This winter, the Department of Theater will embark on its second round of an innovative playwriting initiative—commissioning and producing a world premiere play—thanks to Fox alumnus David Steele, BBA ’91. In 2016, Steele, the founder and CEO of One Wealth Advisors in San Francisco, established the Playwright Residency Program at Temple University’s Department of Theater.
A true everyman, Steele began his professional career with J. P. Morgan Securities, but soon branched out as an entrepreneur. Once he was confident and secure in his success, Steele pondered the expansive possibilities of his professional life.
Now he is the founder and manager of five businesses from restaurants to yoga studios in the San Francisco area. In addition to his primary business One Wealth Advisors, Steele is the co-creator Moxie Yoga & Fitness, founder and Managing Partner of Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, Managing Partner of Foxsister Hospitality Group and Managing Partner of Noise Pop Industries, an independent music promoter.
Steele is also a board member of Playground, a nonprofit playwright incubator in San Francisco and the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a nonprofit service organization that empowers working artists and emerging arts organizations across all disciplines.
His longtime interest in the arts and the perceived lack of arts patronage on the West Coast led Steele back to Temple University. “We don’t have a patron artist culture or society as I wish we did. This [program] is really just a form of patronage,” says Steele.
When Temple approached him with the residency proposal, Steele, a visual artist and playwright himself, felt it was a perfect match for his ideals and investment. “They came up with a concept that was absolutely perfect with my ideas and my ideals,” says Steele. “I really didn’t have anything to add to it. And I equally believe in getting out of the way of artists.”
The past, present and future of the program
The Playwright Residency Program was developed by former Temple professor Edward Sobel, past Director of New Play Development at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It is uniquely structured to support playwrights and their work. Playwrights are guaranteed a full production of the play following a short development process, allowing them to remain in close contact with the original generative impulse. They also have the opportunity to write for a known ensemble of actors and artists to create pieces suited to the strengths of the students at Temple University.
The first result of the program was the 2017 production of Reggie Hoops by Kristoffer Diaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Diaz created a full length drama about a former NBA assistant general manager faced with the decision between the profession she loves and the family life she cherishes. The world premiere production featured the six 2018 master of fine arts (MFA) acting students as well as original designs from MFA design students.
This academic year, a new class of students will have the opportunity to participate in the program with playwright Marisela Treviño Orta, a Mexican-American artist whose work has been produced at the Marin Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Arizona Theatre Company, among others. The actors and designers will work directly with Treviño Orta and director, Professor Lindsay Goss, on Somewhere, a drama about a world on the verge of ecological collapse. The production will run from January 29 to February 9 in Randall Theater.
To purchase tickets to Somewhere, click here.
Manveer Singh, his cousin and their driver were riding through the streets of Nairobi, Kenya in January of 2019 when a bomb exploded. Within seconds, gunmen were firing indiscriminately at anyone on the street and the trio found themselves hiding in the back seat of their car as bullets pummeled the vehicle.
The three men survived. Now, months removed from the terrorist attack, Singh, BBA ’19, shrugs it off. The coffee business can be dangerous, the young entrepreneur says.
Singh graduated in May 2019 and runs two businesses: Maharajah Coffee and a network of Airbnb properties. He also works online as a stockbroker. Maharajah Coffee is his passion project and his vision for it began years earlier as he hiked along the border between the Brazilian states of Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais, a few hundred miles north of Rio de Janeiro.
Singh passed what he thought was a winery due to the bustle of men carrying large sacks heaved over their backs in the heat. But the farmer, a friendly, tall man in a big fedora named Ernesto, flagged him down. When he stopped, Singh took note of the strong coffee aroma.
The two men started chatting, face-to-face. Singh prefers face-to-face conversations. He lost 95% of his hearing about 10 years ago and often relies on reading lips to “listen” to what other people are saying. Singh toured the coffee farm and learned about the farmer’s process for growing and harvesting the beans. He already knew that, often, the farmer had to settle for less than a fair price.
They parted with a handshake and Singh began to dream of starting his own coffee business. “I want farmers to have a better life, I want to pay them fairly,” Singh says. “What happens if you do not pay them fairly? Some farmers have committed suicide, some have sold their land. If there are no coffee farms, there is no coffee. A life without coffee is nothing.”
Struggling to find his path
As a teenager, Singh began to lose his hearing. He adapted to his new normal and in 2012 he came to the Fox School.
“Fox’s international business program is really diverse—there are a lot of students from different countries,” Singh says. “Students from China, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and India come here to study and we all get to learn from each other about different cultures.”
As enthusiastic as he was about Fox, Singh struggled to adjust. Trying to read the lecturers’ lips was not easy for him; he often felt confused and anxious. By 2013, he faced academic dismissal, so he decided to travel and find opportunities to volunteer. As a Sikh, he took up Seva, or service, and traveled to Turkey, Syria and Nepal. Following an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Singh volunteered to help clear the rubble and search for survivors. Singh said the travel and volunteer work helped “put my mind and soul back together.”
Hearing loss is not a disability; not listening is
In 2016, he returned to Fox and his lip-reading skills improved. Taking online classes worked well for him. His grades improved, but he still struggled at times. The key, Singh says, was that he never lost hope.
