Sabrina Volpone, PhD ’13, is an organizational diversity expert, researching topics of diversity and identity within the context of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and immigrant status. Since graduating from the Fox PhD program, her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
The On The Verge editorial team had the opportunity to chat with Volpone about how she got started researching the experiences of traditionally under-represented employees, how a more diverse workforce requires organizations to adapt and how they can do better.
How did you become interested in diversity and inclusion?
When I was growing up in Texas, I was not exposed to much diversity. The Dallas/Fort Worth area was very different 30+ years ago then it is now; the only people I knew were white and Christian.
My mom, who had a business degree in accounting and worked for a huge company in Texas, told me a story about how she got fired because she was getting sick at her desk too often when she was pregnant. Her company shrugged it off, saying that they assumed that once she became a mother she would be leaving her job anyway. Hearing these things opened my eyes to small-town values—taking care of your neighbors, for example—being pushed aside when stigmatizing factors were introduced.
Then, when I was working toward my degrees, both my bachelor’s from the University of North Texas and PhD in Human Resource Management from the Fox School, I wanted to do something meaningful that could speak to people’s experiences at work. The research I was seeing did not capture what was going on for women, people of color and other disenfranchised groups.
What are the differences between diversity and inclusion? How does your research incorporate both?
Diversity is more than just checking a demographic box or filling a quota. To really leverage the benefits of diversity we have to talk about inclusion, a separate, but related, topic. The difference has often been illustrated in the following quote from Verna Myers, the vice president of inclusion strategy for Netflix: “Diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance.”
In a recent research project, my team went back to basics to investigate how organizations actually define diversity. There are a host of organizations that would like to improve how they are managing diversity because they are facing lawsuits, or simply because they want to be more strategic about managing human resources. There is an increasing need for organizations to collectively rebuild and expand the way we think about these topics.
For example, we looked at the way a few Fortune 500 firms were defining diversity and found that only 38 percent had established definitions on their websites. A large number of those who did listed standard descriptors typically found on HR hiring paperwork that are based on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, stating that the company does not discriminate based on age, sex, race, etc. Other companies take a different approach, however, and use language that extends beyond “legal” terminology.
In my work, I am trying to illustrate that diversity and inclusion must work hand-in-hand. The diversity element establishes the organizational environment and the legal mandates required by law. Inclusion facilitates a climate where employees feel valued and included as a result of their unique characteristics. This is important because, as some of my other research shows, leveraging diversity in this way can result in financial gains. We found that one small change in a diversity definition can relate to more than $2 billion in current profits and more than $1 billion in profit growth. Thus, being inclusive when defining diversity results in increased financial outcomes for companies.
How does inclusion impact companies?
To explore the importance of inclusive policies and procedures in the workplace, I was part of a research team that examined the experiences of breastfeeding women in the workforce. We interviewed women in the morning, afternoon and night to see how the quality of their breastfeeding space throughout the day improved work outcomes. The data and quotes from the women illustrated a powerful point: the legal definition of what must be provided (a space to pump that is not a bathroom and is shielded from view) will not make a satisfied, productive employee. When companies provided more than the bare minimum for breastfeeding mothers, we noticed an increase in their work goal progress and their breastfeeding goal progress while also seeing improvements in their work-family balance satisfaction.
How does a more diverse workforce and consumer base require organizations to adapt? How are businesses innovating around majority-minorities, women, people with disabilities, millennials, and other demographics?
Some companies are not, and their workplace cultures and even financials are seeing the impact of that. Many organizations that are not evolving along with their workforce may cease to exist in 10 to 20 years because of their inability to strategically manage their human resources in a way that captures the diversity of their employees.
For example, in a paper that my coauthors and I recently published, we looked at the hiring process for people with concealable stigmas. Specifically, we examined the relationship between applicants disclosing their hearing disability during the interview process and whether or not they received a job offer. Changing our policies and procedures throughout each human resource function to be inclusive of employees with non-visible disabilities is an example of adapting from systems that, historically, have been focused on accommodating employees with visible physical disabilities.
But those who are thinking about the lived experiences of employees, they create policies and procedures that capture that. They are also being strategic through all of their human resources functions—processes like hiring, training and promotions—and are threading the importance of diversity and inclusion practices through all the ways they do business. Executives are making sure that employees are being heard and taken care of. In order for companies to survive, these considerations will become a requirement.
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
The Fox School of Business prides itself on creating a community that helps students thrive long after graduation. The reformation of the Young Accounting Alumni Group (YAAG) shows that even after students graduate, they do not have to face the real world alone.
Co-presidents of YAAG, Melissa Cameron, MAcc ’18, and Eric Hamilton, BBA ’16, explore their personal motivation for reforming the group, why its existence is important for future alumni and what is in store for the future of YAAG.
Melissa first entered the world of accounting through arts administration and arts management positions. Since receiving her master of accountancy degree from the Fox School, she has worked at Deloitte in the audit and assurance practice. Eric started as an associate in the risk consulting practice at RSM and was promoted to senior associate after two years.
