The Legal Studies department at Temple University’s Fox School of Business will once again bring law to life, with what its chairperson hopes is another hot-button theme for Law Week.

Samuel Hodge
Samuel Hodge

“We always try to do something controversial,” said Dr. Samuel D. Hodge, Jr., Professor and Chair of Legal Studies. “Last year, we discussed same sex marriage, so this year we are discussing what the controversy is right now – marijuana laws.”

Starting Tuesday, Feb. 3, the department, in conjunction with Temple’s chapter of the Alpha Phi Delta pre-law fraternity, will kick off Law Week with an experienced panel that will talk about the decriminalization of marijuana. Philadelphia City Councilman James F. Kenney will visit Main Campus to explain the law he introduced. He’ll be joined by Fox School alumnus Charles J. Leone, Executive Director of Campus Safety Services at Temple University; Brian Sprowal, lieutenant in the Philadelphia Police Department; and Tondala Bausano, Assistant Director of the Scientific Services Division in the Philadelphia Police Department’s Office of Forensic Science, who is charged with conducting the city’s drug testing.

“I think people are under the assumption that now you can just go out and smoke marijuana and that it’s absolutely fine,” said Hodge. “So the panel is coming in to talk about how the new Philadelphia marijuana laws apply to Temple students and the community.”

Law Week’s activities continue with the department honoring United States Attorney Zane David Memeger, this year’s Law Scholar in Residence. Legal Intelligencer recently recognized Memeger, appointed in May 2010 by President Obama to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as its 2014 Pennsylvania Attorney of the Year.

The week also will include a naturalization ceremony. More than 50 individuals will be sworn in as new citizens of the United States. The ceremony, sponsored by the Fox School’s Legal Studies department, the United States Federal Court and U.S. Immigration Services, will take place Feb. 4 on the 7th floor of Alter Hall. U.S. Federal Judge, Juan Sanchez, an instructor in the Legal Studies department, will preside over the immigration service.

“There are normally 50 different countries represented,” said Hodge. “The inductees’ families are invited to attend, so it’s a very special day for them.”

The week’s events conclude Feb. 5 with a meet-and-greet law fair, at which faculty from Fox School’s Legal Studies department will answer questions and offer advice regarding the school’s application process.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Managing Director Rob McNamee (far left) and Executive Director Ellen Weber (far right), with the Innovative Idea Competition finalists Bethany Edwards, Cecilia Scimia, Yasmine Mustafa, Bradley Blosser and Sean Webster.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Managing Director Rob McNamee (far left) and Executive Director Ellen Weber (far right), with the Innovative Idea Competition finalists Bethany Edwards, Cecilia Scimia, Yasmine Mustafa, Bradley Blosser and Sean Webster.

If participation in a recent Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) competition is any indication, entrepreneurship is alive and well at Temple University.

Final presentations for IEI’s Innovative Idea Competition, held Nov. 12 at Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business, featured representatives from seven of Temple University’s 17 schools and colleges: Fox, the School of Medicine, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, Tyler School of Art, Boyer College of Music and Dance, and the School of Media and Communication.

The competition awarded $7,000 in prizes to students, alumni, faculty and staff for ideas on innovative products, services and technologies, said Ellen Weber, the institute’s Executive Director. IEI saw a 36-percent increase in total submissions from last year’s event to this year’s, in receiving a competition-record 253 submissions, including 230 from undergraduates.

Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat speaks with Istvan Varkonyi, Director of Temple University's General Education Program, Office of the Senior Vice Provost, at the 2014 Innovative Idea Competition.
Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat speaks with Istvan Varkonyi, Director of Temple University’s General Education Program, Office of the Senior Vice Provost, at the 2014 Innovative Idea Competition.

“As you can see, through this annual competition, entrepreneurship has become a pillar of the student experience, not only at the Fox School, but among all students at Temple University,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “After all, this university was founded by Russell Conwell – an entrepreneur himself.”

Bethany Edwards, SMC ’06, received the Anne Nelson Grand Prize of $2,500, with her Lia-Pregnancy Test Redesign. Weber lauded the privacy and convenience aspects of Edwards’ design of a flushable pregnancy test, which was free of electronic or plastic materials.

“The plot to so many great movies would be ruined if you didn’t see the evidence in the trash can,” Weber said.

Similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” three guest entrepreneurs (dubbed IEI’s “piranhas”) judged the final presentations: Glen Gaddy, of Robin Hood Ventures; Holly Flanagan, of Gabriel Investments; and Mike Krupit, of Trajectify and Philly New Technology Meetup.

A member of Fox School’s undergraduate population and a Fox alumna were among the winners.

Sophomore Bradley Blosser took first place in the undergraduate competition, with his idea for a snow-dissolving light post. A Finance and Accounting major, Blosser said the device, which is not in production, will be capable of melting snow from above using an infrared light. Believed to be ideal for clearing street corners and parking lots, the device can be affixed to a lightpost at varying heights, Blosser said, and will not interfere with the air space, instead warming only the ground.

Yasmine Mustafa, who graduated in 2006, took first place in the graduate faculty, staff or alumni category. Mustafa is the founder of self-defense technology company Roar for Good, which produces wearables marketed for women. The technology is capable of dialing 911 or sending text messages in cases of emergency, and even sounding an alarm or causing lights to flash.

Mustafa, who in 2010 won Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, has vowed to commit a portion of the proceeds from her wearable technology to programs and charity that promote respect for women.

“She’s trying to make sure the product she’s developing will lead to the problem’s solution,” Weber said.

An attendee of the Innovative Idea Competition uses to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, attendees were offered an opportunity to provide feedback on presentations using real-time voting technology.
An attendee of the Innovative Idea Competition uses to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, attendees were offered an opportunity to provide feedback on presentations using real-time voting technology.

Mustafa, one of six women to qualify for the competition’s 10-person final presentations, also earned first place in the People’s Choice Award category.

For the first time in the event’s history, attendees used, a real-time feedback platform, to determine winners of two People’s Choice Awards. More than more than 400 comments had been submitted, according to Tyra Ford, the Director of Strategic Marketing Initiatives in Fox’s Department of Strategic Management, offering additional input and wisdom on the various presentations.

