Author: lkoliver

Alumnus Rich Reinecke to address School of Business graduates

Rich Reinecke headshotOn Saturday, December 9, 2017, Rich Reinecke will return to his alma matter to address the graduating class at the School of Business Commencement Ceremony.

As a recruiting industry veteran and the co-founder of The Fahrenheit Group, Rich Reinecke has a unique blend of large corporate experience and an entrepreneurial spirit. He works with every level of business, from emerging growth and middle market to Fortune 500 companies, and is key in client development and talent recruitment, both internally and for clients. As a founding partner of The Fahrenheit Group, Reinecke brings more than 20 years of dynamic experience to the firm, and is a well-networked connector. This gives his firm the ability to leverage relationships to help clients accomplish their goals.

After launching a career in the executive-search industry, Reinecke had the opportunity to become an entrepreneur. He launched Career Quest in 2002 and built a successful, highly reputable executive search firm. He connected with his partner, Keith Middleton, to launch The Fahrenheit Group in 2010. Since then, Reinecke and his team use their collective experiences to make an impact for the firm’s many clients. He is instrumental in building a unique culture at Fahrenheit while creating a great place for the team to work. The company has been named one of the best places to work in Virginia for consecutive years and is a finalist of the RVA Impact Award.

Reinecke graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in marketing and is very active
in the business community, serving on several boards, including the Venture Forum, the VCU School of Business Department of Management Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and the Virginia Council of CEOs Advisory Board.

VCU Alumni Win Governor’s Datathon 2017


Members of the winning team with Governor McAullife
Members of the winning team with Governor McAullife

Recent grads of the VCU School of Business Decision Analytics Professional Track (DAPT) program took first place in the 2017 Virginia Governor’s Datathon: Using Data and Analytics to Battle the Opiod Crisis.

Subhash Jaini, Sharat Tadimalla and Sam Waters, all class of 2016, and Khai Wisler, 2017, were on the winning team, which was comprised of data scientists from Analytics Adventures and staff from the Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine. Other alumni and faculty from the program also participated in the competition.

The Governor’s Opioid Addiction Crisis Datathon is a groundbreaking competition that brought together multi-discipline teams comprised of individuals from government, higher education, private industry, and non-profits together to take new and existing datasets and turn it into actionable information that will support the Governor’s goal of using data and analytics to stem the tide of the opioid crisis, reduce addiction harm, and save lives.

Data stewards from health, public safety, and other agencies across federal, state, and local government and health systems provided existing and new non-sensitive de-identified data to this challenge for the teams to explore and use.

For more details

VCU School of Business to receive $2.5 million from CoStar Group for endowed chair

VCU School of Business Dean Ed Grier (left forefront) and CoStar Group CEO Andrew C. Florance shake hands after signing the agreement for the CoStar Group Endowed Chair in Real Estate Analytics as Laura Kottkamp, executive director of VCU School of Business Foundation and Corporate Relations, and Jay Davenport, vice president for development and alumni relations at VCU, look on.

October 12, 2017

Virginia Commonwealth University today announced a $2.5 million gift from real estate data firm CoStar Group to establish the CoStar Group Endowed Chair in Real Estate Analytics in the VCU School of Business.

“In establishing the CoStar Group Endowed Chair in Real Estate Analytics, we aim to bring the intersection of big data and real estate together to bring more transparency, velocity and efficiency to the global commercial real estate market,” said Andrew C. Florance, founder and CEO of CoStar. “Dr. David Downs, Alfred L. Blake Endowed Chair of Real Estate and director of the Kornblau Institute, and his team have done a tremendous job in taking a leadership role in developing the next generation of real estate professionals, and we want to provide VCU with the resources necessary to support and grow that effort.”

Florance founded CoStar in 1987, fundamentally changing the way commercial real estate professionals access, use and share information. Through CoStar, Florance pioneered the concept of commercial real estate firms outsourcing research functions to a third-party information provider. CoStar is among Forbes magazine’s 2017 list of 100 most innovative growth companies in the world, placing it among the top 10 companies within the software and services category.

“We are thrilled and excited to receive such a generous gift from CoStar,” said Ed Grier, dean of the School of Business. “The VCU School of Business and CoStar are natural partners with our common focus on creativity, analytics and innovation. We couldn’t have a better partner for our university and community.”

Read the full story from VCU News

VCU Ph.D.s Shine at Academy of Management

Congrats to VCU School of Business doctoral alumnus, George Banks (Ph.D., 2012), who was awarded the Early Career Award by the Research Methods Division of the Academy of Management at their Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

In addition, a paper with VCU doctoral student Sheila List as lead author was one of five nominees for the Best Paper award in the Research Methods division of at the Academy of Management.  (List, S. K., Kepes, S., & McDaniel, M. A. (2017). Sensitivity analysis on the relation between extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation. Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management Annual Meeting).