Singh attempted to find internships and other job opportunities, but he was turned down, occasionally because of his hearing loss. Singh learned to turn that rejection into a source of inspiration after realizing that the true disability was others’ inability to listen to him and see his value.
“I used to think my hearing disability was my obstacle until one day I realized that was not true,” Singh says. “It did not matter that I had 95% hearing loss, it is the people who cannot see what I can do that are the obstacle.”
He decided if he could not get hired, he would run his own business.
In 2017, he cashed in stocks and started two companies, one based on turning real estate into Airbnb locations and the other, partially inspired by that conversation with a Brazilian farmer, was Maharajah Coffee.
Singh’s model is simple: he finds quality coffee grown at organic farms and he pays farmers fair market value.
“I want farmers to harvest their seeds with happiness,” Singh says. “If a farmer harvests their seed with depression or sadness, the coffee will be bitter.”
Earlier this year, in January, he went to Kenya to visit his father’s family, and, of course, meet some farmers to try some coffee. He felt welcomed by the Maasai tribe and was intrigued by the strong coffee grown in the red soil of the Kenyan mountainsides.
On Jan. 15, 2019, while Singh and his cousin, a government official, were traveling through Nairobi, there was an explosion and several gunmen started firing on a crowd. After the gunfire died down, the men hid in the car for about an hour before they climbed out of the bullet-riddled vehicle and ran for home.
“The coffee business can be risky sometimes,” Singh says, noting that in many countries, the areas filled with coffee farms are also known hideouts for criminals and terrorists. But Singh was not deterred.
By February, Singh started selling coffee from Sumatra, Ethiopia, Brazil and Kenya. He sells one-pound bags of whole beans or coffee grounds online through Amazon and plans to open a shop in the U.K.
Courage and hope
“In the future I do hope to become a motivational speaker to inspire others and help them succeed,” Singh says. “When you are going through hell, there are three things to keep in mind: keep smiling, have hope and don’t let yourself down.”
Money is at the forefront of the way we think about business—how can you make your company, and in turn yourself, more profitable? A recent Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey reports that “92% of surveyed corporate human resources executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees’ leadership and broader professional skill sets.”
We agree. That’s why the Fox School offers a well-rounded business education. In the classroom and the community, these three alumni gained tangible skills that empowered them to carry forward altruistic efforts that enhanced their personal and professional lives.
1. Empowering the next generation
MELANY BUSTILLOS, BBA ’16, believes that lifting up others is the key to helping the city of Philadelphia thrive. As the education officer for Prospanica, a nonprofit supporting the educational, economic and social success of Hispanic professionals, Bustillos encourages young adults to understand the value of education. She discovered her passion for mentoring students when volunteering in the Philadelphia public school system.
“A lot of kids feel like they can’t have big dreams or aspirations because their future is just set to what it is,” says Bustillos. Experiencing that response firsthand, Bustillos knew she needed to be a part of an organization that showed students the ways education could make their dreams a reality.
Bustillos works with local Philadelphia universities to foster relationships with students and transition them from campus life into career management through workshops on financial literacy, community service and personal branding. Bustillos serves on Prospanica’s board while working full time at Cigna as a risk and underwriting senior analyst. She also serves as a lead for Cigna’s Colleague Resource Group. She volunteers in a role that leverages cultural insights and connections to innovate approaches and solutions to increase engagement, performance and career mobility, while building enterprise capabilities to address the needs of diverse customers.
Bustillos continues to pursue opportunities in advocacy, and by investing in the next generation, she works to build the foundation for a smarter Philadelphia.
2. Studying the business of medicine
For NISHANTH SHAILENDRA, MBA ’18, finding a career in analytics was a driving force throughout his time in the Fox Global MBA program, but he didn’t know which industry to enter—until he discovered healthcare through networking with classmates. “I was very curious how the industry operates because what surprises me in the U.S. is the high cost of healthcare,” says Shailendra. Originally from Bangalore, India—a country with drastically different medical costs, quality of care and infrastructure than the U.S.—Shailendra wanted to better understand healthcare here and its unique set of challenges. In his role as business analytics administrator for Cooper University Healthcare, Shailendra uses data to improve affordability and accessibility for patients.
“We are trying our best to make sure that any patient that comes in does not need to come back. By reducing readmission and improving access, such as not waiting long to get an appointment when you’re sick, we’re working toward a healthier community,” says Shailendra.
As for his personal life, Shailendra plans on translating his experience at Cooper University Healthcare to improve aspects that the healthcare system lacks in his native country. “I believe that the quality of care in the U.S. is one of the best, but there are cons—like the high costs. My goal is to take the ‘pros’ back to India and apply my experience to improve the health and wellness of the community there.”
3. Encouraging nonprofit work for all
LINDA MCALEER, MBA ’74, is the president of The Meilor Group, a strategic marketing research and consulting firm in Center City. McAleer also serves on three nonprofit boards and advocates that her employees do the same. “Part of the mission of The Melior Group is to give back; it’s part of the culture. Each employee is active or involved in at least one mission-based organization,” says McAleer. She believes nonprofit work supports well-rounded professional growth and has an impressive track record to prove it.
