Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
For Eller MBAs, summer isn’t a break; internships provide an opportunity to test skills and knowledge they’ve learned during their first year of classes through a substantive internship.
One MBA — Susan Ebbert — applied that knowledge in IBM’s Extreme Blue Internship, a highly competitive program focused on new technology and innovation. She applied in fall 2007 when Eller alum Arvin Poole (MBA ’01) was recruiting for the program at the UA.
“I spent the summer in Austin,” Ebbert says. “The lab had three projects, with one MBA and three computer science engineers assigned to each.” Ebbert was responsible for the business side of her team’s project, including business plan, marketing materials, and finance strategy. “I was also responsible for project managing the team to ensure that we met our goals,” she says. “At the end of the summer, we presented our product to corporate executives in Armonk, New York.”
Their project was to accelerate the adoption of Workload Partitions, a new technology included in the release of AIX, IBM’s proprietary UNIX operating system.
It wasn’t all hard work, though. Ebbert says the internship was very unusual. “We had a 4,000 square foot lab space with open tables,” she says. “In addition, we had a lot of toys — so we had Nerf gun wars. It felt a lot like we were working for a small startup, and this arrangement allowed us to collaborate and be more innovative.”
Still, as much fun as it was, Ebbert says, “The highlight was having dinner in Armonk with the head of strategy for corporate — and the real value was the chance to use my MBA skills directly on the job.”
Eller undergraduate students looking to enrich their understanding of international business had many options this summer; The Eller Times checked in with a few who participated in two different programs offered in Argentina and France.
Bienvenido a Buenos Aires
After leading two successful, ethics-focused trips to Costa Rica, Paul Melendez, director of the ethics program and lecturer in the School of Public Administration and Policy, developed a similar trip for twelve undergraduates to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I think that cultural exchanges are a crucial and interesting way to grow as both a student and a person,” says Meg Hawley, a marketing and Spanish major who was part of the trip. “And what better opportunity than through Eller with an emphasis on ethics?”
The students attended lectures led by world-class faculty from the University of Belgrano as well as government and business leaders. Topics included Argentine history, culture and society; anti-corruption campaigns, U.S. trade relations with Argentina; the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Argentina; the current state of Mercosur; and the ongoing ethical debate of a proposed pulp mill in Uruguay. Students also met with recent Eller MBA alum Will Harris, who is attending the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires as a Rotary Peace Fellow and working toward his master’s in international relations.
“I wanted to go on the trip because I thought it would provide me with a taste of what studying abroad would be like,” says Lee Klein, a business management major. “Now, since the Buenos Aires trip was such a good experience, I plan on enrolling in Eller's summer internship program in Madrid.”
“It was really cool to see and experience in person the things that we learned about in class and read about in assigned articles,” Hawley says. “I loved the Argentine culture: the food, the people, the architecture were all wonderful!”
“By going on the trip, I made lasting friendships with the eleven other students in the program, and I became closer to Professor Melendez and the Eller College study abroad program,” says Klein. “But it also provided me with an international business perspective that cannot be taught inside the classroom.”
A Summer in Provence
As part of its drive to offer more international opportunities for students interested in global business, associate professor emeritus Robert Tindall taught an Eller College pre-summer session course in management and organizations in Aix-en-Provence, France, in June.
The course, The Human Side of Organizations, is a required course for business minors. “Business minor students are generally liberal arts or science majors,” Tindall says. “Adding an international dimension to their educations broadens their leadership horizons.”
Tindall’s class emphasized leadership in organizations. “It was case discussion-based, and required three-page case analysis memos at the beginning of each class meeting,” Tindall explains. “We met Mondays through Thursdays, so that the students could travel on the weekends. Some visited Switzerland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, as well as Paris and other locations in France.”
“I will never forget my experiences in Europe this summer,” says Krystle Rickert, a senior in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, who took the course. “The class taught us about taking charge and making decisions, about becoming an independent leader and seeking out success rather than being just an employee.” Over the summer Rickert modeled for a company that sells swimsuit calendars to raise money for breast cancer research. Tindall encouraged her to approach the photographer about an internship opportunity. “I asked the photographer on a whim and he said yes,” Rickert says.
After the success of this first offering, there are plans for Tindall to teach the course again during 2009 in pre-summer session.
