Take me out to the ballgame? Why bother? An alumnus of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is bringing the game to you.
Jonathan Retano, MBA ‘02, is the co-founder of Fun Fieldz LLC, a mobile entertainment venture that converts backyards into ballfields for functions of any size.
“It really started when my wife would drag me to family barbecues, and I was bored,” said Retano, who studied Finance at Fox. “I started getting materials together to build a mobile Wiffle Ball field and, right from the get-go, we would have fun at these parties rather than talking about refinancing a mortgage.”
Retano’s wife, Melissa, who earned her PhD in 2009 from Temple’s School of Media and Communications, may have been his inspiration, but it wasn’t until Retano received encouragement from a friend, Dante Parenti, to turn his idea into a business that Fun Fieldz’ potential was realized. Co-founders Retano and Parenti, with additional support from partner Aaron Keller, got Fun Fieldz off the ground in 2012.
The concept is unique. Retano and Fun Fieldz bring the ballfield accouterments to your function, setting up and cleaning up without clients ever having to lift a finger.
If folks fancy baseball, Retano’s team draws the chalk lines, raises an outfield fence, sets up foul poles and drops the bases for an authentic ballpark experience for the Wiffle Ball enthusiast. (There’s even a strike zone situated behind home plate, so there’s no need for an umpire to call the game.) If football is on the menu, Retano paints the field with yardlines, puts downs pilons to distinguish the end zone and even erects uprights for participants to kick extra points and field goals. If the sport of choice is soccer, the set-up is a less cumbersome and requires only field lines and goals at each end. But to make it more authentic, the field’s perimeter is adorned with advertising that one might see at a European soccer match.
“It’s fun to take kids who are used to computer games and then watch them hit a home run,” said Retano, who resides in East Norriton, Pa. “It’s just amazing to see the smiles on their faces. And then parents get involved, too. That’s what we love about our business, is that it’s for all ages.”
Additional features to the experience include: a master-of-ceremonies who announces lineups prior to game time, providing color commentary and playing organ music; specialized packages that include custom cakes and banners; and indoor options for events scheduled during the winter.
Fun Fieldz also posts statistics from the games to their website. (So after your family party or company cookout, the home run you smacked over the fence may have been long, long gone, but the memory of it won’t be.)
The crowning achievement in the company’s brief history occurred earlier this year, when Retano and Fun Fieldz had six ballfields running simultaneously at a home-and-school association event at an elementary school in Warrington, Pa.
“We thought we might’ve stretched ourselves a little thin there,” said Retano, whose day job is in managed care for a pharmaceuticals company. “But we pulled it off.”
Fun Fieldz’ reach is limited to the Greater Philadelphia region – for now
“We’ve been talking to a consultant on how to franchise this opportunity,” Retano said. “While we’re focused on improving our product locally, we’re looking for how to expand it, too. We have been able to hit other market segments besides birthday parties including corporate picnics, summer camps, community days and, most proudly, providing fun events for special-needs children.
“If you do something fun, you never have to work a day in your life.”
A defining moment, early in Peter Gurt’s life, shaped his career path in many unexpected ways.
The youngest of eight children from Northeast Philadelphia, Gurt had a non-traditional upbringing. His father, Ray, died prior to Gurt’s second birthday. To make ends meet, and on a family friend’s suggestion, Gurt’s mother enrolled him and his two brothers in the Milton Hershey School, a private boarding school located in Hershey, Pa., where children from low-income, disadvantaged backgrounds are offered an education free of cost.
What happened soon after helped shape Gurt’s life.
Rising above challenging moments and seizing afforded opportunities were skills that ensured Gurt’s story would have a happy ending.
He was provided a chance to study at Milton Hershey School, and later continued his education at Temple University.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunity to attend Milton Hershey School,” said Gurt, BBA ’89, “and as a first-generation college-goer, I was worried I wouldn’t have the wherewithal to persist and succeed (at Temple). I had those moments of doubt, but there were always professors around to plug me into an activity to keep me going. I have the fondest of memories from my time at Temple.”
At the time Gurt attended Milton Hershey School, it was a tight-knit, boys-only institution. Today, it serves children – grades pre-kindergarten through 12th – of all backgrounds. While its student population has changed, the Milton Hershey School has never altered its mission: to provide an education for children who are facing the strongest odds.
