Category: Executive MBA

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.

Greek vintner entering U.S. market with VCU assist

ikos Kavounis, second from right, is bringing his Greek sparkling wine to the U.S. with help from VCU MBA students Jonathan Stoffer, left, Matt Guise and Kristina Friar. Photo by Jonathan Spiers, Richmond BizSense.
ikos Kavounis, second from right, is bringing his Greek sparkling wine to the U.S. with help from VCU MBA students Jonathan Stoffer, left, Matt Guise and Kristina Friar. Photo by Jonathan Spiers, Richmond BizSense.

A trio of graduate students in VCU’s School of Business is helping a Greek vintner uncork the U.S. market.

Kristina Friar, Matt Guise and Jonathan Stoffer, three students in the school’s executive MBA program, spent the past year developing a go-to-market strategy for Chimera sparkling wine, marketed by Athens-based Oinovation.

Nikos Kavounis, founder of Oinovation – its name a combination of “innovation” and “oinos,” the Greek word for wine – met the students last year at a business incubator when they visited Greece through the school’s “Global Challenges” program. The trips expose students to facets of international business and tasked them with helping entrepreneurs and startups with various challenges.

The challenge for Kavounis was how to market Chimera, a sparkling wine infused with organic saffron, to U.S. importers and distributors. Through the strategy the students developed, Kavounis was connected with three importer-distributors, including Richmond-based Athinian Imports Inc.

Read the full story in Richmond BizSense

“The lessons that will stay with me forever.”


EMBA class of 2016 student, Kimberly Fields, recently travelled to Greece for the “Global Challenges” portion of the EMBA program. In a recent article posted on Dominion’s blog, You. The People of Dominion Kimberly discusses the rewarding experience abroad and the lessons she brings back with her.

Enlightening visits with the locals, engaging cultural events, business meetings and traditional classroom lectures helped us better understand not only the state of the country’s economy and lack of governmental structure, but also the history and legacy of its people. There is no doubt that the answer to its past struggles and future stability lies in the hearts of its people. Their pride and belief in their country still stands strong, even in the midst of unemployment and poor financial conditions.

And although it’s been kept quiet, there is a movement growing in Greece. These start-up businesses realize there is an opportunity to create market solutions that will contribute to the rebirth of the economy. This isn’t a perspective you gain by reading newspaper articles or listening to CNN. You have to be there. I left the country proud that I was able to experience the issues, but also contribute to the beginning of the solution.

Read the full article here: MyWord_ICP

Why We Give – Trish and Jon Hill

Trish and Jon Hill

Trish and Jon Hill are Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business alumni multiple times over. Both were double majors in Accounting and Information Services (B.S. ’85), earned their MBAs from VCU (Trish in ’92, Jon in ’99,) and in 2012, Jon completed a master’s degree in Information Systems. Today, Trish is a senior lead analyst with Altria. Jon is a full-time accounting teacher at VCU, treasurer for VCU Alumni and faculty advisor for both Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) and the Executive MBA program.

Long-time supporters of the VCU School of Business Annual Fund, the two recently made a $25,000 pledge designated for the BAP Excellence Fund to be paid over five years. Half of their pledge is made possible by Trish’s employer, Altria, through a matching gift program.


Why do you give?

We both went to VCU on the G.I. Bill. VCU offered us a profession and a career. We are appreciative of that. Nobody truly does anything on their own, and we remember, with gratitude, the many teachers and mentors who helped us along the way. It’s an honor to be included with many alumni that give back and to know we are helping someone else achieve their dreams.

We also give to encourage others to give. VCU is the heart beat of Richmond. We’ve seen firsthand how the decrease in state funding has affected the school and we really believe that alumni are best suited to fill that gap.

Why did you designate your gift for the BAP Excellence Fund?

The fund financially supports VCU Accounting students to give them a leg up and a view into the profession. With the BAP Excellence Fund, we’re trying to create a sustainable endowment so students don’t have to raise the money needed to develop their professional and technical skills.

