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VCU conference explores risk management issues tied to today’s workers

“Navigating Risks & Challenges of a Changing Workforce” will take place Tuesday, March 7, at Snead Hall, 301 W. Main St., first floor. Registration opens at 7:15 a.m.

Keynote speakers are Antonio Canas and Janet L. Walsh, Ph.D.

Antonio Canas.
Antonio Canas

 Canas, a self-described “insurance nerd,” blogger and speaker, is a prominent voice of the millennial generation in the insurance industry, helping it understand how to engage this large demographic that will soon make up more than 50 percent of the workforce.

Janet L. Walsh, Ph.D.
Janet L. Walsh, Ph.D.

Walsh is CEO and president of Birchtree Global, a business services firm that provides the legal, financial, tax and human capital infrastructure for globalizing businesses. She is also an adjunct professor of global business in the executive MBA program at the New York Institute of Technology.

“This year’s RISC Conference will explore and address many of the talent risk exposures facing organizations,” said Tim Cook, director for the Risk and Insurance Studies Center at the VCU School of Business. “Attracting and retaining quality employees moves an organization from good to great. The conference will provide insight into the challenges associated with talent risks by presenting a variety of topics, including the overall exposures of an organization, analyzing data, creating the future workplace, the impact of wellness and navigating the changes with the incoming millennial talent.” The conference is open to all and is geared toward insurance, risk management and human resource professionals. Sponsorship and proceeds from the conference provide for student development, enrichment and scholarships.

To register, visit https://vcubus.hobsonsradius.com/ssc/aform/B00z3wd7lk20x6700kB3.ssc?_ga=1.25182009.507660737.1460734841.

Examples of art, design are everywhere, says 2016 Executive-in-Residence

Craig Dubitsky, founder and CEO of Hello Products, models a 1970s Panasonic R72 wearable radio while speaking to a marketing class at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business.<br>Photos by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs
Craig Dubitsky, founder and CEO of Hello Products, models a 1970s Panasonic R72 wearable radio while speaking to a marketing class at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. Photos by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Red exit signs drive Craig Dubitsky nuts.

“What do you do when you see the color red? Stop. If there were a fire, would you want to stop?” asked Dubitsky, the VCU School of Business 2016 executive-in-residence. “It kills me. It drives me crazy. My level of agitation with these things is what’s driven me.”

Dubitsky, founder and CEO of Hello Products, a line of friendly, natural oral health care products, sees the design of everything, everywhere.

There is no such thing as a boring category, he said. People care about everything. In his case, it’s exit signs.

“Politics isn’t boring,” he said. “We care about everything. If you care about it how can it be boring? Everything is art. Life imitates art. Let’s create the art we want in our everyday lives. … You’ve got to make whatever you’re working on look awesome. If it isn’t cultural, emotional, economically relevant, it’s not innovative. If no one [cares], it doesn’t matter.”

Everything is art. Life imitates art.

People need to feel something, he stressed. If creatives don’t feel something first, how can they expect anyone else to feel passionate about their products? What’s more, the bar is set low everywhere.

“Most things kind of suck,” Dubitsky said.

The good news is innovation and opportunities are hiding in plain site.

Take the oral health care industry. Dubitsky found it not only unfriendly but downright offensive, with its aggressive marketing and packaging that promises to kill, eliminate and destroy odor, germs and bacteria.

“I was like, WTF?” Dubitsky said, noting that the global icon for good oral health is an extracted tooth. “Where’s the function, freshness, fashion, flavor?”

So Dubitsky created Hello toothpaste, which tastes awesome and does the same job as harsher products, but with healthier ingredients.

“No one was doing that. No one’s made toothpaste you can eat,” he said before squeezing about two tablespoons of Hello’s fluoride-free paste into his mouth and eating it.

Hello Products was named one of the top challenger brands — small brands that disrupt bigger brands — two years in a row, by the Challenger Project. But Dubitsky doesn’t want to be a challenger, he wants to be a questioner: “Why the hell wasn’t it always like this?” he asked.

