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Fox researchers use brain data to predict real-life success of TV ads

By: | December 11th, 2014 | leave a comment

Researchers at Temple University’s Fox School of Business have identified an area of the brain that can significantly better predict the success of TV advertising.

Photo of Angelika Dimoka

Angelika Dimoka

Professors Angelika Dimoka, Paul A. Pavlou and Vinod Venkatraman led the research study at Temple’s Center for Neural Decision Making at the Fox School of Business. The research team received a $286,000 research grant from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), a non-profit group that provided TV ads from major sponsor companies in the consumer-goods, financial, technology, travel, and pharmaceutical industries.. The study sought to understand whether measures obtained in the lab when a small number of consumers watched these TV ads can predict the success of these ads in terms of increasing sales in the market.

Their research paper recently has been accepted for publication in the Journal for Marketing Research, a top marketing journal. They completed the study in collaboration with researchers from New York University, Duke University and the University of California, Los Angeles, who analyzed available sales and success data from the TV ads.

Fox School’s research team evaluated the responses of more than 300 participants to television advertisements using eight distinct methods: traditional surveys; implicit measures; eye tracking; heart rate; skin conductance; breathing; and brain activity, as measured by fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography).

Photo of Vinod Venkatraman

Vinod Venkatraman

“This is the first study to relate individual-level measures in the lab to market-level behavior,” said Venkatraman, lead author and Assistant Professor of Marketing. “We show that physiological and brain responses to a 30-second TV advertisement can provide reliable markers for evaluating its actual success in the market.”

“Based on our research and findings, from all seven neurophysiological methods, brain data collected using fMRI, were the most predictive,” added Angelika Dimoka, Director of the Center for Neural Decision Making, and an Associate Professor of Marketing.  Specifically, we are able to show that activation in an area of the brain known as the ventral striatum, the reward center of the brain, can predict a TV ad success. The higher the activation in the ventral striatum, the higher the success of the TV ad. Nobody has ever been able to make such a linkage.”

The findings suggest that a key to a successful TV ad, Venkatraman noted, is the ability to increase the desirability of the product featured in the TV ad – a construct that is difficult to measure through the use of traditional, self-reported measures.

Photo of Paul Pavlou

Paul Pavlou

“A researcher might ask a test participant, more traditionally, ‘Do you like this ad? Are you likely to purchase this product?’” said Pavlou, Fox School’s Associate Dean of Research and Chief Research Officer. “While subjective measures like traditional questionnaires can still predict the success of TV advertising, the use of neurophysiological measures, especially fMRI, can almost double the power of our prediction.”

Dimoka, Pavlou and Venkatraman began their research December 2012, after meeting ARF officials at the second Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience, sponsored and hosted by the Fox School of Business. They concluded their testing and research six months later.

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Experiential learning the focus in The Co-Op in HRM

By: | December 11th, 2014 | leave a comment

HRM Co-Op in the MBA Commons of Alter Hall.

Industry leaders tour the MBA Commons at Alter Hall, where Human Resource Management students made their final presentations for The Co-Op in HRM.

Dressed in business-professional attire, Fox School of Business students exited Alter Hall’s elevators and streamed into the seventh-floor MBA Commons. With their shoulders straight, the students found their places beside two rows of corkboards, as industry leaders walked aisle to aisle and quizzed them on their respective research findings.

These activities marked the culmination of The Co-Op in HRM.

In the course, an elective offered by the Fox School’s Department of Human Resource Management (HRM), students swap classroom learning for professional experience. Dr. Crystal Harold, Associate Professor of HRM, assigns students a co-op with one of the program’s industry partners, where they report to work 10 hours weekly. The students, who numbered 22 in the Fall 2014 semester, are tasked with tackling a pressing issue in the human resources industry, and producing an evidence-based management paper that presents their research toward pinpointing a solution.

Students communicated their research findings and the best solution to addressing the HR issue they had selected during The Co-Op in HRM’s final presentations, held Dec. 5 at Alter Hall. Professional mentors representing the companies and non-profit organizations to which students were assigned were in attendance, as were industry leaders considering future partnerships with the program. Professionals from both camps submitted index-card notes to the students for on-the-spot input on their respective presentations.

“Internships and co-op assignments like the ones offered by this course, are salient learning opportunities that help make Fox School’s students more  competitive when they enter the job market,” Harold said. “Some of the students who have taken this course in years past are offered employment opportunities with their co-op organization. Others use their co-ops as an opportunity to segue into their next position.”