“Mr. Hershey once said that if his school could help 100 kids then it would be worthwhile,” Gurt said.
At Temple, and in what was then known as the School of Business and Management, Gurt found an institution steeped in similar educational traditions.
“I remember coming from a small, protective environment like Milton Hershey School, coming to a large, urban school, but with the same type of intimacy feel,” Gurt said. “I never felt like it was too big. It’s what made me feel at home here.”
Perhaps that was why Gurt was so pleased to announce a partnership between his two alma maters.
Labeled the College and Career Transition Program, which begins in the spring 2015 semester, 16 seniors from Milton Hershey School will complete a general-education courseload of 15 college credits through Temple University Harrisburg. Professors from TU Harrisburg will teach the courses, in subjects like math, English, U.S. society and psychology, on Milton Hershey School’s campus.
The program will run annually, between Milton Hershey School seniors and Temple University Harrisburg professors.
“One of the things we wanted to establish for our seniors was the opportunity to earn those credits under our supervision, support and guidance, before they even technically graduate from high school,” Gurt said.
“One of the reasons we chose Temple,” he added, “was it has been exceptionally successful with our students. We serve approximately 450 students from the (Philadelphia) area, so it’s close to their home. Twenty of our grads are enrolled at Temple, and Temple has a high success rate with our students in terms of graduating on time and helping them find jobs after college.”
The College and Career Transition Program will give select Milton Hershey School students a leg up, a concept to which most of them are probably unfamiliar.
“Kids who grow up in an environment where they are disadvantaged need champions and cheerleaders, too,” Gurt said. “Both Milton Hershey School and Temple University provided that for me, and gave me the strength to convince myself that I could succeed even after I hit that first wall.
“Temple was a special place for me in my life, and to have students start their college educations there is terrific.”
A PhD student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business proved she can stand out in a crowd.
Michelle Andrews received the Best Conference Paper Award at the 2014 American Marketing Association Summer Educator Conference Aug. 2 in San Francisco.
Andrews’ paper, titled, “Using Mobile Technology to Crowdsense,” employed crowdedness as an environmental factor that affects how people respond to mobile advertisements. The study for her research paper, which was co-authored by Xueming Luo, a Professor of Marketing in the Fox School’s Marketing and Supply Chain Management department, was conducted within subway trains.
In the context of a subway train, the measurement of crowdedness – a sometimes-abstract entity in research, Andrews remarks – becomes more precise.
“The reason we chose the subway train context was that it was unique,” said Andrews, who will earn her PhD in Marketing from the Fox School in Spring 2015. “During a subway commute, you’re surrounded by others in a public environment with little to do.”
Andrews, who signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding her research paper, could not specify which specific subway system she used for her research paper, but noted it was located in southeastern China, where, as Andrews pointed out, subways are mobile-equipped. That enabled Andrews and her co-authors to determine the number of mobile users within the specific dimensions of a subway train.
“We predicted crowdedness would increase immersion into mobile devices,” she explained. “We found that in congested trains, purchase rates were significantly higher than in uncongested ones.”
Andrews’ winning paper was co-authored by Zheng Fang, of China’s Sichuan University and Anindya Ghose, of New York University.
Also at the conference, Andrews’ research papers earned two further distinctions. The same paper that received the conference’s overall Best Paper Award also garnered the Best Track Paper Award in the Digital Marketing & Social Media track. Another of her research papers, titled “The Effectiveness of Cause Marketing” received the Best Track Paper Award in the Social Responsibility & Sustainability track.
“Michelle is so hard-working and innovative in her thinking for what’s coming next for the Marketing discipline, and the Best Conference Paper Award recognizes her for that,” Dr. Luo said. “Hopefully, this significant award will be influential, not only for our school but also for marketing on the whole, in demonstrating how to connect with consumers anytime, anywhere.”
Hundreds of leading management and organization scholars will descend upon Philadelphia, and professors from Temple University’s Fox School of Business professors will be among them.
Philadelphia serves as the host city for the 74th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, which runs Aug. 1-5.
