Fox School students understand the importance of business and philanthropy working hand-in-hand. Amanda Carey, director of outreach for College Council, oversees all student professional organizations and serves as a liaison between organizations and the university. To celebrate National Philanthropy Day, she discusses student professional organizations (SPOs) at the Fox School and their commitment to building a philanthropic community from Fox students.
Why is philanthropy important to the Fox SPOs?
“Philanthropy provides opportunities to give back to those who are in need,” said Carey. “A prominent component in business is giving back. Here at the Fox School, we strive to allow students to become immersed in the city we call home through community service projects.”
How are students engaging with philanthropic opportunities?
Fox students are actively engaging with community service programs through blood and food drives happening throughout the city.
“The popularity of the blood drive in partnership with American Red Cross is so large that last year we had to turn away people who wanted to donate because we didn’t have the resources to accommodate for so many donors,” said Carey. “To ensure the same issue wouldn’t arise this year, we raised our donor goal. The [Philabundance] food drive also attracts many students because of the prevalent food insecurity issue we have here in Philadelphia.”
What new opportunities for philanthropy will College Council provide?
The Fox College Council is continuously looking for new ways to expand their outreach and get more students involved. “This year, we are introducing a clothing drive to benefit the Hub of Hope,” said Carey. “This drive is going to take place right before we leave for winter break. We look forward to helping keep our community members warm as the cold weather approaches!”
Do you want to get involved with College Council or an SPO? Visit the SPO webpage for the full list of organizations.
Almost everyone who works has a boss. It’s no secret that the quality of this relationship can have a big impact on the lives of supervisors and employees alike. The best bosses provide mentorship, training and support for their direct reports, facilitating professional growth and success for their team. But is it possible for employees, through their actions on the job, to impact their bosses as well?
Soojung Han, a PhD candidate in the Fox Department of Human Resource Management, thought so. During her five years as the first woman engineer at a South Korean petrochemical company, she had an outstanding relationship with her boss, who gave her an unusual amount of autonomy, respect and trust.
“I knew it was out of the ordinary from talking with my friends about their jobs, and I also knew it was important,” says Han. Every time her supervisor acknowledged her work or granted her additional responsibilities, she wanted to do an even better job. The experience had such a profound impact on her that when Han decided to pursue her PhD, she chose to focus her research on just this style of empowering leadership. Her personal connection to the subject is perhaps one reason her scholarship had been so exceptional.
Han and her colleagues’ recent paper, “Examining why employee proactive personality influences empowering leadership: The roles of cognition- and affect-based trust,” explores this territory. The research was published in May in the prestigious Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. A publication of that caliber is a rare achievement for someone who is still a student. This fall, Han assumed a faculty position at Cal State Los Angeles.
Employee proactivity is often the catalyst for supervisors to grant workers greater autonomy and more responsibility, which increases employee engagement, productivity and job performance. Given the importance of these self-starters in the workplace, the proactive personality type is of great interest to researchers. However, to date, most of the research has focused on employee-centered outcomes, such as the relationship between proactive personality and career success. But the complex ways that an employee’s proactive style may affect his or her supervisor has been largely overlooked by scholars. That’s why Han decided to turn her attention to how these proactive employees affect their bosses.
“The proactive personality type is defined as someone who makes changes in their environment, so we suspected that these employees might change their supervisors as well,” she says. She gathered more than 100 pairs of supervisors and employees and surveyed them to assess the qualities in question: proactive personality, empowering leadership and supervisor trust. Via questionnaires, employees rated their own proactive personality traits and their boss’s leadership style, while leaders scored their direct report’s level of trust in an employee.
Han’s research examines two types of trust typical of work relationships: Cognition-based trust, which is based on logic and facts regarding an employee’s work responsibilities, and affect-based trust, which boils downs to whether or not a supervisor personally likes his or her direct report.