“We’ve gotten such a great response from this element of the competition,” Ford said. “It’s something we hope to continue in the years ahead.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

  • Anne Nelson Grand Prize: Edwards
  • First Place (Graduate faculty, Staff or Alumni): Mustafa
  • Second Place (Graduate faculty, Staff or Alumni): Cecilia Scimia, School of Medicine, Heart Upbeat!
  • First Place (Undergraduate): Blosser
  • Second Place (Undergraduate): Sean Webster, College of Engineering, Bouyant Pile
  • First Place (People’s Choice): Mustafa
  • Second Place (People’s Choice): Edwards

In other IEI news, submissions are being accepted for the 2015 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®. The BYOBB is a business-plan competition open to the entire Temple community, which includes current students, alumni, faculty and staff. Information sessions are slated for Dec. 3 (at 12 noon) and Dec. 4 (at 5 p.m.) at the IEI Lab, in 503D Alter Hall. The due date for submissions is March 16, and finalists will deliver presentations April 16.

Last month, Dr. M. Moshe Porat was in exclusive company.

The Dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Porat attended the Global Deans’ Forum as an invited speaker.

Porat - Global Deans ForumThe two-day event, held Oct. 24-25 at the HSBC Business School at Peking University, in Shenzhen, China, assembled 41 business school deans from colleges and universities located around the world. Porat was one of only six deans who represented American institutions.

The forum gathered deans and presidents of the world’s finest business schools, as well as members of various stakeholder groups and business community, thought, practice and entrepreneurial leaders, to engage in an open dialogue. Those in attendance shared insights from their respective corners of the globe, in the hope of advancing educational offerings through current trends and shifts in the business and management arenas.

In the forum’s first day, Porat participated in a global panel of deans titled, “Reflections on the Future,” during which Porat discussed the breadth of the services provided by Fox School’s Online and Digital Learning staff, and the challenges facing business education.

“It was an honor to represent the Fox School of Business and Temple University on a global stage at the Global Deans’ Forum,” Porat said. “At Fox, we emphasize the significance of our robust global network of more than 60,000 alumni, as well as our diverse student body that closely reflects the world in which we live. I was privileged to share with others my experiences as the dean of such a unique and vibrant business school.”Porat - Global Deans Forum

Additionally, the Global Deans’ Forum – themed, “Connecting China to the World, Bringing the World to China – The Role of Business Schools” – provided a platform for interactive dialogues and in-depth discussions, as well as panels featuring guest speakers of multi-disciplinary backgrounds.

Leila Bouamatou and Tah MeouloudLeila Bouamatou doesn’t appear as though she had been traveling for two days. Her make-up is impeccable and her bright blue, polka-dotted melehfa stands out against the stoic dress of her Western classmates. She and her husband, Tah Meouloud, are at ease nearly 4,000 miles from home and surrounded by strangers.

Bouamatou and Meouloud are doctoral candidates in the newly formed Executive Doctorate of Business Administration (EDBA) program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. And unlike the other 23 students who compose the EDBA’s first cohort, Bouamatou and Meouloud are international students.

Six times a year, for three years, the couple will travel from Mauritania – an African nation of more than 3.5 million people – to Philadelphia to engage in their intensive, three-day weekend coursework within the Fox EDBA. The program is appealing to Bouamatou and Meouloud, who willingly make the two-day, Atlantic Ocean-crossing trip to the States to expand their professional and academic careers.

“It’s worth it,” said Bouamatou, of the 12-hour flight from North Africa to North America.

Why? The couple said they were attracted to the Fox School because of its accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a high distinction of achievement held by fewer than five percent of business schools worldwide.

Additionally, the couple had determined several years ago the United States was the ideal country in which to continue their educations. They said they chose Fox because of the flexibility of its EDBA – a program offered by only a handful of business schools in the nation – and its central location between fellow East Coast hub cities New York City and Washington, D.C.

The EDBA program combines two tenets that are central to the Fox School mission: research and real-world experience. Fox’s research-active faculty, which numbers nearly 200, covers a wide range of competencies – an ideal aspect for student mentorship within a multi-disciplinary EDBA program that embraces real-life learning and applied practices. The program is offered at The HUB at Commerce Square, a vibrant business center located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia.

Husband and wife Tah Meouloud and Leila Bouamatou, who are part of the first cohort of Fox School’s Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program, listen to instruction during their second residency. (Temple University)
Husband and wife Tah Meouloud and Leila Bouamatou, who are part of the first cohort of Fox School’s Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program, listen to instruction during their second residency. (Temple University)

When simplified, their pursuit of an executive education amounts to only 54 days in Philadelphia over three years. For such a small face-to-face time commitment, Bouamatou and Meouloud said they have received tremendous support from Dr. David Schuff, Executive Director of the EDBA program and an Associate Professor in Fox School’s Management Information Systems (MIS) department. They also had an opportunity to meet Temple University President Dr. Neil D. Theobald, who spoke to the first cohort of EDBA students in September during the program’s initial residency.

“We are not just left here. We feel comfortable,” said Meouloud, who said he has enjoyed networking with his professors and fellow students.

“Networking is an important component of the student experience,” said Schuff. “A key strength of the program is the diversity in the backgrounds of our cohort. Providing both formal and informal opportunities to learn from each other, both inside and outside the classroom, makes the residences about more than simply attending class.”

Both he and his wife dedicate 15 to 20 hours per week to completing curriculum requirements via the web-conferencing platform WebEx. The program’s density allows executives to graduate in only three years. Bouamatou said she enjoys the program’s commitment to research and hopes to use her time as a doctoral candidate to explore the role of female leaders in family businesses, before extending her knowledge to professional women in Africa.

“My passion for research had been unsatisfied in a way, and the EDBA program satisfied that thirst,” Bouamatou said.

A dedicated student, Meouloud concentrated on the development of global economic systems as they relate to capitalism. Meouloud believes the EDBA program will help him understand how economics and business can merge to reduce poverty in Africa and in developing countries.

In addition to enriching his professional pursuits, Meouloud said he and his wife have long-range aspirations to open a school in Mauritania with structure, content and standards similar to those in the EDBA program in which he is enrolled.

“We are sharing the space with professionals from different backgrounds and learning from them,” said Meouloud, who hopes to facilitate the same experience in Africa and France.

Though the couple has embarked upon only a third of their intensive residences for this year, they said they already could see the program’s potential to enhance their lives.

“My professional life will take on another dimension because the EDBA program gives me the experience, the confidence and the trust needed to move into a key position,” Bouamatou said.

Both Meouloud and Bouamatou matriculated through the French academic system before pursuing Master’s degrees in Europe. Bouamatou studied at the American School of Business in Lausanne, Switzerland before receiving her Master’s degree in finance at Eada Barcelona, in Spain, and her Executive Master’s in Business Administration (EMBA) from the Mediterranean School of Business, in Tunisia. Meouloud earned his Master’s in economics from the University of Nouakchott, in Mauritania, before studying international economic development at Sorbonne University, in Paris, France.