More than 25 Fox School professors will participate in the meeting in various capacities, such as presenters, panelists, and distinguished speakers. One of them is David Schuff, who serves as Academic Director of Fox’s Executive DBA program, will serve as a distinguished speaker for Saturday’s session titled, “DBA’s Critical Success Factors: Spanning Research and Practice.” TL Hill, Associate Professor of Strategic Marketing, will be a discussant on that same panel.
“The Academy of Management is a large, interdisciplinary conference. The wide range of faculty participating in the conference demonstrates the diversity of expertise within our school,” said Dr. Schuff, who’s also an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems.
Representatives from Fox School’s Strategic Management department expected to participate include: At “International Management Thought Leadership,” Associate Professor Susan Feinberg will be the distinguished speaker; Gerry F. Lenfest Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Mitrabarun Sarkar will participate in a talk titled, “Business Policy and Strategy Division Dissertation Consortium”; at “An Evolving Landscape: The Reconfiguration of Global Value Chain Activity,” Professor Ram Mudambi will be a discussant; at “CSR and Sustainability in Asia,” Associate Professor Nicolas Dahan will serve as chair; and Associate Professor Sheryl Winston Smith will chair “New Venture Learning Through Accelerators, VCs and Universities,” among others.
Alter Hall, home of the Fox School, is also slated to host a variety of events throughout the meeting, from doctoral consortia to a professional development workshop. Attendees are looking forward to showcasing the accomplishments and innovation of the Fox School.
“It’s exciting to share what we’ve done at Fox in launching the new Executive DBA program and to learn what others are doing,” said Dr. Schuff. “Research-intensive, practice-focused DBA programs are still a novel concept within business schools, especially in the United States. Taking an active role in the community of schools launching these programs is important to our program’s success.”
For a full list of meeting proceedings, click here.
A research paper authored by a current PhD student at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has earned international acclaim.
Pauline Milwood recently received the Best Paper Award at the second biennial Advances in Destination Management Conference, for her paper titled, “Knowledge, Innovation and the Role of the Destination Management Organization: Integrating Stakeholder and Network Perspectives.”
A PhD student with a concentration in Tourism and Sport, Milwood was honored at the conference, which took place June 11-13, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. She co-authored the paper with her advisor, Dr. Wesley S. Roehl, a professor from Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
“It felt extremely gratifying (to be recognized),” Milwood said. “The PhD program is extremely grueling. It kind of makes the thorns and challenges that develop in the process of doing research all worth it in the end.”
The paper integrates stakeholder and network perspectives to examine the role played by destination management organizations (DMOs) in developing competitive advantage. Ultimately, the paper suggests that DMOs should utilize more involvement and collaboration engagement strategies and less control and monitoring engagements strategies to influence successful innovation outcomes among destination partners.
The research has implications for a wide range of entities, according to Milwood.
“The dynamic of government, business, and local residents’ roles comes into play when we’re talking about innovation development of a tourism area,” Milwood said.
In addition to its practical implications, the research enhances the theoretical ideas of network and stakeholder theorists.
“There is benefit to blending theories to better understand both structure and process dynamics of these relationships among public, private and third-sector interests, specifically as it relates to developing innovation in tourism,” Milwood said.
The Journal of Destination Marketing and Management, within which the paper will likely be published, co-sponsored the award.
Fox Executive Programs Now in Center City
Discussed in this issue:
• International business scholar Ram Mudambi shows another side in The Empire of the Zon
• Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® Awards $225,000 to mobile tech platform for autistic children
• Fox alumnus a major player in inspiring Disney’s Million Dollar Arm movie
Most college-bound students opt to spend their summer months coasting into the next stage of their lives. Coasting doesn’t suit Ryan Rist. Coasters, on the other hand…
An incoming freshman student at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Rist turned his senior capstone project at Brookfield High School in Brookfield, Conn., into an exercise in entrepreneurialism.
And along the way, he has earned recognition from national TV and print media.
The 18-year-old is the founder of Rist Custom Coasters, a drink coaster with a rubberized circular bottom and a felt insert. The inserts, which can be personalized to the customer’s liking using logos or family pictures, for example, absorb run-off and keep moisture from collecting on the surface of a coffee table.
Brookfield High School encourages its graduating seniors to engage in a capstone project for the final three weeks of their high school careers, during which students can accept an internship, perform an independent study or complete community service.
