The University of Arizona  
Eller College of Management.
The Eller Times

April 2009

Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.

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In the News.

Eller Team Takes Second at Annual American Marketing Association Competition
By Taylor Albers, Journalism '11

Marketing seniors with awards.
  Marketing seniors and Eller AMA chapter advisor Sue Umashankar (center, red) display AMA awards in New Orleans.

Eller marketing students Jeffrey Shaw, Christian Liebner, Stephanie Porter, Salyna Guanajuato, Kevin Akat, and Ana Carrillo placed just behind the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School at the 31st Annual American Marketing Association (AMA) Collegiate Conference in New Orleans, hosted by Eastman Kodak.

The Eller team organized market research for several months in order to develop a business plan for the sponsor’s “We were going up against top schools so we knew we had to bring our A game,” says Porter (BSBA Marketing ’09). “Professor Sue Umashankar [Eller AMA chapter advisor] advised that we tie our entire presentation, most importantly our recommendations, back to the information we found in our primary research.”

The undergraduates were coached by a team of Eller MBAs who leveraged their real-world experiences, presentation skills, and strategic thinking to manage the undergraduate project. First-year MBA Abhilasha Chadha cites the experience as a critical aspect of her MBA career. “My participation on the Kodak case competition team was one of the key components in my transition story that enabled me to attain a marketing internship this summer after a career based in information technology.” Abhilasha will work at Kellogg Company in Delhi, India, this summer.

The Eller students worked through a rigorous judging process, and were ultimately chosen to present their recommendations directly to the Kodak executives. “The true differentiator between the Eller team and the other teams across the world is that we didn't limit ourselves to the basic requirements as outlined in the case,” says Shaw (BSBA Marketing ’09).

“We were happy with the results and were honored to be placed next to such a prestigious school,” says Porter. $25,000 in prize money was awarded to winning teams. In addition to second place in the case competition, the Eller College AMA student chapter also won the Outstanding Professional Development Award, Outstanding Philanthropy Award, and the Outstanding Recruitment Video Award.

“Even though we ultimately came home with a sizable cash award, the true benefits from the competition did not have a dollar sign attached. We will see those benefits when we apply the advanced research and analytical concepts we learned through this truly amazing experience,” says Shaw.

View.  Learn more about marketing at the Eller College.

MIS Department Representatives Tour Customs and Border Protection
By Anji Siegel

MIS Department faculty, staff, and students at the border
MIS Department faculty, staff, and students with Customs and Border Protection personnel at the U.S.-Mexico border.  

In March, representatives from the MIS department toured the Tucson Sector Customs and Border Protection (CBP) headquarters and the Nogales Border Patrol Station, both of which fall within the Department of Homeland Security.

This tour was coordinated by the Information Assurance and Security Education Center (IASEC) as part of security awareness collaboration efforts with the Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration (COE BSI). The COE BSI is led by Jay Nunamaker, Regents’ Professor and Soldwedel Professor of Management Information Systems.

The tour gave attendees insight to the multifaceted issues surrounding border protection, helping them gain a better understanding of this complex matter to inform their research efforts.

Research at COE BSI focuses on new technologies such as surveillance, screening, data fusion, and situational awareness using sensors, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The center also studies population dynamics, immigration administration and enforcement, operational analysis, control and communications, immigration policy, civic integration and citizenship, border risk management, and international governance.

The Nogales Border Patrol Station is the largest in the United States.  Agents patrol 1,100 square miles of rough terrain, including 32 miles of international border. In February 2009 alone, the Nogales station handled more than 4,000 apprehensions. They seized more than 25,300 pounds of marijuana (valued at more than $20 million), and nearly eight pounds of cocaine. In addition, the station dealt with 45 smuggling cases for the month which included 204 illegal aliens and 74 vehicles.

View.  Get more information about management information systems.

Eller MBAs Travel to Asia, South America

Eller MBAs in Vietnam
  Eller Full-Time and Evening MBA students and staff enjoyed the sites and business leadership of Vietnam and Singapore.

Instead of staying home for this year’s winter break, a group of Evening and Full-Time MBAs flew to Vietnam and Singapore, while a second group journeyed to Chile and Argentina.

