A professor from the Tyler School of Art and a Beasley Law School student won the $40,000 grand prize—as well as $20,000 for finishing in first place in their category—at Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), which is housed in the Fox School of Business.
Olaitan Awomolo, who teaches architecture and design at Tyler, and her partner, Wesley Davis, a law school student and former community projects coordinator from Pittsburgh, developed BuildLAB as a collaboration and project management tool intended to bring together owners, architects, engineers and foremen. BuildLAB is an online platform for designing, task assigning and managing and a real-time cost and build-time dashboard.
According to Awomolo and Davis, projects run millions of dollars over projected costs because of changes and the miscommunication of those changes between design and construction.
“I wrote a dissertation on the topic (of architectural-engineering-construction collaboration) and I worked as an architect,” Awomolo says.
Davis said the pair plan to use the $60,000 in cash and services to help finish a pilot model of their software so they can take the next step toward putting it on the market.
“I was delighted to see the broad range of participants in today’s event. Lots of us sit home and think ‘I could do this’ and that’s how far that it goes,” says Temple University Provost Joanne Epps. “And what IEI does is help make those dreams a reality.”
The competition featured three tracks, with a first-place finisher in each earning a prize worth $20,000 in cash prizes:
- Social Impact Track Winner: Pay It Forward Live. Shari Smith-Jackson
created the social media app for tracking volunteer hours for her teenage son and is hoping that game-ifying her app will spark more volunteerism and keep volunteers active.
- Undergraduate Track Winner: Mouse Motel. Essentially: a better mousetrap. Engineering student and graduating senior Paul Gehret made simple modifications to the common glue trap that he said has three times the effectiveness of its predecessor.
- Upper Track Winner: BuildLAB.
The audience at the live pitch event at Alter Hall on Temple’s main campus were able to vote for their favorite entry. MailRoom, an app designed by Fox School and Clemson University students, won the crowd favorite award. The app matches users with local businesses, such as coffee shops and bookstores, which contract to safely receive packages through delivery services.
The BYOBB® gave away more than $200,000 in prizes and services to help the participants get their businesses up and running.
Keynote speaker Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, received the Self Made and Making Others Award. Lyons started building The Zebra out of a friend’s basement before moving to an incubator and obtaining funding from billionaire investor Mark Cuban. The Zebra is an online insurance marketplace that reports millions in income each year.
Lyons is now engaged in several efforts to support entrepreneurship including Innovation Works, a seeding program that has invested in more than 200 startups, and The Lyons Foundation, which attempts to inspire entrepreneurship in children.
During his keynote address, Lyons spoke about using the naysayers as inspiration. He also said he ran into several chicken-and-egg type problems with The Zebra—companies wanted users signed up, but users were not going to sign up until there were companies involved. Lyons said he just kept scratching at both sides of the problem until it was solved.
He also said there is no skeleton key for the problems entrepreneurs face. Each case, each problem, each startup is different.
“I have started to think that entrepreneurship resembles art more than a science,” Lyons says. “I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everybody, but it is something you can be creative with. If you are passionate about a problem, you can be your own boss. You can make your own destiny.”
Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
The bell rings each day at 3:10 p.m. and Cameron Johnson leaves school for the class she looks forward to the most.
Over the course of her day at the Freire Charter School on Chestnut Street in Center City, the 17-year-old high school junior goes to math, biology, English, Spanish and civics classes. They are good classes. But she leaves school for one more class each day.
“This class is about teaching us to think needfully and to try to make things different on a daily basis,” Cameron says. “It’s about trying to create new ideas instead of thinking, ‘I can’t do this.’”
She takes the trolley to 15th Street, hops on the Broad Street Line, rides the train to the Cecil B. Moore station and walks to the Fox School. It is a 25 to 40 minute journey that ends when she sits down with a handful of other students in the Creativity and Innovation class taught by Michelle Histand, assistant director of strategic management and experiential learning at the Fox School.
Twice a week, she and 14 students from Freire and TECH Freire Charter School, on the 2200 block of North Broad Street, join a dozen students from Temple, where they are tasked with identifying a problem, creating a solution and planning how to implement that solution. The class is a joint venture put together by the Fox School and the Freire Foundation, which runs several charter schools in the Philadelphia region.
The idea for the class started with a conversation between Debbie Campbell, senior vice dean at the Fox School, and Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement at Build the Future Education Collaborative. The collaborative is a nonprofit organization aimed at building partnerships to enhance education opportunities at the Freire schools. Campbell and Bacon wanted to create a class that would give the Freire students the tools and confidence to succeed in college, and train the Temple students to be mentors and leaders.
“It is an opportunity at a local, well-known university,” Bacon says. “It is a comfortable situation and Temple is potentially accessible for most kids—a chance to give them the experience of what it is to be in school, to be in a college.”