Bouamatou and Meouloud are multilingual, a skill that strengthens their professional and academic pursuits. Each speaks French, Arabic, Spanish and English, while Meouloud also is fluent in Chinese.

“I have had a multicultural educational and professional background for the last 10 years,” Bouamatou said. “I hope that I will bring new insights to the cohort based on different experience we have been going through.”

Professionally, Bouamatou has served since 2009 as the head of the Treasury Department at GBM Bank of Mauritania, the leading corporate and investment bank in Mauritania. Her interest in banking peaked in childhood when she watched her father – a banking entrepreneur whom she regards as her greatest mentor – succeed in foreign investments. He “built an empire from nothing,” she said.

An international economist and human resources manager for BSA Technologies, Meouloud “identifies the economic aspects of the situation.”

“And he’ll be the one to bring advice,” Bouamatou said, finishing her husband’s sentence.

Offering their cohort a vast and varied perspective, both Bouamatou and Meouloud have determined to gain everything possible from the EDBA program and the Fox School. This determination is evidenced in a French phase that Bouamatou features in her resume. Translated to English, the phrase suggests that perseverance creates great opportunities.

Bouamatou and Meouloud traveled 4,000 miles in pursuit of their next great opportunity, and they’re not looking back.

Ira Lubert delivers his acceptance speech as the honoree at the 18th annual the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership dinner and reception.
Ira Lubert delivers his acceptance speech as the honoree at the 18th annual the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership dinner and reception. Photo: Ryan Brandenberg

Cradling his note cards, Ira Lubert temporarily set aside his prepared remarks in order to speak from the heart.

A giant in Philadelphia’s private equity and real estate sectors, Lubert is admittedly a man of few words. And from the lectern at Mitten Hall, he chose those words carefully.

“I don’t like to be the center of attention,” Lubert said, “but I agreed to accept this honor for two reasons: Lew Katz and Pete Musser.”

Temple University’s Fox School of Business recognized Lubert as the recipient of the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, the highest honor conveyed by the School, during a Nov. 5 dinner and reception at Mitten Hall’s Great Court.

The Chairman and Co-founder of Lubert-Adler Real Estate, Lubert used his acceptance speech as an opportunity to praise both Warren V. “Pete” Musser, for whom the Fox School’s awards are named, and Lewis Katz, a former member of Temple’s Board of Trustees and the 2013 Musser Award recipient, who died in June in a plane crash.

Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat, left, hands Ira Lubert, right, his award as the recipient of the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, as Warren V. “Pete” Musser, center, looks on.
Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat, left, hands Ira Lubert, right, his award as the recipient of the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, as Warren V. “Pete” Musser, center, looks on. Photo: Ryan Brandenberg

Lubert acknowledged that his professional and personal successes came as a result of his connection to Musser, the former Chairman and CEO of Safeguard Scientifics, an investment group with ties to many Fortune 500 companies. Lubert first met Musser in the 1980s, and worked with him as a consultant with Safeguard, before becoming the top salesman at IBM and eventually starting his own ventures.

Then, Lubert shared memories of walking with Katz through Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia only a few days before Katz’s passing. Lubert said Katz, whom he referred to as “not only one of the greatest philanthropists in this region, but also a great guy,” had told Lubert he would be honored to introduce him as the 2014 Musser Award recipient.

“I got many, many business lessons from that great man,” Lubert said of Katz, for whom a moment of silence was observed following a brief video tribute from the previous year’s Musser reception.

The Musser Awards dinner and reception gathered Philadelphia’s leading business executives under one roof. Past top honorees in attendance included: Dennis Alter; William J. Avery; Richard J. Fox; Robert A. Fox; J. William Mills, III; Musser; Patrick J. O’Conner; and Daniel H. Polett.

The evening followed the motif of a diner, a favorite of Lubert’s. Two tables in the center of the dining room were lined on both sides by booth seating, and a neon sign reading, “Eat at Ira’s” dangled from above the main stage. Even the menu card, designed colorfully and playfully, resembled what a patron might find at a diner. CNBC anchor Tyler Mathisen, the event’s master of ceremonies, instructed guests to glance at the backside of the menu card for a listing of prominent national rankings attained by the Fox School – or as Mathisen put it, “some of the specials Fox has been cooking up in recent weeks.”

Ira Lubert heads to the stage at Mitten Hall to accept the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Ira Lubert heads to the stage at Mitten Hall to accept the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership. Photo: Ryan Brandenberg

Temple University President Neil D. Theobald, who had the distinction of introducing a tribute video of Lubert, reflected upon Fox School’s prowess.

“Every day, there is a new appreciation for the quality of business education that takes place here,” Dr. Theobald said. “The growth that you’ve seen at Fox is an example of the evolution that has taken place throughout Temple. We have taken major steps to expand innovation and entrepreneurship across the university.”

The night belonged to Lubert, “a trailblazer, and a mover-and-shaker with a track record of significant success and creative deals,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat.

Surrounded by close friends, family and colleagues, Lubert and his reputation as a short-spoken man was a popular subject.

“He’s very efficient. A long meeting with Ira is about 30 seconds, because he can get everything done and say what he needs to say,” said David M. Joyner, a former member of the Board of Trustees at Pennsylvania State University, Lubert’s alma mater. “That’s probably a little tongue-in-cheek, but he can analyze any situation extremely quickly.”

“Ira’s biggest trait is that he comes into a negotiation and, by the time you’re done, you’re like, ‘What just happened?’” said David J. Adelman, a business associate of Lubert’s, and the President and CEO of Campus Apartments.

Upon receiving his crystal owl statue as the Musser Award honoree, Lubert closed his remarks by paying tribute to the university that paid tribute to him.

“I’m a Penn State guy through and through,” Lubert said, “but I admire what Fox has done for the university and this city. You attract to the city the best and brightest for the business community.”

A thriving business community that includes none other than Lubert, of course.

Douglas Maine, an alumnus of Temple University’s School of Media and Communications and a limited partner with investment banking firm Brown Brothers Harriman, addresses Fox School students at the second annual Temple Wall Street Day. (Credit: Jim Roese)
Douglas Maine, an alumnus of Temple University’s School of Media and Communications and a limited partner with investment banking firm Brown Brothers Harriman, addresses Fox School students at the second annual Temple Wall Street Day. (Credit: Jim Roese)

More than 40 students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business went from Broad Street to Wall Street last month, and they covered more ground than simply the 100 miles that separate the two East Coast cities.

