A short film produced by Shpat Deda, a 2015 graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business Global MBA program, received the British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Short Film.
Deda served as one of five producers on the short film, Home, which calls attention to the plight of refugees worldwide. The 20-minute film depicts a British family leaving its comfortable life and experiencing uncertainty and violence as refugees. The term “reverse migration” has been used to describe the plot of the film.
Deda accepted the BAFTA award, along with writer and director Daniel Mulloy, at BAFTA’s Feb. 12 ceremony in London’s Royal Albert Hall, to honor the year’s top contributors to British film.
In addition to its BAFTA win, Home also has claimed top prizes at 11 separate film festivals. It received donations from Open Society Foundation-London, USAID, and United Agencies in Kosovo to make the production possible.
The film holds special significance to Deda, an ex-refugee from Kosovo.
“No more than 18 years ago, I and the majority of the Kosovo cast and crew who worked on this film, were among the one million Kosovans displaced and turned into refugees as a result of a devastating war that was tearing our country apart,” Deda said. “In our misfortune though, we were fortunate enough to be living during a time when the world was one of open hearts and open doors. It’s what ultimately saved the lives of so many of us. My hope today is that we can be able to say the same for the millions of refugees out there who are frightened, facing an uncertain future, and without a home at this very moment.”
Jim Solano envisioned a career as a certified public accountant, after graduating Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Solano ultimately became a CPA and launched his accounting firm, before pursuing a career in a completely different line of work.
The Philadelphia-area native has represented more than 800 athletes and coaches from the National Football League (NFL) during a lengthy career as a professional sports agent. At least one player or coach from 19 Super Bowls has counted Solano as his agent, and Solano said he has represented too many all-league players to count.
His path toward that line of work was coincidental.
“There were a few football players that at the time had lived in my building, the Society Hill Towers,” Solano said. “I got to know them and they were really impressed with the fact that I was a CPA, a college professor, and owned my own accounting firm. I helped them with some advice on taxes at first, and then they told their friends. And those friends told other friends, and before you know it I’m representing them.”
Solano earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and MBA degrees – all in Accounting – from the Fox School. He joined the School’s faculty in 1969, after attaining his MBA and becoming a CPA. It was then that Solano realized the multitude of career paths available to him. Today, he’s on faculty at nearby Philadelphia University.
“What I learned in accounting and business gave me a great foundation to start a business on my own,” Solano said.
Solano has represented legendary Philadelphia Eagles players like Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, and Seth Joyner, and Eagles head coaches Buddy Ryan and Ray Rhodes. He was the agent for 18 of the 40 players who saw the field in Super Bowl XV, in which the Eagles lost to the Los Angeles Raiders.
These days, Solano has branched into golf. He represents a half-dozen clients, and still maintains his representation of a few NFL coaches.
“I could fill 10 pages of memories with what I’ve done,” said Solano, who remains in contact with many of his clients. He even was asked to be the godfather to a number of his clients’ children.
Although his work keeps him busy seven days a week and 12 months a year, Solano said he is not willing to give up any one of his professions. He best describes his professional time management as “a Venn diagram.”
“The time I’m busy with teaching, I’m not busy as a CPA or as an agent, and visa versa,” he said. “I love teaching. I love the impact that I have on my students’ lives. I truly believe that if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Solano said his professional success cannot top his life’s greatest work: being a family man. He and his wife, Teri, have one daughter, Lesley, and three grandchildren, Jack, Kate, and Andrew.
“They are my entire world,” Solano said.
Fox School of Business alumna Esosa Ighodaro designed a mobile application that can monetize the art of snapping selfies.
Ighodaro combined her love of social media and fashion by developing COSIGN, an app that allows users to directly shop for products that they see in social-media posts. Users can include product information by tagging what they are wearing in the image, creating a social media-meet-shopping experience.
Ighodaro credited her time at Temple University for helping her develop “a competitive edge.”
“I worked hard to get ahead and stay ahead while I was at Temple,” said Ighodaro, who graduated from the Fox School in 2008 with a degree in Finance. “I was surrounded by students who always pushed me to do my best work, and that gave me a competitive edge later in life.”
Two years ago COSIGN took Kickstarter by storm and, in 2016, it finished as a runner-up in a national competition organized by AT&T and was set to appear on “Project Runway.” Her idea for it came about quite organically.
Ighodaro had secured a management association position with Citigroup in New York City. What started off as a compliment on a subway platform from a complete stranger during one of her commutes unfolded into an ongoing business partnership. Abiodun Johnson is the co-founder and technology mastermind behind COSIGN, and he met Ighodaro as they waited for a train. They shared a lengthy conversation, exchanged contact information, and together built COSIGN.