For example, this summer we accompanied some of our accounting students to the BAP annual meeting in Atlanta. There were more than 1,000 students at this convention hearing from world-class speakers, learning best practices and networking with students from around the world. Conferences like those give students exposure to career possibilities that exist.  We went into our careers blind. If we’d attended a conference like this, we might have gone into something a bit different, like forensic accounting; it’s fascinating.

One thing that sets VCU students apart is that so many of our students work while attending school. Employers love their work ethic. Many are first-generation Americans or first-generation college students. They’re busting their tails, and that’s why the BAP Excellence Fund is so important. It supplements them by improving their professional skills and connecting them to future employers.

What’s the benefit to giving?

The President of VCU Alumni, Baxter Perkinson, says all the time, “We don’t know where VCU ends and we begin.” A lot of our social life is built around VCU – basketball games and alumni events. There are so many wonderful people and so many fun things to do. Being involved with VCU keeps us young. We love it. It’s so rewarding to see our students achieve success.

Executive M.S. in Information Systems – IT Management program travels to Austria

virginia-students-at-wuThe Executive M.S. in Information Systems – IT Management program recently traveled to Austria for their international trip.  While in Austria, the students visited BRZ (Austria Federal Computing Center).

During the international trip lead by Professor Heinz Roland Weistroffer, they visited Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna visiting various universities and IT organizations. Click here to read more about their trip.

For more information on the Executive M.S. in Information Systems – IT Management program, click here.

Shaka Smart Talks Leadership at Investors Circle Event

Despite the recent resurgence of rumors saying Shaka Smart is leaving VCU for another high-caliber college basketball program, the beloved coach is here to stay.

Last week, The VCU School of Business Foundation hosted a dinner for the school’s Investors Circle at the Jefferson Hotel. Invited to Tuesday night’s dinner was Coach Shaka Smart, who participated in a Q-and-A session with moderator Dr. Jean B. Gasen, Executive Director of the School of Business Center for Corporate Education.

The theme for Tuesday night’s discussion, “Instilling Leadership On and Off The Court,” had Dr. Gasen ask Smart questions regarding the basketball team, Smart’s impression of the student athletes he’s mentored, his coaching philosophies and core values on and off the court.

DSC_5062Having graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon University and earned his master’s in Social Science from California University of Pennsylvania, Smart developed a love for quotes from historical figures. Playing off his well-known admiration of poetry, history and motivational speaking, many of Dr. Gasen’s questions were preluded with quotes from writers and historians such as Sun Tzu and Robert Frost.

Dinner guests had an opportunity to see and hear Smart in a much more intimate setting with the coach answering questions with personal vignettes, recalling stories about being an assistant-coach at Florida University and Clemson and learning to become a leader and mentor for his student-athletes.

Smart also talked about his own family and being a father to his two-year old daughter Zora as well as being heavily influenced by his mother who raised him and his five siblings as a single parent.

DSC_5083When asked by a dinner guest what the greatest feeling Smart has felt as Head Coach, Smart replied that it hasn’t been winning and earning accolades, but instead seeing the student-athletes he watched grow and develop make something of themselves.

“Last week when we were recruiting in California, me and the team were watching Troy Daniels with the Houston Rockets on TV in the playoffs,” Smart said. “I don’t think I had ever been more proud watching him play.”

During Game 3 of the Houston Rockets playoff series with the Portland Blazers, VCU alumnus and A-10 record holder for the most three point field goals in a game, Troy Daniels hit a game winning three-pointer with 11.0 seconds left on the clock.

“I know Troy is going to succeed – in basketball or whatever he does – because he’s a hard worker and knows how to follow directions,” Smart said. “I know it sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference.”

DSC_5077After the dinner and discussion period, guests and members of the Investors Circle were invited to meet and take pictures with Smart.

For members of the Investors Circle, events and dinners such as these provide social and recreational outings for the network comprised of local businesses, charities and VCU alumni.

