collected photos of interviewed subjects
From left: Dan Tedesco, Carey Gallagher and Garrett Frankford (contributed photos)

It’s not always easy to get business professionals to quickly reach a consensus.

But in the case of three MBA graduates from the Fox School of Business, they all agree the Fox Management Consulting (FMC) capstone course put them on a career path that continues to evolve.

“A lot of people use their MBA to leave their current positions, but I was able to pivot within the company where I worked,” says Dan Tedesco, MBA ’15, a strategic planning manager at Essity, a global hygiene and health company headquartered in Sweden. “I used my Fox Management Consulting experience to change my role to more of a business strategy one. The experience paved the foundation of everything I’ve done since in my career.” 

The capstone course provides an experiential learning experience to MBA students by integrating corporate strategy and marketing consulting projects within the curriculum. The process often allows students an opportunity to explore a variety of industries and topics that are new to them.

Prior to getting his MBA, Tedesco used his mechanical engineering background in a product development role. Now he’s responsible for the strategic planning process of the B2B business unit at Essity.

FMC has a team of project executives who are senior-level career professionals who work with the student teams to deliver results to clients.

“Our project executive, Wayne Rosengerger, was always encouraging us, making us believe in trusting the process and watching how things would evolve. It’s those little things, that diligence, that stay with me now,” he says. “I tell people about this program and how it is a phenomenal experience that can change the path of your career.”

Garrett Frankford, MBA ’18 used his MBA to change industries while remaining in the same line of work. He believes part of the challenge in consulting is knowing you could be working in an unfamiliar business landscape.

 “Some of it was completely different from anything I had done before and the projects caused many of the students to step outside their comfort zone,” the customs compliance manager at Carter’s / OshKosh B’gosh says. 

His team worked with a client to develop a market entry strategy around a personal mobile safety app. Part of that work included financial modeling, a skill Frankford says he didn’t believe he would need.

“Just knowing the type of jobs I was applying for, I didn’t think I would use that experience,” he says. 

He quickly realized otherwise.

“My FMC work gave me the skills I needed to direct a presentation to our CEO about tariff changes that directly affect the organization. Financial modeling was a skill I didn’t think I’d use, but within three months, I did.”

In addition, Frankford says he now thinks differently about the challenges before him. “I’ve gone from a technical thinker to a more strategic thinker because of this experience.”

It’s the complexities of business that remind Carey Gallagher, MBA ’08, of her international MBA experience at the Fox School.

“There are so many ways to get things done in business, there are no right or wrong ways,” she says.

Currently a partner at C-FAR, a management consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia and Boston, Gallagher focuses on culture and change in healthcare. She describes the work as “focusing on complex problems in complex organizations.”

As part of her MBA program, Gallagher worked on projects that took her to India, Ireland and Temple’s Japan campus. 

“Having a glimpse of different countries helped me understand all the complexities of how business is done,” she says. “There is so much more than you realize and the experience helped me get a better understanding of it.”

It’s come full circle for Gallagher, who now combines her Fox MBA experience and her professional expertise to serve as a project advisor at FMC.

“I thought what better way to get involved in the conversation about changing business needs and also help support the learning process for other MBA students than by joining this effort?” she says.

“It’s exciting because I don’t work on just one type of project and that’s significant. It’s really valuable to me to be around people who are all working in the same direction.”

For more information about Fox Management Consulting, click here.

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Community Center Building
The Crane Chinatown Community Center is part of Crane Chinatown, a $75-million, 20-story apartment and mixed-use complex located at 10th and Vine streets in Philadelphia. Photo by Karen Naylor

When the doors of the Crane Chinatown Community Center officially open in October, the foundation of both the facility and its future will be in place.

Because in addition to the steel, bricks and mortar, the much-anticipated center has a framework for a sustainable business plan, thanks to a team of MBA students and their professional advisers at Fox Management Consulting (FMC) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

The community center is designed to be a vibrant cultural center of wellness, education and recreation for the Chinatown community. It is part of Crane Chinatown, a $75 million, 20-story apartment and mixed-use complex located at 10th and Vine streets in Philadelphia. The residential portion of the complex opened earlier this summer.

