It’s not always easy to get business professionals to quickly reach a consensus.
“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.
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
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.”
As the way we do business evolves faster than ever, leaders need to be prepared. Employees look to their senior executives for confidence, guidance and direction—especially in times of change. But being a leader means nothing unless people choose to follow, and people generally choose to follow those in whom they believe. “It all hinges on the leader’s credibility,” says Lynne Andersson, associate professor of human resource management at the Fox School.
The Power of Perception
Andersson’s previous research started by identifying behaviors that make employees cynical towards their leaders. She identified two key factors in credibility: perceived competence and perceived trustworthiness. Both elements are dependent upon outsiders’ viewpoints—whether or not they believe in the leader’s skills, knowledge, values and dependability.
“These perceptions are extremely important in the digital age,” explains Andersson. With so much information available to be collected and scrutinized, from social networks to artificial intelligence, people may have concerns about who is in control. “Employees want to know that those who are managing them and assessing their performance are competent and trustworthy.”
After having started the research around the question of cynicism, Andersson reversed the point of view. She and her colleagues conducted research studies, gathering feedback from blue- and white-collar workers located all over the country over the course of three years, to identify specific actions that leaders can take to improve credibility with their employees.
Building Credibility, Projecting Competence
Leaders who emphasize the future were seen as the most competent by their employees. “Creating clear plans for future success is different than simply stating a strategic vision or setting performance targets,” Andersson notes. “It involves mapping out, in detail, how the organization will achieve its goals.” Keeping on top of industry trends, predicting upcoming changes and having clear ideas of how to respond to both are other ways for leaders to demonstrate their visions for the future.
Employees value leaders who demonstrate a focus on organizational outcomes but who also attach those outcomes to an individual’s job. “It’s important to convey that an employee’s work affects the whole organization,” Andersson advises. “Employees attribute competence to leaders who can make those connections.”
Competent leaders also look for ways to improve their organization’s operations. “You can consider eliminating unnecessary reporting structures, reducing spending waste, establishing new roles or investing in technology that improves business effectiveness,” Andersson says.
She also advised against putting too much emphasis on credentials. “In our meritocratic world, we love credentials—but people in our study did not equate credentials with competence. Leaders had to prove it through their actions or behaviors, not their resume.”
The most important step to take when trying to project trustworthiness is speaking and acting consistently. “To begin, it means making decisions that aren’t contradictory,” says Andersson. “But it also means behaving in a way that aligns with promises, explicit or unspoken.” Leaders should deeply understand all of their stakeholders’ needs in order to prevent potential conflicts.
Leaders that embody the organization’s vision and values are also regarded as highly trustworthy, according to the research. “Employees want to see consistency between the walk and talk.” Andersson encourages senior executives to be mindful of both their professional and personal values, as employees are watching closely to verify authenticity.
According to the research, employees were more trusting of leaders who valued them. “While you may prioritize your employees in your words, make sure that employees are recognized,” says Andersson. “Show how important your employees through things like rewards and plum assignments.”
Insights for Better Leaders
How can senior executives apply this research on the job? Andersson notes that leaders should be cognizant to two main points. First, the good outweighs the bad—sometimes. “When regarding competence,” says Andersson, “people tend to weigh positive information more heavily than negative information.” This means that one competent action may be a good signal of reliability to a leader’s employees. However, the opposite is true for trustworthiness; one dishonest statement or unethical action can make employees lose faith.
Second, restoring credibility is difficult, but not impossible. “To regain lost credibility, leaders must reestablish positive expectations,” Andersson advises. “This means they must repeatedly engage in trustworthy acts since a single act won’t mean much.” By focusing on the actions outlined by Andersson and her colleagues, leaders can slowly build back that relationship.
Credibility in Action
Actions speak louder than words, and according to Andersson, these are the most important things leaders should do to increase their credibility amongst employees.
What Do Competent Leaders Do?
- Emphasize the future
- Prioritize employees
- Take action and initiative
- Communicate effectively
- Gain knowledge and experience
What Do Trustworthy Leaders Do?
- Communicate and act in a consistent manner
- Protect the organization and employees
- Embody the organization’s vision and values
- Consult with and listen to key stakeholders
- Communicate openly with others
- Value employees
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
“Nano-marketing” is more than just a buzzword—it’s a way for companies to capitalize on the current trend of personalized and authentic marketing.
As the millennial generation has grown—both in size and purchasing power—to be the largest demographic segment in the country, companies are trying hard to gain their attention. “As a whole, this group of 80 million prefers photos and mini-videos that are visually appealing and can be processed quickly,” says Jay I. Sinha, associate professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School. “That is part of the reason why we’ve seen a tremendous surge in the popularity of visual platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube, among others.”
Together with Thomas Fung, assistant professor of instruction, Sinha advises the “Right Way to Market to Millennials.”
Who are Micro-Influencers?
It may seem like everyone is “Insta-famous” these days. Micro-influencers are social media personalities who have cultivated their defined brand and fan base, typically between 1,000 and 100,000 people, with very specific areas of focus.
For example, Melissa Alam, BBA ’10, a brand strategist, shares her recommendations for food and drink locations around Philadelphia. She has cultivated relationships with companies like Starr Restaurants and Drink Nation to arrange giveaways of gift cards and event tickets for her 11,000 followers on Instagram. “I’ve been hired as an influencer and worked with many large brands,” says Alam. “I share all sides of my life so that people can relate to me both online and offline if they meet me in person.”
“Micro-influencers bring credibility and authenticity,” says Fung, “typically due to their extroverted nature, relatability, and genuine passion in some niche field.” In Alam’s case, her followers may see her as a real person with insider knowledge and honest advice. “The internet is full of people showing off lavish lifestyles or reaching unattainable goals for the average person,” says Alam. “It’s so important to stay genuine, authentic and true to yourself and your personal brand if you’re trying to attract an honest following.” The grassroots feeling of this kind of marketing allows companies to address the unique needs of individuals through their relationships with micro-influencers.
Advice to Companies
So what do companies need to know to take advantage of this new kind of marketing?
1. Micro-influencers have their own brands and followers with very specific interests.
“They provide opportunities for companies, big and small, to reach out to narrow and often difficult-to-access sub-populations,” says Sinha. For example, he shares that GE used micro-influencers to help find and recruit female technology specialists for the company.
