When most students start classes as a freshman, they worry about finding friends, figuring out what clubs to join and where the dining hall is located on campus.
In addition to those common collegiate concerns, Brandon Bechtel is managing 10 part-time employees, opening a third location for his business and transitioning into a CEO-style roll while he is on campus pursuing a finance degree at the Fox School.
Bechtel’s brainchild, Brandon’s Candles, was born when he was 13 and looking to find a hobby. He started making candles in his basement, testing different scent combinations.
“I came across an article online about making candles,” says Brandon. “I thought it would be cool to create candles and design a brand—figuring out which type of wick burns best, creating a label that people would like. I was always interested in the business side of things.”
Today, the company has made nearly $1 million in sales and has two locations in Skippack, one warehouse and the Candle Studio. At the Studio, customers can create candles with the scent combination (they have over 100 scents to choose from) and design of their choosing. In October, Brandon’s Candles opened a third location, a second Candle Studio, in Old City.
Juggling all of this and jumping into a business school curriculum has been a humbling experience, Bechtel explains. “I realize I need to keep on top of my classes and keep pace because everyone around me is also motivated to do well.”
Owning a business has offered a unique perspective on his course load, offering a tangible approach to the concepts he learns in class. In addition to evaluating case studies and theoretical business plans like the rest of the class, Bechtel can turn around and use what he learns for the benefit of Brandon’s Candles.
He is also using his classes in topics like Human Resource Management to hone his leadership skills as he steps into more of a managerial role while he lives on campus at Temple. “I can’t do as much of the boots-on-the-ground work living in the city. I have started to develop a team I can rely on, that can help me by making more of the critical thinking decisions.”
It is that business savvy that Bechtel points to when asked about the level of success he has achieved at 17. “I have stuck with this for a long time. From the beginning, I have been dedicated to building a business. I distinguish myself from competitors by focusing on customer service, offering a quality product and a great experience to go along with it.”
Bechtel hopes that the new Philly location will increase profits and wants to introduce even more products to the range of experience his company offers. DIY lotion and hand soap packages are next on his list.
The Class of 2019 from the Fox School is full of high achievers. Jonathan Huynh is one of them, but he took a path unique to undergraduate students—a deep dive into research.
“I have always been purpose-driven,” says Huynh. “The education I’ve received at Fox has constantly challenged me to delve deeper into concepts and ideas and look at them from an out-of-the-box perspective.”
Huynh is a part of the first graduating class of undergraduate students with a Statistical Science and Data Analytics (SSDA) major at the Fox School. Looking back at his journey, “I actually started out in actuarial science, but ultimately got drawn to [this program],” says Huynh. “I liked the idea of being able to gain quantitative and analytics skills to translate large data sets into meaningful solutions.”
Dr. Pallavi Chitturi, deputy chair of the Statistical Science Department, says that the new undergraduate major in Statistical Science and Data Analytics is highly rigorous. “Students get a solid foundation in statistical methods, programming languages and statistical computing, which is why the major is gaining popularity among students and employers alike,” says Chitturi.
It is rare to see an undergraduate student so deeply involved in high-quality research. “My first exposure to research was through Dr. Robert Pred, the academic director of the Fox Business Honors program,” says Huynh. ”My friend and I did an independent research project over the summer of 2017 and Dr. Pred helped set us up with an advisor to oversee our research.”
Since then, Huynh became involved with data science research projects at Temple’s College of Public Health. One of the ongoing projects that Huynh is working on compares the difference between the cost to patients and their outcomes at the Temple University Hospital versus other hospitals in the area. “Dr. Michael Halpern, an associate professor in the College of Public Health, reached out to us as they were looking for a research assistant with strong statistical skills and Jonathan was a perfect fit,” says Chitturi, who presented Huynh with this opportunity. “Dr. Halpern was so impressed by the quality of his work that he later hired another student from the SSDA major.”
Huynh largely attributes his early success to the well-designed and differentiated curriculum at the Fox School. “I’ve seen how beneficial it is to have technical skills backed by an understanding of business for courses in data science,” Huynh says. “It allows you to be at the intersection of knowing how to comfortably work with data to drive business decisions–a skill that recruiters highly value.”
Huynh plans on pursuing a master’s degree in the near future and is looking at specialized fields of data science such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. When asked if a doctorate in data science is in the cards, Huynh says he believes education is a matter of continuous learning. “Even if I don’t pursue formal education [like a PhD], I will always be self-learning… and keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies,” says Huynh.