“The community center has been the goal of the past 20 years of work,” says Cecilia Moy Yep, founder of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. Since 1969, the organization has been advocating for the interests of Chinatown.

“The community has been growing but the recreation facilities have not grown along with it,” Yep continues. “The community center will allow us to have programs we never had before and be a safe environment for children to go to for recreation.”

The impact that consulting services provided by FMC can have on an organization, both for-profit and nonprofit, can be of great value. 

“Many of these organizations are passionate about their cause and sometimes could use additional help with business strategy and financial implications to be successful,” says FMC Project Executive Louise Tritton. “It’s definitely a win-win for students and clients.”

At the request of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), the

Chinatown Iconic Sign
The community center is designed to be a vibrant cultural center of wellness, education and recreation for the Chinatown community. Photo by Karen Naylor

consulting team worked to identify sustainable revenue streams that align with the center’s mission and the community’s needs.

“Financial stability for the center is going to be hard to figure out,” Yep says. “There are costs, including administrative, that need to be covered. We are looking at ways to accomplish that so the center is here for a long time.”

Having a concrete project for students to work on brings to ground the lessons and experience FMC is trying to deliver.

“I work hard with the students to differentiate between an academic paper and a report to a client,” Tritton says. “Those reports involve clear thinking, good logic and professional effort. Oftentimes students say they won’t do consulting work (in a future job), but I point out they are always going to be part of a team where they will need excellent communication skills, writing skills and preparation. I stress to them consulting work is important and has an impact.”

MBA student Taras Smerechanskyy believes his FMC learning experience stretches far beyond what most people expect when working on a business plan.

“There was a deeper meaning on many levels,” he says. “We were helping the community retain its culture and identity, and that was a powerful thing. The stakes were high. This wasn’t just about a business and its finances; it was a project that really has an impact and creates something new for Chinatown. Everyone working on the project understood how important the work being done was to this community.”

The community center, with its focus on bettering the lives of all Chinatown residents by providing social, educational and recreational opportunities, brings great satisfaction to Yep.

“To me, it’s the completion of what this community needs; it’s the epitome of our development projects,” she says. “In the past, there has been a lot of focus on housing in the community. It became time to think of recreation. Now we will have a safe environment for children to go and enjoy.”

Inside Out Stock photo

The challenges of communicating a program’s impact to stakeholders is the focus of “The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program: Impact on Stakeholders,” a case study published this month by Fox Management Consulting Managing Director and Fox Professor TL Hill, Fox MBA alumna Rebecca DeWhitt, current Fox student Claire Thanh Tran and Fox Associate Professor Lynne Andersson.

The case revolves around the question of how to satisfy funders’ demands for quantitative measures of the impact of specific types of prison education being provided by The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, an international network of educators who facilitate university-level courses in prisons. The courses serve combined classes of incarcerated individuals and university students.

Achieving the goal of quantitative measurement is difficult, the case explains, because program results have long been based not on available statistics but rather on stories gathered from student surveys and anecdotes from correctional institutions revealing improved behavior and increased leadership. 

The Inside-Out Center recognized the need for measurement in order to secure a steady stream of funds in an increasingly competitive environment. It also sought to find a cost-effective and culturally appropriate way to measure and communicate the program’s impact on its many stakeholders.

The case, suitable for both undergraduate and graduate-level classes, provides the data necessary to help students learn and apply impact measurement tools such as the logic model of change and the social return on investment (SROI) to the management of mission-led organizations.

It also provides a context to discuss stakeholder management and the roles of measurement and storytelling in aligning stakeholders with conflicting interests and agendas. Finally, the case provides an opportunity to discuss some of the thorny ethical and economic issues surrounding prison policies and practices.

To obtain a copy of the study for class use, go to: https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=104742

TL Hill presentation
TL Hill, Managing Director at Fox Management Consulting and The Center for Executive Education, describes the collaborative project between Flinders University and Temple University.

Engaging a community and its leaders to build an innovative, entrepreneurial workforce is a huge challenge. However, Flinders University’s New Venture Institute (NVI), with support from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has done just that — and the momentum is not showing signs of slowing down.