In receiving the Early Career Award, Banks follows in the footsteps of VCU graduate Ernest O’Boyle, (Ph.D., 2010), who won in 2015. Fresh off returning from Atlanta yesterday, S. Douglas Pugh, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Management, shared the good news. He says, “Clearly, we have established ourselves as a very strong program in this domain, and we are keeping company with faculty from some pretty impressive research schools.”

Early Career Award (sponsored by Sage Publications and CARMA)
Awarded to scholars who have made distinguished contributions to research methods, practice, and education during their early career stage. Candidates for the 2017 award must have received their PhD no earlier than 2010.

Year Name Doctorate From Current Institution
2017 George Banks Virginia Commonwealth University University of North Carolina at Charlotte
2016 Louis Tay Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Purdue University
2015 Ernest O’Boyle Virginia Commonwealth University Indiana University
2014 Nathan Podsakoff University of Florida University of Arizona
2013 Zhen Zhang University of Minnesota Arizona State University
2012 Mike Zyphur Tulane University University of Melbourne
2011 Mo Wang Bowling Green State University University of Florida
2010 Daniel Newman Pennsylvania State University University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Marketing Undergrads Kick Off Promotional Video Project









The VCU School of Business Department of Marketing is pleased to announce the kickoff of a promotional video project that will be conceptualized, planned, and executed by three undergraduate marketing students.

The video project is funded through the School of Business’ EPIC initiative. The three students, Sydney Weise, Wilson Tolbert, and Jacob Belvin, won the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with VCU University Relations on this project by winning a pitch competition amongst a pool of other marketing students.

The students will work through the end of May on the project and the promotional video will debut for the Department of Marketing in early June 2017.

Ben Jones (ECON’92) to Give VCU Business Undergraduate Commencement Address

Ben Jones









Alumnus Ben Jones will give the VCU School of Business Undergraduate Programs Commencement Address in a ceremony at the Siegel Center on Saturday, May 13.

Jones is the chief regulatory relations officer for Wells Fargo and serves in regulatory compliance risk management. His group is responsible for the RCRM enterprise regulatory coordination function and the RCRM Regulatory Resolution Management Office. Before joining Wells Fargo in 2014, Jones served as the head of regulatory affairs for Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Americas, for four years. Prior to that, he was the regulatory relations coordinator for Citigroup Global Compliance for five years. Jones began his career in 1992, when he joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond as a bank examiner, and was formally commissioned in 1997. He worked in a variety of areas, including bank examinations, surveillance and monitoring, and risk and policy, during his more than 14-year tenure with the Federal Reserve Bank.

He is based in San Francisco and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics, summa cum laude, from Virginia Commonwealth University.

For ceremony details, see

Diane Leopold (MBA’98) to Give VCU Business Graduate Programs Commencement Address

Diane Leopold

Alumna Diane Leopold will give the VCU School of Business Graduate Programs Commencement Address in a ceremony at the Dominion Arts Center on Saturday, May 13.

As president and chief executive officer of Dominion Energy, Diane Leopold oversees a business unit responsible for 2.3 million natural gas customer accounts in five states; 14,400 miles of natural gas transmission, storage and gathering pipeline; nearly 51,000 miles of gas distribution pipeline; more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas storage; and 1.3 million retail energy and related services customer accounts in 13 states.

Her recent positions include senior vice president, Business Development and Generation Construction; senior vice president, Dominion Transmission; and president, Dominion Energy. Leopold is member of the board of trustees of Virginia Union University and recently served as president of the board of trustees of the Virginia Commonwealth University Foundation. She also serves as chair of the board of directors of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and is a member of the board and executive committee of the American Gas Association.

She graduated from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering. She received a master’s degree in electrical engineering (energy conversion, power and transmission) in 1993 from George Washington University and an M.B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1998.

For ceremony details, see

VCU Executive MBA Students Win ACG Cup

ACG team

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business took first place in the 2017 Richmond ACG Cup competition held on February 21, 2017 at the offices of presenting sponsor, Williams Mullen.  VCU team members included Executive MBA students Catherine Brisland, Thomas Cleary, Greg Creel, Sarah Crews and Keith Perkins.  Associate Professor Greg Waller served as the team’s advisor.  In addition to the first place scholarship award of $2,250, Virginia Commonwealth University earned the right to display the Richmond ACG Cup Trophy for the next year.

The Richmond ACG Cup is a unique case study competition designed to give students from the commonwealth’s leading MBA programs invaluable insight into mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, and private equity.

Four MBA teams competed for $5,000 in scholarship money for their schools.  University of Richmond placed second, winning a $1,250 school scholarship; The College of William & Mary’s Mason School of Business placed third, winning $1,000. The finalist team from Virginia Tech earned $500.

Creative competition hones students’ presentation skills

Featured photo
Contestants in the School of Business’ first Creative Communication Competition including, from front left, winners Vanesa Luis-Guerra, Tammie Goode and Sara Falzone.
You won’t get very far with even the greatest idea if you can’t present it well. That’s the thinking behind Creative Communication by Design, one of the original winners of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business’ EPIC Challenge.

