Lisa Peskin, MBA ’86, never thought she’d work in sales.

“I had the same negative connotations most people do of the pushy, obnoxious car salesman,” says Peskin, whose focus in the Fox School of Business MBA program was marketing. “But my opinion of sales certainly changed; now I’ve been doing it for 31 years.”

Peskin started her own sales training and management company in 2003. In 2010, it evolved into Business Development University.

“BDU works with salespeople, and if they’re underperforming, we help them get their numbers,” explains Peskin. “If they’re average, we figure out how to get them good. If they’re good, we get them great. And if they’re great, we figure out how to turn them into superstars. We maximize the performance potential of the people we work with; we help each person and each team drive the numbers.”

Peskin, in addition to being the CEO of BDU, is presently writing a book. The topic? Sales!

“The focus of the book,” she says, “is what I wish people told me back in 1986 when I started in sales. I had to make so many mistakes, and I wish someone had taught me the fundamentals so I didn’t have to figure it out on my own.”

With her upcoming book in mind, we asked Peskin, who in the past has worked with Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute to create workshops for students on similar topics, to share some of her sales secrets.

1. Have a well-defined game plan

“Most salespeople wing it every day; there’s no rhyme or reason to what they’re doing. How many coaches come into a game without a game plan? Doug Pederson, the Eagles’ coach, clearly had a well-defined game plan in their game against the Vikings. Salespeople need that, too. They need activity goals and result goals.”

2. Build strong networks

“In 1986, when I started in sales, it was dialing for dollars. There was no such thing as the Internet, or email, and it was all about knocking on doors and picking up the phone. The best way to fill your pipeline with good prospects is building a strong network of centers of influence who will be able to refer business on a consistent basis. The close ratios will be much higher if they come through networking.”

Lisa Peskin (far right) appeared on the cover of a Fox School magazine when she was an MBA student in the 1980s.

3. Leverage your existing customer base

“I have a concept called ‘squeeze the lemon.’ It’s not making lemonade out of lemons, it’s making the most out of every opportunity, every meeting, every day. Everything we do should be purposeful. A lot of times salespeople aren’t purposeful when it comes to their existing client base. The best way to get referrals is from happy customers.”

4. Uncover key information

“You must uncover the prospects needs and what they need to know. They need to know qualifying information, decision-making process and criteria, timelines, budget, and so on. Most salespeople are good at uncovering what the prospect needs, but not what they need to know to make the sale. They need to take a consultative approach.”

5. Prepare a customized presentation

“Most salespeople do what I call ‘showing up and throwing up.’ They go into presentation mode before they find out what the prospect cares about. When you walk into a physician’s office, they hand you a clipboard. Then you go into another office and they ask you the same questions and they take your vitals. Then the doctor does a full examination and they send you to get more tests and then they offer a diagnosis. Salespeople need to act more like doctors and not offer a diagnosis before they’ve done proper discovery.”

6. Handle objections effectively

“Most salespeople don’t try to handle objections, and the ability to properly and effectively handle them at the beginning and end of the sales process is critical. Objections aren’t a bad thing; salespeople have to stop thinking about it like that. Instead, they need to examine specifically why the prospect is objecting. There are six different objection handling techniques that we use to train people.”

7. Formulate a solid closing strategy

“Closing begins at the very beginning of the sales process. If you don’t set it up properly, you’re going to sound like a pushy, obnoxious car salesman trying to close at the end. There are about nine closing techniques. My favorite is the assumptive close, where if you’ve done everything right, you should be able to assume the sale.”

8. Maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated

“This is the most important thing. Are you willing to do what it takes to be successful and are you committed to it? The fact is you’re going to get way more ‘Nos’ than ‘Yesses,’ so you need a strong attitude, work ethic, and to stay motivated. In sales, you never get to take a breather because you’re only as good as your last month, last week, and last quarter. Attitude and motivation trump everything.”

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J.W. Pepper & Son chief strategy officer Scott Grady, MBA ’17.

“I started at the bottom, literally at the lowest position in the company,” says Scott Grady about the job he landed in 1996, the year after he graduated from high school. It was with J.W. Pepper & Son, the 142-year-old Pennsylvania company that’s now the world’s largest sheet music retailer.

“I walked around the warehouse pulling customer orders all day,” Grady continues. “The way the orders were organized—and we’re talking about a thousand orders a day—was illogical to me. So I devised a system to help the order flow be smoother. That was noticed by upper management and it sent me on my way.”

That was 22 years ago. Grady still works at J.W. Pepper & Son, but now he’s in a C-suite position. In 2017, the same year Grady earned his MBA from the Fox School, he was promoted to chief strategy officer (CSO).

Upward bound

Grady began climbing the ladder at J.W. Pepper & Son soon after devising that new order system back in his warehouse days. In 2001, he was relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and tasked with opening a new sales and marketing office. In his nine years out west, he earned a business degree and rose from being operations manager to vice president and regional marketing manager.

He returned to the Philadelphia area in 2010, this time as J.W. Pepper & Son’s vice president of brand strategy.

“It was a defining moment for me,” recalls Grady. “I had worked in many different roles, from operations and management to marketing, but this was a senior leadership role working closely with the core brand and new brands. I had to learn how to be entrepreneurial inside of a company that was 140-years-old—that’s when I decided I needed to get an MBA.”

The Fox Online MBA experience

Grady entered the Fox School’s Online MBA program in 2015. As a working professional with a hectic schedule and senior level responsibilities, he was drawn to the flexibility of the online format. He was also skeptical, namely about the lack of direct interaction with fellow students. But the program’s in-person residency, held at the Fox School’s Alter Hall at the beginning of the first semester, was a major perk.

Online MBA students meet during a residency held at Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.

“I was afraid that, since it was an online program, I’d be too far removed from people,” he says. “But the residency brought us together and it was a defining experience. I learned so much and I’m still friends with many of the other students. It was great to work and network with professionals who were already in the field doing great things.”

“Every day,” he says about his two years in the program, “there was so much practical work application for what I was learning. Balancing the work load wasn’t the biggest challenge, it was figuring out how to apply everything. What I learned from the entrepreneurship class, about business models, is something I apply in almost every business meeting now.”

The C-suite demands confidence

Grady, in his current role as CSO, is responsible for managing a portfolio of projects and initiatives, a team of developers and business analysts, and new mergers and acquisitions. One of Grady’s main focuses with J.W. Pepper & Son, whose biggest client in the sheet music game is public school music programs, is bringing new technology initiatives to music classrooms. He recently helped launch Cut Time, a group management tool for music educators. And last year, he oversaw his first acquisition.

Grady regularly applies what he learned from his MBA at J.W. Pepper & Son. He says the most important skill he acquired was how to be a confident decision maker.

“At this level,” says Grady, “you have to be a confident decision maker. You have to earn people’s trust and you have to be decisive. You have to look at all the angles and to make sense of all the incoming information, and then make decisions that will effect the entire business. Being able to make these big decisions is the number one thing the MBA gave me.”