To test their hypotheses, Han and her coauthors used statistical models, including hierarchical multiple regressions, to analyze the data. The team found that supervisors were more trusting of employees with proactive personalities and thus were more likely to empower them.
“It’s risky for leaders to let employees make decisions,” says Han. “What if they lack skills or, worse, what if they take advantage of less supervision and more autonomy?”
Her work shows that, in spite of the risks, the payoff can be significant for an organization. Empowering leadership pays tangible dividends. “Previous research has supported that empowering leadership is associated with a host of positive outcomes, including increased psychological empowerment, task performance and citizenship behaviors for both individuals and teams,” says Han. She recommends that companies work on building both cognitive-based trust, through formal skill-building training, and affect-based trust, by taking the time to plan and invest in social events and team building.
This specific research paper gives the edge to affect-based trust—likability. But Han cautions that the two types of trust are more interrelated than they may first appear. “Though it seems like affect-based trust shows a stronger effect, its impact on empowering leadership is less likely to occur when cognition-based trust is low,” says Han. “Therefore, both cognition- and affect- trust are important to induce leaders’ empowering behaviors.
Her research also speaks to the importance of improved screening of prospective employees. It pays to be able to identify new hires who will consistently demonstrate proactive behaviors at work, not just say they will during a job interview. Han believes tools like personality tests and questionnaires that assess proactive traits specifically would be helpful as companies seek to fill their ranks with these go-getters.
“As we can see, their proactive style benefits not only the employees themselves, but their supervisors, too,” says Han.
This article was originally published in On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Pursuing extended education can be extremely challenging for the average person, let alone those in demanding careers. However, Kate Nelson, an active duty Military Intelligence Officer, is proving this to be more than possible.
Captain Nelson is in her 15th year of military service and has accomplished two master’s degrees: one in military studies and the other in sports management. Now, she is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) here at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
The Fox editorial team caught up with Captain Nelson to hear about her experience of earning her doctorate in business while actively serving in the U.S. Army.
What made you want to pursue a DBA?
“I knew I wanted to get my doctorate. But I thought [I’d do it] when I got out, maybe take a year or two off,” Nelson says. It wasn’t until her boss, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Faint, also a current Fox student, informed her about the DBA program.
She recalls thinking, “‘You can’t do this while active. That’s ridiculous.’ But he sat me down, told me the pros and cons, wrote me a letter of recommendation, and here I am.”
The Executive DBA program aims to help executive-level managers and experienced service members like Nelson learn how to solve business problems through advanced critical reasoning. As a first-year student, Nelson plans to research how people consume both women’s and men’s sports differently. She also credits her pursuit of advanced education to her training in the military.
“The U.S. military is the most educated and trained military in the world,” Nelson says. “They always tell us to better ourselves and look for the next step in our career. I was always taught that every day you should learn something.”
How does military experience translate to business?
“My experience isn’t in business, but it is translating because I’m managing hundreds of soldiers,” Nelson explains. “Some businesses look at the military and how it runs, and they use us as an example. So, I can actually speak to that in class.”
According to Cailin DiGiacomo, admissions coordinator for the DBA program, “The current cohort has 22 students, all coming from drastically different industries. Several come from a military background.”
DiGiacomo guides prospective students through the application process, helping them understand how the Executive DBA program can teach them to expand their decision-making abilities through applied theory and research.
How do busy professionals find time to pursue a DBA?
“Our program is very flexible. During each semester, we have three weekend residencies. We send the dates out to our students in the summer so they can plan around it. Then, there’s a weekly online component as well,” says DiGiacomo.
Nelson agrees. “The curriculum is basically a long weekend six times a year. We get thirty days of leave every year that we can use, so it really isn’t too bad.”
This degree seems suitable for people like Captain Nelson, who have very demanding work schedules but are passionate about furthering their careers in business. With the DBA program, she finds time to both manage her soldiers and manage her education.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Big data is a buzzword everywhere in the business world, but there are a few specific sectors where this revolution is making an especially big impact: information systems, operations management and healthcare.
