For many, teleworking is a normal occurrence. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 43 percent of working adults spent at least some time working from home. With advancements in technology, cloud-based file sharing and storage and demands for more flexibility, it’s a trend unlikely to stop anytime soon.
Sandra Webster, DBA ’17, knows more than most about flexible work arrangements. First of all, she negotiated her first such job situation decades before it became a common practice, all the way back in 1981. She also recently completed a dissertation on the subject. Webster’s work explores the tools that make remote work possible and how Millennials and Baby Boomers—two very different generations—use them.
An alumna of the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program, Webster became interested in studying flexible work arrangements because of the things it made possible in her own life. Early in her career, when she worked in marketing for American Express, she wanted to get her undergraduate degree but couldn’t afford to stop working to study. “I tried night classes, but that never worked. My job was demanding and I often worked until midnight,” she recalls.
Still, she continued asking how she could work and go to school at the same time when she spied a weekends-only degree program offered through Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY. “It was perfect. I just needed Fridays off.” Not only did Webster manage to obtain that flexibility for herself at a time when it was unheard of, but she also got a study commissioned internally that looked at flexible and remote work. The results were so impressive—the remote workers produced more, better quality results in fewer hours—that later in her career Webster worked on high-profile projects staffed exclusively by work-from-home employees.
Since Webster left American Express to run her own companies, she’s always offered employees Flexible Work Arrangements, and her current and past employees were her first sources when she began compiling data for her research for her DBA dissertation. She also tapped her larger professional network to circulate surveys that asked Baby Boomers and Millennials how they use technology tools when working remotely.
One of the things she found upends the way companies have long done business. It used to be standard that a company has a contract with a specific technology company to supply employees across the board with the same devices. “Those days are gone,” says Webster. “You can’t have Millennial employees working with client information on their personal Macbook, but if you give them a Dell laptop, that’s exactly what they’ll do.” Another difference that emerged between the generations is that Millennials like to do a wide variety of tasks on mobile, while Baby Boomers want to work on a laptop.
Her research suggests that for a happy and productive staff, one that adheres to best practices, companies need to give individuals the tools with which they are most comfortable. She suggests giving employees the freedom to conduct virtual meetings via Webex, Skype, GoToMeeting, Join.me or Facetime. “It costs more upfront, but you get more out of your investment when you give them the thing they’re used to and they can run with it,” says Webster.
Webster also conducted interviews as part of her research. She used NVivo software to analyze and draw conclusions from her largely text-based data.
Her research also suggests that not every employee benefits from a flexible work arrangement. Some workers struggle without the social interaction, structure and supervision offered by the traditional in-office arrangement. But, surprisingly, generation isn’t a reliable indicator of whether an employee is right for remote work. “It’s more a personality type,” says Webster.
Workers who are susceptible to the isolation and depression brought on by working at home see their productivity drop to near zero as they squander work hours on social media and other online distractions. According to Webster, those workers often self-select into traditional work environments over time.
Webster still believes that, for the right people, flexible work arrangements create opportunities and boost a business’s productivity and earnings. The learnings from her research shed light on how to set both companies and employees up for success.
Interested in learning more about the Fox School’s research on flexible work? Check out “Keeping Stress at Bay” which explores how telework can lead to higher levels of stress.
When companies look to become more efficient, one of the first things they do is look for waste—elements of the production process that add little value despite taking up precious time and resources. However, with careful implementation, businesses can achieve greater efficiency by investing in what works well.
For example, take the contrast between push and pull processes in manufacturing. Most manufacturing firms operate using a “push” model; they make a certain amount of product and store it in a warehouse until it can be sold. In contrast, other companies operate a “pull” model; they only produce products after having received an order. In pull manufacturing, no product stays sitting in a warehouse and products move through production with little delay, reducing the amount of waste in the process.
This “pull” manufacturing model is one of the ways that companies become lean—in other words, identify areas that don’t produce value, cut that waste and thereby increase labor and process efficiency. However, going lean puts enormous pressure on companies and requires special attention paid to supply chain management and labor.