And for some students, like Jeannine Rudolph, FOX ’12, companies create positions in order to retain them. During her co-op with Cigna, Rudolph, who majored in both HRM and Legal Studies in Business, worked in various areas within human resources and, before the semester had come to a close, her mentor and direct supervisor asked if she’d stay on as an intern in the spring semester. Both opportunities eventually amounted to a full-time position with Cigna, where Rudolph is an HR Consultant.

HRM Co-Op Group Photo

Human Resource Management students enrolled in The Co-Op in HRM pose for a group photograph following their final presentations.

“As a student, I really engaged myself so an opportunity like mine would be a possibility,” she said.

HRM major Erica Smith, one of Harold’s 22 students, spent the semester with the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), an intermediary organization dedicated to connecting systems and leveraging resources to equip young people for academic achievement, economic opportunity and personal success. Slated to graduate in May 2015, Smith investigated whether merit-based pay would be a viable option for non-profits like PYN.

“She was exposed to every facet of HR, and that task variety is what’s exciting to me,” said Priscilla Tennant, an HR generalist with PYN, who served as Smith’s mentor. “Certainly, compensation was an area of focus and it was important for her to research the benefits and drawbacks of across-the-board pay vs. merit pay and what culture shift is required to make that change. She served as a true thought partner in considering all elements involved in a major change that will impact employee compensation.”

Working with Tennant, who completed her undergraduate coursework at the Fox School in 1997 and later attained her MBA from Fox in 2000, was a boon for Smith, who pointed to professional development as another incentive of the co-op.

“Waking up, getting dressed and preparing yourself for a professional work setting that’s not a classroom was critical,” Smith said. “It was a matter of ‘How can my career benefit from today’s opportunity?’ instead of ‘How can I benefit from this class discussion?’”

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Fox’s undergrad program in Human Resource Management recognized

An undergraduate program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has been recognized among those with the finest graduation rates in the country.

The Fox School’s Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management earned a No. 7 national rank in a recent report that highlighted the country’s top-25 such programs, published last month by HumanResourcesMBA.net.

“The Fox School and the Human Resource Management department are honored to be included in this rankings report, which speaks to the quality of our students, faculty and curriculum, and our reputation as a leader in business education,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat.

The website’s report recognized undergraduate human resource management programs that have aligned their respective curricula within the guidelines provided by the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as those housed within business schools exclusively accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. HumanResourcesMBA.net also noted that recent rankings by U.S. News and World Report guided its rankings report.

“The faculty and staff within the Fox School’s Human Resource Management department are excited to have received this recognition,” said Dr. Deanna Geddes, Chair of the Fox School’s Human Resource Management department. “We have worked to not only design a curriculum that provides students with the knowledge, skills and experiences that make them attractive to employers, but one that also emphasizes the importance of pro-social and ethical approaches to managing the firm’s most-valuable resource: its people.

“Our efforts have enabled us to develop a curriculum that both instructs students on the fundamentals of managing human resources, and also challenges them to apply their knowledge to solve real-world HR problems.”

The Fox School’s BBA in Human Resource Management received praise from HumanResourcesMBA.net for its four-year and accelerated three-year options.

To view the rankings in full, click here.

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Tyler student makes sense of big data, wins big at Temple Analytics Challenge

By: | December 5th, 2014 | leave a comment

Admittedly, Cassandra Reffner said she might not know the difference between average and median. And she said she only understands the most basic functions of Microsoft Excel.

Fox School Management Information Systems professors James Moustafellos, far left, and David Schuff, far right, recognize Tyler School of Art student Cassandra Reffner as the winner of the 2014 Temple Analytics Challenge. Third from left is Doug Seiwert, Vice President of Information Technology at QVC, who served as the event’s keynote speaker.

Fox School Management Information Systems professors James Moustafellos, far left, and David Schuff, far right, recognize Tyler School of Art student Cassandra Reffner as the winner of the 2014 Temple Analytics Challenge. Third from left is Doug Seiwert, Vice President of Information Technology at QVC, who served as the event’s keynote speaker.

What Reffner does know, however, is how to analyze data and display it in a creative, understandable manner. A junior graphic design student from the Tyler School of Art, Reffner won the $2,500 grand prize at the second annual Temple Analytics Challenge.

The month-long competition, organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) at the Fox School of Business, culminated Nov. 17 in finalist presentations at Alter Hall. The challenge tasks students from all of Temple University’s schools and colleges with making sense of data through visualizations and infographics.

The Temple Analytics Challenge awarded 10 prizes totaling $10,000, from corporate members of IBIT and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Temple University.

In its second year, the Temple Analytics Challenge received 130 submissions from more than 300 participants. The finalists came from both undergraduate and graduate programs across the University, including the College of Engineering, the Tyler School of Art, and the Fox School of Business.