Each trip gave students the opportunity to meet top executives from a variety of foreign government agencies and corporations, while also broadening their perspectives on different economic, political, and cultural environments.

“The high-caliber business meetings throughout the trip also enhanced the case study learnings from our first semester,” says Justin Hart, MBA ’09. “Instead of just reading about how some multinational company orchestrated its global expansion, we actually had the opportunity to discuss the business strategy with executives in real time.”

Hart and fourteen other Eller MBAs visited several cities throughout Southeast Asia. “Vietnam opened my eyes to the amazing growth currently taking place in Southeast Asia and to the unique blend of cultures that are present in so many Asian cities,” says Hart. “Given the current trend of globalization, these experiences will undoubtedly provide me with experiences that I’ll be able to leverage for years to come.”

View.  Learn more about the Eller MBA.

Eller Undergrads Spend Spring Break in the Windy City
By Serida Fong, BSBA Marketing '09

Undergraduate student participants 0n the recent Chicago study tour.
Undergraduate students, seen here in front of the famous Chicago "Bean," on the recent Chicago study tour.  

Thirteen Eller students spent spring break in Chicago, touring ten different companies and networking with professionals. Marketing major advisor Vanessa Kramer and pre-business advisor Rachel Holt led the weeklong adventure.

“For what I want to do in the business world, I may have to move away from Tucson. This opportunity was exactly what I was looking for. I had to take advantage of it,” says pre-business freshman Bryan Baldwin.

Lisa Eisenberg, a marketing and entrepreneurship junior from Chicago, joined the tour for another reason. “It was a great experience to learn about companies located in my hometown,” says Eisenberg.

The students visited a variety of companies that appeal to the different majors, including NAVTEQ, Engage Marketing, Metromix, Merrill Lynch, Booz & Company, Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times News Group, Jones Lang LaSalle, Lincoln Property Company, and Anheuser-Busch.

“Every company covered a different major and we were able to see what it is like in the real world,” says Baldwin.

While native Chicagoans were familiar with the various companies, the tour gave them a different perspective. “I had never considered the Tribune or Sun-Times as media companies,” says Eisenberg, who regarded both companies solely as newspapers.

With a tight schedule, the group still managed to have a taste of Chicago. They dined at the renowned Giordano’s, a Chicago favorite for stuffed pizza, and at the oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago, the Italian Village.

After visiting a city that is thriving with business, Baldwin is excited for what’s ahead. “I’m looking forward to future study tours,” he says. He also hopes to keep and build on the connections that he made in Chicago. While he thinks he might be a good fit at NAVTEQ, he does not want to limit his options. “I’ve emailed everyone so that I can keep in touch with them down the road.”

View.  Get more information on Undergraduate study tours and programs.

Eller Students Step Up to Promote Solar Energy in Arizona
By Taylor Albers, Journalism '11

Photovoltaic panels
  Rooftop solar photovoltaic panels at Tucson's Armory Park del Sol neighborhood.

This January, seven students from the Eller College of Management joined business leaders at the Arizona Leadership Summit on Solar Energy and Economics. The event was organized by the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy, based at The University of Arizona, in cooperation with Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. The solar energy project provided an opportunity for national leaders, regional leaders, and Eller students to build and share ways to renew Arizona’s use of solar energy.

“Once at the summit, the students helped to smooth operations and worked behind the scenes to make sure the program didn’t skip a beat,” says Lon Huber (BSPA Public Management and Policy ’09).

MBA Benjamin Lyon and undergraduate students also presented policy briefs at the Summit. “We produced high-quality reports to inform key policymakers about pressing solar energy issues,” says Huber. Huber also produced a white paper in collaboration with Greater Phoenix Economic Council for the event. “If adopted, it would set Arizona up to be the solar manufacturing hub of the country, bringing billions in investments and thousands of jobs,” he says.

“There were a lot of big names at the event,” says Lyon. Steve Inskeep, the host of Morning Edition for National Public Radio; Michael J. Ahearn, CEO of First Solar; and David Ozment, the energy director of Walmart, were all event facilitators. “It was a great experience to be able to talk about the future of solar energy in Arizona with some of the brightest minds in politics and the industry,” Lyon says. “And it was a great chance to apply the networking skills I have acquired through the MBA program.”