The driving force behind relaunching YAAG was the accounting faculty at the Fox School, Melissa and Eric explain. “They wanted to reconnect with the recent alumni to keep the bond strong when students graduate, and they wanted a group of motivated alumni to get it off the ground,” says Eric.
Relaunching the group shows that, while students may go down a multitude of career paths, there will always be a support system by their side.
“I’ve learned so much through other people’s experiences,” Melissa says. “I have had many key people willing to take time out of their busy schedules to go out for a coffee or lunch with me, or email, or call, just so that I could ask them my (dozens of) questions, pick their brain about their experiences and knowledge and background in accounting.”
She views YAAG as a platform to give back to her fellow Fox graduates and current students and is motivated to “pay-it-forward.” “I want to be available to be that person for the next round of students looking to establish themselves in an accounting or business field.”
The Young Accounting Alumni Group kicked off its relaunch with the YAAG Launch Happy Hour on August 6. The event served as a kick-off for recent alumni to meet Melissa, Eric and other members of the YAAG leadership team and learn about the group’s future plans. With over 50 recent graduates attending, the alumni board was able to reconnect with familiar faces and get the excitement going about the relaunch.
When looking to the future of YAAG, Eric says, “Be on the lookout for future events while we continue to develop our brand. Then we will eventually build the programming that our group wants to see, such as mentoring, continuing education and exclusive events.”
Their next event, on October 26th, will be a Love City Brewery Tour and Temple/UCF Football Watch Party at Love City Brewing.
The resurgence of the Young Accounting Alumni Group has only just begun and is ready to help recent graduates every step of the way.
If you are interested in learning more about YAAG, check for emails from the group as well as the Temple Alumni site for future events, and register!
Working in an age of disruption, women are encouraged to embrace and grow their leadership styles.
Your leadership style is constantly evolving, even if you don’t realize it.
That’s because professional women are living and working in an age of disruption, says Wendi Wasik, facilitator of “Understanding and Leveraging Your Leadership Style,” the first of six sessions in the Fox School’s Women’s Leadership Series.
“Women have greater opportunities to shape and influence what is of importance to them,” Wasik says.
The monthly series, hosted by the Center for Executive Education, provides an environment for professional women to grow their knowledge of effective and successful leadership skills.
Wasik, an executive coach, was quick to issue a challenge to the room of women whose careers spanned a range of professions.
“What do you care about?” she asks. “What has you want[ing] to rise up and be the best leader you can be?”
For some emerging leaders, the answer to those questions might take them out of their comfort zone.
“When a situation calls for something different, we need to introduce some flexibility,” she says.
“Your leadership style is multidimensional and fluid, it is not hard and fast, although sometimes we think it is. It is constantly evolving and expanding your awareness as you gain experience and you integrate lessons from successes and failures.”
Temple University Provost JoAnne A. Epps joined the cohort for a conversation about women in leadership. She advised participants to think about what they want to achieve as leaders.
“We don’t actually ask ourselves that question often enough,” she says. “Feel free to think boldly and to try things.”
It’s important for all leaders to recognize their blind spots as well as the sweet spots and be open to input from others to help identify strengths and weaknesses.
“There is a lot of value in creating a learning environment where one can discuss failures and mistakes and learn from it and come back stronger because of it,” Wasik says.
Small team exercises allowed several participants to have “lightbulb moments” that helped them identify individual strengths and weaknesses.
“Awareness is really the first step,” Wasik says, “You cannot change what you are not aware of.”
Some of the things that influence most leadership styles center around a person’s mindset and the internal dialogue that takes place during a time of challenge.
A fixed mindset makes it difficult to grow as a leader. So Wasik urged participants to cultivate a growth mindset that is more open to learning new ways to lead and think about problems in front of them.
“This becomes the fabric of the culture,” she says.
Wasik believes internal dialogue can create both opportunities and limitations for women that ultimately impacts behavior.
“The perfectionism aspect that I see particularly around women executives is really intense sometimes,” she says.
Accepting and learning from mistakes is something successful leaders need to work toward.
“If you don’t own that and master that for yourself, you do not have it to give away to others,” Wasik says.
But both Epps and Wasik admit change and growth can be uncomfortable.
“If you are going to be an effective leader, you’re going to have people who are going to dislike decisions that you make and they are going to try to derail the decision or derail you,” Epps says.
It’s how someone deals with these difficult situations that can make a difference for all parties involved.
“I think you have to emotionally let go of that because it will hold you back,” she says.
During her visit to the Fox School of Business, Cynthia Cooper put an auditorium holding 300 seats in her shoes as the whistleblower of one of the largest corporate scandals that catapulted her into the public consciousness.
Cooper, an accountant who served as the director of Internal Audit at WorldCom, a telecommunications giant, worked with her team to investigate and unearth $3.8 billion in fraud. At the time in 2002, it was the largest incident of accounting fraud in the U.S. Shortly after the fraud was uncovered, WorldCom filed for bankruptcy and collapsed.
