Business Magazine - May 2016

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News from the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend.




    How the Black School of Business is bringing students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members together to grow great ideas.

    Cultivating Engagement



    MessagefromtheBlack School of Business

    Engagement: The secret to elevating student success

    To learn more about engaging with the Black School of Business, call 814-898-6107.

    I ts been another phenomenal academic year for the Black School of Business. Our students are receiving top accolades like winning the Charter Financial Analyst Institutes regional Research Challenge competition in Pittsburgh and then advancing to the regional finals in Chicago to be one of the top 21 teams in the world.

    Theyre preparing themselves to be successful business leaders through our new professional development programnow involving more than 400 of our students. Theyre turning their ideas into entrepreneurial ventures. And theyre being sought after by the top firms in the country, including Amazon, Ernst & Young, and Lockheed Martin.

    On a separate note, this year saw Penn States multi-campus iMBA, led by the Black School of Business, ranked 7th in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

    These achievements have been made possible by the contributions of manyfaculty members, staff members, corporate partners, alumni, advisory board members, and industry leaders. In short, it is the engagement of these partners that fuels our success.

    In this issue of the Black School of Business Magazine, you will read how these diverse forms of engagement are having an impact on students and graduates. How alumni like Bruce Gray and Angela Hudak are contributing to student learning and professional success. How faculty are engaging with students in entrepreneurial ventures and the aforementioned Research Challenge. How corporate partners help to bring student experiences to life on the schools annual spring business trip.

    I hope that you enjoy reading these stories and that they inspire you to engage with us. Please stay tuned for many more stories of student success in the futuremade possible by the engagement of so many committed partners.


    Dr. Balaji RajagopalanToudy Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director, Black School of Business

    Balaji Rajagopalan





    Faith Kindig and her daughter, Braya MSadoques, were photographed in the colleges Innovation Commons with Dave Causgrove, lecturer in marketing. Causgrove oversees the idea lab, which was designed to offer support and resources to budding entrepreneurs. Read more about Kindigs project and how the Black School of Business has been cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship on page 6.

    The Black School of Business Magazine is published and provided free to alumni and friends of Penn State Behrend by the Office of Marketing Communication. Director: William V. Gonda,, Editor / Writer: Heather Cass,

    Copyright 2016 Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. This publication is available in alternative media upon request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. U. Ed. EBO 16-295


    Polishing Business Skills in and out of the Classroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

    Penn State Behrend Offers Finance Degree Online . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

    Cultivating a Culture of Entrepreneurship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

    Spring Business Trip Offers Myriad Opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

    Alumni Encourage Involvement with School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

    Black School of Business 281 Burke Center 5101 Jordan Road Erie, PA 16563 814-898-6107

    The Black School of Business offers students a high-tech environment with distinctive opportunities for learning, including nine bachelors degrees, three masters degrees, and a range of minors and certificates. The Black School of Business is the only school in the region accredited by AACSB International, the premier accrediting agency for schools of business worldwide. The school is also listed in U.S. News & World Reports Americas Best Business Schools and the Princeton Reviews Best 296 Business Schools. Our mission is to educate and empower minds to learn, adapt, and reinvent businessthe right way.

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    EngagingStudentsinProfessional Development

    Educating todays business professionals requires more than academic preparation. New graduates are expected to be knowledgeable not only in their area of study, but also possess and demonstrate other business skills in areas such as communication, leadership, networking, and civic and community engagement.

    Employers want well-rounded individuals, said Laurel Brown, professional development coordinator in the Black School of Business. But its hard for students to know how to acquire these skills on their own, which is why we launched a Professional Development Program last year.

    Using Suitable, an online professional development platform, students are encouraged to participate and document their activities that build their professional profile.

    Participation is voluntary and free for students. They pick from a variety of activities at each level, such as joining a professional organization, registering to vote, participating in a class project, attending a cultural performance, or volunteering

    at a nonprofit. As students complete each level, they can earn incentives from the school or

    from local businesses like Erie Insurance, the Erie Sports Commission,

    BKD CPAs and Advisors, and McCarty Printing. The partner businesses might offer a job shadowing experience, a plant tour, or maybe even gift certificates or scholarships.