At the second annual Temple Wall Street Day, held in New York City, Fox School students united with university and business school alumni to engage in a panel discussion that was followed by a robust networking session.

The event – which took place Oct. 10 at investment banking firm Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. – provided a platform upon which students could learn about careers in finance and financial services, and have a comfortable arena in which to ask questions of alums who, at one point, were in their shoes.

Visiting America’s financial capital and meeting with top Wall Street executives is an opportunity not often afforded to college students.

“It was eye-opening to be exposed to this brand new world,” said Jesse Worek, a senior double-majoring in Finance and Management Information Systems. “You think of Temple and Fox and, suddenly, your opinion has changed. You’re thinking of people who have gotten recruited for positions on Wall Street and in investment management.

“That’s what I foresee myself doing, and the whole experience was amazing.”

Wall Street Day came together through the behind-the-scenes work of Assistant Professor of Finance Cynthia Axelrod, Director of Corporate Relations at Fox’s Center for Student Professional Development Megan Panaccio, and Temple alumnus Douglas Maine, a Limited Partner with Brown Brothers Harriman.

Together, they assembled a panel that included:

  • Alan Cohen, CLA ’74, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Compliance for Goldman Sachs
  • Emily Hard, CLA ’04, Assistant Vice President and Relationship Partner with Brown Brothers Harriman in the company’s Boston office
  • John Jadach, FOX ’95, Director with LBC Credit Partners
  • Maine, SMC ’71
  • Jonathan Shelon, FOX ’94, Chief Investment Officer and Head of the Global Access Investment Team with JP Morgan
  • Jerry Solomon, CLA ’85, Investment Analyst with Capital Research Company
  • Dan Zibman, CLA ’74, FOX ’81, a hedge-fund industry professional since 1996

The bus trip, which included stops at New York City’s Sept. 11 memorial and reflecting pool, came to a close with the marquee of the afternoon’s program – a visit to Brown Brothers Harriman to hear from a panel of prominent Temple alums working in the financial sector. Topics of discussion ranged from personal career-path stories, job descriptions, and first-hand Temple experiences to dispensing career advice and assigning value to networking.

“When you get to hear from speakers of that level, it’s invaluable,” said Bryan Murray, a Fox School senior. “When you know they came from your school, you take even more from that dialogue.”

Murray said he felt instant connections with Temple Wall Street Day’s guest speakers, trading smalltalk and business cards with those who presided on the panel. The Royersford, Pa., native said he split his conversations with the alums between the university’s football team and his desire for a career in financial advising.

Fox School Assistant Professor of Finance Cynthia Axelrod, third from left, meets with Temple University alumni who served as members of the Temple Wall Street Day panel. (Credit: Jim Roese)
Fox School Assistant Professor of Finance Cynthia Axelrod, third from left, meets with Temple University alumni who served as members of the Temple Wall Street Day panel. (Credit: Jim Roese)

Shelon, the JP Morgan executive, said he was mutually impressed by the students, as they were with the panelists.

“I couldn’t believe the range of questions,” said Shelon, who studied Actuarial Sciences during his tenure at Fox. “I would’ve been scared to have been sitting where they were, but they had blocking and tackling questions about looking for a job in general, looking for a job out of state, what’s it like managing a team of your size – some practical questions, and some nuanced. I was delighted to see the students so engaged.”

“The questions demonstrated that Fox students are not simply intellectually curious,” said Hard, a Brown Brothers Harriman executive, “but that they are thoughtfully and consciously striving to educate themselves so that they may use the knowledge they gain at Temple to direct their future plans.”

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS
Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Cody Calafiore went from big man on campus and business-school graduate to “Big Brother” contestant.

A 2013 alumnus of the Fox School of Business and former Temple men’s soccer player, Calafiore finished runner-up on the 16th season of “Big Brother.” The reality show, which airs on CBS, thrusts strangers into a shared living arrangement without contact or connection to the outside world.

An outgoing 23-year-old with a larger-than-life personality, Calafiore adjusted well to the world of “Big Brother,” where cameras occupy every corner of the house and provide nowhere to hide from scrutiny, speculation and sabotage from his fellow housemates, with whom Calafiore said he forged quick bonds.

“I’m proud of where I came from and I wanted to brag about it, so I’d always talk about that,” Calafiore said. “I wanted to tell people I graduated from the Fox School of Business. Having that confidence to talk about where I came from was nice, knowing people couldn’t look at me like just another college kid.

“I’m not just another college kid. I came from Fox. That was huge for me.”

Calafiore’s connection to “Big Brother” was organic. He said he encountered a casting agent for the show while working a weekend job with an entertainment company in early 2014. The Howell, N.J., native said he doesn’t recall much about the conversation, other than the agent asking him if he’d have any interest in a casting call for the show.

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS
Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

“I remember telling the guy, ‘Are you kidding? I’m obsessed with it,’” Calafiore said.

From there, Calafiore said, it was a perfect fit. A recent business-school graduate and a self-described “superfan” of the show, Calafiore said he was told he was an ideal candidate – one who survived all three months of the show’s duration.

Calafiore’s family made the trip out west for the show’s Sept. 24 finale. His parents, Paul and Linda, brother Paulie, and sister Angelina were in the CBS studio when it was unveiled that a panel of Calafiore’s voted-out housemates had chosen Derrick Levasseur as the season’s winner. Levasseur took home $500,000, while Calafiore won a $50,000 second prize.

Despite finishing in second place, Calafiore called his three months on the show “an amazing experience.” He said he had ample preparation for the show’s rigor during his Fox School career.

“Getting through the house was brutal,” he said. “It’s probably the unhealthiest thing I’ve ever done. I mean, you’re staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. on the West Coast and, now that I’m home, I can’t fall asleep until 6 a.m. some nights. But at Fox, I had to put my work in. I spent so many hours at the TECH Center. Between Fox and playing soccer for Temple, that was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Calafiore had a superficial complaint about the show. He said he was not permitted to bring into the house any clothing that bore a corporate logo, which meant most of his Temple and Fox School gear had to be removed from his suitcase.

“Trust me,” he said, “I would’ve been wearing a Temple shirt every day if that wasn’t the case.”

Calafiore’s Temple pride dates to 2010, when he transferred from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., following his freshman year. Desiring a career in business, he pursued schools with stellar marketing and risk programs.