Tom Stone, DBA ’18 and assistant teaching professor of business at Penn State Abington, wanted to take the lessons learned from lean manufacturing and apply it to the software industry.
“When I worked with software developers at Siemens, we started integrating lean with agile,” Stone explains. Agility, a close cousin of lean, involves making processes more iterative, and therefore more flexible. By breaking the process into small, iterative pieces, developers can make changes to the product without damaging or undoing months of other productive work. “We wanted to do it because it would ultimately improve efficiency by making outflow—the number of software functions available at the end of the production process—predictable.”
While you can count the physical output of a process like manufacturing, this is harder to do with software development. Stone measured the outflow through the time and production of “stories,” small components of software that will later be combined into a final function that a customer uses.
During his time in the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program, Stone decided to focus his research on the benefits of efficiency training. Specifically, Stone wanted to see if the process of software development could be improved by providing efficiency training to developers based on lean and agile techniques. This strategic investment into the labor force would take two forms: long-term coaching or a one-time training event.
When dealing with lean and agile processes, Stone emphasizes that what is at stake isn’t having knowledge, but keeping it. “Knowledge erodes over time,” Stone explains, “and with the knowledge goes the efficiency. Coaching keeps it from eroding.”
His findings were impressive. Workers who went through coaching saw a 37.1% net improvement in the amount of time needed to complete stories. One-time training saw a staggering 58.7% net improvement. Labor costs also fell, thanks to the trainings.
Stone’s paper on the topic, titled “The ROI of Investments in Lean Agile Software Development Training,” won the Best Paper Award at the 2019 Engaged Management Scholarship (EMS) Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, this past September. This is the second year in a row that a Fox DBA alumnus won this award, which is sponsored by Business Horizons, an academic journal from Indiana University. In 2018, Ofra Bazel-Shoham, DBA ’17, won for her paper which discussed how gender-diverse boards affect companies’ decisionmaking.
Measuring the efficiency of the labor that goes into software development is a difficult task. Stone hopes that his research will help close the gap between software production processes and financial metrics. By pioneering this measure of productivity and thus proving the power of efficiency training, Stone wants to help others learn how to quantify, recognize and reward the value of lean.
“Software development is an increasingly critical industry,” Stone emphasizes. “Learning from manufacturing about how to measure productivity in this industry can have an enormous operational and financial impact.”
Pursuing extended education can be extremely challenging for the average person, let alone those in demanding careers. However, Kate Nelson, an active duty Military Intelligence Officer, is proving this to be more than possible.
Captain Nelson is in her 15th year of military service and has accomplished two master’s degrees: one in military studies and the other in sports management. Now, she is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) here at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
The Fox editorial team caught up with Captain Nelson to hear about her experience of earning her doctorate in business while actively serving in the U.S. Army.
What made you want to pursue a DBA?
“I knew I wanted to get my doctorate. But I thought [I’d do it] when I got out, maybe take a year or two off,” Nelson says. It wasn’t until her boss, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Faint, also a current Fox student, informed her about the DBA program.
She recalls thinking, “‘You can’t do this while active. That’s ridiculous.’ But he sat me down, told me the pros and cons, wrote me a letter of recommendation, and here I am.”
The Executive DBA program aims to help executive-level managers and experienced service members like Nelson learn how to solve business problems through advanced critical reasoning. As a first-year student, Nelson plans to research how people consume both women’s and men’s sports differently. She also credits her pursuit of advanced education to her training in the military.
“The U.S. military is the most educated and trained military in the world,” Nelson says. “They always tell us to better ourselves and look for the next step in our career. I was always taught that every day you should learn something.”
How does military experience translate to business?
“My experience isn’t in business, but it is translating because I’m managing hundreds of soldiers,” Nelson explains. “Some businesses look at the military and how it runs, and they use us as an example. So, I can actually speak to that in class.”
According to Cailin DiGiacomo, admissions coordinator for the DBA program, “The current cohort has 22 students, all coming from drastically different industries. Several come from a military background.”