Huynh‘s ultimate goal is to run a startup that uses data science to solve important problems that have the potential to improve the world. “I have always had entrepreneurial aspirations,” says Huynh. “The connections that I have made at Fox and the experiential learning opportunities I’ve had here have really shaped my perspectives and prepared me to achieve these goals.” He has already started on this journey, having participated in 2019 Be Your Own Boss Bowl ® pitch competition and winning the “Crowd Favorite” award.
As of now, Huynh is all set to begin his foray into the corporate world as a Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte in the Government and Public Sector practice. Huynh says, “The thing I am most excited about is to be able to make a real impact in the everyday lives of people, as I will be working on projects with government agencies to make the lives of people easier.”
Learn more about programs in the Department of Statistical Science.
“The greatest thing you can give someone is an opportunity,” says Fox School sophomore Nasir Mack. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without someone giving me opportunities, and so now I want to help create opportunities for others.”
Helping create opportunities is what Mack and fellow members of the Fox School Philanthropic Society (FSPS) do. FSPS is involved in many events across campus, including Student Philanthropy Week in February. They also organize events for the Fox Student Emergency Fund, which assists students who experience unexpected financial hardships.
Milka Lopez, a Fox School junior and economics major who has been an FSPS member since freshman year, says the goal of the student group “is to spread information and awareness about philanthropy and the impact it can have on students’ lives. A big part of our organization’s objective this year is to branch out to not only give back to Fox students, but to various members of our community.”
For International Charity Day (Sept. 5), FSPS volunteered at Tree House Books—and they documented their experiences through a takeover of the Fox School Instagram. Founded in 2005 and located a few blocks away from Temple University Main Campus, Tree House provides the community with a free lending library and a variety of literacy programs.
“They’re right around the corner and an important part of the Temple community,” says Mack about why FSPS chose to work with Tree House. “It’s important to give back and help propel the philanthropic culture here at Temple. It can’t just be about ourselves—it has to be about the entire community. It was a great pleasure giving Tree House a helping hand and watching kids pick out books.”
“Giving back acknowledges the fact that so many of us have been given so much,” adds Lopez. “This is our way of paying it forward.”
Learn more about the Fox Student Philanthropic Society.
Student Professional Organizations (SPOs) are an excellent way for students to build their networks (personal and professional) and to gain valuable skills that will prepare them for their future careers. And many students at Temple University earn exciting internships and their first post-graduation jobs through active involvement in one of the many Fox School of Business SPOs.
Alana Vicale, the president of the College Council (the four-person board that oversees all Fox SPOs), has landed two internships through her involvement with Gamma Iota Sigma. A senior majoring in risk management and minoring in finance, Vicale worked last summer in New York City for a brokerage firm; this summer she was in Cincinnati as a risk solutions intern with Great American Insurance Group.
“If I wasn’t involved in SPOs, I wouldn’t have had these opportunities,” says Vicale. “One of the best things about all the Fox SPOs is they give you great access to people from the real work world. A lot of what you learn in the classroom is very technical and textbook based, and SPOs give you a chance to meet people from the industry. SPOs are a great way to meet new people and build your network.”
To help you make a decision on which of the Fox SPOs to join this semester, we asked Vicale to provide some info about five of them. Learn more about the others on the Fox School website.
1. American Marketing Association (AMA)
“A lot of what AMA does is real, actual marketing case competitions, which are great; they went to Wall Street Journal this year for a case competition where 84 people from Temple participated. They were also semi-finalists for Mary Kay and placed first for Proctor & Gamble case competitions. This allows students to interact with CMOs and VPs of marketing from big firms, who often come for speaker events, too.”
Learn more at the Temple American Marketing Association website.
2. Association for Information Systems (AIS)
“AIS has about 42 chapters internationally. This year they placed second in the National Data Analytics Challenge in Dallas, and the president just told me that, of all the chapters, Temple AIS won the most awards at their national competition. My favorite thing about AIS is how much community service they do; their members volunteered 600 times this past year. They work with Red Cross, the Children’s Hospital, Philabundance, and others. And AIS always has high-level guest speakers come talk to students.”
Learn more at the Temple Association for Information Systems website.
3. Beta Alpha Psi (BAP)
“Beta Alpha Psi has over 300 chapters internationally and is very unique. It’s for honors students and you can only apply after you’ve taken at least one 3000 level course and maintained a GPO above 3.0. It represents accounting, finance, and informational systems, so it’s really diverse with students from all three majors. Last semester they had the CEO of the Phillies, the CEO of Saxby’s, and a CAO from Vanguard as guest speakers. They have a great career fair and networking events, too. BAP provides great experiences and opportunities for students.”
