Author: barbourbn

Keeping up the Spirit of Innovation

2On Monday, the VCU School of Business welcomed two notable VCU alumni, Eric Edwards, co-founder of Auvi-Q, and Tonya Mallory, founder of Human Diagnostic Laboratories, or HDL. Both companies are based in the Richmond area and the two entrepreneurs spoke about building the relationship between business and innovation.

“Innovation is identifying a need and solving for that need,” said Mallory, who started HDL in 2009. HDL is a clinical research lab that combines personalized patient treatment with industrial technology. Emphasizing prevention, HDL runs tests that detect early risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes and provides health counseling to reduce those risks. Mallory came up with the idea to create this type of clinic after her older sister, a Type 1 diabetic, nearly died from a heart attack.

“The hospital treated her according to guidelines from the bottom rung of the standard procedure,” said Mallory.

Mallory insisted that her sister remain at the physician after being told that she could go home. Shortly after, her sister had another heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery.

1“My sister lives 45 minutes from the nearest hospital. If I hadn’t insisted she stayed, she would have died.”

Health risks were also the inspiration behind Edwards’ creation of the Auvi-Q

“My twin brother (co-founder) and I have severe food allergies. One year, we were heading to France for the World Cup and we thought we left our EpiPens.”

Even though the EpiPen would save their lives in an emergency situation, the twins rarely carried it around because it was too bulky. Edwards, who studied medicine, and his brother, Evan, who studied engineering, developed the idea of a pen that was not only compact but came with audio instructions so that any and everyone could use it. From there, Auvi-Q was born.

The biggest message Mallory and Edwards offered to students was to not be afraid of risks.

“Always remember that one out of every two start-ups fail,” said Mallory, who took major leaps toward developing her business.

She and her husband cashed out on their savings, their children’s college savings, and took out a second mortgage on their home. They gave themselves a six-month ultimatum to raise $1.5 million. When the time came, however, they were still short.

“On the day we finally signed the deal I bounced a check for $11,” said Mallory. “We ended up with a $3.4 million deal from an angel investor.”

Edwards also hit a roadblock in his business venture when he was sued by Pfizer for infringement on the device’s active drug, epinephrine.

“Not only did we have to engineer the pen, but we had to build the drug,” said Edwards. “We didn’t realize it but we were actually building a pharmaceutical company.”

After stressing the importance of developing innovation, Mallory and Edwards also outlined the importance of sustaining innovation.

“You have to build a culture of innovation that withstands growth,” said Edwards, who recently adopted a Strategic Innovation Team to his company.

Mallory also discussed how innovation is sustained and strengthened by studying the industry and its target audience.

“Keep an eye on the market with a pulse of reality and make sure you have enough resources to compensate for the rate of growth,” she said.

Recently, Edwards sold his one-millionth Auvi-Q and has developed a model that speaks in Spanish. Auvi-Q’s parent company, Intelliject, which is located in Shockoe Bottom, currently has  150 patents for other forms of injectable technology pending globally.

Since opening in 2009, HDL has expanded from a business with 11 employees to over 800 employees, growing at a rate of 5 percent a week. Even with these successes, Mallory encourages her team to keep moving forward and constantly invest in new ideas.

“I always tell my team, don’t ever believe we’ve arrived.”

For more information on Intelliject, click here.

For more information on HDL, click here.

-Article by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

Management and Service Learning is making Wishes Come True through Dance

improv2Management and Service learning is a business course where students learn managerial and fundraising skills and exercise these skills on and off campus. Students are divided into groups of 6 or 7 and host events throughout the year to raise money for a charitable organization. Last Saturday, junior Carly Miks gave a unique spin on her fundraising duties by hosting a improvisational dance session for students and faculty.

“Most of my classmates are majoring in things like accounting and finance. I’m the one random dance major,” said Miks.

The event took place at the VCU Dance Center on N. Brunswick St. Attendees were encouraged to bring a $5-$10 donation in exchange for a open, non-judgmental place to listen to music and move their bodies.

“It’s a very cathartic experience being able to just do what you’re comfortable with and react to the music,” said Miks, who minors in business.

Members performed popular dances like the Cha-Cha Slide and Cupid Shuffle. They also participated in a dance partnering exercise called Catch and Release where two or more dancers move about the room in a cluster and have to find creative ways to catch their partners when they are commanded to fall down.

Improv1All of the evenings proceeds went towards the Make-A-Wish foundation which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. This was one several fundraising initiatives that Miks’ team has hosted this semester to raise money for Make-A-Wish.

“So far we’ve sold bracelets and reached out to our friends for donations. Earlier, my teammate’s friend, who is a massage therapist, set up a chair at a local stop-and-shop and gave five-minute massages to those who gave donations.”

The VCU Dance department has hosted improv dance sessions for students in the past, usually with turnouts of 60 or more. Miks, along with her team’s manager, Scott McCabe, saw this as a fun opportunity to promote the dance department and raise money for their project.