To get the business off the ground, Ighodaro worked in corporate banking for more than six years and saved as much as she could before making a move into the tech field to support her work with Johnson and their concept for COSIGN.
“The journey is expensive,” Ighodaro confessed. “I talked to everyone about investing, even my doctor, and anyone that would listen. Most said no, but I was just persistent.”
The COSIGN duo launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2014, just as Ighodaro left corporate banking. Skeptical at first, the two realized their app showed promising results once they had created a video that explained its usage. In just 30 days, COSIGN raised $41,000 on Kickstarter – enough money to build the first complete prototype of the application.
“That validated for me that people cared about what I had been working on in my basement for so long,” Ighodaro said.
In May 2016, AT&T’s Agility Challenge picked COSIGN as one of its 10 national finalists. The competition awarded cash prizes for the small business ventures that demonstrated an understanding, embrace, and appreciation for agility in their daily pursuits. COSIGN finished as a runner up, and netted a $10,000 prize.
COSIGN, which has now partnered with more than 1,200 brands and retailers, features more than 20 million products – from fashion and beauty to even electronics – in its database for users to search, tag, share, and shop.
COSIGN is set to appear on Lifetime’s Project Runway: Fashion Startup in November 2016. The series showcases aspiring fashion and beauty entrepreneurs as they pitch their concepts to a panel of investors in the hope of securing funds.
“I’ve always found it intriguing and something that just came naturally,” Ighodaro said of becoming an entrepreneur.
Now she’s living her dream, one selfie at a time.
Arjun Bedi, MBA ’87, is the Fox School of Business’ 2016 honoree for Temple University’s Gallery of Success.
The Gallery of Success showcases banner alumni from each of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges with a display in the lower level of Mitten Hall, located on Temple’s Main Campus.
Bedi is a senior leader within Accenture, a worldwide professional services company that provides strategy, digital, consulting, technology, and operations services. He serves as a Managing Partner and leads a significant part of Accenture’s Life Sciences business. He has been with the firm for more than 25 years, and a partner for 16 years.
Since becoming partner, Bedi has held several leadership and management roles, including leading the Global Life Sciences Research and Development practice (2006-2012) and more recently leading the High Growth Bio-tech sector (2012-present). Additionally, he recently took on leading one of Accenture’s largest Life Sciences client relationships.
Bedi has worked with the top 15 global life sciences and the top 10 bio-tech organizations, in areas of management strategy, share-holder value management, IT strategy, and global operating model optimization, among others. His functional expertise span the entire Life Sciences value chain, from drug discovery and development to commercial, supply chain and enabling functions like strategy and finance.
Bedi earned his MBA in Computer Science and Information Systems from Temple’s Fox School of Business in 1987. He previously received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics (honors) from India’s Delhi University in 1984.
A trio of Fox School of Business graduates recently visited Temple University’s Center City campus to lead a discussion on meeting the challenges of today’s healthcare climate.
Representatives from Tandigm Health spoke to students from Temple’s College of Public Health May 16 in an interdisciplinary crossover course that covered leadership, strategy, and problem solving within the healthcare field. More than 25 students from the Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Master of Science in Health Information Management programs attended the presentation.
“It’s not a single person winning a race in healthcare. In fact, it’s a team effort, with a goal of better provider and consumer experience” said Dr. Amy Lynch, Professor of Occupational Therapy, who invited Tandigm’s leadership team to Temple. “They offered an incredibly dynamic lecture that highlighted much of what they learned at Fox – challenging students to be thoughtful in evaluating healthcare challenges, while also covering the spirited nature of leadership embedded in innovative and collaborative thinking.”
Tandigm Health joined the Philadelphia healthcare landscape in 2014 in partnership with Independence Blue Cross, the region’s largest insurer, and HealthCare Partners, which provides physician-office management services. Tandigm compensates physicians for keeping their patients healthy and free from hospitalization, as opposed to paying them for services rendered.
Tandigm president and CEO Dr. Anthony V. Colleta, MBA ’06, director of informatics Antonio Tedesco, MBA ’04, and vice president of operations Brett Huberman, MBA ’00, received postgraduate degrees from the Fox School.
“In our value-based health care model, we partner with primary care physicians by engaging them with meaningful incentives to deliver high-quality care, enabling them with relevant technologies and data, and empowering them with resources and programs that deliver necessary care where and when patients need it,” Huberman said.
A 2015 study published in Health Affairs identified the nation’s top-50 hospitals for cost vs. marked-up charge, and six of them were located in the Philadelphia region. Huberman called Philadelphia “the highest medical-cost city in the country, one that’s home to 40,000 providers and 34,000 specialists.”
