allianz China Life Insurance Company Limited, was the keynote speaker.
Chen was also a former student of Dean Porat’s, back when the Dean was a professor. He talked of his struggles as a youth in China under Mao’s Cultural Revolution and his undergraduate studies at Shanghai University, to his time at the Fox School, where the “dynamic, passionate spirit… opened new perspectives for my future.” He advised the graduates to remain “determined, passionate, and persistent.”
Tarryne Coleman gave the student address. She spoke about her journey from being in love with science and becoming a research scientist, to falling in love with finance at the Fox School.
“The journey’s not over,” she said, “it’s just the beginning.”
Her next move? To launch an educational program that brings financial enlightenment to Philadelphia’s inner city youth. “Tomorrow’s leaders might not have the same opportunities we had,” she explained. She plans to use her expertise in finance to change that.
Jessica Do Tully, BBA ’10, studied Finance at the Fox School of Business, and moved to New York City following graduation. Her work with J.P. Morgan required back-and-forth stints in London. While she enjoyed her job, entrepreneurship was always in the back of her mind. A few years later when her friend started a small business that helped companies develop wellness programs for their employees, Do Tully decided to join and gain exposure to the world of entrepreneurship.
“Since I was little, I’ve always had a fascination with creating things,” Do Tully said, “and working for my friend’s business let me learn so much, including what type of business I’d want to build someday.”
But what kind of business? Like any would-be entrepreneur, Do Tully looked for an opportunity in the marketplace. An avid coffee drinker and fan of handcrafting her own coffee, she read Amazon reviews of existing coffee-brewing systems and spotted some interesting trends—issues that she and other coffee drinkers shared. For instance, she saw that consumers, for fear of chemical leaching, had been moving away from coffee brewers in which hot water contacted plastics.
That’s when Do Tully set out to develop Palmpress, a personal craft coffee press that works for hot or cold brew coffee. It allows for personal customization to taste and strength, and utilizes a stainless-steel and silicone design and a reusable filter.
“We will start by producing a limited run of Palmpresses,” said Do Tully, who already has begun taking pre-orders.
“Today’s coffee drinkers are more knowledgeable than ever. They want to connect with their coffee experience,” said Do Tully, who is based in Miami. “Palmpress not only gives you full-flavored, freshly pressed coffee, but also an enjoyable coffee-making ritual. It’s a proper coffee break. So the next step, for me, is planning distribution and sales.”
A glimpse into a day in the life of Jessica Do Tully:
8:00 a.m. Wake up and get ready for the day. Stretch. (Leftover pad Thai for breakfast.)
9:00 a.m. Work from home this morning. Catch up with our manufacturer on production status. Book flights for the Home & Housewares 2017 tradeshow in Chicago.
11:00 a.m. Head to Per’La coffee roasters, where I’m meeting with Paul Massard. He’s Per’La’s managing partner and a licensed Q grader, which means he is certified to identify and grade coffee quality. Today, I got to check out Per’La’s facility, learn a bit about coffee roasting, and—of course—we Palmpressed a few coffees! We tasted Per’La’s light roast Kenyan, which was delicious. (I’m always excited to taste test and get feedback on Palmpress from awesome coffee experts.)
1:30 p.m. Freshly caffeinated, I head to my co-working space and settle in at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami. Catch up with Dean DiPietro, Palmpress’ product developer, on the latest product news and next steps. Next, I grab lunch to eat at the desk. I speak with two advisors about an upcoming meeting with a distributor, and prep for an upcoming presentation for my accelerator program, WIN Lab.
7:45 p.m. Meet up for dinner with two friends visiting from New York City. Their flight is early the next day, so we opt for takeout and wine.
10:30 p.m. Open up the laptop to work on Palmpress’ financial projections, and to help inform business planning and fundraising. Send additional specifications to our manufacturer.
12:00 a.m. Lights out.