“I gravitated to Fox,” said Calafiore, who majored in Marketing. “My uncle works in corporate America for Cisco, and he always told me Fox was amazing,” Calafiore said. “That weighed heavily on my decision. Then we came for a visit and my father just was enraptured with everything Temple and Fox had to offer. I loved the city, loved the school. I was sold.”

Before heading to California and the “Big Brother” house, Calafiore had filled his resume with a few different ventures.

Following graduation, he had attempted to make a go at a soccer career. The midfielder – who played three seasons with the Owls – signed with Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in February 2013 for a preseason trial, during which he suffered an ankle injury and was released. Calafiore went on to become an associate district manager and sales rep for ADP, LLC. He also had tried his hand at modeling.

“More photos came out while I was on the show than I would’ve liked,” he said with a laugh. “Those got leaked, so I guess I missed out on a good pay day.”

Calafiore had to resign his position with ADP in order to accept his casting call to “Big Brother,” so Calafiore is unemployed for the moment. In between jobs, he held down a two-episode stint on CBS soap opera, “The Bold and The Beautiful,” and he said he might go into business with his brother, Paulie, who owns and operates a gym in New York City.

“Worst-case scenario, I’ll be his business consultant with the gym,” Calafiore said. “That’s not a bad way to make a living, and going into business together is something we always talked about anyway. I can’t complain, really. Life has been great.”

Dr. Hilal Atasoy received the 2014 Young Researcher Award at the fifth-annual Workshop on Health IT and Economics. The honor – conferred during the Oct. 10-11 conference, hosted by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business – recognizes the best research paper led by a junior-faculty member.

Dr. Hilal Atasoy“This is a tremendous achievement and I am honored to have been chosen as its recipient,” said Atasoy, Assistant Professor of Accounting.

Atasoy received the award for her paper titled, “The Spillover Effects of Health IT Investments on Regional Healthcare Costs,” which was co-authored by Dr. Pei-yu Chen, of Arizona State University, and Kartik Ganju, a Fox School PhD student in the Management Information Systems department.

The paper examines whether the health IT investments of one hospital will affect other hospitals in the region through instances of patient mobility, such as seeking a second opinion, changing hospitals out of convenience or due to change of address, among other reasons.

Viewed as a means of improving a patient care while decreasing health care costs, health IT improves diagnostics, decreases medical errors and can utilize the secure sharing of a patient’s medical records between hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. In her paper, Atasoy theorizes that if a patient previously had undergone baseline examinations and received proper care and diagnosis at one hospital, this can reduce spending at another hospital that same patient visits.

“Let’s say a patient first goes to Hospital A which is equipped with advanced health IT systems, and she receives a high quality of care and accurate diagnostics here. Then she moves to Hospital B. This might not reflect on Hospital A’s costs, as this hospital that went through all of the initial testing to determine the appropriate care and necessary treatment for the patient, but it could reflect in Hospital B’s costs,” Atasoy said. “The patient will be in a better health condition at that point of admittance to Hospital B and would not require any of those tests. In a sense, there could be a regional spillover from one hospital’s health IT investments to another hospital’s costs through shared patients.”

“Health IT is seen as a policy tool to reduce the health care costs, however, in most hospitals that adopt health IT system, the costs increase. In this study, we suggest that maybe this is not a hospital-level question, but instead it’s a regional question, with externalities going from one hospital to another. If there are regional spillovers, hospital-level effects may underestimate the societal benefits of health IT investments.”

More than three-quarters of black women aged 12 to 74 are considered clinically obese.

Christine WegnerFor Christine Wegner, a Fox School of Business PhD student and a research assistant in the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), this statistic was a key component in her award-winning research that investigated how social stigmas keep black women from participating in physical activity.

Wegner received the Best Student Abstract Award at the National Recreation and Park Association’s Leisure Research Symposium, held Oct. 14-16 in Charlotte, N.C. The competition selected the best student research in the leisure industry, as it related to current cultures.

Wegner’s work with Black Girls Run! (BGR!), a national organization that uses running to promote physical fitness and health among black women, while combatting stereotypes surrounding the activity, spurred her research. She reacted to how few black women engage in running because of social stigmas surrounding the sport. When coupled with a sedentary childhood, a deficit of black female professional athletes, idealization of a larger body type and issues of hair maintenance, these stigmas have contributed to illness and increased body weight among black women.

To understand this dynamic, Wegner said she reached out to 63,013 black women through BGR! The responses she received helped uncover how the group combats race and gender issues in the running culture. With 70 nationwide chapters, including one in Philadelphia, BGR! teaches black women basic running skills and creates a safe and empowering environment in which they exercise these skills. Working with the organization, Wegner identified confidence, skill, health, time, preference and hair management as six key areas when breaking down the barriers between black women and their athleticism.

“I think that Philadelphia is a good (research) target because of its greater prevalence of obese and sedentary individuals than many other cities like it” Wegner said.

Wegner, whose PhD studies include a concentration in Sport Management, relied upon several skills gleaned from her STHM and Fox School educations to better understand her research results. Wegner hypothesized using information gathered from her courses addressing the nature of organizations to predict that a group promoting a common goal can combat stereotypes held by the majority of its participants. With this in mind, Wegner drew upon her background in leisure activity afforded her through STHM to evaluate how the change in self-identification could result directly from BGR! Participation.

“At STHM, we focus heavily on distinct features and problems within sport and physical activity,” Wegner said. “This focus has allowed me to look at this organization holistically, from both a business perspective that I gained from Fox and from the broader issues in sport gained from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.”

Wegner concluded that, as predicted, participating in BGR! changed the mindset surrounding running in the black female culture to increase the number of women who now identify as black, female and runners. Their increased physical activity has helped reduce the risks of Type 2 Diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses among black women, and has provided a sense of empowerment as they accomplish various athletic and health-related goals.

“The most rewarding part was presenting my work with this organization, and finding out that there were some BGR! members in the audience at the conference,” Wegner said. “Seeing how passionate they were about the power of the organization made me feel that my research was worthwhile.”

Mary Grace Sear and Zilong ZhaoOver the summer, two undergraduate students from the Fox School of Business represented Temple University in the Windy City.

Actuarial science majors Mary Grace Sear and Zilong Zhao attended the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA) Center of Actuarial Excellence Student Summit, held Aug. 14-15 at the Renaissance Hotel in Chicago.

Sear and Zhao were two of the 50 students at the conference, which had representation by 25 CAEs from universities in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong.