“We imparted to the students the value of data information in forming solutions,” Huberman said. “It was inspiring to speak to Temple students about our model. Education is a two-way street, and this provided us with an opportunity to give back to our Temple roots.”
Healthcare policies and regulations have a direct impact on the careers of occupational therapists like Caroline Welch, a Temple OTD candidate.
“There is a strong push and need for improved quality of career and patient outcomes, both at a lower cost,” Welch said. “As a full-time clinician, my knowledge and understanding of the business side of healthcare is limited. That is one of the main reasons why I found Tandigm’s presentation to be such an interesting and beneficial learning opportunity.”
The Fox School offers an undergraduate program in Healthcare Risk Management and a minor in Healthcare Systems Management. At the graduate level, Fox offers an MBA in Health Sector Management and a Master of Health Administration degree program.
When Rob Lawton and the rest of his team arrived in Flint, Mich., with 60,000 water bottles in two trucks, a line of 20 to 30 trucks quickly began to pile up – a sign of how desperate the need was for fresh water in that region of the country.
After the state of Michigan in April 2014 switched the city of Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to water from the Flint River, many residents started calling attention to the water’s strange smell, taste, and color. It was later determined that Flint River water was highly corrosive and had caused lead from outdated pipe systems to leak unhealthy elements like lead into the citizens’ water supply. Until pipes could be replaced, citizens were told to drink, bathe, and cook only using bottled water.
That’s why Lawton, a 2013 Marketing alumnus of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, and others like him led a group effort to bring aid relief to Flint.
Lawton received a phone call in January from his friend Nehemiah Davis, the founder of nonprofit organization The Nehemiah Davis Foundation, which works on creating community outreach programs like food drives, back-to-school drives, and more. Davis knew Lawton frequently used large commercial trucks in his line of work as the owner of audio-visual production company Mid-Atlantic FX.
“(Ingram) said, ‘If we go through with this idea, will you be able to get us some trucks?’” said Lawton, who was happy to oblige.
Before departing Jan. 24 on the nine-hour drive from Philadelphia to Flint, Lawton and others turned to social media to spread word that they’d be collecting donations of bottled water. The response was so great, Lawton said, that he needed to add a second truck for the drive. (A tow truck company, in particular, Lawton remembered, arrived with a seven-truck fleet to deliver pallets of water bottles.)
“It was really amazing the amount of support that we received and we were able to effectively enrich the lives of others who are going through this terrible experience,” Lawton said.
Upon arrival in Flint, the team began unloading water onto the street. Each person received two cases, unless he or she had a greater need and represented more than one family. They first delivered to Flint’s lower-income communities, where access to fresh water drop-off zones was reduced to firehouses and municipal buildings.
A documentary to be titled “#Philly2Flint,” created by fellow team member Melissa Robbins, inspired a social media campaign. Soon after, other travelers to Flint shared their experiences with similar hashtags.
Lawton said he will always remember the reaction of the community members to his team’s bottled water delivery.
“There was this one lady,” Lawton said. “We just started loading water bottles in her car and she had this smile that was ear to ear. It was heartwarming. All I have to do is turn on my faucet for something that made her so appreciative. And at that moment, I could tell she really needed it. I’ll never forget that. “
Fox School of Business alumnus Justin Rosenberg is returning to his roots.
The founder and CEO of honeygrow, Rosenberg announced that he plans to open a location of his Philadelphia-based, fast-casual restaurant on Temple University’s campus in the fall. The store would utilize commercial space within Morgan Hall, a residence hall located at the southeast corner of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
With seven stores currently and plans to open nine more by the end of 2016, honeygrow offers fresh-to-order salads and stir-fries that are made with seasonal, local ingredients.
“Temple University is on the rise, and it’s a location that I’m beyond confident will work,” said Rosenberg, who earned his Fox Global MBA in 2009. “I’m a Temple guy, I wrote a chunk of my business plan for honeygrow at Alter Hall, and the business is very much a #TempleMade concept. This makes perfect sense.”
The Temple University location would feature an innovative interior design, new ordering kiosks, and seating for up to 50 patrons, Rosenberg said.
For Rosenberg, honeygrow’s upward progression in the last 12 months has been “moving pretty quickly,” he said. In June 2015, honeygrow received $25 million in investment funding from Miller Investment Management to support further expansion of honeygrow and updates to the company’s technology platform. This spring, Rosenberg said honeygrow’s corporate headquarters will relocate from Center City Philadelphia to the city’s Fishtown neighborhood.