“Even though I’m a manager, I try not to be too autocratic. I give them the reigns sometimes and I love them all to death,” said McCabe, who majors in accounting.

The group’s is three-quarters of the way to achieving their ultimate goal of $1000. Click here to donate to Make-A-Wish and help bring this group closer to their goal.

-Article by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

VP Risk Manager for Walt Disney comes to Speak at VCU

IMG_2062Last Wednesday, the VCU School of Business welcomed Steve Wilder, the Vice President of Risk Management for Walt Disney Company, for a luncheon and afternoon presentation. The event was sponsored by the Spencer Educational Foundation where Wilder served as the President Risk Manager. While the luncheon was geared towards professionals in the risk management and insurance industry, the afternoon session was open to all students and faculty.

“It’s amazing to have such a big name here to present,” said Terence Grier, a senior studying Information Systems. “Even though I’m in a different field, I’m curious to hear [Mr. Wilder’s] story so that maybe I could reach his level of success.”

Over the years, Wilder has acquired dozens of titles and accolades, including President of the Risk Insurance Management Society and being named as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Finance” by Treasury and Risk Management Magazine.

During his college years, Wilder majored in economics. “Studying economics was beneficial to what I do now,” said Wilder, “But the best advice I have for students interested in risk management is to stay dedicated and build strong professional relationships along the way.”

Wilder has been with Disney for over 26 years. Since then, the Disney name was expanded from an animation company with its own theme park to a mega media powerhouse with networks like ABC and ESPN under its belt. “Just today, we launched Fusion television which is targeted towards Latin American adults,” said Wilder.

With Disney’s expanding brand comes an even greater need for risk management. During the session, Wilder stressed protecting Disney’s reputation is a top priority and that nearly every accidental loss is preventable. Nearly every aspect of Disney is carefully insured from its large collection of animated cells to its recurring movie stars.

“The hardest celebrities to insure are Patrick Dempsey and John Travolta,” said Wilder. “Dempsey because he races cars and Travolta because he’s known for flying aircrafts.”

Disney’s Risk Management Division continually plans for disasters. Wilder explained how his team was able to circumvent a major loss in Disney videos games after a Sony warehouse was burned to the ground during the 2011 UK riots. “We worked out a deal with Nintendo…In the end, no sales were lost,” said Wilder.

The session concluded with a question and answer segment and an opportunity for attendees to speak with Wilder face to face.

-Article by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

VCU Business Congratulates Students on Placing 2nd in the National Financial Planning Competition

From left to right: Adam Hancock, Professor John McFarland, Krystal White, Gabriel Martinez

This year, the VCU School of Business came in second place in a national Financial Planning competition for college students. This was the highest ranking for VCU since first competing nearly a decade ago, earning the university $5000 in scholarship funding.

The participants were three executive board members for the Financial Planning Association, an organization for students interested in pursuing a career in financial planning in both corporate and in personal marketplace. Krystal White, President, Adam Hancock, Treasurer, and Gabriel Martinez, Vice President of Member Relations, are all seniors who agree that the best part of the competition was the opportunity to network.

“You have an entire weekend to meet with over a thousand people from different backgrounds all itnerested in financial planning,” said Hancock, who interns with Ameriprise Financial.

Participants came from all schools and businesses across the United States and over 20 international countries, including South Africa. During the trip, Hancock linked with a corporate member of Ameriprise and they are currently in the works to build a stronger relationship between VCU students and Ameriprise employers.

Although the competition took place in sunny Orlando, FL., it was surely not a vacation. Preparation began back in May when the group was given an assignment to enter the first phase of the competition.

“We had to create a financial plan for a mock couple based on their income and financial situation,” said White.

The written plan was about 40 pages long and after its submission, the group was chosen out of dozens of schools across the country to move on to the second phase: the oral presentation.

“Even though we came in second place overall, we won first place where the points are weighed more heavily,” said Hancock.

At the Financial Planning Competition in Orlando, FL.
At the Financial Planning Competition in Orlando, FL.

The oral presentation is worth 50% of the overall score, which is 20% more than the written plan and 30% more than the final phase, a quiz bowl featuring questions from the Certificate of Financial Planning Exam.

“This was the most challenging part,” said White. “We had 30 seconds to answer a question that was about a paragraph long.”

Although the team did not win the bowl, ranking second place proved quite impressive for the VCU School of Business. “Ranking this high while competing against bigger universities like Texas Tech and Utah shows that VCU is capable of competing nationally”, said Hancock.

Aside from the scholarship and new professional contacts, the students left with something even greater; a stronger determination to succeed in their careers. Martinez, who wants to work in the international market one day, says that the greatest lesson he learned from the competition was discipline.

“I never committed to something as much as I have with this competition,” said the 22-year-old. “Good values and integrity take you far. You don’t have to be the smartest person, just a good person with drive.”

For more information on the FPA, please visit their website.