“Innovation is word that gets abused a lot,” Dubitsky said. “Most people think innovation is technical. To me innovation is creating something that people fall in love with. We’re winning on an emotional level. Its an emotional innovation.”

The key, he said, is cultural currency — knowing what people want before they do.

Prior to launching New Jersey-based Hello Products, Dubitsky disrupted the home products industry as a founding board member of green-cleaning upstart Method Products and created a sensation again as co-founder of lip and skincare maker eos Products.

He met the Method founders when they were just two guys making soap in their bathroom.

“Who ever thought soap could be cool?” he said.

Now, Method is a piece of art you use every day.

VCU Decision Analytics Students to Compete in Governor’s Workforce Innovation Datathon Finals

Congrats and best wishes to Diya Abraham, Subhash Jaini, Garima Oza, Praveen Sreepuram and Khai Wisler, Decision Analytics Program, Department of Supply Chain Management and Analytics, School of Business. The Decision Analytics students formed a team that is one of five finalists for the Governor’s Workforce Innovation Datathon Challenge.

From left: Garma Oza, Diya Abraham, Gov. Terry MuAuliffe, Praveen Sreepuram, Khai Wisler and Subhash Jaini.
From left: Garma Oza, Diya Abraham, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Praveen Sreepuram, Khai Wisler and Subhash Jaini.

In August, the team faced off against 16 teams from across the state in the two-day live analytics challenge. The teams had two days to take a new, highly enriched and curated Jobs Demand dataset and turn it into actionable information to support the governor’s goal of filling the more than 250,000 open jobs in Virginia’s postindustrial service economy.

Five teams from various businesses and professional organizations, including the VCU students, were selected to move to the pitching and judging round, which will happen Sept. 7.

Two of the other top five teams have direct connections to the School of Business’ Masters of Decision Analytics professional track program. Spenser Ferguson, Class of 2016, is on one of the final teams and Bill Cannell, an adjunct professor, is on the defending champion VDOT team.

VCU Mandela Fellows Actively Approach Leadership with SEAL Team Physical Training

Mandela Fellows Pose with the SEALS and Members
A group of tired yet exhilarated Mandela Fellows posed post-training with SEAL Team Professional Training staff near Belle Isle. “It boosts the spirit of collaborating, of challenging all situations, all kinds of issues. There is no barrier for me. I can now achieve bigger things, and we are taking this to Africa guys!” said Eric Casinga, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

By Shalma Akther
Intern, VCU School of Business Communications & Marketing

In business, leadership can be approached in countless ways – but none quite like the SEAL Team Physical Training that the Virginia Commonwealth University Mandela Fellows experienced on July 15th. VCU School of Business alumnus Timmy Nguyen connected the fellows with John McGuire, CEO of SEAL Team Physical Training, Inc., who offered the free session. 

Since June 20th, 50 Mandela Fellows have been at VCU learning about entrepreneurship and government through academic coursework and experiential leadership training as part of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. “I think what is amazing about this program is that I got to be in the same room, for six weeks, with African leaders. We got to unite. We collaborated. We shared ideas. I was with very smart people that inspired me,” fellow Itumeleng Phake (Tumi), from South Africa.

SEALs await the introductions of the fellows
SEAL Team Physical Trainers awaited introductions of fellows

Since 1998 the SEAL Team Physical Training has provided an outdoor alternative to the gym. McGuire said, “Our new mission is to help individuals and teams reach their full potential. And what I love about the program is you get a chance to meet people from all over the world.” McGuire takes his knowledge from past experiences and his time as a US Navy SEAL to implement practice regimens for its diverse members and anyone else seeking training. “We’ve helped division one basketball football teams win fourteen championships in the last six years. Now we’re a small part of that, but I learned in the military there really is nothing like teamwork to bring out the best in people.”