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Bernie Milano, BS ’61, stands with graduates of The PhD Project.

Decades after the implementation of affirmative action, African-American and Hispanic-American students are more underrepresented within colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to The New York Times.

This gap extends into business as well. Only one quarter of senior executives in Fortune 500 companies are minorities, with Hispanic and African-American executives underrepresented by 9 and 13 percentage points, respectively.

Alumnus Bernie Milano, BS ’61, saw an opportunity to break this cycle. In 1994, he founded The PhD Project, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing workplace diversity, to address this racial disparity in workplaces and academia—starting with business schools’ doctorate programs.

It began with a question, Milano recalled to the Chronicle for Higher Education in 2015. Frustrated at the lack of diversity while recruiting for KPMG, Milano wanted to know what could encourage students of color to study business: “Would diverse faculty attract diverse students? And with a diverse faculty and diverse students, would the diverse students then perform up to their potential?”

An absence of faculty of color at the front of classroom can inherently limit ideas of higher education for minority students. The PhD Project guides and encourages African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American students to pursue doctorate degrees, in order to widen the pool of underrepresented faculty, administrators, and leaders throughout the nation’s schools and workplaces.

The Fox School recognizes the crucial role that business schools play in this cycle. “By supporting the students of today, we are strengthening the next generation of faculty and leaders,” says Lisa Fitch, senior associate director of PhD programs at the Fox School.

Together, The PhD Project and the Fox School help doctoral students and alumni faculty members become anchors of proof that young students need. The alumni then become role models, demonstrating that a doctorate is achievable and necessary for a representative career cycle.

Dr. Jamie Weathers, PhD ’16, assistant professor of finance at Western Michigan University and graduate of The PhD Project.

“As a minority in higher education, you are likely to be the only one in your cohort,” says Jamie Weathers, PhD ’16, an alumna of the Fox School and graduate of The PhD Project. “Having access to a network of people that look like you, that face the same challenges as you, is beyond helpful.”

According to a study from the TIAA Institute, university faculties have become slightly more diverse in the last two decades. Since 1994, The PhD Project has been successful in guiding 1,000 African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American students in completing their doctorate degrees.

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On February 2, Temple University’s Liacouras Center was buzzing with excitement for the Fox School of Business and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management winter graduation ceremony, where over 500 undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred.

The keynote speaker was Lori Bush, MBA ’85. Following her position as the president of Nu Skin, the personal care brand, Bush served as the CEO and president of skin care company Rodan + Fields until her retirement in 2016.

Lori Bush, MBA ’85.

In her speech, Bush, the author of a best-selling wellness book titled Write Your Skin a Prescription for Change, detailed how she achieved great things in her career by being scrappy, leveraging her strategic training, and pushing the limits of business with limited resources. She advised the new graduates to look at the small moments of everyday life through a business lens, as this can lead to meaningful, career-changing insights.

“Everything is business,” said Bush. “You have to take inspiration from everyday life—then just add business principles and stir.”

The student speaker was Beatrice Raccanello Esq., MBA ’17. Raccanello, a native of Italy, earned her law degree from Bocconi University in Milan, and then relocated to Philadelphia to earn her Master of Laws from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law. While working full-time for the Beasley School, as the assistant director of the Office of Graduate and International Programs, Raccanello enrolled in the Fox School’s Part-Time MBA program.

Beatrice Raccanello Esq., MBA ’17.

Raccannello spoke about how she was initially afraid to move to an unfamiliar country, but that her experiences as an international student ultimately molded her into a bolder leader. She found strength and inspiration by working with other exceptional students in the Part-Time MBA program who, like her, had full-time jobs, family responsibilities, and other life commitments.

“We became better leaders,” she said, noting how beneficial it was to work with students who brought diverse backgrounds and professional perspectives to the classroom. “We were able to collaborate to pursue our dreams.”

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There’s a first time for everything—that includes playing a live show at your alma mater.

Dan Campbell, EDU ’11, has made a name for himself as the lead singer of The Wonder Years. He and his band have toured extensively throughout the U.S. and around the world. For all of the concerts Campbell has played, none has taken place on Temple University’s Main Campus.

That changes next month.

Campbell will visit Main Campus as the Fox School of Business presents his side project, Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties, for a students-only concert.

The Friday, Feb. 16 event at the Temple Performing Arts Center begins at 5 p.m. It is part of the Fox School’s ongoing 100th anniversary celebration throughout 2018. The exclusive acoustic set will feature a question-and-answer session with Campbell, who will share personal lessons on the business of managing and marketing a band, “from garages and basements to international tours,” he said.

“I’ve never played music on Temple’s campus before this,” Campbell said. “Coming back to campus is a somewhat rare occurrence, but it’s always marked with a trip to the Bagel Hut and a lot of gawking at all the new buildings and expanded pieces of campus. The growth at Temple in the last seven or eight years has been unbelievable.”

The Fox School spoke with Campbell recently, for details about his upcoming show and his connection to the business school:

Most music fans know you from The Wonder Years, so what can students expect when they come to an Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties show?

“Generally, the biggest change with an Aaron West show is that I do them in character. For those unaware, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties is a work of fiction told through music. It follows the story of a man named Aaron through a tumultuous time in his life and, to do the story justice, I play the shows as Aaron, totally through including between-song banter. This isn’t really an Aaron West show, though. This is more of a Q+A panel with an acoustic set mixed in. So, in this instance, I won’t be in character. Instead, I’ll be appearing as myself, playing mostly Aaron West songs and answering questions from the audience, collected before the show begins.”

This show is part of the Fox School’s 100-year anniversary. What’s your connection to Fox?

“My main connection to Fox is that my step-mom (Debbie Campbell) is the school’s senior vice dean. She asked me to come and be a part of the celebration and I was happy to oblige. Otherwise, the connection goes only as far as Alter Hall providing me a warm building to eat lunch in during the winter months when I was a student.”

The show supports Symphony for a Broken Orchestra. What can you tell us about that charitable cause?

“My dad actually brought the charity to my attention. It’s a Temple Contemporary program attempting to repair the thousands of broken instruments owned by the School District of Philadelphia. The idea is to put functioning instruments back into the hands of Philadelphia public school students and encourage expression through music.”

Have you found applications for your English literature degree in your lyric writing?

“This is a difficult thing to quantify because my time spent studying literature has obviously had a major impact on the way that I communicate, in general. By exposing me to new voices and ideas, my time at Temple helped me hone and refine my voice. If I had to pin down one thing that most altered my course as a writer, it would be an independent study I took with Stan McDonald, (associate professor at Temple’s College of Liberal Arts), who critiqued my poetry and helped me shape my style with a specific audience in mind.”

At your show, you’ll also be discussing the business side of managing and promoting a band. What’s the No. 1 lesson you’ve learned from your experiences?

