Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
This month, Eller College undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students faced the exciting and bittersweet moment of leaving the UA behind to begin careers in business and public service. The Eller Times checked in with some of them to preview the next phase of their lives:
Concluding a year in which Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked it #1 overall in undergraduate entrepreneurship programs, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated innovation at its annual business plans competition and year-end event.
Business Plans Competition Winners Develop Commercialization Plans for UA Technologies
Two business plans based on technologies developed by UA BIO5 Institute scientists emerged as the undergraduate and graduate winners of the CB Richard Ellis / McGuire Entrepreneurship Business Plans Competition.
Undergraduate winners RediRipe developed a commercialization plan for a fruit ripeness indication system using a patented color-changing sticker invented by associate professor Mark Riley of agriculture and biosystems engineering. “The competition was in a sense a final for us,” says Sean Conway, general manager of RediRipe and BSBA Marketing ’07. “Entrepreneurs are competitive in nature, so we knew everyone was going to bring their best presentations to the competition. It was very gratifying winning number one.”
Graduate team winners Innovis Technologies LLC created a business plan for a patented technology used to identify microbial contamination such as E. coli in food and water in a fraction of the usual time. “Our product manager, Olin Feurbacher, was working on an application of the same technology in connection with bio-terrorism over summer 2006,” explains Rachana Gollapudi, MS Management Information Systems ‘07, the team’s marketing manager. “As a microbiologist, it occurred to him that one could extend the technology to detect the presence of microbes. We formed a team in September 2006.” The team is working with technology inventor Indraneel Ghosh and the UA Office of Technology Transfer in hopes of eventually launching Innovis.
The winning teams recently appeared on Inside Arizona Business. Click to view the program.
Middle School and High School Challenges Build Entrepreneurial Capacity in Youth
This year, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship also introduced a pair of programs designed to encourage middle school and high school students to think like entrepreneurs.
In the Pistor Middle School GATE Entrepreneurship Challenge, students identified a problem, the population affected by the problem, a proposed business solution, steps for validating the solution, and a list of needed resources to make it happen.
“The project was not about starting a business,” says McGuire Center director Sherry Hoskinson. “It was really about empowering these students to solve problems — whether personal or professional — and to also get them excited about attending college one day.”
The students identified a range of problems — one team of girls zeroed in on the hideous smell of nail polish, proposing a fruit-scented version that they would produce in fun-shaped bottles to further differentiate their product in a crowded market.
Hoskinson says she would like to expand the concept into an Idea Fair for middle schools across the region.
In the first Arizona Youth Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by the Eller College and 1st National Bank of Arizona, high schoolers statewide were invited to submit original business plans.
Sonja Wieduwilt, a senior at Canyon Del Oro High School in Tucson, earned top honors for her concept ― Application Advantage ― which combines online applications for colleges and universities nationwide to provide students with a more efficient college application process. Wieduwilt will use her $2,000 award for college expenses.
Southern Arizona Business Leaders Honored for Contributions to Entrepreneurial Growth
The McGuire Center event also annually recognizes business and academic leaders who contribute significantly to Arizona’s economy and entrepreneurial potential.
This year’s winners are:
Members of the MBA class of 2008 are at the mid-point of their Eller College careers — having immersed themselves in a chosen industry through the Business Intelligence Quotient (BIQ) project, they’ve applied those lessons in team-based field projects and are now beginning summer internships.
“For our field project for W.L. Gore, we worked on a market opportunity assessment for three medical device products,” says Sophia Jensen, who partnered with Nischal Kallapalli on the project. “My BIQ choice was Eli Lilly, and moving from that into this field project was perfect. It covered similar topics such as insurance reimbursement, FDA involvement, and barriers regarding direct sales and payment.”
Jensen says that her field project and her BIQ were in direct alignment with her career goals. “I would ultimately like to work in the pharmaceutical industry in a marketing position,” she says, “and both projects have been focused in the medical field and in marketing.”
Jensen will complete an internship assessing new market opportunities for optical science technologies in Mexico this summer. “Finishing the field project with great success has given me confidence that I will complete my internship with the same result,” she says.