Learn more at the Temple Beta Alpha Psi website.
4. Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS)
“GIS, with 624 members, is the largest SPO at Temple and includes risk management, healthcare management, and actuarial science majors. It’s massive; we’re also the biggest chapter worldwide. We have a strong, leading speaker series with very high-level executives in the insurance industry. GIS has opened up a lot of doors for me personally. We really encourage professional development and for members to attend the networking events, etiquette workshops, mock interviews, professional portraits, etc. GIS provides a lot of great resources.”
Learn more at the Temple Gamma Iota Sigma website.
5. Professional Sales Organization (PSO)
“I’m always impressed with PSO. All these organizations are student-run, but PSO is truly, truly student-run. They regularly place in the top five in international and national sales competitions. This year they placed second out of 140 competitors in the speed sell division at the International Collegiate Sales Competition. And they recently had a big case competition with judges from Comcast and AFLAC, and Temple placed first, second, and third. Our students came out on top!”
Learn more at the Temple Professional Sales Organization website.
When Fox School students return to Alter Hall to begin Fall classes, they may notice someone is missing. Recessed lighting still brightens the lobby, but an electric smile no longer lights up the room—the smile’s owner being now-retired security guard Dave Covington.
To know Covington is to have experienced a warm, light-hearted greeting each day.
“You’re going to be late for class!”
Wednesdays seemed to be Covington’s favorite day, as he would utter his iconic line, “Happy Hump Day,” to greet the masses at the week’s midway point.
Since Alter Hall opened in 2009, Covington has been its gatekeeper. He began his career at Temple University on July 17, 1977, in the bookstore. Then he worked in Speakman Hall through the 1980s.
“I worked in shipping and receiving for three years,” he said. “Some of my fondest memories there were the Christmas parties we had—after the boss left, we sang Christmas carols over the PA system.”
After a switch to a “nice, easy job” in security on December 3, 1980, Covington was in for a surprise.
“They threw me to the wolves,” he said. “My first assignment was the dorms—J&H, 1300, Peabody, and McGonigle. Finally I told them, I need help!”
Encouraged by his colleagues to enter the Temple Municipal Police Academy, Covington completed the training in 1984 as part of the “Centennial” class of officers. However, he eventually returned to TU Security and was promoted to work in Speakman Hall, the business school building before Alter Hall was built.
“I’ve met some good folks in security over the years,” he said. “We used to have annual cookouts in Fairmount Park.”
Even with his salt and pepper hair and kind expression, there have been a few people who have dared to get past Covington. As a self-described “customer service” security guard, Covington has experienced people trying to push past, sneak by, or ask to “use the bathroom.” His years of service have added up to an instinct that is rarely wrong.
“I’ve learned to trust my gut,” he said.
Dave, our beloved security guard in Alter Hall, is retiring. We will definitely miss his happy greetings, but we wish him the best in his next chapter.
What's your favorite Dave memory? Reply to this tweet and we'll pass it along! pic.twitter.com/tx1OYgj03N
— Fox School (@foxschool) August 7, 2018
Covington, a diehard Philadelphia sports fan who earned a certificate in small business while working at Fox, grew up at 35th and Allegheny. As his city has changed, he has watched Temple and Fox do the same.
“It’s like an obstacle course around here,” he said. “There are so many new buildings.”
Over the years, food at Temple has been a pastime for Covington. He’ll miss gyros from Ernie’s Lunch Truck—a beloved food truck that’s tenure on campus hasn’t matched Covington’s, yet—the most. He liked his quick breakfasts of sausage, egg, and cheese in the quiet, secluded third floor PhD lab.
Retirement, for Covington, will take some getting used to. With a songlike rhythm to his voice, he spoke about what lies ahead. He’s been an early riser for the past 41 years, with a 6:30 a.m. roll call at Temple each day. His morning pleasantries, doled out by the hundreds for decades, will now be shared with just one special person: his wife, Naomi, a Temple graduate.
“She’s already got a honey-do list at home in Mount Airy,” he said.
An endless stream of well-wishers had kind words of farewell for Covington on his last morning in mid-August.
“I’ll miss messing with the pizza guys that came in to deliver at the student organization events,” he said. “Temple’s been good to me—what a journey, what a journey.”
McIntyre, speaking to more than 1,200 Fox School undergraduate and graduate students earning degrees, as well as an arena packed with friends and families, was discussing how important it is for those who are successful to give back.
This was one of the many lessons offered to the Class of 2018 by McIntyre, the chairman of the Mid-Atlantic region for international insurance brokerage and risk management firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., and a member of Temple’s Board of Trustees.