“We’ve renovated a warehouse where we’ll have 30 corporate employees to supplement the 300 employees we have in the field,” he said. “That’s where we’ll have our commissary, where our chef and culinary director David Katz will work on our sauces, dressings, and beyond. There has always been a deep passion for the product – inclusive of where we are sourcing it to how we are training our staff to prepare it, care for it, and work with it. Everything counts.
“For 2016, with stores opening from Washington, D.C. to the New York City metro area, I couldn’t be more excited about honeygrow’s future than I am right now.”
Even in shaking hands with Sheila Hess, she vibrates with positive energy. Framed by the Philadelphia skyline in the near distance, she’s off talking about the city with an infectious and genuine enthusiasm that only makes sense for Mayor Jim Kenney’s newly appointed City Representative.
“Philadelphia just energizes me,” said Hess, 46.
Hess earned her undergraduate degree from Temple University’s Fox School of Business in 1991, with a concentration in Human Resource Administration (now Human Resource Management).
Her enthusiasm and genuine love for helping others pushed her resume to the top of the pile at Independence Blue Cross, where she would spend the next 24 years of her career working in human resources and making her mark upon the organization and Philadelphia. She met Kenney more than 20 years ago at a volunteer fundraiser. Inspired by his goals for the city, she volunteered for his recent mayoral campaign. Impressed with her panache and grasp on the city’s pulse, Kenney wanted her to represent the city.
“Once he offered me the job, I didn’t hear anything else he said. It was such a dream come true,” Hess said.
In addition to being an ambassador and a leader of the city’s official welcome wagon, as City Representative, Hess participates in meet-and-greets with anyone – from international dignitaries to the millions of visitors the city attracts. Hess also steps in as the face of the city when the mayor cannot attend events, bestowing city proclamations, citations, and ceremonial gifts in recognition of community organizations. She also is a steward of special events, including Police Athletic League (PAL) Day at City Hall, the Police and Fire Memorial Service, and the Mayor’s Centenarians’ Celebration.
Hess is already looking forward to placing Philadelphia in the national and international spotlight, building upon its Lonely Planet designation in February as a top U.S. destination, its new title of World Heritage City, and its selection to host the Democratic National Convention this August.
“A good leader has a good ear, and though we can’t change everything, we can make it work on some level,” Hess said. “It’s all about seamless communication and working together.”
Hess originally hails from California, but her family relocated to her mother’s native South Philadelphia neighborhood so Hess could receive treatment for spina bifida, a spinal cord birth defect, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. When asked of her disability, Hess considers it a gift – one that allowed her to become a Philadelphian.
“I’m Philadelphia’s biggest fan,” Hess said. “I root for all of our sports teams, win or lose, and I always will.”
Hess’ passion for Philadelphia kept her close to home when she chose Temple. Raised in the city’s Catholic school system, she was drawn to Temple’s reputation and its innovative and diverse campus life. Having been a mathlete in high school, she pursued her skill with numbers and enrolled in the Fox School as a Finance major. However, her path would deviate as she realized her talents didn’t align with her heart’s desire. After one human resource course, she knew what she was meant to pursue.
“I could just see HR in my personality. I love being the face of an organization. That’s just inside me,” Hess said.
Hess works with several non-profits, including Back on My Feet and Variety – The Children’s Charity — a charity assisting children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities. In her limited free time, Hess and her husband, Mike, enjoy gardening. Always a fan of bringing out the best in something, Hess likes to buy wilted plants and nurse them back to life.
“It’s just fun to watch things grow,” Hess said.
Much like Philadelphia’s reputation, as its new City Represenative.
For Rens Buchwaldt, leading a company through potential financial turmoil is just another day at the office.
The former Chief Financial Officer and interim CEO of FloraHolland, the Netherland’s premier flower auction, has spent more than 30 years navigating the financial pitfalls of the world’s leading companies and yanking them from the brink of economic disaster.
“Staying one step ahead gives me the ability to lead,” Buchwaldt said. “Quite often the conclusion is obvious, but changing circumstances can convolute that. My job is to see through the distractions.”
Buchwaldt received his MBA from the Fox School of Business in 1984. Since attaining his graduate degree, his highly analytical mind has allowed him to navigate changing workplace dynamics—including the merger of two of the Netherland’s largest flower auctions to create FloraHolland.
Tapped to become its interim CEO when the merger yielded insufficient results and failed to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing market, Buchwaldt leveraged the talent of his staff so that FloraHolland’s combined strength was both fiscally responsible and dedicated to a quality product. During his tenure as interim CEO and later as its CFO, the company restructured for the first time in 100 years and eliminated a deficit that plagued its ability produce the flowers that made it famous.