Reffner used a test tube illustration to demonstrate the residual impact felt by employees following the proposed relocation of Merck’s corporate headquarters. Judges reflected favorably upon Reffner’s infographic, which displayed the raw number of employees whose commutes would be negatively affected by 30 or more minutes. (Other Merck Challenge finalists opted to use percentages.) To circumvent the issue, Reffner offered what she called “prescriptions,” using a medicine-bottle design to provide Merck with alternatives like incentivizing carpools or public transit usage, or implementing break time for employees who make longer commutes.

“I think the judges liked how I gave solutions, or as I called them ‘prescriptions,’ to help benefit those employees and to look at this in a less-negative term,” Reffner said. “

Corporate partners of the Temple Analytics Challenge provided data sets and specific problems from which the students had to create an original visualization that also provided clear and meaningful insight. The NBCUniversal Challenge pertained to the allocation of advertising dollars for midterm elections; the Lockheed Martin Challenge focused on employee behaviors predicting security threats; and the aforementioned Merck Challenge centered around the overall impact of a corporate site’s relocation. The 20 finalists presented their work before a panel of professional judges, including representatives from QVC, Campbell Soup Company, and RJMetrics.

“The breadth of majors and students that excelled in the competition was really impressive. Analytics and the ability to interpret and visualize complex data is such an important skill, it’s exciting to so many students get involved and the final presentations were outstanding,” said Nicholas Piergallini, Program Manager at Lockheed Martin and a judge for the competition.

“We’re proud to once again see such a great set of entries from students across the University,” said Dr. David Schuff, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems and organizer of the challenge, “A key goal of the challenge is to encourage students from different disciplines to build their data analysis and communication skills, and to see how these skills apply to their careers.”

Reffner and five fellow Tyler students were among the competition’s 20 finalists, and she was one of three from Tyler to win one of the Temple Analytics Challenge’s 10 cash prizes. Encouraged to enter the competition by Tyler professor Abby Guido, Reffner said she hopes her grand-prize win helps push other students at Temple University to compete next year.

“Being a graphic design student, it was difficult to figure out what the data was and what we had to look at, what we had to analyze, and how to design it in a way people would understand,” Reffner said. “Most of my class doesn’t know Excel.

“But the Temple Analytics Challenge was an innovative way to bring students from around campus together and show we can translate what we do know to a broader spectrum. It was that multidisciplinary aspect of the competition that, I think, was the most fun.”

Doug Seiwert echoed Reffner’s point. Seiwert, the Vice President of Information Technology and Enterprise Applications Development at QVC, said the popular home-shopping network produces one terabyte of data every month.

“For those of you who don’t know, that’s a lot of data,” said Seiwert, the event’s keynote speaker, “and it can be daunting when you’re processing this much data. Our challenge, and (the students’) challenge in this competition, was finding ways to make the data widely consumable, and I think you all did an outstanding job.”

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Fox alumna steps into newly created position at Mount Sinai Health System

By: | December 4th, 2014 | leave a comment

Sandra Myerson’s interest in healthcare began early, dating to a conversation she had in her adolescence with her mother, Patricia Keating Myerson, a now retired registered nurse.

Sandra Myerson“I think she knew I’d never be bored and that I’d be able to support myself, and those are always good things for a young person to hear about a potential career,” Myerson said. “I’ve always enjoyed the sciences and I like people, too, and those are the other reasons I chose to pursue nursing.”

From emergency nurse to top executive, Myerson has covered plenty of ground in her career path. She is the recently appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience Officer, a newly created position at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, a seven-hospital system with more than 35,000 employees. Tasked with developing a vision and strategy to improve the patient experience, the Fox School of Business alumna arrived at Mount Sinai in November from a managing consultant position with Press Ganey Associates.

“Larger institutions are creating this position, and it’s a fairly new one in the industry,” Myerson said. “It’s about setting the course for improving our patients’ experiences – how we can improve our processes to make a patient’s hospitalization, outpatient surgery procedure, and physician’s office visit smoother and more efficient, and how we can improve our communication tactics to show compassion and empathy towards patients and their family members. It really requires changes in clinical, operational, behavioral, and cultural aspects of healthcare delivery.”

“We want our patient experience scores to be a valid reflection of what patients are saying about us, and to be reflective of as many patients as possible.”

Myerson holds a joint graduate degree from the Fox School of Business – a Master’s of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration and a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Finance, both of which she attained in 2001.

With more than three decades of experience as a healthcare practitioner and executive, Myerson said her position at Mount Sinai, which combines training, education and communication, is ideal.