-Article by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

Prospective Students Are Welcomed at VCU’s Fall Open House

Prospective Students and Parents visit various booths to find out more about programs offered.
Prospective Students and Parents visit various booths to find out more about the programs offered.

Last Saturday, VCU hosted it’s first Open House of the semester. The day consisted of tours and information sessions allowing prospective students and their families to get a sense of campus life and academia. Over 100 high school seniors and their families attended a presentation at Snead Hall to learn more about programs within the School of Business. Most students were between the ages of 17 and 18, and each showed a serious interest in pursuing a business-related career.

“I’ve always been really good at math and numbers but I didn’t really know what to do with it,” said Thomas Roberts, a senior from Northern Virginia.

“I joined the investment club at my high school and that’s when it clicked,” he said. Roberts wants to pursue a career in accounting or economics and chose VCU’s School of Business because of its outstanding value as a state school.

This value has earned the University a great deal of national attention. Though most come from Northern Virginia, Virginia Beach, and other nearby cities, many of the prospective students on Saturday came from areas along the east coast, including Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

“I heard about this school from my uncle who lives down here,” said Monique Slater from Long Island, NY. Slater, who wants to work for the international business market, said that the  open house was so impressive that she pushed VCU to the top of her list of possible colleges. “I haven’t heard anything I don’t like about it. Richmond is very different from Long Island, but I’m sure I can get used to it.”

During the presentation, Dean Ed Greir described Richmond’s culture and growing economy. Many found this beneficial, especially since VCU is considered an urban campus.

What Marilyn Glenn, a parent from Virginia Beach, loved most about Richmond was it’s healthy balance of busy city and serene suburbia. Others, like 17-year-old Eric Johnson, were very interested in Richmond’s unique culture and lifestyles.

“Growing up, I used to want to be a musician” said Johnson, who is now interested in studying Information Systems and technology at VCU.

“I started taking art classes in high school and decided that I didn’t want art to be my main curriculum. Richmond does have a great music scene, though, so I can still go to school and do my music thing on the side.”

Student Ambassador President, Ti'Lon Paige, shares the advice she gives to incoming students.
Student Ambassador President, Ti’Lon Paige, shares the advice she gives to incoming students.

Although his decision to attend VCU is not final, Johnson has already expressed interest in participating in VCU’s student radio station, WVCW. Getting involved in campus organizations is the key to making it at VCU, according to Ti’Lon Paige, president of the School of Business’ student ambassadors.

“My biggest regret freshman year was not participating in any programs and staying in a shell,” said Paige, who is now in her senior year. “I tell all new students, ‘Go out there and take what you want.’ You can’t expect anybody else to make college work for you.”

VCU will host its next Open House on November 2. For more information about Open House, click here.

-Article by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

VCU School of Business Career Fair

Senior Mohammed Ziomande registers with a student ambassador to receive updates and additional information about the career fair.
Students and employers pack into the atrium to discuss career opportunities.
Joseph Brummel talks to an employer about summer internships and part-time positions
Joseph Brummel talks to an employer about summer internships and part-time positions.

Last Thursday was the biggest School of Business career fair since its inception in 2008. With over 70 employers and 270 recruiters, “the event was well-suited for a tremendous turnout,” said Nora Baldacci, Manager of Career Services at the School Business. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Snead Hall’s atrium was packed with students and representatives scouting for interns, part-time and  full-time employees.

Although this is the fall edition of the career fair (another is scheduled in the spring) employers were already looking for students to fill positions for next summer.

“I’m here now so I don’t have to worry about it later. I don’t want to wait until next semester to start scrambling around [for internships] like everyone else,” said junior Joseph Brummel.

Competition is a great factor to consider while on the job hunt. With the number of students almost tripling the number of employers this year, one may find it hard to stand out amongst the crowd. Accounting student Mohammed Ziomande said that the key to finding success at a career fair is to do your research.

“When I found out that the top four accounting firms usually hire athletes, I joined the crew team,” said the 27-year-old. Since attending his first career fair almost three years ago, Ziomande has spent his time discovering what employers in his field are looking for in potential candidates. He hopes his attendance at the career fair has helped him land a job after he graduates in December.

The diverse range of employers, from Verizon Wireless to Frito Lay, offered opportunities for an even wider range of students. Those interested in marketing, information technology, production, and many other concentrations were able to find positions within each company.

“I think the variety of employers is what made the event so successful,” said Mike Eisenman, Director of Career Services for the School of Business. Although preparation began in June, employers were still attempting to register their tables just hours before the fair. The surge of applicants reflects how Virginia’s economy is starting to pick up after years of decline. “More companies mean more hires and, in turn, a need for more hires,” said Eisenman.

To ensure the next career fair is equally as successful, Eisenman hopes to have more diversity and encourages employers to build their relations with students. “If you’re scouting for student employees, they need to know who you are. It’s a great idea to have information sessions after a career fair, or even before.”

The next School of Business career fair will take place early next semester. For more information, be sure to check out

-Story by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

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