NVI’s work has helped grow more than 32 businesses, train more than 3,000 students and workers and implement an entrepreneurial curriculum in a region hit hard by the closing of a Mitsubishi plant in Adelaide, the capital city in the state of South Australia.

Matt Salier, Director at the New Venture Institute, TL Hill, Managing Director at Fox Management Consulting and The Center for Executive Education and Michelle Histand, Director of Independence Blue Cross Innovation, outlined NVI’s journey during their May 28 presentation “Transforming an Innovation Ecosystem in South Australia (or Looking Far Afield to Find Inspiration at Home).”

Universities have a responsibility to train the next workforce through an adaptable, enterprising curriculum, Hill says. In 2013, Flinders embarked on its mission of creating a path to innovative thinking that would benefit not only the university but also the 1.2 million residents who lived in the surrounding community.

Because of Fox’s strong business curriculum and the demographic similarities between Adelaide and Philadelphia, the partnership with Flinders seemed a natural fit. Fox Management Consulting used its expertise to help bring Flinders University’s vision for the future of education to life.

The key to being transformative in education is to be more industry-led, recognizing how businesses are developing and making adjustments to move forward.

“The research is to put industries’ needs at the center and say what is needed to be successful in the future. We tried to take that model to Flinders as well,” Hill says.

With an early framework in mind, Flinders brought 1,000 business people together to think about what competencies should be driving the university’s transformation as it moved toward being more innovative and entrepreneurial in its overall educational offerings.

“We believe that innovation stretches across all disciplines,” Histand says. “So the idea was not to do ‘innovation instead’ but to do ‘innovation with.’”

New Venture Institute successfully worked with government officials to create “entrepreneurial schools” where curriculum built around innovative thinking begins early in a student’s development.

“We better be working with the supply chain of students coming through, particularly from elementary (what Australia calls high school), but even beyond that,” Salier says.

Hill envisions bringing the work being done at Flinders back to Temple and the city at large.

Both Flinders and Temple recognize the importance of being good community partners, he said. To do that, it’s important to recognize the need to “keep one foot in the university setting and one foot in the community.”

Flinders is working with cities located near the campus to think more creatively in working with residents, businesses and industries to improve conditions.

“There are a range of things that have enabled us to have more of an impact in moving the needle on economic areas outside of our own closeted world of the university,” he said.

What is important to keep in mind, Salier said, is to keep pushing the edge of what is possible.

In 2017, charitable giving exceeded $410 billion across America. Out of that total, individuals donated $286.65 billion and corporate giving amounted to $20.77 billion.

In 2016, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the nation’s first children’s hospital and a nonprofit organization, received five million dollars from the Wawa Foundation, Wawa Inc.’s nonprofit corporation dedicated to philanthropic ventures and charitable giving, which went towards the development of the Wawa Volunteer Center in CHOP.

Why did Wawa invest that much into the volunteer program, and why is philanthropy such a large part of the maintenance of nonprofit organizations? Neil Batiancila, the featured guest speaker for the February 9th Fox Board Fellows meeting, explains the motivations behind individual and corporate philanthropy while detailing his own experience in the field.

Batiancila, a 2011 Fox MBA graduate, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Political Science in 1999, but instead of pursuing an expected career path, he began his philanthropic journey as an Americorps member.

After spending a year in Philadelphia as a volunteer teaching elementary students at the Hartranft John F. School, he joined City Year, an educational nonprofit located in Boston, and stayed there for 10 years as Co-Executive Director of the Philadelphia branch.

He worked for Aramark, a food service corporation, as Director of Community Relations for a period of time before joining CHOP’s staff as their Executive Director of Campaign Operations, and stayed there for 7 years. In March 2017 he received an offer for the position of the Chief Development Officer at Philadelphia Zoo and has been working there since the beginning of 2019.

Batiancila’s philanthropic nature stems from the environment in which he grew up. Both of his parents were physicians and immigrants who gave back to their communities in the Philippines. His father returned to the Philippines to fundraise for the implementation of a critical care facility on the island where his older brother and best friend passed away without access to any local emergency care resources. With these kinds of values embedded in his family, Batiancila went on to work for several nonprofits following the same kind of giving nature.