She has served as a flight nurse who provided on-the-scene care for trauma patients. She’s worked in a cardiac step-down unit, in emergency rooms and in intensive-care units. She’s had business cards for positions as the Associate Vice President of Healthcare Services (Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia), the Executive Director of Ambulatory and Emergency Services (WellStar Health System, Atlanta), and the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services (Aria, Philadelphia).

Along the way, Myerson said she started and stopped her pursuit of a graduate nursing degree more than once.

“But I figured I needed to understand the business of healthcare if I ever wanted to run a hospital, and so obtaining a finance degree seemed a logical pursuit,” she said.

That’s when Myerson enrolled at the Fox School of Business. “I learned about Fox’s MBA-MS joint program, and I thought it’d be a good fit for me as I worked full-time. The MBA portion of the program fit well with what I was doing at the time, and I enjoyed it. When I got into some of the more challenging finance portions of the program, it was like learning a whole new language – it seemed so foreign to me.” The hardest part about her decision to attend Fox, she said, was having to relinquish her side job as a flight nurse.

“It was hard to hang up my helmet,” she said, “but it was something I had to do to achieve my goals.

At Mount Sinai, Myerson will have to wear two different hats, bridging the gap between the administrative and clinical sides in regard to patient care. She will collaborate across multiple departments of the health system to improve every aspect of the patient experience.

For Myerson, this is simply another facet of the ever-evolving healthcare industry she loves, a line of work she learned to appreciate early on in life.

“I learned a lot about what it was like to be a nurse from my mom,” Myerson said. “I learned plenty from my patients, too. Finding a way to connect with my patients has always been important to me. I got out of that a lot of positive reinforcement, and it inspires me to do what I do today.”

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In Fox Fund, students pass on credits for real-time training in money management

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

Dr. Jonathan Scott (seated, fourth from left), Managing Director of Owl Fund, and Jon Beaulieu (seated, fifth from left), senior Finance major, work closely with Fox Fund students to understand the fundamentals of investing.

Dr. Jonathan Scott (seated, fourth from left), Managing Director of Owl Fund, and Jon Beaulieu (seated, fifth from left), senior Finance major, work closely with Fox Fund students to understand the fundamentals of investing.

The energy among the Fox Fund students is palpable. Gathered in the Capital Markets Room at the Fox School of Business, the students don’t answer to textbooks or professors, but a much-more fickle master: the major stock exchanges in New York.

Students of the Fox Fund, which was introduced in 2012, meet three days a week for approximately 10 weeks. They do not receive academic credit for their work, nor are they financially compensated for their time. Learning how to evaluate and pitch companies for placement in a virtual portfolio, the students hope their practice leads to selection to the Owl Fund Seminar, a two-semester course in which the students manage real money – approximately $250,000 – in Temple University’s endowment expressly designated for this class.

According to Jonathan Beaulieu, a senior Finance major and former Chief Investment Officer of the William C. Dunkelberg Owl Fund, the students (mostly sophomores, with a few second-semester freshmen and first-semester juniors) aren’t playing the stock market. Instead, they’re developing the skills needed to successfully pitch a company to a room full of investors.

Senior members and academic advisers of Fox Fund and Owl Fund (from left): senior Finance major Jon Beaulieu, Owl Fund Director Cynthia Axelrod, Owl Fund Managing Director Dr. Jonathan Scott, Owl Fund Chief Investment Officer Jesse Worek, and Owl Fund Director of Portfolio Management Bryan Murray.

Senior members and academic advisers of Fox Fund and Owl Fund (from left): senior Finance major Jon Beaulieu, Owl Fund Director Cynthia Axelrod, Owl Fund Managing Director Dr. Jonathan Scott, Owl Fund Chief Investment Officer Jesse Worek, and Owl Fund Director of Portfolio Management Bryan Murray.

“What we’re doing is extremely difficult. Even professionals, if they’re right 51 percent of the time, they’re outstanding analysts,” Beaulieu said.

Beaulieu worked his way through the Owl Fund, from junior analyst to CIO, before he was tapped to bring along the program’s next generation. Volunteering his time, Beaulieu teaches a class of 30 Fox Fund students the process for identifying potentially underpriced stocks and analyzing the subsequent investment opportunity.

The students make full use of the specialized software within the Capital Markets Room, which includes Capital IQ, Morningstar, Bloomberg, in order to prepare their presentations. Pitching to both Fox Fund and Owl Fund members, the students support their presentation with a 10-page report that includes detailed charts and graphs.

“We’re trying to do what professionals do,” Beaulieu said. “This is more work than they’ll ever do for a class.”