Histand’s classes are hands-on and very team oriented. “This class is a chance for Temple students to put themselves in a leadership position, share their experience and guide and give feedback to their mentees,” Histand says. For the Freire students, it is a chance to get started in higher education. “When you put someone in that next level up, they have to perform at that next level up.”
The students are divided into pairs of mentors and mentees. Each team is working on a project together. One team is attempting to find a solution for the dearth of affordable, healthy food choices in North Philadelphia. Another team is designing an app that serves as an impartial local elections guide.
“If I had a class like this before I came to Temple, I would have been a lot more informed and not so unsure at the beginning,” Temple junior Jack Oatts, BBA ’20, says.
To get into the class, the Temple students had to write a letter to Histand, explaining why they wanted to be a mentor. The Freire students wrote an application and went through an interview process before being admitted to the program.
To enhance the course further, Campbell and Bacon are looking at adding several events, including a trip to a Philadelphia Phillies game and possibly visiting the rail park or a corporate partner. In April, Temple alumni and noted entrepreneur Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, was the first of what has evolved into a series of engaging guest speakers.
Campbell and Bacon envision growing the program. For Campbell, that means making the class, and possibly other general education classes, available to more high schools and more students. Bacon would also like to see similar programs across other schools in Philadelphia.
“This is about doing something for the community, for the city, for these kids,” Campbell says. “It is like Russell Conwell said, you have acres of diamonds in your backyard, you just have to find them. And we have all these schools in our backyard like Freire.”
Everything around us seems to be getting smarter by the day—like smart refrigerators, driverless cars and robotic assistants. The “Internet of Things” (IoT), which is the internet-enabled network of everyday devices, has become prevalent in our lives, both inside and outside of the workplace. But with the rapid developments in recent technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), will these intelligent systems make human workforce redundant?
In other words: do we run the risk of being replaced by machines?
Paul Pavlou, Milton F. Stauffer Professor at the Fox School, argues that instead of replacing us, AI and humans will work side-by-side to address some of the bigger problems that neither can solve alone. Popularly referred to as “Augmented Intelligence,” this concept focuses on the assistive role of AI to improve human intelligence, rather than computers fully taking over our jobs.
Man vs. Machine
While computers have the ability to collect, aggregate and analyze an enormous amount of data, humans surpass machines when dealing with ambiguity, vagueness and incomplete information. Augmented Intelligence recognizes these complementary strengths and problem-solving capabilities of man and machine. “This collaborative interaction between human beings and computers arises when IoT collects the data and AI tools perform calculations based on criteria determined by humans,” says Pavlou, who is also the co-director of Temple’s university-wide Data Science Institute.
For example, GIANT Food Stores has introduced “Marty,” a robotic assistant, to the 172 stores in Philadelphia and the surrounding region. The robot roams the store, seeking to identify and eliminate spills from foods, products or liquids. Other examples can be found in the retail industry, where location-based technology devices and eye-tracking devices can help optimize the placement of merchandise. Meanwhile, salespeople equipped with mobile devices can leverage personalized information in real-time to sell products customized to individual shoppers.
A More Human IoT
In the future of work, managers can embrace both the fully-automated and Augmented Intelligence solutions. This choice depends on factors such as the nature of the task, expected performance and the costs and risks of autonomous IoT solutions that would operate without any human interventions. For example, automated manufacturing, predictive maintenance and security IoT solutions may—cautiously—be fully automated. But in industries like healthcare, cybersecurity and financial technology, human oversight will still be crucial.
For the time being, appropriate IoT designs should maintain a reasonable level of human control and oversight, says Pavlou. “This will give us adequate time to get comfortable with delegating control to machines.” In the distant future, machines alone might dominate decision-making in most applications. However, Pavlou says, “It will be a fairly long time until this happens. Until then, major intellectual advances will be made by humans and computers working together.”
When they met as freshmen in Hardwick Hall, Khadijah “Kay” Robinson, BBA ’04, and Kiana “Kay” Muhly, BBA ’03, had no way of knowing that they would grow and flourish as best friends and business partners.
During their time at the Fox School, they honed their skills, Kiana in accounting and Khadijah in marketing and entrepreneurship. They were both very involved with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), a student professional organization (SPO). During their time in the organization, with Khadijah on the board and Kiana serving as the president of NABA, they worked together to expand the reach of the SPO, recruiting members who were not strictly pursuing careers in accounting but were looking to enhance their professional network and skills.
After graduation, Kiana began working in one of the big four accounting firms and became a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. She gained real-world experience in internal and external audits with companies of all sizes, including an international nonprofit. Then, she left the corporate world to focus on her family and smaller business ventures. Khadijah built a successful career in procurement, project management and most recently working in real estate for the U.S. General Services Administration in Philadelphia.
Kiana and Khadijah remained close, bonded by friendship and a shared entrepreneurial spirit. As their individual careers took shape, so did their company Kay & Kay Group, a joint venture that they founded in 2014. The mission of the company is to create innovative products that function easily and solve everyday problems.