2. Micro-influencers are accomplished and personable storytellers.
Millennials relate well to storytelling. “The best micro-influencers bring in their own personal narratives that mesh well with the brands they endorse,” says Fung. Micro-influencers have been able to build up their own personal brand by leveraging this skill, so companies should encourage sponsored influencers to incorporate their products or services into their own authentic narrative.
3. Micro-influencers are not direct marketers.
Traditional marketers may feel that the sponsored content is not coming across in an obvious way. But with micro-influencers, their endorsements should never feel forced. “Micro-influencers have finessed the subtle ‘nudge’ into an art form,” says Sinha. He notes that many influencers will refuse to accept relationships with brands or companies that are contrary to their own beliefs or interests, which would damage their credibility with their followers.
Beware of Inauthenticity
The biggest pitfall companies should avoid is appearing inauthentic. Millennials are discerning and skeptical consumers who will turn away quickly from a brand or company that they feel are trying too hard or selling out. “Young, creative micro-influencers know their audience well,” says Sinha. “Let them guide the positioning of the product.”
By diligently finding the right micro-influencer to sponsor, companies of all sizes can cultivate marketing relationships that are interactive, personalized and authentic with the millennial generation.
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
In July 2019, Sudipta Basu was appointed the Fox School’s new associate dean of research and doctoral programs. He explains his past, present and future relationship with research at the Fox School, and how research affects the future of work.
Can you share a bit about your background? Why were you originally interested in accounting?
I grew up in big cities all over India (Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi in that order), earning a BA (Honours) in Economics at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and an MBA in economics, finance and accounting at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. My family members have many PhDs including a grandfather (mathematics), uncles (statistics, history and English) and first cousin (astrophysics), so an academic life was always considered a respectable—and even praiseworthy—choice.
I first studied accounting in grades 9 and 10 and found it quite hard to follow initially. But once I realized how double-entry bookkeeping worked, and that simple algebra revealed the intangible value created by transactions, I was hooked.
What are some of your major goals as dean of research and doctoral programs?
Fox produces lots of high-quality research and one of my main goals is to make our research more visible locally and internationally.
I would also like to collaborate with the Digital Scholarship Center at the Temple library to introduce our students and faculty to new cutting-edge digital tools that could help them stand out in the research world. Most importantly, I want to change our research culture so that we can talk about how our new ideas improve people’s lives and not merely about where they were published. I want to focus on explaining the who, what, when, where, why and how of a particular research project’s impact.
What role has research played in shaping your career?
For me, research is a vocation rather than a career, meaning that I enjoy and value its creativity and life-long learning aspects so much that I largely ignore the future monetary and status rewards. As my wife puts it, I often go to sleep thinking about research and wake up in the morning still thinking about research. I pursue big questions that excite me, such as why accounting exists or what our world would be like if double-entry bookkeeping had not emerged, even if this research cannot be published in our top journals. I am constantly scanning blogs, conferences and journals for questions and tools that I can use in my research, so I am a big consumer of research, not just a producer.
How would you like to see Fox School research evolve in the future?
As its former research director, I strongly support the Translational Research Center’s efforts to make Fox School research more relevant to all our stakeholders—other academics, practitioners, students, policymakers and our local communities. I would like more of our faculty, students, alumni and staff to engage in research and to describe their findings in top academic journals AND in less traditional venues such as op-eds, letters to the editor, blogs, TED talks, undergraduate and practitioner journals, etc. Ultimately, I want Fox School faculty, staff, alumni and students to be more widely regarded as thought leaders in business research.
What role does research play in business schools?
Most business schools promote faculty and student research to increase our shared knowledge. Business schools’ missions usually shape the type of research they support. At research-intensive schools like Fox, rigorous empirical and theoretical research takes pride of place. At teaching-oriented schools, pedagogical and practice-oriented research is valued more than theoretical research.
Where is the largest intersection of research and industry in the future of work?
Researchers dream up the technologies, products, business models and organizational forms of the future. Every technological advance frees people from doing some kinds of routine work, which are delegated to animals, machines, and now computers. The freed-up workers can better use their minds to make higher quality and unique products and services that were too earlier too costly to market.
How can companies work with Fox School researchers?
Companies can learn from the new ideas developed by Fox School researchers and conversely inform them about changing realities in the marketplace. Ideally, we would develop a virtuous cycle wherein firms identify emerging problems, researchers propose alternative solutions, firms try these out in practice and observe how well they work and provide feedback, which in turn lets researchers refine their prescriptions.
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Will robots replace humans at work?
As technology evolves, this question has been on the minds of many. For repetitive jobs, some are already automated. But managers and supervisors, whose jobs require higher levels of cognitive ability, should be safe—right?
Xue Guo and Zhi Cheng, two doctoral students in the Fox School’s Department of Management Information Systems, studied how the new technologies like TaskRabbit, a leading online platform to find immediate help for everyday tasks, have affected managerial-level jobs.
In analyzing data from the housekeeping industry, Guo and Cheng found a 2.9 percent decrease in the total number of offline full-time workers after the platform’s introduction—a drop mainly driven by a decrease in the number of frontline supervisors and managers.
Effects of Digital Management
The evolution of the gig economy—and the subsequent digital platforms—has created new opportunities for those searching for work. ‘Gigs’ allow people to be more selective about the employers they want to work for, receive relatively higher pay and choose from a field of work options. Even employers enjoy the flexibility of recruiting extra help as needed, reducing fixed labor costs and presenting them with options for specialized skills.
So how do these platforms change the rules of the workplace, especially for management?
To answer that question, the researchers integrated data from TaskRabbit, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, aiming to better understand the impact of the gig economy for routine cognitive workers versus manual workers.
“After the entry of TaskRabbit,” says Guo, “we observed a 5.5 percent decrease in first-line managerial jobs.” Manual workers, such as cleaners and janitors, were not as affected. This suggests that the platform mostly affected middle-skill management, whose primary tasks were to arrange and schedule service in the housekeeping industry.
Managers Moving to TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit reduced the demand for offline managers in the industry by directly connecting some of the tech-savvy cleaners to their clients. According to Guo, the detailed information about clients’ requirements and workers’ qualifications “allows them to connect with each other at lower search costs.”
Not all managers who left the industry were replaced by robots, however. Supervisors who were skilled in using technology could move to these digital platforms, giving them more freedom in an online role. “On TaskRabbit, managers could recruit and supervise regular cleaners more efficiently,” reasons Guo. “The platform also provided more flexibility and autonomy, incentivizing them to move online.”