DiGiacomo guides prospective students through the application process, helping them understand how the Executive DBA program can teach them to expand their decision-making abilities through applied theory and research.
How do busy professionals find time to pursue a DBA?
“Our program is very flexible. During each semester, we have three weekend residencies. We send the dates out to our students in the summer so they can plan around it. Then, there’s a weekly online component as well,” says DiGiacomo.
Nelson agrees. “The curriculum is basically a long weekend six times a year. We get thirty days of leave every year that we can use, so it really isn’t too bad.”
This degree seems suitable for people like Captain Nelson, who have very demanding work schedules but are passionate about furthering their careers in business. With the DBA program, she finds time to both manage her soldiers and manage her education.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
At any academic institution, one of the most highly valued outcomes is knowledge. In business schools across the country, faculty, staff and students produce insights that can change how business is done, inspire evidence-based management and shape the face of industries.
Part of being a global citizen, however, is ensuring that these discoveries are shared. Research without dissemination does not solve real-world problems. Bringing knowledge to the hands of practitioners is critical for the translation of insights into action.
At the Fox School, we are committed to bridging the gap between academia and industry—that’s why, in 2014, we launched the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program to teach the tools of applied theory and research to senior executives. In this three-year, part-time program, industry leaders come together to learn a new way of thinking to solve tomorrow’s business problems.
Why the DBA Matters
In business, many organizations encourage their employees to innovate. However, the Fox DBA allows executives the freedom to experiment with evidence. By introducing students to new tools for understanding organizational systems and preparing them to address challenges with facts and data, the program offers senior managers the opportunity to become thought leaders.
“I was in the military for over 20 years. I was looking for growth and new challenges,” says Dennis Martin, DBA ’18. “I wanted a more practitioner-focused doctorate rather than just a theory-based program.”
The structured program unites academically rigorous research with practice-focused business questions. Then Fox DBA alumni like Dennis bring their insights—both the knowledge generated from the program and the tools for new ways of thinking—back to work.
Leading the Charge
“The Fox School is proud to be a leader in the DBA space,” says Steve Casper, managing director of the DBA program and professor of finance at the Fox School. “Our research focus, combined with the faculty mentors, really make our program stand out.”
Our DBA scholarly practitioners were on display at the Engaged Management Scholarship (EMS) Conference, which the Fox School hosted last September. The annual international conference, which is for doctoral students, alumni, faculty and managers involved in applied research and evidence-based management on a global scale, brought over 200 people from 100 organizations to discuss the importance of bringing research into the real world.
Presented by the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration Council (EDBAC), an organization representing more than 50 member schools in ten countries, EMS unites the academic and the practical into one three-day conference.
“By hosting EMS, we demonstrated to the business community that the Fox School cares about bringing research to the real world,” says Casper. “We were very proud to host EMS and show off our university, as well as the city of Philadelphia.”
Applying Research to Business
At EMS, the Fox School strengthened its community of thoughtful and knowledgeable practitioners. Faculty engaged in networking across countries, programs and disciplinary fields. Students stretched the applications of their research beyond their own ideas and sought feedback from their peers. Program managers learned from each other and identified best practices for running DBA programs around the world.
“One of the more prominent questions during the conference was, ‘How do we come up with interesting problems that are researchable but also have applied business value?’” says David Schuff, professor of management information systems at the Fox School.
One example of these practical questions: How do female members of a company’s board of directors perform differently than companies with all-male boards? Ofra Bazel-Shoham, a graduate of the Fox DBA program in 2017 and assistant professor of finance at the Fox School, received the 2018 Best Paper Award in Applied Business Research, sponsored by Business Horizons, an academic journal from Indiana University, for her research that answers that question. Bazel-Shoham found that, while there was a negative correlation between the number of women on boards and the number of investments in R&D, women were more likely to focus on monitoring performance, which ends up incentivizing risky, but data-driven decisions. “As female leaders put more emphasis on monitoring,” says Bazel-Shoham, “gender-diverse boards were able to quantify and measure their decisions better than all-male boards.”