“I’ve learned to never stop trying to find ways to do ‘it’ better, no matter what ‘it’ is. Is there a better option for getting our equipment to overseas shows? Is there a better t-shirt blank we should consider printing on? Is it more beneficial to bring a photographer on tour to create content or another stage tech to help the show run more smoothly? Should we consider playing two nights in a smaller room over one night in a bigger one? We’ve never been afraid to question the way we do anything to find an option that offers us more upside.”

While Dan Campbell’s Feb. 16 concert is free of charge, donations in any $5 increment to Symphony for a Broken Orchestra are required to secure tickets. Here’s how to donate:

  • In-person. Visit Alter Hall either Jan. 30 or Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and make a donation at the table near the first-floor security desk.
  • Online. Donate at Symphony for a Broken Orchestra’s website and email your receipt to dcampbell@temple.edu.
  • Social media. Tickets also will be available through the Fox School’s social media channels.
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I’m sitting in the middle of the dining area at the Temple University Main Campus location of honeygrow—the health-forward, fast-casual, customizable salad and stir-fry restaurant—strapped into a Google Daydream VR headset. In reality, I’m swiveling wildly and waving my arms like a lunatic. In virtual reality, I’m moving ingredients around—a cartoon chicken, an oinking pig, and a cheese wheel—to various shelves inside a walk-in refrigerator. It’s fun. I’m also learning quite a bit about food safety regulations.

This is one of the scenes in the VR experience honeygrow uses to onboard new employees. Created in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based experiential art shop Klip Collective, it’s the latest tech-savvy move from the company founded by CEO Justin Rosenberg, MBA ’09. When Rosenberg developed the business plan for honeygrow while studying at the Fox School, tech was an essential component, namely the automated kiosks that simplify the ordering process while creating a uniquely interactive experience for customers.

Honeygrow opened in 2012 and now has 23 locations in nine cities, including New York, Chicago, and Boston. Since honeygrow is constantly onboarding new employees, it wanted to develop an innovative, efficient way to teach newbies the ropes. Kyle Brown, honeygrow’s director of operations, estimates that about 100 people will take the VR training each year. He claims turnover has already dropped and employees are earning required training certifications at a significantly higher rate.

“Technology is not a silver bullet to stand out, but rather an  operational enhancement to better streamline the experience for both guests and team members.” – Justin Rosenberg, founder and CEO of honeygrow

The first thing I see once jacked into the VR experience is Rosenberg welcoming me to honeygrow. Next I observe employees as they prepare menu items on the salad and noodle line. Then I’m thrown into the interactive walk-in exercise. I learn all about how raw pork and raw beef should not be stored together. I also witness an employee providing fantastic service to customers in a virtually crowded honeygrow dining room.

Virtual reality is a buzzing topic in the news, so using this technology in an inventive way has earned honeygrow attention from publications like Wired, The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur. In addition to optimizing new employee training and relations, it elevates the honeygrow brand by showing how much they value experimenting with new technology. And honeygrow’s success in virtual reality is raising the real bar—months after announcing its VR strategy, major companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken have jumped onboard to do the same.

“Technology is not a silver bullet to stand out, but rather an operational enhancement to better streamline the experience for both guests and team members,” explains Rosenberg. “It’s critical to be constantly searching for ways to thoughtfully and purposefully be better than our competition. And we love to figure out ways to be better than we were yesterday.”

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Gordon Burtch/Carlson School of Management

It started as a casual conversation with a friend.

That is how Dr. Gordon Burtch, PHD ’13, says he decided to obtain his PhD in management information systems (MIS) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. He was already working as a consultant with an undergraduate degree in software engineering. A doctoral degree, he thought, would help him harness the experiences he had in the business industry and explore research in an entrepreneurial way.

Today, he has received two of the top honors available to young scholars.

At the end of 2017, Burtch received both the Early-Career Award from the Association of Information Systems and the Sandra A. Slaughter Early Career Award from the INFORMS Information Systems Society. Both awards recognize individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already greatly contributed to the field of information systems through research, teaching, or service.

As an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Burtch focuses on understanding what drives people to contribute online—such as supporting a crowdfunding campaign or donating to a charity. He analyzes website data to model and predict consumer behavior, explores social factors like the influence of peer groups, and designs interventions that aim to encourage people to get involved in online campaigns.

While Burtch says these awards are quite the honor, he credits his experience at the Fox School with much of his success today.

“I was given the freedom to explore collaborations with whomever I wanted,” Burtch explains. After multiple collaborative research efforts, including with senior associate dean of research Paul Pavlou, Burtch found his niche working with Dr. Sunil Wattal, associate professor in the MIS department.

In working with Wattal, Burtch discovered an interest in econometrics and was able to expand his research expertise under the guidance of his mentor. Being at the Fox School, he says, gave him resources and ability to experiment until he found his forte.

Now, Burtch is seen as an emerging leader in his field. Not only is he dedicated to his research efforts, but he also takes time to mentor students. “I always tell my students,” he says, “to start from the business problem first and work backwards.”

While the awards are an honor, Burtch is not complacent. His research direction is constantly evolving, but Burtch hopes to expand his research to support the public good. He plans to apply his insights to stimulate positive social behaviors, such as encouraging people to volunteer or donate money to charities.

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Millennials have been one of the most talked about and studied generations ever, particularly when it comes to their behavior in the workplace. This year, as members of Generation Z (generally defined as those born after 2001) graduate college and begin to enter the job market, employers must consider the impact of a whole new generation.

Aaron Mitchell, BBA ’04, following his time at the Fox School, earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and is currently the head of talent at a major financial services firm. With more than 10 years of experience in talent acquisition and HR strategy, we asked Mitchell to share his thoughts on how employers can prepare for Gen Z.

What’s unique about recruiting and attracting Gen Z?

Gen Z grew up getting information from a search bar. Their level of digital engagement is putting HR on the forefront in a similar way to how marketing is on the forefront. This year, Gen Z really became part of our target population. They show up to events in larger numbers than millennials did, and they come prepared with lots of information. They know what our employee value proposition is; that means we have to make sure our message is clear and consistent. Gen Z puts a greater responsibility on organizations to deliver on their promises.

What should companies take into consideration when hiring them?

You see a lot of companies refining their messaging on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or even SnapChat. You even see companies like Airbnb having a “head of employee experience” instead of a head of HR. Gen Z is coming into the workforce significantly more diverse in America than generations prior. Their diversity may be a natural forcing mechanism to help organizations truly learn to integrate difference.

What kind of organizations do you think are best prepared for Gen Z?

Organizations need to be consistently thinking about how to be nimble and succeed with difference—that’s the focus. The organizations that are able to work well with Gen Z are probably the same ones that do a good job of integrating women, people of color, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ people. Many organizations have grown more agile over the last 10 years as they considered how to work with millennials, so hopefully working with Gen Z won’t feel like nearly as much of a shock.