Laborers Grapple with Technology
The researchers found that TaskRabbit increased the productivity of manual workers by efficiently planning schedules, monitoring their performance and solving disputes, subsequently driving market demand. The platform also attracted workers of different skills and backgrounds while increasing labor supply and accessibility by reducing the barriers of entry to get a job.
Laborers could also take advantage of the options for flexibility and mobility. “We observed that, even though the number of jobs has reduced, we could see an increase in self-employed workers,” says Guo. “Later studies may look at the actual wage differences, but TaskRabbit can support the option of self-employment of both managers and laborers.”
Learning To Keep Up
Thanks to technological changes like these, the dynamics of the traditional workplace are continuing to shift. Generalizing to other industries, Guo mentions that these platforms increase productivity and allow for more efficient business models, but may come at a cost to the less computer literate.
The researchers, however, are positive about this emerging economy in the future of work. “The barrier to entry of TaskRabbit is not very high,” says Guo. While this skills-biased technology change is happening in the workplace, it can create new opportunities—particularly for those entrepreneurial workers willing to learn.
One night a few years ago, Shannon Siriano Greenwood and her husband made a pinky promise: the next day, they would quit their jobs.
In 2010, Greenwood, BBA ’04, was stressed, unhappy and burned out managing operations at a chain of eight salons in the Washington D.C. area. After fulfilling her end of the deal, over the next few years, Greenwood worked as a social media contributor, marketer, co-founded a boutique cycling studio (which she later sold) and worked as a consultant.
In 2017, she founded Rebelle Con, a three-day women’s conference that brings speakers from across the country to discuss topics such as wellness, money, community and creativity. She also works as a freelance moderator/EMCEE and event curator.
“I lept and let the world catch me,” she says, laughing. “I started my first business basically out of boredom. I found it all out by doing.”
Greenwood and her team discovered that what attendees wanted out of a conference was to build community while learning skills that they could apply for personal and professional fulfillment. After the success of two conferences, Greenwood created Rebelle, an in-person community with local chapters in Richmond, VA and, most recently, Lancaster, PA. Rebelle hosts monthly events including mixers and panel presentations at local women-owned business offices. She was perhaps inspired by her work with the “Boss Babes” collective, a community of entrepreneurial businesswomen.
Some of the best feedback Greenwood received was in response to a session called “The Quitters.” It was a panel of successful businesswomen talking about the things they have quit, whether that be giving up a marriage, a six-figure job or owning a home in order to set out on their own path. The discussion was anchored in topics that people would not necessarily want to open up about in a large group, Greenwood says. But attendees loved it.
In another session, Carrie Sue Casey, founder of Oodaloop Co and former Department of Defense employee, taught a brainstorming technique to the group using “how to make friends as an adult” as the primary problem they were working to solve. “It has been interesting to see what people think they want and what they actually want,” Greenwood says.
It took her a long time to figure out what she wanted. A self-described “recovering work-a-holic,” she puts self-care at the forefront of her life and career and emphasizes that the Rebelle community does the same. While self-care can look different for everyone, Greenwood explains that her brand is relatively simple: being kind to herself and watching her stress levels. She works at a comfortable pace, versus trying to prove herself to other people and has found success in that. Napping is great too, she says.
“I want to inspire other women, pay my bills and drink chai lattes,” Greenwood jokes.
In addition to launching the Lancaster chapter of Rebelle, Greenwood plans to launch even more branches in 2020. Attendance for the fall RebelleCon is doubling in size, and the team is working on a host of new programming for women.
For Dr. Leila Bouamatou, DBA ’17, women’s leadership in business is deeply personal
As the daughter of the founder of a family-owned bank in the West African country of Mauritania, Bouamatou studied the challenges that women in francophone Africa face when seeking to take over the family business during her time in the Fox Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program.
Bouamatou found that women’s biggest struggles included the institutionalized stigma of working outside the home; resistance from both older male and female members of the family, who were often unwilling to break with tradition; and the convention of women taking their husband’s last names, thus having a different last name than the family company.
To succeed in leading a family business in this environment, Bouamatou identified several key factors—such as modern-thinking fathers, supportive husbands, access to educational opportunities, and personality traits like determination and ability.
As the general manager at the Mauritanian General Bank, Bouamatou hopes to inspire young African girls and women to become leaders in business. She wants others to receive the encouragement that she felt at home from her parents and siblings. “I am particularly lucky to be the daughter of a modern-thinking father who has great respect towards women,” said Bouamatou, “and who believes in the potential of his daughters.” She recalls her mother teaching her from an early age about the importance of education and ambition.
Despite the barriers that remain, she sees hope for the future. “Africa is changing, and so is the mentality,” Bouamatou said. “Women are getting more and more educated and becoming more and more ambitious. Fathers are more and more supportive of their daughters and more open-minded, compared to previous generations.”
“I am fully aware that it would be hard for one single African woman to change the world,” said Bouamatou. “But I know that this African woman can shape her world and destiny.”
Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, International Change Agent
Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, worked in the Global Diversity and Multicultural Team at IBM before becoming the founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting, a diversity and inclusiveness solutions company. At IBM, she experienced the diversity and inclusion challenges across various countries. The experience prepared her to found Interweave and lead it to be a pioneer in India, where the arena was a non-existent market when the company began operations.
Through Interweave, Menon works with companies to implement progressive policies to support diverse groups. The company has touched the minds and hearts of over 150,000 people, including senior leaders and managers through its workshops and initiatives. Others receive these messages through e-modules and webinars.
“Diversity and inclusion is still a new area of work in India and it is hard to provide a direct ROI on the efforts,” said Menon, addressing the impact of her efforts. “However, there are several anecdotes that show that the efforts have translated into positive behaviors at work. A better understanding of respectful behaviors at work and more conscious efforts at gender, disability, and LGBT inclusion are all, we believe, influenced by our efforts.”
When asked how she is making the world a better place, Menon said, “In my mind, everything we do dovetails into building a better world! The work we do has a tremendous positive impact as it is directly focused on building inclusion. From helping organizations understand the value of diversity and inclusion and helping to build enabling workplace policies to support the same, it has a direct impact for the nation.”
She believes organizations are powerful vehicles of change and teach people to become influencers. “A mind expanded or enriched with knowledge and sensitivity is bound to be applied not just at work but equally in their behaviors at home and in society.”
As a result, Interweave is building the foundations for social change in India and beyond.
Timing is everything when you are looking to add international educational experience to your MBA capstone class.
