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Fox alumnus Edward McGinty in character as Ward Boss Boyd. Photo courtesy of HBO.
Although the HBO series Boardwalk Empire is a work of historical fiction, Fox School alumnus Edward McGinty, BBA ’89, the show’s research advisor, helps ensure that the writers’ words are backed up with historical facts. Here, he talks about how growing up in Atlantic City helped land him a job on the acclaimed series.
How did you connect with Terence Winter, the show’s creator?
After graduating from Temple, I went to film school at Columbia University, where I met Terence Winter at a Q-and-A screening with the cast of The Sopranos. A few years later, Terry mentioned that he was writing a project about Prohibition in Atlantic City to a friend of mine from film school. My friend said, “You’ve got to meet my friend Eddie, he grew up in Atlantic City and knows everything there is to know about the town.”
What was that first meeting like?
I brought as much research material as I could carry to the meeting. My grandfather and my father, Ed Sr., ENG ’56, had worked at the Ritz Carlton, where the real Nucky lived. At the end of the meeting, I showed a photo of my grandfather wearing his bellman’s uniform, standing on the boardwalk in front of the Ritz. Terry looked at it and said, “You’re hired!” I think I may have been the first person on the payroll.
So growing up in Atlantic City gave you an edge?
Absolutely. I brought a lot of first-hand knowledge to the table. I was always fascinated by the history of the city I grew up in. I had always heard stories from my Dad about growing up in Atlantic City, so there was a lot of family history I could refer to. And [Temple History Professor] Bryant Simon’s book, Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America, sat next to Nelson Johnson’s Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City [on which the HBO series is based] on my bookshelf for years. Those are two of my personal favorite books about the history of Atlantic City.
What does your father say about your work on the show?
The high point of my life was taking my Dad to see the Boardwalk set in Brooklyn. When he saw it for the first time, he stopped in his tracks. He climbed the stairs to the boardwalk they had built and leaned on the railing and said, “You guys really nailed it.”
What does being a researcher for the show entail?
The writing staff comes up with the storylines, and I support them with as much historical research as I can about the time period. If they have any questions along the way, I find the answer by searching the Internet, going to libraries, calling on experts, etc. Anything I need to do to find answers as quickly as possible. When the script comes out, I go back through it and fact-check, making sure that everything is on the mark. Everyone on the show does their best to make sure the historical elements are as authentic as possible.
You appeared on screen during the first few seasons as Ward Boss Boyd. How did that happen?
One day I was sitting in the writer’s room, and Terry looked across the table and said, “You kind of look like a character from back then. You should audition.” I brushed it off, but he persisted. I had trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theater, but I hadn’t auditioned in a few years, so I was extremely nervous. But I got the part. The fun thing is that my character was named after a real ward boss, who was my grandfather’s fishing buddy. So much of this show for me has been due to good luck and great fortune. The best part of it all has been having a mentor like Terence Winter to learn from.
Did you draw on your experience in Philadelphia while researching the storyline for Willie Thompson, who was a student at Temple this season?
Terry had the initial idea to have Willie go to Temple, and it made a lot of sense. When I went to Temple as an undergrad, there was a big contingent of Atlantic City kids there. So I was able to add a lot of first-hand knowledge to my research. On top of that, the Temple Library staff was very helpful. They pointed me to a number of digitized documents and yearbooks from the era. Also, [Professor Emeritus] Jim Hilty’s book, Temple University: 125 Years of Service to Philadelphia, the Nation, and the World, was an invaluable resource. Every Temple student and alumnus should have a copy of that book on their shelf.
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Marketing professor’s research featured in Newsweek cover story Anxiety might be a well-known consequence of information overload, but Angelika Dimoka, an assistant professor of marketing and the director of Fox’s Center for Neural Decision Making, wanted to confirm the biological phenomenon at work.
In a March cover story by Newsweek, Dimoka describes the research she and her colleagues have conducted on “combinatorial auctions,” which force bidders to consider a dizzying number of items. “With too much information,” Dimoka said, “people’s decisions make less and less sense.”
Donor Appreciation A complete list of donors to the Fox School of Business in 2010-11.
Fox alumni class notes A full listing of class notes from Fox School of Business alumni.
Alumni Profile: Brent Saunders Bausch + Lomb CEO Brent Saunders, MBA, LAW ’96, has his eye on innovation Alumni Profile: Robin Lenge Banana Republic’s Robin Lenge, BBA ’91, turns materials into merchandise Faculty Profile: Mercedes Delgado Strategic Management Assistant Professor Mercedes Delgado is innovating in clusters with Harvard and MIT professors
By: Chelsea Calhoun | November 1st, 2011 | leave a comment
“Mercedes is a core research partner, and has been instrumental in bringing new ideas, methodological rigor, and tenacity to our joint work.” – Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor Harvard Business School
Mercedes Delgado Assistant Professor, Strategic Management Hometown: Seville, Spain Motto: Stay positive. Latest read: Tim Harford’s Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure Latest band: Gotan Project Businessperson she admires: Oprah Winfrey – self-made, great teacher, connects with the public and gives back. Best way to cope with stress: A good cup of coffee and the gym.