As the Fox School recommits to its position as a leader in changing global business, the DBA program can energize the bridge between research and industry. “At EMS, we built up energy and excitement of impactful and applied research,” says Susan Mudambi, academic director of the Fox DBA program and associate professor of marketing and supply chain management. “It shows how the Fox DBA is an important part of education in today’s world.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
This is one of the most common questions that people considering a DBA ask, after “What is a DBA?” We asked alumni and current students in the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program to share why they believe the Fox DBA was the right choice for them.
Become An Expert
With many years of work experience, most people may feel like they are an expert in their fields. With the Fox DBA program, however, students have the opportunity to back up their experience with data.
Jim Smith, Jr., CSP, is a full-time entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author while also a student in the Fox DBA program. “In my line of work as a perceived expert, I wanted to enhance my credibility,” he says. As he prepares to defend his dissertation this spring, he notes that the program has broadened and sharpened his view in his area of expertise.
“By now having the scholarly perspective, I can bring in the research, I can bring in the numbers, I can bring in the studies and I can bring in both historical and current viewpoints,” he says. “It’s not just my opinion. I balance my delivery by speaking as a scholar, a researcher and a practitioner.”
Finding the right opportunity can be daunting, even as a high-level executive. Most job markets are extremely competitive and many people are looking for a way to distinguish themselves from the crowd of qualified applicants.
Maggie Jordan, DBA ’18, said it was tough for her to attract attention as an adjunct professor when she moved from New York to Pennsylvania. The Fox DBA allowed her to stand out from the crowd in a unique way. “Before I had the corporate experience, but not the degree,” she says. “Now, I have both.”
“I found that having the blend of experience as well as the doctorate was a magic combination to get attention.” With the Fox DBA, Maggie was able to move from a marketing role in the pharmaceutical industry and become a visiting assistant professor at Lehigh University, which she does in addition to leveraging her expertise as a consultant and adjunct professor at the Fox School.
Gain Credentials to Do More
Others might find that the DBA opens doors in ways that they never had thought of before. Tammy Schwartz, a current DBA student who is also defending her dissertation this spring, retired from the U.S. Air Force and was looking for new opportunities outside of the defense industry.
“Despite the fact that I was working in cyber,” she says, “I couldn’t break into another industry, so I needed to reinvent myself. I thought a new degree would give me new contacts and new ideas.”
Tammy hadn’t known exactly what she wanted to do after the DBA program. However, she found that she loved to learn, research and—surprisingly—teach. “I now have a tenure-track position at the York College of Pennsylvania, and I found my new calling in teaching,” she says. “The research keeps me really intellectually engaged and constantly learning. I never would have imagined that I would have become a college professor in my second act.”
Build a Network
In addition to the skills and knowledge that the Fox DBA program teaches, many students find that one of the most valuable aspects of the program is their cohort.
“In my class, we had students from a plethora of industries,” says Sandi Webster, DBA ’18. “I’m coming from financial services and telecom, but someone from healthcare or education might see a topic in a different way.”
These varying viewpoints can provide unique ways of looking at problems that you may not have considered before. Thanks to the Fox DBA program, says Sandi, “I think more broadly now.” The network does not end in the classroom; Fox DBA alumni leverage their relationships in current industries, career changes and life-long learning.
The Fox DBA program may not be for everyone. But for those who are looking to augment their area of expertise, distinguish themselves from the crowd, build a network of motivated individuals, and gain credentials to do more, the Fox School can give you the tools you need to grow yourself and your career.
“I’ve been pushed, I’ve been stretched. I’ve been in my discomfort zone a lot,” says Jim. “But it’s like anything—if you’re not being stretched, you’re not growing.”
A board of directors plays a crucial role in determining the success of any organization and is largely responsible for major strategic decisions. However, females in these top management roles are often underrepresented. Without women on boards, companies are losing out—not only on talented leaders, but also on different perspectives of business. This raises the question: in what ways do companies with women on the board perform differently than companies with all-male boards?