“I’ve never been in a position to do anything by myself, and it’s key to assemble a team that balances out each personality and expertise,” Buchwaldt said. “I try to be more of a coach than a boss.”
Managing expectations and boosting morale was essential in his ability to pull Icon Media Lab — an internet consulting company — out of a sudden nose dive when the dot-com bubble burst. The company, formed during the height of Internet business development, quickly felt the effects of the shaky medium when its services became both defunct and too easily duplicated.
“The company just went under,” Buchwaldt said. “We slimmed down from 2000 to 800 people. That’s a hard situation in which to motivate people.”
For Buchwaldt, the kind of nimble maneuvering required to keep Icon Media Lab afloat was a part of the education he had attained as a graduate student at the Fox School of Business. (Originally from Bussum, a town located just 10 minutes outside of Amsterdam, Buchwaldt attended the Nyenrode Business University to receive his undergraduate business degree.) With a passion for finance, Buchwaldt augmented his skills by throwing himself in to the Fox School curriculum, finding particular success using Michael Porter’s highly lauded book, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors.
“Temple’s MBA offered me a lot of interesting options,” Buchwaldt said. “The students were very serious and brought real-life experience. From a business perspective, it was an eye-opener.”
Buchwaldt entered the industry eager to gain the same real-life experience, and joined the National Cash Register (NCR) Corporation, a global computer hardware and online technology firm in Dayton, Ohio. Sitting at the table with senior executives, Buchwaldt relied upon Porter’s principles of cost leadership, differentiation and focus to demonstrate his ability to resolve almost any problem. He spent 14 years at the company before moving on and eventually settling in at FloraHolland.
After spending a significant amount of time abroad, working for FloraHolland was Buchwaldt’s homecoming and he credits the company with helping him return to his roots.
“Tulips are about as Dutch as you can get,” Buchwaldt said, laughing. “(FloraHolland) is very technical and fast-paced, but it’s all about the beauty of nature, feelings, and action.”
At 54, Buchwaldt is preparing for his first break since 1984 and looks forward to spending time with his sons, 11-year-old Florian and 8-year-old Marnick, while examining his next steps in industry. As he figures it out for himself, he counsels those just jumping into their professional careers to be fearlessly original.
“Don’t follow in anyone’s footsteps, make your own,” Buchwaldt said. “If you look at my career, I’ve taken risks, but each leap has been a learning experience.”
For some, the decision would have created sleepless nights. For Joseph Green, it was a no-brainer.
While studying entrepreneurship at the Fox School of Business, Green had developed two business plans in completely different fields. Whichever one he chose to pursue, Green said, the risk of starting a business and forging into self-employment outweighed the security of a position in corporate America.
“To me it’s the same gamble,” Green said, “only the payoff is more direct and more beneficial to you because you’ve put in that sweat equity.”
The CEO of Affinity Confections, the bakery and confection company he launched in 2012 in Philadelphia, Green visited Fox’s Alter Hall Jan. 27 to participate in a panel discussion on being a young business owner. Joining Green, FOX ’12, on the panel were fellow Fox alums Dylan Baird, FOX ’12, the CEO of farm share Philly Food Works, and Rachel Furman, FOX ’12, the CEO of cosmetic company Mouth2Mouth Beauty.
Temple University’s Young Alumni Association organized the event, as part of its ongoing #TempleMade Entrepreneur Series, “to increase active student engagement and highlight the business successes of our young alumni,” according to TUYA vice president Latisha Brinson, FOX ’08.
The three 20-something CEOs provided snapshots of their careers and companies, lent insights into their respective startup experiences, and detailed how they sidestepped the inherent risks involved with entrepreneurship.
Furman admitted that she “spent more time playing sports than applying makeup” during her high school days. With Mouth2Mouth, she’s creating socially responsible cosmetic products, like eyeliner and lip stains, for the urban market. Her company and her career may not have come together without her experiences at Temple University.
“This was where I found someone other than my family and friends who could connect with my dreams,” she said.
Baird, whose Philly Food Works delivers high-quality food from farm to neighborhood, serves more than 900 people. In its earliest stages, he said he received poignant advice from a fellow entrepreneur, on pouring capital into the resources upon which a company depends – like a flat-bed truck or a cooler – and not on an office chair, for example.
Green launched Affinity Confections in 2014, believing consumers desired sweet treats in smaller portions, made with premium and natural ingredients. Green, who has 16 years of baking experience, credited Temple with motivating him to excel.