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Ariell Johnson, BBA ’05, at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. (Photo: Ryan Collerd)

When Ariell Johnson, BBA ’05, was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the 1980s she cut comics out of newspapers, glued them to construction paper, and tried to sell them.

Back then, there was no way of knowing she’d one day open a comic book shop, Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, in Philadelphia. Or that Ira Glass would interview her there for an episode of “This American Life.” Or that MacArthur Fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates and Civil Rights Movement icon and Congressman John Lewis—both of whom have recently been involved in comics, with the Black Panther series and March, respectively—would visit and stroll Amalgam’s shelves. But even as a kid, Johnson was a gifted entrepreneur and her family knew she was destined for something amazing.

“I always marched to my own drum and I was always business-minded,” recalls Johnson. “My mom would joke that she’d never have to worry about me being broke because I’m a hustler. I had a very crafty grandma who taught me how to knit and crochet and embroider. And anything I learned how to do, I’d try to make money from it. I would even make things out of Play-Doh and sell them. I’ve always been entrepreneurial.”

When Johnson moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University, she initially wanted to study dance. But her sister, an actuary, convinced her to major in accounting at the Fox School. After graduating in 2005, she briefly worked in retail and as a bookkeeper for a nonprofit and a local community newspaper. She considered becoming a certified public accountant, but the thrill was gone.

“I enjoy accounting,” she explains, “but I couldn’t do it all day, everyday. There’s a part of me that loves sitting and staring at spreadsheets, but I need a creative aspect to my work.”

Johnson, while a student at the Fox School, had the idea of opening a comic book shop. She’d fallen in love with comics after watching the X-Men cartoon in her youth—especially the character Storm—and she dove headfirst into Philly’s comic book scene. She became a regular at Fat Jacks Comicrypt. After scoring new books, she’d read them over hot chocolate at the nearby coffee shop, Crimson Moon.

“I loved nerding out in public,” she says, “and being at a coffee shop thumbing through a comic was really cool. When Crimson Moon closed, I had the idea for Amalgam. I didn’t have a place to go, so I thought it would be great if the comic book store were a coffee shop and a community space, too. That was the rough idea, but I was still in school then and not thinking about it too seriously. It was my pipedream.”

It took a terrible tragedy to push Johnson’s plan forward. When her mother died, it caused her to re-evaluate her life goals. She decided she needed to do something daring, something that would make her happy, and so she grabbed her dream and ran with it.

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. (Photo: Ryan Collerd)

In December of 2015, Amalgam Comics & Coffeeshop opened its doors along the Frankford Arts Corridor in the Kensington neighborhood. The space is hip and fun, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, industrial flourishes, colorful furniture, and thousands of comics. She knew it was wise to diversify, and so Amalgam includes a coffee shop where people can read and sip hot chocolate, just like Johnson did back in the day.

Amalgam is much more than just comics and a café. There are nightly events, including readings, workshops, signings, open mics, comedy shows, and book clubs. The program calendar at the store is already jam packed, and business is about to get even busier. Earlier this year, Amalgam was one of 33 projects chosen to win a prestigious Knight Foundation grant. The project? Creating Amalgam University.

“It’ll allow us to have dedicated, enhanced space for programming,” Johnson says about the grant. “Our hope is to create a multipurpose room and to provide affordable comic book education, including writing, penciling, coloring, and professional development, such as how to pitch comics and put together a portfolio. We’ll especially be targeting underrepresented groups, including people of color, women, and people from the LGTBQ community.”

It’s been an exceptionally busy first two years. Johnson has juggled running the shop, managing nine employees, expanding the business and programming, and fulfilling dozens of interview requests from the press. In addition to being interviewed by Glass, she has been featured in articles by NPR, The Philadelphia Inquirer, CNN, and The New York Times. One question everyone asks her is when she’s opening another store.

“I’m making sure this one’s sustainable before I think about opening a new one,” she laughs. “We’re still a very small business, so I’m watching everything that’s going out and coming in, and if I know the store’s going to be quiet, I’ll work a shift by myself. We’re expanding so fast, but when I first saw this building, I knew immediately I wanted to turn it into an educational space. I had all these ideas, but I never dreamed we’d be able to do them so quickly.”

“And now it’s all happening.”

Ariell Johnson. (Photo: Ryan Collerd)

What Ariell’s Reading

Godshaper, by Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface

“It takes place in a world where the rules that govern science and technology stop working, so there are no modern conveniences. Instead, everyone has their own personal god that fulfills what technology used to. The class of people capable of shaping gods are godless themselves, and live as vagabonds, so there are interesting parallels with current events, mainly discussions about immigrant workers.”

Frostbite, by Joshua Williamson and Jason Shawn Alexander

“It’s a post-apocalyptic world where scientists were trying to fix global warming but they messed up and froze the world. The new currency’s heat, and frostbite is this highly contagious disease where people turn to ice. To reduce chances of spreading it, they have to burn entire cities down. It’s interesting because there are still people denying climate change today, and who knows where we’ll be in 20 years.”

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Allison Francis Barksdale at the 2017 Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference. (Photo: Melissa Kelly)

Imagine being thankful your husband allowed you to attend a business meeting. Many of you probably rolled your eyes, but this used to be a common occurrence. While we’ve come a long way, we still have far to go to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The good news is many women are creating their own paths through entrepreneurship.

According to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, women comprise 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. At the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference, hosted by the Fox School of Business at Alter Hall, we learned that many of today’s female executives are building diverse and inclusive organizations.

The League, 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 Dr. Elizabeth Barber, associate dean 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 Ellen Weber, executive director, co-hosts the event.

Fox Focus spoke to two of the conference speakers. Here is the advice Judith von Seldeneck, founder and chairman of Diversified Search, and Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership, have to offer women who want to start their own companies.

What advice do you have for women starting their own business?

Judith von Seldeneck: Have a good idea for your business. Something that fills a viable, current need. Take it slow, one step at a time. Stay in control of it. Be wary of partners or owners. There’s time for that down the road. Do the work yourself. No delegating early on; hire others to work for you when you can afford it. Have someone you trust who has no interest in the business but who is smart, good at things you aren’t, who you can learn from. You must learn it somehow early on if you don’t have it.

“I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy.” – Allison Francis Barksdale

Allison Francis Barksdale: I thought I had to do it all on my own. It is so much easier now that I am willing to seek help and follow the examples of others who are experts in areas where I am not. It isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. You can find mentors and other resources. Take advantage of all that is available. You can learn from things on social media (such as LinkedIn), your alumni association (such as the Temple Women’s Network), and lots of other opportunities.

We’ve seen some inspiring stats about women in business. How do you feel the world has changed for women over the last few decades?