He also discussed the importance of finding the right work-life balance, and spending time with family while simultaneously achieving professional goals. The Temple alumnus referred to his own family as an “Owl Family”—his wife and one of his daughters also graduated from Temple.
McIntyre talked about the importance of taking risks. “When you take risks, you reach your full potential,” he said, nodding to the innovative spirit of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. And he emphasized that taking risks makes you a better, stronger leader.
The student speaker was Kasey Brown, BBA ’18, a Management Information Systems major and member of the Association for Information Systems, a student professional organization.
“Like many of you,” said Brown about her time at the Fox School, “I discovered I had a deep desire to use the power of business to serve the poor. Here at Fox, I found my own definition of greatness right there, at the intersection of business and service. Right in the sweet spot between skill and kindness, hard work and charity.”
Brown’s next move will be to Wisconsin, where she will work as a Catholic missionary.
“Though your journey toward greatness may be confusing and challenging and hard to explain, one thing I know for sure is that, thanks to the Fox School of Business, you have everything you need to reach it,” Brown said. “You are an exceptional group of people, with endless talent, and an unquenchable thirst for helping others—and you’ve already changed the world.”
The Fox School of Business‘ Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) has a commencement tradition. Toward the end of every semester, graduating students, when they secure a post-graduation job, ring a bell and publicly announce who their soon-to-be employer is and what their new position will be.
It’s a great way to declare, “I did it! And this is what I’m doing next!”
Temple University’s commencement, which will include hundreds of undergraduate students receiving BBA’s from the Fox School, is this week. So we asked several members of the Class of 2018 to share with us their new jobs and some inspiring stories about their time at Fox and Temple.
Kasey Brown, BBA ’18
Major: Management Information Systems
SPO: Association for Information Systems
New Job: Summer staff missionary, Catholic Youth Expeditions
New Uplifting Experiences: “First and foremost, I’m excited to grow in my Catholic faith. Temple gave me a beautiful opportunity to discover this faith, and I feel so blessed to work for an organization that allows me to grow and discover even more. Secondly, I have always had a special place in my heart for high school students and young adults. I remember what a difficult time of life it can be, and I look forward to being with them and help them in any way I can. In addition, working with Catholic Youth Expeditions means getting to learn more about how to serve the poor and how to love others—and there’s nothing more important to me.”
Helping Others: “Temple and Fox gave me the opportunity to hone my skills—not only in business, but also in communication, time management, leadership, crisis management, critical thinking, and teamwork. More importantly, Temple and Fox helped me discover the reason why I wanted to do business: to serve others. I know that in whatever job I do, it’ll never be just a job. It will be an opportunity to use my skills to help others and give back all I’ve been given here.”
William Clark, BBA ’18
New Job: Financial analyst, Revint Solutions
Perfect Launching Pad: “As I progressed through my lower-level BBA core classes, I realized I had a passion for analyzing underlying financial data. I have been a math and science guy as early as the second grade, so pursuing a career centered around financial analysis seemed like a natural fit. A financial analyst position is the perfect launching pad for a long, successful career in corporate finance.”
Love at First Sight: “I fell in love with Fox from the moment I attended my first course. I had the privilege of being taught by some of the best professors in academia, within a modern building full of the latest finance-based technology. The Capital Markets Room was one of my favorite places at Fox, as I was able to hone my skills in Bloomberg, FactSet, and VBA programming, among other things. I was able to attain valuable knowledge that allowed me to separate myself from the crowd.”
Alexa Ann Gerenza, BBA ’18
SPO: American Marketing Association
New Job: Group ticket sales associate and service coordinator, New York Yankees
A Lifelong Fan’s Dream Job: “I’ve been a Yankees fan my entire life and to now have a job that always seemed so unrealistic it’s still hard to believe. Moving to NYC and having my office at the stadium and my work schedule based around game days, is less typical, yet so very exciting. This is an entirely new lifestyle than one I expected to have post-grad, but I’m beyond excited for the journey ahead.”
Finding Confidence (and Forever Friends!): “The American Marketing Association has given me my forever friends and motivated me to work harder in everything I do. It has given me more opportunities than I ever imagined, including two trips to the AMA International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans, leading Temple’s chapter as vice president to success as a top five chapter, touring the Facebook office in NYC, and competing in an eBay sponsored case competition. Without the lessons learned and the experiences gained, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to send the initial LinkedIn connection to the Yankees and jump on the first phone call, which ultimately led to the position.”
