Sharif Finch has made a name for himself by being in the right place at the right time.
A business management major at the Fox School of Business, Finch doubles as a defensive lineman for Temple University’s football team. Finch had three blocked punts through the team’s first eight games, including two in a road victory Oct. 22 against East Carolina. That performance earned Finch the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
“I’m just grinding,” said Finch, a junior from Henrico, Va. “I’m the kind of guy who will do whatever this team needs me to do. I go hard every single play. Success is where preparation meets opportunity. You have to want it, and then go after it.”
In a season of special moments, Finch and the Owls attained the program’s first Associated Press national ranking since 1979.
Here’s more from our Q+A with Finch:
Q: It’s been a history-making season for the football team. What’s been the highlight of the season for you?
Finch: “Every game that we get a win is a highlight for me. If I had to pick one, it’d probably be that interception against Penn State. That’d be my best memory.”
Q: So your two blocked punts against East Carolina are runner-up?
Finch: “I’d say to get over that hump and beat Penn State, that was more special for us as a team.”
Q: What initially made you choose Temple University?
Finch: “I’m originally from New York, so Temple was in that perfect spot between New York and Virginia. It was the median, the perfect spot. I loved the team, the coaches, the university, and the Fox School, of course.”
Q: And what was your calling to the Fox School to study business?
Finch: “I’ve always wanted to own my own business. To be my own boss, I think that’s everybody’s goal. It’s something I aspire to do. I’m not 100-percent sure what path I’d like to follow, but maybe something sports-related.”
Q: Do you feel as though Temple and the Fox School are preparing you for the next step in life?
Finch: “Football is an avenue. It’s an opportunity to do something special with your life. It enables you to get a degree, to get an education, and find a calling if professional football isn’t in the cards.”
Q: What is your favorite class?
Finch: “Statistics. I’m just good with numbers. It’s something I’ve never struggled with.”
Q: Do you have a favorite spot to eat on campus or a guilty pleasure?
Finch: “The Insomnia Cookies (food truck). I’m there all of the time. The (football staff) monitors what we eat and how to eat the right way. It’s not like I’m going there for 20 cookies a day, but I definitely have a few.”
Q: Now, back to the important questions – what are your goals for this year and beyond?
Finch: “We’re striving to win a championship. It’s something that’s never been done here. We’re putting the work in every day. In the classroom, I know I want to have an internship this summer. I’m looking into it now, and I have a few people helping me look at my options. I’m excited about it.”
Angela Costello, BBA ’01, an executive with global financial services company UBS, followed a career route she never anticipated taking.
Like many college students, Angela Costello was unsure of where she’d end up after graduation.
But for someone who comes from a big, tight-knit family based in the Philadelphia area, she never thought she’d advance her career with stops in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. And working her way up the ladder at UBS Financial Services once seemed equally improbable, for someone who admittedly considered the world of finance “boring” and had a “more-glamorous” job offer in the fashion industry coming out of Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
“Back in college,” she admitted, “I didn’t think I’d be doing any of what I’m doing in my career.”
In many ways, though, it was Costello’s four years at Temple that allowed her to excel at a big global financial services company like UBS, where she currently serves as the Executive Director of Project Management, Reporting, and Analysis. In fact, her experience at UBS almost mirrors her time at Temple, where she found her niche and honed her interpersonal skills in the Fox Honors Program and while working in Dean M. Moshe Porat’s office at Fox.
“I think that experience, being a part-time student-worker and having that opportunity with Virginia (Roth, the Dean’s executive assistant), especially, taught me a lot about operating in a professional environment and executing on different projects,” said Costello, who graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Economics and Marketing. “I think those two communities – the Dean’s Office and Fox Honors– helped shape the soft skills needed in my career.
“The one thing about Temple that surprised me is that it felt like I went to a small school even though it’s a large school. And that’s just because the people there are really top-notch and make you feel like you’re a part of a community.”
One of those people who made Costello feel right at home was Michael Leeds, who served as the Director of the Fox Honors Program during Costello’s undergraduate days. Leeds helped Costello get settled upon her arrival to Temple and Fox, offering the kind of personal touch meant a lot to Costello. Leeds said he remembers her for not possessing the same kind of “swagger” as other honors students.
