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.
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.”
In addition to promoting confidence, SEAL Team PT also focuses on leadership and teamwork. Mandela FellowNdahafa 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.
“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.”
“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.
Manoj 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.
At its May 20, 2016 board meeting, the VCU School of Business Foundation elected two new trustees. Welcome!
William 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, 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.
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.
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/
A 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!
Conrad Roos, Shayan Dareikia and Ishan Bose formed this year’s team. Faculty adviser Cory Bunting, director of the Capital Markets Center in the School of Business, accompanied the students earlier this semester to New York City, where they delivered their presentation before the panel of judges.
Each team was assigned a company, for which they had to come up with a strategic and financial buyer. Having researched potential buyers and determined the company’s worth, the VCU team’s collaborative final project consisted of a slide deck of market research on its client. It included competing companies, evaluation and analysis of television ratings, along with a strategy to address the growth in online media viewing.
The VCU presentation placed second in the competition and each student received $2,000 in scholarship money.
“Overall it was an invaluable experience,” said Roos, a junior studying chemical engineering in the School of Engineering. “Besides the practice gained through valuing the companies and preparing the slide deck, presenting in front of the firm’s management was a unique experience that really drove home the value of preparation.”
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Following an exciting afternoon of pitches by five finalist teams, a panel of judges representing the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business Foundation today awarded $250,000 in the school’s inaugural EPIC Challenge. Awards ranged from $30,000-$70,000 and will be used by the winning teams to implement their ideas to support EPIC, the school’s new strategic plan.
Open to all School of Business faculty and staff, the EPIC Challenge encourages collaboration by requiring applicants to partner with one (or more) individual(s) from outside their own discipline and possibly even outside of the university.
A total of 35 teams comprising 154 individuals submitted proposals in fall 2015. Each finalist team worked with a mentor or mentors from the business community to refine their ideas and develop a pitch. Mentors included Bill Weber, Jack Hannibal, Neil Patel, Cathy Doss, Jane Watkins and Gary Rhodes.
The judges had the option to award funding to one or multiple teams. After an hour of deliberation the judges decided to fund at least a portion of every proposal. “All the EPIC Challenge projects were wonderful, so much so that the judges had to actually put on our boxing gloves to allocate our pot of money,” half-joked judge and foundation board member Juanita Leatherberry (B.S.’73/ACCT.)
“All the participants were so good, so fantastic, I could not be more proud,” said School of Business Dean Ed Grier. “I’m looking forward to next year already.”
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.