Nelly Zapata and Brandon Quijada collaborated on a field project for Texas Instruments (TI). “The project was a profitability and revenue performance analysis study,” explains Zapata. “As I am in the process of learning about several industries — including manufacturing — working for TI was an excellent opportunity.”
Zapata will spend the summer in Manila completing an internship with Astec Power. “While the field project was not a deciding factor in my selection of the internship, the lessons I learned in the project will certainly be useful this summer,” she says.
“During the project, I had the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts learned in class to real-world practical situations,” she continues. “Practical application of concepts such as statistical regression analysis and price elasticity analysis has solidified the course content of several of my first-year classes.”
In addition, she says, it provided a valuable exercise in team-building. “Each of us made an effort to learn about each other and to improve the team's dynamics for the better of the group,” she says. “The result was a very productive and efficient team.”
Eller Undergraduate Programs closed another academic year with the annual A Night with the Stars event recognizing students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The following were named outstanding seniors:
Top honors for graduating seniors went to:
Two students from each of the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes were also recognized with the Philip Morris: Values in Action Award based on their exceptional motivation and leadership:
Academic student advisor Nancy Rochman and career initiatives coordinator Sarah Thompson were honored as Undergraduate Programs Team Members of the Year. Finance adjunct lecturer Don Seeley was recognized as the Don Wells Outstanding Faculty Mentor, finance senior lecturer Sharon Garrison was honored as the Tom Moses Outstanding Student Organization Advisor, and Senior finance lecturer Charles Ruscher was awarded the Gary Scrivner Excellence in Teaching Award.
Nita Umashankar (BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship ’04) was presented with The Leo B. Hart Humanitarian Award for her outstanding contribution to social justice and welfare. Umashankar is the founder of ASSET, a nonprofit organization that works to educate underprivileged children in India in information technology.
Chad Schneider (BSBA Marketing and Business Management ’03) was recognized with the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, and Alison Shvets (BSBA Management Information Systems ’01) was honored with the Excellence in Service Award. George Jensen (BSBA Management Information Systems ’87) was presented the Eller College Associate of the Year Award.
Congratulations to all of the outstanding students, faculty, and staff of Undergraduate Programs! View a complete list of award winners.
The Eller College prepares tomorrow's top executives for careers in business and public service — and corporations can connect with these future employees through sponsoring and underwriting activities.
In April, Studio 320 — the UA Advertising Federation student organization team — traveled to Colorado Springs to compete against seven schools in the 12th district finals of the American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition.
The team placed third overall. “This is the best the UA team has done in recent years,” says faculty advisor Ed Ackerley. “The group was fantastic.”
Co-presidents Gabrielle Pavelko (BSBA Marketing ’07) and Hartley Kurtz (BA Media Arts ’07) led the team, which prepared a comprehensive advertising campaign for Coke Classic aimed at multicultural youth.
“We received positive feedback from the representative from Coke,” says Pavelko. “He liked our ideas and thought we had good execution, but we took a lot of risks, and Coke takes a pretty traditional approach to its campaigns.”
The Studio 320 team came up with a hand sign for Coke that mirrors the lines on the logo — “So when you make the sign, it means throw me a Coke,” Pavelko explains — as well as limited-edition colored cans that tie to personality traits. “For example, if you’re a pink, you’re fun and flirty, and if you’re a green, you’re laid back,” she says.
The team wore black suits for the presentation, but accessorized with the color that matched his or her individual personality (Pavelko wore orange for spontaneity and risk-taking). They also conceptualized a Coke machine/photo booth.
“I’ve participated in this competition for three years now,” says Pavelko, who graduated this month and has a summer internship with Nordstrom. “I don’t think our content and presentation could have been any stronger.”
In April, the Graduate Student Council recognized Todd Sorenson (Ph.D. Economics ’07) for Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student Leadership. Price Fishback, Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics, nominated Sorenson for the award.
“As an economist, I am well aware of the benefits of specialization,” says Fishback. “Every once in a while, however, someone comes along who can do it all. Todd Sorensen is one of those people.”