McAleer came to her nonprofit role as chair of the Philadelphia-area National Multiple Sclerosis Society and board membership at both JEVS (formerly Jewish Employment and Vocational Service) and Career Wardrobe through understanding the needs of those around her. When her sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the mid-90s, accessing information and resources was difficult. She joined the National MS Society and was immediately tasked with fundraising. “I didn’t know how to raise money, but I said I’ll figure it out—like we do as Temple grads. We figure it out and solve problems,” says McAleer.
Most recently, McAleer supports Philadelphia’s new MS Navigator Program that helps those newly diagnosed (and those with needs) by providing information about insurance, home modifications, support to live independently and other services. She also promotes the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride, one of the most successful fundraising events in the country that allows participants to have fun, raise money and see the difference the MS Society is making.
When Kevin Casey, BBA ‘10, tried his first piece of homemade beef jerky, he fell in love with the taste. Shortly afterward, he decided to make his own. Casey initially started making jerky for himself and his friends, a project that blossomed into creating it for the Long Beach community and beyond. Since the official launch of Chudabeef Jerky Company in 2014, the business has been rapidly expanding. Kevin Casey’s passion and drive serve as an example of how Fox’s resources and networks prepare students to succeed.
At the Fox School, Casey took full advantage of the resources offered to him, and he continues to utilize these skills in his current business venture. “The courses were excellent and engaging, and the curriculum opened my eyes to how much fun it would be to someday run my own business,” says Casey.
As President of the Temple Snowboard club, Casey innovatively combined courses and extracurricular activities into skills that he finds extremely useful when running his business. “I was able to transfer a lot of skills I learned at Fox into running the club and overcoming all of the challenges you would normally go through during the startup phase of a business,” says Casey. “We always had to find ways to be creative and fun, and I think what I learned at Fox helped me grow the club to one of the largest on-campus!”
As an alumnus, Kevin Casey is still taking advantage of Fox’s resources to help grow Chudabeef Jerky. “The resources available to Fox alumni have been incredibly valuable,” says Casey. “Everyone has been very helpful, there is always someone available to help with any roadblocks that I run into while running my business.”
Recently closing a deal with supermarket chain Publix, Chudabeef will be on Publix’s shelves in January 2020, serving as an exciting start to the new year. “Publix is huge for us because it will open the doors to more East Coast distribution. This also increases our store count from 1,200 to 2,430 stores—so 2020 is already off to a great start,” says Casey.
While attending Fox, Kevin understood the importance of a work-life balance, and now while managing a booming business, he still finds time to relax with his wife and close friends. “In the summers, we hike and camp as much as possible and in the winter, I blow off steam most weekends snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain,” says Kevin. “And, of course, I bring a ton of jerky to stay fueled for the day—and to keep my friends fueled.”
If your loved ones are anything like the Fox community, they are diverse in their backgrounds, hobbies, passions and tastes. It can be a challenge to find the perfect thing for the different people in your life.
Lucky for us, the Fox School has a network of alumni and students who work to solve the problems they face. This holiday season, give a Temple Made gift to everyone on your list.
For the sustainability-focused, fashion-forward friend
With Franklin & Poe Trust Company, co-founder Andrew Li, MBA ’16, wanted his products to embody the idea that “hard-working hands create the most beautiful things.” The goal of the shop is to offer items that get better with age and are meant to be handed down.
Along with curating a line of durable, long-lasting clothing, Franklin & Poe focuses on ethically made products from the USA, Japan and Europe. The store also carries outerwear, apothecary items, bags and socks.
Visit Franklin & Poe in Fishtown at 1817 Frankford Avenue.
For the fragrance-loving friend
Everybody loves candles. But what if your spouse, friend or family member is particular, or particularly sensitive to certain scents? Brandon’s Candles, founded by current finance student Brandon Bechtel, has got you covered. In addition to the soy wax candles already available, the company offers customers the ability to fully customize the look and smell of their candles.
So you can pop into The Candle Studio in Skippack or Old City in Philadelphia for a quick DIY candle session or take a group for a candle-making class. Brandon’s Candles also offers soaps and lotions.
To learn even more about a freshman’s journey of bringing a business to business school, check out our recent feature on Brandon.
For your friend Becky with the good hair
Khadijah Robinson, BBA ’04, and Kiana Muhly, BBA ’03 were inspired by a common challenge that women face whenever a vacation or a rainy day rolls around: a fashionable way to go swimming or enjoy life without getting their hair wet.
If there is a person in your life who has complained about this, these alumnae have the perfect gift idea: Aqua Waterproof Headwear. The pieces are available in three turban styles and a wrap and can be worn in a variety of different ways.
By purchasing this product, you are supporting two savvy best friends and business partners. Read more about their partnership here.
For the experiential friend
Lately, more and more companies are advertising based on the idea to give the gift of experiences rather than “things.” For a lot of people, this could mean giving a gift card to a popular restaurant or taking a loved one to a Broadway show.