The summit included a host of SOA guest speakers, including president-elect Errol Cramer, who offered career advice and tips to help students stay on the right track within their major. The two-day event also featured a communication improvisational workshop emphasizing the importance of listening skills, and another workshop that required the students in attendance to analyze and present case studies that focused on healthcare and life insurance.

“The improv workshop was very informative,” said Sear, a junior from Havertown, Pa., who is also minoring in Management Information Systems (MIS). “The takeaway was that although people worry about how they present themselves, what they look like or what they are going to say next, it is more important to listen to what’s going on around them.”

“I learned a lot from the workshops through the speakers but I learned a lot more from my peers,” said Zhao, a junior born in Baoji, China, whose family now resides in Scranton, Pa. “I was inspired by the students from Canada and Hong Kong because they have amazing actuarial exam progress. I was very interested in what their schools were like and, overall, it was a great networking experience.”

Sear and Zhao were selected to attend the event on the strength of their leadership and interpersonal skills by Dr. Krupa S. Viswanathan, Associate Professor of Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management and Director of Fox’s Actuarial Science program.  

“I chose Mary Grace and Zilong because not only do they possess strong analytical skills, they are both exceptionally well-rounded,” Viswanathan said. “Their strong communication skills were evident in class and through their participation in student organizations because they both held leadership roles.”

Outside of the classroom, Sear serves as Vice President of MIS at Gamma Iota Sigma, the risk and actuarial science business fraternity within the Fox School. Since his freshman year, Zhao has been active on campus. He currently serves as Vice President of Education at Temple Toastmasters, a student professional organization dedicated to communication and leadership development, and is an active member of Gamma Iota Sigma.

Sear and Zhao credited the Fox School with helping cultivate their leadership abilities.

“Fox really prepared me to be a professional,” said Zhao, who is also minoring in Computer Science. “While at the summit I was able to connect and network with people on a very professional level and confidently present the case studies to my peers. I love Temple, I love the program and the professors.”

Sear said her involvement with Gamma Iota Sigma, which hosts a career fair, requires etiquette workshops, resume reviews and mock interviews.

“Everything we learned at those workshops was extremely important because I had the appropriate networking skills to build on my professional contacts and network with various students at the conference,” Sear said.

Looking forward, Sear and Zhao said they are preparing for their upcoming actuarial exams, while also staying involved within the Temple community.

Photo Credit: Paul Coker/Philadelphia Business Journal

At the Philadelphia Union League, Dr. M. Moshe Porat got right down to it. Upon taking his seat beside fellow panelists – four of the city’s top international business executives – Porat offered three reasons why Philadelphia needs to invest in its international students.

“They have innovation, energy and excitement – everything necessary to help Philadelphia compete domestically and globally in the marketplace,” said Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business at Temple University. “They want to come here, and we have the opportunity of a lifetime.”

An invited guest at the Oct. 14 event, Porat participated in the inaugural Global PHL panel, co-sponsored by Philadelphia Business Journal and JPMorgan Chase. In a room of more than 200 of the city’s select business, economic and financial leaders, Porat and fellow experts addressed the need to raise Philadelphia’s global profile and the subsequent economic and industrial impact in doing so.

Philadelphia, home to more than 100 colleges and universities, is an appropriate landing spot for international students, Porat posited. In fact, international students made up more than 10 percent of the undergraduates, 30 percent of graduate students and 85 percent of the PhD students at the Fox School during the 2013-14 academic year.

Photo Credit: Paul Coker/Philadelphia Business Journal
Photo Credit: Paul Coker/Philadelphia Business Journal

Pennsylvania, a top-five host state in the nation for international students, is equally well-positioned for students from overseas. Pennsylvania and nine other states combine to host 61 percent of the nation’s international-student intake, according to the 2013 Open Doors report on International Education Exchange, by the Institute of International Exchange.

Like Philadelphia, Boston is regarded as an education hub on the East Coast. Dissimilarly, though, Boston has a reputation for keeping its international students in the region in the years after they have graduated.

“We are attracting a lot of international students – maybe not as many as we’d like – although we have the capacity to absorb more,” Porat said. “We have more universities within 15 miles of Philadelphia than Boston has.

“The difference,” Porat continued, “is that in Boston, many of these students stay in Boston or in the area, but in Philadelphia they go back to other places. That means we don’t have enough means and actions and ideas on how to retain these students.”

The solution, Porat said, is multi-pronged. On the national level, immigration policies tend to limit the ability of corporations to keep recent graduates of international origins, thus reducing full-time employment offers. Locally, Porat said, universities have to be more proactive in attracting students.

“I think we are all working independently,” he said, “and competition is good, but more (needs to be done) in a coordinated fashion, primarily in China, India, Brazil and Korea, where many of (Philadelphia’s international) students are coming from.”

The panel discussion – moderated by Morgan McGrath, JPMorgan Chase’s Head of International Banking – were: Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’nex Brands and The Rodon Group; Leo Holt, President of Holt Logistics Corp.; Stephen P. Mullin, President of Econsult Solutions, Inc.; and Linda Mysliwy Conlin, President of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.

Those in attendance also heard from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who has traveled extensively to promote international initiatives and promote the city as both a world-class destination for tourism and a possible landing spot for businesses.

Philadelphia, as Nutter pointed out, experienced its first population growth in 60 years, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. He credited increases in immigrant population and improved foreign relations for the population jump. In recent months, Nutter visited with Pope Francis, who is expected to make Philadelphia the first destination he visits during the 2015 World Meeting of Families. Nutter also said he has reaffirmed Philadelphia’s 50-year sister-city connection to Florence, Italy, and has met with business leaders from other international cities.

“People are talking about Philadelphia, around the corner and around the globe,” Nutter said. “I’m out there, and our responsibility is to support your efforts to continue to make our case for Philadelphia.

“Yet we remain, at times, one of America’s best-kept secrets. … We’re a little shy sometimes and not as outgoing and outward as we should be, but we are increasingly taking our place on the world stage and I have no doubt we will succeed in our goal.”

Sometimes, improving Philadelphia’s global profile is regarded as “either too hard, too unpopular or too unimportant,” said Peter Kaldes, Executive Director and Head of JPMorgan Chase’s Global Cities Initiative, but its impact is undeniable. Kaldes pointed out that only 36 percent of Americans hold passports, that only 1 percent of U.S. firms export and that a stunning 41 percent of domestic job creation stems from the international expansion of existing firms.

“We aren’t doing enough to look beyond our borders for (international) growth,” Kaldes said, “but we’re moving in the right direction.”