That’s why Subodha Kumar, the Paul R. Anderson Distinguished Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School, turned his attention to these areas. While big data experts across the board have breakthroughs in their individual fields, Kumar’s research focuses on the importance of sharing these advancements, as well as the data and systems that made them possible. Cross-pollination of ideas will be the key to future progress, according to Kumar.
The insights Kumar gleaned from his analysis of the existing academic research in these specific sectors informed his predictions and recommendations for how businesses might harness big data s in the future. “The whole idea is that there have been a lot of discussions and a lot of research about how big data is impacting the industry, but less attention has been paid to how all the different work in big data fits together, how it is connected,” says Kumar.
For this research, Kumar picked three areas where some of the most interesting and innovative developments in big data are happening. These are areas where massive amounts of data aren’t simply being collected, but that data is also being analyzed and put to use. Take healthcare as an example: As entities across the healthcare space, such as hospital systems, begin to combine their data sets, you can create more intelligence and make better inferences.
“But whenever you have data from many sources, you need smarter systems to read all this data and make sense of it. How can we create algorithms to help doctors make better diagnoses? That requires new and different thinking,” says Kumar.
As researchers learn how doctors use an enormous database of cancer patients worldwide to settle on effective treatment more quickly, experts in the information systems space are racing to find effective ways to work with the massive flood of data like text, photos and video generated by social media use. Meanwhile, operations management experts perfect the algorithms needed to detect fake online product reviews.
“In different industries, people are very siloed. Healthcare people are only worried about healthcare,” says Kumar. Competition has made firms secretive, reluctant to share and combine their data and methods, but this fear often does more harm than good, according to Kumar. “We really need to learn from each other. What would happen if Amazon were more open to learning from how hospital systems use big data and vice versa?”
To that end, his research synthesizes what is already known from research in these three key areas to create a framework for thinking about big data going forward and how these disparate learnings and datasets can be put together for the greater good. “Our research shows that even direct competitors can benefit from sharing data,” says Kumar.
He points out that as data collection devices (including smartphones, smart speakers like Alexa and wearable devices like Fitbit) proliferate and more data-producing machines infiltrate everyday life, business opportunities and challenges will grow. It’s only a matter of time before people live with smart refrigerators that track your calories and driverless cars that know your daily routine and pinpoint your real-time location.
Unless everyone interested in big data learns to share and solve problems together, missed opportunities will continue, costing firms time and money. “Right now a lot of the data being generated from social media and other sources is not being collected or analyzed in a way that makes it meaningful or useful,” says Kumar. His research could change that.
Kumar outlines a proposed framework for mapping big data applications and insights across industries in his recent research paper, “Emergence of Big Data Research in Operations Management, Information Systems, and Healthcare: Past Contributions and Future Roadmap,” published in the journal Production and Operations Management. “The framework essentially provides a breakdown of different topics that have been investigated and what could emerge because of new advancements,” explains Kumar.
Looking to the future, Kumar sees some specific sub-areas of the domains he studied where big data will make an even more significant impact and improvements in business. His proposed future roadmap points to cloud computing, the internet of things and smart cities, predictive manufacturing and 3D printing, and smart healthcare as the likely places big data will flourish most dramatically in the years to come. The possible developments have the potential to change the quality of life for people around the world.
As boundaries between these once discrete domains continue to fade, big data emerges as a powerful common denominator. Up until now, the focus has been on how to get more and more data. But, according to Kumar, the focus must shift into how this data can be combined and analyzed to make sense of it. Without context, the data is little more than ones and zeroes.
“This research is about how can we generate value for the whole society from this data by collecting, analyzing and sharing data,” says Kumar.
Technology is constantly evolving and it can be hard to keep up. As a result of this evolution, the need for individuals who understand the importance of cyber-security—and can translate that importance to a broad audience—increases. The Fox Master of Science in Information Technology Auditing and Cyber-Security (ITACS) prepares students to be key components in mitigating the risk of data breaches and sustaining the company’s information system security.