Their flagship product, Aqua Waterproof Headwear, was inspired by a common challenge that women face whenever a vacation or a rainy day rolls around: a fashionable way to go swimming or enjoy life without getting their hair wet. Once they had the idea to develop stylish, breathable and completely waterproof headwear, they did research and found that there was nothing else like it on the market.
“We knew that we had a hit after talking through our idea with friends, family and focus groups. It resonated with everyone,” they say. “Not just African American women, but women across all walks of life. When we went to file a patent, even the agent loved the concept for Aqua Waterproof Headwear.”
They note that the key to their success while juggling their own families and careers is to treat Kay & Kay Group not as a side project or hobby, but as a business in its own right. Kiana and Khadijah have weekly meetings to discuss tasks, brainstorm new ideas and ensure that all “i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed when it comes to the quality and legitimacy of their product.
“We work together well,” Kiana says. “I am all business. I take care of the accounting and licensing, and I am very strict. Khadijah is so creative and is great at connecting with people and building relationships. Our skills support and complement each other.”
When it comes to the future of their business, they are tight-lipped about the details but say, “We are going to waterproof everyone’s lives.”
Business consultants are problem solvers and, oftentimes, fortune tellers. With the rise of technology in industries such as cybersecurity, healthcare and information technology, consultants have become even more popular because they can help organizations address current and future challenges based on insights, market analysis, resource optimization and more.
The Temple University Management Consulting Program (TUMCP)’s Temple Consulting Club recently partnered with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI)’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Association to host a panel discussion with the theme of “Women in Consulting.” The four panelists, Daniella Colleta, Gail Blauer, Jessica Podgajny and Katie Stellard have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. We caught up with them to ask what they wish they had known in their 20s, and for any advice they have for women in the consulting field.
Never Shy Away From a Challenge
As an advisory manager at Grant Thornton LLP, Daniella Colleta deploys company-wide change management programs to expose employees to new ways of working. Additionally, she leads with a people-first strategy in order to reinforce new behaviors and achieve collaboration across people, processes and technologies.
“It is never too early to begin building a network of peers, advocates and mentors,” Colleta says. “Don’t shy away from those who challenge you. This will pay off dividends and the power of relationships should never be underestimated. Plus, there’s always much to learn and doing it with and around those you enjoy is the real reward.”
Nurture and Grow Natural Strengths
With twelve years of experience, Blauer specializes in business process improvement, business strategy, business transformation and business process outsourcing (BPO). Currently, she serves as the managing director of Deloitte Consulting.
“Be your authentic self. Often we are told that we have a characteristic that other people don’t find appealing, but that is who we are,” she explains. “I have always been assertive and aggressive, and I go after what I want. When I went to graduate school around the age of 22, I tried to suppress my natural assertiveness. As I have grown in my career, I realized it was something to nurture and grow. I advice young women to embrace the natural strengths that other people think are weaknesses.”
Move Feelings of Intimidation to the Backseat
In early 2017, Podgajny founded Blink Consulting, a firm that helps companies with culture, strategic planning, organizational change and design. She is a seasoned leader, passionate about partnering with both established and emerging organizations to catalyze growth. She has a track record of high-energy, high-touch and high-ROI result that have created long-lasting corporate legacies.
“When looking back on what I wish I’d known early in my career, two things come to mind. The first is to bring your whole self to work,” Podgajny says. “Initially, I kept my personal life and work life very separate until I realized that sharing more about myself as a whole person created room for building strong, meaningful working relationships with colleagues and clients. The second is to remember that ‘the boss’ or senior ranking leaders in the company are really just people. They likely don’t have all the answers and have their own strengths and weaknesses. The advice: Move your feelings of intimidation out of the way and have authentic dialogues with all colleagues regardless of their level. It will go a long way!”
Build a Network of Advocates and Colleagues
As a senior manager at Navigate Corporation, Stellard primarily focuses on project management office (PMO); and project and program management. With twenty years of experience in management consulting, she specializes in many sectors of the industry including, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, higher education and real estate.
“My advice to a just-starting-out consultant would be to build a network of peers and mentors that are working in your areas of interest and learn from their experience. They may also serve as your greatest advocates and center you as you navigate your career, even through job changes and challenges along the way.”
If you are interested in pursuing a career in consulting or entrepreneurship, learn more about the Fox Strategic Management department.
Lisa Peskin, MBA ’86, never thought she’d work in sales.
“I had the same negative connotations most people do of the pushy, obnoxious car salesman,” says Peskin, whose focus in the Fox School of Business MBA program was marketing. “But my opinion of sales certainly changed; now I’ve been doing it for 31 years.”
Peskin started her own sales training and management company in 2003. In 2010, it evolved into Business Development University.