In order to successfully draw in potential donors and those who are willing to give, Batiancila encourages nonprofits to provide an experience that inspires a deeper connection with the nonprofit’s purpose and to find those who can personally connect to the values of the organization.

Batiancila mentions the importance of building a strong fundraising infrastructure that is able to help the organization grow its donor pool and maintain its current givers.

“One of the hallmarks of strong corporate philanthropy is to facilitate workplace giving, and to develop this philanthropic culture within the organization,” Batiancila explains. “Like anything in the world, if you want people to do the right thing you have to make it easier for them to do so.”

When CHOP launched a 2-year campaign the first to know and the first to celebrate were the employees. They wanted to make sure that the employees were included first and foremost to show that they held significance in the decisions and they were cherished enough for the hospital to share and celebrate this news with them first. The hospital makes a point to emphasize their employees’ value, and in doing so bolsters employee morale so that workplace giving is not so much enforced as it is an act of appreciation.

One of the reasons for charitable giving on both the individual and corporate forefront is to make a difference and for the altruistic sense of self-empowerment that comes with any kind of philanthropy. Giving to the greater good is the heart of philanthropy.

“Most people are charitable in this country, they give because the plate comes across on Sunday. It’s part of the ethics of America to give forward to other communities,” Batiancila said. “When people are appreciative of their experience, they like to express that and share it through philanthropy,”

On the corporate side, there are tax incentives to philanthropic giving, with the Educational Income Tax Credit program, which reimburses the money spent giving to nonprofits. It is an effective opportunity to advertise their company and create brand awareness at a much cheaper price.

Charitable giving also reinforces the alignment of goals and brand values that will benefit the business. Doing well by doing good, says Batiancila, is a branch of cause marketing. Aligning the corporation with a nonprofit that fits its values is a smart business investment.

Giving to a nonprofit also opens doors for company networking, the more organizations the corporation is exposed to, the stronger its community network. Strength is your reputation, Batiancila says.

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“People are funny about money,” said Corinne O’Connell, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia.

On November 3rd, 2018, Fox Board Fellows hosted a workshop to address the struggles of nonprofit fundraising.

As the featured guest speaker, O’Connell brought her twenty plus years of experience in the field of fundraising to share with the MBA students by presenting her strategic thought process when asking for donations.

O’Connell presenting her opening remarks, and a picture of her and the child that inspired her to commit to the nonprofit community.

“The nonprofit world is being challenged,” said Ellen Marshall. As an advisor for Fox Management Consulting and Strategic Clarity Advisors, Marshall has been working in the nonprofit realm for over twenty years, and attended the workshop in order to better understand the Fox Board Fellows program.  “For nonprofits to meet the growing needs and address this massive game-changing changes, it can’t be like it was back in the day.”

One of the most pressing obstacles when managing a nonprofit is maintaining financial stability. Money is a very sensitive issue, which makes it especially difficult for board directors when asking for donations and allocations from individuals and large organizations. In addressing this issue, and reinvigorating the purpose of the nonprofit’s endeavor, O’Connell spoke about how she manages to keep her purpose clear and strong while persuading potential donors to believe in her cause.

Her nonprofit Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia was established in 1985 as an independently chartered branch of Habitat for Humanity International, the largest home building nonprofit organization in the world.

Graduate Student members enrolled in the Fox Board Fellows program attentively listening to O’Connell’s advice

“There is never enough money, and there is entirely too much need,” O’Connell said. “To put that need into context, 800 people call us a month. 800 people. We’re right now building 12 houses a year and repairing 100.”

As a member of the board for a nonprofit, fiscal responsibility is central to managing a successful organization, because nonprofits aren’t in business for monetary profit, they fundraise for a cause.

As CEO, O’Connell spends about half of her time asking donors for monetary support. The concept of fundraising is central to the survival of not for profit organizations, allowing them to fully provide for their community.