“It was by far the most difficult thing I went through in my lifetime,” she says. “I weathered the storm with help from my family and my faith.”
During her talk “Ethical Leadership in the 21st Century,” she took students through the process of discovering the fraud. She also challenged them to think about the decisions they would have made and how those decisions would have impacted their lives and the lives of others. She detailed the backgrounds of the managers who had become complicit and explored the reasons why people make unethical choices.
Cooper harkened back to classic examples of moral dilemmas, such as the Milgram Experiment and the Parable of Sadhu to illustrate the point that these dilemmas are common, and can take on many different forms, such as cheating on a test or going over the speed limit.
“We have to prepare ourselves for these possibilities and recognize ethical dilemmas before we come to the crossroads,” she advises.
At one point in her presentation, Cooper had the group stand up, close their eyes and point to true north. Looking around the room, students were pointing in all different directions.
“You have to find your own moral compass,” she explains. “Define a mission statement and your core values. Find your courage, find a mentor, and don’t let yourself be intimidated.”
Cooper’s book about her life and the WorldCom fraud, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower, was published in 2008. Profits from the book were given to universities and organizations for ethics education.
One such organization is the Student Center for the Public Trust (StudentCPT), created by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Temple University is one of the nationwide chapters that provides an interactive environment for ethical business behaviors and ideas to flourish. Temple StudentCPT, sponsored by Deloitte, allows students to engage with the business community, develop professional leadership skills and host high-caliber guest speakers.
José E. Muñoz Jr. and Hyun Jong Park are making their Temple debut
The Department of Accounting of the Fox School of Business welcomes two new professors—Hyun Jong Park and José E. Muñoz Jr. Both professionals bring a unique mix of high-quality research, innovative teaching, and professional experiences to the department.
Hyun Jong Park joins Temple as an assistant professor, having recently earned his doctorate from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. Park’s research focuses on timely and relevant issues in auditing, examining the intersection of auditing, regulation and litigation risk. His dissertation investigates the real-world concern of the relation between audit firms’ political connections and PCAOB inspection reports. Before entering his PhD, Park received his master’s of commerce and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne.
Park’s teaching strategies allows students to learn at their own pace. “I believe each student learns in different ways. I think students need to work in their own time making sure that they understand the materials covered in the classroom, said Park, I give them instructions and explanations so that they could learn the material.”
José E. Muñoz Jr. is a professor of instruction who recently served as the associate dean of graduate business education at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He brings his 18 years of teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels and over 30 years of experience in senior executive management positions.
Muñoz considers his teaching method as a mixture of a practical and theoretical approach to business. “We discuss work experiences and problems experienced by the students and me and apply them to the classroom lessons of the day, as a way of making the textbook material come to life in real-world situations,” says Muñoz.
Muñoz has also served on numerous advisory boards, corporate boards and civic boards. Muñoz received a doctorate of business administration in accounting from Anderson University in Indiana, and a master of business administration and two bachelor of science degrees from Florida State University.
Bringing real-world professional insights, broad teaching experience and a rigorous research-based perspective to the classroom, Muñoz and Park establish themselves as professors who will engage students and encourage their learning at Fox and into their professional lives.
The week of Sept. 16 was a busy one for the Fox Global MBA program and the students from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Bogotá who came to immerse themselves in the Temple/Philadelphia experience.
The program is designed for professionals with significant work experience who are seeking career mobility and enrichment, as well as a collaborative learning experience with a closely-knit cohort of colleagues. Temple has partnerships with universities in Beijing, China, Bogota, Colombia and Tokyo, Japan. The modular format of the Executive Program MBA curriculum also means that students have the ability to take two courses at a global partner location. For Javeriana students, this meant taking a trip to the City of Brotherly Love.
The week-long visit included four days in the classroom, sightseeing activities like a walking tour of Old City and visiting corporate headquarters in the city. Over the course of three days, the group visited Philadelphia Port Authority, Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), the Philadelphia 76ers, Comcast and Subaru.
“It has been a great experience; I really love it,” says Yaquelyn Peña Moreno. She is a director of internal audits (controller), with more than 18 years of experience in the provision of professional audit services. “Yesterday, we went to GSK and it was wonderful. The people who ran the meeting were so open with us. They told us about their careers and explained all the different perspectives of the company. I can take these lessons both in my professional career and my personal life.”
Despite their busy schedules, the cohort still had time to take in the campus and reflect on how their experiences will impact their careers at home in Colombia and beyond.
“We have been given the opportunity to understand how students of Temple live day-by-day,” says Juan Carlos Rodriguez Rozo, chief operations officer/supply chain director at Fundacion Cardioinfantil, a top hospital in Bogota. “And we are going to bring a lot of insights back to our companies. Not only about the latest trends in global management, but because we can talk to local students and people during corporate visits, we can better understand how U.S. companies are operating.”