Prior research suggests there are gender differences in risk-taking decisions, with many researchers supporting that women are more sensitive to risk than men. However, Ofra Bazel-Shoham, research assistant professor in the Department of Finance at the Fox School, reconsiders the implications of this conclusion.
Bazel-Shoham argues that female leaders change the way business is being done in her paper, “The Effect of Board Gender Diversity on R&D.” She looked at boards’ decisions regarding high-risk, high-reward investment decisions, as well as their professional behavior, to understand the differences in outcomes that gender-diverse boards produce. The research recently won the Best Paper Award at the 2018 Engaged Management Scholarship Conference, hosted by Temple University this September. The award was sponsored by Business Horizons, an academic journal from Indiana University.
As a proxy for analyzing risk-taking decisions, Bazel-Shoham used choices around research and development (R&D), often a potentially risky yet highly rewarding investment. “It requires upfront resources and has a very low probability of success,” she says.
Bazel-Shoham, who is also the academic director of Fox School’s new part-time MBA Program in Conshohocken, collected data from CEOs and board members in 44 countries and over a period of 16 years. The gender disparity was already obvious, as she notes in her sample only 2% of all CEOs and 9% of all board members were female.
The study found that while the direct correlation between the number of women on boards and the number of investments in R&D was negative, women were more likely to focus on monitoring performance, which ends up incentivizing risky but data-driven decisions. Bazel-Shoham says, “As female leaders put more emphasis on monitoring, gender-diverse boards were able to quantify and measure their decisions better than all-male boards.”
Bazel-Shoham elucidates this argument by analyzing the behavior of female directors who are most often outnumbered by their male counterparts. Her interviews with female leaders suggest that being in a minority puts more pressure on women to not make mistakes and make data-driven decisions.
She elaborates, “We realized that female directors felt they were ‘under a magnifying glass’ most of the time and were judged more stringently than their male colleagues.” This made them make more conservative decisions, which usually translated into making lesser high-risk R&D investments. However, teams that quantified their results better supported performance-based compensation where incentives are measurable and dependent on the actual outcome rather than on vaguely defined promises.
Organizations often use performance-based incentives to motivate managers to make riskier but potentially profitable long-term investing decisions. Bazel-Shoham says, “We observed that such remuneration systems encourage CEOs and senior management to engage in more R&D activities.” With women involved, boards more often supported this form of compensation, in affect encouraging managers to make more of these investments. Bazel-Shoham found that these actions successfully mitigated women’s effect of being more risk-averse.
Besides indirectly increasing R&D spending, Bazel-Shoham notes having even one woman on the board of directors significantly influences how the board behaves, the decisions it makes and their resulting outcomes. To illustrate this, she quotes an experience of a male CEO of a large educational organization. “The women directors read all the materials ahead of time, have specific questions and are more professional than the others,” he says. “They have changed the organizational culture of the board. The men, in turn, have started to prepare themselves better as well.”
Underrepresentation of women on boards of directors continues to be a pressing issue to shareholders and society at large. However, organizations are slowly understanding the strategic importance of leveraging a more diverse top management team. With rapidly changing market dynamics, leveraging the power of gender diversity is beneficial for the long-term success of businesses.
Steve Casper spent the spring of 2018 teaching his students about stocks, bonds, time value of money, cash flow and cost of capital. This does not sound unusual for a finance professor, except that particular semester he was on sabbatical in Cambodia.
Most of his students, who came from rural farms on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, had a limited academic background in finance. Many did not have a personal relationship with traditional financial institutions that Americans accept as commonplace, like banks and stock markets. Casper, associate professor of finance and managing director of the DBA program at the Fox School of Business, says, “It was the most challenging class I’ve ever taught, but it was so much fun.”
Since the summer of 2016, Casper had been volunteering his time teaching rural students in Cambodia. After first getting involved via Habitat for Humanity, Casper has built a relationship with these students, teaching finance and leadership during two-week seminars. Last spring, the director of the Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, the leading English-speaking university in the country, asked Casper to teach a full semester.