Kyshon Johnson, BBA ’18
Major: International Business
New Job: Business Leadership program/Global sales associate, LinkedIn
Linking Up with LinkedIn: “LinkedIn is my dream company. I was able to tour the San Francisco office in 2016 and made a promise to myself I’d work there. I felt the company and culture aligned perfectly with my passions and life purpose. Initially, I applied for a summer internship and was rejected. I used that experience as motivation and an opportunity to improve my professionalism. I interned at Comcast and gained industry experience before applying for my full-time role. I am confident LinkedIn and the Business Leadership program will groom and mold me into a successful business woman.”
The Fox School Network: “I am thankful for the resources and support that Fox and Temple have provided during my undergraduate experience. Fox has a strong alumni network filled with professionals throughout the world. I utilized the alumni network to connect with Owls within the technology industry. I was able to meet with individuals that work at Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They were all enthusiastic to assist me in landing a role at their companies. This professional foundation allowed me to explore career options and connect with amazing individuals.”
Katherine Taraschi, BBA ’18
New Job: Owner, O bag (King of Prussia Mall)
An Italian Vacation Inspires a Career: “O bag is an Italian company that creates interchangeable bags and accessories that customers can build in the store. It’s a store my friends and I were completely obsessed with when we visited Italy last spring. We visited six different locations all over Italy and one in Budapest. O bag King of Prussia will be located on the first floor of the Plaza between Lord and Taylor and Nordstrom.”
Benefits of a Real-World Curriculum: “I love that the professors at Fox all have real-world experience. Hearing different situations that they’ve encountered embedded in course topics gave a different perspective to the lessons—and definitely helped prepare me for my new position as a business owner.”
Lindsey Thompson, BBA ’18
Major: Human Resource Management
SPO: Net Impact; Society for Human Resource Management
New Job: Compensation analyst, Day & Zimmermann
A Passion for Philly… and Data: “I’m so excited to continue to live in my favorite city (Philadelphia), work with coworkers I have formed connections with during my internship at Day & Zimmermann, and to dive into the details of data in a field I’m passionate about.”
Involvement Pays Off: “The professors in Fox’s HR department, as well as other schools throughout the university, are some of the kindest and most knowledgeable people I’ve met. I can’t thank them enough for passing on their extensive industry knowledge, their warm and understanding natures, for making me think, and for serving as mentors. My leadership position with Net Impact and my role as a Teaching Assistant taught me the value of detail orientation, time management, effective communication, and remaining open-minded. I would suggest to any undergrad to get involved outside of class, because it has really added to my experience here at Temple!”
Ian Usher, BBA ’18
Major: Management Information System
SPO: Association for Information Systems
New Job: Media-Tech associate, NBC Universal
Becoming a Tech Leader: “I’m incredibly excited to start working for NBC Universal. While working for NBCU last summer, I discovered the company has a wonderful culture where I feel engaged and valued, even as a young employee. During that time, I became good friends with other interns, and it will be wonderful to continue to grow those relationships. The Media-Tech Associate program is a very demanding program, but it’s designed to give us the skills necessary to become future technology leaders.”
A Professional Journey Began at Fox: “Throughout my career at Fox, I was pushed to think logically, clearly, and critically to solve many real business problems. I was fortunate to work on projects with real companies, from startups like PoundCake to major organizations like CHOP. Completing these projects and learning how to interact with professionals helped me excel during my internship and prepared me for the workplace more effectively than if my classes were purely lecture-based. I was a poor writer before coming to Temple, and Fox classes like Business Communications have helped me improve my writing skills dramatically. That’s been critical thus far in my professional journey.”
Learn more about the Center for Student Professional Development.
Last month, a team of four Fox School juniors took a road trip to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to compete in the 2018 International Business Case Competition. They placed second and returned to Temple with a cash prize of $500.
The Fox School team—consisting of students Tyler Ascione, Sonali Patel, Nathan Pham, and Tarun Sangari—was one of the 12 teams to participate in the live competition sponsored by Nidec Motor Corporation and judged by business leaders from the St. Louis area. The challenge focused on developing strategies for the Japanese company to position, sell, and introduce its new FORECYTE sensors used for monitoring the vibrations and temperature of motors. The team was given the case Friday evening, and had to develop strategies and provide two rounds of presentations to the judges the next day. It was a hectic 24 hours.
“We had to figure out how to consolidate our ideas and put together a cohesive PowerPoint deck within the 24-hour time limit,” the team said. “In the first four hours, we individually researched and tried to get a holistic understanding of Nidec’s business model and the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ industry. The next six hours, we wrote our ideas on a blackboard and deliberated our strategy. After dinner, we were all extremely fatigued, and did not have a single slide ready. However, at around midnight, we found a second wind. We began motivating each other, and our energy showed through the slides.”