“BDU works with salespeople, and if they’re underperforming, we help them get their numbers,” explains Peskin. “If they’re average, we figure out how to get them good. If they’re good, we get them great. And if they’re great, we figure out how to turn them into superstars. We maximize the performance potential of the people we work with; we help each person and each team drive the numbers.”
Peskin, in addition to being the CEO of BDU, is presently writing a book. The topic? Sales!
“The focus of the book,” she says, “is what I wish people told me back in 1986 when I started in sales. I had to make so many mistakes, and I wish someone had taught me the fundamentals so I didn’t have to figure it out on my own.”
With her upcoming book in mind, we asked Peskin, who in the past has worked with Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute to create workshops for students on similar topics, to share some of her sales secrets.
1. Have a well-defined game plan
“Most salespeople wing it every day; there’s no rhyme or reason to what they’re doing. How many coaches come into a game without a game plan? Doug Pederson, the Eagles’ coach, clearly had a well-defined game plan in their game against the Vikings. Salespeople need that, too. They need activity goals and result goals.”
2. Build strong networks
“In 1986, when I started in sales, it was dialing for dollars. There was no such thing as the Internet, or email, and it was all about knocking on doors and picking up the phone. The best way to fill your pipeline with good prospects is building a strong network of centers of influence who will be able to refer business on a consistent basis. The close ratios will be much higher if they come through networking.”
3. Leverage your existing customer base
“I have a concept called ‘squeeze the lemon.’ It’s not making lemonade out of lemons, it’s making the most out of every opportunity, every meeting, every day. Everything we do should be purposeful. A lot of times salespeople aren’t purposeful when it comes to their existing client base. The best way to get referrals is from happy customers.”
4. Uncover key information
“You must uncover the prospects needs and what they need to know. They need to know qualifying information, decision-making process and criteria, timelines, budget, and so on. Most salespeople are good at uncovering what the prospect needs, but not what they need to know to make the sale. They need to take a consultative approach.”
5. Prepare a customized presentation
“Most salespeople do what I call ‘showing up and throwing up.’ They go into presentation mode before they find out what the prospect cares about. When you walk into a physician’s office, they hand you a clipboard. Then you go into another office and they ask you the same questions and they take your vitals. Then the doctor does a full examination and they send you to get more tests and then they offer a diagnosis. Salespeople need to act more like doctors and not offer a diagnosis before they’ve done proper discovery.”
6. Handle objections effectively
“Most salespeople don’t try to handle objections, and the ability to properly and effectively handle them at the beginning and end of the sales process is critical. Objections aren’t a bad thing; salespeople have to stop thinking about it like that. Instead, they need to examine specifically why the prospect is objecting. There are six different objection handling techniques that we use to train people.”
7. Formulate a solid closing strategy
“Closing begins at the very beginning of the sales process. If you don’t set it up properly, you’re going to sound like a pushy, obnoxious car salesman trying to close at the end. There are about nine closing techniques. My favorite is the assumptive close, where if you’ve done everything right, you should be able to assume the sale.”
8. Maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated
“This is the most important thing. Are you willing to do what it takes to be successful and are you committed to it? The fact is you’re going to get way more ‘Nos’ than ‘Yesses,’ so you need a strong attitude, work ethic, and to stay motivated. In sales, you never get to take a breather because you’re only as good as your last month, last week, and last quarter. Attitude and motivation trump everything.”
Learn more about Fox MBA programs.
For the first time ever, the Fox School of Business is coming to a city near you! During the 2019-2020 academic year, we are hosting a series of events called Fox on the Road in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. The goal of these sessions is to offer professional development and career services and to bring the Fox alumni community together in their own backyards.
The events will feature a keynote speaker to present on a hot industry topic and will focus on providing opportunities for Fox graduates to learn from and connect with their fellow alumni.
If you have any questions or ideas about how to make this event series more valuable for you, email Stephanie Nissen, director of student experience and alumni engagement, email@example.com.
Coming soon: Details on speakers, cities and more.
When you graduate, you automatically become a member of the Fox School of Business Alumni Association (FSBAA). This membership means you’re eligible for many benefits, resources, and opportunities at the school. There are also alumni events locally and across the country that bring the Fox community together for professional development, networking and comradery.
Click here to learn more about how to get involved in the Fox alumni network.
Grants Create Scholarships for Risk Management and Insurance Majors and Maguire College School Scholars at Temple University
PHILADELPHIA, April 8, 2019 – A $2.75 million commitment from the Maguire Foundation will help undergraduate students at Temple University in need of financial aid pursue undergraduate degrees, excel in their courses and graduate with less debt. This will provide permanent financial support to Temple Students who are Maguire Scholars.
The commitment includes $1.5 million to go to undergraduate students at Temple University’s Fox School of Business who are pursuing majors in Risk Management and Insurance in the form of the Maguire Business Scholars Program. Another $1.25 million is set aside for the Maguire College Scholars program, which benefits Temple University students coming from one of the Maguire High School partners.