In her explanation of how to successfully fundraise, O’Connell emphasized the importance of maintaining existing relationships in order to foster strong donor loyalty. She asserted that, for most people, numbers and statistics are not convincing enough to connect them to the cause. There needs to be an underlying purpose that the potential donor can connect to, a cause that they can identify with, reflected in their own lives.

Ellen Marshall attended the meeting to learn more about the Fox Board Fellows program and to understand how to better fundraise for a nonprofit

“You know what works? Empathy,” O’Connell said. “You gotta make a connection with people, you gotta create empathy, and you have to have people feel and know that they are empowered and that their gift counts.”

To create these connections, she suggested treating any kind of support with the same level of gratitude as with a large six figure donation. Empathy is the reason people will care about a nonprofit’s cause. “The why. That is why people give,” O’Connell said. “Start with the why, and it’s a personal thing.”

O’Connell’s speech heavily focused on the necessity to create interpersonal connections and build a relationship with the potential donor, in which effective communication and having a strong sense of the organization’s purpose will lead to success.

“She presents Habitat in such a way where she hones it down and says this is how you can help, by supporting this organization and talking about the breadth and depth of what they do, not just that they do it,” Marshall said about O’Connell’s presentation. “Telling that story and talking about what it means to have a passion or drive simplifies that complexity and helps people understand that they can act.”

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Horns blare. A moped pushes its way into the visual anarchy of West Bengal traffic. The sun beats down through a thick haze of pollution. Meanwhile, four Fox School MBA students thread their way onto a side street.

The students stop at a small building in the heart of Kolkata, the international headquarters of Sari Bari. Through Fox Management Consulting they are here to help Sari Bari operate more efficiently and increase the revenues that fund their social mission of helping women who are stuck in, or at risk of entering, the sex trafficking industry in India.

“One of their biggest tasks is workforce development,” says Austin Litteral, an MBA student who worked on the project. “It can take a full year to help a woman rehabilitate physically and emotionally to the point where they can work.” Among other skills, the women often need basic reading and writing skills so they can sign their names and fill out standard forms.

When the women are ready, they are taught to sew to reshape second-hand Saris into brilliantly colored blankets and handbags. Younger women are employed to make the kanthas, traditional Indian blankets sewn from layers of retired saris.

Kantha blankets require long, straight lines of cutting and hand sewing which can be difficult for older women with less dexterous hands. To address this, Litteral explains, “Sari Bari introduced a new line of clutches years ago which required shorter cuts and were easier for the older women to sew.”

West Bengal has no shortage of the vibrant saris Sari Bari uses to make their popular kantha blankets.

Planning new products to better serve employee needs is one of the many adaptions Sari Bari has made in order to balance its social and financial priorities. For the MBA students accustomed to addressing only one bottom line, the project was a lesson in creating synergies.

Litteral recalls, “At one point we suggested to management that they restructure workflow for efficiency, and they responded, ‘If we do that, it will open up more warehouse space for us to hire more women.’ Those were the terms they were thinking in.”

Louis M. Tritton served as the project executive for the Fox MC team, utilizing her years of experience in ecological consulting to offer recommendations and support. She noted that, given the unique demands of Sari Bari’s work, her team couldn’t simply consult from home.

“The Fox team immediately recognized the value of visiting the production sites, talking with sewers and managers, and observing the business in person,” Tritton said. “The trip to Kolkata made their recommendations practical and feasible.”

The team provided Sari Bari with a model for tracking costs and managing outputs more effectively, as well as recommended pricing and process improvements that should allow Sari Bari to meet and grow the sizable demand for their products.

Litteral’s teammate, Dorie Heald, said the project utilized the breadth of her MBA training. “HR, production, marketing, logistics, managerial accounting—we got to use all of that in our project. Plus, it felt good to know our changes would ultimately help Sari Bari employ more women.”

Back in Kolkata, a door opens. The students step into a room filled with women’s voices and brightly colored cloth. Like the women themselves, the students are hopeful that each piece they pull together will help Sari Bari become a stronger, more cohesive whole.