The Fox Fund, Beaulieu emphasized, is a learning environment in which he combs through his students’ extensive reports for errors or omissions, and ensures they have identified the right aspects of the investment. The focus, he said, is not on the success of the stock investment or even the results of the students’ portfolio, but that they gain the conceptual knowledge needed to take intelligent risks and learn from past investment mistakes. The class also engages in a short question-and-answer session similar to one employed in the Owl Fund, designed to facilitate growth.

As a student-mentored experience, the Fox Fund’s students mirror the Owl Fund’s members. Divided into five economic sectors (healthcare, financials, energy, consumer markets and industrial/technology telecommunications), Owl Fund analysts work as mentors with their Fox Fund doppelgangers.

Jon Beaulieu, senior Finance major and former Owl Fund Chief Investment Officer, instructs Fox Fund students in the Capital Markets Room at Alter Hall.

Jon Beaulieu, senior Finance major and former Owl Fund Chief Investment Officer, instructs Fox Fund students in the Capital Markets Room at Alter Hall.

This hands-on guidance is crucial when deciding which students will advance to the Owl Fund, said Dr. Jonathan Scott, Director of Undergraduate Programs in Finance at the Fox School and Managing Director of the Owl Fund.

“Everyone is supportive of everyone else, but that doesn’t mean we won’t ask tough questions,” Scott said. “We build a community, but if someone in the Fox Fund doesn’t make sufficient progress, we won’t recommend them for the Owl Fund seminar.”

Part of that “sufficient progress” in the Fox Fund is acknowledging that outside work and an enterprising drive are necessities for successful Fox Fund students. Beaulieu, who joined the Owl Fund as a second-semester freshman, and whose decision to attend Temple University was influenced by his desire to work in the program, looks for the same drive in his students.

“Thrown into a very sink-or-swim environment, I really enjoyed that challenge,” Beaulieu said of his early years with the Owl Fund.

However, as a mentor to younger students who are interested in following in his footsteps, Beaulieu said the Fox Fund is necessary and that it would have been beneficial to learn in a no-pressure environment.

Cynthia Axelrod, Director of the Owl Fund and Assistant Professor of Finance, teaches the six-credit Owl Fund course. She said she values the work put in by Fox Fund students, and said it’s exactly what she would expect of her students in the Fox School’s Finance department.

“The Fox Fund students all show up hungry to learn,” Axelrod said. “That’s our recruiting ground. The Fox Fund allows our students to develop and sharpen their fundamental and analytical skills that enable them to succeed in the Owl Fund.”

If selected to the Owl Fund, students actively manage the Owl Fund Portfolio, which currently approaches $250,000. There are steep restrictions on these funds, which were donated to Temple University’s endowment specifically for management by the Owl Fund students. Students are held to the same standards as professional analysts and portfolio managers in charge of real money.

“Just because they’re students doesn’t mean the rules are easier,” Axelrod said. “In an era where 90 percent of professional money managers underperform their benchmark, the Owl Fund is beating the S&P 500 by 400 basis points. This is truly impressive, and a testament to the commitment and quality of our students.”

Matriculation through the Owl Fund and Fox Fund programs has given students a professional advantage, resulting in all Owl Fund associate analysts procuring strong summer internships in 2014, and senior members securing a job following graduation.

“If you look at the rest of the business school, I highly doubt it’s at 100 percent job or internship placement like that,” said Beaulieu, who has accepted a position at Aberdeen Asset Management.

Energized and motivated, the students look forward to the day when they might join Wall Street, answering to nothing but that opening bell.

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Fox’s Legal Studies department to address region’s new marijuana laws during annual Law Week

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

The Legal Studies department at Temple University’s Fox School of Business will once again bring law to life, with what its chairperson hopes is another hot-button theme for Law Week.

Samuel Hodge

Samuel Hodge

“We always try to do something controversial,” said Dr. Samuel D. Hodge, Jr., Professor and Chair of Legal Studies. “Last year, we discussed same sex marriage, so this year we are discussing what the controversy is right now – marijuana laws.”

Starting Tuesday, Feb. 3, the department, in conjunction with Temple’s chapter of the Alpha Phi Delta pre-law fraternity, will kick off Law Week with an experienced panel that will talk about the decriminalization of marijuana. Philadelphia City Councilman James F. Kenney will visit Main Campus to explain the law he introduced. He’ll be joined by Fox School alumnus Charles J. Leone, Executive Director of Campus Safety Services at Temple University; Brian Sprowal, lieutenant in the Philadelphia Police Department; and Tondala Bausano, Assistant Director of the Scientific Services Division in the Philadelphia Police Department’s Office of Forensic Science, who is charged with conducting the city’s drug testing.