“The Foundation is committed to ensuring that gifted college students in need of financial aid are positioned to succeed at Temple through the Maguire Scholars Program, and at the Fox School of Business through the Maguire Business Scholars Program,” says Megan Maguire Nicoletti, Maguire Foundation President and CEO. “The establishment of the Maguire Endowed Scholars Programs will allow students now and for years to come to discover their full potential for service and achievement and potentially pursue a career in an industry that has been so fulfilling to my father and my family.”
The Maguire College Scholars program will benefit academically strong students with high financial need for all four years of college. The foundation is involved in funding education and scholarships from Pre-K through higher education.
“This significant financial support from the Maguire Foundation has a tremendous impact on our students, allowing them to focus on their studies as they prepare for lucrative careers,” says Richard M. Englert, president of Temple University. “The Maguire Foundation has a long history as a leader in improving opportunities for deserving individuals. At Temple, we are grateful to have such a strong relationship with the Maguire Foundation and thankful for this investment in our Fox School students.”
The business school scholarships will benefit at least five Risk Management and Insurance students as they focus on the core classes in their major.
“Scholarships do more than make education affordable for at-need students,” says Interim Dean Ronald Anderson, of the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. “The Maguire Scholars and Maguire Business Scholars programs put students in a position to pursue their career with less debt when they graduate. Scholarships like the Maguire Foundation offerings put students in a position to succeed, not only in school, but also when they enter the job market.”
Sam Belkowitz, BBA ’19, said the Maguire Scholars program enabled him to excel at the Fox School.
“It allowed me to really focus on my studies,” Belkowitz says. “I have been able to really succeed in my coursework at Temple. I have a 3.95 GPA and a big part of that is I did not have to worry about making money while going to school.”
Belkowitz has benefitted from the scholarship since the spring semester of his junior year at Temple, when he pursued his major in Risk Management and Insurance. He said after graduation he will hit the job market with less debt, enabling him to aim for a job he really wants.
“One big thing is just the opportunity to really pursue what I want to do and not have to worry about paying off my loans so much,” Belkowitz says.
Sandra Michel, BS ’19, said she would not have been able to pursue her degree without the Maguire scholarship. Michel, who graduated from Archbishop Prendergast in 2015, has benefitted from the scholarship all four years at Temple University.
She will graduate with a degree in recreational therapy from Temple University’s College of Public Health and hopes to pursue a master’s degree while working with people who have mental health challenges.
“The scholarship is a good impetus to stay involved in social work and active in the community,” Michel says. “And it takes a huge financial burden off me and my family.”
The foundation is making the contributions to both programs over a five-year period in order to establish a permanent endowment at Temple University. The money is being added to a series of contributions the Maguire Foundation has made to the school since 2013, when the Maguire Scholars program began at Temple University with a commitment to students studying risk management and insurance.
About the Maguire Foundation
The Maguire Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in education, the arts and humanities and fighting hunger and homelessness. The foundation funds scholarships as 31 different universities and colleges.
The foundation was established on Oct. 2, 2000 by James and Frances Maguire. James Maguire is the founder and chairman emeritus of Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corporation, which includes the subsidiaries Maguire Insurance Agency, Tokio Marine Specialty Insurance Company and Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company. He is a Korean War veteran and graduate of Saint Joseph’s University.
About the Fox School of Business
Temple University’s Fox School of Business is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the Philadelphia region and among the largest in the world, with more than 9,000 students, 220 full-time faculty and 60,000 alumni around the globe. The Fox School has a proud tradition of delivering innovative, entrepreneurial programs for the past 100 years. With facilities that provide access to market- leading technologies, the school fosters a collaborative and creative learning environment. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the real-world job market. Learn more at fox.temple.edu. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
NAO came to Temple University about three years ago, when Li Bai and Carole Tucker, researchers from the Colleges of Engineering and Public Health, and, joined Heidi Grunwald, director of Temple’s Institute for Survey Research, to study robotics and surveys.
The team wanted to explore a big idea: What if NAO, this cute, two-foot tall, human-ish robot, could be programmed to give health surveys to children on the autism spectrum? Could they create a system to collect patient-reported outcomes in this tough-to-survey population?
Potentially, this research could solve a number of difficult problems. Currently, its parents fill out surveys on behalf of their kids. Researchers would prefer patient-reported outcomes. It’s much more accurate than information filtered through a third party, such as a parent. “Kids with autism may be willing to say they are depressed, but not in front of their mother,” says Tucker. When a one-foot-tall robot with a cute robotic voice such as NAO is asking questions instead of a human clinician, researchers might get reliable patient-reported outcomes in a way they have not been able to in the past.
The team’s research would also include another stream of valuable information: para-data. The camera inside the robot would “watch” the subject as NAO asked the survey questions. Additionally, via the sensor the subject wears (a Microsoft wristband), researchers can monitor things like facial expression, heart rate, and body motion. This para-data is a rich vein of knowledge, particularly when combined with the survey questions, response time, and answers.