Fox Management consulting has completed over a hundred projects for non-profits, start-ups, and businesses around the world. Connect with us to learn what we can do for you.
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You probably already know Pennsylvania is the mushroom growing capital of the world, that it’s flush with cows and laying hens, and that each year it ships jaw-dropping quantities of potato chips and pretzels.

But did you know the state is the top producer nationwide for export-grade hardwoods? How about that it boasts the top horse breeding farms in the country? Or that it ranks second in the nation for organic farm sales?

A comprehensive new report by Fox Management Consulting (involving 50 students, and 5 advisors) and Econsult Solutions, commissioned by Team Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, examines threats and opportunities facing agriculture in Pennsylvania. With $136 billion in yearly output and over 9-percent of all PA jobs, the future of the sector is intimately tied to the future of the commonwealth.

Changing Consumer Preferences

Customers, like agriculture, are changing. Bill Black, who oversaw the Fox Management Consulting class which accompanied the project, remarked, “I don’t think anyone realized the level of consumer interest in organics and local. It’s just one of the things that crept up on the marketplace.”

Between 2012 and 2016, production of organics in Pennsylvania more than doubled, topping $659 million in 2016. Yet many farmers are still reluctant to adopt organics, unsure if the trend will stick.

Meanwhile, some consumers are moving away from dairy altogether. In the last few years, milk dumping became a major concern for farmers across the nation as consumers moved towards alternative products, like soy and almond milk.

Bill Kitsch works closely with farmers in his role as vice president and agricultural lending manager with PA-based Ephrata National Bank. He worked as an advisor on the project and says the agricultural sector faces unique constraints in adjusting to changing demand.

“Farmers have to make decisions about how many hens to buy or how many cows to bring to milk 18 to 24 months in advance.” Kitsch explains this long time horizon makes it difficult for farmers to be agile as consumer preferences are in flux.

The report also pointed out that Pennsylvania lacks sufficient milk and protein processing facilities. This leaves farmers trucking milk long distances, decreasing its shelf life, increasing costs for farmers, and reducing the economic benefits to the state.

To better support farmers, Fox MC and Econsult recommended increasing processing capacity within the state, education opportunities, and financial support for farmers as they adjust their operations to line up with demand.

Opportunities for Marketing Collaboration

Even as farmers wrestle with organics, Pennsylvania is already well-positioned to respond to another consumer trend. With 88.3-percent of state farms owned by families or individuals and more than half selling less than $10,000 each year, the state is primed to meet consumer demand for traceable and local food.

The PA preferred brand, approved in 2004 and enacted in 2011, already markets the state’s agricultural wealth. The report argues that PA Preferred should shift its brand identity to become even more synonymous with local goods and traceable food.

PA Preferred Brews, launched in 2017, is a subsection of PA Preferred aimed at supporting Pennsylvania’s $5.8 billion brewing industry. To qualify, breweries must brew in, and use agricultural commodities from, Pennsylvania. In addition to providing branding, the program promotes branded taps, handles, and coasters at venues across the state and has partnered with the Penn State Extension to further support local hops growers.

Programs like PA Preferred create increased value for food manufacturers, producers, and consumers. Through continuing to innovate under this brand, PA can bring new growth and synergies to other sectors with agriculture.

Building the Next Generation of Farmers

While marketing, education, and incentives are helpful in supporting farmers, the state faces another challenge. With 75,000 new and replacement jobs opening in the sector in the next decade, accounting for approximately 2-percent of all state jobs, developing a new agricultural workforce is a major concern.

“There aren’t enough young farmers because they see how hard their parents and grandparents are working and they see how little they’re making,” explains Black. “If the Department of Agriculture can help farmers be more profitable, then the industry would be more attractive to younger farmers.”

Increasing automation is driving a need for STEM skills within agriculture. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has encouraged several programs to support education, including the Jobs that Pay Apprenticeship Program for STEM Jobs in Agriculture, introduced by the Wolfe Administration in 2017.

The report also encourages loan forgiveness programs for high-shortage careers like large animal veterinarians, increases in agricultural education in existing STEM programs, and exploration of an ex-offender to work program to alleviate workforce shortages.