“I think there was a lot of self-doubt in her,” said Leeds, Professor of Economics at Temple’s College of Liberal Arts. “(Rhetorically, she’d wonder,) ‘Should I be in the honors program? Am I good enough to do this? Do I belong here?’ And I think that by the time she graduated she realized that she not only was a legitimate member of the honors program, she was a leading light in the honors program. I don’t think she ever quite had that swagger. But I think she had a stronger sense of self-confidence and a sense that she could go out and work with and be a peer with people from anywhere.”
Leeds called Costello “one of the most delightful people that I have met at Temple” –high praise from someone who’s worked at the university since 1982. And since graduating from the Fox School, Costello has certainly utilized those people skills in the often-cutthroat business world.
At UBS, for instance, she oversees a team of seven people and tries her best to help them find challenge and a sense of accomplishment in their work, and to maintain a healthy balance between work and their personal lives.
“You want to make sure they have a positive experience so that they’re also positive and happy and bring that good energy home,” Costello said. “That’s how I view it. It’s a personal thing, not anything I was taught. It’s just something that’s really important to me.”
Costello’s assistant, Trinity Martinez, has witnessed this characteristic firsthand. Martinez, who works at UBS while also pursuing her PhD in art history, has a unique vantage point into the flexibility and support Costello affords her colleagues. It’s one of the reasons why Martinez has been at the company for five years.
“I think, honestly, it’s hard to find in this business,” Martinez said. “Out of all the people I’ve known, (Costello) really does try to promote her people the most. And that’s very important. That’s a rare asset.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Costello is a team-oriented person. After all, she was essentially part of a team while growing up as one of eight siblings (two of whom also graduated from Temple), finding her way in a big house just as she has in a big company, and learning from a young age “leadership, organizational and communication skills,” she said.
Despite being so close to her family, she said she knew the best career move for her was to leave the comforts of Philadelphia and move to the Washington suburbs just two weeks after graduation to join General Electric’s financial management program. From there, she returned to the Philadelphia area for a couple of years to work for GE Water Technologies, before heading to New York as a finance manager for NBCUniversal, which at the time was under GE’s auspices.
While in New York, she moved to UBS in 2006, and she’s remained with the company ever since. But that’s not to say she found much geographical stability in the early stages of her career. The Philadelphia native worked out of offices in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles from 2008-2012, as the Director of Finance for UBS Wealth Management, Western Division.
Still, even though she missed Philly, Costello quickly realized that the chance to met new people around the country made the finance field more exciting than she initially thought. And her communication skills led to another discovery: that she was “pretty good at it.”
“I’ll always think of Philadelphia as my home and, hopefully, one day, I’ll end up back there again,” she said. “But I just viewed going to different places as exciting and challenging. There were risks in moving far from my family and friends and everyone who I knew. I was basically moving to San Francisco sight unseen. I had never been there before, so I think it was a challenge both professionally and personally, but it was a calculated risk that ultimately helped me move forward in my career.”
After such a whirlwind few years, Costello is more settled in her current role. Based in Weehawken, N.J., She recently bought a home in New Jersey and, in October, she married. Sometimes, after a full day of meetings and first checking her email at 5 p.m., she admits that she needs some friendly encouragement from her husband, Paulius Mikalainis, to come home. But she’s almost always able to practice what she preaches to her team members about balancing her personal life with work because she knows “my family is most important,” even as her career ambitions remain as fierce as they’ve ever been.
For that, she’s thankful for everyone who had imparted those lessons, from her parents to her professors at the Fox School, to her bosses at GE, to her colleagues at UBS, where she can see herself remaining for years to come.
“I’ve stayed so long for two reasons: I’ve had a lot of opportunity here and the people here are just wonderful,” she said. “It’s a very collaborative environment. Everyone wants to work together to do the right things for our clients. It’s a great place to work.”
To submit a Class Note, email your accomplishments, promotions, and achievements to firstname.lastname@example.org
Roy T. Diliberto, BS ‘62
Received the P. Kemp Fain Jr. Award from the Financial Planning Association, recognizing an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession.
Rick Watrall, BBA ‘82
Named chief analytics officer, a newly created position, with Horizon Media Inc., the largest and fastest-growing privately held media services agency in the world.
Named partner with Brinker, Simpson & Company, LLC, a leading certified public accounting and business consulting firm serving clients in the Philadelphia region.
Mary Carroll, BBA ‘86
Hired as senior project manager and architect of the Philadelphia office of CRB, a global consulting, design, and construction services firm.
Promoted to vice president of network at Aqua Pennsylvania, the water provider of more than 1.4 million Pennsylvania residents.
