Category: Management

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 https://sites.google.com/vcu.edu/graduatebusinessceremony/home

Hourigan and Stone Brewing Co. host VCU School of Business for inside look at massive new craft brewery

Henley tourA group of the brightest minds at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business got an early look into one of the biggest economic development projects in Richmond in decades: Stone Brewing Co.’s East Coast production and distribution facility in the Greater Fulton community.

Eyeing future careers in business strategy and finance, the students tossed out questions about the business strategy, use of bonds, and of course the beer-brewing process to leaders at both Stone Brewing Co. and Hourigan Construction, which fast-tracked the 213,000-square-foot facility to suit the brewer’s needs in only 14 months.

The building was completed in February and its store and taproom opened late that month. Stone is expected to begin test brewing at the end of April.

The tour opened with an introduction to the facility from Juliellen Sarver, Stone community relations manager and resident of Greater Fulton, who provided the history of the city landing Stone Brewing Co., a contract that was announced in late 2014. Stone, as she and many others have noted, has been a shot in the arm for a community with a median household income of $17,000. Fulton has no bank, no grocery store, no pharmacy or other key community needs, she notes, but with Stone, that’s likely to change in coming years.

“Stone came here with reason, and that reason was to grow a community,” Hourigan client solutions manager Michael Henley told the assembled group of VCU students. The facility is expected to create more than 200 jobs, Sarver noted, and is already drumming up economic development studies and further interest in growth in the area.

Henley and Sarver fielded questions from students ranging from the strategies behind the construction of the facility (built to suit the needs of Stone, which made tenant improvements and will lease the facility for 25 years with the option to purchase), the $60 million worth of equipment inside it (owned by Stone), to the piping throughout the massive facility. As construction manager, Hourigan also worked closely with Stone’s own engineers to build a facility that could grow over time and fill craft beer demand for decades to come. Stone will ship its brews up and down the east coast, Canada, and as far west as the Rocky Mountains through this Richmond based facility.

Hourigan is a regional construction company based in Richmond, Virginia, that is both active in the community and a strong supporter of Virginia universities.

For the VCU students, the Stone Brewing Co. project represents a unique opportunity to learn about:

  • the impact of a construction and economic development project on a community;
  • the business strategy and culture that the West Coast based brewery brings East;
  • and the technical requirements to create a complex industrial and process engineering facility.

Through Hourigan’s relationship with VCU School of Business professor Bob Kelley, the event was a perfect opportunity to showcase a high-profile project, and a business, Stone Brewing Co., which experienced 78 percent growth in 2013 before deciding to open a new facility.

“Our approach to education is that we must not only build facilities that create incredible learning environments for students, but also get the people of Hourigan out into the world and get hands-on with the leaders of tomorrow,” said Mark Hourigan, president of Hourigan Construction, which actively recruits engineering and construction students from many of the great universities in the state and other regional schools.

“Our students thoroughly enjoyed an early inside peek at the operations and have a deeper respect for the business, engineering, and construction decisions that went into the operation,” says Kelley, the VCU School of Business professor. “The facility is beautiful, and what Stone and Hourigan have created is exciting for Richmond. We loved seeing a construction project come to life.”

Thanks to Hourigan for the tour and for sharing this article!

Alumni win $500k in World’s Largest Business Idea Competition

ACe and Justin taking their half million dollar selfie

 

Congratulations to VCU School of Business alumni Justin Kauszler and ACe Callwood (tweet pictured above) and Matt Russo, co-founders of Painless1099, on their $500,000 win in 43North, “the world’s largest business idea competition.”

Per the company description on the 43North website, “Painless1099 helps independent contractors (think: freelance designers and real estate agents) save for tax season. Through a smart bank account, Painless109 automatically withholds taxes based on user information and then deposits what is safe to spend directly to a user’s personal checking account. This allows contractors to focus on the work they know, while automating savings and avoiding an unexpected bill from the IRS during tax season.”