But what if you could gift someone an experience, enjoy the sights and sounds of the City of Brotherly Love AND get a work out in, all at the same time? SeePhillyRun invites runners of all fitness levels to join Ian Thomas, MBA ’17, a six-time marathon runner and certified city tour guide, on three- to five-mile courses. With Thomas as your guide, you can jog around the city to check out landmarks like iconic locations from the movie Rocky, the city’s expansive mural collection or where the cowboy hat was invented.
Know of any other businesses owned and operated by Fox School alumni that deserve to be highlighted? Contact us!
Meet five young alumni who are empowering the movers and shakers of tomorrow
For many reasons, Fox alumni choose to give back to their alma mater and support Temple founder Russell Conwell’s vision to provide an excellent education to all students, regardless of their means. By donating their time, holding leadership positions on alumni association boards, mentoring students or contributing financially to scholarship programs, alumni are offering current students greater opportunities to transform themselves, their communities and the world.
Get to know five dynamic young alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years and are making an impact by giving back.
A shared class with accounting Professor Marco Malandra connected Grant Diener, BBA’15, MAcc ’16, and Peter A. Smith, BBA ’15, outside the classroom. After running into each other at Schuylkill Valley Sports, the two became close friends, supporting each other during their time at the Fox School and into their professional careers working at Big Four accounting firms.
Just two years after graduating, Smith tragically passed away from Lyme disease. Due to complications of this disease, a viral infection ultimately led to heart failure. The unthinkable loss sparked an idea for Diener and his friends to honor Smith’s memory by creating a lasting tribute at the Fox School: the Peter A. Smith Memorial Scholarship for accounting majors. “We elected to do something at Temple since that’s the place we all met Pete and he had great success at Fox,” says Diener.
Diener, his family and friends created a group “#4PetesSake” to raise money for the tuition scholarship and annually host a tailgate in Smith’s honor at Temple Homecoming Weekend. Recipients of the award must submit an essay about a work or volunteer assignment that demonstrates devotion to family, leadership skills and a strong work ethic—characteristics and values Smith possessed.
“Pete was a true gentleman who had an amazing attitude and loved to help others regardless of the task,” says Diener. “No matter how long you knew Pete, he made an impact on each person’s life through his contagious smile, energy and genuine love. His passing was a tragedy, hence why we started this scholarship.”
Sasha K. Buddle
Just hours after graduating, Sasha K. Buddle, BBA ’16, HRM ’18, signed up for as many
alumni association newsletters as she could. The journey to her becoming a two-time Fox graduate was long: Bud emigrated from Jamaica to the U.S. following high school graduation, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served a tour in Afghanistan, all before setting her sights on business school.
“It was important for me to stay involved and make all students and alumni feel like they always have a home at Fox, so I eventually took on a leadership position to make a bigger impact and offer a unique perspective from having a diverse background,” says Buddle. Today, she serves as a director-at-large on the Fox Alumni Board and is responsible for helping plan events, manage the budget and pioneer a new mentorship program for alumni, all while working full-time at Deloitte in human capital services.
Giacomo “Jack” Cesareo
Giacomo “Jack” Cesareo, BBA ’06, believes in the university’s motto, “Perseverance Conquers,” so strongly that he has been an avid supporter of student and alumni initiatives since graduating, serving on numerous committees and leading several groups, most recently as the previous president of the Fox School of Business Alumni Association (FSBAA) and currently as a director-at-large with the Temple University Alumni Association (TUAA).
“I learned lifelong skills at the Fox School that have propelled my career. I believe, as alumni, we should improve our experiences and opportunities for the next person by giving back,” says Cesareo.
He’s demonstrating his commitment to excellence beyond volunteering and showing his support for the strategic vision of the Fox School by funding a new scholarship for students studying international business—a passion he gets to express professionally as an operations manager for a multi-national digital transformation company, CI&T. “I’m giving my support to the strategic plan and direction of Fox to show any prospective student that this is the commitment, character and integrity you can expect from a great institution,” says Cesareo.
Serving on Temple Student Government his senior year as chief of staff inspired Eric Hamilton, BBA ’16, to stay connected as a board member of the Temple Young Alumni Association (TUYA) right after graduating and to relaunch the Young Accounting Alumni Group (YAAG) at Fox this year. As co-president of the reinvigorated group, Hamilton is working toward a goal of connecting young accounting alumni in the Philadelphia area at networking events in unique spots in the city and on campus.
Working in the industry as a senior associate at RSM, Hamilton recognizes the benefits of staying in touch with peers and meeting other professionals and wants to enable those relationships while supporting Fox.
“By giving back to Fox through YAAG and supporting accounting students, we’re building the future of the accounting profession,” says Hamilton. “I think our stewardship as young professionals is probably one of the most important things we can offer right now.”
Before graduating, Melissa Cameron, MAcc ’18, worked in the nonprofit arts industry and came to see the importance of connections. “They’re the lifeblood of organizations in nonprofit arts,” says Cameron. “I learned how to recognize support and pay it forward.”
Today, Cameron returns the support she received from Fox in launching her accounting career with Deloitte as a co-president of YAAG. She chose to stay connected and give her time in a leadership role in order to keep in touch and network with peers, share and hear about successes and challenges, and mentor students.
“I received tremendous support from Fox while in school, both tangibly with financial support and intangibly with moral and community support,” says Cameron. “I want to pay that forward for incoming students and soon-to-be young alumni.”