“Most of these students have never had a calculator before,” says Casper, FOX PhD ’10. “I was told I had 30 students. I get over there and I brought 30 TI-BA II+ financial calculators. My wife was coming two weeks later and I said, ‘Liz, I have 54 students. I need you to bring another 24 calculators, I just ordered them on Amazon.’ Eventually, it got up to 94 students.”
This past October, four of these students came to Philadelphia for a week of leadership and business practice. The trip was organized by the Cambodian Rural Student Trust, an NGO founded in 2011 that aims to help bright Khmer, or Cambodian, students from poor, rural families go to high school and university in Cambodia.
Casper brought the students to meet with representatives from all over the financial world, from companies like SAP, B-Lab and Saul Ewing. He invited the students to speak to his finance classes at the Fox School. The Khmer students shared the story of their lives, which often included uneducated family members, the loss of one or both parents and financial hardships. But each had a strong, unrelenting belief in the power of education to transform lives.
One student named Sompeas, who is majoring in law and hopes one day to become a lawyer, shares her philosophy. “I believe men and women are equal. I believe education will provide women with the knowledge to believe this and give them the skills to follow their dreams, have amazing careers and be greater contributors to society.” She continues, “The special thing about this trip is that I can share my voice and bring back many ideas that will inspire other girls to be adventurous and ambitious, while also expanding how I see things in my small world.”
Casper is grateful to the Fox School for allowing him to expand his world as well through his sabbatical. Casper loves the opportunity to teach both his American and Khmer students. “I always wanted to do this,” he says. “To have great classes, you have to be thinking about it all the time—how can I make it better, how can I get this point across?”
His passion for education translates into his enthusiasm about the mission of the Cambodia Rural Students Trust. The completely student-run organization, Casper says, “can give a student a place to live, feed them, and pay for their college or high school,” all for $2,000 a year.
“In Cambodia, education is a privilege,” says Casper. “I am honored to be part of something that empowers students to lead themselves and lead society.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
The Stone family is celebrating two new doctors.
Thomas W. Stone and Thomas J. Stone, father and son, both complete their doctoral programs this month, successfully defending their dissertations for Temple University’s Fox School and the College of Liberal Arts, respectively.
For many, completing a doctoral degree is a long, solitary process of researching and writing. For the Stones, while their research topics and processes were distinct, they experienced this journey together.
The elder Stone, graduating as part of the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) 2018 cohort, completed his dissertation on the productivity of lean software development. Working alongside his cohort and with managers at his former company (previously Siemens Healthcare, now Cerner), Stone enjoyed his interacting with other business professionals in pursuit of his degree. “I began writing on this topic when I started in the DBA program three years ago and spent years developing it while working at Siemens,” says Stone. “The Fox School does a great job of building up to the dissertation.” He praises his advisor, Sudipta Basu, and his cohort classmates for their encouragement throughout the experience.
The younger Stone completed his doctoral degree in the College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He studied how Latin American authors address historical events in their narratives and critique the “great man” theory, which treats the biography of notable men as the basis of history , under the guidance of his long-time advisor, Dr. Hortensia Morell. “These writers understand characters as part of both fiction and historical writing,” he says. The works are narratives about four Latin American individuals: Aztec emperor Montezuma, political leader Simón Bolívar, explorer Christopher Columbus, and revolutionary Che Guevara.
The pair empathized with each other’s experiences, understanding the challenges they faced and celebrating the completion of milestones. While they embarked on their own research journeys—father running field experiments and collecting and analyzing data, and son diving into literature with support from his advisor—the two shared a support system. “We both struggled to get through this,” says the father, “but we made it to the finish line together.”
The father’s pride is evident. He applauds the younger Stone’s success, praising his diligent work ethic in completing this accomplishment on his own terms. Both father and son will graduate together May 10 at Temple University’s 131st Commencement.
The elder Stone felt lucky to have his son go through this process with him. “He reminded me to order my cap and gown,” Stone laughs.
Learn more about the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program.
