On a brisk, fall morning, 30 crisply-dressed Fox School of Business graduates and friends gathered for a Breakfast With Fox & TWN event on the topic of executive presence, at Temple University Center City.

Over breakfast, Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership and a member of Temple Women’s Network (TWN), presented Executive Presence–Do You Have IT? How To Cultivate the IT Factor In You. She discussed the concept of authenticity, and when pressed had this to say:

“I don’t think authenticity is worn out as a buzzword. When we get to its essence, buzzwords should be retired when we have achieved a certain level of understanding and I view authenticity as being tied to integrity, in which we’re making progress but still have a long way to go.”

Barksdale shared a few tangible resources, including an online quiz, “Test Your Executive Presence”, and also encouraged attendees to lead with their values, and discover their own answers to the following three questions:

  1. What is executive presence?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How can you cultivate it?

Ashley Rivera, IME ’18, was one of the millennials in attendance. She commented on how important networking opportunities were to her career progression and how crucial it was to  keep her network relevant after graduate school.

“I worked so hard for my degree—am I going to be a leader?” she wondered.

Like many other recent Fox School graduates, Rivera has experience working in startups and is hoping to create her own business. While at Fox, she attended events like the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, which helped to instill her with a self-confidence that she could eventually turn an idea into a viable business.

“I know I can add value to a company with my leadership skills,” she said. “I have a diverse knowledge base and a strong group of supportive colleagues and former classmates.”

During her presentation, Barksdale—a certified life coach, encouraged people like Rivera to cultivate an executive presence by “ACE-ing” it.

Awareness, know what your skills are,” said Barksdale. “Commit to make changes in areas you’d like to improve. And exercise your new skills until you’ve achieved the desired level of improvement.”

Former risk management student Derek Jones, BBA ’09, walked away feeling inspired.

“Allison said things about expressing your personality and to use that as an advantage,” he said. “In previous jobs, I found that I didn’t fit the culture. I think it’s important to be self-aware and inspire change or make a change if necessary.”

Barksdale thinks current Fox School students should work on developing three specific leadership qualities in order to jump-start their careers.

“Students should invest in developing competence, poise, and emotional intelligence,” she said. “Those skills will really help them with self-awareness and control as managers and leaders.”

Next up for Fox networking events will be the Holiday Party, hosted by the Fox School of Business Alumni Association on December 13th, from 5:30-8 p.m at The Acorn Club (1519 Locust St.). Early bird tickets are available until 11/23 here.

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Thomas Edison once said: “There’s a way to do it better—find it.”

Isn’t that what all of us discover in business? There is always a better way to fuel your innovation, spark your creativity, and foster growth. Each opportunity creates a new situation, and these situations will result in something new or different.

It’s important to remain aware of these situations, to help maximize your personal and professional opportunities. As a Fox School alum, you are rooted in an institution that encourages self-awareness and hardwork.

Those situations are manifested by the Fox School of Business Alumni Association.
Want to visit campus? Take a tour of the facilities, and meet with faculty and Fox School Student Ambassadors.
Want to support current students? Act as a mentor, or subject-matter expert.
Want to engage with fellow alumni? Join the FSBAA as a volunteer, or pursue a Director-at-Large position.

All of these outlets present opportunities to demonstrate your creativity and talents, make connections with current and past students, and potentially advance your career.

As Temple University founder Russell Conwell wrote in his famous “Acres of Diamonds”: “You can journey to the ends of the earth in search of success, but if you’re lucky, you will discover happiness in your own backyard.”

I encourage you to return to your collegiate backyard at Temple University and the Fox School of Business.


Jack Cesareo
Jack Cesareo

Jack Cesareo
Jack Cesareo

“No matter what you do, do it to your utmost. I always attribute my success to always requiring myself to do my level best, if only in driving a tack in straight.”

Russell Conwell, Temple University’s founder, said those very words. Entrepreneurship and innovation are analogous with the Fox School of Business and Temple University, where doing things to our utmost is essential.

The Fox School’s commitment to preparing students to innovate through their management (entrepreneurship) or through the management of an organization

(intrapreneurship) has been a highlight, manifesting in two recent rankings. The undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs earned Nos. 8 and 10 national rankings from The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Entrepreneurship is present throughout Fox and the university. The Fox Online MBA was recently ranked No. 1 for the second year in a row. And Temple University’s 10th President, Dr. Neil Theobald, has made “entrepreneurship across disciplines” one of his six commitments to power Temple’s future.

As you have seen — and will continue to see — Temple alumni have embraced the entrepreneurial drive.

This drive is within you, too. Temple’s motto, “Perseverance Conquers,” is a part of your life. You have the power. And here’s how you can take advantage of it: Mentor a student. The experience you possess is your greatest skill. Fox students are eager to learn from you, in whatever career path you’ve chosen to follow. Next, hire a Fox student. Doing so welcomes the next class of Owls into the professional world. And the collaboration will create more opportunities for you to innovate. Finally, visit campus and speak to our students. Fox’s student professional organizations create opportunities for students and alumni to connect beyond the board room and classroom.

Continue to connect, both with alumni and current students, and always remember that perseverance conquers.


Jack Cesareo
Jack Cesareo