View.  Learn more about the the Arizona Leadership Summit on Solar Energy and Economics.

McGuire Entrepreneurship at Work.

Entrepreneurship Teams Test Ventures at UA Innovation Day

Josh Hottenstein, MS MIS '09, exlpains the concept of Verdant Earth to a prospective investor.
Josh Hottenstein, MS MIS '09, explains the concept of Verdant Earth to a prospective investor.  

In March, 21 McGuire Entrepreneurship Program teams put their venture concepts to the test in a tradeshow format as part of the annual Innovation Day at UA.

Attendees, including angel investors who were on campus for the Southwest Angel Summit, perused the displays and asked informal questions about the ventures.

“We had to address the concerns of individuals ranging from environmentalists to members of the investment community,” explains Josh Hottenstein (BSBA MIS ’07 and MS MIS ’09) of Verdant Earth. The venture revolves around the design of sustainable crop production systems, products, and services. “By applying systems design methodologies from information systems, we were able to optimize and automate a significant portion of the growing process,” explains Hottenstein. “The optimization of these processes allows us to fit a full-scale growing system into an ISO shipping container and retain the quality, consistency, and productivity one can normally achieve in a greenhouse.”

Hottenstein partnered with Myles Lewis (BS in Agricultural Technology and Professional Science Master’s in Applied Biosciences) on the venture.

“Once you can fit a farm into a container, you are no longer bound to a specific location or environmental conditions,” Hottenstein continues. “This means we can grow a salad on a loading dock or in the middle of the desert.”

Verdant Earth was recognized by the Arizona Center for Innovation as Best Tradeshow Display at the event.

The next step for the teams is a formal academic and investment review on April 16 and 17, followed by the 25th annual Year-End Entrepreneurship Celebration on April 24. This year, all 21 teams will present their ventures to the judging panel in a “rocket pitch” format; the judges will then select their top picks for detailed presentations.

“The ability to adapt our pitch to dynamically respond to differing audiences will be invaluable during both the academic review and rocket pitch sessions,” Hottenstein says. “We need to effectively engage with each audience in explaining what we do and why our venture is relevant to them.”

View.  View an Innovation Day at UA video.

Venture Team Profile: PhoneMe, LLC

Phone Me's Chianon Gatewood and Luz Gossmann in front of their UA Innovation Day exhibit.
  PhoneMe's Courtney McAbee and Luz Gossmann (right) in front of their Innovation Day at UA exhibit.

Students who come into the U.S. to study face an interesting challenge: how to set up cell phone service. Existing options, such as providers that offer short-term contracts or even pre-paid phones, have distinct disadvantages.

“You have to purchase the phone,” says Chianon Gatewood (BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship ’09). “And they won't be able to use the phones when they go back to their home countries — so now they’ve bought a phone that they can't use.”

It’s a challenge that Gatewood’s entrepreneurship teammate Luz Gossmann faced when she came to study at the UA. “Luz has also traveled in Spain, which has Apelcom, a company that rents phones,” explains Gatewood. “She posed the idea to us.” The team got behind the idea and came together around a venture they call PhoneMe, which developed a plan to rent cell phones to international visitors.

“Buying pre-paid phones ties students to the minutes they use and usually commits them to basic phones with no upgrade options” Gatewood points out. “The students are also required to pay large deposits if they do not have Social Security cards or other forms of U.S. identification.”

In contrast, PhoneMe has two options for international students to access high-quality phones: “The first is to pick up a phone at an international location,” Gatewood says. “Students can select their plan, apply there, and walk away with their phone.” The other option would be to register online and have the phone shipped. “Both of these options require the customer to fill out an application with basic information and a credit card number for a small deposit.”

Gatewood says the team is enthusiastic about the potential for launching the business. “We need to partner with a service provider for the phones and air time,” she says, “but it’s definitely something we would like to pursue.”

View.  Learn more about the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.