In an email to VCU entrepreneurship faculty members and other supporters, ACe said, “We were awarded a $500K investment along with office space for (at least) a year and a slew of in kind services through partners here in Buffalo, NY. Congratulations have been rolling in all week and we’re trying to keep up with responses, but know that we’ve read all of your notes and will reply – even if it takes a few days! We obviously wouldn’t be here without your help, support, encouragement, and votes, so this is a heartfelt thanks from the entire Painless team. Now the real work begins!”

Read more about their winning idea: 43north.org/painless1099

Check out the coverage in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Research team with Frank Bosco mentioned in NY Times article

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.00.30 PMFrank Bosco, Ph.D., assistant professor of management  was on the research team for the major study published in the journal Science investigating if “suspect science was a widespread problem.”  The study was recently featured in The New York Times article, “Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says”. Read the full article, here.

 

 

Creating young leaders: Boot camp coaches high school students in entrepreneurship

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On July 18–19, the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, along with Junior Achievement of Central Virginia, hosted its first Entrepreneur Bootcamp, a program that coaches rising juniors and seniors at area high schools to think like an entrepreneur.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, along with Junior Achievement of Central Virginia, recently hosted its first Entrepreneur Bootcamp.

The high school students not only learned the basics of being an entrepreneur, but also directly applied their experience at the boot camp to plan an innovative, budgeted solution to a real community problem, helping VCU continue to deliver on its commitment to community engagement.

“It’s not a simulation. It’s not a case study,” said Jay Markiewicz, executive director of entrepreneurship programs at the VCU School of Business. “It’s, ‘Hey, help us solve some of these problems,’ and, ‘How would you build a business around that?’”

Students, divided into five teams, worked on problems concerning family, school or the public. Teams brainstormed to identify problems within their assigned community and presented their solutions to their parents and a panel of judges, who evaluated the projects and declared a winner.

The winning team recognized that students are hesitant to discuss bullying incidents with administrators and suggested creating an app as a platform to speak out anonymously.

The app would serve as a record of the incidents and notify administrators immediately of the report. The team received gift card prizes amounting to $300.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.20.13 PMThe boot camp inspired students to think creatively to address a need and to use entrepreneurship tools to make a difference.

“It’s about an educational experience that gets them to think differently,” said Yedda Stancil, VCU alumni and entrepreneur. “It’s for the students to know that we’re all unique for a purpose and an entrepreneur is a great thing to be if that’s what they are.”

Community sponsors such as Stancil, Junior Achievement, General Electric and Maxx Potential contributed more than 70 percent of the
cost to keep registration fees at a minimum.

“It’s a really great program. I know I learned a lot,” said Tyra Wade, a student at Varina High School and media intern at Capital One. “By next year I would have already started my business, and I’ll come back. Maybe I’ll learn more skills.”

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, along with Junior Achievement of Central Virginia, recently hosted its first Entrepreneur Bootcamp.

 

Subscribe to the weekly VCU News email newsletter at http://newsletter.news.vcu.edu/ and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox every Thursday.

Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy in Morocco

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.43.41 PM

Monday, June 1, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and its strategic partner the International Institute of Higher Education Morocco will lead the inaugural Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy in Casablanca, Morocco, this fall.

Sponsored by the Ford Fund — the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Co. — the entrepreneurship academy will teach local entrepreneurs with varying backgrounds the skills, tools and entrepreneurial mindset to develop creative ideas and grow new ventures.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.43.53 PM

“Entrepreneurship plays a critical role in energizing communities and stimulating economies. I have no doubt that the new Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy will make a difference in Morocco, and VCU is proud to play a leading role in this exciting venture,” said Ed Grier, dean of the VCU School of Business.

Faculty from the VCU Department of Management traveled to Casablanca earlier this week to begin their work with IIHEM. The project scope includes identifying students, interviewing local businesses to understand their needs, co-creating the content tailored to local needs, administering the application and acceptance process, and then finally delivering the workshop with the idea that this is just step one of the overall long-term plan for growing entrepreneurship in Morocco.