“I think people are under the assumption that now you can just go out and smoke marijuana and that it’s absolutely fine,” said Hodge. “So the panel is coming in to talk about how the new Philadelphia marijuana laws apply to Temple students and the community.”

Law Week’s activities continue with the department honoring United States Attorney Zane David Memeger, this year’s Law Scholar in Residence. Legal Intelligencer recently recognized Memeger, appointed in May 2010 by President Obama to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as its 2014 Pennsylvania Attorney of the Year.

The week also will include a naturalization ceremony. More than 50 individuals will be sworn in as new citizens of the United States. The ceremony, sponsored by the Fox School’s Legal Studies department, the United States Federal Court and U.S. Immigration Services, will take place Feb. 4 on the 7th floor of Alter Hall. U.S. Federal Judge, Juan Sanchez, an instructor in the Legal Studies department, will preside over the immigration service.

“There are normally 50 different countries represented,” said Hodge. “The inductees’ families are invited to attend, so it’s a very special day for them.”

The week’s events conclude Feb. 5 with a meet-and-greet law fair, at which faculty from Fox School’s Legal Studies department will answer questions and offer advice regarding the school’s application process.

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Entrepreneurship on full display at IEI’s Innovative Idea Competition

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

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Managing Director Rob McNamee (far left) and Executive Director Ellen Weber (far right), with the Innovative Idea Competition finalists Bethany Edwards, Cecilia Scimia, Yasmine Mustafa, Bradley Blosser and Sean Webster.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Managing Director Rob McNamee (far left) and Executive Director Ellen Weber (far right), with the Innovative Idea Competition finalists Bethany Edwards, Cecilia Scimia, Yasmine Mustafa, Bradley Blosser and Sean Webster.

If participation in a recent Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) competition is any indication, entrepreneurship is alive and well at Temple University.

Final presentations for IEI’s Innovative Idea Competition, held Nov. 12 at Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business, featured representatives from seven of Temple University’s 17 schools and colleges: Fox, the School of Medicine, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, Tyler School of Art, Boyer College of Music and Dance, and the School of Media and Communication.

The competition awarded $7,000 in prizes to students, alumni, faculty and staff for ideas on innovative products, services and technologies, said Ellen Weber, the institute’s Executive Director. IEI saw a 36-percent increase in total submissions from last year’s event to this year’s, in receiving a competition-record 253 submissions, including 230 from undergraduates.

Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat speaks with Istvan Varkonyi, Director of Temple University's General Education Program, Office of the Senior Vice Provost, at the 2014 Innovative Idea Competition.

Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat speaks with Istvan Varkonyi, Director of Temple University’s General Education Program, Office of the Senior Vice Provost, at the 2014 Innovative Idea Competition.

“As you can see, through this annual competition, entrepreneurship has become a pillar of the student experience, not only at the Fox School, but among all students at Temple University,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “After all, this university was founded by Russell Conwell – an entrepreneur himself.”

Bethany Edwards, SMC ’06, received the Anne Nelson Grand Prize of $2,500, with her Lia-Pregnancy Test Redesign. Weber lauded the privacy and convenience aspects of Edwards’ design of a flushable pregnancy test, which was free of electronic or plastic materials.

“The plot to so many great movies would be ruined if you didn’t see the evidence in the trash can,” Weber said.

Similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” three guest entrepreneurs (dubbed IEI’s “piranhas”) judged the final presentations: Glen Gaddy, of Robin Hood Ventures; Holly Flanagan, of Gabriel Investments; and Mike Krupit, of Trajectify and Philly New Technology Meetup.

A member of Fox School’s undergraduate population and a Fox alumna were among the winners.

Sophomore Bradley Blosser took first place in the undergraduate competition, with his idea for a snow-dissolving light post. A Finance and Accounting major, Blosser said the device, which is not in production, will be capable of melting snow from above using an infrared light. Believed to be ideal for clearing street corners and parking lots, the device can be affixed to a lightpost at varying heights, Blosser said, and will not interfere with the air space, instead warming only the ground.

Yasmine Mustafa, who graduated in 2006, took first place in the graduate faculty, staff or alumni category. Mustafa is the founder of self-defense technology company Roar for Good, which produces wearables marketed for women. The technology is capable of dialing 911 or sending text messages in cases of emergency, and even sounding an alarm or causing lights to flash.

Mustafa, who in 2010 won Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, has vowed to commit a portion of the proceeds from her wearable technology to programs and charity that promote respect for women.

“She’s trying to make sure the product she’s developing will lead to the problem’s solution,” Weber said.