JVS: When I started, I was almost a unicorn, constantly dealing with men, competing with men, which I actually enjoyed being the only woman. Now I am surrounded by strong, successful, younger, executive women, and there is indeed encouraging news for women in business: over the last decade, the number of women-owned firms increased 45 percent, compared to just 9 percent for the national average. Female ownership of businesses is up almost 10 percent over the last decade. But there is also one big, troubling statistic to go with all of that cheery news: Women start 38 percent of new businesses, but still only receive between 2 and 6 percent of all venture capital funding. That’s an issue because it tells me that banks and venture capitalists still do not see women as solid leaders and their businesses as solid investments. There is more work to be done, especially on the VC side of the ledger.

However, I believe the momentum for women has turned a corner very recently and we are much more integrated, respected, capable, savvy, and confident as people, not just women, in our abilities to succeed in building and growing businesses! Today, we have great successful women role models like never before. Plus, women now want to generally help each other be successful.

“I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business.” – Judith von Seldeneck

AFB: We have made great progress! The biggest change I see is that women are leading as they are. When I was coming into the workforce in the late 1980’s, women wore bowties and power suits and acted like men. Today, women are leading with feminine power. I am a big proponent of authenticity. My company, RISE Leadership, helps women build their impact and income through authentic leadership. To be the best speaker, leader, or anything, you have to be yourself. You can’t be anyone else better than you can be yourself. That’s what truly creates connection and power.

Judith von Seldeneck at the 2017 Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference. (Photo: Melissa Kelly)

How should companies respond to this change to cultivate more diverse and inclusive staffs?

JVS: Any company that wants to develop a diverse and inclusive staff has to make that commitment from the top: at the board level, at the CEO level. If there are not clear and strong mandates from leadership to install mechanisms and performance metrics to produce a more inclusive workforce, particularly at the C-Suite level, it’s all lip service. It doesn’t happen organically. It happens when people in power make a conscious decision to open their doors wider, and implement policies and procedures that are fair and direct and will produce that result. How are you scouting for new talent—and where are you looking? You cannot tap new talent streams if you are only going to look in the same places you have been looking for the past 30 years. You should also hire Diversified Search to help find great talent!

At the conference, you said your path has been like the Game of Life. Can you translate your experience into advice for future generations of women in business?

AFB: My entrepreneurial journey was not a straight path to success. The first business I started failed. I opened a flower and tea shop in 2005, which could not weather the economic downturn in 2007. People were losing their homes, so they were not buying a lot of small luxuries. As in life, things don’t always go as planned. There is an element of chance. If you take a look at the board in the Game of Life, the roads have lots of curves, twists, and turns that you cannot always anticipate.

As for advice, I learned to never stop believing in myself. Above all else, you cannot give up on you! Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways that you never anticipated. If you stay focused on success, there may come a time when you have to say to yourself, “Okay I am not letting this defeat me. Where’s the good in this, the lesson that I can learn and move on?”

You have to be willing to see your vision of success differently than how you planned it. Rather than going into business to do and make money, focus more on serving and solving problems that you are designed to solve best. Enjoy the day-to-day and not just the final outcome of your future success. Whatever happens along the way, good or bad, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow, personally and professionally.

What will the future hold for women in entrepreneurship and business?

JVS: I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business. The future is bright and getting brighter. There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. Those kinds of statistics would have been an unthinkable pipedream 40 years ago. Time heals many misevents. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like. Technology is leveling and normalizing the playing field everywhere and disrupting long-established traditional practices in one fell swoop. I think there is a tremendous benefit for women in business in this explosive transformational environment that is happening so quickly. We need to be riding this tidal wave that is disrupting business everywhere.

“Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways you never anticipated.” – Allison Francis Barksdale

AFB: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Generally, a company will take on the values of its leaders, especially in the case of entrepreneurs. As in my case, authenticity and speaking up are personal as well as organizational values. It’s exciting to see how more and more women are igniting their power and speaking up. Women are leading in various ways—in small businesses, corporations, politics, and nonprofits (I prefer the term for-purpose). Even though we still have quite a ways to go, especially in corporate and board leadership, I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy. Women will play a key role in building a more inclusive, cooperative, and optimally functioning workforce. I plan to do my part to make this happen.

To continue the dialogue on women in business and leadership, feel free to contact Allison: Allison@ImpactwithRISE.com

The Future of Business is Female

The following Temple students and alumnae pitched their companies at the conference:

  • Jess Rothstein, Fox MBA, Class of 2018, Play Bucket, playbucketapp.com
  • Emily Knight, Engineering major, Class of 2018, Prohibere, biomaterix.com
  • Karima Roepel, MTHM ’06, Ambrosia Food Group, ambrosiafoodgroup.com

The Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit throughout all 17 schools and colleges at Temple University. IEI offers many years of experience in business development and consulting, a wide variety of skills, extensive networks, and boundless enthusiasm for new ventures and experiential learning.

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Eleven alumni leaders share insights on how technology is shaking up today’s major industries and constantly reshaping business possibility.

You can’t open a magazine, a newspaper, or Twitter now without encountering a story about the rise of artificial intelligence and how this will impact businesses and economies around the world. Will the robots displace workers, leaving behind a massive trail of catastrophic unemployment? Or will the relationship be more harmonious as robots optimize productivity and maximize efficiency boosting both the bottom line and free time for us humans? Nobody knows. But one thing is for certain: Technology has brought and will continue to bring radical changes and thrilling opportunities for business innovation industry-wide. To get a firmer grasp on how some of the major industries and fields of business are positioning themselves for the future, we asked 11 Fox School of Business alumni leaders—representing a variety of industries from finance and professional sports, to transportation and healthcare—to examine what’s on the horizon and to share their insights.

James Poyser (Photo: Jim Roese)

MUSIC/ARTS

James Poyser, BBA ’92
Grammy Award-winning musician, The Roots
“Advances in technology have totally changed how music is made, performed, taught, marketed, and sold. Hit records are not only made in studios anymore, but in bedrooms, basements, and even on smartphones. Traditional instruments are being replaced with digital ones (check out a Stro Elliot video on YouTube). Artists are foregoing the traditional route of signing to record labels, and putting their music out online or finding other ways to collect payment. And more changes are coming, too. The rules keep changing and evolving. What new advances are in the future? I know they’re coming. How will we create music in the future? How will we listen to music in the future? How will we purchase music? Actually, will music even be purchased anymore? (This is when it gets scary: Do I matter anymore? Is there any value left in music?) Whatever changes take place, I believe those that adapt to the changes, keep their heads on a swivel, or have the mindset to change, will be positively affected.”