“The VCU School of Business has an existing partnership with IIHEM, with whom we offer joint degree programs in finance and marketing,” said Doug Pugh, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Management. “The relationships developed through that partnership allowed us to develop this opportunity to work with Ford on the Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy in Morocco. It is exciting because it just shows how one relationship can grow into multiple opportunities. The visibility provided by this program can impact our ability to attract talented international students to VCU. It exposes our faculty to the challenge of applying our knowledge in new international contexts, and it is already leading to new research collaborations between faculty at the two partner schools.”

The academy will be offered twice in the fall as a two-day workshop, covering creative thinking, business models, regulatory and legal issues, financials, marketing, branding and business plans. Jay Markiewicz, executive director of entrepreneurship programs, will oversee the workshops on site.

“VCU is bringing to the table deep expertise in entrepreneurship education and IIHEM is bringing their insights of the local culture and norms,” Markiewicz said. “Integrating the two results in a powerful offer with impact for the local economy in Morocco.”

The Ford Fund supports innovative programs that help the motor company’s neighbors, concentrating on community, education and safe driving. Ford is opening 13 retail facilities in North Africa this year, three in Morocco.


 

About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.

VCU Business student awarded the Boren Scholarship

Wilson,-Asya-feature (1)

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.15.56 PM

Thursday, May 7, 2015A Virginia Commonwealth University undergraduate student has been awarded the David L. Boren Scholarship to study in the United Arab Emirates during the next academic year.

Asya Wilson, a native of Atlanta, is a sophomore majoring in business administration with a concentration in international business management in the School of Business. She will use the award to become proficient in Arabic while also taking international business courses at the American University of Sharjah, in the UAE.

“The economy in the UAE is quickly growing,” said Wilson. “It is a very business-oriented country and often referred to as a center for trade and commerce. As an international business major, it appeared to be the perfect place for me to pursue my interests in both business and Arabic.”

Wilson is currently enrolled in VCU Globe, the university’s global education living-learning program, and attributes her readiness to apply for the Boren scholarship to her participation in the program. “Being a part of Globe gave me a unique advantage that many universities don’t offer their students,” she said. “My experiences in this program, along with my language interest, really gave me the confidence that I needed to feel like receiving the Boren was even a possibility.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.17.11 PM

Wilson was also encouraged by the faculty of VCU Globe who shared with her their experiences abroad. “Their excitement and willingness to help me and others take advantage of opportunities to study abroad was encouraging,” she said.

“Asya is an enthusiastic participant in our program, and we are delighted that she has been awarded the Boren scholarship” said Jill Blondin, Ph.D., director of VCU Globe, who supported Wilson’s application. “Winning this award is a real testament to her academic excellence and her passion for addressing international issues.”

Fellowship recipients are expected to fulfill federal service requirements. Wilson hopes to work in the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Foreign Commercial Service Officer.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. The scholarships promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion and are part of the National Security Education Program, a federal government initiative to enhance national security by increasing understanding and interaction with foreign cultures and languages.

Wilson applied for the Boren Scholarship through the VCU National Scholarship Office. VCU students interested in applying for a Boren Scholarship or other nationally competitive scholarships should contact the office at natlscholar@vcu.edu or (804) 828-6868.

 


About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.

2015 Thalhimer Scholarship Luncheon

Thalhimer Scholarship recipients Mariam Bello (undergraduate) and Miles Dumville (graduate) with Harry and Marcia Thalhimer

The annual Thalhimer Scholarship Luncheon was held at The Jefferson Hotel on Friday, February 6th, 2015. The Charles G. Thalhimer Family Endowment was established at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business through a generous gift from the family in 1986. In addition to supporting the Thalhimer Executive-in-Residence and the Thalhimer Scholar-in-Residence programs, the endowment awards two merit scholarships annually, one for a top graduate student and one for the top undergraduate student.

Mariam Bello, this year’s recipient of the undergraduate award, is a senior with dual majors in accounting and finance. While at VCU, Mariam has been involved in many student organizations including Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Honors Society, Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society, and the Business Student Ambassador program. In addition to holding leadership positions in three student organizations, Mariam tutors at the VCU campus learning center. After graduation this May, Mariam plans to take the CPA exam, and hopes to live and work abroad in the future.