In an interview with the Fox School, Philip Taddeo, senior IT risk & control manager at Vanguard, discusses the value of earning a degree in IT auditing and cybersecurity from a business school like the Fox School rather than an engineering school and the benefits of participating in this program.
“I think the value from being part of a business school is the students graduating have the foundational business and controls knowledge combined with enough technology acumen that they can really flourish and be versatile leaders,” says Taddeo. “Whereas, if you were purely technical, you may not be familiar with a lot of business concepts.”
Taddeo is also chair of the ITACS Advisory Council at the Fox School. His role consists of working as a liaison between students and practitioners.
Earning this degree from the Fox School gives students the ability to market themselves to employers as workers who have an understanding of the technical aspect of the field, but also how it affects the business industry.
Shaun Moody, the global IT audit director of Internal Audit at Chubb, discussed the importance of IT auditors having the ability to look at IT through a business outlook.
“IT auditors don’t just think of the IT risk, they think of it in a business aspect,” says Moody. “You need to consider things in terms of, what is the impact on the business, what’s the business context? So, making sure that people come out with good IT audit knowledge, the ability to balance that with the business context and assess the business risk is the most important thing.”
Business students have an advantage compared to those with technical backgrounds. In addition to hands-on technical skills, courses in the ITACS program also emphasize the importance of soft skills such as public speaking and group projects.
Gaining an understanding of how business intertwines with IT and cybersecurity is crucial. Programs at the Fox School combine the necessary technical skills with leadership and communication skills to create industry professionals who are set to succeed.
“Nano-marketing” is more than just a buzzword—it’s a way for companies to capitalize on the current trend of personalized and authentic marketing.
As the millennial generation has grown—both in size and purchasing power—to be the largest demographic segment in the country, companies are trying hard to gain their attention. “As a whole, this group of 80 million prefers photos and mini-videos that are visually appealing and can be processed quickly,” says Jay I. Sinha, associate professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School. “That is part of the reason why we’ve seen a tremendous surge in the popularity of visual platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube, among others.”
Together with Thomas Fung, assistant professor of instruction, Sinha advises the “Right Way to Market to Millennials.”
Who are Micro-Influencers?
It may seem like everyone is “Insta-famous” these days. Micro-influencers are social media personalities who have cultivated their defined brand and fan base, typically between 1,000 and 100,000 people, with very specific areas of focus.
For example, Melissa Alam, BBA ’10, a brand strategist, shares her recommendations for food and drink locations around Philadelphia. She has cultivated relationships with companies like Starr Restaurants and Drink Nation to arrange giveaways of gift cards and event tickets for her 11,000 followers on Instagram. “I’ve been hired as an influencer and worked with many large brands,” says Alam. “I share all sides of my life so that people can relate to me both online and offline if they meet me in person.”
“Micro-influencers bring credibility and authenticity,” says Fung, “typically due to their extroverted nature, relatability, and genuine passion in some niche field.” In Alam’s case, her followers may see her as a real person with insider knowledge and honest advice. “The internet is full of people showing off lavish lifestyles or reaching unattainable goals for the average person,” says Alam. “It’s so important to stay genuine, authentic and true to yourself and your personal brand if you’re trying to attract an honest following.” The grassroots feeling of this kind of marketing allows companies to address the unique needs of individuals through their relationships with micro-influencers.
Advice to Companies
So what do companies need to know to take advantage of this new kind of marketing?
1. Micro-influencers have their own brands and followers with very specific interests.
“They provide opportunities for companies, big and small, to reach out to narrow and often difficult-to-access sub-populations,” says Sinha. For example, he shares that GE used micro-influencers to help find and recruit female technology specialists for the company.
