Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
As companies focus more and more on innovation as a source of growth, business and law must work together to surmount the resulting challenges.
The McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College, and the James E. Rogers College of Law have launched a new partnership to better prepare graduates to succeed in the knowledge economy, with a particular focus on the intersection between law and entrepreneurship.
“The first program of the Business / Law Exchange, the Mock Law Firm, launched in spring with funding from the Kauffman Foundation,” explains Sherry Hoskinson, co-director of the Exchange and director of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. “Now we are working to expand our collaboration through workshops, guest speakers, and colloquia, all aimed at increasing our understanding of the issues leaders face in an innovation-based economy.”
“The partnership is a natural,” said Darian Ibrahim, Exchange co-director and Arizona Law associate professor. “The University of Arizona is a recognized research and teaching leader in law, business and entrepreneurship, and science and technology. We are seizing an opportunity to establish a leadership position by bringing these disciplines together in the evolving economy that our students will face after graduation.”
In addition to hosting events and speakers, the Business / Law Exchange will develop interdisciplinary fellowship opportunities, identify new courses in business and law based on industry needs and student demand, and build connections within the legal and entrepreneurial communities to encourage support and participation.
Current collaborative projects include the Mock Law Firm, in which law students provide legal advice to entrepreneurship teams in a mock firm setting, and courses such as former U.S. representative Jim Kolbe’s class on trade that is open to law and business students.
More information about the Business / Law Exchange is available online at www.business-law.arizona.edu.
Opportunities for graduates with marketing degrees are wide-ranging. In October, 75 undergraduate marketing students linked up with professionals from 17 companies at a roundtable luncheon to find out more about career options in marketing, including business-to-business, research, sports marketing, publishing, advertising, pharmaceuticals, and more.
“This event was great for networking,” says Marc Mutnansky (BSBA Marketing and Global Business ’08). “I plan to work in the music industry, but I have had trouble over the past couple of years finding professionals to talk to about it at career fairs. While I was at the luncheon, I spoke with Erich Smidt from GHS Services about working internationally, and I learned a lot about marketing in different cultures.”
Amy Long (BSBA Marketing ’08) is also interested in the music industry. “I hope to work for either a marketing firm that concentrates in this area or a record label's marketing department,” she explains. “Talking to marketing professionals was definitely informative and helpful. I was able to learn about various careers that I had not considered; however, I was not persuaded to change my overall career goal.”
“The students at my table asked terrific questions about the business-to-business selling process,” says Kathryn Streletzky, program manager at Office Depot. “We discussed many interesting subjects from business development to the proposal process used for large contracts.”
“I think what we learned is that many students are not aware of the opportunities within business-to-business marketing,” says Charlie Boyd, director of business development and marketing administration at Sundt Construction, Inc. “For example, many students would love to follow in Kathryn’s footsteps — she works out of her home and directs her own day.”
Melissa Jardine (BSBA Marketing ’08) is still considering her professional options. “Talking to the marketing professionals really helped narrow my focus and direct me towards (and away from) certain areas of marketing,” she says. “It was especially interesting to hear about nonprofit companies as opposed to corporations. The main benefit for me was learning that you should really go into a field that you are passionate about and interested in to get the most out of your job.”
Over 100 UA and MIS students attended an event organized by Microsoft, the Eller MIS department, and UA Microsoft representatives Jesse Tadlock and Jessica Anderson for the launch of Halo 3 — the fastest-selling Xbox 360 game ever.
“The primary purpose was to attract students who are passionate about gaming, and encourage them to participate in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup contest for students,” explains Randy Guthrie, Microsoft academic relations manager.
The Imagine Cup is a global competition that challenges students to apply their passion and creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference in the world. The Cup is now in its sixth year, but this is the first year that it includes a game development component. Using Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express, students have been asked to create a game that not only entertains, but delivers a message about creating a sustainable environment.
“We had four groups of UA students show interest in forming Imagine Cup teams,” says Guthrie. “We distributed about 50 XNA developer kits that have all the software needed for students to begin creating their own Xbox games.”
Students interested in competing in the Imagine Cup can get additional information at www.microsoft4me.com.
Ruiz addressed the audience of students and executives about the challenges facing the large and fast-growing U.S. Hispanic population. “There’s a saying in engineering: you can’t boil the ocean,” he said. “When you have a complex issue, you have to pick your fight.”
Ruiz believes that in order to overcome problems that include the highest high school dropout rate, highest incidence of teenage pregnancy, and high crime rates, education plays a vital role, and with it, technology.
This need has sparked an initiative called 50x15, which aims to ensure that 50 percent of the world’s population has access to Internet connectivity by 2015. “I’m fortunate to be part of a company that has allowed me to do that,” he says. “We have 16,000 employees who are excited about this initiative.”
In addition to Ruiz, the 2007 Technology and Management honorees for service and lifetime achievement included Gregory H. Boyce, president and CEO of Peabody Energy; John Buttery, entrepreneur and founder of BLR Data; Don Dillon, founder of CMX; and Christopher McGuire, vice president and director of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.