Working on a team comes with challenges. But what if part of your team is more than 5,000 miles away — following a different schedule, living in a different culture and ending the workday shortly after yours begins?
Add in a 4.6 magnitude earthquake that strikes in the middle of your final presentation, and things can get pretty hairy.
But Temple University Fox School of Business MBA students Zhi Liao, Jennifer Miescke, Sylvania Tang and Nicole Zeller navigated it all this spring to deliver a presentation in Tel Aviv as part of their capstone experience with Fox Management Consulting (FMC).
“We didn’t even notice the earthquake, we were so focused,” says Liao. “Someone told us later that it happened.”
The students, led by FMC project executive William Kitsch, worked with a team of MBA students and faculty at Tel Aviv University (TAU) as part of an ongoing joint venture between the Fox School and the Israeli university.
“We do this so students get a global experience with a diverse group of students, faculty and businesses,” says David Nash, operating director at Fox Management Consulting.
Forming a team
The American and Israeli groups worked to deliver strategic recommendations to a startup e-commerce company with offices in Tel Aviv and California. The Israeli-owned company, which helps sellers optimize sourcing and selling opportunities across eight countries, was seeking ways to expand its current marketplace.
“It was a very difficult task in the sense of timing,” says Miescke, who served as a project manager. “We were working seven hours behind Tel Aviv all the time and their workweek is Sunday through Thursday.”
The intensity continued as the group arrived in Israel, just days after Temple’s May 9 graduation, and joined the TAU team to prep for the client presentation.
“There was a lot of pressure around the fact that there were two teams,” Kitsch says. “Both had different expectations, schedules, project deadlines. But by learning to work through and manage it all, it gave us opportunities to find leadership in everything we were doing.”
The FMC capstone course is built around a curriculum that helps students apply the competencies and skills they have acquired in the MBA program through the client projects.
In addition to being an exceptional learning opportunity for students, the projects deliver dynamic business solutions to clients facing various challenges.
Since students participating in the global project graduate before the actual client presentation, they first present to faculty for grading purposes.
“Presenting early really helped us see where we could improve, helped our focus and allowed us to see where we needed to get to,” Tang says. “That experience really helped us get things in order and take things to the next level.”
With feedback in hand, the team is ready for the next step.
“They go to Israel, meet with fellow team members and faculty to refine the project,” Nash explains. “They meet with the client later in the week and after all is done, the group does manage some social time.”
Taking it all in
The four Temple students stayed on in Israel for a few additional days to travel to Jerusalem and immerse themselves into the culture and attractions of the region.
“It was great to have that time together after spending so much time working on the project,” Liao says.
Zeller says she knew she wanted to get her MBA from Temple.
“The FMC capstone project, specifically working on a live problem, was the biggest thing that made me come to Fox for my MBA,” she says. “Temple really supports you in the process and that meant a lot.”
Kitsch believes the Tel Aviv experience is an extraordinary opportunity. “Every student should be competing for a spot on that team. It’s that valuable.”
Now that the project is over, the students agree that the experience will move them forward in their careers.
“Without this project, I probably would never consider venturing toward e-commerce or international business and I am fully grateful for that because now it’s something I would consider,” Liao says.
Tang says she is only now realizing how big an impact the project has had on her.
“This experience has definitely fueled a desire in me to look at how far my potential can go,” she explains. “For me, my MBA journey was four years long and in those four years, my MBA capstone class experience — this global journey — was my greatest learning experience at Temple.”
Helping achieve a global experience
Not all Fox Management Consulting projects require traveling abroad to meet with a client, but when they do, Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) can assist.
The center helps pay the team’s travel expenses related to the project, associate director Jeff Conradi says. The center serves to improve U.S. competitiveness in the world marketplace and to produce globally competent students, faculty and staff. It is funded by a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
For more information about the center, click here.
4 ways giving impacts Fox
When Temple University opened its doors at the turn of the 19th century, it was more than a place—it was a bold, new idea. The transforming concept that founder Russell H. Conwell called, “The Temple Idea,” was to educate “working men and working women on a benevolent basis, at an expense to the students just sufficient to enhance their appreciation of the advantages of the institution.”
Philanthropy at the Fox School has been a game-changer ever since Conwell turned his “Temple Idea” into reality. A culture of giving is tied into the mission of the university, and there is no shortage of ways to contribute. From small student donations to multi-million dollar endowments, alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community partners have donated generously to keep the Fox community ahead of the frenetic pace that exists in today’s competitive business school environment.
The school succeeds because of its community’s commitment to transforming global business education. This is evident in the school’s market-driven curriculum, cutting-edge technology, and impactful research. The Fox School continues to innovate thanks to the vision and generosity of its leaders and donors. The following highlights how philanthropy influences the hiring of faculty, program development, facility upgrades and expansion, and scholarship endowment to offer our students greater opportunities so that they can advance their industries and change the world.
Attracting and retaining industry-leading faculty members is key to the reputation and success of the Fox School. They are gifted orators, mentors, and business and academic leaders. Their work and expertise reach beyond the classroom into the largest, most successful multi-national corporations. Fox students study with some of the brightest minds in marketing, risk, insurance, finance, healthcare, and many other fields. Here, more than 220 faculty create a hands-on experience that connects students to the real world and helps them make their mark in their chosen field or profession. The Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy is an example of one-way donor funds support the Fox faculty.
Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy
In 2015, the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy was added. Created through a $2 million gift from Saul A. Fox, KLN ’75, in honor of his father, Jerome Fox, this chair is held by high-level practitioners of accounting, taxation, and financial strategy. “My father equally valued the accounting industry and the role of education in our society,” said Fox. “The establishment of this distinguished chair at the Fox School melds my father’s two lifelong passions and honors his memory as a successful accounting practitioner.”
The Jerome Fox Chair is currently held by David E. Jones. “The prestige of having a named chair is crucial to attracting high-achieving professors for our department and the school,” says Jones. Endowed chairs help promote the school’s presence and expertise in areas of business education and research, and ensure the school can secure world-renowned faculty to teach its students.
The incredible growth and development of the Fox School on Temple’s Main Campus is creating a hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, research, and business education as a whole. Technology, state-of-the-art research labs, co-working spaces, and an accelerator all ensure that the school offers the resources that students, alumni, faculty, and staff need to advance business education in the 21st Century.
1810 Liacouras Walk To continue innovating its programs for a record number of students, the school has expanded into 1810 Liacouras Walk. The building’s renovation was partially financed through philanthropic efforts. The project houses the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), which occupies the first floor of the building.