This September, the Fox School kicked off it’s Fox on the Road alumni event series with its first stop in New York City. The event gave attendees the opportunity to network with fellow alumni and Fox leadership, and get an inside look at the future direction and mission of the school from Dean Anderson. The featured speaker, Anthony Viglietti, BBA ’04, COO & CFO of theSkimm, spoke to guests about his journey to the U.S., tech disruption and changes to the workplace. We sat down with him afterward to hear more about his experience as an undergraduate student at the Fox School and how he got to where he is today.
Q: You spoke about moving from your hometown of Lyon, France to the UK and eventually ending up in the U.S. How has your journey affected your approach to your career?
A: The reason I moved around a lot is that I had this idea of what I wanted to do and I was determined to do it. And it didn’t always work out, but I don’t have regrets because at the time it felt like the right thing to do. It’s made me massively determined. My first job I was 24, so I was kind of old when I entered the workforce, but I was determined to prove people wrong. And I still have that chip on my shoulder.
Q: What drew you to Temple University as an undergraduate student?
A: I was at a school in France that had five partner schools. My two favorites were Temple and Northeastern. I liked the recruiting team at Temple, they were my favorite. There was also a bit of grit about Temple, which was in my background. When you’re a student the real world seems tough, but Temple gets it. They toughen you up to get you there, and that’s what drew me to it.
Q: Are there any skills and/or lessons you learned during your time at the Fox School that you have carried with you throughout your career?
A: There’s been a couple of times in my life where it’s helped me with organization and prioritization. I was on the varsity soccer team, so every day I was playing soccer and every day I was working. It really helped me from that perspective. I can’t always pinpoint them, but I remember certain moments about Temple, and I like going back there.
Q: What advice would you give to others who are looking to work their way up to a position like yours?
A: There are two ways to answer that question. The extreme answer is: I believe in work-life balance, and I believe in working to live not living to work, but I would say in the first five years of your career just work really hard. The other piece of advice is whatever the scope of your role is, do the extracurricular stuff and take it out so that your scope could be applied to much bigger things. You’ll become much more versatile and much more useful to the business. That’s a big lesson that I’ve taken from my entire career. I’ve always gone above and beyond. This doesn’t necessarily mean working harder, it just means knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, understanding how it impacts business, and understanding how people operate, so you that you become a partner to them.
Interested in attending the next Fox on the Road event? Make sure your contact information is accurate and stay tuned for the next invitation!
For someone so early in their career, Mary Tang, BBA ‘18, MAcc ‘19, understands leadership.
Most recently, Mary was named the Atlantic Regional Alumni Representative for Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), an international honor society for accounting, finance and information systems students and professionals. She also served as the president for the Temple chapter of BAP during her time at the Fox School.
Her role as president of BAP, as well as her tenure as the ASCEND president during the 2016-2017 academic year, helped her develop professionally. She participated in a variety of leadership programs during her time as an undergraduate student, including PwC Explore, RSM Pathways, Baker Tilly Spotlight, KPMG Global Advantage, EY Emerging Leaders Program and more. She also interned at KPMG, which allowed her to gain audit experience. After her internship, she was offered a full-time position as an audit associate in the Philadelphia office.
“Being involved with student professional organizations (SPOs) like BAP taught me that the classroom doesn’t necessarily teach you how to get a job,” she says. “Since learning that, I’ve taken that lesson on to how I do my work at KPMG. I am constantly wanting more—whether it be audit work or extracurricular activities in the office and beyond.”
In her new role as the Atlantic regional alumni representative for BAP, Mary will work with alumni representatives internationally on initiatives to improve the value that Beta Alpha Psi brings to members. Mary will be the voice of students in the region in order to ensure that their perspectives and concerns are addressed.
“I will be able to have an outreach to chapters beyond Temple and Fox,” she says. “By being a regional representative, I have exposure to students from schools all over the Atlantic Region. I can learn about what worked and did not work for them, and hopefully expand their networks and minds as well by introducing them to different chapters to connect.”
Mary is bringing her leadership skills and a unique perspective to her new role. Since entering the world of public accounting and corporate America, she noticed that there is a serious lack of diversity. As a first-generation Asian American college student, the subject is near and dear to her heart.
“Though being in BAP as an alumni representative will not change this overnight, I think my background at a diverse university can help start conversations on what we can do to increase our membership with more diverse students which will then funnel into full-time employment with these firms,” she says.
In recent years, mindfulness has become a highly desirable quality both professionally and personally. Mindfulness gurus have emerged in popular culture, and companies have developed programs such as Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” to promote mindfulness in the workplace.
Ravi S. Kudesia, assistant professor of human resource management at the Fox School, is interested in how mindfulness is used in the workplace to develop personal agency and employee problem-solving. There’s only one problem: Mindfulness, as a term, is not easy to define. And the way we intuitively think about mindfulness as highly individualized may need to be rethought as well.
In his paper “Mindfulness as Metacognitive Practice,” Kudesia targets the ambiguity in the term mindfulness to isolate its usefulness and applicability. “We lack answers to even the most basic questions,” says Kudesia. “What is mindfulness? How does mindfulness training operate? And why might it matter for organizations?”