The team ultimately developed a prize-winning recommendation for Nidec.
“Our solution was multi-faceted,” the team said. “First, we recommended they license out its new sensor technology to MROs (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Then, for the next five years, we recommended they collect and analyze the data aggregated from those MROs and OEMs. Once the firm had a sufficient level of data, we suggested opening up a new line of revenue: providing insights to OEM and MRO clients. These insights would give the firms a better way to manage their human capital and assess business needs. To maintain security, we considered a distributed ledger technology, providing a way to record digital interactions that are highly resistant to outages.”
4 Most Valuable Lessons Learned
1. “The greatest lesson I learned was to accurately assess and portray different qualitative options with a quantitative model. I had struggled with recommending businesses to pursue different strategies, but I have since gained the tools to quantify the strength of one strategy over another.” – Tyler Ascione, Finance and Management Information Systems double major
2. “Participating in my first case, the greatest lesson I learned is how important it is to decide on a strategy that everyone agrees on and be able to present. It is important to ensure the strategy is a success by conducting a lot of research and having data. It took us a lot of effort to put together the case. However, at the end of the day we all worked as a team and had fun!” – Sonali Patel, Finance major
3. “My lesson was the power of teamwork and team chemistry. We were given a tough case with limited data about a new product from the company. It took us 10 hours to come up with an outline and a general strategy. By then, we were all very tired. But once we came together, each of us tried to motivate each other by talking and even joking around. It seemed trivial but some late-night laughs helped a lot in keeping us up and finishing the presentation. Because we liked each other and understood unique strengths of each team member, we were able to overcome difficult challenges and have a lot of fun along the way.” – Nathan Pham, Management Information Systems major, Finance minor
4. “The greatest lesson I learned from the case was how important it is to tell a story with your numbers. While having a ton of great data is very helpful to support your argument, having the ability to analyze that data and present it in an interesting manner is far more important than anything else.” – Tarun Sangari, Finance and Accounting double major
Learn more about the Fox School’s undergraduate programs.
Sheila Ireland, BBA ’93, was recently appointed the executive director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Workforce Development. “There is no one better suited to lead this work than Ms. Ireland,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a press release. “She comes with decades of experience in workforce development, including national recognition for her expertise in coordinating industry partnerships. Her ability to understand and address the needs of industry in a way that is also acutely aware of the challenges facing Philadelphia residents will serve the people and businesses of our city well.”
Ireland, who majored in Human Resources at the Fox School and earned a master’s degree at La Salle University, has worked for many years in human resources and workforce development in both the public and private spheres. Her previous position was as deputy director of the City’s Workforce and Diversity Inclusion program.
We recently spoked to Ireland about her new position and some of the goals of the newly established Office of Workforce Development. She also gave some advice to high school students heading to college, and to college students heading off to new jobs after graduation.
What’s the biggest challenge of your new role?
“In order to implement the strategy, it’s going to require systems change. A lot of times when we look at Workforce Development, it’s program-based or service-based, and it’s based on a certain set of participants. But in this case, when you look at the strategy the way I look at it, it’s about systems alignment. When you see all the metrics, the ones for me that will really change things, will be where systems start to change and be more coordinated. Funding streams in the City of Philadelphia really need to be organized around quality, delivery, and services, where now it’s a hodgepodge of different things. Shared goals and common data systems are in the plan, and those will make a big difference that we’ll see in unemployment in Philadelphia.”
What excites you most about this position?
“What’s most exciting is that, in the city’s history, I’ve never seen the major players come to the table together like they are now. You never see the School District, and Philadelphia Youth Network, and Philadelphia Works, etc., at the same table talking about how we, as collaborators, can affect change in the city. It’s usually this conversation where if you put a lot of people into the same room a fight breaks out. Everyone advocates for their particular issue and it always ends up being that kind of conversation. We never have the conversation where we realize all these different services need to be offered in coordination so people can lift themselves out of poverty or return to employment. I think for the first time we’re starting to have that conversation, about how education connects with employment, and how workforce connects to employment. We’ve had those conversations before, but never in a coordinated way. We’re doing that now.”
I read “Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine,” the new citywide workforce strategy, and I noticed a big emphasis throughout on long-term job training. Now, with traditional pathways to employment and promotion structures eroding, and the rise of the gig economy, and so on, how do you accommodate for those changes through the lens of long-term job training?