Sue Vestri, BBA ‘86
Hired as chief financial officer of Greenphire, a King of Prussia, Pa., provider of payment technologies for the clinical-trials industry.
Patrick J. McGinnis, BBA ‘89
Hired as senior vice president, portfolio manager, and member of the investment committee of Pennsylvania Trust of Radnor, a wealth management company providing investment management, trust administration, tax, estate, and related account services.
Michelle H. Debkowski, BBA ‘90
Promoted to president and chief executive officer of Bally Savings Bank, in Bally, Pa., to provide executive leadership and direction for the bank.
Confirmed in June as the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Stuart Nachman, MBA ’92
Appointed director of business development by U.S. Security Care, which provides security services, including security audits, crisis management planning, workplace violence seminars, pre-employment screenings, and more for business and corporate executives.
Timothy F. Lain, BBA ‘95
Served as chief accounting officer and acting chief financial officer of Carpenter Technology Corporation, a manufacturer of stainless steel, titanium, and other specialty metals, while Carpenter completed a national search for a CFO.
John Aloysius, PhD ‘96
Named interim director of the Behavioral Business Research Lab at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.
Bill Burns, MBA ‘96
Appointed senior vice president of enterprise visibility and mobility of Zebra Technology, a provider of services and products to deliver real-time visibility into organizations’ assets, people, and transactions.
Kevin Selger, BS ‘97
Promoted to director of landscape architecture and planning of Gilmore and Associates, Inc., an engineering and consulting services firm.
Selected as a finalist for the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2015 Chief Financial Officer of the Year Award. He is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Theorem Clinical Research, a global provider of comprehensive clinical services.
Named by Private Asset Management Magazine one of the 50 most-influential women in private wealth management. She is the senior vice president and national managing director of wealth strategy for Hawthorn, PNC Family Wealth.
Virginia Arnsberger, BBA ’04, MS ‘09
Announced her retirement from Temple University’s Facilities department, where she worked at the School of Media and Communication.
Brett W. Lasky-Benson, BBA ‘05
With wife Kerry McGrath Benson, welcomed daughter Nora Kathryn Benson, who was born Nov. 21, 2014, in Pittsburgh.
Timothy Bennett, BBA ’05, MBA ‘09
Bennett’s company, Bennett Compost, was honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for Sustainable Services Excellence of the Year, as part of GCPP’s 2016 Excellence Awards.
James Murphy, BBA ‘06
Promoted to chief financial officer at Patriot Financial Manager, L.P., a private equity firm based in Philadelphia.
Ardy L. Wurtzel, BBA ‘07
Delivered a presentation on the U.S. economy, employment rates, interest rates, inflation, and other statistics for both the nation and the Wilkes-Barre, Pa., region at the annual Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit, held Oct. 15, 2015.
Christian J. Reed, BBA ‘07
Hired as director of acquisitions and dispositions of Brixmor Property Group, in Conshohocken, Pa., which a real estate investment trust.
John Hewlett Jr., BBA ‘09
Hired as an associate with Capehart Scatchard, a full practice law firm in Mount Laurel, N.J.
Martin Hershy, BBA ‘09
Named account executive of Lockton, the world’s largest, privately held independent insurance broker.
David K. Gloss, MBA ‘10
Started a Philadelphia-based creative agency called “Here’s My Chance,” which works with nonprofits and socially responsible companies, specializing in branding, design, videos, websites, and infographics.
Sun Lee, MBA ‘13
Selected by Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the publication’s 2015 Minority Business Leaders award winners. He is a partner at KPMG’s Philadelphia Federal Tax Practice.
Ben Stucker, MBA ‘13
Won the grand prize of the 17th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, a business plan competition open to all current students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Temple University.
Kenneth Harper, BBA ‘14
Signed a rookie free agent contract in May and spent training camp with the New York Giants, of the National Football League. The running back played four seasons with the Temple football team.
Signed a non-guaranteed contract to join the National Basketball League’s Houston Rockets for 2015 training camp. The guard starred for four seasons with the Temple men’s basketball team.
Philip Arthur Marchesini, MBA ‘15
Appointed as administrative specialist at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
To submit a Class Note, email your accomplishments, promotions, and achievements to email@example.com
The creators of an online financial marketplace aiming to improve the consumer’s buying power in financial transactions won the grand prize at the 17th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, a Temple University-wide business plan competition.