Moreover, without understanding what mindfulness is, how can employers hope to harness its potential in the workplace? In fact, the kind of mindfulness that companies promote may be less useful than they hope. While many have suggested that mindfulness is a kind of individual skill – and that if enough employees have this individual skill, their organizations will change for the better—Kudesia suggests that this view is naïve. Instead, he suggests that mindfulness can be best understood as what he calls a “metacognitive practice.”
“When seen as metacognitive practice,” Kudesia writes, “mindfulness entails the coming together of expertise embedded in perception and concepts, enabling beliefs about information processing, and the crucial human ability to step back and monitor one’s mental activity—all of which jointly shape how people engage with situations.”
By linking mindfulness to concepts and expertise in specific situations, Kudesia invites us to think about mindfulness at the system level. He gives the example of product engineers who, siloed off from data on customer feedback, must nonetheless figure out why a product is unexpectedly breaking in massive quantities, leading it to be returned under warranty. The default assumption is that it is an issue with the product’s structural integrity. An engineer, in this case, might practice mindfulness to gain a more nuanced view of the issues with the product, but they also remain limited by system-wide information flows—engineers simply do not have access to customer feedback.
“[W]hat if an engineer gains access to customer information and enacts metacognitive practice to doubt the structural integrity diagnosis? The engineer may introduce a new concept of ‘product aesthetics’—the product breaks not because it is weakly designed but because customers find it uninspired and, thus, take poor care of it … This new concept would cue a different routine related to product redesign: making the product beautiful rather than making it stronger.”
Yet, along with this new diagnosis and new concept may arrive new problems. If one engineer believes in the new diagnosis while another engineer insists that the issue lies with the product’s structural integrity, the original source of enlightenment may become a source of consternation.
“One person may seize upon doubt, seeking to transform situations, while others seek to reproduce established responses,” writes Kudesia. He describes this communication breakdown as fragmentation, the notion that mindfulness in an individual cannot always resolve system-level problems; in fact, sometimes it can exacerbate them. While mindfulness allowed them to diagnose a problem, their social reality determines whether they can enact a solution.
This should not dissuade companies from encouraging mindful practices, but it should encourage them to think more broadly about what mindfulness truly is. Instead of merely trying to instill mindfulness as a psychological property in individuals, Kudesia suggests that we should foster environments in which people can better practice mindfulness together. When engineers face an impasse like the one described above, how do they incorporate this new information into the fold? Do they create new processes? Do they confer with new individuals who can provide insight into the problem? If both engineers are engaged and open, they can transform the risk of fragmentation into opportunities for growth, incorporating new concepts into their routines and crafting new solutions out of them.
“You don’t instill mindfulness in individuals and call it a day,” Kudesia explains. “We engage best in mindfulness when we are in spaces that are conducive to mindfulness.”
2019 has been an extraordinary year for Sudipta Basu.
In July, Basu was appointed the Fox School’s new senior associate dean of research and doctoral programs. He was also honored to be named the American Accounting Association’s inaugural Yuji Ijiri Lecturer on Foundations of Accounting. The prestigious lectureship, sponsored by five global accounting associations, recognizes thought leadership from around the world. Basu presented his Ijiri Lecture, “How Robust are the Foundations of the Conceptual Frameworks?” at the annual American Accounting Association meeting in August.
Throughout his career, Dean Basu has established himself as a thought leader and now he will help chart the direction of academic research at the Fox School moving forward. To understand his vision, he discussed the past, present and future of research at Fox.
Can you share a bit about your background? Why were you originally interested in accounting?
I grew up in big cities all over India (Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi in that order), earning a BA (Honours) in Economics at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and an MBA in economics, finance and accounting at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. My family members have many PhDs including a grandfather (mathematics), uncles (statistics, history and English) and first cousin (astrophysics), so an academic life was always considered a respectable—and even praiseworthy—choice.
I first studied accounting in grades 9 and 10 and found it quite hard to follow initially. But once I realized how double-entry bookkeeping worked, and that simple algebra revealed the intangible value created by transactions, I was hooked.
What are some of your major goals as dean of research and doctoral programs?
Fox produces lots of high-quality research and one of my main goals is to make our research more visible locally and internationally.
I would also like to collaborate with the Digital Scholarship Center at the Temple library to introduce our students and faculty to new cutting-edge digital tools that could help them stand out in the research world. Most importantly, I want to change our research culture so that we can talk about how our new ideas improve people’s lives and not merely about where they were published. I want to focus on explaining the who, what, when, where, why and how of a particular research project’s impact.
What role has research played in shaping your career?
For me, research is a vocation rather than a career, meaning that I enjoy and value its creativity and life-long learning aspects so much that I largely ignore the future monetary and status rewards. As my wife puts it, I often go to sleep thinking about research and wake up in the morning still thinking about research. I pursue big questions that excite me, such as why accounting exists or what our world would be like if double-entry bookkeeping had not emerged, even if this research cannot be published in our top journals. I am constantly scanning blogs, conferences and journals for questions and tools that I can use in my research, so I am a big consumer of research, not just a producer.