Miles Dumville, this year’s graduate recipient, is currently pursuing his MBA at the VCU School of Business. In addition to his full-time coursework, Miles has served on the School of Business Strategic Planning Committee as well as the Master’s Program Committee. He was also recently invited into the Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key academic honor societies. His interests include marketing, finance, real estate, the outdoor industry, the hospitality industry and not-for-profit humanitarian and conservation organizations.

Both scholarship recipients attended the lunch, as well Dean Ed Grier and members of the Thalhimer family, including Harry Thalhimer and his wife Marcia.

Transforming students into responsible citizens

 

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015

Manika Avasthi encourages her colleagues in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business to incorporate service learning into their curriculums, which results in a win-win situation for everyone involved, she says.

Avasthi teaches organizational behavior — a field of study devoted to understanding and explaining the attitude and behavior of individuals and groups in organizations — and has included a service-learning component in her class since fall 2013.

“It gives students an opportunity to put into action the various life skills such as persuasion, influence, decision-making and creativity, motivation, negotiation and teamwork,” Avasthi said. “It also helps them to understand and address community-related issues.”

Moreover, the community gets an additional workforce full of energy and enthusiasm while the School of Business provides an active learning environment to the students that encourages creative thinking and creative problem-solving.

“In doing so, we take a step towards realizing the university’s commitment to ‘sustainable, university-community partnerships that enhance the educational, economic and cultural vitality of the communities VCU serves in Virginia and around the world,’” Avasthi said, referencing Quest for Distinction, the university’s strategic plan.

Capture-walk_to_endThis past semester, Avasthi’s two sections of MGMT 319 had 95 students working in 16 teams. Together the group raised $11,130.88 for Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Alzheimer’s Association and VCU School of Business Foundation, providing 1,950 hours of community service in the process.

Each class functions like an organization, with a CEO (the class instructor), senior managers (teaching assistants) and team managers and members. The senior managers act as liaisons between the instructor, team managers and partnering organizations.

The student teams organized various mini-fundraising events for these organizations, contacting more than 100 businesses in and around Richmond. Students managed and coordinated all the mini-events, including developing the appropriate fundraising strategy, identifying and getting access to suitable individuals and organizations, persuading them to contribute to the cause, and ensuring that the project progressed at an appropriate pace.

Events included a two-week competition at Cary & Belvidere Residence Hall. The floor that raised the most money for the Children’s Hospital Foundation won a pizza party. Other events included “haircut for a cause,” proceeds night at nearby restaurants and recruiting teams for the Alzheimer’s Walk and the Walk for CHoR. Almost 15 percent of the money raised came from crowdfunding sites such as fundly.com and gofundme.com.

Charities were chosen based on the needs of the charity and the ones that the students related to the most, Avasthi said.

The course succeeds in providing a broad range of learning experiences and opportunities through community engagement,” Avasthi said.

“It helps students in the School of Business see the relationship between their private interest and the interest of the larger community, a key component in transforming the students into responsible citizens.”


Subscribe for free to the weekly VCU News email newsletter at http://newsletter.news.vcu.edu/ and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox every Thursday. VCU students, faculty and staff automatically receive the newsletter. To learn more about research taking place at VCU, subscribe to its research blog, Across the Spectrum athttp://www.spectrum.vcu.edu/

Entrepreneurship course delivers students behind the scenes at startups

Jeremy Rogoff of Kickup, a startup that connects teachers with thought partners and mentors within their extended community, introduces the company to Jay Markiewicz's class on the first day of the consulting project.
Jeremy Rogoff of Kickup, a startup that connects teachers with thought partners and mentors within their extended community, introduces the company to Jay Markiewicz’s class on the first day of the consulting project.

The project? A seven-week gig in which the students worked in teams as consultants for area entrepreneurs and their startup companies.

“I’m guessing everybody’s going to get an A because it’s going to be their No. 1 project,” Markiewicz said at the start of the semester. “And I’m going to find out that that’s not going to be the case, but until that’s not the case, I am holding that every student is going to get an A.”