In October, the School of Public Administration and Policy at the Eller College hosted the Public Management Research Association’s 9th Public Management Research Conference. The conference meets every two years at a leading university; recent hosts include the University of Southern California and Georgetown University.
Over the three-day event, 200 scholars from around the world presented research on topics such as managing emergency response, contracting and privatization, and collaborative governance across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
“This is the preeminent gathering of public management researchers,” explains H. Brinton Milward, School director and associate dean. “The papers featured at the event reflect the research frontier of the field and address the challenges public and nonprofit managers face today.”
On October 26, the Eller College, the College of Engineering, and the College of Science presented a one-day conference on information lifecycle management in conjunction with IBM.
The conference brought together students, faculty, and corporate professionals to discuss strategies for administering storage systems on computing devices. McClelland Professor Sudha Ram, Honeywell Fellow and interim department head Leon Zhao, and assistant professor Alexandra Durcikova of the Eller MIS department all spoke at the conference.
“It’s important for students to realize that the research going on at the University is valuable and relevant in the business world,” says Ram. “We work with corporations like IBM to identify potential for joint research and to understand the issues they face so our graduates are well-prepared to enter the industry.”
In October, the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation announced a $4 million gift to The University of Arizona to endow two faculty chairs — one in the Eller College and one in the College of Engineering. Each college has received a $2 million gift to establish its endowment.
Currently, Professor Amar Gupta holds the Thomas R. Brown Chair at the Eller College. Since coming to UA from MIT, Gupta has led the creation of dual-degree programs that offer students the opportunity to concurrently earn an MBA from the Eller College with a master’s degree from the College of Engineering, College of Science, or College of Optical Sciences.
“Tomorrow’s most accomplished professionals will be equipped to accelerate the rate of innovation by combining deep technical knowledge with management skills,” said Paul Portney, Eller College dean. “These dual-degree programs are aligned with Tom Brown’s vision and fill a critical niche in technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property.”
Tom Brown, Tucson’s most successful high-tech entrepreneur, died in 2002. Since that time, the Brown family, through its foundation, has been a strong supporter of technology and management at UA. Tom Brown and his friend, Paige Burr, founded Burr-Brown Corp. in 1956. Texas Instruments acquired Burr-Brown in June 2000 for the highest price ever paid for an Arizona company.“Burr-Brown grew to be a multi-billion-dollar enterprise because the people there were internationally competitive,” said Sarah Brown Smallhouse, Eller MBA ’88, one of Tom Brown’s daughters and president of the Brown Family Foundation. “The University of Arizona was a key partner in the success of Burr-Brown, and our trustees feel that helping to strengthen the university faculty in engineering and management is an appropriate way to give back to a community partner that made so much of Burr-Brown’s success possible.”
On October 13, a team of Eller MBAs placed second in the annual Pac-10 MBA Case Competition, this year hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle.
Second-year MBAs Chris Gray, Will Hamilton, Vishnu Selvarathinam, and Tom Narins took on the case — which involved a food processing company that needed to make strategic decisions about entering the biofuel industry. “It was a complex case, and focused on an industry that none of our team members had had any experience with,” says Gray, who was also recognized as one of two best presenters.
He and the team were given the case at 8:00 a.m. on Friday and had to be ready to present their slides and analysis by 8:00 a.m. the next morning. “Our business communications class definitely played a large role in our success,” Gray says. “The corporate strategy course with lecturer Robert Unterberger also provided a good framework for our analysis.”
Gray says that case competitions offer a valuable opportunity to test the skills students have acquired through class work in a real-world setting. And, he says with a laugh, “It was nice to receive third-party validation of my presentation skills.”
The Eller team, along with first-place winners University of Washington and third-place winners Arizona State University, have been invited to participate in the Pac-10/Big-10 MBA Challenge in January.
Team managers — and team members — are all too familiar with the challenge of motivating non-contributors. This challenge is just one of the issues that Eller assistant professor of management and organizations Tamar Kugler explores in her work.
“My research combines psychology with economic tools to examine two main topics: conflicts between groups and conflicts within teams,” she explains. While studying the effect of team competitions on individual members’ contributions, Kugler hit on another compelling topic.
“I became interested in when a team needs to make a joint decision,” she explains. “There’s a systematic difference in the way that an individual approaches a decision versus a group. In interactive settings, teams seem to be more rational and payoff-maximizing. They also tend to make fewer mistakes.”
Kugler studies the dynamics of group decision making in a lab setting. “One task that we use is a trust game,” she explains. In the game, a player is given 20 $1 bills in an envelope. He or she can take any amount of money from the envelope; the experimenter will then triple the amount of money left in the envelope, and give it to another player. The other player can choose to keep all of the money, or return any portion to the first player.