From climate change to new technologies, consumer preferences to workforce shortages, this analysis from Fox MC and Econsult Solutions highlights that many things about the future of Pennsylvania agriculture are uncertain. Yet when it comes to the strategic importance of the sector for Pennsylvania, and the significant impact that state policies and incentives will have on its future, the report leaves little room for doubt.

Fox Management Consulting completes multiple high-value projects each year for corporations, SME’s, start-ups, and non-profits. Put our dedicated MBA teams and experienced industry advisors to work on your next strategic challenge.
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Miriam Rosenhaus, Jessica Rothstein, and Josh Caton of Bucket.

Jessica Rothstein describes herself in many ways.

“I’m a confident problem solver. I gravitate toward problems that are meaningful to me. And I’m not afraid to fail.”

One word is notably absent from the Fox MBA’s self-description. “I don’t think of entrepreneurship as a personality trait,” Rothstein explains. “Everyone is entrepreneurial these days—it’s what the workforce is calling for.”

Rothstein may not use the word herself, but of all the careers she tried, entrepreneurship was the one that stuck. “I studied mechanical engineering at Lafayette College, and by the time I was a sophomore I realized I didn’t want to be an engineer,” she says. She stayed engaged in her education by designing a water filtration system for a small community . “We tested it with a family in Haiti,” she recalls, but decided against pursuing the project after graduation.

Instead, Rothstein worked as a consultant, helping companies design better products and use their resources more efficiently. “I did that for about two years, and one day I got a call asking if I wanted to play lacrosse for the Israeli national team,” she says, laughing. “Someone was going to pay me to travel the world. How could I say no?”

Israel was an incredible adventure full of new experiences, but Rothstein was still the same problem-solving adept. “The organization that hired me was trying to develop the sport of lacrosse in Israel,” she says. “At that time, they were growing very quickly but their structures weren’t built for that growth.” Rothstein became the interim director of business development and helped the organization restructure to accommodate that growth.

Meanwhile, Rothstein was also working on a personal problem. “I loved Israel but I missed my friends! Social media lets you talk with people, but I missed sharing experiences,” she recalls. Rothstein started sending her friends scavenger hunt-style tasks to complete. After each task they would send her pictures and stories, allowing them to build new experiences together from across the world.

“When I came home in 2016 my friends and I realized we were on to something,” Rothstein says. Bucket was born, a mobile application designed to bridge the gap between digital communication and in-person connection.

In 2016, Rothstein decided to pursue her MBA. “I was looking for places that had resources for a start-up business,” she recalls. Rothstein had heard of Ellen Weber, executive director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at the Fox School. “Ellen was one of the first early-stage investors in Philly, and she is a leader in the investor scene here,” Rothstein says. “I knew that I wanted to work for her and get to know her.”

Rothstein found the connections she was looking for at Fox. She began working for Weber at Robin Hood Ventures, a network of angel investors that Weber runs. Her team continued developing Bucket, winning the Laura Bush Seed Fund Grant from Temple University and receiving over 1,000 social media likes in one week.

Rothstein has even had opportunities to use her experience to help other companies through Fox. As part of her MBA capstone through Fox Management Consulting she worked with bSafe, a mobile safety application which allows users to quickly notify friends and family when they have safety concerns.

“Tangibly and intangibly Bucket mirrored bSafe. Starting a business always has some of the same aspects and ambiguity,” Rothstein explains. “You are constantly sprinting in one direction and hitting a wall, so you go the other way. You never know what you’re going to hit, so you’re also trying 50 different angles. That’s the mindset you have to have when you’re working on a project like bSafe because the problem will change every day.”

bSafe engaged Rothstein and her colleagues to design a market launch strategy for the app and create an investor deck, which Rothstein was uniquely positioned to do. Through her work at Robin Hood Ventures, Rothstein reviews dozens of new business proposals each week, deciding which projects will pass to the next stage.

“I have exposure to 40+ incredible people in that network who are early-stage investors and take the time to explain their decisions to me, and have trust in me,” Rothstein says. “That has given me some tangible skills that I was able to use with bSafe.”