Fishback says Sorenson is one of the top two students he has worked with in his 17 years at the UA. “Not only is he a superb teacher and research assistant, he is a quiet student leader who finds ways to lead and help all of his fellow students,” Fishback explains.
Sorenson started a user’s group for a new STATA statistical package, organizing brown bag seminars and posting the notes online for other users. In addition, says Fishback, “For the past several years Todd has served as the unofficial social chairman of our department. He has organized a whole series of outings that bring together students from different cohorts in the program.” Sorenson also set up sessions at leading conferences to highlight the work of his fellow graduate students.
Fishback says that Ph.D. students in economics typically don’t have publication credits before they finish, since they are working on dissertations independent from their advisors’ work. “Todd has already published one paper in a leading industrial organization journal that he co-authored with another graduate student,” says Fishback. “By the time he leaves The University of Arizona for his first job next fall, he will have written the equivalent of 2.5 dissertations.”
Sorenson has accepted a faculty position at the University of California, Riverside.
Earlier this month, MBA students and faculty gathered for an awards reception honoring exceptional contributions to the Eller MBA community.
The 2007 Graduate and Professional Education Teaching and Mentoring Award was presented to management and organizations professor Russell Cropanzano by the Graduate College in April. The award recognizes his teaching in the MBA and executive education programs, administrative contributions to curriculum development, and placement of doctoral students. “This award is a real honor for me because my students — and my colleagues — nominated me,” he says. “Sometimes when you’re up in front of a classroom you think you’re doing your best, but it’s wonderful to receive feedback to confirm that.”
The Eller MBA Faculty Leadership Award was presented to Price Fishback, Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics. “There are a lot of people here who are doing great work,” says Fishback. “I am honored to be considered a valuable contributor to the program.”
The MBA Distinguished Faculty Award was given to accounting associate professor Daniel Bens. “This is the first teaching award that I have received in my eight years as a professor,” says Bens. “I am honored.”
The Ray H. Johnson Award in Leadership was presented to Ben Sample, MBA ’07 and MBA Student Association president. Johnson and colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers established the prize to recognize individuals whose personal and professional leadership qualities have made a substantial difference at the College.
“As a leader, Ben is always looking for ways to collaborate and improve his community — whether he takes on the role of a strategic planner, or as an exercise in lateral leadership through the assistance and support he offers students, faculty, and staff,” says MBA director Brent Chrite.
“The selection committee must have had a difficult time selecting the recipient of this award,” says Sample. “For the past couple of years, I have been surrounded by amazing leaders, people who have taught me more about leadership than I could have ever expected. I am honored to have been recognized as one of the leaders of the class of 2007. This award, coupled with graduation, signifies the end of an amazing chapter in my life, one that will continue to affect me forever.” Sample accepted a position with Emerson Electric as a project manager.
The Rogers Award in Community Service was presented to Jennie Melrod, MBA ’07. Rogers established the award to pay tribute to MBA students who exemplify volunteerism.
“Jennie has fulfilled her role as the director of community services for the MBA Student Association with distinction,” says Chrite. “She assisted with the AIDS Walk, participated in and helped coordinate Relay for Life, and helped coordinate the annual blood drive. She also coordinated the Faculty Auction 2007, which raised over $3,500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Tucson Ronald McDonald House.”
“After my late arrival to the UA from Tulane in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, I really wanted to give back to the Eller MBA program,” Melrod says. “Community service offered me a familiar outlet to do this. I'm grateful to have been accepted with open arms into a program where the students and faculty share my desire to make a difference.”
Economics professor Ronald Oaxaca is the 2007 recipient of the Kalt Prize, a mentorship award established by former Eller College dean Mark Zupan in honor of his own mentor, Joseph P. Kalt. Kalt, an economist with Harvard University, joined the Eller College this spring as a visiting teaching professor.
During his time at the Eller College, Oaxaca has chaired the dissertation committees of 17 Ph.D. students and served on many others. The Kalt Prize was presented to him in recognition of his mentorship of Carmen Carrion-Flores (Ph.D. Economics ’07), who will begin teaching at the University of Florida in the fall.