Fellows and SEALs Complete Exercises Together
Fellows, VCU staff and SEAL Team PT staff completed exercises together

In addition to promoting confidence, SEAL Team PT also focuses on leadership and teamwork. Mandela Fellow Ndahafa Hapulile from Namibia stated, “What I like about this is the combination of mental strengthening and physical, so I felt this was a part of building my character because this exercise was very intense. However, it helped me to go beyond what I thought was my limit, so now I’m not even sure what my limit is anymore.”

As an observer I was able to witness their leadership progress. One could see the growth of communication between the fellows and the ongoing motivation each one demonstrated, while striving to achieve a common goal of seeing each other be successful in the various tasks. As a result, the fellows became an efficient and effective team, while taking the concept of what it means to be a leader to new heights, and understanding the world of possibilities available when one can effectively work together with others.

Fellows cheering on and awaiting further instructions
Fellows cheered a united “hooyah!” and awaited further instruction from CEO John McGuire

“I think what come out of this program is that we’ve collaborated. We understand that we are unity and that we need to work together to succeed as a continent, as different countries, and that’s what I’ll take out of this program,” Phake summed up his experience. Of his morning at SEAL Team PT, Phake said “I loved it! I think it shows that working as a team, that’s when you’ll achieve a lot more goals. A lot of times we are very selfish in doing things, and what it just shows is that if we work as a unit, we can achieve things better. And it’s very difficult because people have different personalities. But here we had to stay afloat. And I think teamwork makes the dream work.”

VCU School of Business cohosts Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

MWF fellows with Dr. Rao and faculty and staff
The VCU Mandela Washington Fellows on opening day with VCU President Rao, School of Business Dean Ed Grier, Dr. Nanda K. Rangan, associate dean for international and strategic initiatives, Michaela Bearden, director of the Center for Corporate Education, and other VCU faculty and staff from the Global Education Office and Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

Fifty of Africa’s brightest emerging leaders in the areas of public management, business and entrepreneurship are spending June 20-July 31 in Richmond participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

For the second consecutive year, Virginia Commonwealth University will host this prestigious flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative and President Barack Obama’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of global leaders. The program is co-sponsored by the VCU Global Education OfficeL. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and School of Business.

MWF Fellows with Dr. Rao“Part of what we hope you’ll learn from this experience is that it is mostly your initiatives that will make the biggest differences in this world,” VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., said to the fellows at a welcome reception Monday. “A world full of people who absolutely, positively need your leadership, need your initiative and need you to be thoughtful about their concerns.”

The School of Business will host 25 fellows in a business and entrepreneurship institute. Fellows will attend sessions in Snead Hall with VCU faculty members and business practitioners to gain knowledge in critical topic areas such as creativity and ideation, entrepreneurship, brand management, analytics, technology, grants and more. In addition, fellows will be out-and-about in the business community with site visits such as Luck Stone, Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Each fellow is matched with a peer collaborator from the local business community for networking and information sharing.  In addition, International Coaching Federation-certified coach Lynn Ellen Queen of Queen & Associates, recruited 44 professional coaches from around the world to provide 10 one-on-one coaching sessions to each fellow — two sessions in the U.S. and eight once the fellows have returned to their home countries.

The other 25 fellows will participate in the public management and leadership institute through the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. This institute will expose participants to world-renowned scholars in the fields of governance, management, administration and leadership across the public and nonprofit sectors.

“We hope that the inspiration that has already begun to formulate in you will flourish completely and will enable you become the strongest leaders imaginable,” Rao said. “If VCU can be a small part of strengthening your ability to truly make a difference in the lives of millions of others, then we feel wonderful about that.”

The combined cohort of fellows will attend the 54th annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello on July 4 and were also welcomed at a special reception hosted by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe at the Governor’s Mansion on July 20.

The fellows at VCU are part of a larger group of 1,000 being hosted across the U.S. this summer. Upon completion of their program, these exceptional young leaders will meet with President Obama during a summit in Washington, D.C. Select fellows will also receive hands-on experience through six-week placements with U.S. companies, organizations and government agencies.