This year, Creative Communication by Design launched its own challenge for students — the Creative Communication Competition. On Feb. 3, 15 School of Business students competed for cash prizes by presenting on everything from fuel cells and whiskey to 401(k)s and tattoos.The event was a pilot for what the team hopes will become a larger, annual event, said team member Shannon Mitchell.“The Creative Communication by Design team develops School of Business graduates to be great creative problem solvers who can sell their ideas to investors, colleagues, clients and customers,” she said.

Contestants in the competition all completed the School of Business’ Winning Presentations — a course in which professional actors teach business students techniques to improve their communication and presentation skills. The friendly competition gives these students a venue to hone their skills after leaving the course while generating a common understanding of what a great presentation looks like among students and faculty. It further develops VCU business students as excellent presenters.

Interested students first submitted a one-paragraph description of their topic. After an initial screening, they received one-on-one coaching from Marisa Guida, course coordinator for Winning Presentations. Students whose skills were not competitive were not permitted to go forward.

Tammie Goode, a junior marketing major, won the prize for best overall presentation for “Qatar Leadership Exchange.”

Marketing senior Vanesa Luis-Guerra presented “VCU Backpacking Abroad Program,” which won the award for the most persuasive presentation.

Sara Falzone’s “Stuck at the Sunflower Table” earned the senior marketing major the award for best use of story in a speech.

Judging the competition were Alison Linas, assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Hanover County; Ryann Lofchie, chairwoman of The Frontier Project Group of Companies and CEO of Frontier Academy; Suzanne C. Makarem, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing; Regina Nguyen, director of marketing and property manager for SugarOak Management; S. Douglas Pugh, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Management; and Sammy Santosh, account manager of Torx Media.

Creative Communication by Design comprises Mitchell, Guida, Laurel Adams and Sam Seeley from the School of Business and Aaron Anderson and David Leong from the School of the Arts.

In addition to coaching students on writing and presentation skills, the Creative Communication by Design team proposes developing capacity of faculty members to inspire creativity in their students and elicit great communication skills, and continuing field research on best practices in business communication to bring the results back to the classroom.

What could you create with spare change, some sticky notes and an abundance of VCU pride? The possibilities are endless

Featured photo
Day 3 of the challenge called for participants to create something using or inspired by Sticky Notes.

One day, long before the VCU School of Business enacted its EPIC strategic plan to promote creativity, Ken Kahn, senior associate dean, gave a light bulb — the symbol of ideas — to every faculty and staff member. It was a reminder that sometimes constraints kill ideas before they’re ever born and so faculty and staff should remain vigilant.

Suzanne C. Makarem, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, and the 2016–2017 creativity czar, turned her light bulb into a necklace Feb. 10 to show her VCU School of Business pride. She did this on the final day of the school’s recent Creative Sprint, a 10-day challenge where faculty, staff and students were encouraged to create something different each day.

As czar, Makarem collaborated with a handful of colleagues to create each day’s challenge. Unlike a similar 30-day sprint held in the fall, this one was School of Business-centric.

“The 30-day one was done for the whole nation, everyone could participate,” she said. “This one was specific to the School of Business … we tried to link it a little bit to the way we think about things. And we tried to spread the word more and make it only 10 days.”

Day 1: Make something that fits into the palm of your hand using the materials in your immediate environment
Day 2: Make something with or inspired by coins, any coins you can get your hands on
Day 3: Make something using or inspired by Sticky Notes
Day 4 : Make something inspired by a graph or chart
Day 5: Start something and have someone else finish it
Day 6: Find a creative way to pay someone a compliment or say “thank you!”
Day 7: Make something inspired by a business hero or the person who inspired you to join the business school
Day 8: Make something and leave it for someone else to discover
Day 9: Have someone teach you something you don’t know and do it
Day 10: Make something that shows your VCU School of Business pride

The group added incentives, such as prizes each day, and created a Facebook page where participants could post their creations.

“We made it more collaborative,” Makarem said.

About 200 people joined the Facebook group. Some participated all 10 days, but others could pick which days they wanted to contribute based on the task. A table was set up in the Snead Hall atrium for one hour every day to remind passersby of the sprint and give them a place to create.

“People would come to the table and say, ‘Oh this is so cool,’” Makarem said. “Even the ones who didn’t create were like, ‘Oh, it’s so cool that we’re doing this.’”

Prizewinners were selected randomly — an important distinction to Makarem.

“It wasn’t based on judging the work,” she said. “And that’s what creativity is all about, putting ideas out there and not being shut down. So there was no prize based on judging what you did. It was just random.

In the midst of all that creativity is fun.

“Seeing everybody’s creations was just fun and one of the comments I kept getting was ‘this is fun.’ It’s part of our culture. It is creating that culture and environment of creativity and also training our brain, but in the midst of all that creativity is fun. And when you do what you do while having fun, that’s when you’re the best at it.”

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