- 77,000 additional square feet
- SIX additional floors
- COLLABORATIVE co-working spaces and new classrooms
- ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY to personify online and traditional learning
- EXPANSION of the Tutoring Center and the Business Communications Center
- STATE OF THE ART research labs for the Data Science and Business Analytics Institute and the Center for Neural Decision Making
Thanks to philanthropy, the Fox School has the opportunity to offer inventive classroom education, workshops, conferences, customized mentorships, and events. Wall Street Day and Be Your Own Boss Bowl® are examples of ways donor funds support the school and programs.
Wall Street Day In 2012, Dean’s Council member Douglas L. Maine, KLN ’71, a senior advisor at Brown Brothers Harriman, helped establish Wall Street Day. This experience allows students to get a glimpse into the day-to-day of Temple alumni working on Wall Street. It provides a comfortable arena in which they can ask questions of alumni, who were once in their shoes. Wall Street Day gives Fox students hands-on experience and the opportunity to meet face to face with successful alumni working in the financial industry,” says Cindy Axelrod, director of Financial Planning programs and director of the Owl Fund. “The experience allows our students to ask questions, network, and open doors for their future success. It enriches their collegiate careers and demonstrates the value of their Temple education.”
Be Your Own Boss Bowl® The Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), a university-wide business plan competition, helps winners take their business ideas to the next level. The annual event is currently sponsored by Bernard Spain, FOX ’56, and Murray Spain, FOX ’65, brothers and entrepreneurs credited with popularizing the smiley face icon in the 1970s. In 2018, UniFi, a mobile app focused on financial wellness and onboarding, took home the top honor—a $60,000 grand prize. The UniFi team, led by Jessica Rothstein, MBA ’18, plans to use the new resources for talent acquisition and tech. “We have two pilots to launch this year,” said Rothstein. “Winning this competition will definitely help us reach our goals.”
Fox School students are driven to succeed. They rise to any challenge and surpass even the greatest expectations. However, success is hard to achieve if financial or personal obstacles stand in the way. Donor-funded scholarships provide financial relief while alleviating some emotional stress associated with funding a college degree. Scholarships empower students to seize hold of the opportunity to receive a world-class business education. Examples include immediate-use scholarships, endowed scholarships, and emergency support provided through the Fox Student Philanthropy society.
Fox Student Philanthropic Society Current students can help each other by contributing to the Fox Student Philanthropic Society (FSPS). The organization coordinates fundraisers for the Fox Student Emergency Fund for students who face an unexpected financial hardship that would prevent them from being able to get what they need to complete their semester. Faculty and staff can advocate for students who meet the criteria. “You think of philanthropy and you think of people who are millionaires,” said Shaniqua Wallace, FOX ’17. “Or you don’t think you have the money or the resources or that your coins matter. Anything that you provide matters.”
More than 15 million adults struggle with alcohol addiction. In fact, according to the CDC, one in ten deaths of working-age adults in America is linked to alcohol. That’s one reason data on alcohol use has been chosen by researchers for study from the enormous data set from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ ambitious Million Veteran Program (MVP). The VA intends as the project’s name states, to gather data on an astonishing one million service members.
Kuang-Yao Lee, assistant professor of statistical science at the Fox School, sees a world of potential new knowledge in this vast cache of data. This is particularly true of alcohol use because the data from the MVP is longitudinal, which means the same measurements are tracked over time. Alongside the support from the VA, Lee’s project received funding through from Office for the Vice President of Research at Temple University.
Volunteers in the MVP each submit blood samples as well as health surveys, amassing a dataset that comprises both genetic data and behavioral patterns. Beginning in 2016 when he was a researcher at Yale University, Lee and his colleagues have been using this information-rich resource to search for the specific combination of genes that correspond to alcohol and other substance use.
“Previous studies have suggested [these genes exist], but mostly were only limited to small scales or restricted conditions,” says Lee. “We want to use statistical models to find out if this is really a valid assumption. Our results so far suggest a very strong association.”
While ample electronic health records and genetic data have long been available to researchers, only recently has the efficient computing power become available to slice and dice the information into accurate, usable new insights and discoveries. More sophisticated algorithms combined with larger-than-ever computer storage capacity, as well as parallel computation techniques, allow today’s researchers to make meaning from a huge amount of complex data.
How huge? “Depending on the facility, the whole genome sequencing [for one person] can produce hundreds of millions of variants,” says Lee. Questionnaires allow researchers to gather large amounts of information about each subject every time they are administered. Multiply that by one million veterans. “We’re talking about not just billions, but millions of millions of points of data,” he says.
Data with this level of complexity can lead to findings that are more nuanced and reliable than in the past. Previously statistics sometimes led to oversimplified and other not-quite-right conclusions. We’ve all heard the old axiom, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But as so-called big data increases in scope and complexity and the tools used to analyze this data become more sophisticated, statistics are becoming more honest than ever before. From projects such as the Million Veteran Program and other similarly vast datasets, new genetic truths may ultimately emerge.
There are many possible real-world applications for this research. For one thing, determining which specific genes are linked with alcohol and other substance abuse could lead to new and better medicines and treatments for the very veterans who have volunteered their most sensitive personal information for this work. A dialed-in genetic profile that indicates a vulnerability for substance abuse could be used to screen kids and even adults while there is still time for effective early interventions that can keep them on a healthy path. Given the current public health crisis around opioids, alcohol, and other substance use, a breakthrough of this kind could have far-reaching benefits.
Lee says that the knowledge gleaned from the Million Veteran Program about substance abuse may lead to similar projects that could help solve other vexing behavioral, health, and genetic puzzles. He also notes that the innovative statistical models and tools he’s used in this research could be applied in myriad ways to other complex datasets.
For example, online shopping platforms can easily observe huge amounts of individual consumers and, at the same time, collect data across large numbers of variables. “One of the core problems in business analytics is to use statistical models to study the inter-dependency between observed variables, for example, the dependency between decision making and consumer behavior,” Lee says.
“There are a surprising number of similarities between genomics and online shopping.”
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
6 alumni and students pick essential items from 2019 to share with tomorrow’s business leaders
1. Nasir Mack, Class of 2021
Career goal: “To work in the entertainment, hospitality, and fashion industry.”