ACCOUNTING

Eric Salfi, BBA ’91
CPA, Partner, Cwienkala & Salfi
“Many CPAs didn’t know how to deal with QuickBooks when it was first released and it put them out of business—the advances in technology and the way accounting is done now has changed even more dramatically since. We’re moving toward strictly cloud-based activities where there’s more interaction and my clients send documents and information through a portal. The accountant’s role has evolved, too. It used to be about bookkeeping—handling bank statements, creating financial reports, and so on. QuickBooks, and now cloud software, eliminated all the people sitting in a room somewhere compiling this information, but it still requires an expert to manage the software. The accountant has evolved and, for me, it’s more of a business consultant role now. Clients don’t just need me to prepare a tax return; I now have deeper relationships with my clients and I act as a personal advisor, helping them value new businesses or solve cash flow problems. One of the big issues, as information’s moved to the cloud, is cybersecurity. There’s more data accessible now, so creating a safe, encrypted portal that allows clients to interact with us is essential. You need to adjust and adapt with technology or you’ll be left behind. I look forward to embracing whatever changes come next.”

INSURANCE

Adam Lyons, BBA ’09
Founder & Chairman, The Zebra
“Technology has changed and is changing insurance, though no one would hesitate to admit the industry was painfully slow to welcome the insurtech revolution. At the Zebra, we’re a technology company in the insurance space, and we believe the right technology, applied by people who truly understand the profound complexities of the insurance industry, can create efficiencies which simplify everything from assessing risk to distribution to claims management and beyond. We’ve seen incredible developments in the property and casualty insurance industry, like peer-to-peer insurance and pay-per-mile models, and we’re creating an insurance search engine where consumers can access, understand, and use all of these innovations. We’re creating essential technology which informs and educates consumers so they can understand their options and make the right decisions for their unique needs. Environmental factors are critical as well, but they’re unpredictable. Still, we’ve seen trends showing an increase in devastating storms, most recently Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, for example, which just reaffirms the need for people to have the resources to find the right coverage for their circumstances to protect themselves.”

REAL ESTATE

Bob Rosenthal, BBA ’85
Partner, Envision Land Use
“Real estate, like everything, is in the middle of the internet revolution. Philadelphia was dead 20 years ago, back when I went to Temple. There was a void between City Hall and the suburbs—then the millennials came. The parts that have grown, like Fishtown, used to be manufacturing areas, and the buildings have now been repurposed. Everyone talks about the retail change and how people now buy online, but the same has happened in everything from healthcare to office space. What once was a retail center is no longer a retail center; this battle’s been going on for years in the city and is now hitting the suburbs. I’m 57 and right now I’m working from my car on an iPhone. People don’t need office space the way they did—with a lobby, a huge campus, and a front desk—especially younger people without ties to old ways of doing business. And when the millennials come back to the suburbs—which they’re already starting to do—they want lifestyle options just as they do in the city. They want to be able to easily Uber or walk to a bar or a restaurant. So even in new developments in the suburbs, we’re aiming to make these changes. With more businesses moving online and changing needs, land uses change so quickly that governing authorities can’t keep up and many aren’t willing to change. People are always frightened of change, but we must keep moving forward and adapting.”

GOVERNMENT

Heather Qader, MBA ’16
Manager of Business Development, City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce
“Technology is slowly changing local government for the better. Philadelphia, like other cities, is realizing that to compete at a global and national scale, it must adapt its infrastructure. These adaptations look like the digitization of SEPTA’s ticketing system, installation of Indego Bike Share citywide, parking kiosks that allow the use of cards instead of change, and an overhaul of the City of Philadelphia website to create a more user-friendly interface and allowing for more public engagement and user ease. With every new administration, personnel changes occur and there is a transitional period required to get new personnel up to speed. One initiative that has survived the Michael Nutter administration and is currently embraced by the Jim Kenney administration is StartupPHL, a platform that funds worthy initiatives and connects startups to resources in the Philadelphia tech ecosystem. The most recent StartupPHL call for ideas round funded five organizations with $100,000 to train instructors, supply equipment, and teach children the technology skills that they need to be globally competitive. We are keeping up—not as fast as many of the lean startups here in Philadelphia—but progress is being made.”

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Salvatore DeTrane, BBA ’93
Managing Director, Empactful Capital LLC
“Most innovation in healthcare technologies in recent decades has been in medical devices, drug therapies, and medical diagnostics. These have led to people living longer, more productive lives. The downside is these advancements have resulted in a financially unsustainable cost trend. The next frontier is entrepreneurs disrupting healthcare with innovative information technology solutions. There have been massive investments in the last 15 years in electronic health records, claims systems, genomics, social determinant data, and big data software. Some of the innovation opportunities include practical applications of machine learning, natural language processing, intelligent workflow advancements, and advanced analytics that offer actionable insights. Proactive interventions will enable healthcare providers and payers to better manage care, reduce healthcare costs, improve quality, and assess risk of managing populations and encourage business model evolution. With the expected increase of today’s industry expenditures in the U.S. from $3.5 to $5.5 trillion by 2025, this transformation will prevent a financial crisis. All payers—whether health plans, employers, or consumers—are demanding more efficient and effective healthcare and transparency. The industry now stands at a pivotal moment. It must transform into a system that leverages these data/IT investments to support better, more informed decisions by each major constituent. And I think Temple, given Fox’s programs and its health system and medical school, is positioned to support the innovation required to transform our healthcare system.”

Getty Images

SPORTS

Joe Heller, BS ’05
Vice President of Marketing, Philadelphia Flyers
“Broadcast coverage of live sports events continues to evolve and advance at a rapid rate. Viewers are getting more access to their favorite teams and players through virtual and augmented reality, cable cams, and GoPro cameras. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see dedicated channels allowing viewers to experience the duration of a live game straight from a players helmet through a virtual reality headset. This could be similar to the way motorsports has cameras mounted on cars, or the NHL on referees and players at the All-Star Game. Stadiums and arenas will be continually challenged on new ways to adopt VR/AR into their venues, improve WiFi, provide charging stations in the seats, show live video helmet feeds on the big screens, and alike, to bring the comforts and expectations of home viewing to the game. From an NHL team perspective, the Flyers recognize we’re becoming our own media company by placing a greater emphasis on content about the team, connecting players and fans through mobile platforms, providing behind the scenes access, and much more. As tech advancements are made, pro sports will continue to look for new ways to be early adopters and integrate them into event coverage, for home viewers and in arenas and stadiums.”

TRANSPORTATION

Marco Herbas, MBA ’15
Whole Securitization Funding, Ford Motor Company
“Self-driving cars are an inevitable reality that will disrupt and transform the industry for its incumbents as it opens new doors for non-traditional, automotive value-chain players able to purvey hardware and software that enable interconnected and autonomous vehicles (AVs). AVs, along with mobility and continuous development of electrified powertrains, are creating a paradigm shift in the lengthy, bureaucratic processes engrained in traditional automakers’ decision-making, essentially forcing them to become more agile in their product and systems development lifecycles to emulate these potential tech entrants. The notion of AVs is not only disrupting the auto industry, but the transportation ecosystem as a whole. Some examples may include public transportation, where cities may have to partner with automobile purveyors to deploy fleets of self-driving vehicles, as well as insurance providers where AVs create a safer commuter environment, meanwhile curtailing risk and impacting insurers’ revenue streams. Ford has communicated it intends to pursue automotive and high-growth mobility businesses. In 2016, senior leadership announced the company would commence mass production of level-4 autonomous vehicles by 2021 available for ride-sharing/ride-hailing services. Key underpinnings include the launch of the next generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Development Vehicle, the creation of its mobility division, as well as its acquisition of Chariot, an app-based, on-demand shuttle service. And Ford is investing $1 billion in start-up Argo AI to further its advancement in AV development by leveraging the startup’s robotics technology.”