“Temple’s job is to listen to your business plan, then poke holes in it, and push you to find a better way to do it,” said Green.
Dwight Carey, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Fox School, closed the event by asking for a show of hands from the nearly 100 alums and current students in attendance, wondering how many wish to one day own a business.
“Why wait? Ask yourself you aren’t doing it already,” Carey said. “You can do it because the desire is within each of you.”
Added Tim Bennett, FOX ’09, the owner of Philadelphia-based Bennett Compost: “It was great to hear from this panel and see what paths other successful entrepreneurs took to achieve what they have. They make me wonder whether I’m putting enough time into marketing, for example, or into accounting, and it’s a way to be reflective on your own business, while also being inspired by others who are doing what you’re doing.”
The chance to appear on “Shark Tank” is the realization of a dream come true for Martin Dell’Arciprete.
“Growing up, every kid wanted to be like Mike,” said the Fox School of Business alumnus, referencing Hall of Fame basketball player Michael Jordan. “After I arrived at Fox and Temple University, and got a taste of entrepreneurship, it became, ‘I want to be like Mark (Cuban).’”
Dell’Arciprete will appear on “Shark Tank,” the popular ABC reality show, Friday, Feb. 12, to pitch SmartPlate, the signature product from Philadelphia-based company Fitly.
Believed to be the world’s first intelligent plate, SmartPlate uses load sensors and three digital cameras for image and weight recognition of the food a person is preparing to consume. SmartPlate analyzes the food on its surface, provides nutritional information, and logs calories with 99-percent accuracy.
Dell’Arciprete, Fitly’s former head of marketing, has left the company since representing the product during a September taping of the show. Dell’Arciprete, a Lansdowne, Pa., native who earned his Marketing degree from the Fox School in 2010, said it was “a gut-wrenching experience” to stand before the show’s five sharks.
“Preparing for the show was like studying for a final exam. You may have a general idea of the subject matter, but until you see that test, you just don’t know the direction your professors – or in this case, the sharks – are going to take,” said Dell’Arciprete, a senior account executive for Moroch Partners, a national marketing firm with an office located in Conshohocken, Pa.
“I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have been able to perform at such a high level in front of the sharks if not for the professors, public-speaking training, and diverse platform of opportunities I had at Fox.”
For Adam Ray, there’s nothing unsettling about the unknown.
“If anything,” said Ray, “it’s an opportunity to see what you’re made of.”
With minimal formal training, Ray moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. The Fox School of Business alumnus, who appeared in two seasons of the HBO medical comedy series “Getting On,” is looking to continue his path in the Entertainment Capital of the World as an actor and producer.
Ray earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a focus in Marketing, in 2012. Along the way, the Phoenixville, Pa., native said he “took two theater electives,” stoking a deep-seeded interest. A few months after graduation, Ray put on hold his career plans and moved to Los Angeles.
“I at least had to see and experience the entertainment industry for myself,” he said. “I didn’t come to L.A. with the intention of staying here, but I knew that if I took a 9-to-5 job right after graduating, I’d never pursue acting.”
His early months in Los Angeles were what Ray termed “a testing time.” He had little in his savings account, so his living arrangements were constantly in flux. At times, he spent nights in a hostel. He had no West Coast friends or relatives to lean upon, either.
“It was isolating in a lot of ways,” Ray said, “so it became a matter of asking myself, ‘How badly do I really want this?’ Let’s be honest: You can spend months in L.A. without landing an audition.”
Without marketable experience or an acting-heavy resume, Ray bounced between talent agencies. He relied on his education at the Fox School to objectively view his professional predicament. He had to think clearly about his decision-making processes. He assembled a list of targeted agencies and identified a niche in his career – all skills he developed at Fox.
What Ray called “a last-minute opportunity” led to an audition for the writers/producers of “Getting On,” the HBO comedy series that follows the staffers of an extended care unit of a hospital set in Long Beach, Calif. Ray improv’ed with the producers, performing for them and with them during his audition, before landing the part.
Ray shared a first name with his character, Adam, who was an intern in the show’s first season and a resident in the second season. Additionally, his work on “Getting On” led a fellow actor to introduce Ray to her agent, who’s helped “push me into other rooms and secure other auditions that never would have been possible,” he said.
To expand his acting depth, Ray has studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles. Inspired on set by the show’s lead actor Laurie Metcalf, Ray started studying comedy at Lesly Kahn & Company in Hollywood. He also produced and co-produced two short films in 2015. Fellow Temple alumnus Alexander C. Fraser wrote and directed Ray’s first short, “Cabo,” which led to Ray meeting Al Pacino and Broadway director Robert Allan Ackerman.