Alumni Update:
By Taylor Albers, Journalism '11
Design your dorm, your way, at  

When it comes to moving away from home and into a dorm, there’s a lot for incoming college freshmen to consider.

To help them coordinate with new roommates and check things off the new-room list, Eller alum Bryce Widelitz (BSBA Finance ’08) and Taylor Robinson (Psychology and Business minor ’08) created a company called Design Your Dorm. From personal experience, they understand the stress that comes with moving into a new dorm room. Their company will help dorm-bound students have an easier move-in day.

Working with a web design firm, the two put together a website that will help students decide what items they will need for their future dorm room.  “Our website,, allows incoming freshman to view exact 3D replicas of their dorm rooms before they arrive on campus.  By clicking and dragging objects (bed sheets, posters, laptops, etc.) they can design their rooms to their liking,” says Widelitz. The website also connects multiple roommates to safeguard against ordering duplicate items. received positive feedback at the Association of College Housing Officers International Conference and launched the fully functional website in April. The next step for Robinson and Widelitz will be to use their completed business plan to seek venture capital from qualified private investors.

Eller Presents.

The University of Arizona Executive of the Year: Donald Keough

College namesake Karl Eller, 2009 Executive of the Year Donalkd Keough, and Eller College dean Paul Portney
  Left to right: College namesake Karl Eller, 2009 Executive of the Year Donald Keough, and Eller College dean Paul Portney.

Students, alumni, and corporate partners joined the Eller College of Management for The University of Arizona 2009 Executive of the Year Award, which honored retired Coca-Cola CEO Donald R. Keough.

Keough accepted the award in a wide-ranging speech that touched on the current economic crisis, lessons from his tongue-in-cheek book The Ten Commandments for Business Failure, and his essential optimism for the future. His speech drew a standing ovation.

View.  View online photo gallery from the UA Executive of
      the Year Luncheon.

View.  Read blog entry about the event by David F.
      Raczkowski (BSBA Business Management '09) on the
      new Eller Blog.


Distinguished Speaker Series: Maria Bartiromo

Maria Bartiromo (left) with Eller marketing student Serida Fong
Maria Bartiromo (left) with Eller marketing student Serida Fong.  

On March 12, CNBC anchor and journalist Maria Bartiromo joined Eller College dean Paul Portney for an informal talk as part of the Eller Distinguished Speaker Series.

Community members and students gathered to hear Bartiromo’s insights into the U.S. economy, the new administration, and thoughts on how the U.S. can emerge from this troubled time — as well as details about Bartiromo’s background and early career.

View.  View online photo gallery of Maria Bartiromo's Distinguished Speaker
      Series event.



Eller MBA Networking EventEller MBA Networking Event in Scottsdale

On March 27, members of the UA community, including alumni and current executive and full-time MBAs, gathered at the Eller Scottsdale campus for a networking session. The evening included breakout sessions on how to make yourself indispensable, strategies for success, personal branding, and transitions.

View.  View online photo gallery of the Eller MBA Networking Event.

Save the Date

25th Annual Year-End Entrepreneurship Celebration25th Annual Year-End Entrepreneurship Celebration
Friday, April 24, 2009 : 12:30-5:30 p.m.
McClelland Hall : UA Campus

Join the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship for a rocket pitch session by all 19 ventures in the program, as well as scholarship award presentations, community awards, and the final competition.

Breakfast with the EconomistsBreakfast with the Economists
Thursday, June 18, 2009 : 7:00 a.m.
DoubleTree Hotel Reid Park : Tucson

Join us for breakfast as UA economists Marshall Vest and Gerald Swanson review the national, state, and metro economies at this must-attend mid-year economic review event. Reservations required.

UA logoProfessional Admissions Interviews
Saturday, September 26, 2009 : 7:00 a.m.
McClelland Hall : UA Campus

Volunteer to interview undergraduate students preparing to enter the professional phase of their Eller
College education. Sign up to volunteer now.

Technology and Management Awards LuncheonTechnology and Management Awards Luncheon
Friday, October 16, 2009
Phoenix-area Location TBD

Join the Eller College of Management and the College of Engineering as they honor exemplary leaders who operate at the intersection of technology and business.