CYBERSECURITY

Andrew Bertolazzi, EMBA ’97
Vice President, Ronin Security Solutions LLC
“Seaborne shipping accounts for approximately two-thirds of global trade, with over $4 trillion worth of goods transported annually. One of the major challenges the industry faces—increased global competitiveness, new regulations, reliance on automation, etc.—is security. This includes compliance with layers of domestic and global requirements, physical security, and protection of the supply chain. But the most insidious risk with the potentially greatest impact is cybersecurity. The industry, both afloat and on land, is increasing the level of automation across the value chain to improve efficiencies, reduce cycle times, enhance safety, and drive down cost. The greater use of technology leads to the need for increased knowledge and specialized tools, as well as the risk of breaches and compromises. A recent example of cybercrime’s impact on global shipping is the Petya ransomware attack, whose disruptions cost over $300M to one of the world’s major shipping companies. The federal government and industry associations are working to raise awareness and offer assistance to organizations across the supply chain through focused outreach, education, and grants. And the private sector is improving cybersecurity through assessments, training, and adding specialized security tools, processes, people, and consulting support. Each organization must evaluate the amount of resources of time, people, and funding needed to appropriately address the threats. The level to which they’re able to do so will determine the impacts and stimulate innovations in technology, business processes, and approaches to security.”

HEALTH

Ron Iller, BBA ’93, MBA ’95
Director at Large, Fox Alumni Association
Director, Product Management-Analytics and Data Discovery, Change Healthcare
“The move to value-based care and risk-based contracting within the healthcare market has changed the game. It’s about providers and payers applying data and analytics to effectively provide better care at the lowest cost. Overall, it will be a very positive change in terms of working to improve outcomes. The focus will be on the individual and patient populations, and how their level of health impacts the cost of the system. Organizations will focus more on keeping people healthy as opposed to getting them healthy by utilizing care management programs and other forms of outreach. Change Healthcare will inspire a better healthcare system and deliver wide-range financial, operational, and clinical solutions to payers, providers, and consumers. I’m focused on helping hospitals and health systems move from fee-for-service to a value- or risk-based payment model. This involves taking a broader view of the patient or population, either in terms of payment, health status, or access to care, not only within the walls of the hospital, but extending to the broader community. We do this by providing a data platform for health systems to acquire and aggregate massive amounts of data at scale and then applying analytics in the transition to value-based care. The data we gather and what we can do with it will continue to improve with new technology, and ultimately allow us to improve the quality of care we provide even more.”

FINANCE

James Sanders, EMBA ’12
President-elect, Fox Alumni Association
Vice President, Commercial Lending, Customers Bank
“Fintech is providing access to capital, especially to small businesses, at a right-now rate. People are getting loans on mobile devices and it happens quick. Mobile and cloud technology, whether people use it to bid on contracts or communicate with employees, is helping small businesses evolve faster. It used to be more difficult to start a small business; now there are infinite online resources people can tap into. You can watch a YouTube video that will tell you how to do it (but, keep in mind, that won’t help you when it comes to actually executing a successful business). Small business owners are getting younger, too. There’s a lot of buzz around millennials and how they have a fresh way of thinking and handling business. With platforms like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Instagram, there are many ways to make money. My son started a tech company; he designed the app and everything. I’m very optimistic about the future of small and medium sized businesses—they’re the backbone of America. Their names aren’t plastered on the highways when you’re driving downtown and you may not see them on TV or the internet. But they’re everywhere and they’re creating and driving new industries and opportunities.”

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Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? If not, you better hurry, because time is running out to find the perfect gift for the people on your list.

To help make your final holiday giving decision, here are a few gift options from companies founded by alumni entrepreneurs from the Fox School of Business. From tasty food to wearable tech fashion, and greeting cards to apparel for a good cause, these alumni businesses have you covered.

honeygrow

Honeygrow, the fast-casual restaurant founded by CEO Justin Rosenberg, MBA ’09, now has more than 20 locations in nine states. There must be someone you know who lives near one who would love a honeygrow gift card so they can chow down on a salad or stir-fry bowl.

Ivory Ella

Everyone loves elephants. And you can find all kinds of cool elephant-inspired gear (T-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, and more) at Ivory Ella, the apparel company co-founded by Richard Henne, BBA ’15. Ivory Ella donates 10-percent of its profits to Save the Elephants and other charitable organizations, so you’ll be supporting a good cause, too.

ROAR for Good Athena

ROAR for Good, the company co-founded by CEO Yasmine Mustafa, BBA ’06, makes wearable smart technology devices that aim to reduce violence against women and make users safer. Athena is a fashion-forward wearable that features a built-in alarm, notifies contacts in an emergency situation, and allows users to share their location with friends and family. “This piece of tech jewelry,” wrote Brit + Co, “might save your life someday.”

Factory Donuts

Do you love donuts? Of course you do—everybody loves donuts. Well, David Restituto, BBA ’96, opened Factory Donuts this year in Northeast Philadelphia and the people in your life would surely love it if you showed up to a holiday party with a dozen donuts, especially Factory’s maple bacon explosion option.

Groundswell Greetings

A card is both a great gift and a great gift supplement. And Groundswell Greetings, created by Ali King, MBA ’16, has unique, fun, cool cards designed by Philadelphia artists for nearly every occasion, including the upcoming holiday season. For instance, the Philly-inspired “Home for the holidays” card (above) created in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, which receives a portion of the proceeds. Good cause, great card.

Any more suggestions for gifts made by Fox School alumni? Please contact us!
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Brett Kratchman speaks to attendees at the Musser Awards for Excellence in Leadership dinner in November 2017. (Temple University Photography/Joseph Labolito)

Temple University served as Brett Kratchman’s entrée into the food-and-beverage industry. Now the food distribution professional has committed to supporting future educational opportunities at his alma mater.

The founder and chief executive officer of BK Specialty Foods, Kratchman has pledged $50,000 to Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM).

His gift, and STHM’s vow to match it, has helped create the BK Specialty Foods/Judith L. Kratchman Endowed Scholarship Fund. Once fully funded, the scholarship will be available annually to a STHM student of financial need who graduated from a Philadelphia- or South Jersey-area high school.

“My mother and my father met at Temple University. They married and began a family before she could finish her education,” said Brett Kratchman of his mother, Judie, who passed in 2016. “She was smart, savvy, and always willing to give someone a second chance. This scholarship is a lasting tribute in her memory.”