Rist, who will study Finance at Fox School, said he had kicked around his coaster creation for six months prior to the capstone, and decided he would use his three-week capstone to finalize the design of his prototype.
“That’s when my dad (Ken) and I used a lathe in our basement and made the design out of acrylic,” Rist said. “Then we poured liquid rubber onto that, and we were left with the mold.”
Seeking additional funding, Rist turned to Kickstarter, an online funding platform. He set the fundraising bar at $500, for a product design to which he committed $1,200 in personal funds. In the first two hours, Rist cleared $500. He’s since garnered 167 backers who pledged more than $3,500.
“I had known about Kickstarter for a while,” he said, “and I was wanting to put a product of my own on there. When I had my idea for improved drink coasters, I knew it was a product that I could actually develop, yet still be worthy to put on Kickstarter.”
Showing a shade more of his ingenuity, Rist said he conducted most of his promotional work through Twitter, establishing a way that new followers to his account would receive a direct message encouraging them to visit his coaster page at Kickstarter.
Rist has developed a fanbase – internationally, domestically and in his hometown. He said he has filled orders originating from 35 states and 15 foreign countries. He also drawn praise from Sue Troupe, Brookfield High School’s school-to-career coordinator.
“He is an amazing high school student,” Troupe said, in an interview with The Danbury (Conn.) News Times. “In my 23 years at Brookfield High School, I have seen many students come up with fantastic ideas, but not take the next difficult steps.”
Fox News CT has covered Rist’s entrepreneurial exploits. So has the Fox Business Network, which included his coasters in the “American Success” feature in the July 16 broadcast of Making Money with Charles Payne.
“I didn’t know what to expect or how many people would buy a set,” Rist said. “I was hoping to at least make my money back, maybe make $1,000 or $2,000. Making $3,500 (through Kickstarter) was a pleasant surprise.”
For those interested in committing to Rist’s venture, his Kickstarter project has been closed, as he works to produce coasters to fulfill existing orders. Rist said he has plans to launch a website to offer the coasters.
When he arrives at Temple in August, Rist said he has aspirations of founding an entrepreneurial club, wherein members would take an idea and turn to Kickstarter in attempt to sustain a business model.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“A little,” Rist said, “except this time, I’d be operating it with the help of a group of people.”
Fortunately for Rist, programs like this are available at Temple.
In Creativity and Organizational Innovation, a general-education course, students produce mock Kickstarter pitches as a final project. Robert McNamee, associate professor of Strategic Management, worked with members of the Entrepreneurial Student Association (ESA) and Innovate & Create Living Learning Community (LLC) to prototype a for-students, by-students Crowdfunding support program in 2013-14. ESA, which is open to all Temple students, serves as a springboard toward learning, networking and launching start-ups. CLL offers freshmen a chance to live in a residence hall with like-minded students, with a focus on entrepreneurship.
“Early entrepreneurship is getting over fears and putting your idea out there,” said McNamee, who also serves as managing director of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute at Temple. “It’s fantastic to see somebody in high school, like Ryan, putting their idea out there and testing the waters to see what happens. This is the epitome of the Lean Startup approach—launch a minimum viable product, gather evidence and feedback, pivot, and scale up.”
Floor-to-ceiling windows at The HUB at Commerce Square accentuate the views of Market Street from one of its many breakout rooms. Even on a soggy night, the sight was something to behold.
“Just amazing,” one current Executive MBA student was overheard saying to himself.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business welcomed more than 100 guests to The HUB for a July 15 reception, celebrating the Executive MBA’s relocation and the Executive DBA program’s launch. Both programs will be housed at the innovative executive meeting facility, located at 20th and Market streets.
This marks the first time in nearly three decades that Fox School’s EMBA has been offered within the city limits, moving the program from the suburbs to Center City.
Current and prospective students, faculty and alumni took in The HUB’s lush facilities and modern amenities on ushered tours of its second-floor suites. In close proximity to major interstate highways, AMTRAK, SEPTA Regional Rail and the Philadelphia International Airport, The HUB will foster an expanded market reach for Fox School’s EMBA program, which earned a top-20 ranking nationally by Financial Times.