“The U.S. is a place where people want to study,” Porat added, “so let’s ask, ‘What are we doing to keep them here?’”

LEWAn inspirational day of reflection upon the successes of female entrepreneurs had no shortage of wisdom and insight – beginning with the keynote speaker and carrying through the rest of the program.

“Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Live in the present and envision the future,” said keynote Sarah Hetznecker, at the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference, held Oct. 8 at Temple University’s Mitten Hall.

The event, in its 15th year, focused on educating students, alumni and the community on ways in which women can increase awareness of entrepreneurial initiatives and learn about starting a business, building a team and launching new products into the marketplace.

Temple’s Fox School of Business, the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), the Office of the Provost, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), the School of Media and Communication and Institutional Advancement co-sponsored the event.

Fox Executive MBA alumna Beth Duffy, CEO of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, was one of Temple alumni inducted into the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Hall of Fame.

Her fellow Hall of Fame inductees were: President and CEO of Jeanes Hospital Linda Grass, a 1973 graduate of the College of Health Professions and Social Work, who was instrumental in leading Jeanes’ integration with Fox Chase Cancer Center; and Vice President and Manager of Training at Urban Engineers and Vice President of the Philadelphia Engineering Foundation Carol Martsolf, a 1992 alumna of the College of Engineering and an advocate of development and mentorship in her field.

For Duffy, healthcare has been a lifelong passion. As the story goes, Duffy watched the construction of the former Warminster Hospital in Bucks County from behind a chain-link fence. When the hospital was completed, she applied for a volunteer position and has had an interest in healthcare ever since.

During her acceptance speech, Duffy reflected on a recent vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where she heard “the angelic voices of three little girls” who, for 50 cents, were selling advice and compliments. Duffy coughed up the necessary funds, took a shell from the girls’ basket and unwrapped it when she returned home.

“It’s still on my desk,” said Duffy, who has spent three decades in the Einstein Healthcare Network. “It said, ‘Be a good example. It will inspire others.’ This is my advice today. For me, success is tied to keeping it simple.”

Fox alumnae Phyllis Ludwig and Yasmine Mustafa participated in a panel discussion centered on the characteristics and drivers of entrepreneurship.

Ludwig, the founder and president of Ludwig Business Consultants, PLLC, a CPA firm, referred to entrepreneurship as “a calling. It wasn’t a choice.” She said she remembered, as a 6-year-old, applying price tags to pencils and selling them in school.

Mustafa had a similar story. As a child, she would purchase candy just to resell – sometimes at double the price – once she had arrived to her school.

“Realizing I didn’t have to have all the answers, but having a way to adapt was key,” said Mustafa, who has founded three ventures – 123LinkIt, which streamlines affiliate marketing for bloggers; the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It, a nonprofit that provides mentorship and instructional opportunities for women who lack a tech background; and ROAR, which develops fashionable self-defense accessories for women.

Others on the panel included: Claire Laver, former executive director of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark and current operations director for Legacy Restoration, LLC; and Shelly Salamon, owner of Fairmount Bicycles and the Philly Bike Tour Co.

“This conference helps aspiring entrepreneurs learn what is necessary to take an idea, product or service and turn it into a revenue-producing business,” said Betsy Leebron Tutelman, Temple’s Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Communications. “It is a great opportunity to hear from entrepreneurs and leaders who have traveled the road to success and encountered the bumps and challenges common in startups.”

“The information discussed and connections made at this conference are invaluable, ” Tutelman added. “These panelists have overcome the challenges inherent in launching and growing a venture into a successful enterprise. Students come away with real insight into how to bridge classroom learning to real-world success.”

The League for Entrepreneurial Women’s conference is only one way that Temple University embodies entrepreneurialism. Recently, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked the Fox School of Business No. 1 in the nation for having the best graduate-program entrepreneurial mentorship. Also, Fox’s undergrad and graduate entrepreneurship programs No. 11 and No. 16 in the nation, respectively.

The Fox School has always had a history of a strong entrepreneurship program, said IEI Executive Director Ellen Weber, and it’s spreading throughout the university. Temple President Neil Theobald laid out his vision at the beginning of the semester with six pieces and one of them is to be a leader and “encourage entrepreneurship across all disciplines.”

“I think there is a basic belief here at Temple that through understanding entrepreneurial concepts students can take control of their careers,” said Weber. “An entrepreneurial student is one who can identify an opportunity, identify solutions to meet that opportunity and then execute on it. That’s the skills we are trying to teach through our entrepreneurship programs. I think this is why we got the ranking. Our programs are a combination of academic rigor as well as hands on practice.”

The bar graph is dead.

It’s a bygone relic of an era intimidated by 1.28 billion Facebook members and 3 billion computer users globally. These numbers are not as daunting as they once were; rather, they are now the tools used to determine anything from favorite food to political preference.

This is big data, the new face of statistical and computational analysis.

Big data is the collection of data sets so large that it is difficult to process them with traditional methods. As the volume, velocity and variety of these sets increases, so does the need for informed analytics.

The Fox School of Business created the Big Data Institute for just this purpose.

In existence for more than a year, and with the assistance of seed money provided by Temple University Provost Hai-Lung Dai, the Big Data Institute strives to blend several programs and encourage natural synergies among big data researchers, students and firms, while seeking to become a global leader in research, education, industry practice, and technology transfer of big data.

For Dr. Paul A. Pavlou, Senior Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives at the Fox School of Business, the Institute represents a year of work supporting students and professors engaged with large data.

“The amount of data created in just an hour or minute is tremendous. We need new techniques and approaches to make sense of this data,” Pavlou said.

The Institute has five centers with individual specializations that include big data usage in mobile analytics, social media, health sciences, oncology research, statistics and biomedical informatics. These centers have used big data to connect brain imaging to successful advertisements, to use technology to create vast amounts of DNA for clinical study, and, in the School Tourism Hospitality and Management, to decrease dissatisfaction in the leisure industry, among other research projects.

“One of the unique advantages we have is that the Statistics department is housed in Fox. We try to leverage that to have different conversations,” Pavlou said.

The Institute and its centers are funded by data enthusiasts from Temple University, the federal government, affiliated firms and commercial groups, as well as start-ups the Institute helped get off the ground. With the aid of these associates, and partners in the private sphere, the Institute seeks to continue its research into cutting-edge data analysis.

In its pursuit of this goal, the Institute’s Center for Web and Social Media Analytics has capitalized on the data generated each minute from the 74 percent of adults using social media.