RatesForUs.com, co-founded by CEO and Fox School of Business alumnus
, MBA ’13, and CTO Alec Baker, took home more than $60,000 in cash prizes, in addition to products and professional services, at the April 16 final presentations at the Fox School.
“If I could have burst out of my skin, I would have. This was one of the most rewarding and exciting moments of my life,” said Stucker, a longtime mortgage industry professional.
RatesForUs.com, which registered its website domain only two months prior to the final presentations, hopes to become the top online destination for mortgage shoppers, Stucker said. He and Baker first met in February to lay the foundation for their company and “then we wrote our business plan in three weeks,” Stucker said.
What sets apart RatesForUs from others in the marketplace, Stucker said, is that they have worked closely with consumers to understand and support their needs. From increased consumer privacy to allowing consumers to confidently obtain lower interest rates, Stucker said RatesForUs has taken steps to drastically improve the online shopping experience.
With RatesForUs, Stucker said, personal information will only be shared when necessary and agreed to by the consumer, eliminating “the bombardment of calls and potential bias based on race, ethnicity or gender,” he said.
The cash and prizes from Be Your Own Boss Bowl® will support the continued development of the marketplace for RatesForUs, Stucker said.
The annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, the flagship program of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), is one of the most lucrative and comprehensive business plan competitions in the country. This year, 12 business plans representing five of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges were selected as finalists. They competed for more than $160,000 in cash prizes, plus related products, professional services, and incubation space.
The competition features three distinctly different tracks: the Undergraduate Track, open to current Temple undergraduate students; the Upper Track, open to Temple graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff; and the Social Innovation Track.
Winners from each track were:
- Upper Track: RatesForUs.com
- Social Innovation Track: ROAR for Good, LLC, a developer of wearable self-defense tech designed for women. (Yasmine Mustafa, FOX ’06; Anthony Gold; Peter Eisenhower, ENG ‘11; Charlotte Wells, CLA ’15; Hunter Vargas, FOX ’16; and Christina Kazakia)
- Undergraduate Track: Habitat LLC, a platform for students to buy and sell goods within their college communities. (Fox School students Andrew Nakkache, Michael Paskiewicz and Brandon Bahr, and Kathleen Chen)
For the sixth year, the IEI awarded the Chris Pavlides Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a strong passion for entrepreneurship. This year’s recipient was junior entrepreneurship major Vincent Paolizzi.
Temple alumnus Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, received the 2015 Self-Made & Making Others Award. Wink is the co-founder and editor of Technical.ly, a network of local technology news sites and events.
Be Your Own Boss Bowl® participants benefit from coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities with the Philadelphia area’s leading business professionals, including members of GPSEG, the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group. Overall, the competition receives support from 300 executives and entrepreneurs.
Be Your Own Boss Bowl® 2015, by the numbers
- $200,000 Value of monetary, products, services and mentorship prizes awarded
- 300 Mentors and preliminary judges
- 143 Overall participants in BYOBB
- 64 Senior executive mentors
- 61 Registered company submissions
- 32 Participating finalist team members
- 19 Sponsors
- 13 Temple University schools and colleges represented in BYOBB
- 13 Presentation coaches
- 12 Finalist teams representing five Temple schools and colleges
- 6 Finalist judges
TD Ameritrade Institutional awarded a $25,000 grant to Temple University’s Fox School of Business to foster development of its new financial planning degree program, as part its third-annual Next Gen Financial Planning Grants.
Through its Next Gen Financial Planning Grants, TD Ameritrade Institutional hopes to help the registered investment advisor industry remain vibrant for years to come by encouraging more colleges and universities to expand and enhance their financial planning degree programs, increasing the number of graduates produced each year. According to U.S. Department of Education data, roughly 700 students completed bachelor’s degree programs in financial planning in 2013, while only 90 U.S. colleges and universities offered degrees dedicated to financial planning.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business launched its Financial Planning undergraduate program this fall. Grant funds will help fund scholarships to attract top-tier students, underwrite a weekly “seminar series” that brings the workplace to campus, engaging financial planning practitioners in the Philadelphia area to speak with students providing insights into the profession’s challenges, trends and potential opportunities.
“We are incredibly proud to have been selected by TD Ameritrade Institutional as the recipient of this grant,” said Cynthia Axelrod, Program Director of Fox’s Financial Planning major and Assistant Professor of Finance. “Professionals in this field are in high demand, and this grant will bolster Fox’s efforts to provide highly qualified students that will excel as Financial Planners.”