2. Micro-influencers are accomplished and personable storytellers.
Millennials relate well to storytelling. “The best micro-influencers bring in their own personal narratives that mesh well with the brands they endorse,” says Fung. Micro-influencers have been able to build up their own personal brand by leveraging this skill, so companies should encourage sponsored influencers to incorporate their products or services into their own authentic narrative.
3. Micro-influencers are not direct marketers.
Traditional marketers may feel that the sponsored content is not coming across in an obvious way. But with micro-influencers, their endorsements should never feel forced. “Micro-influencers have finessed the subtle ‘nudge’ into an art form,” says Sinha. He notes that many influencers will refuse to accept relationships with brands or companies that are contrary to their own beliefs or interests, which would damage their credibility with their followers.
Beware of Inauthenticity
The biggest pitfall companies should avoid is appearing inauthentic. Millennials are discerning and skeptical consumers who will turn away quickly from a brand or company that they feel are trying too hard or selling out. “Young, creative micro-influencers know their audience well,” says Sinha. “Let them guide the positioning of the product.”
By diligently finding the right micro-influencer to sponsor, companies of all sizes can cultivate marketing relationships that are interactive, personalized and authentic with the millennial generation.
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.
Wine is a product that exudes elegance, class and strict regulations. For many wine producers, centuries-old regulations continue to guide their production and marketing. The rise in New World wine industries like the U.S., Chile, Australia and others—which are subject to far fewer rules— is threatening the success of Old World wine industries in Europe.
Kevin Fandl, associate professor of Legal Studies in Business at the Fox School of Business, delved into this topic to uncover how regulation affects the wine market. His research was supported by Temple University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
“The idea was to look at both sides of the regulatory coin. That is, what impact do regulations have, positive or negative, on innovation in the wine sector,” says Fandl. “On the other end, how do regulations affect what consumers have access to when they select their wines and how do those preferences drive demand?”
To answer these questions, Fandl reviewed decades of winemaking legislation.
So how do Old World wines and New World wines differ? According to Fandl, “The difference is the history. The New World hasn’t been making wine [for centuries]. So, it hasn’t needed to regulate it except in the last fifty years. The Old World is fighting against centuries of legislation meant to protect the quality of their wines—regulations that are now constraining their ability to effectively market their products.”
This history that European wine companies are battling comes in the form of hundreds of years of inhibiting policies. From specific labeling guidelines to mandatory classifications of grapes, the European Union (EU) enforces strict protocols for its wine manufacturers.
“The regulations are meant to maintain high prices and high quality,” Fandl says. “That protectionist view is limiting European producers to older generations of wine drinkers. It’s ignoring their ability to innovate and sell to millennials.”
As Fandl wrote in his paper, “Regulatory Policy and Innovation in the Current Wine Market,” published in the American University International Law Review journal, millennials are the largest generation to consume wine since the baby boomers. “They are consuming, on average, 3.1 glasses of wine per sitting.”
To better understand what these average consumers of wine are looking for, Fandl conducted an online survey of 500 American wine-drinkers.
“Millennials seem more interested in the story behind the wine. They also like innovation; for example, screw caps, interesting labels and descriptions, or new marketing techniques.”
New World wine industries like the U.S. and Chile are implementing these techniques, while Old World wine companies are locked into traditional production and marketing techniques, either due to
strict regulations or an unwillingness to adapt. From his research, Fandl determined that “innovation is something that consumers demand” and the regulations in the European wine sector are preventing that innovation.
So, what impact do these findings have on the wine market?
“I hope it speaks to governments to help them appreciate the flexibility that a loose regulatory structure gives to their wine sectors and how important those wine sectors are to their economic development,” Fandl explains.“I also hope it speaks to vineyards to show that you really need to innovate if you want to stay alive in the current wine market.”
This isn’t the end of Fandl’s research, either. He will be continuing this analysis by bringing in other countries and identifying the specific policies they should focus on changing.