Ensuring the Future.

Eller Seniors Give Back
By Serida Fong, BSBA Marketing '09

Ami Doshi and Jane Kim  
Ami Doshi, BSBA Business Management '09 (left), and Jane Kim, BSBA Business Management '09, present to the Eller College National Board of Advisors.  

Eller students may have noticed an increase in the number of tables and chairs around McClelland Hall. “I did a double take. They are nice and modern,” says first-year MBA Jeff Child.

Child is referring to the three brand-new round tables outside the Hoffman E-Commerce Lab. Each table accommodates four chairs and receives ample natural sunlight from the floor-to-ceiling windows. A framed note on the nearby windowsill reads, “Have a seat. Tables and chairs in this area donated by Eller College Student Council, Spring 2009.”

The Eller College Student Council is comprised of 40 members who act as student liaisons between undergraduate students and Eller administration. Each year the council donates a gift to the College that will directly benefit the students.

“The student voice that we were hearing indicated a need for more tables,” says Eller College student council president Ami Doshi (BSBA Business Management ’09).

Along with the idea of giving back through the study space, the council revamped another initiative, the Senior Class Gift, which encourages students to make a one-time $50 donation to the College.

Proceeds from the gift will go towards more areas for groups to work, and any money exceeding the goal will be put into an endowment fund from which differential fee scholarships will be awarded. Also, students who donate will be given the opportunity to place their names on tiles that will be placed in the Broekema Plaza.

“With a $50 donation the senior class can give a sizeable gift, and the tiles allow students to leave their legacy,” says Senior Class Gift Committee Chair Jane Kim (BSBA Business Management ’09).

Previous gifts modified third floor restrooms to include private changing space — enabling students to change into professional attire on interview and presentation days.

Despite trying economic times, the committee has set a goal of $3,750 which, if met, will be matched by the College. “A challenge we face is that seniors want to do donate; but with the economy, it is difficult,” says Kim.

As the class of 2009 approaches graduation, students can’t help but reminisce about their Eller experience. “The Senior Class Gift is our way of motivating the students to say 'Thank you!' to the College,” says Doshi.

View.  Help the Eller College senior class reach its fundraising goal!

Eller's Finest.

Notable News from the Eller Community

Thinking Forward Award winners
  Thinking Forward Award winners (left to right): Kelly Gutierrez, Becky Trump, Jordan Bakken, Amy Adamcin, Luz Marie Gossmann, Kate Thompson, Lisa Eisenberg, and Ryan Shaw.

Eller faculty and staff have been racking up awards and recognition for their hard work and dedication. Congratulations to all!

Think Forward Awards

Eight students were recognized for their exceptional accomplishments in marketing at the annual Think Forward Awards hosted by the Department of Marketing. Congratulations to Ph.D. students Kelly Gutierrez and Becky Trump; undergraduate seniors Amy Adamcin, Jordan Bakken, Lisa Eisenberg, Luz Marie Gossmann, and Kate Thompson; and MBA student Ryan Shaw. As part of the awards, the students will be paired with a leading executive for a day-long shadowing and networking experience. Bakken and Shaw will shadow Jay Geldmacher, executive vice president of Emerson; Gossmann and Adamcin will spend a day meeting with several executives at Cisco Systems in Phoenix; and Thompson and Eisenberg will shadow Robert Eckert of Mattel.

Undergraduate Dean’s Awards

At the Eller National Board of Advisors dinner, assistant professors Bill Schwartz in accounting and Hope Schau in marketing were recognized with the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence. Schwartz was recognized for his design and development of an innovative curriculum for the Accounting Honors Thesis course; Schau was recognized for her noteworthy innovations in Marketing 452: Integrated Marketing Communications. 