Interested in getting involved or deepening your connection with your alma mater? Visit fox.temple.edu/alumni for events, follow @foxalumni on social media and consider supporting students with a gift in any amount at giving.temple.edu/givetofox.
Warren V. “Pete” Musser, 92, DPS ’99, businessman, philanthropist, benefactor and long-time friend of the Fox School of Business passed away on Monday morning. Musser was a legendary investor in the technology and financial industries, an entrepreneur and a community leader for more than 60 years.
Musser will be remembered as a luminary in the city’s entrepreneurial history .“Pete Musser was a great man and a great example to our students,” says Ronald Anderson, dean of the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. “We are deeply saddened by his loss. Pete believed in building a community through business, particularly small businesses that eventually blossom, such as Comcast. As a philanthropist, he believed in business education. Throughout his professional life and in his contributions to the Fox School, among other institutions, Pete recognized the value of investing in others.”
In 1953, Musser founded a company that would eventually become Safeguard Scientifics, a securities investment firm. Through Safeguard, Musser helped fund the startup of QVC, Comcast and Novell, among other Fortune 500 companies. His first breakthrough was a check-writing machine in 1955, but among his biggest successes were seed-funding Comcast and QVC.
At the Fox School, Musser sought to help others get their start. He funded an endowed visiting professorship in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Musser was the inaugural recipient of the annual Musser Excellence in Leadership Award, which was established and endowed in honor of his achievements and his entrepreneurial spirit. Dick Vermeil, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and recipient of the 2019 award, called him a “great, great man and true friend.”
Earlier this year, Musser was named to the school’s Centennial Honorees list, a celebration of the school’s most influential contributors during its first 100 years. He received an honorary Doctor of Professional Studies in 1999.
He was heavily involved in the Temple University-based Safeguard Scientifics Center for Economic Education, which focuses on business, economic and entrepreneurial education to K-12 teachers and students throughout the region and the state.
“I believe Pete would take great satisfaction that many of the people and families that he invested in, will thrive for years to come,” says Anderson.
Pursuing extended education can be extremely challenging for the average person, let alone those in demanding careers. However, Kate Nelson, an active duty Military Intelligence Officer, is proving this to be more than possible.
Captain Nelson is in her 15th year of military service and has accomplished two master’s degrees: one in military studies and the other in sports management. Now, she is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) here at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
The Fox editorial team caught up with Captain Nelson to hear about her experience of earning her doctorate in business while actively serving in the U.S. Army.
What made you want to pursue a DBA?
“I knew I wanted to get my doctorate. But I thought [I’d do it] when I got out, maybe take a year or two off,” Nelson says. It wasn’t until her boss, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Faint, also a current Fox student, informed her about the DBA program.
She recalls thinking, “‘You can’t do this while active. That’s ridiculous.’ But he sat me down, told me the pros and cons, wrote me a letter of recommendation, and here I am.”
The Executive DBA program aims to help executive-level managers and experienced service members like Nelson learn how to solve business problems through advanced critical reasoning. As a first-year student, Nelson plans to research how people consume both women’s and men’s sports differently. She also credits her pursuit of advanced education to her training in the military.
“The U.S. military is the most educated and trained military in the world,” Nelson says. “They always tell us to better ourselves and look for the next step in our career. I was always taught that every day you should learn something.”
How does military experience translate to business?
“My experience isn’t in business, but it is translating because I’m managing hundreds of soldiers,” Nelson explains. “Some businesses look at the military and how it runs, and they use us as an example. So, I can actually speak to that in class.”
According to Cailin DiGiacomo, admissions coordinator for the DBA program, “The current cohort has 22 students, all coming from drastically different industries. Several come from a military background.”
DiGiacomo guides prospective students through the application process, helping them understand how the Executive DBA program can teach them to expand their decision-making abilities through applied theory and research.
How do busy professionals find time to pursue a DBA?
“Our program is very flexible. During each semester, we have three weekend residencies. We send the dates out to our students in the summer so they can plan around it. Then, there’s a weekly online component as well,” says DiGiacomo.
Nelson agrees. “The curriculum is basically a long weekend six times a year. We get thirty days of leave every year that we can use, so it really isn’t too bad.”
This degree seems suitable for people like Captain Nelson, who have very demanding work schedules but are passionate about furthering their careers in business. With the DBA program, she finds time to both manage her soldiers and manage her education.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
What do you want?
That’s the question Lisa Wang, USA Hall of Fame gymnast and co-founder and CEO of SheWorx, asked the crowd at the 20th Annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference at the Liacouras Center. As the keynote speaker, Wang challenged attendees to shift their personal goals from perfectionism to “enoughness.”
“There is a significant difference between trying to make myself proud, versus simply being proud of myself,” says Wang. A self-proclaimed overachiever for most of her young adult life, Wang shifted her perspective after an unsuccessful attempt at qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It was then that she realized that nothing is ever “enough” in the pursuit of perfection.
After a return to intensive training and victory in the form of a USA Hall of Fame induction, Wang left the world of gymnastics and founded SheWorx, which aims to close the funding gap for women through collaboration and support. Through her experience, she learned what she believes are the three traits of successful leaders.