Ray admits his Hollywood career is a journey and he’s continued learning along the way.
“Acting isn’t something you can study for four years and say, ‘I’ve perfected it,’” Ray said. “From that vantage point, I’m happy I got a business education and studied at Fox. It taught me to be confident, overcome self-consciousness and nervousness, command a room, be assertive, and how to communicate your clear idea to a room of strangers.”
“That last one is extremely helpful in L.A. because, like I said, it can be lonely out here.”
Will Cummings didn’t earn much playing time in his freshman season with the Temple men’s basketball team. As a sophomore, though he’d have to play behind a number of seniors, Owls coach Fran Dunphy viewed Cummings as a leader in the making.
“The summer before my sophomore year, Coach Dunphy said to me, ‘This is your time to step up,’” said Cummings, who in May graduated from the Fox School of Business. “I remember going home (to Jacksonville), working out three times a day, and watching it come together and make a difference.”
That summer, Cummings modeled a catchphrase around his newfound determination: “Self-Motivated Grind.” A capable web programmer who studied Management Information Systems at Fox, Cummings developed a website to promote his brand and create T-shirts with the slogan.
“I can’t explain why it took off so successfully,” he said. “I just Tweeted it one day and I started hearing from people who said they liked the message that it was sending.”
Cummings, who went on to earn First-Team All-American Athletic Conference honors in his senior year, is demonstrating his mettle on a different level these days. He’s suiting up for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, the single-affiliate team of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
As he hones his skills and works toward his dream, Cummings recently shared a few minutes of his time:
Q: You played with the Rockets’ summer-league team and with the team throughout training camp. After graduating from the Fox School, did you have offers to play professionally overseas, as well?
Cummings: “I did. I had plenty of offers overseas, but the goal was to make the NBA. My family, my agent, and I know it’s a process. Houston has shown a full commitment to me, and while there are no promises, I’m just playing hard and working every day, trying make my case to play in the NBA.”
Q: There was one moment from the preseason in which you made the top plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter. That must’ve been a nice surprise, right?
Cummings: “I had a lob pass to K.J. (McDaniels) and it ended up on Temple’s Facebook page. It was great to see the support.”
Q: If you weren’t playing basketball professionally, what career path would you have chosen?
Cummings: “Well, my degree is in MIS. I’m good at programming, so I probably would’ve pursued something in that field. I had an internship my senior year with The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia. It’s a non-profit, and I worked there as an information systems intern working on their website and building it from scratch. I was there six weeks and got a lot of experience. If I ever get injured, and knock on wood that I don’t, I know that’s a career path I’d probably pursue.”
Q: You built a website of your own, too, right?
Cummings: “It’s for my brand, Self-Motivated Grind. I built the site my junior year at Temple as a motivational page to connect with young kids looking for inspiration. I have Google Analytics for the site, and it’s reached 45 countries. I have an Instagram page for it, too. People send me photos of themselves wearing my T-shirts at Temple games. I haven’t put the time in lately, because of basketball, but it’s on the backburner. It’s something my sister (Ashley) and I work on together. She and my brother (Willie) work at Lockheed Martin.”
Q: Is it safe to assume there aren’t many basketball players who have that skill set?
Cummings: “That’s probably true. I’ve heard (Miami Heat forward) Chris Bosh knows how to program, but it’s rare, yes.”
Q: Has there been a major lifestyle adjustment following graduation from Fox?
Cummings: “You don’t realize how much time you have on your hands and how hard you work in college until you graduate. I’ve adapted pretty smoothly to life after college, but without classes, study halls, or anything like that, it can be slow.”
Q: What part of your Fox School education translates to the basketball court?
Cummings: “I would say it’s the critical thinking skills I learned when I was at Fox. There are a lot of classes, including a project management class, that teach you along the way how to think critically and to help you think about a solution to the problem you’re facing. That’s a valuable skill that I can use in everyday life and as it correlates to basketball, thinking about the current moment or one play ahead. I have Fox to thank for that.”
Bill Roth is a high-energy kind of guy. That’s why he doesn’t particularly like sitting behind a desk.
“I’ve always liked entertaining people,” Roth said.
The Fox School of Business alumnus is putting that energy to good use. In September, he and his wife, Christina, opened Roth’s Crosspoint Gymnastics, a 20,000-square foot facility for training gymnasts at all levels of expertise in Glen Mills, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb.
Prior to opening his gymnastics center, Roth’s career exploits revolved around his athleticism. Roth, who earned his Bachelor’s degree in Real Estate in 1993, remained at Temple University in order to train for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. A specialist in the high bar, Roth did not qualify for the Olympics, ending his career as a national and international competitor in 1996.