The Fox School of Business at Temple University introduced two new undergraduate majors for the 2015-16 academic year: Supply Chain Management and Financial Planning.
In all, the Fox School offers students a choice of 15 undergraduate majors.
The Supply Chain Management major prepares students to operate and lead major aspects of the supply system in both established and start-up firms. Fox’s Marketing and Supply Chain Management department oversees the program, which readies students for careers in the interconnected chain of suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses and distribution centers, transportation-providers, retailers.
“Businesses today operate on a global scale,” said Dr. Neha Mittal, Assistant Professor and Academic Director of the undergraduate Supply Chain Management program. “For example, it’s very common for a company to have its sourcing in South America, manufacturing in China, and sales of its products to markets in Europe or North America. We’re talking about huge, complex supply chains here, which have fueled the need for supply chain management professionals to manage the flows between the different parties.”
The Financial Planning major prepares students for careers in the growing field bearing the same name, which takes a holistic approach to working with clients in order to enable them to identify and attain lifestyle and retirement goals. Students who complete the Financial Planning curriculum are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination upon graduation – a unique feature of the program. Fox’s Finance department oversees the program, and draws upon the expertise of faculty in Fox’s Legal Studies and Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management departments, as well, said Cynthia Axelrod, Assistant Professor and Financial Planning Program Director.
“Within the next 20 years, 10,000 baby boomers will retire every day. This will produce a tremendous intergenerational wealth transfer, for which there won’t be nearly enough advisors to take on the burgeoning growth of clients and client assets,” Axelrod said.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business awarded with the 2015 Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership – the school’s highest honor, for outstanding achievement, leadership, and commitment to the community by a distinguished member of industry.
Graham was honored at the 19th annual Musser Award reception and dinner Nov. 5, 2015, in Mitten Hall, on Temple University’s Main Campus.
Graham is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Graham Company, a privately held and leading U.S. insurance and surety brokerage and consulting firm considered one of the largest in the nation based on revenue size. The company provides property and casualty products, employee benefits, and surety bonds for an elite client base.
Graham has been a member of the Philadelphia business community for more than 50 years.
He joined his father’s insurance agency as a sales representative in 1962, eventually becoming the sole owner in 1972. He served as president from 1970 to 1999, and currently serves as chairman and chief executive officer. He has overseen the growth of The Graham Company, from six employees with revenues of $300,000 in 1972, to more than 160 employees and revenues exceeded $40 million.
The Fox School of Business at Temple University has been awarded reaccreditation by AACSB International, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Earning AACSB accreditation is considered the hallmark of excellence in business education, and has been earned by less than five percent of the world’s business schools. Today, there are 727 business schools in 48 countries and territories that maintain AACSB accreditation. Accredited institutions are subject to reaccreditation on five-year cycles.
The Fox School has been continuously accredited by AACSB International since 1934.
“Maintaining accreditation with AACSB is a difficult task, amid the desire for constant improvement and the challenge of separating yourself from the competition,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “The AACSB review team, at the conclusion of their visit, used the term ‘best in class’ to reference what we do at the Fox School. It was quite rewarding to hear those words, as they demonstrate our commitment to delivering globally recognized business education and premier management training.”
In its report, AACSB’s review team lauded many areas at the Fox School as “distinguishing characteristics.” The team pointed to Fox’s intellectual contributions and research-active faculty, as well as a highly professional and engaged staff as points of strength.
Specifically, the AACSB team highlighted the Center for Student Professional Development, calling it “a hallmark of the school” for “equipping its students with the tools and knowledge necessary to set themselves apart from the competition” in the job-placement sector. Fox’s online programs, including the No. 1-ranked Online MBA, “are growing into a scalable model that ensures quality,” the team wrote in its report. A school-wide entrepreneurial culture and the redesigned curriculum of the Global MBA program were other areas of strength praised by AACSB.
“Birds of a feather flock together.”
I’ve heard this many times, especially from folks with ties to Temple University.
Perhaps it is because our mascot is an owl. Or perhaps there is greater
significance to the expression. As I begin my term as President of the Fox School Alumni Association, there’s new meaning to this old expression.
Not only does the Fox School boast an alumni base of more than 60,000, but there are alumni in 99 countries, every state in the U.S., and 36,000 within a one-hour drive of Philadelphia and the Fox School of Business.