If there’s any hope for this regulation reform, Fandl says Old World wine companies need to “push for change. They need to advocate for regulatory change through their government, to allow them more flexibility.”
From Fandl’s findings, it’s evident that the Old World wine industry needs some flexibility if they want to stay competitive. If consumer demand is changing, it’s crucial for the product to change with it.
“Let consumers make the decision on what they believe is quality,” says Fandl.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
What do you want?
That’s the question Lisa Wang, USA Hall of Fame gymnast and co-founder and CEO of SheWorx, asked the crowd at the 20th Annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference at the Liacouras Center. As the keynote speaker, Wang challenged attendees to shift their personal goals from perfectionism to “enoughness.”
“There is a significant difference between trying to make myself proud, versus simply being proud of myself,” says Wang. A self-proclaimed overachiever for most of her young adult life, Wang shifted her perspective after an unsuccessful attempt at qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It was then that she realized that nothing is ever “enough” in the pursuit of perfection.
After a return to intensive training and victory in the form of a USA Hall of Fame induction, Wang left the world of gymnastics and founded SheWorx, which aims to close the funding gap for women through collaboration and support. Through her experience, she learned what she believes are the three traits of successful leaders.
- Self-awareness – the ability to recognize within yourself the fears and desires that are motivating you.
- Anti-fragility – the ability to grow stronger from the things that hurt you.
- Abundance – the ability to trust that what you know deep down is right.
Wang ended her address with a piece of advice: “Trust what you want, trust in your abilities to make it happen and trust that that it is enough.”
The conference also included Temple Talks featuring 10-minute talks from successful entrepreneurs and a Q&A moderated by Sheila Hess, BBA ’91, Philadelphia City Representative. Avi Loren Fox, CLA ’10, of Wild Mantle, Charisse McGill, STHM ’03, of Lokal Artisan Foods, LLC and Adriana Vazquez of Lilu presented their business concepts to the crowd and fielded questions on their entrepreneurial journeys thus far.
The talks were followed by a conversation with Shirley Moy, executive director of Temple University Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, who discussed the state of the organization’s efforts to career-building resources to residents of North Philadelphia.
The “Power Pitches” portion of the day brought back competitors from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s 2019 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, including Olaition Awomolo of BuildLab, Shari Smith-Jackson of Pay it Forward Live, and Elina Khutoryansky of Haelex, to give three-minute pitches on their early-stage ventures.
The event concluded with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony to “recognize alumnae who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and made outstanding achievements as innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.” Samantha Berger, Aisha Chaudry, DPM and Donna Lynne Skerrett are this year’s inductees.
The League for Entrepreneurial Women, which holds an annual conference, is an advocacy initiative that addresses the growing challenges and interests of entrepreneurial women in the Greater Philadelphia region. It was co-founded by Betsy Barber, professor and executive director of Business Development and Partnerships of Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Betsy Leebron Tutelman, senior vice provost for Strategic Communications. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), under the leadership of Executive Director Ellen Weber, co-hosts the event.
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.
“I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be successful,” says Jameel Rush, BBA ’07 and adjunct professor at the Fox School. “Barriers to success for individuals and businesses exist. What drives my passion is creating those opportunities and ways to overcome those barriers to help organizations tap into every resource they can.”
As associate vice president of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) for Aramark, Rush leads D&I programs and initiatives across three areas: workforce, workplace and marketplace. He works to ensure that the company hires talent with backgrounds that reflect the communities the company serves, the culture values differences and drives innovation through inclusion and that they partner with diverse suppliers.
Aramark, a leader in food, facilities management and uniforms, has been recognized for diversity and inclusion efforts by organizations including the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), Diversity, Inc. and BLACK ENTERPRISE.
Rush has played a significant role in making these achievements possible by working to highlight the possibilities for an organization that is highly inclusive and attracts talent across all walks of life. Along with making executives understand the business case for diversity, he investigates the importance of things like the language used in job postings, how culture and process effect talent recruitment and how diversity in suppliers helps to drive profits.