Fellows are young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions or communities.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by the International Research & Exchanges Board, an international nonprofit organization that provides leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media and foster pluralistic civil society development.

For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov and join the conversation with #YALI2016.

Thomas Receives Two Microsoft Research Awards

Manoj ThomasManoj A. Thomas, Ph.D.
Assistant professor and director of technology Department of Information Systems
School of Business

Microsoft recently granted Manoj Thomas two $20,000 Microsoft Azure research awards. The first award is to assess consumer sentiment about medical marijuana in social media. He will collaborate with VCU doctoral student Dapeng Liu. The second award is for a Continuing Medical Education capacity building, on which he will work with Mahabir Pun, winner of the renowned Magsaysay Award, a prize that celebrates transformative leadership in Asia. Both projects will use different Microsoft Azure-based technologies.

Thomas has been involved in information and communication technology projects around the world and his research has been published and presented internationally.

School of Business Foundation Welcomes New Trustees

At its May 20, 2016 board meeting, the VCU School of Business Foundation elected two new trustees. Welcome!

William GiffordWilliam F. Gifford, Jr. (B.S.’92/ACCT)
Chief Financial Officer
Altria Group, Inc.

Billy Gifford serves as Chief Financial Officer, Altria Group. In this role, Gifford is responsible for the Accounting, Tax, Treasury, Audit, Investor Relations, Finance Decision Support and Strategy & Business Development organizations. He also oversees the financial services business of Philip Morris Capital Corporation. He most recently was Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development.

Since joining Philip Morris USA in 1994, Gifford has served in numerous leadership roles in Finance, Marketing Information & Consumer Research and as President and Chief Executive Officer of PM USA. Prior to that, he was Vice President and Treasurer for Altria. In this role, Gifford led various groups at Altria Client Services including Risk Management, Treasury Management, Benefits Investments, Corporate Finance and Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis.

Gifford received a bachelors degree in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business in 1992. Prior to PM USA, he worked at the public accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, now known as PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.

John D. O'Neill

John D. O’Neill, Jr.
Partner
Hunton & Williams

John O’Neill’s practice focuses on public-private infrastructure development, public finance, capital finance and complex commercial lending. Substantial experience in structuring transactions for a broad range of public and private infrastructure projects, including airports, roads and highways, convention and conference centers, educational facilities, government administrative facilities and water and wastewater facilities.

O’Neill received his B.A. from the University of Richmond and his J.D. from the Pepperdine University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Virginia Bar Association, the Richmond Bar Association, the National Association of Bond Lawyers, and a member and past president of the Bond Club of Virginia.

Further information on his work as an attorney can be found at hunton.com/john_oneill

In Memoriam: Richard T. Redmond, D.B.A.

Richard T. Redmond, Ph.D.The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business mourns the loss of a beloved professor and leader, Richard T. Redmond, D.B.A., who served the school for more than thirty years.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Shippensburg University and his doctor of business administration in decision science from Kent State University, Redmond joined the school in 1983 as a faculty member in the Informations Systems department. From the beginning, his gentle manner, humor and ability to inspire the best in others earned him the gratitude and respect of students and colleagues alike.

He served as chair of the Department of Information Systems from 2001-2012. He proved to be an able leader with a kind heart and earned a reputation as “the best guy you’ll ever work for.” Under Redmond’s leadership, the VCU School of Business became the first business school in the country to achieve accreditation by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET for the undergraduate program in information systems.

Redmond could not have been prouder when in 2005, a student team garnered national attention by winning the Microsoft Imagine Cup, and he made sure that the company executives in Redmond, Wa., took note and started recruiting at VCU. That same year, Redmond led the department to launch the very successful Executive MS in Information Systems program, which is known for its effectiveness in preparing students to take on top leadership roles.