An attendee of the Innovative Idea Competition uses Yorn.com to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, attendees were offered an opportunity to provide feedback on presentations using real-time voting technology.

An attendee of the Innovative Idea Competition uses Yorn.com to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, attendees were offered an opportunity to provide feedback on presentations using real-time voting technology.

Mustafa, one of six women to qualify for the competition’s 10-person final presentations, also earned first place in the People’s Choice Award category.

For the first time in the event’s history, attendees used Yorn.com, a real-time feedback platform, to determine winners of two People’s Choice Awards. More than more than 400 comments had been submitted, according to Tyra Ford, the Director of Strategic Marketing Initiatives in Fox’s Department of Strategic Management, offering additional input and wisdom on the various presentations.

“We’ve gotten such a great response from this element of the competition,” Ford said. “It’s something we hope to continue in the years ahead.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

  • Anne Nelson Grand Prize: Edwards
  • First Place (Graduate faculty, Staff or Alumni): Mustafa
  • Second Place (Graduate faculty, Staff or Alumni): Cecilia Scimia, School of Medicine, Heart Upbeat!
  • First Place (Undergraduate): Blosser
  • Second Place (Undergraduate): Sean Webster, College of Engineering, Bouyant Pile
  • First Place (People’s Choice): Mustafa
  • Second Place (People’s Choice): Edwards

In other IEI news, submissions are being accepted for the 2015 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®. The BYOBB is a business-plan competition open to the entire Temple community, which includes current students, alumni, faculty and staff. Information sessions are slated for Dec. 3 (at 12 noon) and Dec. 4 (at 5 p.m.) at the IEI Lab, in 503D Alter Hall. The due date for submissions is March 16, and finalists will deliver presentations April 16.

Fox School’s Dean Porat attends elite global forum

By: | November 7th, 2014 | leave a comment

Last month, Dr. M. Moshe Porat was in exclusive company.

The Dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Porat attended the Global Deans’ Forum as an invited speaker.

Porat - Global Deans ForumThe two-day event, held Oct. 24-25 at the HSBC Business School at Peking University, in Shenzhen, China, assembled 41 business school deans from colleges and universities located around the world. Porat was one of only six deans who represented American institutions.

The forum gathered deans and presidents of the world’s finest business schools, as well as members of various stakeholder groups and business community, thought, practice and entrepreneurial leaders, to engage in an open dialogue. Those in attendance shared insights from their respective corners of the globe, in the hope of advancing educational offerings through current trends and shifts in the business and management arenas.

In the forum’s first day, Porat participated in a global panel of deans titled, “Reflections on the Future,” during which Porat discussed the breadth of the services provided by Fox School’s Online and Digital Learning staff, and the challenges facing business education.

“It was an honor to represent the Fox School of Business and Temple University on a global stage at the Global Deans’ Forum,” Porat said. “At Fox, we emphasize the significance of our robust global network of more than 60,000 alumni, as well as our diverse student body that closely reflects the world in which we live. I was privileged to share with others my experiences as the dean of such a unique and vibrant business school.”Porat - Global Deans Forum

Additionally, the Global Deans’ Forum – themed, “Connecting China to the World, Bringing the World to China – The Role of Business Schools” – provided a platform for interactive dialogues and in-depth discussions, as well as panels featuring guest speakers of multi-disciplinary backgrounds.

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Mauritanian Couple’s pursuit of an Executive Doctorate in Business Led Them to Philadelphia and the Fox School

By: | November 7th, 2014 | leave a comment

Leila Bouamatou and Tah MeouloudLeila Bouamatou doesn’t appear as though she had been traveling for two days. Her make-up is impeccable and her bright blue, polka-dotted melehfa stands out against the stoic dress of her Western classmates. She and her husband, Tah Meouloud, are at ease nearly 4,000 miles from home and surrounded by strangers.

Bouamatou and Meouloud are doctoral candidates in the newly formed Executive Doctorate of Business Administration (EDBA) program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. And unlike the other 23 students who compose the EDBA’s first cohort, Bouamatou and Meouloud are international students.

Six times a year, for three years, the couple will travel from Mauritania – an African nation of more than 3.5 million people – to Philadelphia to engage in their intensive, three-day weekend coursework within the Fox EDBA. The program is appealing to Bouamatou and Meouloud, who willingly make the two-day, Atlantic Ocean-crossing trip to the States to expand their professional and academic careers.

“It’s worth it,” said Bouamatou, of the 12-hour flight from North Africa to North America.

Why? The couple said they were attracted to the Fox School because of its accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a high distinction of achievement held by fewer than five percent of business schools worldwide.