The new location also will cater to Fox School’s vision for a greater global reach, with an MBA program opening in early 2015 in Seoul, South Korea, and another following soon thereafter in Beijing, China. Global MBA students have the option to enroll in courses at any other locations offered by Fox, and The HUB will make Philadelphia a more-attractive option for international students, said Howard Weiss, the academic director of Fox School’s EMBA program.
“It’s much better to have the program in the city and it will prove to be much easier, especially for when we have events at The HUB and (Main Campus),” Weiss said. “We look forward to building a strong partnership here at The HUB for many years to come.”
A vibrant business center located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia, The HUB features comprehensive communication services and state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment.
Primary classroom spaces are fitted with moveable, whiteboard walls, which give way to expansive breakout areas. Equipped with free, high-speed wireless Internet access throughout, The HUB also is in partnership with Stephen Starr Events to provide a top-tier, on-site dining experience. Tours of The HUB concluded at its deluxe 120-seat auditorium.
The HUB will house the 16-month EMBA and the three-year, part-time EDBA programs, the latter of which will start its first cohort in September.
Sharon Guess, a resident of Chestnut Hill, couldn’t help but consider how differently her time in the program – which she refers to as “a life-changing experience” – would have been, had The HUB’s prime location been available to her.
“This is an amazing environment … and it makes everything that much easier,” said Guess, a 2010 Fox EMBA alumna and a senior project manager with the School District of Philadelphia. “This is a good move.”
A recent graduate of the PhD program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has received international acclaim for her research paper.
Dr. Dan Zhang, a 2012 PhD alumna of the Fox School, recently was recognized as the runner-up for the Christer Karlsson Best Paper Award for her paper titled, “Affect, Attitude, and Meaning: Assessing the Universality of Aesthetic Design in a Transnational Marketing Context.”
Dr. Zhang, who co-authored the paper with Fox School marketing professors Dr. Anthony Di Benedetto and Dr. Eric Eisenstein, was honored at the 21st International Product Development Management Conference, which ran June 15-17 in Limerick, Ireland.
“I am so grateful for all the support I received from the school, the professors, the staff, the study participants, and my dearest family, as I was working on this project,” Dr. Zhang said. “I am especially thankful to my dissertation committee, who supported and helped me unconditionally.”
“I am also very thankful to my colleagues, who provided valuable comments and encouragement when I was presenting the early stage results of this project at the Design Conference organized by the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary. Without the support and help from so many people, I would not have been where I am today.”
The award recognizes the best papers submitted to the IPDMC. Dr. Zhang’s paper stemmed in part from her dissertation at the Fox School of Business, focusing on the universality of design.
Her research investigated the prevalence of the affect, attitude and meaning of designs in a product context. Zhang compared the responses of Chinese and American consumers to product designs produced by Chinese and U.S.-based designers. She found the affect toward a design tended to be consistent regardless of culture, but attitude – and especially meaning – of a design were difficult to translate across cultural lines and national borders.
“It is important for firms selling into the global market to understand if there are cultural differences in response to product design, or whether a single design will elicit similar responses across cultures,” Dr. Zhang said. “The results are important to global companies making decisions about product design outsourcing and about which designers to include on the product team.”
The paper has not yet been published. Dr. Zhang said she plans to soon submit the paper for review, to a quality marketing academic journal.
Ask people to describe the quintessential leader and it’s unlikely you will hear the word “passive.”
One reason that passivity and leadership are not equated is that a passive manager can cause a host of problems. According to researchers at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, one such problem is the increase of workplace incivility, with docile managers at the root of these occurrences.
In their paper, “The Effects of Passive Leadership on Workplace Incivility,” Assistant Professor and Cigna Research Fellow Crystal Harold and Assistant Professor Brian Holtz write that passive managers both directly and indirectly influence the amount of workplace incivility employees will experience.
“We were interested in studying workplace incivility and, more specifically, factors that might promote the occurrence of incivility,” Harold said, “because, let’s face it – just about everyone has either been treated rudely at work, treated someone else rudely at work, or both. There are people out there who likely think that these sorts of behaviors are fairly innocuous, but available data would suggest otherwise.”
Harold and Holtz’s research has broad implications. A recent poll, conducted by Georgetown University researchers Christine Porath and Christine Pearson in a 2013 article, “The Price of Incivility,” suggests that 98 percent of North American employees have experienced incivility in the workplace. Incivility covers behaviors ranging from eye-rolling to checking emails during a meeting, and while these behaviors may seem innocuous, incivility in the workplace takes a toll.