“The second player has no rational reason to return the money,” says Kugler in her paper, “Trust between Individuals and Groups.” She observed changing results when the game was played between individuals, between teams of three, and between a team and an individual. “On average, groups send less money than individuals. They also send less money to other groups than they do to individuals,” she says. “The groups understand better that who they are working with matters. The individual is more likely to return the money.”
These results have interesting implications in the workplace. ”When you’re dealing with others, it matters whether you are dealing with an individual, or a group such as a board of directors,” she says. “There are also implications for workforce composition. Teams are more costly to employ, but are likely to make better decisions.”
Finally, she says, the research suggests that a more critical read of the current literature is in order. “Many times, firms are modeled as individuals, instead of as groups,” she explains.
Last year, Kugler initiated a course project in which undergraduate seniors in management and organizations examined the effect of a firm's internal structure on a competitive market. During the first half of the course, the students reviewed research on the subject, then they conceptualized, designed, performed, and analyzed their own original research.“My plan is for them to have a publishable paper at the end of the class,” says Kugler, who has another class of undergraduates working on a different project this semester. “A lot of people thought research at this level would be too much for undergrads, but the students proved them wrong. If you challenge them enough, they will meet your expectations.”
In his career, Tayo Fichtl, CEO of Edmond Medical Center in Edmond, Oklahoma, has found that a good result is the sum of its parts.
“As with anything, it’s a combination of inputs that lead to the outcome you want,” he explains. “For me, it was my experience working in the hospital after my bachelor’s degree, in graduate school, and in the Army.”
Fichtl grew up in Sierra Vista, and earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from The University of Arizona. “I was interested in marketing, and my advisor suggested that I go into psychology, since so much of marketing involves human behavior,” Fichtl says. “After I graduated, I didn’t find any marketing jobs that appealed to me, so I took a job at a psychiatric hospital.”
He started in direct patient care before moving into an admissions position, finally working his way up to marketing director. At the same time, Fichtl was serving as a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, 108th Field Artillery of the Arizona National Guard. “It’s hard for an experience like that not to have had an effect on me,” he says. “I learned a lot of lessons in the Army, including how to motivate people, on the military side and the civilian side, and to hold people accountable for their actions.”
During that time, he realized that he didn’t want to work in marketing, so he decided to go back to school to earn his MBA at the Eller College. “A program like an MBA changes how you think about things,” he says. “I couldn’t pin it to one particular class; in its entirety, an MBA influences how you look at the world. It changed my perspective.”
Now — nearly ten years later — Fichtl has been appointed CEO of Edmond Medical Center in Edmond, Oklahoma.
“Most people who work for hospitals do so because they — or someone they know — had a good experience with a care provider,” he says. “They saw a way they could make a difference in people’s lives.”
That mandate is particularly apt in his new position. “Previously, I was at a specialty orthopedic hospital in Houston,” he explains. “I like being at a community hospital now because you’re caring for your friends and neighbors. You really feel like you’re part of the community.”
As an added bonus, he says, “Edmond is a great place to bring my family.” Fichtl and his wife have two girls, ages five and three.
Kim Orlando’s latest enterprise — TravelingMom.com — is hardly her first. The lifelong entrepreneur was born in Chicago, and kicked off her career at just 11 years old, when she won a newspaper sales contest while visiting family in Philadelphia.
“I’ve always had my own businesses on the side,” she explains. After completing the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program and graduating from the Eller College, Orlando took a position with the marketing communications firm of Young and Rubicam. Six months after joining the company’s Cato Johnson division, Orlando founded ACT Workshops, which aimed to improve kids’ self-confidence through improvisational and commercial acting workshops.
In 1995, Orlando and her husband relocated to Connecticut. “That thread of owning my own business continued,” she says, this time in the form of a document management business she founded while working at a pharmaceutical company. When the company moved to New Jersey, Orlando became a traveling mom, not in the sense she had originally imagined, frolicking on exotic sandy beaches, but with weekly overnight commutes to New Jersey.
“At first I thought it would be a great respite from my daily grind. Turns out it was really hard,” she says, especially while also raising her own three children. “I was constantly asking other traveling mothers how to manage schedules, separation, even dinner.”
Orlando left the document management business 18 months ago and created TravelingMom.com, an online magazine with family travel information and a community where mothers exchange practical ideas. “The website is growing like crazy,” Orlando says. “One of the best parts of this business is having a chance to work again with my original entrepreneurship partner, Shawn Sires.”
The site also includes stories and interviews with real traveling moms. “There are some incredible moms out there traveling with and without their kids,” says Orlando. “Upcoming features include LPGA moms who travel for tournaments, moms who travel to volunteer, to adopt, to reunite with friends, and to pursue passions like cooking or heli-skiing.”
Orlando is currently working on a story for mothers who travel to visit their kids at college. It includes a must-read dos and don’ts list created by students. “Let’s just say bring the credit card and leave the fanny pack,” Orlando says, laughing. She welcomes additional advice from students and parents on those college visits; email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org.