According to a survey by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the shortage of qualified business faculty is expected to reach 2,400 by 2012. The 13th annual undergraduate Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) aims to do something about that — it was created to encourage minority students to enter Ph.D. programs.
This summer, Eller director of doctoral studies Lisa Ordóñez — also professor of management and organizations and Levine Family Faculty Fellow — participated in the program by mentoring Southern Oregon University human communication and psychology major Carl D. Green on a research project using stats from the National Football League (NFL).
“We looked at the leadership opportunities for black players in the NFL,” explains Ordóñez. “We found that blacks are far less likely to take on the role of quarterback (which isn't too surprising) and, in fact, are switched out of the quarterback position in college to a receiver position in the NFL.” These results can be extended to business organizations in which minority managers still have limited access to leadership positions.”
“I applied for the program to gain more research experience and to better prepare for graduate school,” Green says. “I’m definitely interested in pursuing a Ph.D., specifically in inter-organizational psychology or organizational communication.”
In an effort to enrich student experience in developing a viable, defensible venture plan, the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program has invited angel investors to the UA campus to connect with students at various points throughout the academic year.
“Angel investors, by nature, have a broad understanding of all types of ventures,” explains McGuire Center director Sherry Hoskinson. “They will be able to provide students with targeted insight to improve their plans.”
The arrangement is also part of a strategic alliance the McGuire Center has in place with partner organizations. Many of these organizations — such as the UA Office of Technology Transfer, Desert Angels, Arizona Center for Innovation, Pima Community College Small Business Center, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Hecker and Muehlbach, and the Southern Arizona Tech Council — collaborate regularly as the IdeaXChange forum. They have jointly created opportunities to support and nurture innovation in Southern Arizona through education, economic development, investment, and management; one such tactic is building productive relationships with angel investors and familiarizing them with UA-developed technologies.
In October, John May will confer with students in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program as the Anheuser Busch Angel-in-Residence. May is managing partner of New Vantage Group, which invests private equity capital into early-stage companies. He is chairman of the Angel Capital Association and a lead instructor for its "Power of Angel Investing" seminars. He is also co-author of Every Business Needs an Angel.
May will also be the keynote speaker at IdeaFunding 2008, the annual IdeaXChange-organized workshop that offers resources for entrepreneurs.
Prototype development. Market research. Intellectual property rights. Conferences. Some of the most important components of the new venture development process come with a price tag. Last year, the Hearst Foundation approved the use of its funds — previously reserved solely for routine scholarships — to enable entrepreneurship teams to work through these real-world steps in their ventures.
“The idea was to help them resolve issues in the venture that, if left unaddressed, would require them to proceed based on assumptions rather than actual information,” says McGuire Center director Sherry Hoskinson.
Many of the 2007-08 teams took advantage of the funds. CoolFuelz — a provider of environmental and bio fuels for vehicles and people — used the resources to commission a scale model of its Microstation™ concept. Cookie Fusion used its funds to test cookie recipes and develop a brand identity. 50 Mile Farms constructed and tested a prototype greenhouse for its urban agriculture venture.
The funds were limited, so student teams submitted proposals to be considered for grants. The program is in place for the 2008-09 year, as well. “The funds have allowed students to make huge strides in creating viable, data-backed venture plans,” Hoskinson says.
For the second summer in a row, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship worked with the Dorrance Foundation to create an international study experience to serve as a precursor to the summer entrepreneurship experience. The scholars travel abroad one summer, then participate in the entrepreneurship experience the following summer. Dorrance scholars are first-generation college students attending Arizona universities.
Hassan Aleem, a science major at The University of Arizona, was one of the students who participated in the inaugural study abroad program, which was a month-long trip to Italy. The students were charged with keeping a log of places and sites they visited and then analyzing the sites for their innovative content.
For example, students viewing classic works of art such as Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper identified problems the artist faced, such as technological limitations or political or social constraints on how to portray his subject. Then the students hypothesized innovative solutions the artist might have used to surmount those issues. They also considered the social, political, or other conditions the artist or innovator was hoping to affect through his or her work.
For the final project, the students wrote a paper on one of the sites they visited. Aleem chose Venice’s M.O.S.E. project, a series of 78 mobile gates able to isolate the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea, protecting the city from flooding — and sinking.