Additionally, the couple had determined several years ago the United States was the ideal country in which to continue their educations. They said they chose Fox because of the flexibility of its EDBA – a program offered by only a handful of business schools in the nation – and its central location between fellow East Coast hub cities New York City and Washington, D.C.

The EDBA program combines two tenets that are central to the Fox School mission: research and real-world experience. Fox’s research-active faculty, which numbers nearly 200, covers a wide range of competencies – an ideal aspect for student mentorship within a multi-disciplinary EDBA program that embraces real-life learning and applied practices. The program is offered at The HUB at Commerce Square, a vibrant business center located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia.

Husband and wife Tah Meouloud and Leila Bouamatou, who are part of the first cohort of Fox School’s Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program, listen to instruction during their second residency. (Temple University)

Husband and wife Tah Meouloud and Leila Bouamatou, who are part of the first cohort of Fox School’s Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program, listen to instruction during their second residency. (Temple University)

When simplified, their pursuit of an executive education amounts to only 54 days in Philadelphia over three years. For such a small face-to-face time commitment, Bouamatou and Meouloud said they have received tremendous support from Dr. David Schuff, Executive Director of the EDBA program and an Associate Professor in Fox School’s Management Information Systems (MIS) department. They also had an opportunity to meet Temple University President Dr. Neil D. Theobald, who spoke to the first cohort of EDBA students in September during the program’s initial residency.

“We are not just left here. We feel comfortable,” said Meouloud, who said he has enjoyed networking with his professors and fellow students.

“Networking is an important component of the student experience,” said Schuff. “A key strength of the program is the diversity in the backgrounds of our cohort. Providing both formal and informal opportunities to learn from each other, both inside and outside the classroom, makes the residences about more than simply attending class.”

Both he and his wife dedicate 15 to 20 hours per week to completing curriculum requirements via the web-conferencing platform WebEx. The program’s density allows executives to graduate in only three years. Bouamatou said she enjoys the program’s commitment to research and hopes to use her time as a doctoral candidate to explore the role of female leaders in family businesses, before extending her knowledge to professional women in Africa.

“My passion for research had been unsatisfied in a way, and the EDBA program satisfied that thirst,” Bouamatou said.

A dedicated student, Meouloud concentrated on the development of global economic systems as they relate to capitalism. Meouloud believes the EDBA program will help him understand how economics and business can merge to reduce poverty in Africa and in developing countries.

In addition to enriching his professional pursuits, Meouloud said he and his wife have long-range aspirations to open a school in Mauritania with structure, content and standards similar to those in the EDBA program in which he is enrolled.

“We are sharing the space with professionals from different backgrounds and learning from them,” said Meouloud, who hopes to facilitate the same experience in Africa and France.

Though the couple has embarked upon only a third of their intensive residences for this year, they said they already could see the program’s potential to enhance their lives.

“My professional life will take on another dimension because the EDBA program gives me the experience, the confidence and the trust needed to move into a key position,” Bouamatou said.

Both Meouloud and Bouamatou matriculated through the French academic system before pursuing Master’s degrees in Europe. Bouamatou studied at the American School of Business in Lausanne, Switzerland before receiving her Master’s degree in finance at Eada Barcelona, in Spain, and her Executive Master’s in Business Administration (EMBA) from the Mediterranean School of Business, in Tunisia. Meouloud earned his Master’s in economics from the University of Nouakchott, in Mauritania, before studying international economic development at Sorbonne University, in Paris, France.

Bouamatou and Meouloud are multilingual, a skill that strengthens their professional and academic pursuits. Each speaks French, Arabic, Spanish and English, while Meouloud also is fluent in Chinese.

“I have had a multicultural educational and professional background for the last 10 years,” Bouamatou said. “I hope that I will bring new insights to the cohort based on different experience we have been going through.”

Professionally, Bouamatou has served since 2009 as the head of the Treasury Department at GBM Bank of Mauritania, the leading corporate and investment bank in Mauritania. Her interest in banking peaked in childhood when she watched her father – a banking entrepreneur whom she regards as her greatest mentor – succeed in foreign investments. He “built an empire from nothing,” she said.

An international economist and human resources manager for BSA Technologies, Meouloud “identifies the economic aspects of the situation.”

“And he’ll be the one to bring advice,” Bouamatou said, finishing her husband’s sentence.

Offering their cohort a vast and varied perspective, both Bouamatou and Meouloud have determined to gain everything possible from the EDBA program and the Fox School. This determination is evidenced in a French phase that Bouamatou features in her resume. Translated to English, the phrase suggests that perseverance creates great opportunities.

Bouamatou and Meouloud traveled 4,000 miles in pursuit of their next great opportunity, and they’re not looking back.