Prior incivility research, upon which Harold and Holtz drew for their paper, which is in press at the Journal of Organizational Behavior, indicates that those who experience incivility have intentionally decreased their work effort and the quality of their work. Incivility has been shown to have a negative impact on job satisfaction, physical and mental well-being and turnover.
It is not only employees who are impacted by incivility. Managers of Fortune 1000 companies report spending 13 percent of their time addressing the consequences of instances of incivility, according to the paper by Porath and Pearson.
“Because incivility has negative psychological and physical effects on victims and is costly for organizations, it is important that we begin to understand why incivility occurs in the first place. What conditions foster an uncivil work environment?” Holtz said. “It made sense to us that leadership would be an important and significant variable to consider.”
Harold and Holtz conducted two studies in which they surveyed employees, as well as their co-workers and supervisors, to determine the role played by passive management in workplace incivility. The studies found a positive relationship between passive leadership and experienced incivility. In addition, the results indicate that employees who experience incivility are more likely to behave indecently themselves.
“We found that the experience of being treated with incivility coupled with working for a passive manager significantly increased the likelihood that an employee would both behave with incivility, as well as engage in withdrawal behaviors such as showing up to work late, or even calling out when not actually sick,” Holtz said. “The bottom line is that in the process of doing nothing, these types of managers are actually doing a lot of damage.”
Since those who experience incivility in the workplace display increased levels of behavioral incivility, Harold and Holtz found that passive managers may indirectly foster a workplace culture where employees feel that it is okay to behave rudely toward co-workers. In light of their findings, the research paper’s co-authors offered advice to organizations that wish to diminish instances of workplace incivility.
“First, you have to educate your employees and management that these seemingly harmless behaviors are anything but,” Harold said. “Training employees, and importantly managers, to recognize what incivility is, is an important first step.”
Added Holtz: “Make clear which behaviors constitute incivility, clarify the consequences for engaging in these behaviors, and adopt a zero-tolerance policy. This is where managerial training comes into play. Managers must learn to intervene when employees are behaving badly toward one another and quickly take punitive action against offenders.”
The responsibility rests with the manager to set a good example, according to Harold. Employees frequently take behavioral cues from supervisors and therefore, a manager’s actions can have unintended consequences.
“A company’s efforts to curb rudeness will be for naught if the manager is the one instigating the incivility,” Harold concluded.
The 4th Annual Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience (ISDN) was held at Stanford University in California June 6-7, marking the conference’s first West Coast appearance. Temple University and the Fox School of Business, home to the first three ISDN conferences, was once again the key sponsor for the event.
The conference organizing committee included Drs. Angelika Dimoka and Vinod Venkatraman from Temple University, Dr. Uma Karmarkar from Harvard University, Dr. Baba Shiv from Stanford University, and Dr. Carolyn Yoon from University of Michigan.
A conference specifically catered to researchers and academics interested in decision neuroscience had not existed prior to 2009. That’s when Dr. Dimoka worked with contacts from similar research backgrounds to host the first Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience.
With a well-attended and successful inaugural conference, organizers decided to host the event annually. Attendees of the ISDN conference included practitioners, researchers and academics across the neuroscience spectrum. The conference offered an opportunity to discuss study results and the best practices in their research work, as well as how to apply their results to clients and practitioners.
The ISDN is unique and aimed at a niche audience. The conference differs from a typical academic conference, at which faculty members simply present their research and receive feedback from other members.
“We invite practitioners to attend, because they are the people who translate the academic findings into solutions for real-world problems and business clients,” said Dr. Venkatraman, assistant professor of Marketing at the Fox School of Business, and co-organizer of the ISDN conferences. “We want practitioners and academic researchers to interact and network at the event, opening up opportunities for fruitful collaborations. The ISDN symposium is also a perfect opportunity for researchers and students interested in the decision neuroscience field to present their recent research findings and receive valuable feedback, as well as to network and form new research partnerships.”
Khoi Vo, a senior research associate at the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University, networked with practitioners during the ISDN conference, and discussed potential collaborative research work. Vo presented a paper during the conference on a research project that involved measuring the success of Super Bowl advertisements based on the activity of a consumer’s brain, using results found through fMRI studies.