“It was fantastic. I completely enjoyed it,” said Davenport & Co. Senior Vice President and Head of Business Development Clay Hilbert. “We were founded in 1863 here in Richmond. We’ve been here a long time and we’re happy to be a part of the growth here in Richmond. I think VCU has done a phenomenal job in helping improve the city. We’re big supporters of the School of Business.”

While some members of the Investors Circle are individual donors, many local companies and businesses, such as Davenport & Co. donate to the school and offer invitations to Investor Circle events throughout the year to their employees.

DSC_5070Brandon Hey, a VCU alumnus from 2011 and current underwriter for Markel Insurance, said he was invited to Tuesday night’s dinner through his employer.

“It was a great event and so well put together. I really enjoyed it,” Hey said. “He [Shaka] was a very good speaker. I liked how he applied his coaching staff, the outside work force and the students into his answers.”

Individual memberships costs for the Investors Circle begin at $1,000 and Corporate at
$2,500. For more information, please visit or contact Katy Beishem at 804.827.0075 or  

To read the event coverage from the Richmond Times Dispatch, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

School of Business Awards Ceremony


On Friday, April 11th, the School of Business held its Awards Ceremony in the Snead Hall Atrium recognizing outstanding students, faculty and staff.

We want to congratulate all of the award recipients for their hard work and dedication in furthering themselves as well as the School.  We are proud to have such incredible individuals a part of the School of Business community.

Below is a list of all of the award recipients along with an image gallery.



Find out more about the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement here. 

Decision Analytics Executive M.S. Program Hosts March Madness Event, Talks Big Data and Basketball

IMG_1442Much like in the business world, Professional and collegiate-level sports teams use data to improve their game and gain an edge on the competition.

For the VCU Rams’ Men’s Basketball team, players and coaches utilize the same concepts taught in data-centric business classes to succeed on the court. Dissemination of data from practice and games help our student-athletes compete at a high-caliber level.

Earlier this month, The School of Business held an event at the Tommy West Club in the Siegel Center for professionals interested in enrolling in the brand new Executive M.S. in Business with a Concentration in Decision Analytics program.

The program offers professionals and executives an opportunity to obtain their Masters Degree over the course of 15 months while continuing their respective careers.

“Analytic work is taking large amounts of data and gaining insights on information out of that data so strategic and tactical decisions can be made,” said Stephen Custer, a VCU professor who will be teaching the class. “It’s a combination of data processing, being able to handle and manipulate the data, making sure it’s valid, and statistical analysis, the process of getting insight from that data.”

Custer says there is a demand for people with deep analytical skills in the professional world. According to McKinsey, that demand is expected to reach 60 percent by 2018.

The demand is also needed on a more local level, especially in Richmond. In the previous year, an advisory board of members from the local business community also expressed a need for workers with data analysis skills.

Custer says the advisory board was instrumental in bringing the executive program to VCU. With input from local businesses and experience in running other weekend format Professional Track programs, the School of Business will graduate professionals while not interrupting prospective student’s ongoing careers.

Sam Sparks, a contractor with the Department of Defense, applied to the program a few weeks after enrollment opened. Having graduated from VCU in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Sparks says he was initially interested in coming back to enroll in the Executive MBA program, but was referenced to the Decision Analytics Executive Program by faculty in the School of Business.

“I’m hoping it will get me into deeper analytics,” said Sparks. “I’ve been doing analytics for awhile, but to get into the upper echelons of analytics you need a Masters Degree. I’m trying to learn a couple more techniques to do consulting or work in an analytics department of a company.”

Sparks attended the interest session for applicants to the Executive Program earlier this month and won a raffle for tickets to the VCU and St. Bonaventure game that was held on March 8.

In addition to interested professionals invited to the event, businesses such as Suntrust bank and other financial institutions took part in the event to raise awareness for the program. Coaches and staff from the VCU Athletic Department also attended the event, with members of the coaching staff speaking about the importance of data analysis in sports.