Innovating in the fast lane
Ask Mercedes Delgado about the current pace of innovation, and here’s what she’ll tell you: It is moving faster than ever.
Delgado, an assistant professor of strategic management, focuses her research on entrepreneurship, country competitiveness, and the relationship between industry clusters and the performance of firms, regions and countries.
In the three years since Delgado joined Fox, she has demonstrated the power innovation and collaboration can have in and outside of Alter Hall.
In September 2010, Delgado and a team of Harvard and MIT researchers earned a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help policymakers more effectively tap into regional innovation clusters that drive economic growth.
Delgado, who describes clusters as “geographic agglomerations of companies, suppliers, service providers and associated institutions in a particular field,” said the EDA grant has allowed the researchers to use state-of-the-art methods to better assess the presence, dynamics and emergence of regional clusters (for example, clean energy). Their main goal is to provide mapping tools for firms, practitioners and fellow researchers to evaluate growth opportunities.
Delgado’s “Clusters and entrepreneurship,” which she co-authored with Harvard University’s Michael E. Porter and MIT Professor Scott Stern, was published last year in the Journal of Economic Geography. But the team has been working on clusters and regional development for years, beginning with Porter’s pioneer work in the 1990s.
“I have been very fortunate to work with and learn from great researchers,” Delgado said. “Collaboration makes it easier to see the bigger picture and produce more impactful research.”
Before joining Fox, Delgado completed post-doctoral fellowships at the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Innovation Policy Group and Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competiveness, which Porter directs and where Delgado is a senior associate.
Research also plays a vital role in her Fox curricula and instruction.
“The interplay of research and teaching is crucial. My research helps me develop new course material, including company cases and tools for assessing the business environment in a particular location,” said Delgado, who, just last summer, studied the entrepreneurial capacity of Andalusia, Spain, by interviewing more than 50 organizations.
Since 2009 she has collaborated on a new curriculum development initiative to link strategic management’s undergraduate capstone and Fox’s MBA Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice, increasing real-world experience for undergraduates. As part of the course enhancement, Delgado co-authored a case study of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program with EMC Managing Director TL Hill.
“Discussing these cases with the students, and the follow-up on the cases offered by the CEOs,” she said, “improve students’ learning experience and motivation to succeed.”
With help from her colleagues, Delgado is designing an MBA-level course on Analytical Foundations of Strategy, which she plans to pilot in Fall 2012.
“This course will offer the analytical tools to facilitate strategic decision-making in a setting of uncertainty,” Delgado said. “The business environment changes fast, and these changes need to be reflected in the curriculum.”
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By: Christine Fisher | November 1st, 2011 | leave a comment
Some might consider Robin Lenge’s life a fashion fairytale. Others might call it a testament to the power of networking and pursuing your passion.
Originally from rural Schnecksville, Pa., Lenge, BBA ’91, came to Temple for its urban environment. Today she has a fast paced, New York City fashion-industry career that has taken her to trend shopping in Europe, leather shows in Bologna, fabric shows in Paris, and mills and factories in Asia. She has worked for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Spade, Coach, Gap and, currently, Banana Republic.
“I wanted to mix the creative with the business,” said Lenge, who monitors commodity markets as frequently as she leads the creation of new fashion accessories.
Early in Lenge’s career, a family friend helped her secure an internship and her first job with industry giants Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, respectively. She remembers running home after one of her first meetings at Tommy Hilfiger to call her parents and tell them that Hilfiger had asked her opinion.
Later, at a fashion awards ceremony with Hilfiger, Lenge saw an outstanding video presentation by then up-and-coming designer Kate Spade. Inspired by the video, Lenge wrote to Spade, expressing how much she wanted to join her company.
“It was such a cool place, and I wanted to be a part of it so much that I was willing to do anything to get there,” she said.
It worked, and when a job opened up at Kate Spade, Lenge was called.
Along the way Lenge made strong friendships in the industry. She recounts the excitement of moving to New York fresh out of college and building a friend and community base around her work. Those friendships helped Lenge move from Kate Spade to Gap and Coach.
Today Lenge is director of production non-apparel for Banana Republic. She helps her team of six coordinate with design and merchandising to translate concepts and raw materials into 500 styles a season and tangible products, such as handbags, jewelry, belts and other accessories.
Lenge provides the designers with the tools to execute their vision, works with overseas offices and factory partners, and manages the designers’ ideas through production and quality control.
One of the most rewarding aspects of her job is seeing the concepts she started with walking down the street in the hands of consumers.
“I see people carrying a handbag I made, and I love that.”
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