MBA student teams work with project executives, experienced professionals with specific expertise in each project area. “I’ve worked with two incredible project executives-Nicole Naumoff last semester and Tess Kristensen this semester. In some ways, I’ve learned more from them than from the actual projects,” Rothstein says.

Rothstein has also loved working with her MBA cohort. “The Temple program is not the typical MBA class of former consultants and bankers. Every person in our class comes from a different background and is passionate about something different. That’s the number one thing I’ve really enjoyed.”

This spring as Rothstein graduates she will be entering a rotational program with Comcast and preparing to launch Bucket publicly, but she already knows that more start-ups are in her future.

“My dream is to open a theme park run completely on kinetic energy that serves people with physical disabilities-a therapeutic theme park. Overcoming physical challenges is hard work and I’d like to help people who are on that journey.”

Call her what you will—problem solving, curious, visionary, or entrepreneurial—Rothstein bears watching. Wherever she goes you can bet that innovative solutions to nagging problems will follow close behind.

Hundreds of dedicated MBA students like Jessica Rothstein pass through Fox’s doors each year. Put their energy and experience to work on your next business challenge through Fox Management Consulting.
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What do jazz musicians Billie Holiday, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Grover Washington Jr. have in common?

Holiday’s resonant tones were just babbling when she moved to Philadelphia as a toddler. Tyner’s strong left hand, distinctive in his low piano bass lines, could barely depress a piano key when he was born here in 1938. Brown, Gillespie, and Coltrane each made Philly their home during formative years of their adult lives. Washington even called Temple University home, receiving his doctorate in music composition from the School of Music.

These musicians also shared the struggle of being African American in a world that condoned segregation. Barred from Local 77, Philadelphia’s largest musician’s union, African American musicians banded together to form Union 274 in 1935 with distinguished members like Gillespie, Coltrane, and Nina Simone. In 1966, the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts opened as the Union’s social hub, becoming a regular destination for jazz greats Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Max Roach. The Clef Club was the first facility ever designed specifically for jazz, and today continues to preserve Philadelphia’s incredible jazz legacy.Fox graduate Meco Sparks became very familiar with the Philadelphia Clef Club in the spring of 2016 while participating in her MBA capstone project. Through Fox Management Consulting, multi-disciplinary MBA teams are paired with experienced professional advisors to complete strategy consulting engagements for businesses, non-profits, and start-ups. (To complete a project with Fox Management Consulting reach out to us today.) 

Sparks looked for team members with diverse strengths and compatible working styles. “My team worked really well together,” she recalls. “Everyone carried their workload, and our meetings always involved lots of laughter.” The team applied to work with the Clef Club because they recognized the project would be rewarding. “We knew right from the beginning that our team would have a big impact.”

The Clef Club engaged Fox MC to design a five-year strategic plan. Sparks quickly discovered a staff that was deeply engaged in the organization’s mission.“They were passionate about music, jazz, and kids,” she recalls. They were looking for help translating that passion into a sustainable business plan. “No one on their staff had a business background,” says Sparks. The Fox MC team provided that background, drawing on career experience in finance, marketing, and management, in addition to their MBA coursework.

Sparks and her team worked to measure each of the Clef Club’s five programs against its mission and revenue needs. Their recommendations included increased opportunities for partnership and funding, guidelines for developing a sustainable organizational structure, and growth plans for crucial programming central to their mission. “The project really pulled in all of my MBA experience,” says Sparks. “We worked with the board, executive leadership team; we got to step back and analyze the problem from a high level.”

Fox MC has completed over a hundred projects in the non-profit sector, but this one remains special. “The thing that was so elating to me,” says Clef Club artistic director Lovett Hines, “was that the students were so interested in what we were doing. It has been a tremendous marriage.”

The partnership with the Clef Club continues. This fall, Fox MC completes their third project with the organization to implement the recommendations made by Sparks’ team. Sparks herself enjoyed the project so much she joined their advisory board at the start of 2017. “We spent a lot of time organizing and visiting. They were very open to us,” she says. “It inspired me to stay involved.”

Fox MC has generated more than $42 million in new donations and grants for the non-profits we’ve worked with. Put our strategy consulting teams to work for your non-profit today.

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