In 2013 when he first joined Aramark, his interest in D&I was born. He was on a team responsible for designing, developing, implementing and managing an employee resource for young professionals focused on specific issues that impact them. “I fell in love with inclusion work once I was exposed to the industry,” he explains. The next year, he took the next step in his career and was named director of diversity and inclusion for the company.
At the Fox School, Rush teaches courses in organizational leadership and business ethics. In this role, he blends his real-world experiences into lessons for students. But he does not have to force the issue, as topics like D&I often come up naturally because they are ingrained in the lives and courses of the modern college student.
“We discuss issues like unconscious bias and discrimination—what they look like and how they function in today’s culture—and the importance of organizational policies to combat them from an ethical and a business standpoint.”
The most important piece of advice Rush would give students and prospective students looking in his footsteps is to network, network, network. He suggests being intentional about maintaining those relationships and building an authentic brand in order to be remembered.
“Everyone has their own unique path,” he says. “Mine is one of many. But my opportunities have come from making friends and associates. If you get your name out there and do good work, a lot can happen.”
Choosing to pursue a PhD in business might be the best decision you make in your life, but there are a few things that might discourage you or impact your chances of being accepted at your program of choice.
This is part of the reason why the Fox School of Business recently hosted DocNet, an event where students who are interested in doctoral education in business can meet recruiters from top universities, ask questions and familiarize themselves with the application process. Undergraduate students from all over the Philadelphia region had access to some of the best researchers in their fields.
Here are four suggestions for prospective PhD students offered by faculty and recently admitted students:
1. Pursue a PhD for the right reasons. Dr. Patrick McKay, Stanley and Fanny Wang Professor of Human Resource Management at the Fox School, emphasized how PhDs are not career enhancers or status symbols.
PhD degrees are meant for individuals who combine the drive to conduct high-quality, cutting edge research with the desire to teach the next generation of scholars. “Pursuing a PhD for non-academic, professional motivations, like a promotion at work, is not a good idea as that objective is poorly aligned with the goals of traditional doctoral programs,” he told the crowd.
“Potential applicants with such professional ambitions might pursue a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) instead.”
2. Apply to programs with scholars who conduct research in your area(s) of interest. Research programs can be diverse, so finding the appropriate faculty-mentor should be among every applicant’s highest priorities. Universities often feature a wide range of professors covering all manner of topics, but be mindful that no one institution is at the cutting edge of every niche in every discipline.
Dr. Solon Moreira, assistant professor of strategic management, suggests that students choose a program “with a good number of active researchers that are committed to working closely with PhD students, transferring skills and guiding them through the early steps of their journey into academia.” In other words, prospective students should seek out scholars who are not only motivated researchers but also active mentors, a role that faculty at the Fox School take very seriously.
3. Reach out to faculty members and current students at the schools you are interested in attending. It can be intimidating to “cold email” faculty at top-tier universities with questions or to express your interest. However, Hailey Park, a current PhD student in the Fox School’s department of human resource management, advised that doing so could give you insider information. “If they’re not planning on accepting new students,” Park said, “you don’t need to bother paying $80 or more to apply.”
4. Tailor your applications to each school. Schools share a common commitment to educating the populations they serve, but the ways in which they differ are just as important. Take the time to tailor every part of your application—your cover letter, writing samples, and even your recommendation letters—to each school, which has its own specializations and focus areas.
For example, Park suggests asking for at least four recommendation letters lined up so that you can tap different recommenders with different interests and backgrounds for different programs.
Although applying to PhD programs can feel overwhelming, one should always remember that the application process is manageable. “The admissions team is here to help you every step of the way,” said Dr. Sunil Wattal, managing director of the PhD programs at the Fox School. “Our mission is to transform high-performing students into trailblazing scholars.”
Get started on your journey at fox.temple.edu/phd.
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.”
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.