Time capsule submission: Social media “Since I hope to one day become the CEO of a firm that is active in the entertainment industry, it would be interesting to see how much the social media platforms have changed and the usage rate of the platforms in the upcoming generation. As a millennial, social media has become an integral part of our lives. A culture of constant comparison and instant gratification has been born that is also encompassed by a global connection of everyday people moving through life, all sharing their high and low moments, and their struggles. Industries, including the entertainment industry, have utilized social media to connect directly with their consumers, and vice versa. Ten years from now, the way we think about social media in business may be entirely different.”
2. Pauline Milwood, PhD ’15
Assistant professor of hospitality management, Penn State University
Time capsule submission: The heart emoji “It is the second or third most popular emoji used on social media platforms, according to infographic trackers. But I chose it to remind young men and women serving in hospitality and tourism that excellence in service and meaningfully connecting with others must be lived from the heart.”
3. Michael Moore, BBA ’93
Partner and chief commercial officer, WillowTree Inc.
Time capsule submission: Apple iPhone “We refer to the iPhone now as your identity layer—in other words, the phone has become the central hub for all our data, more than contacts and communications, but rather, our preferences, our personal and commercial profile. We may not need devices like this in the future; we’ll just need a small wearable device to power our identities. Even now, considering how quickly things are evolving—like going from typing interfaces to voice interfaces—who’s to say that we won’t have a tiny device behind our ear that’s a wearable and hearable interface very soon. The pace we’re on, with the way computing has progressed, in 10 years I think we’ll see such a radical shift in what personal technology looks like.”
4. Suzy Schramm-Apple, MBA ’87
CEO, PrescribeWell, Inc.
Time capsule submission: A laptop with Windows or Office Software “These compact, portable tools made it possible for people to communicate globally in an instant, to create presentations and spreadsheets, to create and manage databases, and to archive files with incredible storage capacity. They are invaluable to business people and leaders today.”
5. Ben Thomas, BBA ’18
Freelance audio engineer and music producer; Co-founder of nicethingsMUSIC
Time capsule submission: Spotify “Spotify is the perfect way to define the new direction of the music industry. Streaming has changed the entire business model of the industry and, unfortunately, has caused a lot of traditional businesses to be redefined. Personally, I love streaming, I think it has opened up more ways for artists to be successful than ever before. And I know that without money that artists make from streaming, there is no way that I would be able to live my dream as an audio engineer and producer.”
6. Daria Salusbury, KLN ’75
Founder and CEO, Salusbury & Co., LLC
Time capsule submission: The Dakota floor plans “I would add the original floor plans for The Dakota on the upper west side of Manhattan to the capsule because this development was so progressive and has stood the test of time with such occupants as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Richard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, etc. It is still one of the most sought after buildings to call ‘home’ for the most outstanding and accomplished people who need a residence in New York City.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
4 alumni blazing trails in their fields
There is more to success than know-how. That’s why business smarts, strength, and character are injected into the DNA of Fox students. That’s why alumni are endowed with traits—perseverance, determination, and professional polish, to name a few—that give them a competitive edge in business. Below, we highlight a few alumni who have built upon their education to achieve great success in the real world.
The Transformer: Steven McAnena
President of Distribution, Life and Financial Services, Farmers Insurance
Steve McAnena, BBA ’93, serves as president of Business Insurance at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. (LMB). He is also executive vice president of Global Retail Markets at LMB. He joined the company in 1993 and served as president. His leadership experience, combined with his diverse experience and track record in product and distribution, help his division continue to cultivate strong relationships with independent agents and brokers. He studied actuarial science at the Fox School.
“I remember my days at Temple—meeting new friends, becoming exposed to new professors, learning new coursework. When I arrived on campus it felt as if things changed in an instant and then kept changing. It was as energizing as it was stressful and I did not realize how four years of my life at Temple would serve as the foundation for my career. At the time, I did not realize that professional life was really a continuation of the learning process that began at Temple.
Charles Darwin has a famous quote: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’ The same is true within business—just ask Kodak or Blockbuster. The most successful professionals and companies are the ones willing to invest in changing, evolving, and in some cases totally reinventing their businesses. To be clear, be proud of your accomplishments and celebrate your successes, but always, always be looking in the rearview mirror because the competition is bearing down on you. Try new things. Don’t avoid them. Take calculated risks. Don’t shy away from them. Embrace and learn from mistakes. Don’t hide them. The capabilities and skills that got you here today are likely not the ones you need to win tomorrow. Be ready, be excited, embrace change.”
The Builder: Atish Banerjea
Chief Information Officer, Facebook
Atish Banerjea, MS ’91, is the chief information officer (CIO) of Facebook. Before joining Facebook, he worked in senior leadership roles at NBCUniversal and Dex Media, Inc. and spent 10 years with Pearson PLC. He has also held roles at Maurices, Inc. and Simon & Schuster. Early in his career, Banerjea held a full-time tenure track faculty position at the University of Wisconsin as assistant professor of computer information systems (CIS), responsible for teaching all the advanced CIS courses for the undergraduate computer information systems program, as well as conducting research in support of teaching assignments.
Banerjea, who builds internal systems for Facebook, says the following about how he navigates working for the massive social media company: “I’ve learned there’s a Facebook way of doing things. For one, we build everything ourselves. And that’s because, in large part, we have a very strong platform. It’s also because many third-party products can’t match the pace at which we’re growing. And Facebook is a company driven by efficiency. Rather than bring a third-party product in that would change the workflow and the work process, which is what almost every other company does, we’ve figured out the most effective way someone here can do their job, from HR to finance, is to build a system to meet their needs.”
The Philanthropist: Larry Miller
President, Nike, Jordan Brand
Larry Miller, BBA ’82, is the president of Jordan Brand, a division of Nike Inc. This is his second tour with the brand, and he continues to garner international respect for his reputation as an inspirational leader with a proven track record of building premium businesses in the world of sport. In his role, he oversees the day-to-day operations and works with Nike global leadership and Michael Jordan to drive the brand’s global business objectives. Prior to joining Jordan Brand, he served as president and alternate governor of the Portland Trail Blazers and vice president of the U.S. apparel division of Nike. He also held executive-level positions at Jantzen, Inc. and Kraft General Foods, as well as positions at Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. and Campbell Soup.
“The Fox School prepared me for a career in business. It allowed me to start in accounting and transition into general management, marketing, and beyond. It prepared me to look at what I do from a business perspective, because it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of sports. I think the Fox School also prepared me to be a leader,” says Miller.