“Of all the areas we visited, I was most excited about the city of Venice and how it is being saved,” Aleem says. “The grandness of the project is overwhelming; a whole city in danger of sinking is a daunting problem to face. It is in times like these that innovation becomes necessary.”Next summer, Aleem will participate in the summer entrepreneurship experience — three weeks in residence at the UA in intensive entrepreneurial exploration — and then on to the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program during his senior year.
Eight years ago, the Eller College became the first undergraduate business school in the country to require interviews to gauge students’ interpersonal skills and motivation as part of the upper division admissions process.
“Professional admissions interviews wouldn’t happen without the help of our alumni and friends,” says Julie Trujillo, assistant director of alumni and student relations. “We depend on the volunteer efforts of over 125 people to interview approximately 400 applicants in just one day.”
Teams of two volunteers attend a short training session, then spend the rest of the morning meeting one-on-one with students to assess their preparedness for upper division coursework.
“This will be the 18th time we have conducted this interview process,” Trujillo says. “This year, we have made a few changes, so if you have participated before, you will notice new questions and an improved interview format.”
New interviewers are welcome. Sign up now to connect with the Eller College:
Congratulations to Nancy Meech (BSBA Accounting ’80), whose firm Heinfeld & Meech was once again named #4 on the list of the 25 Best Small Companies to Work for in America. The 2008 list was recently announced at the Society for Human Resource Management's 60th Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago.
Roger Hartley, associate professor of the School of Public Administration and Policy, has been appointed by the chief justice of the State of Arizona Supreme Court to serve on the Court Leadership Institute of Arizona. The organization was established to provide leadership, skills, knowledge, and resources to emerging court leaders.
Congratulations to Patricia Campie (MPA ’98 and Ph.D. ’03), who was just appointed director of The National Center for Juvenile Justice, the research division of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in Philadelphia, PA.
Henry Hsieh (MBA and MS-MIS ’05) was on KTLA recently to demonstrate the efficiency of riding a bike to work. His family owns KHS Bicycles in California. Henry is a software implementation lead with CheckFree Investment Services.
Congratulations to Hillbun (Dixon) Ho, an Eller doctoral student who has received funding from the Institute for Supply Management™ for his research in developing a conceptual model that examines knowledge sharing and collaboration between two competing suppliers in serving a common customer.
When a company has bad news for its workers, such as pay cuts, management has three chances to ensure workplace justice, according to a paper just selected as the Academy of Management Perspectives best paper of the year. The paper was authored by Russell Cropanzano (Arnold Lesk Professor in Management and Organizations) and Stephen Gilliland (Arnold Lesk Chair in Leadership and Department Head) of Eller's Department of Management and Organizations, as well as David Bowen of the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
“At the heart of the paper is the concept that people have a deep need to be treated fairly,” explains Gilliland. “When people are not treated fairly, they may take out their frustrations on the organization or on other people. But when an organization treats people fairly, people will go above and beyond.”
According to the paper, workplace justice falls into three categories: allocations, such as raises; procedures, such as processes used to determine whether a raise would be given; and interactions, the way news of the raise (or lack of raise) is communicated to the worker.
The paper compiles decades of research that suggests that managers can secure positive outcomes for the organization even if only one component is right.
“People care about more than money,” says Cropanzano. “They can be very tolerant of decisions that don’t go their way if those decisions are handled fairly.”
Sometimes in creating a system that’s fair, a company will inadvertently set itself up for complaints — but those can be mitigated by addressing one of the other components. “So then the question becomes, if managers have these three chance to get it right, why do they still get it wrong so often?” says Gilliland. “One reason we see this is that fairness is often not on the radar screen. Another reason is that legal counsel often suggests that information is ammunition.”
“The paradox is that the things you do to reduce litigation can actually increase complaints,” Cropanzano explains. “Legal counsel may advise human resources not to share information or not to apologize. These things can increase the perception that you’re not being fair.”
The research shows that litigation is reduced in cases where, for example, news of layoffs or reductions in pay is presented to workers in a fair and compassionate manner — the third component of workplace justice. Gilliland and Cropanzano agree that more information sharing is better unless, as Cropanzano notes, there’s an ethical reason to withhold some information.“Companies should design human resource policies that have fairness built into them,” he says. “Managers should be trained to be fair on an interpersonal level. Couple fair policies with managerial training and you’ll get a much better outcome.”