How would you like to see Fox School research evolve in the future?
As its former research director, I strongly support the Translational Research Center’s efforts to make Fox School research more relevant to all our stakeholders—other academics, practitioners, students, policymakers and our local communities. I would like more of our faculty, students, alumni and staff to engage in research and to describe their findings in top academic journals AND in less traditional venues such as op-eds, letters to the editor, blogs, TED talks, undergraduate and practitioner journals, etc. Ultimately, I want Fox School faculty, staff, alumni and students to be more widely regarded as thought leaders in business research.
What role does research play in business schools?
Most business schools promote faculty and student research to increase our shared knowledge. Business schools’ missions usually shape the type of research they support. At research-intensive schools like Fox, rigorous empirical and theoretical research takes pride of place. At teaching-oriented schools, pedagogical and practice-oriented research is valued more than theoretical research.
Where is the largest intersection of research and industry in the future of work?
Researchers dream up the technologies, products, business models and organizational forms of the future. Every technological advance frees people from doing some kinds of routine work, which are delegated to animals, machines, and now computers. The freed-up workers can better use their minds to make higher quality and unique products and services that were too earlier too costly to market.
How can companies work with Fox School researchers?
Companies can learn from the new ideas developed by Fox School researchers and conversely inform them about changing realities in the marketplace. Ideally, we would develop a virtuous cycle wherein firms identify emerging problems, researchers propose alternative solutions, firms try these out in practice and observe how well they work and provide feedback, which in turn lets researchers refine their prescriptions.
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Sept. 4 to 6 were three very special days for the Fox School of Business. Nine students from the joint EMBA program of Temple and Renmin University of China and their family members arrived in Philadelphia to participate in their immersion program and to celebrate the huge accomplishment of graduating from their Fox-Renmin dual EMBA program.
The students had three busy days, starting with a warm welcome to Philadelphia and Temple University from Dean Ronald Anderson. They also participated in a special workshop on Innovation and Business Models by Professor Thomas Fung and a corporate visit to the Philadelphia 76ers. The students had the opportunity to go on a private tour all throughout the city of Philadelphia led by Sophia Wang, secretary-general for the Greater China Chapter of the Temple University Alumni Association.
All four global EMBA programs, including those from China, Japan, Morocco and Colombia, attended an International EMBA Reception at Positano Coast on Thursday evening. Friday, Sept. 6, was the big day at Temple Performing Arts Center (TPAC) on Broad Street when they put on their caps and gowns and walked on stage as their names were called for having completed their Executive MBA program. The ceremony was followed by another celebratory event in Mitten Hall accompanied by family and friends.
Congratulations, class of 2019 graduates!
Day One: 第一天
Welcome reception led by Dean Ronald Anderson and Former President of Ford China David Schoch and the workshop on international business model taught by Professor Fung.
Temple University Campus tour, visiting NBA Basketball Team 76ers’ headquarters to learn the business of basketball and going to the house party organized by a Chinese-American entrepreneur.
Day Two: 第二天
Joining the city tour on the historical trolley car, visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art and attending the Global EMBA Banquet with students from America, Japan, Morocco and Columbia.
Day Three: 第三天
It’s not always easy to get business professionals to quickly reach a consensus.
“A lot of people use their MBA to leave their current positions, but I was able to pivot within the company where I worked,” says Dan Tedesco, MBA ’15, a strategic planning manager at Essity, a global hygiene and health company headquartered in Sweden. “I used my Fox Management Consulting experience to change my role to more of a business strategy one. The experience paved the foundation of everything I’ve done since in my career.”
The capstone course provides an experiential learning experience to MBA students by integrating corporate strategy and marketing consulting projects within the curriculum. The process often allows students an opportunity to explore a variety of industries and topics that are new to them.
Prior to getting his MBA, Tedesco used his mechanical engineering background in a product development role. Now he’s responsible for the strategic planning process of the B2B business unit at Essity.
FMC has a team of project executives who are senior-level career professionals who work with the student teams to deliver results to clients.
“Our project executive, Wayne Rosengerger, was always encouraging us, making us believe in trusting the process and watching how things would evolve. It’s those little things, that diligence, that stay with me now,” he says. “I tell people about this program and how it is a phenomenal experience that can change the path of your career.”
Garrett Frankford, MBA ’18 used his MBA to change industries while remaining in the same line of work. He believes part of the challenge in consulting is knowing you could be working in an unfamiliar business landscape.
“Some of it was completely different from anything I had done before and the projects caused many of the students to step outside their comfort zone,” the customs compliance manager at Carter’s / OshKosh B’gosh says.
His team worked with a client to develop a market entry strategy around a personal mobile safety app. Part of that work included financial modeling, a skill Frankford says he didn’t believe he would need.