One of Markiewicz’s beliefs is that to learn to be an entrepreneur, you have to be an entrepreneur. What better way, he thought, to have students experience life as an entrepreneur than by working closely with an actual entrepreneurial startup organization?

To find businesses to participate, Markiewicz didn’t need to look far. An accomplished entrepreneur himself, Markiewicz partnered with Todd Nuckols of Lighthouse Labs, an incubator for local startups that were eager to participate. In his day class, six different student teams worked with one startup. In his evening class, two growth companies each worked with three different student teams.

On the last day of the consulting project, Jay Markiewicz addresses the participants.
On the last day of the consulting project, Jay Markiewicz addresses the participants.

The incentives for the local businesses to entrust their companies to students were manyfold. Each consulting team comprised six students. Even if the students worked a mere three hours per week — although Markiewicz estimates they worked much more — that adds up to more than 120 hours of free consulting for each business. Not only did students help the companies solve some kind of problem, they also gave the companies the opportunity to gain the competency in asking for what they need.

That’s one problem Markiewicz sees often. Companies will spend $10,000 to hire a consulting team to help with a problem, be it understanding their market segment, or a website that’s not returning the hits or revenue stream needed. In the end they get what they asked for but not what they actually needed.

“A lot of companies, especially startups, don’t know what they need,” Markiewicz said. “It’s hard to know what you want. It’s the old adage, ‘I don’t know what I don’t know.’ [The students] are going to go through the process of learning how to ask for something that they need. Then, in the future, if they ever hire consultants they can rest assured that the money that they’re investing has a higher possibility of returning what they need.”

Markiewicz asked the participating companies to come up with a very clear problem statement to engage the respective consulting teams and set them up for success, and a community businessperson with business or consulting experience mentored each team.

At the end of the project, the student teams presented their recommendations to their clients and peers.

Jonathan Hill wanted help with market research for his company, Hourwise. In addition to conducting research on the company’s customer market and competition, the students also helped design, produce and execute a few marketing strategies.

“We put together a flier campaign that tested different ways to reach contractors and they also helped with our Facebook and Google Adwords campaigns,” Hill said. “In a short amount of time the students were able to execute on a variety of tasks. Some of the marketing results showed interesting signals about what our target market responds to and what they are looking for.

“We had a great experience, and the initiative forced us to rethink some of our strategies. It was great to have to work closely with a group that wasn’t familiar with our company or industry and what it takes to get quality work and understanding out of that effort.”

As an observer at the presentations, Mark M. Gambill, chairman of Cary Street Partners, whose son is CEO of one of the clients, Nudge, was impressed with the students’ grasp of their respective companies, especially given the short period of time.

“I think entrepreneurship is very much spot on … and I think Richmond has become a real hotbed of it, which is even better,” Gambill said. “And the VCU School of Business is just a perfect place for that to be brought together.”

As for his two goals at the start of the semester, Markiewicz is happy with the outcome.

He asked the class if this was the best project they have ever done at VCU. At least 80 percent of the students agreed.

“Sweet! And they didn’t raise their hands because it was an easy, lax, joyride of a project,” Markiewicz said. “This project was extremely complex, with high stakes — beyond the stakes of the grade — multifaceted and multi-relationship. I feel the students had an incredible amount of personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. This project created a sense of engagement and challenge that raised the bar on a student’s approach to their academics. They rose to the challenge. And, in rising to that challenge, realized what they could accomplish, which was something beyond what they thought possible. Learning experiences like that are rewarding.”

As for whether the project set up the students for success going forward, again, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Students commented that they have already added the experience to their resumes, learned creative problem-solving, experienced what it’s like to be an entrepreneur or learned how to work through ambiguity.

While not every student will get an A — Markiewicz expects most of the projects will earn an A or B — the consulting project will continue, thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response from the students, mentors and client organizations.


Subscribe for free to the weekly VCU News email newsletter at http://newsletter.news.vcu.edu/ and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox every Thursday. VCU students, faculty and staff automatically receive the newsletter. To learn more about research taking place at VCU, subscribe to its research blog, Across the Spectrum athttp://www.spectrum.vcu.edu/

Powered by VCU blogs