Miller possesses a commitment to philanthropy that is innate to Temple University and the Fox School. In 2015, he established the annual Tamara J. Gilmore Endowed Scholarship to award underrepresented female STHM students who are pursuing careers in hospitality and event management, and who exemplify Gilmore’s professional and entrepreneurial spirit. A Temple alumna who died in 1999, Gilmore was an accomplished business person within the hospitality industry.
When asked, Miller offered the following advice for the Fox community: “I’ve learned a lot of lessons throughout my career, from Campbell to Kraft to Jantzen to the Blazers, and ultimately Jordan Brand. When it comes to leadership, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to have the right people in the right jobs, then allow them to do their jobs and give them support.”
The Mover and Shaker: Margaret (Meg) McGoldrick
President of Abington-Jefferson Health
Margaret (“Meg”) M. McGoldrick, MBA ’76, is president of Abington-Jefferson Health, where she has served as chief operating officer since 1999. She is responsible for Abington Hospital—Jefferson Health and Abington-Lansdale Hospital, as well as five outpatient centers and two urgent care centers.
Prior to joining Abington, McGoldrick held executive leadership roles with Hahnemann University Hospital and the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a Baldrige executive fellow with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. She serves on the board of directors of several organizations and is the board chair of the Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence, the State of Pennsylvania Baldrige Alliance Program. She’s also a member of the Dean’s Council of the Fox School and a life trustee of Philadelphia University.
McGoldrick shares the best piece of advice that she was ever given: “Keep moving forward. There are ups and downs, certainly. Nothing’s a straight line. But if you’re not moving forward, you’re probably going backward. And as life moves on, lots of people suggest—wisely—to look for ways to re-center myself. I’ve worked in very stressful positions. Being able to manage that stress has been critical.”
She also offers the Fox community tips to build a great career as a healthcare executive: “I have served on many nonprofit boards that are connected to the work of our organization. This connection into the community provides for a deeper relationship with all those partners in the community that make it possible for healthcare organizations to be more effective. Also, meeting so many talented individuals in these organizations increased my network of professional colleagues.”
McGoldrick’s Secrets to Success
- Respect and support all employees and clinical staff who care for the patients and families
- Listen to those closest to the patients and the work of the organization
- Dedicate yourself to a culture of safety and high reliability
- Embrace constant cycles of learning and improvement
- Commit to the Baldrige Framework of Management
The Career Pitfalls that Taught Her the Most Valuable Lessons
- Don’t let missteps or failures distract you from a continuous focus on your work
- Deal with problems early on, as they often deteriorate further over time
- Stop and listen before you react and try to respond rather than react
5 Fox students and alumni redefining leadership
Modern leadership manifests in seeing opportunity where others cannot. Today’s leaders choose to zig while others zag. They empower others, lifting as they climb. They are agile and creative, adept at solving problems.
They’re also scarce. According to a 2016 report, more than 56 percent of U.S. executives say leadership required to address their companies’ most pressing needs was absent. And only 7 percent of those surveyed say their companies had established fast-track leadership programs catered to the next generation of leaders.
The Fox School is stemming that trend. This year, the school launched the Fox Leadership Development Program (FLDP) to strengthen the competencies in graduating seniors that are most sought after by leading companies. FLDP aims to enhance those skills through a yearlong programming schedule required of all Fox students.
“Our goal through this program,” says assistant dean Charles Allen, “is to enhance our students’ overall experiences at Fox and, as we have for 100 years, better prepare them for the eventual transition from leaders in the classroom to leaders in the workforce.”
Sometimes, they don’t have to wait even that long. Here are five Fox School students and recent graduates proving there’s no cookie-cutter for leadership.
They Make An Impact
Last summer, one week separated the landfalls of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. The hurricanes claimed more than 100 lives and created $100 billion in damages. Ivan Cardona, a current student pursuing an executive doctorate in business administration (DBA), witnessed the devastation generated by the hurricanes, including the loss of his marketing business. But the tragedy didn’t break his resolve.
Immediately, he sought support for his country— freshwater, food, healthcare, and access to physicians, among other resources. He tapped his network, including others enrolled in the Fox Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program, to make that possible.
Cardona led philanthropic efforts to bring resources to Puerto Rico. He collected and distributed food to 2,300 families on Thanksgiving, using his trips to the U.S. for bi-monthly Executive DBA residencies, as well as chances to create contacts with folks who could lend assistance. He repeated his efforts in December, helping to hand out presents to more than 2,700 children at Christmas. His mission work focused on some of the island’s most affected municipalities, those that still lack access to freshwater and electricity.
Recently, Cardona and others distributed more than 2,000 solar lamps, as well as hand-cranked washing machines, to residents who are still without water and electricity.
“I’m not a hero,” Cardona says. “But when you see that, you start thinking, ‘If I leave, where are these people going to find water? Where are these people going to find food or how are they going to take care of their babies?’”
The work is not over, for Cardona and his home country.
They Give Back
Jannatul Naima, BBA ’18, is a first-generation college student, which means her experience doesn’t necessarily look like everyone else’s. She pursued her undergraduate degree, managed family responsibilities at home, led two student organizations and held down a position in the Fox School’s Office of the Dean.
“My parents, like most immigrants, place value on education,” says Naima. “My mother and my father each work 60 to 70 hours a week. They have always said they will struggle so that my siblings and I won’t have to know struggle. To them, you work hard to get where you need to be in life.”
Her strong work ethic is paying off. In May, Naima earned an International Business degree with a concentration in Finance. She accepted entry into a two-year leadership development program at JPMorgan Chase, where she will rotate between roles in project management, process improvement, risk and control, and analytics. This presents an exciting future for Naima—at JPMorgan Chase and beyond.
Thanks to her success, Naima wants to give back. She found volunteer opportunities through Feed Philly and held positions in two student organizations: The Muslimah Project, a women’s empowerment organization that combats Islamophobia and provides a safe space for women of all cultures; and Temple’s chapter of United Muslim Relief, through which she raised thousands of dollars to aid Philadelphia-based refugees and build a maternity ward in Nigeria.
“Even as a young girl, I set high expectations,” Naima says. “It’s normal for me to be as involved with my school, my community, and my family. It’s all part of my goal to give back to my family and give back to the community in more ways than one.”
Self-starter. Creative content consultant. Haircare influencer. These terms all apply to Tomi Jones, BBA ’18. So does this one: Gig worker, someone who secures gig or contract work.
Jones’ gig work is her life’s work. She monetized her YouTube channel, earning enough to offset a few educational expenses and develop a following of more than 90,000 subscribers along the way. She also works as a creative content consultant who helps firms and brands develop, create, and produce digital stories.