If the subject pauses an extra long time when a certain question is asked, the NAO can play a game (like rock, paper, scissors), take a break, or give a high five to reduce anxiety. This is one way that the robot uses para-data to adapt to a child’s answers. The para-data also helps the researchers better understand survey responses. “For example, we can tell if a particular question made a subject nervous and then down-weight the answer, or not count it,” explains Grunwald.
“The robot’s face is much less complex than a human face and human facial expressions,” says Tucker. That makes it much less overwhelming for a young person on the autism spectrum who may find it challenging to read people’s faces and maintain eye contact.
Their project received funding through the Office for the Vice President of Research’s Targeted Grant Program at Temple University, with matching funds from all three represented schools.
Planning the research has been an iterative process. On the computer science side, Bai and his engineering students have been exploring the feasibility of using NAO this way. Bai and the students have been answering questions like, “What features would be nice? How can we use sensors to pull in data and incorporate the Microsoft band?” They have iterated and refined the data architecture, a database where the data are meshed together so that the robot can read all of the survey response data–coupled with the para-data (sensor data).
Meanwhile, the questionnaire and para-data collection process have been tested on different groups, starting with older kids not on the autism spectrum. As trial subjects, children aged 10 and up can provide specific, meaningful feedback on interacting with NAO. More recently, a community event brought a group of children on the autism spectrum to campus, and the team had an opportunity to see NAO interact with the intended study subjects. Going forward, they have the kind of pilot data that can win the funding to drive this effort forward.
This work can benefit groups beyond younger people on the autism spectrum. Any time data reported directly from a patient may be skewed or inaccurate—such as dementia patients, for example—the survey methods used in this work could prove enormously helpful to clinicians.
“With future improvement in this type of research, I think we will see more robotic diagnostic platforms that will be developed. One of the functionalities will be surveys of the patients about their health conditions. It could be particularly important for people who can not find a good hospital in their neighborhood,” says Bai.
Practical applications of this work in the future aren’t limited to the realms of research and medicine by any means. “Artificial intelligence and robotics will be the next technology push to drive the economy of our country, There will be countless business world applications—such as personal robotic assistants (such as the iPhone’s Siri) or self-driving cars,” says Bai. He believes that the technology in this project will fuel innovations across all sectors of the economy in the years to come.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Since December 2013, online job postings for statisticians and data science professionals have risen by 256%, according to the Indeed Hiring Lab. These in-demand “super analysts” are able to do deep dives into quantitative analysis. In response to that trend, the Fox School of Business has developed a 30-credit Master of Science in Statistics and Data Science with full-time and part-time options.
With this new degree, the school will help students and future graduates take advantage of the increasing number of job opportunities in this emerging career area. The Fox MS in Statistics and Data Science is built for students who want to develop in-depth statistical knowledge. These lessons are paired with a modern and data-focused educational experience, with a curriculum full of opportunities to develop critical thinking skills in the context of real-world problems in the industry.
“The primary mission of this new program is to graduate students with the highest levels of quantitative understanding,” says Eric Eisenstein, director of marketing and supply chain management graduate programs. “We are preparing them for highly specialized positions in business.”
Courses will cover statistics, business intelligence, data analytics, data mining, big data engineering, program management, causal learning and discovery, and machine learning. As a result of the program, statistics and data science professionals will understand prescriptive, descriptive, and predictive analytics, and will be able to embrace these technologies as they evolve. They will learn how to use cutting-edge analytical tools and software, as well as enhance their communication skills in order to translate modern data into insights for decision makers.
Students also participate in a three-credit capstone course designed to integrate “real world” problems into the curriculum. During the project, organizations will explain a data-driven challenge and partner with a student who will identify, estimate, evaluate, and communicate analytic solutions. Students may work on problems associated with their job at their current employer, while others will work in teams as consultants to a sponsoring corporation.
“The curriculum and the professors teaching the courses will put the Fox School on the map for thought leadership and innovation within the field of data science,” says Eisenstein.
A little over a year ago, Joël Da Piedade, Nassera Seghrouchni, and Habibou Djima met as classmates in their Fox Executive MBA program in Paris, France. Today, they are business partners. These three EMBA graduates decided to take the work from their capstone project and create an actual consulting company.
“Our capstone customer was the COO of a French [tourism] organization,” explains Nassera. “We rapidly developed a consulting relationship while doing the strategic audit. We enjoyed the collaboration together, how we managed the challenges constructively to successfully help the COO transform his organization and manage the risks.”
Throughout their experience working on the capstone project, Joël, Nassera, and Habibou soon realized the market need for a dynamic tourism consulting firm. The group researched several existing companies experiencing similar challenges faced by their capstone customer. This demonstrated there was a significant opportunity coming to fruition.