“Our coaching staff breaks down a ton of video footage, but myself and some of the men’s basketball graduate assistants break down a lot of the statistical information on a high level from points per possession to the production of certain lineups and combinations,” said Scott Day, Athletic Director for Athletic Communications. “I hand the coaching staff a packet of about 40 pages of stats after every game.”

Regular admission applicants are expected to finish their applications by mid-April. Director of Graduate Recruitment William Miller says the first cohort of the Executive Program will be made up of about 20 to 30 students.

Aside from traditional advertising, Miller says the program is generating interest from professionals in organizations such as the American Management Association and Virginia Premier Health Plan.

“It’s a marriage of two things we’re already doing well,” said Miller. “Answering a community need and delivering it in a weekend format.”

Those interested in the program can attend the last two information sessions before the deadline for applications. The online sessions will be held on Thursday, March 27 and Tuesday, April 1 at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

For immediate questions, please contact Stephen Custer at

For more information on the program, please click here.

Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist




9th Cohort of Fast Track Executive M.S. in IT Managment Kicks Off with Josh Mohrer of Uber NYC

Uber is a Transportation Network Company that uses a mobile app to connect clients with drivers in a timely fashion.
Uber is a Transportation Network Company that uses a mobile app to connect clients with drivers in a timely fashion.

The Fast Track Executive M.S. in Information Systems Management class started last week, bringing a conglomerate of new and experienced professionals seeking to bolster their education.

The class is designed to give students a Master’s Degree in Information Systems in 14 months. The class begins every Spring semester and expects to graduate its students by the May of the following year.

Alumni from the program have gone on to a number of reputable positions in a variety of businesses. Since the program began, alumni have gone on to become Directors of Technology, IT Security Managers, Chief Information Officers and Executive Board Members.

Students from this year’s class will become the ninth cohort in the program, which graduated its first class in 2006.

Steve Harris, VCU Class of ’94, is one of the new students in the FTEMS program. Harris originally graduated from VCU hoping to work in law enforcement. Because of external factors, Harris instead found a career in IT and has been involved in the field for the last 20 years. Harris says he decided to enroll in the FTEMS program after a friend completed the program and recommended it to him.

“The class will help make me marketable in not just Richmond, but everywhere else,” Harris said. “I’d like to meet some new challenges and hopefully find international work.”

The 9th Cohort Began their first class of the program on February 28, 2014
The 9th Cohort Began their first class of the program on February 28, 2014

In addition to disciplines of Information Technology being taught, most classes in the Fast Track program include guest speakers who are IT leaders in business. Over the course of the 14-month program, the FTEMS Program Director Maureen Carley says students can expect to meet upwards to 50 business executives during class meetings.

“The technology business leadership of the Richmond community has been unbelievably generous in sharing their time and experiences with the students in this program,” Carley said. “It’s what sets this program apart from any other program that’s remotely like it.”

The first class of the semester included guest speaker Josh Mohrer, an IT executive from Uber NYC. Acting as the General Manager for Uber, Mohrer’s skills helps manage the company’s mobile app-focused business.

Uber serves as a ride-sharing and driver service where customers use the app to find drivers in their area and are given a quote based on their destination. The company was founded in 2009 and operates in over 70 cities. Menlo, Goldman Sachs, and Google Ventures are some of the companies’ largest investors.

The invitation of such guests provides a chance for students in the program to not just learn from community leaders, but gives them a chance to network with the professionals who are their classmates in the program.

“One of my favorite stories from the program is about a student, from the class of 2011, who had a nice position already,” said Carley. “Now he’s working for HCA – Capital Division. In less than three years of completing the class, he found that position and hired four of his classmates from the program. That shows the power of the network.”

Nancy Kuppich, a graduate of the 2013-2014 FTEMS class, was invited to the first session of the 2014-2015 class. Kuppich says she loved the class and immediately made time in her schedule to attend after receiving her invitation.