Bill Schwartz
Hope Schau
Suzanne Cummins
Cheri Boyer
Robin Breault
Linda Saulsby
Bill Schwartz
Hope Schau
Suzanne Cummins
Cheri Boyer
Robin Breault
Linda Saulsby

Senior lecturer Suzanne Cummins of management and organizations and Cheri Boyer, Robin Breault, and Linda Saulsby of the Business Communication Program were recognized with the Dean’s Undergraduate Course Improvement Awards. Cummins submitted a proposal to experiment with an alternative delivery format for her senior class, Management 402: Business Ethics and Law, to accommodate the schedules of graduating seniors, who need flexible schedules for job interviews. Boyer, Breault, and Saulsby submitted a proposal to develop the Eller Mid-Career Writing Assessment to ensure that all Eller undergraduates can think critically and effectively communicate their ideas in writing.

Barbara Lundquist
Maria Puig
Barbara Lundquist
Maria Puig

Eller College Staff Awards

On April 2, the Eller College of Management Staff Council recognized Barbara Lundquist, office specialist in Undergraduate Programs, and Maria Puig, business manager in the Department of Management Information Systems for their contributions to the College overall.



UA Staff Award for Excellence winenrs (left to right): Anne Pentland, Lori Topp, and Brandie Cudney.
  UA Staff Award for Excellence winners (left to right): Anne Pentland, Lori Topp, and Brandie Cudney.

The University of Arizona Staff Awards for Excellence

These awards — presented annually by the Staff Advisory Council, Appointed Professionals Advisory Council, UA President Robert N. Shelton, and the President's Cabinet — recognize outstanding staff personnel at the University. The University Team Award for Excellence was awarded to the staff of the Department of Management and Organizations. The team of Brandie Cudney, Anne Pentland, and Lori Topp was nominated for its work managing and serving the department's ongoing research, teaching, and service activities.

The Department Award for Excellence was awarded to the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship in recognition of its excellence in managing people and resources.

Pillars of Excellence Awards

Every year, the Honors College recognizes outstanding students who have made a contribution to the UA community and beyond. Congratulations to Ruchika Agrawal (BSBA Business Economics and Entrepreneurship ‘09) and Lon Huber (BSPA Public Management and Policy ’09), who were recognized with Pillars of Excellence Awards on April 2.

Research Report.

Research Update: News from the Artificial Intelligence Lab

Hsinchun Chen  
Dr. Hsinchun Chen, McClelland Professor of MIS and AI Lab director.  

Hsinchun Chen, McClelland Professor of MIS and director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, has been appointed associate editor-in-chief of the prestigious IEEE Intelligent Systems. Chen was recently honored as Distinguished Alumnus of the State University of New York at Buffalo and Distinguished Visiting Chair Professor of the National Taiwan University, Taiwan. His COPLINK project won the INFORMS Design Science Award at the ICIS Conference held in Paris in December 2008.

View.  Learn more about the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.





  Steven Boivie
  Steven Boivie, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations.

Uncovering the Corporate Parenting Paradox

When corporations try to diversify into new technology sectors, startup companies reap the rewards, according to the findings of a new paper co-authored by assistant professor of management and organizations Steven Boivie.

“In order to take off, new industries need a lot of firms to come in — not just startups,” explains Boivie. “We were interested in what existing firms, those that we call corporate parents, bring to this sphere.”

Boivie cites IBM as an example: “When IBM entered the personal computing market in 1981, it was a strong signal of where the industry was going. IBM legitimized the new PC industry. But when we consider their activity in that market over the long term, we see that IBM’s PC business was only very successful for a few years.”

Along with co-authors Donald Lange of Arizona State University and Andrew Henderson of University of Texas at Austin, Boivie analyzed data from the home computing industry spanning 1975-1994. “To become commercially viable, new technologies need to attract investors,” Boivie says. “Start-ups lack legitimacy, and their early products are crude and inefficient relative to alternatives from other industries.” For this reason, multibusiness corporations can play a significant role in moving technology forward.

“Corporate parents have significant resources to devote to research and development in new industries,” Boivie says, “But the paradox is that while these firms’ entry decreases the rate of failure for firms overall, their own corporate children prove to be weaker survivors.”

View.  Learn more about faculty, research, and publications at the Department of Management and Organizations.

Alumni Spotlight.

One Year Out: Succeeding at Facebook
Kristin Thayer : BSBA Accounting and Entrepreneurship '08
Developer Operations Analyst : Facebook

By Serida Fong, BSBA Marketing '09

Kristin Tyaher triptych
Kristin Thayer, BSBA Accounting and Entrepreneurship '08, with Facebook coworkers at the company's holiday party.  