The most impactful part of the group’s capstone experience was the individual relationships they created. Joël quotes the group-spirit, learning from his classmates, and challenging each other as the most memorable part of his capstone experience. “Each of us was engaged to deliver the best [product] and help each other.” The support provided by their teammates gave the group the confidence to take their capstone project to the next level and launch their company.
“Axiom Et Associes is a consulting firm in strategy and transformation,” says Nassera. “The goal is to help organizations such as SMEs [and] non-profits define and implement their strategies and transform by being innovative, ambitious and pragmatic. Axiom Et Associes provides consulting and solutions in transformation (360, digital), customer experience, operation excellence, and business development strategies.”
Learn more about the Fox Executive MBA program.
Massive amounts of data are created each day. With more than ever available at our fingertips, we need help to make sense of it all. The field of data science unites researchers across disciplines, who extract knowledge from unfathomable quantities of datasets. Whether helping business executives make data-driven decisions, advertisers target likely customers, or teachers identify knowledge gaps in students, the data scientists at the Fox School sort through the noise to discover groundbreaking insights. Learn how in the Fox School’s flagship research magazine On the Verge featuring Data Science.
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“There’s nothing more stressful than waiting to hear ‘Go’ at the start of an Olympic final,” says Michael Moore, BBA ’93. “I’m not afraid of any experience I’ve had in business as a result of that moment.”
Moore is recalling the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where he competed with the United States crew team. He didn’t return home with a medal, but it was a singularly powerful experience. The Philadelphia native was a Temple University student (and a member of the school’s rowing team) at the time. He took one year off from earning his degree at the Fox School to train for the competition.
“It was an amazing summer,” says Moore. “We went to Europe and did the European race circuit, traveling to Belgium, Holland, and France. Then we went on to Barcelona.”
Then it was back to business school, where Moore studied marketing. After earning his degree from the Fox School, he went on to an MBA program at George Washington University, where he had two internships. One was with the Walt Disney Group and the other was with AOL. The latter shaped his future.
“The ideal internship is getting under the hood of a company and learning about it; AOL was the ideal internship,” says Moore. “Back then, AOL was still ramping up. The internet was around, but it wasn’t pervasive. I walked around the halls of AOL and engaged with the senior executives—and these were the executives—and documented what it took to build, launch, and package an AOL service. After that, there was only one thing I wanted to do, and that was be involved in the new, digital track that was then emerging.”
Soon after completing his MBA, he found the perfect intersection of tech and marketing when he returned to AOL as director of interactive marketing. He soon after moved to Europe to work with AOL for a one year project, but he stayed in London for 12 years.
Before leaving AOL, Moore held executive director and vice president positions. His next career move was working with Telegraph Media Group, where he helped the British company that owns popular newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph transition and expand its digital landscape. His last job in Europe was as the global commercial director for Phorm, a behavioral advertising firm. Moore then returned to the U.S.
In 2013, after a brief stint as CEO of flash commerce business kgb in New York City, Moore moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to work with WillowTree Inc. He is a co-owner and chief commercial officer (CCO) of the digital agency, which does mobile development and strategy, web and app development, and more. Their client list includes Pepsi, GE, Time Warner, Johnson and Johnson, and Nestle.
“I’m constantly engaging with our clients, our user experience strategy group, our architects, our analytics and insights teams, and so on,” says Moore about his day-to-day work. “It used to be a world where my job was to work with the business development team to land new projects; people who, for instance, wanted us to build them an app. That experience was in a box; things were relatively defined. Those days are over. Digital products are central to the operations of these enterprises now. There isn’t any end or box—it’s a constant evolution, and it requires constant tinkering and optimization of these products. We learn new things from data every day. It used to be very Mad Men-style—pitching to companies—but now it’s more operational and we’re living with clients week in and week out so they can keep up with all the data they’re seeing and make it reflective of their needs.”
After years of working for big companies like AOL and traditional ones like Telegraph Media Group, Moore took a significant jump to work with an independent company like WillowTree. But working in the always-changing, unpredictable digital space, and especially with a creative team, is precisely where he thrives.
“As someone who’s worked in traditional business and digital environments, I prefer the slightly more chaotic side of things,” he says. “Not just for the intellectual rigor, but it has a big impact on how teams work. I believe that with all the uncertainty we face in technology, our team gets up every morning and faces the unknown, the uncertain, together. That forces innovation. In traditional business where you wake up and do the same thing every day, that’s where workplace politics, inefficiency, and laziness step in. I prefer being on my toes. Harkening back to my crew days at Temple, I thrive when I’m in a team. It’s part of my DNA.”
With his organization Philly Financial Planning, Thomas McDevitt, MBA ’02, has made it his mission to help empower Philadelphia’s most economically disadvantaged citizens. The nonprofit, currently in the startup phase, provides the tools and education necessary to make smart financial decisions over time and across all levels of literacy.