The Alumni Association’s board members have a goal to meet with 100 alumni, but it does not have to end at the board level. I encourage you to do the same. Let’s get to know one another! Wear your Fox lapel pins, don your alumni caps, and show the world your pride in the Fox School. And when you see alumni wearing similar garb, introduce yourself. Say, “Hi! In what year did you graduate?” or “Go Owls!” The pride for our school and our university is within each of you. And as you continue to display your pride, the level of pride will only increase.
As Temple University founder Russell Conwell once said, “You can journey to the ends of the earth in search of success, but if you’re lucky, you will discover happiness in your own backyard.” Whether you’re in Philadelphia or the Philippines, find happiness in your backyard. And while you’re at it, find fellow Fox alums and share pride in your alma mater.
Frontier Development and Hospitality Group’s Founder & Managing Principal, Evens Charles carved a name for himself in the hospitality-focused, real estate development business, and wants to provide Temple juniors and seniors similar opportunities through a scholarship
BA ’94, M.Ed ’95 | Founder & Managing Principal, Frontier Development and Hospitality Group LLC
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Lasting Connections: “My key takeaway from Temple was the strong academic foundation I developed and the key relationships I made with students who eventually became prominent professionals and long lasting friends.”
Once an underprivileged student from humble beginnings, Evens Charles takes pride in supporting his community.
That is why the founder and managing principal of Frontier Development and Hospitality Group, LLC, has endowed a scholarship for students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM). Charles knows first-hand the financial obstacles motivated entrepreneurial students face. Maxed out from student loan providers, Charles finished school because of a football scholarship he received during his junior year, after he had earned a starting position.
“Without that funding, I don’t know if I could’ve continued my education,” Charles said.
Following graduate school, Charles became interested in real estate. He taught himself everything he could, entered the business, and amassed a good amount of residential real estate. He was inspired to enter the hotel business in 2008, after attending a conference in Washington D.C., hosted by the National Alliance of Black Hotel Owners Operators and Developers Association (NABHOOD). There, he heard a speech by the association’s chairman, developer R. Donahue Peebles. He initially partnered with another Temple alumnus, Paul Patel of Pennsville Hospitality Group, who had the experience of running and operating hotels.
“It was a very humbling experience because it meant partnering with folks who had industry knowledge that I did not possess,” Charles said.
By evolving his business into hotel acquisitions, Charles has achieved a great deal of creative freedom. He finds his work rewarding because it allows him to control his own destiny and influence economic development.
Charles gave $25,000, which was matched by the Dean’s Match program of the Fox School of Business. The $50,000 scholarship is awarded to underrepresented junior and senior students from the Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. metro areas. The scholarship will alternate each year, between students from Fox and STHM.
“It’s a shame that many students with the desire and drive can’t always continue school because of finances,” Charles said. “If I can help to make a difference in the lives of even one or two students, it’s a start to giving back what I’ve been given.”
Robert Roach’s time at Temple laid the foundation on which he built his career in ethics and compliance
BBA ’74 | Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, New York University
Major Growth: “Temple was an incubator for my personal and professional growth. I met people of all walks of life, received a foundation for my career, and I left prepared me for the real world.”
In discussing his professional journey, Robert Roach, BBA ’74, quoted the famous line from the Grateful Dead’s song “Truckin’.” He said, “Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.”
Roach felt those lyrics described how serendipity gets in the way of major life planning, especially in relation to one’s career.
“You work hard and plan in advance, but something happens that puts you on a much different path,” Roach said. “I didn’t expect to be on the path I’m on, but I’ve been happy nonetheless.”
The Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer of New York University originally saw himself in business administration.
After four years of working 25 hours per week at a gas station in Northeast Philadelphia, balanced with a full course load and an active campus life – he was the president of the Fox School of Business’ student government – Roach started working at Air Products & Chemicals, Inc., in Quakertown, Pa. While working at Air Products & Chemicals, Roach realized he wanted to further his education. In doing research, he chose to pursue law school instead of a master’s in business administration. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1978.
Roach worked briefly in corporate law in Philadelphia before moving south to work for the American Civil Liberties Union. He later worked within the New York Attorney General’s office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, further building his career in compliance and ethics. His undergraduate coursework at the Fox School came in handy when, for example, he executed his own forensic accounting while prosecuting white-collar defendants.
“The biggest challenge in my career was finding one that suited my personality,” he said.
Roach joined NYU in 2006, after serving as chief of staff at the New York City Department of Investigation.
Roach recommends that recent and soon-to-be graduates embrace curveballs life throws their way.