For many students, the first semester of a new degree program is challenging. For Ivan Cardona, it was nearly impossible.
Cardona, a Puerto Rican native, came to the Fox School for his first residency of the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program on September 15—about one week after Hurricane Irma rocked the island territory.
Immediately after the weekend residency, he faced down Hurricane Maria, which directly hit the island with 175 mph winds and more than three feet of rain. Cardona barely arrived home in time to take shelter with his two young daughters.
“My home rumbled and shattered for over 24 hours,” Cardona remembered. At 5 a.m., he watched as water began creeping into his home. After the storm, with his family safe, his house compromised and his business flattened, Cardona reflected on his situation. “Puerto Rico was simply gone, and whoever took it away left a broken, wrecked, and shattered skeleton of an island.”
Nearly the entire island lost electricity and almost half lacked access to clean drinking water. As Cardona was left to rebuild his community, his dreams of a doctorate degree could not have felt further from his grasp.
“Weeks went by before I got to communicate with Temple.” Without internet, Cardona traveled to the nearby medical center for his evening WebEx classes, “hiding from the mandatory curfew on the island,” he conceded.
Yet despite these seemingly insurmountable odds, Cardona persevered.
In mid-October, he traveled back to Philadelphia to, in his words, graciously bow out of the program. Instead, Cardona received overwhelming support from colleagues and professors. “I felt a real sense of empathy, commitment and concern that I never expected,” he said of his experience. With new books to replace his waterlogged ones, Cardona finished his second residency with a renewed spirit.
Now, four months after Hurricane Maria hit, nearly one-third of Puerto Rican residents are still living without power. Although Cardona’s struggles are far from over—long lines at the ATM, grocery stores, and gas stations constantly overwhelm him—he has led efforts to clean up and rebuild his community. In November, he organized a Thanksgiving dinner for over 2,000 people, and in December, he coordinated a toy drive that benefited nearly 3,000 children.
As he starts the second semester of his three-year executive doctoral program, Cardona reflected on the challenges of last few months. Thanks to the support from his colleagues, he was able to keep up with his studies while helping the island recover. “I realize we were more than just a cohort,” he said. “I’m part of the Temple family and we take care of one another. It is something that truly makes me Temple proud.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Sandi Webster has always strived for self-improvement. That’s why she’s pursuing her Executive Doctorate in Business Administration at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
In October, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune selected Webster’s company, Consultants 2 Go, to join the 2015 Inner City 100, a program that honors the nation’s fastest-growing inner-city businesses.
Based in Newark, N.J., Consultants 2 Go provides consulting and marketing services in the telecom, pharmaceutical, financial services, and insurance industries. Webster, who is pursuing her Executive Doctorate of Business Administration at Fox, founded the company in 2002 with a former colleague, Peggy McHale.
“Peggy and I are very fortunate that our company has excelled in the way that it has,” Webster said. “We’ve rapidly grown our consulting firm beyond our wildest imaginations and it’s an honor that we were recognized in this way by ICIC and Fortune.”
The Inner City 100 program “recognizes successful inner-city businesses and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices, and job creation in America’s urban communities,” according to ICIC.
The list of companies was unveiled Oct. 7 at the Inner City 100 Conference and Awards in Boston. Winners gathered for a full-day business symposium featuring management case studies from Harvard Business School professors and interactive sessions with top CEOs. Keynote speakers included Governor Charlie Baker, and Harvard Business School Professor and ICIC Founder and Chairman Michael E. Porter.
Webster’s professional trajectory changed due, in part, to missing the bus.
Then an executive with American Express, Webster didn’t arrive to work on Sept. 11, 2001. Early-morning crowdedness on the day of New York City’s mayoral primary election kept her from catching her usual morning bus and, as a result, she never made it to her company’s building, located less than two city blocks from the World Trade Center.
“I had been with the company for 18 years and, after the attacks, I never went back to work for American Express at that building,” Webster said. “We lost so many good employees that day, and it caused the displacement of so many others. It altered the lives of everyone who was in New York City.