“It’s a young culture. They are working on things that other people have never done before.”

A year ago, Kristin Thayer never imagined that she would be working for Facebook as an analyst on the developer operations platform team. “There’s no company that I would want to work for now more than Facebook,” says Thayer. “It’s an innovative company that is changing the way people share information.”

Thayer has always been interested in entrepreneurship and in the creation of new ideas. This curiosity prompted her to join the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program in her senior year and to later work as a product marketing intern with a small startup, GroupCard, in Palo Alto, California. GroupCard is an online tool that allows users to send and manage e-cards, signed by multiple people, to a recipient. “I had the greatest experience at GroupCard; it prepared me for what I wanted to do at the time,” says Thayer.

During her time at GroupCard, Thayer became familiar with the Facebook platform, which enables external developers to create applications for Facebook users.  As developers continually create new applications, the policies and guidelines must constantly evolve to keep pace with the applications. Thayer and her Facebook team create policies and guidelines for the developers while also working to enhance Facebook’s relationship with them.

“The developers at Facebook are really smart.  Developing effective policies can be difficult.” says Thayer.

When Thayer describes her daily routine, one would be led to believe that she has a heavy technical background, yet her Eller degree is not in MIS, but accounting. After graduating, Thayer took a programming class at Stanford and from then on everything seemed to fall into place.

“It’s a pretty technical company,” she says. “I don’t have a technical background, but I’m learning how to write in HTML or ways to automate certain features that I’m not familiar with. That is always a challenge.”

Thayer is the first Facebook employee who is a UA alum. “I work with a lot of graduates from Harvard and Stanford,” she says. “It’s nice to know my education stands up alongside these other great schools.”

View.  View and join the Eller College group on Facebook [registration required].

An American Developer
Kevin McGibben : MBA '94
Founder and President : 32 South

Kevin McGibben

Kevin McGibben, MBA '94, founded the international market development company 32 South in 2007.


Kevin McGibben came to the UA from the Bay Area to play baseball as an undergrad. “But that was when J.T. Snow was playing first base,” he says with a laugh, “so I got cut pretty early.”

After graduating with a degree in history in ’92, McGibben entered the Eller MBA program, where he focused on marketing and international business. It was an extension of his undergrad work, which focused on Latin American history and Spanish.

“When I graduated in 1994, it was a tough job market,” he says, “but I was lucky enough to find a job as a product manager with Fujitsu.” The company was starting its Americas division at the time, and McGibben worked himself into an international marketing management position.

From Fujitsu, McGibben joined TeKelec as ROW — rest of world — manager. In the late 1990s he was recruited into CIDCO to build and manage their international division. Things were falling into place: “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit that goes way back in my family,” he says, “And by the late 90s, it was clear that I knew enough about the supply-chain side and the market side of the telecom business to be successful with my own company.”

In 2001, he founded an international distribution firm called MI, Inc.; he founded his current firm, 32 South, in 2007. “It’s an international market development company, primarily aimed at helping tech firms strategize and implement their international development efforts,” he says.

About ten years ago, he began thinking about the possibility of writing a book for international managers. “I got a great foundation at Eller and still use the skills that I learned in grad school,” he says. “But I found that international business expansion must be learned through trial and error. I wanted to pull together the knowledge base that I had accumulated so others can learn from my experiences.”

McGibben’s book, American Developer: A Practical Guide to Extending Business Internationally in a World that is Flat in Places, was released in March 2009 and is available on “The book’s been a long time in the making,” he says, “but what really pushed me to finish it was teaching international marketing courses at the MBA program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Getting involved in the academic side of things was a real motivator.”

And that also tied to his heritage: “Both my grandfather and great grandfather were entrepreneurs,” he says, “And one of them also taught at Purdue. So I’m following in their footsteps.”

In This Issue:

In the News

McGuire Entrepreneurship at Work

Eller Presents

Ensuring the Future

Eller's Finest

Research Report

Alumni Spotlight






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