- Self-awareness – the ability to recognize within yourself the fears and desires that are motivating you.
- Anti-fragility – the ability to grow stronger from the things that hurt you.
- Abundance – the ability to trust that what you know deep down is right.
Wang ended her address with a piece of advice: “Trust what you want, trust in your abilities to make it happen and trust that that it is enough.”
The conference also included Temple Talks featuring 10-minute talks from successful entrepreneurs and a Q&A moderated by Sheila Hess, BBA ’91, Philadelphia City Representative. Avi Loren Fox, CLA ’10, of Wild Mantle, Charisse McGill, STHM ’03, of Lokal Artisan Foods, LLC and Adriana Vazquez of Lilu presented their business concepts to the crowd and fielded questions on their entrepreneurial journeys thus far.
The talks were followed by a conversation with Shirley Moy, executive director of Temple University Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, who discussed the state of the organization’s efforts to career-building resources to residents of North Philadelphia.
The “Power Pitches” portion of the day brought back competitors from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s 2019 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, including Olaition Awomolo of BuildLab, Shari Smith-Jackson of Pay it Forward Live, and Elina Khutoryansky of Haelex, to give three-minute pitches on their early-stage ventures.
The event concluded with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony to “recognize alumnae who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and made outstanding achievements as innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.” Samantha Berger, Aisha Chaudry, DPM and Donna Lynne Skerrett are this year’s inductees.
The League for Entrepreneurial Women, which holds an annual conference, is an advocacy initiative that addresses the growing challenges and interests of entrepreneurial women in the Greater Philadelphia region. It was co-founded by Betsy Barber, professor and executive director of Business Development and Partnerships of Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Betsy Leebron Tutelman, senior vice provost for Strategic Communications. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), under the leadership of Executive Director Ellen Weber, co-hosts the event.
“I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be successful,” says Jameel Rush, BBA ’07 and adjunct professor at the Fox School. “Barriers to success for individuals and businesses exist. What drives my passion is creating those opportunities and ways to overcome those barriers to help organizations tap into every resource they can.”
As associate vice president of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) for Aramark, Rush leads D&I programs and initiatives across three areas: workforce, workplace and marketplace. He works to ensure that the company hires talent with backgrounds that reflect the communities the company serves, the culture values differences and drives innovation through inclusion and that they partner with diverse suppliers.
Aramark, a leader in food, facilities management and uniforms, has been recognized for diversity and inclusion efforts by organizations including the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), Diversity, Inc. and BLACK ENTERPRISE.
Rush has played a significant role in making these achievements possible by working to highlight the possibilities for an organization that is highly inclusive and attracts talent across all walks of life. Along with making executives understand the business case for diversity, he investigates the importance of things like the language used in job postings, how culture and process effect talent recruitment and how diversity in suppliers helps to drive profits.
In 2013 when he first joined Aramark, his interest in D&I was born. He was on a team responsible for designing, developing, implementing and managing an employee resource for young professionals focused on specific issues that impact them. “I fell in love with inclusion work once I was exposed to the industry,” he explains. The next year, he took the next step in his career and was named director of diversity and inclusion for the company.
At the Fox School, Rush teaches courses in organizational leadership and business ethics. In this role, he blends his real-world experiences into lessons for students. But he does not have to force the issue, as topics like D&I often come up naturally because they are ingrained in the lives and courses of the modern college student.
“We discuss issues like unconscious bias and discrimination—what they look like and how they function in today’s culture—and the importance of organizational policies to combat them from an ethical and a business standpoint.”
The most important piece of advice Rush would give students and prospective students looking in his footsteps is to network, network, network. He suggests being intentional about maintaining those relationships and building an authentic brand in order to be remembered.
“Everyone has their own unique path,” he says. “Mine is one of many. But my opportunities have come from making friends and associates. If you get your name out there and do good work, a lot can happen.”
Sabrina Volpone, PhD ’13, is an organizational diversity expert, researching topics of diversity and identity within the context of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and immigrant status. Since graduating from the Fox PhD program, her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
The On The Verge editorial team had the opportunity to chat with Volpone about how she got started researching the experiences of traditionally under-represented employees, how a more diverse workforce requires organizations to adapt and how they can do better.
How did you become interested in diversity and inclusion?
When I was growing up in Texas, I was not exposed to much diversity. The Dallas/Fort Worth area was very different 30+ years ago then it is now; the only people I knew were white and Christian.
My mom, who had a business degree in accounting and worked for a huge company in Texas, told me a story about how she got fired because she was getting sick at her desk too often when she was pregnant. Her company shrugged it off, saying that they assumed that once she became a mother she would be leaving her job anyway. Hearing these things opened my eyes to small-town values—taking care of your neighbors, for example—being pushed aside when stigmatizing factors were introduced.
Then, when I was working toward my degrees, both my bachelor’s from the University of North Texas and PhD in Human Resource Management from the Fox School, I wanted to do something meaningful that could speak to people’s experiences at work. The research I was seeing did not capture what was going on for women, people of color and other disenfranchised groups.
What are the differences between diversity and inclusion? How does your research incorporate both?