“I can’t tell you how many people started their own businesses after the tragedy of 9/11, simply out of need.”
After that day, Webster said she connected with McHale and began to reconsider her line of work.
Webster, whose company generated nearly $10 million in revenue in 2014, is always looking to improve. She, too, was looking to further herself.
“Being in the business world, I aspired for a higher-level degree,” she said. “I have a unique perspective, having worked in corporate America and now in representing clients in the small-business side. I can see where gaps are and help them work more efficiently.
“That’s why I chose the Fox School. I found the Executive DBA faculty to be knowledgeable. The proximity to our offices in Newark, N.J., was important, as well.”
Webster said working mothers comprise 80 percent of Consultants 2 Go’s employees. Her vision for her company, she said, is to offer flexible hours and locations for her workers.
“Corporations tend to let go of senior executives, some of whom are women, and that’s intellectual capital walking right out the door,” Webster said. “Conversely, there’s no one around to train young executives. That’s where I believe Consultants 2 Go can fill a void.
“Within the Executive DBA program, I hope to earn greater knowledge and complete research so I can more-closely work with companies to help them realize a better use for their intellectual capital.”
Diana Kyser’s management style involves intricately fitting together a company’s puzzle pieces. Sometimes, a few pieces are missing. In most cases, the pieces are there and simply need to be arranged.
It’s a skill Kyser said she has always possessed.
“In our Navigating the Global Marketplace class, Professor (Ram) Mudambi talks about orchestrators – the kinds of people who can take a product that’s already in place and improve upon it,” Kyser said. “Professionally, that’s how I see myself. I’m a builder, a fixer.”
Kyser is a doctoral candidate in the inaugural cohort of the Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program at the Fox School of Business.
She’s also one of the leading businesswomen in New Jersey.
NJBIZ has named Kyser one of its Best 50 Women in Business for 2015. The weekly business journal selects women who reside or maintain employment in New Jersey, and must hold a senior management position within their organization. Honorees are either self-nominated or nominated by others. (Click here for NJBIZ’s 2015 honorees.)
“This is the 10th-annual award for NJBIZ. I’ve been nominated before, but I’d never been selected, so it’s rewarding,” said Kyser, of Summit, N.J.
Kyser’s professional background is rich with leadership experience. She’s the founding partner of COO on Demand, assisting companies in tailoring their execution strategies and formalizing their operations to scale for continued growth. Kyser’s company, which was founded nearly three years ago, offers operational experts to handle bookkeeping, human resources, management communications, business strategizing, and more for companies of all sizes.
“Maybe you’re a small business that needs help with the operations side, so the owner can focus on running the product side,” Kyser said. “Maybe you have a mid-size business that needs help refining its operations or strengthening its overall business plan. Maybe you manage a big business and you need a chief operations officer on an interim basis until you can hire one. These are some of the services we offer.
“Some of these companies could really benefit from high-level, experienced talent but, at the moment, can’t afford it. We think COO on Demand is quite revolutionary.”
Ultimately, Kyser said, she envisions bringing all of COO on Demand’s employees and offerings under one roof in a call-center-like setting, with management services being rendered by phone.
“It all comes back to reducing small-business failure rate, and it’s a goal that can be achieved,” she said.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Kyser in the early 1990s helped found C3i, which blossomed into a worldwide leader in technical support services for life sciences companies. She and two other C3i cofounders sold the $75 million venture funded global technology solutions firm within the last year to Telerx, a division of Merck.
Looking for another challenge, Kyser enrolled in Fox’s Executive DBA program, which launched in Fall 2014. She’s surrounded by others like her, who hold high-level, senior leadership positions as researchers, executives or entrepreneurs. The program, which is offered by only a handful of business schools nationwide, combines research with real-world experience.
“I can’t tell you how amazingly skilled the people in this program are,” Kyser said. “Their wealth of experience and knowledge is unbelievable. I’ve always loved academics and learning, and this program puts the business piece right there with the research and learning pieces.”
Just like in Kyser’s professional career, it’s all about fitting the pieces together.