Jones first accepted contract work in her elementary school days when she signed up for table reads of scripts as a child TV production assistant.
She continued her passion for film and TV in 2015 for the movie “Creed.” Not only did she score on-camera time, but she also worked in stylist and production assistant roles on the set. Later that year, Jones interned by day for a Delaware-based bank. By night, she shuttled to New York to serve as a production assistant for the Netflix series “The Get Down” and complete YouTube certification courses. Not making much money, she often ate free meals on set, crashed on the couch of her aunt’s Harlem home, and jumped the turnstiles at subway stops.
“I’m not proud of that last one,” she says, “but I am proud of how you can open doors for yourself with daunting, sometimes-unpaid jobs. No one in this line of work has a resume that says, ‘One year here, two years there.’ Fox is ahead of the curve, and more universities need to be encouraging students that you can find satisfaction and your life’s work outside of a 9-to-5.”
They Create Connections
A study-abroad trip to Spain exposed Kyshon Johnson, BBA ’18, to plenty she’d never before seen: Culture, food, language… and the role of a father in the home.
The International Business major witnessed her host father doting on his wife, Johnson’s host mother. He would bring her flowers and play games with their daughter. He would hug them both tightly.
Johnson grew up in a single-parent household in Philadelphia. Her mother, Johnson’s inspiration, raised three children while attaining three college degrees. Her father, incarcerated, is not a factor in her life.
“Because it was normalized in my community, I didn’t know it was an issue,” she says. “So, I conducted research, and I wanted to share what I have learned and see if I could learn more.”
In 2017, Johnson launched 100 Other Halves. The independent project applied her education, as Johnson met with 100 women of diverse backgrounds. Johnson invited the women, whether in person or in webcam meet-ups, to tell stories about their fathers—good, bad, or nonexistent.
“The women shared one trait: They contacted me to participate. Otherwise, they were all uniquely different,” Johnson says.
Johnson cataloged 100 Other Halves through posts to social media and her blog. She reserved the 100th interviewee for someone special—her mother, Kenya Barrett.
“My mom came into it with an open heart and open mind because she was raised through foster care,” Johnson says. “She was only two when her mother passed away from cancer, and she never knew her father. I watched her lay the foundation for who I am today and I never really asked her about her upbringing. It was enlightening for both of us.”
Upon graduation, Johnson began a business leadership program at San Francisco-based LinkedIn. She hopes to convert 100 Other Halves into a film or TV project.
“It’s important that women have opportunities to share their stories,” she says. “This started as a social experiment, and it’s become a platform for healing that I’m incredibly proud of.”
They Stay Busy
Ryan Rist, BBA ’18, meets weekly with his Little Brother, a 10-year-old student at Philadelphia’s Independence Charter School, through the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. They often bond over lunch, conversation, or a game of soccer.
“I’m an only child,” Rist says, “so, in many ways, it feels like he’s my little brother. It’s rewarding to see him every week, get to know him, and make a difference in his life.”
But his leadership in his school and community extends beyond Big Brothers Big Sisters. Rist, who graduated in May with a Finance degree and a minor in Entrepreneurship, will also begin a three-year stint in the finance leadership development program at Prudential, where he held two prior internships. The rotational program allows Rist to build upon earlier experiences within Prudential’s tax investment and business planning and analysis teams.
“I like to stay busy,” Rist says, smiling. His professional, personal, and scholastic experience prove it.
He served three years as a resident assistant in one of Temple’s housing facilities. He also climbed the ladder in the Financial Management Association at the Fox School, for which he served a nine-month term as president—organizing activities, speaker series, and on-site visits to corporate headquarters for the 170-member student organization.
Outside of the classroom, Rist is resurrecting an entrepreneurial passion project he launched in 2014 as a high school senior. Rist Custom Coasters, behind a strong Kickstarter campaign, manufactured drink coasters with rubberized circular bottoms and felt inserts to absorb run-off. Personalized with images of logos or family photos, the coasters earned more than 150 crowdfunding backers. Rist brought his business to 2018 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, an annual business plan competition at Temple.
When asked if he viewed himself as a leader, due to his many personal interests and professional responsibilities, Rist says, “I think everyone is a leader, to some degree. Everyone has the ability to lead. It’s just that leaders don’t always look or lead the same way.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
5 Fox School students and alumni share how scholarships changed their lives
Margaret (Meg) McGoldrick
BBA ’74, MBA ’77, President, Abington-Jefferson Health & Member, Fox School Dean’s Council
“I had the opportunity (in April) to meet with a dozen Fox students and they are so impressive,” says McGoldrick on a recent meeting of the Fox School Dean’s Council. “They are articulate and clear communicators. They show enthusiasm, politeness, and creativity. They attend Fox with a purpose, many of them to start their own businesses once they graduate. You can see that drive within them. Whenever I meet Fox students, I come away with a stronger understanding of why I invest in the school’s future.”
Class of 2019, Finance major
“The scholarship I received was valuable and significant to me because it off set the amount I needed to borrow to finance my education and pursue a BBA in my desired field. Once I graduate, I plan to use my finance degree to pursue a career in the music entertainment industry, and this wouldn’t be possible without the aid of the Johnson family and their scholarship.”
BBA ’80, Vice President of Finance Transformation, Coca-Cola (retired) & Member, Fox School Dean’s Council
“Between contributions from my parents and my work-study program, I funded part of my education—but I still came out of the Fox School with debt. Today, I have a duty to give back to a place that gave me a foundation for a successful business career. Most people tend to think they need to write a seven-figure check to make a difference. That’s certainly not the case. Others need to know that we’re all capable of making a difference for the future generation with whatever we are able to contribute.”
Class of 2019, Accounting major
“Access to scholarships made the Fox School more attractive to me. I worked a job throughout high school, and that made my life more difficult than it needed to be. I didn’t have any flexibility in my schedule, or the ability to focus solely on my education. Now, my schedule isn’t nearly as complicated and I can dedicate myself to my education.”
BBA ’00, Senior Vice President, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
“I’m from a blue-collar Midwestern town, and my husband Brian (Sweeney, MBA ’01) and I both came from humble beginnings. We identify with the struggle of having to finance education, as well as the associated cost of not working in order to pursue a degree. It can be a heavy cost to the student. We firmly believe that education is one of best returns on investment. We established a scholarship at the Fox School to make students’ paths through college a little easier.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.