“Part of my effort at the Center is to foster collaborative efforts with practitioners who are also interested in studying consumer decision making,” Vo said. “From our collaborations with industry, we have generated rich data sets that can provide valuable insights in this field. Though, it will be a challenge to integrate sensitive trade knowledge from industry with our data sets in peer-reviewed publications. Currently, we are in discussions to write up the results for the Super Bowl study.”
Vo also discussed the unique atmosphere of the conference.
“It was fascinating to see the potential research opportunities between academics and practitioners with respect to the research presented at the Symposium,” he said. “For the Super Bowl study that I co-presented with our industry collaborator, we received useful feedback from both academics and practitioners alike. More importantly, both groups were intrigued by our results and impressed that we did not make overstatements with these results. Overall, hearing positive feedback from leading academics and practitioners about our research was a great validation of not only our capabilities and efforts, but also of future collaborations.”
SangSuk Yoon, a Fox School of Business PhD student who works as a research assistant in the Center for Neural Decision Making, has attended the ISDN conference the past two years. Yoon presented a study he had completed with Dr. Venkatraman and Vo, in which they investigated the influences of aging on risky choices and its impact on decision-making.
“We received feedback from researchers in a variety of fields such as psychology, economics, business, and so on, which we’re taking into consideration to continue to develop our study further,” Yoon said.
Yoon, who recently attended an annual psychology conference of a larger scale, said the intimate size of the ISDN allowed for greater discussion.
“The psychology conference is relatively large, and although it allowed me to see studies from diverse fields, I barely had a chance to talk to any of the presenters,” he said. “At the ISDN conference I was able to discuss and share ideas with world-renowned presenters throughout the two days.”
When Bernard J. Milano, BS ’61, led the formation of the PhD Project in 1994 to support African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in attaining their business PhDs and becoming professors, there were fewer than 300 people of color in the country with doctorates in business.
As the PhD Project celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, more than 1,230 minority professors teach in business schools (slightly over 4 percent of the total), and there are about 330 minority doctoral students in business disciplines.
“We’ve multiplied the role models and the awareness, and more and more students are going to experience seeing a faculty member of color, which means that if they’re a person of color this might be a career they aspire to because they’ve experienced it firsthand,” said Milano, who in May 2014 received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fox School’s Department of Accounting.
The PhD Project includes five minority Doctoral Students Associations (DSAs) to support members who are pursuing business doctoral degrees in accounting, finance, information systems, management and marketing. The organization hosts summer conferences for doctoral students in conjunction with meetings of professional associations — for example, the American Accounting Association — so current doctoral students and those who are about to embark on their programs can establish their networks from the beginning.
The PhD Project also leads an invitation only conference in the fall for those considering applying to doctoral programs. Last year, the over 350 attendees could network with more than 100 U.S. doctoral programs.
“A doctoral program is like walking into a house with lots of rooms,” Milano said, emphasizing that for many students it’s a complete departure from their careers to shift focus to academics. “You don’t know what’s in the next room, and you might be shocked at what you see. We open all those doors so that even before a person starts, they know what happens at each successive stage so they have more confidence and more courage.” The supportive network pays dividends:
The completion rate among doctoral students affiliated with the PhD Project’s DSAs is approximately 90 percent. And 97 percent of PhD recipients who come through the PhD Project stay in academia, serving as role models and mentors on business-school faculty.
When Milano started the PhD Project, he was leading national recruiting for KPMG. During the five decades Milano has been with the firm, he has held positions of increasing responsibility, including national partner in charge of university relations and national partner in charge of human resources.
He is currently president and board member of the KPMG Foundation, which supports business schools and students with special emphasis on accounting programs; the KPMG Disaster Relief Fund, which provides funds to qualified charitable organizations and to KPMG partners and employees who have suffered financial losses due to natural disasters; and the PhD Project.
“People in the academic world have said this is the most powerful, most successful diversity initiative they have experienced, and when you think about it, we’ve put in a sustainable, long-term change,” said Milano, who was awarded the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education’s 2013 Advocacy Award.