Diversity is more than just checking a demographic box or filling a quota. To really leverage the benefits of diversity we have to talk about inclusion, a separate, but related, topic. The difference has often been illustrated in the following quote from Verna Myers, the vice president of inclusion strategy for Netflix: “Diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance.”
In a recent research project, my team went back to basics to investigate how organizations actually define diversity. There are a host of organizations that would like to improve how they are managing diversity because they are facing lawsuits, or simply because they want to be more strategic about managing human resources. There is an increasing need for organizations to collectively rebuild and expand the way we think about these topics.
For example, we looked at the way a few Fortune 500 firms were defining diversity and found that only 38 percent had established definitions on their websites. A large number of those who did listed standard descriptors typically found on HR hiring paperwork that are based on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, stating that the company does not discriminate based on age, sex, race, etc. Other companies take a different approach, however, and use language that extends beyond “legal” terminology.
In my work, I am trying to illustrate that diversity and inclusion must work hand-in-hand. The diversity element establishes the organizational environment and the legal mandates required by law. Inclusion facilitates a climate where employees feel valued and included as a result of their unique characteristics. This is important because, as some of my other research shows, leveraging diversity in this way can result in financial gains. We found that one small change in a diversity definition can relate to more than $2 billion in current profits and more than $1 billion in profit growth. Thus, being inclusive when defining diversity results in increased financial outcomes for companies.
How does inclusion impact companies?
To explore the importance of inclusive policies and procedures in the workplace, I was part of a research team that examined the experiences of breastfeeding women in the workforce. We interviewed women in the morning, afternoon and night to see how the quality of their breastfeeding space throughout the day improved work outcomes. The data and quotes from the women illustrated a powerful point: the legal definition of what must be provided (a space to pump that is not a bathroom and is shielded from view) will not make a satisfied, productive employee. When companies provided more than the bare minimum for breastfeeding mothers, we noticed an increase in their work goal progress and their breastfeeding goal progress while also seeing improvements in their work-family balance satisfaction.
How does a more diverse workforce and consumer base require organizations to adapt? How are businesses innovating around majority-minorities, women, people with disabilities, millennials, and other demographics?
Some companies are not, and their workplace cultures and even financials are seeing the impact of that. Many organizations that are not evolving along with their workforce may cease to exist in 10 to 20 years because of their inability to strategically manage their human resources in a way that captures the diversity of their employees.
For example, in a paper that my coauthors and I recently published, we looked at the hiring process for people with concealable stigmas. Specifically, we examined the relationship between applicants disclosing their hearing disability during the interview process and whether or not they received a job offer. Changing our policies and procedures throughout each human resource function to be inclusive of employees with non-visible disabilities is an example of adapting from systems that, historically, have been focused on accommodating employees with visible physical disabilities.
But those who are thinking about the lived experiences of employees, they create policies and procedures that capture that. They are also being strategic through all of their human resources functions—processes like hiring, training and promotions—and are threading the importance of diversity and inclusion practices through all the ways they do business. Executives are making sure that employees are being heard and taken care of. In order for companies to survive, these considerations will become a requirement.
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.
The Fox School of Business prides itself on creating a community that helps students thrive long after graduation. The reformation of the Young Accounting Alumni Group (YAAG) shows that even after students graduate, they do not have to face the real world alone.
Co-presidents of YAAG, Melissa Cameron, MAcc ’18, and Eric Hamilton, BBA ’16, explore their personal motivation for reforming the group, why its existence is important for future alumni and what is in store for the future of YAAG.
Melissa first entered the world of accounting through arts administration and arts management positions. Since receiving her master of accountancy degree from the Fox School, she has worked at Deloitte in the audit and assurance practice. Eric started as an associate in the risk consulting practice at RSM and was promoted to senior associate after two years.
The driving force behind relaunching YAAG was the accounting faculty at the Fox School, Melissa and Eric explain. “They wanted to reconnect with the recent alumni to keep the bond strong when students graduate, and they wanted a group of motivated alumni to get it off the ground,” says Eric.
Relaunching the group shows that, while students may go down a multitude of career paths, there will always be a support system by their side.
“I’ve learned so much through other people’s experiences,” Melissa says. “I have had many key people willing to take time out of their busy schedules to go out for a coffee or lunch with me, or email, or call, just so that I could ask them my (dozens of) questions, pick their brain about their experiences and knowledge and background in accounting.”
She views YAAG as a platform to give back to her fellow Fox graduates and current students and is motivated to “pay-it-forward.” “I want to be available to be that person for the next round of students looking to establish themselves in an accounting or business field.”
The Young Accounting Alumni Group kicked off its relaunch with the YAAG Launch Happy Hour on August 6. The event served as a kick-off for recent alumni to meet Melissa, Eric and other members of the YAAG leadership team and learn about the group’s future plans. With over 50 recent graduates attending, the alumni board was able to reconnect with familiar faces and get the excitement going about the relaunch.
When looking to the future of YAAG, Eric says, “Be on the lookout for future events while we continue to develop our brand. Then we will eventually build the programming that our group wants to see, such as mentoring, continuing education and exclusive events.”