“Just knowing the type of jobs I was applying for, I didn’t think I would use that experience,” he says.
He quickly realized otherwise.
“My FMC work gave me the skills I needed to direct a presentation to our CEO about tariff changes that directly affect the organization. Financial modeling was a skill I didn’t think I’d use, but within three months, I did.”
In addition, Frankford says he now thinks differently about the challenges before him. “I’ve gone from a technical thinker to a more strategic thinker because of this experience.”
It’s the complexities of business that remind Carey Gallagher, MBA ’08, of her international MBA experience at the Fox School.
“There are so many ways to get things done in business, there are no right or wrong ways,” she says.
Currently a partner at C-FAR, a management consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia and Boston, Gallagher focuses on culture and change in healthcare. She describes the work as “focusing on complex problems in complex organizations.”
As part of her MBA program, Gallagher worked on projects that took her to India, Ireland and Temple’s Japan campus.
“Having a glimpse of different countries helped me understand all the complexities of how business is done,” she says. “There is so much more than you realize and the experience helped me get a better understanding of it.”
It’s come full circle for Gallagher, who now combines her Fox MBA experience and her professional expertise to serve as a project advisor at FMC.
“I thought what better way to get involved in the conversation about changing business needs and also help support the learning process for other MBA students than by joining this effort?” she says.
“It’s exciting because I don’t work on just one type of project and that’s significant. It’s really valuable to me to be around people who are all working in the same direction.”
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B. PHL—Philadelphia’s first citywide innovation festival—will take place from October 15th-17th, aiming to build the city’s reputation as an innovation hub and highlight entrepreneurial organizations ranging from universities to Fortune 500 companies to individual entrepreneurs. Spearheaded by several of the city’s leading corporate innovators, including Independence Blue Cross, Comcast, and Visit Philadelphia, B.PHL will offer 150+ events featuring hundreds of speakers across three days—all intended to inspire festival attendees and create connections that will move Philadelphia’s innovation efforts forward in big ways.
Temple University will serve as an official location for the festival, hosting nine unique events across campus in partnership with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, the Temple University Office of Research, several University schools and colleges (including the College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Technology, College of Engineering, Fox School of Business, and Lewis Katz School of Medicine), and the brand new Charles Library. The University’s B.PHL efforts are being lead by IEI Executive Director, Ellen Weber, and Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy Director, Alan Kerzner.
“Temple University has always made entrepreneurship and innovation central to its mission,” shares Kerzner. “The school was founded by an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can be found everywhere on campus, and, along with other Universities in the city, Temple has been an integral part of the innovation community here in Philadelphia.”
Events hosted by Temple University during B.PHL will include the League for Entrepreneurial Women, a conference focused on female leaders in the entrepreneurship space; a speaker session on Empowering Innovation through Intellectual Property Strategy featuring Aon’s Chief Commercial Officer, Brian Hinman; a talk on the Future of Libraries featuring a tour of the new Charles Library; and an Oktoberfest Beer Garden in Temple’s 1810 Accelerator highlighting entrepreneurship in the brewing and craft beer industries.
Stay tuned for more details on Temple University’s B.PHL programming, and visit the B.PHL website to learn more about the festival.
When the doors of the Crane Chinatown Community Center officially open in October, the foundation of both the facility and its future will be in place.
Because in addition to the steel, bricks and mortar, the much-anticipated center has a framework for a sustainable business plan, thanks to a team of MBA students and their professional advisers at Fox Management Consulting (FMC) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
The community center is designed to be a vibrant cultural center of wellness, education and recreation for the Chinatown community. It is part of Crane Chinatown, a $75 million, 20-story apartment and mixed-use complex located at 10th and Vine streets in Philadelphia. The residential portion of the complex opened earlier this summer.
“The community center has been the goal of the past 20 years of work,” says Cecilia Moy Yep, founder of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. Since 1969, the organization has been advocating for the interests of Chinatown.
“The community has been growing but the recreation facilities have not grown along with it,” Yep continues. “The community center will allow us to have programs we never had before and be a safe environment for children to go to for recreation.”
The impact that consulting services provided by FMC can have on an organization, both for-profit and nonprofit, can be of great value.
“Many of these organizations are passionate about their cause and sometimes could use additional help with business strategy and financial implications to be successful,” says FMC Project Executive Louise Tritton. “It’s definitely a win-win for students and clients.”
At the request of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), the
consulting team worked to identify sustainable revenue streams that align with the center’s mission and the community’s needs.
“Financial stability for the center is going to be hard to figure out,” Yep says. “There are costs, including administrative, that need to be covered. We are looking at ways to accomplish that so the center is here for a long time.”
Having a concrete project for students to work on brings to ground the lessons and experience FMC is trying to deliver.
“I work hard with the students to differentiate between an academic paper and a report to a client,” Tritton says. “Those reports involve clear thinking, good logic and professional effort. Oftentimes students say they won’t do consulting work (in a future job), but I point out they are always going to be part of a team where they will need excellent communication skills, writing skills and preparation. I stress to them consulting work is important and has an impact.”