“When you take advantage of serendipity and try something new, you may find it to be personally and professionally rewarding,” Roach said.
Justin Rosenberg’s business plan started at Fox, and recently earned $25 million in investment funding
MBA ‘09 | Founder and Partner, honeygrow
Hometown: Melville, N.Y.
Adopted home: “Philadelphia is often overlooked by other companies and concepts. I’m a Long Islander, but to me, I can’t imagine doing business anywhere other than Philly.”
When writing his business plan, Justin Rosenberg was meticulous, gathering more information than he’d ever use—or need.
The native New Yorker remembers spending hours at the Fox School of Business, curling up in Alter Hall’s lounge chairs while developing the business model for what would become honeygrow, the Philadelphia-based, fast-casual restaurant that offers fresh-to- order salads and stir-fries with seasonal, local ingredients.
In June, honeygrow received $25 million in investment funding from Miller Investment Management, which will support further expansion of honeygrow and updates to the company’s technology platform.
“It seems like I was just in Alter yesterday,” said Rosenberg, MBA ’09. “Building honeygrow was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but it was worth it.”
The Fox School alumnus worked as a financial analyst and asset manager while pursuing his Global MBA. Deep down, he said, he desired to build a company of his own. Rosenberg was a vegan at the time and sought more creative, locally grown meal options than most restaurants offered. So he crafted a restaurant concept to his liking.
He found information about touch-screen ordering systems by calling companies that utilized them. He even contacted restaurant owners from as far away as California, to inquire about the size of their bowls and to best determine price-per-ounce figures.
Then, he took to the streets. Rosenberg wasn’t above knocking on doors to find investors, or working the weekend. Following 40-or-more-hour workweeks, Rosenberg would ride a bus to Washington, D.C., where he’d work in the kitchen of a friend’s restaurant. He navigated Saturday night dinners and the Sunday brunch rush, before heading home to his wife, Halie, who at the time was pregnant with the first of their three children.
In June 2012, he opened honeygrow’s first location—at 16th and Sansom streets in Philadelphia. In three short years, Rosenberg and honeygrow continue to blossom and will have expanded to eight locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and 20 corporate employees by the end of 2015.
“It’s a sacrifice. Every step was a humbling experience, but it was how I learned that, for a company to be successful, you have to embrace it and make it your life, and obsess over the details,” Rosenberg said. “There’s this mirage that, if you’re your own boss, life is great. It can be, but only if you work hard and continue to remain focused.”
Johanna Walters’ networking skills landed her in wealth management, where she began as a Client Associate and worked her way to Senior Vice President – Wealth Management
Johanna L. Walters
BBA ’00 | Senior Vice President, Wealth Management and Wealth Management Advisor, Glassman Walters Associates, Merrill Lynch
Hometown: Muskegon, Mich.
Guiding with math: “My work is like a complicated math word problem. I gather all of the puzzle pieces of clients’ lives and provide the answers and guidance to help them achieve their goals and dreams.”
Her love of horseback riding put Johanna Walters, BBA ’00, on track to become a Senior Vice President – Wealth Management and Wealth Management Advisor within one of Merrill Lynch’s largest wealth management practices, Glassman Walters Associates.
While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the then-18-year-old student calculated the costs and benefits of pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.
“After mapping it out, I realized I would never be able to own my horse, which was something I really wanted,” Walters recalled.
She transferred to the Fox School of Business to study finance and business law, and reconnected with her former employer — and future business partner — Saly Glassman. As a teen, Walters worked in Glassman’s stables and watched her daughter in exchange for horseback riding lessons.
Glassman offered Walters a 20-hour-per-week job at her Merrill Lynch office. This job, along with her Fox School classes, influenced Walters’s interest in wealth management. Walters graduated and joined the firm as a Client Associate. She worked her way up to her current role as Senior Vice President – Wealth Management of Glassman Walters Associates at Merrill Lynch.
“It’s amazing to work on one of the largest wealth management teams in the firm. We are fortunate to have a lot of autonomy to continue to create unique solutions for our clients.” Walters said. “Although with that work comes great responsibility.”
Walters never let hurdles get in her way. Although gender bias is still an issue in the industry, Walters does see improvement as more women continue to enter the field. Early in her career, Walters’ age presented challenges, at times, since some had difficulty taking a young person seriously. Being a successful wealth management advisor helped her exceed expectations.
Walters said her ongoing professional and personal successes proves you can excel when you believe in yourself and have a vision.