The resurgence of the Young Accounting Alumni Group has only just begun and is ready to help recent graduates every step of the way.
If you are interested in learning more about YAAG, check for emails from the group as well as the Temple Alumni site for future events, and register!
This September, the Fox School kicked off it’s Fox on the Road alumni event series with its first stop in New York City. The event gave attendees the opportunity to network with fellow alumni and Fox leadership, and get an inside look at the future direction and mission of the school from Dean Anderson. The featured speaker, Anthony Viglietti, BBA ’04, COO & CFO of theSkimm, spoke to guests about his journey to the U.S., tech disruption and changes to the workplace. We sat down with him afterward to hear more about his experience as an undergraduate student at the Fox School and how he got to where he is today.
Q: You spoke about moving from your hometown of Lyon, France to the UK and eventually ending up in the U.S. How has your journey affected your approach to your career?
A: The reason I moved around a lot is that I had this idea of what I wanted to do and I was determined to do it. And it didn’t always work out, but I don’t have regrets because at the time it felt like the right thing to do. It’s made me massively determined. My first job I was 24, so I was kind of old when I entered the workforce, but I was determined to prove people wrong. And I still have that chip on my shoulder.
Q: What drew you to Temple University as an undergraduate student?
A: I was at a school in France that had five partner schools. My two favorites were Temple and Northeastern. I liked the recruiting team at Temple, they were my favorite. There was also a bit of grit about Temple, which was in my background. When you’re a student the real world seems tough, but Temple gets it. They toughen you up to get you there, and that’s what drew me to it.
Q: Are there any skills and/or lessons you learned during your time at the Fox School that you have carried with you throughout your career?
A: There’s been a couple of times in my life where it’s helped me with organization and prioritization. I was on the varsity soccer team, so every day I was playing soccer and every day I was working. It really helped me from that perspective. I can’t always pinpoint them, but I remember certain moments about Temple, and I like going back there.
Q: What advice would you give to others who are looking to work their way up to a position like yours?
A: There are two ways to answer that question. The extreme answer is: I believe in work-life balance, and I believe in working to live not living to work, but I would say in the first five years of your career just work really hard. The other piece of advice is whatever the scope of your role is, do the extracurricular stuff and take it out so that your scope could be applied to much bigger things. You’ll become much more versatile and much more useful to the business. That’s a big lesson that I’ve taken from my entire career. I’ve always gone above and beyond. This doesn’t necessarily mean working harder, it just means knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, understanding how it impacts business, and understanding how people operate, so you that you become a partner to them.
Interested in attending the next Fox on the Road event? Make sure your contact information is accurate and stay tuned for the next invitation!
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.
When Ian Thomas first came to Philadelphia in 2002, all he had was a friend and backpack.
Over the next few years, he moved across the country and internationally until he settled back in Philadelphia in 2011. This time, he had a family and a career in international transportation and logistics. He was working full-time when he decided to pursue an MBA at the Fox School.
Now, Thomas, PMBA ’17, runs his own company that blends exercise and tourism in a way that feels authentically Philly. SeePhillyRun invites runners of all fitness levels to join Thomas, a six-time marathon runner and certified city tour guide, on three- to five-mile courses. Groups jog around the city to check out landmarks like iconic locations from the movie Rocky, the city’s expansive mural collection or where the cowboy hat was invented.
Thomas describes himself as a businessman first, a runner second and a tour guide third, which helps to explain how, despite only being operational for about two years, SeePhillyRun has already seen a great deal of success. He differentiates his business by maintaining a hyperlocal focus rather than the “big box” approach of his competition. The company invests back into the local community and partners with organizations such as Parks On Tap, Four Seasons, Philadelphia Runner, Loews Hotels and Temple University.
“I love Philly, storytelling and running,” he says. “I saw Philly as an asset at my fingertips when I decided that I wanted to combine my passions and create a unique way to see the city.”
Thomas leverages his knowledge of business, people and international relations to curate a running experience that is interesting, engaging and transformative for a wide range of people. Living overseas and working in client management in his former career, he developed an appreciation for communicating with people who have English as their second language. He says this understanding has served him well as a tour guide searching for commonalities across diverse perspectives.
Despite the challenge of incorporating multiple perspectives in his tours, Thomas recognizes that his method of tourism attracts a particular clientele.
“People coming out to a running tour are likely to be an ‘experiential’ audience,” he says. “Going on a running tour versus a traditional walking tour is like surfing the internet rather than reading a book. It offers a taste or a piece of the bigger picture in an authentic, fast-paced way.”
He says that he feels like an ambassador for the city, promoting Philadelphia the way it would want to be promoted: shouting quick tales of how it is revolutionary in its inclusivity, creativity and open-mindedness. For example, a popular spot on his routes is the Moore College of Art and Design, founded in 1848 as the first women’s art school in the country.
When looking to the future of SeePhillyRun, Thomas asserts that the company is scalable in a variety of different ways. He could expand the business into different, historically-rich cities or could incorporate other approaches that blend wellness, tourism and hospitality such as biking. Eventually, SeePhillyRun could evolve into a virtual experience.
“As long as the energy is right, we are telling good stories, staying local and plugged into the community—a lot of great things could happen,” he says.