MBA student Taras Smerechanskyy believes his FMC learning experience stretches far beyond what most people expect when working on a business plan.
“There was a deeper meaning on many levels,” he says. “We were helping the community retain its culture and identity, and that was a powerful thing. The stakes were high. This wasn’t just about a business and its finances; it was a project that really has an impact and creates something new for Chinatown. Everyone working on the project understood how important the work being done was to this community.”
The community center, with its focus on bettering the lives of all Chinatown residents by providing social, educational and recreational opportunities, brings great satisfaction to Yep.
“To me, it’s the completion of what this community needs; it’s the epitome of our development projects,” she says. “In the past, there has been a lot of focus on housing in the community. It became time to think of recreation. Now we will have a safe environment for children to go and enjoy.”
As the way we do business evolves faster than ever, leaders need to be prepared. Employees look to their senior executives for confidence, guidance and direction—especially in times of change. But being a leader means nothing unless people choose to follow, and people generally choose to follow those in whom they believe. “It all hinges on the leader’s credibility,” says Lynne Andersson, associate professor of human resource management at the Fox School.
The Power of Perception
Andersson’s previous research started by identifying behaviors that make employees cynical towards their leaders. She identified two key factors in credibility: perceived competence and perceived trustworthiness. Both elements are dependent upon outsiders’ viewpoints—whether or not they believe in the leader’s skills, knowledge, values and dependability.
“These perceptions are extremely important in the digital age,” explains Andersson. With so much information available to be collected and scrutinized, from social networks to artificial intelligence, people may have concerns about who is in control. “Employees want to know that those who are managing them and assessing their performance are competent and trustworthy.”
After having started the research around the question of cynicism, Andersson reversed the point of view. She and her colleagues conducted research studies, gathering feedback from blue- and white-collar workers located all over the country over the course of three years, to identify specific actions that leaders can take to improve credibility with their employees.
Building Credibility, Projecting Competence
Leaders who emphasize the future were seen as the most competent by their employees. “Creating clear plans for future success is different than simply stating a strategic vision or setting performance targets,” Andersson notes. “It involves mapping out, in detail, how the organization will achieve its goals.” Keeping on top of industry trends, predicting upcoming changes and having clear ideas of how to respond to both are other ways for leaders to demonstrate their visions for the future.
Employees value leaders who demonstrate a focus on organizational outcomes but who also attach those outcomes to an individual’s job. “It’s important to convey that an employee’s work affects the whole organization,” Andersson advises. “Employees attribute competence to leaders who can make those connections.”
Competent leaders also look for ways to improve their organization’s operations. “You can consider eliminating unnecessary reporting structures, reducing spending waste, establishing new roles or investing in technology that improves business effectiveness,” Andersson says.
She also advised against putting too much emphasis on credentials. “In our meritocratic world, we love credentials—but people in our study did not equate credentials with competence. Leaders had to prove it through their actions or behaviors, not their resume.”
The most important step to take when trying to project trustworthiness is speaking and acting consistently. “To begin, it means making decisions that aren’t contradictory,” says Andersson. “But it also means behaving in a way that aligns with promises, explicit or unspoken.” Leaders should deeply understand all of their stakeholders’ needs in order to prevent potential conflicts.
Leaders that embody the organization’s vision and values are also regarded as highly trustworthy, according to the research. “Employees want to see consistency between the walk and talk.” Andersson encourages senior executives to be mindful of both their professional and personal values, as employees are watching closely to verify authenticity.
According to the research, employees were more trusting of leaders who valued them. “While you may prioritize your employees in your words, make sure that employees are recognized,” says Andersson. “Show how important your employees through things like rewards and plum assignments.”
Insights for Better Leaders
How can senior executives apply this research on the job? Andersson notes that leaders should be cognizant to two main points. First, the good outweighs the bad—sometimes. “When regarding competence,” says Andersson, “people tend to weigh positive information more heavily than negative information.” This means that one competent action may be a good signal of reliability to a leader’s employees. However, the opposite is true for trustworthiness; one dishonest statement or unethical action can make employees lose faith.
Second, restoring credibility is difficult, but not impossible. “To regain lost credibility, leaders must reestablish positive expectations,” Andersson advises. “This means they must repeatedly engage in trustworthy acts since a single act won’t mean much.” By focusing on the actions outlined by Andersson and her colleagues, leaders can slowly build back that relationship.
Credibility in Action
Actions speak louder than words, and according to Andersson, these are the most important things leaders should do to increase their credibility amongst employees.
What Do Competent Leaders Do?
- Emphasize the future
- Prioritize employees
- Take action and initiative
- Communicate effectively
- Gain knowledge and experience
What Do Trustworthy Leaders Do?
- Communicate and act in a consistent manner
- Protect the organization and employees
- Embody the organization’s vision and values
- Consult with and listen to key stakeholders
- Communicate openly with others
- Value employees
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.