“I’ll ask you to look at it differently. The center is the career pathways model. The focus is that it’s informed by the way people usually go through their careers versus the reality. The myth is, you go to college, you do well; you get a job, you do well; you advance, you advance, you advance. The reality is those people’s careers are more like Slinkys. Stuff happens. Bad stuff happens. Unemployment happens. Industries contract. Enron. I could go on and on. People need the opportunity to partake in a system where there are entry and exit points no matter what the skill level. If you look at the career ladder, it starts at very low skill. Things like First Step Staffing, whose sole focus is getting people off the street and employed in two weeks is one end of the spectrum. The other end of the spectrum is when we talk about our tech industry partnerships, where people talk about the real digital skills required to engage in what is one of the fastest growing sectors in Philadelphia and the country. So we’re talking about this systems based approach where, wherever you are, we as a city need to provide you to the resources you need to connect to work.”
As Philly high school students enter college, what skills do you think the city needs its future employees to have, and what should they be studying?
“It’s interesting that you say that because I normally get a different question. I normally get the question about how is Workforce connected to kids going to college, and the answer is they need the same skills. People use a lot of different terminology: soft skills, power skills, twenty-first century skills, etc. It’s emotional intelligence and the ability to delay gratification. It’s the ability to work effectively in a team. Team work says you don’t always get your way, that you work toward a common goal. It’s all connected. This is what employees look for, and they’re the hardest skills to get. It’s much easier to focus on tech skills, or quantitative skills. Really, the skill is about how to build a career, and how to envision moving away from the now and seeing the bigger picture of where you could be. I remember my first job, I worked for money, and I didn’t care what I did. I had a part time job in high school typing for a PhD candidate; I was in the tenth-grade typing letters because I had no idea what she was writing about! It was data entry. It was awful, but I learned so much. My parents said, ‘You can’t quit, you have to get it done because you made a commitment.’ That always stayed with me. That skill is important: tenacity in the face of unpleasantness. You can’t build a career without that.”
And for students graduating this month from the Fox School of Business and Temple University, why should they stick around to work in Philadelphia rather than take a job elsewhere?
“I’ll tell you my personal piece. I’m from Chicago; I’m not a Philadelphia native. I’ve had opportunities to leave the city, but I love it here. There’s a particular pace and charm that makes it very distinct from New York or D.C. Philly is a small big city. I enjoy that in a lot of ways. Despite the things that we struggle with, there are so many positive things happening here. In New York or D.C., you’re just a cog in the wheel. As a young person in Philadelphia who’s building their career and their vision about the impact and change they’re going to make in their lives, there’s an opportunity to be a part of the future of the city.”
Learn more about the Fox School’s Department of Human Resource Management.
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Social media. Tickets also will be available through the Fox School’s social media channels.
Learn more about the Fox School’s Centennial celebration.
For high school seniors, this time of year can create anxiety—and a flood of questions.
“What will college be like?”
“What are the first steps once I arrive?”
“How do I network? Or land an internship?”
Next week, nearly 100 seniors from Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School will have the answers to all of these questions (and more) after visiting Temple University.
The students will engage in a networking social event called “Project: Career,” where they will meet with marketing students and faculty from Temple’s Fox School of Business, and dozens of local business leaders.
“The event is like the speed-dating equivalent of networking,” said Drew Allmond, assistant professor of marketing at the Fox School. “Cristo Rey’s students will shake hands, introduce themselves, and exchange business cards with our students, faculty, and area business professionals. They will share their career goals, and Fox’s marketing students will offer tips on navigating college, building networks, and beyond.”
This is the second year of the workshop between Temple’s business school and Cristo Rey, a private high school located in the city’s Germantown section. Cristo Rey combines traditional academic schoolwork with professional work experience. Each student, from grades 9 through 12, works a real job for real wages five days each month. This affords Cristo Rey students the professional development opportunities they need at the next level, and substantially reduces the students’ tuition expenses at the school.
“The impact extends beyond that,” Allmond said. “Our students get the chance to act as mentors, instead of as the ones being mentored. And Cristo Rey’s students earn valuable networking skills that transfer to the next level—college.”
What: “Project: Career” student networking event
Where: Temple University’s Fox School of Business—Alter Hall (1801 Liacouras Walk)
When: Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 (2:30-4 p.m.)
Who: Seniors from Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School will receive professional-development coaching from students and faculty at Temple’s Fox School, and dozens of local industry professionals.
Day-of contact: Drew Allmond, assistant professor of marketing at Temple’s Fox School of Business, will be available for interviews on the day of the event, and can be reached at 215-806-0287. Joanna Wusinich, Cristo Rey’s director of work-study programs, also will be available.