“She was a joy to work with,” says Oaxaca, “so hard-working, dedicated, and smart.”
“He has been a great mentor, both on a personal and professional level,” says Carrion-Flores. “The first year of my studies was very difficult, and he really made a difference encouraging me and telling me I could do it.”
“It’s part of my job,” says Oaxaca. “And I always have mixed feelings at this time of year. On one hand, it’s great that the students are moving on to other universities, where their good work will help raise the profile of the Eller College. But I’m always sorry to see them leave.”
Success for the Greater Good
|John M. Bernal, MBA '82|
In a career marked by public service, John Bernal has tackled challenges from the local to the international in scale, applying his UA engineering and business education every step of the way.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from The University of Arizona in civil engineering. “Right out of college, I went to work for the Federal Highway Administration,” he says. “Being a local kid, it was a great experience for me, because I got to travel all over the country as part of its 30-month training program.”
Once he completed the rotation, the Highway Administration placed him in Pueblo, Colo., as a project engineer. But Bernal says he was homesick for Tucson, and in 1973, he took his first position with Pima County — an entry level project engineer with the Department of Transportation.
At that point, he decided he was ready to earn an advanced degree. “I considered the Master of Public Administration [MPA] and the MBA program,” he says. “But I decided on the MBA because I wanted to explore what the private sector had to offer.”
“It took me six and a half years to earn my MBA taking one or two classes each semester while working for the county,” he continues. In 1984, he left Pima County to spend six years in the private sector as a land developer.
In 1990, he returned to the public sector as department director of the Pima County Department of Transportation, but after just four years in that position, a new opportunity presented itself.
“I got a call from the Clinton administration,” he explains. “They asked me to take a position as the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission in El Paso.” In that role, Bernal was responsible for applying the provisions of the 1889 and 1944 U.S. – Mexico treaties governing shared use of the water resources of the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers.
“It was one of the most phenomenal periods in my life,” he says. On his first day as commissioner, he introduced Al Gore at a groundbreaking ceremony for a waste water treatment plant in San Diego — which would be one of the largest international projects Bernal finished during his seven-year tenure.
“When I came in the door in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement had just passed,” he says. The agreement created two organizations to fund key border infrastructure projects. Bernal was one of five U.S. representatives on the ten-member board of one of those organizations, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission.
When the Clinton administration ended, Bernal returned to Tucson as deputy county administrator of public works for Pima County, in which capacity he continues to serve today.
Earlier this year, the American Public Works Association named him a 2007 Top Ten Public Works Leader of the Year for his exceptional career service achievements.
|Nancy Meech, BSBA Accounting '80.|
An accounting major and a political science minor, Nancy Meech always wanted to find a way to combine her two interests.
“I planned to go into accounting, but I was also fascinated with government,” she says. After she graduated from the Eller College, she found her chance to bring those elements together.
“I got a job with the [Arizona] State Auditor General’s office,” she explains. “I was there for six years, and then in 1986, some major federal legislation was enacted that required many government entities to use independent auditors from CPA firms.”
That legislative change would tip fate in a new direction for Meech. “I never expected to open up my own accounting firm,” she says, “but things happen for a reason.”
Her boss at the time, Gary Heinfeld, came to her with a business proposal. “So we left and opened up our own accounting firm to serve government agencies,” Meech says. “It was a great opportunity in this new market. Now we’re in our 21st year and are recognized as accounting and audit experts for government entities.”
Although she didn’t originally plan on running her own company, Meech has risen to the task. “The biggest challenge is setting up an atmosphere where people want to come to work every day,” she says. “We want to make our firm one of the best places to work in America.” Heinfeld, Meech & Co. was recently notified that it is a finalist on the Best Places to Work Institute’s Best Companies to Work for in America list. “This confirms that we’re on the right track.”
Meech attributes part of the firm’s success to the development of core values. “We spent a lot of time developing them,” she says, “and when you have core values to guide you, decision making becomes very easy.”