“Mr. Kratchman’s success and professional goals align with the interests of many of our students, and gifts like his will support our students as they pursue their college education and launch their professional careers,” said Dr. Jeremy Jordan, associate dean of STHM.

Kratchman was introduced to the food-and-beverage field while simultaneously earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in business and law from Temple’s Fox School of Business. He worked for his father, Sheldon, who founded Delaware Valley Fish Company—an exporter of live fish, eel, and carp to the European markets.

After graduation, and while taking graduate-level courses at STHM, Kratchman branched out and teamed with a classmate to sell frozen novelties out of an ice cream cart in Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood.

Brett Kratchman, right, receives an alumni leadership from STHM Dean Dr. M. Moshe Porat, left, and Warren V. “Pete” Musser during the Musser Awards for Excellence in Leadership dinner in November 2017. (Temple University Photography/Joseph Labolito)

From there, Kratchman founded BK Specialty Foods in 1986 with just one product line—fruit pops on a stick that he sold for a dollar apiece.

“In one weekend, we did $60,000 in sales and that started this path for me,” Kratchman said. “I hired sales people, bought a truck, bought a warehouse, then two warehouses. Today, we employ more than 100 people, distribute products in six states, and sell more than 6,000 local, regional, and imported individual products.”

Kratchman said his company is truly a family enterprise. His mother spent more than 30 years as BK Specialty Foods’ office manager. His sister, Karen, and brother, David, are also involved with the business. His brother, Barry, is in the industry, too. He serves as president of the fish-exporting company founded by their father, and owner of Classic Cake Bakery.

He also credits his success to the support of his wife, Robyn, and their three daughters—Rayna, a 2013 graduate of Temple’s College of Public Health; Madison, who is pursuing a graduate degree in psychology at Temple’s College of Liberal Arts; and Mia Rose, described by her father as “a future Owl.”

“From the academic side to athletics, we’re supporters of Temple through and through,” Kratchman said. “Supporting STHM’s students and honoring my mother in this way just seemed like the perfect fit.”

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Rear Admiral Mark J. Fung

Rear Admiral Mark Fung, MBA ’11, knows what it takes to be a leader.

He joined the United States Navy in 1988 and he was deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm and the Global War on Terrorism. Among his earned decorations are the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal; his current positions with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command are deputy chief of civil engineers and deputy commander. In his civilian life, Fung is a project manager with AmerisourceBergen. As a student, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Villanova University.

That’s not all: Fung also completed his MBA at the Fox School of Business in 2011.

There’s a thriving community of veterans at the Fox School and Temple University, which has been called one of the “Best Colleges for Veterans” by U.S. News & World Report. Between 2013 and 2017, 249 veterans earned degrees from the Fox School, and there are currently 442 veterans and veterans’ dependents enrolled at the school.

During a recent visit to the Fox School for Military Appreciation Month, Fung met with several Fox alumni veterans and deans, as well as the Temple University Veteran Association president. We had an opportunity to talk to him about how earning his MBA impacted his work as a Navy Officer and shapes his leadership strategies and practices. Here’s what he said.

In what new ways did earning an MBA challenge you?

I have a normal civilian job and I have my military responsibilities. As I’ve climbed the ranks, my military work gets more and more demanding. Balancing that and earning an MBA was a big challenge, but absolutely worth it. It required a whole different thought process. It was great being surrounded by people with such different backgrounds, representing different industries, and bringing different ways of solving problems to the table. It really broadened my horizon.

What was the most important thing you learned?

The ability to think on the fly. Fox taught me the basics of business, of course, but some of the courses I had really pushed my ability to react properly to the unplanned. As a military officer at this level, we face a lot of challenges that are unwritten—there’s no instruction manual on how to handle certain things. Whether working with allies, partner nations, or different governmental agencies, much of the work we do is work you’re not going to learn how to do from a book. The MBA taught me how to think outside the box; it taught me how to be open to new ideas and to diverse ways of thinking.

How has your personal leadership style been shaped by your work, military, and MBA experiences?

My MBA experience strengthened my ability to act as a team leader and as a coach. There’s this thought within the military that we’re very regimented, and that if you tell someone to do something, they do it. But that’s more of the Hollywood version. We want people to do the right thing all the time, even when their leader is not there. You do that through coaching and mentoring, and these are all traits and experiences I acquired from working on my MBA. It taught me how to motivate people to bring out their personal best.

Can you talk more about the importance of improvisation in your business and military roles?

In 2004 and 2005, my unit was mobilized and we went to Iraq. My part of the Navy does a lot of construction and civil engineering. We were in Fallujah rebuilding the city. There is no manual to tell you how to do that. Everything had to be done very nimbly, on the fly, with changing conditions. We had to learn how to work with people who didn’t speak the same language as us, people with different cultural backgrounds, and in collaboration with foreign government and non-governmental agencies, all who were trying to do good work.

What two books do you recommend to every freshman business student to prepare them for the future?

The first is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. You have to read the entire book. It’s not a big book, but a lot of times people will just Google the main points and not understand the meaning behind them. Read it, and it will tell you about business operation, decision, and conduct. The second is Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, by Robert Kaplan. It’s a geopolitical book, but you have to understand that the majority of trade in the United States comes across the water. Our economy is deeply tied to Asia so understanding the importance of the South China Sea and trade is essential to our economy and future.

If you were starting college today, what would you study?

I’d be more involved with information technology and information dominance. It’s a huge part of global commerce and the military now. The career opportunities currently in that field, and the growth opportunities in the next five or twenty years, are incredible.

You’ve achieved so much. What keeps you focused and ambitious?

I love what I do. Life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy. I enjoyed my time at Temple, and at Fox, and I enjoy my work with the Navy. That’s the secret. And I like to achieve and I like to win. What drives me, especially at this level of the Navy, where the stakes are high, is that there’s no room for second place. Even in the business world, you make decisions that affect the outcome of those who work for you and with you. It’s this responsibility to my team that makes me strive to perform at a higher level.

Learn more about Fox School MBA programs.
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Life is unpredictable. Tammylynn Rodriguez, BBA ’17, can attest to that.

Rodriguez initially enrolled at Temple University’s Fox School of Business to earn a traditional, on-campus Bachelor of Business Administration degree. And despite a fire in her family home and maintaining full-time employment, she wasn’t willing to put her dreams on hold.

Tammylynn Rodriguez

“(Fox’s program) really allowed me to be myself,” said Rodriguez, who addressed fellow students during her undergraduate commencement ceremony in May.

Is there an appropriate time for students like Rodriguez to transfer into an online degree program?

U.S. News & World Report asked that question and spoke with Rodriguez, who’s now a Fox Online MBA student. U.S. News also reached out to Elvita Quiñones, who often counsels Fox students making their academic transition through the school’s Center for Undergraduate Advising.

Learn more about Rodriguez, and the Fox Online MBA and Online BBA programs by reading the full story at usnews.com.

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