For more information and to schedule an interview, contact Christopher A. Vito, Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations, at email@example.com or (215) 204-4115.
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.
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.”
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.”
Learn more about Fox School undergraduate programs.
The talented, diverse, and driven Class of 2021 at the Fox School of Business are poised to become the next generation of innovators and business disruptors. They arrive highly-accomplished and are excited to hone their skills with the help of our top-tier faculty, market-driven curriculum, and professional development opportunities.
In fall 2017, the Fox School redesigned the Bachelor of Business Administration Core Curriculum to weave critical thinking, communication, and quantitative reasoning skills into the fabric of core business knowledge. The redesign team continues to work with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and employers to integrate these skills across the curriculum to better position Fox undergraduates for success post-graduation. These four freshmen are among the first to participate in the enhanced curriculum.
Watch the video below and read on to learn more about these four freshmen who are ready to change the world.
- Hometown: Philadelphia
- Age: 18
- Major: Business Management
- Career goals: CEO, creative director, project manager
- Hobbies: Public speaking, reading, writing
- Hidden talent: Making music, playing violin
- Hometown: Royersford, Pa.
- Age: 18
- Major: Business (declaring Accounting)
- Career goals: Grad school, then Certified Public Accountant
- Hobby: Competitive horse rider
- Hidden talents: “I can bake pretty well and I love to make handmade gifts!”
- Hometown: Havertown, Pa.
- Age: 19
- Major: Entrepreneurship, Marketing
- Career goals: Serial entrepreneur, thought leader
- Current businesses: Symbie (social networking app) and eThree (sales engagement platform)
- Claim to fame: Joined rapper Travis Scott onstage at concert and knew every word
- Hometown: Medford, N.J.
- Age: 19
- Major: Finance, Entrepreneurship
- Career goals: Wealth management sales or investment banking firm in mergers and acquisitions
- Dream: “To retire from the financial field after 15 to 20 years and work as a high school math teacher in my hometown.”
- Current business: Has run landscaping company, Robert Z Properties LLC, since freshman year of high school
- Hobby: “I love to travel. I went to Switzerland this fall and Italy this summer.”
- Hidden talents: Good cook and ping pong player
Learn more about Fox School undergraduate programs.
Does speed matter in e-commerce? How can you eliminate the harmful effects of smoking on society? How can you predict which movies will be a hit or a bust? These were the questions posed this year by the annual Temple University QVC Analytics Challenge and its sponsors QVC, Pfizer, and NBCUniversal.
Now in its fifth year, 582 students from 10 different schools and colleges across the university participated in the competition, organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), where participants solve important industry-specific problems using data. This year’s 245 entries were judged in two categories—analytics and graphics—and winners took home $12,000 in cash prizes from the event, held Nov. 13, 2017 at Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.
The winner of the graphics category was a team consisting of Charles Attisano and Luke Harding, two seniors studying graphic and interactive design at the Tyler School of Art. They worked on the NBCUniversal challenge about movie box office forecasting and produced a short video exploring the topic, which you can watch here.
“We concluded that, on average, the highest performing movies in the box office tend to be adventure films with production budgets between $100-250 million, and release dates in May, June, or December,” said Attisano and Harding. “Providing a formula for success, on average, may help a producer choose a genre, budget, and release date. One of the most important things we learned in the process is that storytelling is an integral part of the analyzing process, and that you must communicate your analysis in a clear manner.”
The winner in the analytics category was a team of four Fox School students majoring in management information systems: Ngoc Pham, Chi Pham, Run Zhu, and Jiawei Huang. They focused on QVC’s e-commerce problem, and showed how the shopping network can ship the right products at the right time to its customers. (See the winning infographic here.)
“Working with raw data is like playing a video game,” the team explained. “You have the same goal to fulfill certain tasks, and there are tons of approaches that can be used to accomplish this goal. We provided our recommendations for highly underutilized distribution centers in terms of product categories based on their sales. By implementing our recommendations, QVC could increase its sales volume in California, Texas, and Florida within three months.”
One of the most thrilling aspects of the Analytics Challenge is that participants represent many different schools and colleges across the university. This means teams approach data, analysis, and visualization in diverse ways, and they bring unique, multi-disciplinary insights to each problem.
“It was exciting this year to see how well so many students from so many different majors instinctively understood the importance of the science of data,” said Laurel Miller, assistant professor of management information systems, IBIT director, and the co-founder of the Analytics Challenge. “It was hard to pick the winners, and all the students should feel proud of how well they did.”