Redmond was a valued mentor to the doctoral students following in his footsteps. Chandrashekar “Shekar” Dutt Challa, Ph.D. recalled, “He was not just a friend but also my big brother, philosopher and guide. I spent two years of weekends with him at his house working on my dissertation. It is a devastating loss to his family, his friends at the school and to the universe.”

Prior to his recent retirement, Redmond served as interim senior associate dean of the School of Business. Working closely with Dean Ed Grier, Redmond effectively engaged faculty, staff, administration, alumni, students and community in developing an exciting new vision and strategic plan, EPIC, which will guide and inspire the school’s progress for years to come.

Upon learning of his late stage cancer diagnosis, the VCU Business community responded with an outpouring of support. Longtime colleague Jean Gasen, Ph.D., set up a CaringBridge website for people to share their words of appreciation and remembrances. Daniel P. Salandro, Ph.D, chair of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate, and Lemuria Carter, Ph.D, current chair of Information Systems established a scholarship fund in his honor, and contributions started coming in quickly.

On CaringBridge, Gasen spoke for many when she wrote, “I owe him so much and am forever grateful for the impact he has had on my life, and on the lives of so many others. He spent most of his life helping others and was cut way short of the time he so deserved to spend on himself.”

Like many, Carol Scotese, Ph.D, chair of Economics, recognized the example Redmond set, “Your selfless contributions and caring leadership style gave me an aspirational goal – for this, I will be forever grateful.”

“We will miss the presence of a truly kind and giving person,” said Dean Ed Grier in an April 15 email notifying faculty and staff of the passing of “our great friend and spectacular colleague” earlier that morning.

Redmond was preceded in death by his mother, Roseann; his first wife Jean; his brother John P. Redmond and a sister, Rosemarie Redmond. He is survived by his wife, Connie; six children, Marc Redmond (Joseph Whitfield), Brian Redmond (Ashley), Laura Ramirez (John), Gregory Redmond (Amber), Steven Fish (Madison Sternberg) and Jamie Nash (Gage); seven grandchildren, Tristan, Oliver, Grant, Hattie, Grady, Lacey and Hazel; father, Dr. John P. “Jack” Redmond; three sisters, Regina McCarren, Cecile Logsdail (David) and Marybeth Redmond (Greg Beckmann); and many nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Bliley’s – Central, 3801 Augusta Avenue, on Tuesday, 6:00 pm, April 19, 2016.

Memorial donations may be made to the Rich Redmond Fund (select “other” and designate Rich Redmond Fund.) Make checks payable to the VCU School of Business Foundation, 301 W. Main Street, Richmond, Va. 23284-4000. VCU employees may also give by payroll deduction. If you have questions regarding the fund, please contact Joey Broussard, director of development, at 804-827-7408.

Decision Analytics Program Named Finalist for RichTech Awards

On Thursday, April 7, RichTech, Richmond’ Technology Council announced the VCU School of Business Decision Analytics Program as an awards finalist in this Innovation in Education category.

Stephen Custer, Ph.D., program founder and faculty advisor, says, “This is a tribute to the faculty, staff and Advisory Board that worked to make a concept a reality and continue to maintain and improve the program. It’s also recognition of the outstanding students who are the heart of the program.”

The Decision Analytics program started two years ago and has drawn students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds with an interest in the growing field of analytics. Almost 75% of the program’s first cohort, the Class of 2016, have already reported positive career changes, such as promotions and raises, since starting the program. They will graduate in May.

RichTech, Richmond’s Technology Council, is a member-driven association of businesses and organizations working together to ensure the continued growth of central Virginia’s dynamic technology-based economy. RichTech supports the growth of existing technology industries and identifies Greater Richmond as the location of choice for new and emerging technology companies.

The award winners, chosen from among the finalists, will be announced at the RichTech Gala on May 11. For a complete list of finalists and more information on the gala, visit http://richtech.com/meet-the-gala-finalists/

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!

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