For Dr. Sunil Wattal, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS), this data is critical. “There is not a whole lot of awareness of what firms can do with social media,” Wattal said. “The Center provides firms with a way to quantify the value of social media and use the data to derive some interesting insights about their business.”

The Center logs onto social media to help firms such as Aerospace to understand consumer tendencies at the microscopic level. Combing through Twitter or flicking through Instagram, the Center decrypts consumer preferences for the latest fitness craze to political party affiliation. This data is then synthesized into something that anyone, from pollsters to yogis, can use to further their goals.

A key area of research, said Wattal, is how a crowdfunding organization can convince more people to donate to campaigns. Chief among the Center’s findings is that, contrary to the belief that Internet popularity grows exponentially, the more popular a campaign, the less likely it is to receive more funding. Working with a particular company, the Center has proposed design changes to combat this issue.

“There’s a community that gets created on these sites, and you can measure how people influence each other,” said Wattal.

In 2015, the Center will use funds received from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to host a big data and privacy conference, bringing together federal agencies, online giants such as Google, and interested parties to discuss personal privacy in the Big Data age.

To keep students abreast of the latest in data analysis, the Fox School’s MIS department has introduced its newest university-wide course, Data Science. It is available to all students and has allowed business students to improve their data usage in the business world.

“We’re constantly surrounded by data. If you can get the average employee to take this data and get some insight on their own you can give them an advantage over the rest,” said Dr. David Schuff, Associate Professor of MIS and instructor for the Data Science and Data Analytics courses.

Schuff said he begins with the basics – teaching business majors and minors in his Data Analytics course how to use data-mining software, like SAS Enterprise Miner, to examine data and identify its pertinent characteristics.

“We want them to be able to look at cause-effect relationships in business data and use some basic tools to analyze that data and use the results to make better decisions,” Schuff said.

Using the basic skills Schuff teaches, students can use data to examine consumer preferences, such as using sales receipts to predict which goods are bought in tandem and how strategic sales can maximize profits. Broadening the scope, if politicians want to know a Facebook friend’s electoral value, they need someone who can use big data to decipher the sentiment behind a Facebook post. For Schuff, this person is someone who is, “comfortable with data,” and can fuse tools gleaned in business classes to decode the human psyche.

Data professionals “know what you can do with data and so they know how to support the marketing function. These people aren’t going to be just data scientists, …but business people who are working with data,” Schuff said.

Schuff aims for his students to move beyond the bar graph- and pie chart-models to create and analyze more sophisticated visualizations to better integrate data in their professional lives. These students get hands-on experience using SAS products, as well as Tableau software, both of which are currently used in the analytics industry.

“We really want people to touch the tools they would be using in industry so they can speak from experience,” Schuff said.

To Yasmine Mustafa, launching a successful business venture is more than entrepreneurship; it’s the pursuit of a freedom that’s unavailable in other professions.

Mustafa, an accomplished entrepreneur, uses this freedom to make life a productive experience. And she doesn’t take freedom for granted.

A 2006 alumna of the Fox School of Business, Mustafa has taken the Philadelphia start-up scene by storm, having launched three successful ventures in the past eight years. Following graduation, she won Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB) in 2010 with her premiere venture, 123LinkIt. She also holds the record for the most “Innovative Idea” awards from Temple University, with three consecutive wins, from 2006-2008.

“What I used to do at Temple is jot down every idea I ever had,” said Mustafa, 32. “A lot of ideas I worked on were around things I experienced.”

To appreciate Mustafa’s entrepreneurial spirit is to understand its origins. A refugee of the Persian Gulf War, Mustafa and her family immigrated to the United States in 1990. Settling in Royersford, the family of eight owned and operated a 7-Eleven franchise where Mustafa eventually worked as a cash-register operator. Despite her humble start, Mustafa believes immigrating to America allowed her to “cheat the birth lottery.” In her native country, of Kuwait, Mustafa said, women were expected to attend high school, agree to an arranged marriage and start a family. Owning a business, she said, would never have been in the cards.

“My life had already been planned for me,” Mustafa said. “I think about that a lot.”

Despite her refugee status, Mustafa was labeled an illegal immigrant when her parents failed to apply for refugee citizenship. She was subsequently denied financial aid to assist in the college admission process. Her father, who did not approve of his daughter’s career choices, abruptly halted her tuition payments before leaving the family to return to Kuwait. Mustafa worked 70-hour weeks in under-the-table jobs to pay her way through Montgomery County Community College, where she maintained a 3.8 grade-point-average and earned an Associate’s degree, and eventually Temple’s Fox School of Business.

After seven years of juggling work and school, Mustafa had a Fox education and was prepared for her professional career.

“Working under-the-table, blue-collar jobs gives you immense motivation to be your own boss,” Mustafa said in a post on her blog,

Mustafa credits the late Chris Pavlides, former Program Director of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), for nurturing her innovative spirit upon her arrival at Fox. Pavlides, to whom Mustafa refers as her first mentor, helped refine her ideas. Mustafa graduated magna cum laude and received Temple’s “Entrepreneurship Award,” a prestigious honor given to the single graduate with the highest grade-point-average in their specific major. Coupled with her three-year internship experience with Team and a Dream, a Philadelphia-based marketing company, Mustafa networked in the business world before pursuing her first business venture, 123LinkIt.

An online service that maintains bloggers’ operational responsibilities, 123LinkIt grew until Netline Corporation acquired it in 2011, thus freeing Mustafa to continue creating.

Currently she empowers today’s female entrepreneurs through her work as leader of Philadelphia’s chapter of Girl Develop It, an organization that advances women’s interests in the technology industry and caters to women looking to get into software development.

“I’m passionate about women’s issues because of where I’m from and … the inequality that exists,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa’s newest venture,, is specifically geared toward women. A customizable device intended for women to wear, the module connects to an app that triggers an alarm and calls the authorities in the event of an attack. Mustafa said the inspiration for the device came after learning of a sexual assault that had taken place on a neighborhood block she frequented.

“The idea just clicked on how to use technology to make self-defense better,” Mustafa said.

As takes off, Mustafa returned to Temple in October to speak at the League for Entrepreneurial Women’s annual conference. Sharing a personal anecdote of buying candy from her father’s 7-Eleven and selling it to classmates for twice its price, Mustafa said she believes daily life presents an opportunity for entrepreneurship.

Drawing upon her time at the Fox School, Mustafa remains undaunted in the competitive entrepreneurship market and actively engages with her consumer base. Money, power and prestige aside, Mustafa’s only goal is “to leave an impact on the world,” she said.