“Taking the class, I was exposed to things I never really thought of before,” Kuppich said. “It made me a much more rounded technology person.”

Kuppich currently works for a software consulting firm named Customer Effective. She says businesses like Uber are often mentioned in her offices, heralding Uber’s customer-relations management. Because the business model of Uber is grounded in using a mobile application, Kuppich says invited speakers from business like Uber provide insight to the business of IT Management.

“We (Customer Effective) tell the Uber story as part of what we do with customer-relationship management,” Kuppich said. “The importance of apps and responsiveness to your customers’ requests and needs is related exactly to what we are doing.”

Carley believes the academics of the program provide great insight into the evolving nature of IT. “Not only are the academics held to a high standard, but the network the program opens up to its students is unrivaled,” according to Carley.

“The ability to network with not just your peers, but these high-level executives with one-on-one mentoring is unheard of,” Carley said. “The coaching and development is an epic piece of it. I have seen unbelievable success stories and it’s been so rewarding.”

For more information on the Fast Track Executive M.S. in Information Systems Management program, click here,

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

School of Business Hosts Nearly 90 Businesses For Biggest Career Fair to Date

Jerrold Price, a Claims Manager with Nationwide Insurance, interviews sophomore Abhisek Sabbe
Jerrold Price, a Claims Manager with Nationwide Insurance, interviews sophomore Abhisek Sabbe

The School of Business hosted its 2014 Spring Career Fair last week, featuring the largest number of visiting recruiters to date.

Despite being held on a make-up day due to the season’s ever-changing weather, the event drew nearly 90 businesses looking to hire VCU students and alumni.

This semester’s career fair was held in Snead Hall and the Qimonda Atriums. The wing of the Engineering School was used by the fair for the first time in order to accommodate all recruiting business’s exhibits.

With a 23 percent increase in companies attending from previous fairs, students had an opportunity to solicit information about jobs, internships and other opportunities with businesses looking for budding young professionals.

According to the School of Business Career Services, nearly 700 students attended the career fair.

Snead Hall “There was great participation by employers and students,” said VCU School of Business Career Services Director Mike Eisenman. “The employers were extremely complimentary of not just the volume of participation, but also the quality.”

Eisenman says at least one student was hired immediately after speaking and turning in a resume with one business. Twelve companies had already scheduled interviews with VCU students prior to the career fair as well, according to Eisenman.

“There are a lot of qualified individuals,” said Elizabeth Cane, a Regional Property Manager with Dodson Property Management. “We’ve gotten a lot of excellent questions. Everyone seems serious about this job fair and students are taking advantage of a great thing here.”

Joe Dodd, VCU Class of ’12, attended the fair as a recruiter with Geico. Dodd currently works for Geico as a Management Development Associate in Auto Sales and said he was happy to help recruit from his alma mater.

“I attended all of the career fairs while I was at VCU and I made a lot of good connections,” Dodd said. “If you see a name you recognize or something you’re interested in, my advice is to go up and just introduce yourself.”

Geico recruiters Joe Dodd, VCU '12, and Sean Clark
Geico recruiters Joe Dodd, VCU ’12, and Sean Clark

Abhishek Sabbe, a sophomore double majoring in Information Systems and Computer Science, said he attended the fair in order to find an internship for this upcoming summer.

“The Career Fair has been amazing because it has given me an opportunity to learn more about different companies I had never heard of,” Sabbe said. “It’s let me put my name out there and provides real job opportunities.”

New to this semester’s career fair were more businesses in developing fields such as Supply Chain and Analytics. Eisenman says professors like Wayne Slough were instrumental in attracting companies to recruit at the fair.

Eisenman says the Career Fair is mutually beneficial for both students and businesses, creating opportunities for both parties to be successful.

“Employment is good right now.It’s a good time to be looking for a job if a student is taking advantage of the resources available,” Eisenman said. “They need talent. That’s the reason they come and we have that talent here.”

For information on upcoming Career Fairs and career building workshops offered by the School of Business Career Services, click here.

Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

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