“Be honest and come from a place of integrity,” Walters adds. “If you can do that, you will be successful.”
Yasmine Mustafa aims to change the world with her company, which manufactures wearable self-defense technology jewelry designed for women
BBA ’06 | CEO and co-founder, ROAR for Good
Hometown: Royersford, Pa.
MotivaTED: In May, Mustafa was one of 14 speakers at TEDx Philadelphia, an independent and not-for-profit one-day conference that builds dialogue on topics of scientific, social awareness, and cultural significance. Mustafa’s talk covered the birth lottery, the concept of being born into a set of traits and circumstances that shape life’s opportunities and challenges.
A formative moment in Yasmine Mustafa’s professional life occurred by happenstance. A fellow Fox School of Business student couldn’t finish his internship and Mustafa, who already had an internship, decided to tackle another simultaneously. In this new opportunity, she worked closely with early-stage entrepreneurs, helping to craft their business plans, marketing strategies, and funding pitches.
Mustafa knew she’d wanted to become an entrepreneur, but it was then that her interest in the technology sector had been sparked.
“I remember being in awe of these makers, I’d call them, and I’d think, ‘Man, I want to be one of these one day,’” she said.
Mustafa, BBA ’06, is the CEO and co-founder of ROAR for Good, LLC, a developer of wearable self defense technology jewelry designed for women that acts as a fashionable high-tech alarm which also messages loved ones and calls the authorities. Manufacturing of the flagship device began in September, and Mustafa expects it to be available to consumers in February.
She’s raised more than $200,000 in funding from Philadelphia-based investors for the product, called “Athena,” after the Greek goddess of power and freedom. Athena, which Mustafa designed to replicate fashionable jewelry, will sync with the user’s smartphone to alert a designated emergency contact, as well as the appropriate authorities, to criminal activity with one-touch technology. It also emits an alarm and a flashing light when activated.
“I see a long-term vision of changing the world, and ROAR having a profound impact,” said Mustafa, 33. “A key component is that we’ll be investing part of our proceeds into nonprofits that teach children about empathy and healthy relationships. … I get excited by the potential. In reality, our goal is to have a world where technology like ROAR’s doesn’t need to exist.”
The Kuwaiti-born Mustafa worked under-the-table jobs to support her education, which includes her Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the Fox School. The two-time winner of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, a Temple University-wide business plan competition, is a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” with numerous smaller ventures prior to her work with ROAR.
“I see a much bigger reach with ROAR,” she said. “I’m a person who thrives on making a difference, so I’m excited about what the future holds.”
Rahul Merchant built his career from the ground up, beginning the moment his flight to the United States landed
MBA ’89 | Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President, TIAA-CREF
Hometown: Mumbai, India
Divided allegiance: Having earned his Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Memphis University, and his MBA from Temple, Merchant is torn when the two schools meet on the basketball court as members of the American Athletic Conference. “John Chaney was a legend, and I’m a fan of Fran Dunphy,” Merchant said of the Owls’ coaches, past and present, “but they’re both great schools and great teams.”
Rahul Merchant moved to the United States in 1979. His flight from India had landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and, not long after, he managed to lose one of his two suitcases. Merchant sat curbside in a blue wool suit with the late-August sun bearing down. A taxi driver picked up Merchant, and took him to his destination without asking for a fare.
“The driver said to me, ‘When you make money, you can pay somebody else,’” Merchant said. “That was the fundamental principle I learned in this country, and I’ve been touched by that moment ever since. That was a great experience for me, and I feel that in the corridors of TIAA-CREF.”
Merchant, MBA ’89, applies the same principles to his position with TIAA-CREF. As Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President, Merchant oversees the existing information technology and implementing new IT initiatives for the nearly 100-year-old financial services firm.
“Today, 90 percent of business is closed over the wires and without even hitting the trading tickets,” he said. “It’s all electronic. What does that mean? The systems are more technologically driven and efficient, but the other side of the IT coin is that business is done openly and transparently.”
Merchant’s career began in the technology field, before earning his MBA in Finance from Fox. Ever since, he’s worked in the financial markets arena, with Exigen Capital, Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch, and as New York City’s first Chief Information and Innovation Officer.
In September, Merchant was recognized as Fox’s 2015 honoree in the Gallery of Success, which showcases exceptional alumni from each of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges.
“I’m incredibly proud of my Temple education and all that the university has afforded me,” Merchant said.