For Marty Metro, it all started on a road trip. “My wife and I were driving cross-country, and I saw a moving truck and got to thinking about boxes,” he says. “No one wants to pay for moving boxes. We take them from work, we find them behind grocery stores, we get them off Craigslist. The only time we buy them is when we’re desperate to pack those last few things. Then when we’re done, we throw them away or recycle them, and someone across town is looking for them all over again.”
Metro knew he had the background to build and develop a website that would match people looking for boxes with people who had just finished moving and wanted to get rid of theirs. After graduating from Eller with his MBA in 1994, he was recruited by Andersen Consulting, where his first project was working with clients to implement SAP, the world's largest enterprise software system. “My focus was always sales distribution and logistics,” he explains. As an enterprise technology consultant in the mid 1990s, Metro implemented SAP at large companies like AT&T, Boeing, and Hunt-Wesson. Then came the dot-com years.
Metro spent years building back-end SAP systems for lots of companies, but he felt disillusioned after the dot-com boom went bust. He saw one former dot-com leader arrive at the bankruptcy hearing in a private jet — because why not? The jet’s lease was prepaid.
“I’ve always been interested in the human side of business,” he says. “I want employees to be happy, healthy, and productive while making money for themselves, and for the company. For me, that was what was missing in the dot-com boom.”
That desire to create a productive, happy work environment meshed with Metro’s idea to create a business venture around used cardboard boxes. “Never in a million years did I think I’d be selling cardboard boxes, let alone used cardboard boxes,” he says. “I thought I wanted to be VP of HR for some Fortune 500 company. But rather than try to change a big company from within, I built my own earth-friendly, socially-responsible, for-profit company that is quickly becoming a household name.”
His initial concept — a sort of box-sharing online community — was designed to operate on both transactional and advertising revenue, but he went back to the drawing board because it was tough for people to match supply and demand on their own. If person A had ten boxes to give away, and person B only wanted three, for example, what would happen with the remaining seven? So Metro re-launched the company as a retail outlet, Boomerang Boxes, but then faced storage and space issues.
“We went through this cycle of succeeding and failing for several years,” he says. "Customers loved what we were doing and demand was never an issue. It was matching the supply to the demand that killed us. Then in 2006, we raised venture capital and put it together in a way that works.” The resulting company, UsedCardboardBoxes.com, ships pre-package kits of used boxes to customers via UPS. “We started with one distribution center in Los Angeles,” he says. “Now we have ten across North America, servicing every residential address in the U.S.”Metro’s company brings in used boxes by the truckload from large companies like Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods, packages them with supplies for consumers based on the size of the moving job, and sells them online. “I wanted to build a company that uses my passion for technology, makes money and positively impacts the world,” he says. “It’s quite a bonus that we’re able to do that, and be green. That’s actually the most exciting part to me.”
Just over a year out of the Eller College, Melissa Howell has already accrued great experience working for Newell-Rubbermaid.
"Newell-Rubbermaid makes a lot of products that everyone uses, like Sharpie, Calphalon, Goody, Graco, IRWIN, and SHUR-LINE," she says. Howell started in the company's training program. "The idea in the training program is to learn a little about a lot of these divisions," she says. Then Howell was assigned to the key account team, during which she spent her time in Dallas-Fort Worth Lowe’s stores in a $3.5 million territory.
"In that role, I developed strong relationships with district managers to ensure that they would support merchandising plans," she says. Fourteen months into the job, Howell was promoted, and has just begun work as a field product specialist focused on the IRWIN Tool Division.
"I spent two weeks training on tools, selling techniques, and learning about the industrial construction industry,” she says. As part of the Demand Team, Howell works to create interest in IRWIN products.
Part of the job includes demonstrations, so she is able to operate all manner of tools, plus change out accessories like a pro. "You can do some great demos with our torches," she says, "Like make s'mores." During a two-week training session in Charlotte, N.C., Howell and some colleagues went out to dinner. One of her coworkers ordered a crème brulee. "We are a big supplier of torches, so we asked to see the one they used to make the crème brulee. They brought it out, and it was one of our torches!"
Howell says that Vic Piscitello's sales class was one that has been very useful as her career begins. "I didn't plan to go into the tool industry," she says, "But if you want to succeed in corporate marketing in any area, you'll want to spend time in the field with customers and end users. It's setting me up with the foundation to succeed in the long-term."
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