“We know that when a person becomes a professor and stands in front of that classroom and teaches three sections a week over a 20-year career, they’re going to be impacting thousands of lives,” he added. “Almost all of us can point to a teacher or a professor who has turned our head and given us confidence to pursue a certain direction.” –Brandon Lausch
International exchanges are a common occurrence for Global Executive MBA (EMBA) students. For the first time, however, the Fox School has taken travel out of the equation and brought students from its Philadelphia campus together with those from its international campuses for a two-hour Global EMBA integration workshop using WebEx™ conference technology.
While distance learning and remote conferencing have both existed for years, very few EMBA programs have used these tools to unite students from around the globe into a live learning experience.
“We had already begun efforts to create more collaboration among our Global EMBA students through social media groups, expanded opportunities to study abroad and international immersion trips,” says Rebecca Beeman Geffner, director, International and Executive Programs, IGMS/CIBER, Fox School of Business. “There was still a desire, however, to simultaneously connect these students across time zones in a meaningful way. Based upon our success using WebEx™ for our Online MBA students we decided that this was the best tool for us to achieve our goal of an international, integrated experience for busy executives.”
The workshop – titled, “Frugal Innovations: Doing Well by Doing Good” – took place in late April and focused on how the power of business can be scaled to alleviate poverty and promote environmental sustainability.
“When I was asked to design and deliver the inaugural Global EMBA integration workshop I knew that I wanted to choose a subject that was new, universally important and appealing to EMBA students around the world,” explains MB Sarkar, PhD, the HF ‘Gerry’ Lenfest Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Academic Director of the Fox Global Immersions Program. “It was a challenging assignment but also very fulfilling and I think that the team and I succeed in pioneering an initiative that fits into Dean Moshe Porat’s vision of a Global EMBA program that mirrors the interconnected world.”
According to Dr. Sarkar, the preponderance of ‘wicked’ societal problems – poverty, access to healthcare, food and water shortages, and environmental challenges to name a few – is forcing a new compact between business and society.
“There is increasing emphasis on inclusive business, shared value and the triple bottom line,” he says. “More and more, innovations that are driving this approach are being seeded in emerging markets, which are extremely resource-constrained and house the majority of the world’s poor and under-served population. Interestingly, through a reversal of the traditional directionality of innovation, such ‘frugal innovations’ are increasingly finding application in the developed countries. To sensitize students to this shifting strategic paradigm, I decided to design the workshop around a frugal innovation-related challenge.”
In the weeks leading up to the workshop, WebEx™ test sessions were conducted with all participants to help avoid technical issues. Readings and specially recorded lecture videos by Dr. Sarkar were uploaded on a Blackboard site created specifically for this workshop. An Edmodo discussion board was also launched to generate excitement and start a dialogue about frugal innovation among students.
“Edmodo is like the academic version of Facebook,” says Geffner. “Using this, our students were able to share information and comments relative to the subject. There was strong participation on this forum both before and after the workshop.”
On the day of the event, 70 students and EMBA faculty members representing all five of the Fox School’s cohorts (U.S., Colombia, Singapore, Japan and France) logged into the workshop. The event was organized in the Fox School’s in-house studio and was successfully executed by the online team consisting of Darin Kapanjie, PhD, Dan Lantz, Chris Miano, Carly Haines and Kevin Donahue.
“Since we were working with three different time zones we had to choose a time and day – in this case Saturday – that worked for everyone,” says Geffner. “Students in the U.S. and Colombia were signing on in the morning while our cohorts in France and Asia were joining us in the afternoon and late evening.”
In addition to the lecture, which was presented by Dr. Sarkar in Philadelphia, the workshop included virtual breakout sessions.
“We used the registration list to separate students into 10 diverse groups in advance,” explains Geffner. “When it was time, we used WebEx™ to ‘move’ the members of each group into their own room where they could interact and share one another’s desktops.”
According to Geffner, the event was a resounding success with emails, text messages and posts on Facebook and LinkedIn circulating for weeks afterward. She gives much of the credit to the Fox School’s global partners for helping to market the course and shares that plans are already underway for additional workshops.
“It was not only the students who learned from this workshop,” she says. “While international travel will always be an integral component of the Global EMBA program and for global business in general, this experience certainly opened our eyes to other impactful ways in which we can successfully foster global exchange and dialogue among our executive students.”