Next, Roth earned a job with the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks as their acrobatic mascot for one season. Around that time, Pat Croce took over as owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and decided to create Hip Hop, the team’s new mascot. Roth played the part of Hip Hop for nearly a decade, completing high-flying dunks and acrobatic jumps off of trampolines. Roth said this inspired him to continue working in the acrobatic and gymnastics worlds.
His mascot days behind him, Roth and his wife became part owners of a gym. “We were there for two years and decided to venture off on our own,” Roth said. A year-long process ensued, allowing the Roths to get their business in order, before they opened Crosspoint. The facility is ideal for youth gymnasts looking to enter the sport recreationally or to participate competitively. The couple also offer cheer-tumbling and work with local dance studios on acrobatics lessons.
Christina, a Temple University alumna who earned a degree in exercise physiology, handles most of the administrative aspects to the business, while Bill works within the gym itself.
“When we were dating at Temple and both on the gymnastics team, we would joke about owning a gym together when we were married because of how much we loved the sport of gymnastics,” Christina said. “I don’t think we ever really thought it would happen.”
The Roths’ vision since the beginning was to create an atmosphere where they could have an impact on the lives of young gymnasts and in the community. Their ultimate goal is to continue to expand the business.
“When we look at what we have now, gymnastics teaches so many life lessons,” said Bill, adding that gymnastics encourages athletes to set goals and overcome failure. “It is about using a sport as a platform to have a positive impact on kids.”
Bill Roth said his experience at the Fox School inspired his work today as a business owner and athletic coach.
“The leadership that I got was wonderful. Even to this day, it not only parlayed into where we are today, but where I was at Temple,” he said. “It helps train young leaders and in order to do what we did. You have to have some sort of step of faith to get out there, which was so much easier after seeing someone do it first.”
Dr. John Aloysius, who earned his doctoral degree from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has been appointed the director of a major business research lab at the University of Arkansas.
John Aloysius, PhD ’96, was named interim director of the Sam M. Walton College of Business’ Behavioral Business Research Lab at University of Arkansas. He will hold this position for the remainder of the 2015-16 academic year, while colleague Cary Deck serves a one-year visiting professorship.
Arkansas’ Behavioral Business Research Lab is a unique, multi-user facility for economics, marketing, information systems and supply chain faculty, said Aloysius, who earned his Fox PhD in Operations Management. The center is an interdisciplinary resource geared toward the study of human behavior and decision making. It features state-of-the-art computer equipment that will assist in marketing- and retail-based experiments.
Aloysius, an associate professor of supply chain management at Arkansas, said he conducts a majority of his research within the lab. He examines how consumers use mobile technology in a retail context, looking into the use of coupons, product reviews and promotional activities in influencing shoppers. This research has been published in Management Information Systems Quarterly.
“If you entice them at the precise moment, consumers can go from being a browser to being a buyer,” Aloysius said.
Aloysius’ other research pursuits delve into privacy and security issues for shoppers and inventory management.
“Managers stand in front of monitors that have information about how much inventory there is and the distribution of demand,” he said. “They are trying to figure out what a company would need to order to put product on the shelf.”
Dr. Edward C. Rosenthal, Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School, served as Aloysius’ dissertation chair while he pursued his Fox PhD. Rosenthal said he encouraged Aloysius to conduct his research independently. In his dissertation, Aloysius applied game theory to cost-sharing problems in the telecommunications industry, which evolved into an interest in decision making and how people apply technology in the retail industry.
“He was a bright student who was motivated and great to work alongside,” Rosenthal said. “I think that John’s assuming of the directorship of the Behavioral Business Research Lab at the University of Arkansas had its origins while he was a graduate student here at Fox all of those years ago. “
Aloysius said he hopes to widen the lab’s horizons by working with external local firms and incorporating new technology.
“What is happening in retail blurs the line between physical stores and online shopping, and in the lab as well,” he said. “It is a natural extension.”
Aloysius plans to reconnect with his Fox School colleagues while visiting Philadelphia in November for the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science conference (INFORMS). He said he plans to meet with Rosenthal and current research colleague Dr. Misty Blessley, an Assistant Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Fox.
Aloysius and Blessley are collaborating on experimental research into switching behavior under various conditions of psychological contact breach. The experiment will move into the data-collection phase in November. “What I like about John is he challenges you to look over your research meticulously,” Blessley said.
“At Arkansas, John has become more deeply involved with the behavioral aspects of supply chain management research and leading their behavioral business research lab is a natural next step,” Rosenthal said.