“Right now, we are seeking strategic partnerships with organizations,” McDevitt explains. “Philanthropists, faith-based organizations, local government officials, community and neighborhood leaders, Philadelphia-based corporations, learning institutions, banks and financial services firms can all play a meaningful role in helping us to achieve our long-term strategic goals of closing Philadelphia’s wealth gap.”
As part of Philly Financial Planning, McDevitt also hopes to roll out The Eagle’s Nest, a spin-off idea inspired by popular TV show Shark Tank. Local Philly entrepreneurs will have a chance to pitch for startup or expansion financing. An integral part of this service will be teaching inner-city entrepreneurs how to write a comprehensive business plan. His team is also working to kick off a city-wide Stock Market Challenge, where participants can win cash prizes for selecting top-performing stocks over defined, measured periods.
McDevitt has a rich history of giving back and educating diverse communities. After graduating from the Fox School with an MBA and a concentration in Finance, he co-founded a professional continuing education company, McDevitt & Kline, LLC. The second half of the organization’s namesake, Dr. Bill Kline received his PhD in Strategic Management from the Fox School in 2012. He currently oversees the daily operations at the firm as the business grows on a national scale. Since its inception, the team has provided continuing education courses to over 7,000 attorneys and CPAs.
Last year, McDevitt also became an IRS Enrolled Agent, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP). During this tax season, he is leveraging his expertise to give back to even more members of his community by providing affordable, low priced tax resolution services and financial literacy training for Philadelphia working families and small business owners.
“The financial literacy programs that exist in Philadelphia today are definitely not addressing the root causes of generational poverty,” McDevitt explains. “In my various roles, I hope to change that by providing transformative, lifelong learning experiences for Philadelphians.”
Etsy—the online treasure chest for all things handmade—cultivates a community for those who have a knack for crafts like candle-making, knitwear, jewelry, or pottery. With over 1.7 million active vendors and close to 28.6 million active consumers, Etsy has established a peer-to-peer business platform that eliminates the middleman of corporate production. Yet this marketplace is more than just an e-commerce site; it is a community of like-minded individuals who appreciate handicrafts.
Within the site, buyers and sellers interact through a variety of IT-enabled features, like following and messaging shops, reviewing and favoriting products, and curating lists of products. Yet as sellers socialize by favoriting and promoting others’ products, are they redirecting potential customers away from their shops?
Professor Sunil Wattal and doctoral student Ermira Zifla of the Management Information Systems Department at the Fox School of Business investigate how social mingling affects e-commerce marketplaces in their paper, “Understanding IT-enabled Social Features in Online Peer-to-Peer Business for Cultural Goods.”
“What really fascinated us about this platform is that you have this community aspect, but you are also introducing this e-commerce agenda,” says Wattal.
“We thought that sellers may have mixed incentives to participate in the online community,” adds Zifla. “On the one hand, participating by following others and posting in forums may increase the visibility of sellers and subsequently increase their sales. On the other hand,” she continues, “following other sellers and sharing their products could negatively impact sales by diverting traffic away from their own page.”
While online communities have often been the subject of research, this is one of the first studies to link social indicators with economic performance. Using a dataset of nearly 2,000 sellers on Etsy, Wattal and Zifla examined their interactions in the online community and found how socializing with others can inherently affect a shop’s sales.
The researchers identified two categories of social e-features that promote new products and validate users:
1. Community participation features—such as following other sellers and joining teams—which facilitates socializing with other members, and
2. Content curation features—such as curating favorite lists, sharing products, and favoriting shops—which serve as tools for validation and tastemaking.
“When you are following other people on Etsy, those people are listed on your page as a form of validation, for what you like to buy as a consumer or what you can provide as a producer,” said Wattal.
The researchers hypothesized that community participation and content curation would increase a seller’s online status by increasing their number of followers, but would decrease a seller’s sales by diverting attention away from their own products.
Using a web crawler to collect public information, the pair obtained a dataset of 1,728 unique glass sculpture sellers—a randomly chosen subcategory of marketplace shops on Etsy—to compile a year’s worth of data, including sellers’ followers, lists, favorited products, and sales.
Analyzing the data proved the researchers’ hypotheses correct: a 10 percent increase in community participation, like following other sellers, and content curation, like favoriting products, resulted in a 3.89 percent decrease in sales. Yet this reduction was outweighed by the effects of cultivating a stronger social following. In other words, the same activities that led to a direct decrease in sales helped sellers attract more followers, and were associated with an indirect increase in sales by 4.64 percent—an overall net gain.
“IT-enabled features have benefits that supersede the negative,” says Wattal, “since exposure is what can ultimately lead you to be on an influential list or you can simply commercialize yourself to the point of high-status.”
Trends can come and go as quickly as a trendsetting blogger changes her mind. Yet in the realm of vintage trinkets and artisanal finds, relationships stay relevant.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.