    As they complete more activities, students can improve their rank in Suitable. The top twenty are listed on the leaderboard on the home page, Brown said.

    Currently, about 400 students are participating in the program, as are a dozen business partners who are, no doubt, keeping an eye on the leaderboard.

    Maxwell DeBlasio, a first-year Finance major, is a student youll often find listed on the leaderboard. He says the program has helped him get involved on campus, meet people with similar interests and ambitions, and even given him a leg up in his major.

    I havent taken any higher-level finance classes yet, but I have a better understanding of the field and the terminology used because I have attended finance-related lectures and guest speaker events, DeBlasio said.

    His favorite Suitable activity so far? Becoming certified to use the Bloomberg Terminal because it is a critical source of business information and is used by business professionals all over the world, he said.

    Black School of Business alumnus Troy Dean Shafer 04 is starring in Nashville Flipped, a new show on the DIY Network that shares the same name of Shafers home renovation business in Tennessee.

    The nine-episode series, which premiered in April, follows Shafer and his team as they restore historic Nashville homes to their former glory.

    In a 2013 interview with Behrend Magazine, Shafer said his Business Management degree has been a tremendous asset.

    Every house is like a mini management project and thats where my degree has really helped me because it all goes back to the things I learned in college project management, finance, accounting, he said. I use those skills extensively. I have a great advantage over my competition because of that knowledge base.

    Watch Shafer in Nashville Flipped on the DIY Network on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. EST

    Developing professionals extends beyond classroom

    Alumnus stars in DIY Network series

    To learn more about Suitable or the Black School of Businesss Professional Development Program, contact Laurel Brown at or 814-898-6686.

    Riya Anand, a first-year business student, is one of the top participants in the Professional Leadership Program and says shes found it to be an invaluable resource.


    EngagingStudentsThroughWorld Campus

    Finance degree now offered through World Campus

    I already knew that Penn State was an exceptional institution but now I know World Campus is too.Andrew Hoverson World Campus Finance major

    Andrew Hoverson, 29, is an enlisted Marine currently serving as chief instructor for the Marine Corps Security Force Close Quarters Battle School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Hes also a Penn State student majoring in Finance.

    After eight years in the military, Hoverson said physical injuries prompted him to consider returning to college to train for a new career. Thanks to Penn States online World Campus, he didnt have to wait.

    I wanted a challenging experience that would give me the knowledge and skills I need to succeed, Hoverson said. Penn State was the obvious choice.

    A burgeoning interest in investing and financial planning made the Finance degree, which is administered by the Black School of Business, an easy choice for Hoverson, too.

    Over the last eight years, Ive found myself utilizing more and more of my free time to research

    financial markets and learn about investment strategies, said Hoverson. Having dislocated my shoulder fifteen times and dealing with various aches and pains associated with the life of an infantry Marine, finance looks pretty appealing for a career.

    While Virginia to Pennsylvania may seem a wide gap to bridge, Hoverson said he feels involved and included.

    I had a nagging fear that I might miss out on opportunities available to students on campus, but Ive been surprised at the effort put forth by the University to include World Campus students.

    For example, Finance students studying through World Campus are invited to watch speaker events live on the Penn State Behrend Finance YouTube channel, and they have the same opportunity as a student in residence to ask questions of the speaker.

    Soon, theyll be participating in the Black School of Business Intrieri Student Managed Fund as analysts. Hoverson is currently participating in a pilot project for the fund through Adobe Connect. He also serves as the vice president for the Financial Management Association and participates in monthly meetings via Skype.

    Next year, World Campus students will be able to participate in the regional CFA Institute Research Challenge in Pittsburgh. All of this is an effort by the school to make engagement in co-curricular activities an integral part of the learning experience for World Campus students.

    Hoverson, who plans to graduate in 2018 and wants to work as an investment banking analyst or portfolio manager, said the Finance program offered through World Campus has exceeded his expectations.

    I already knew that Penn State was an exceptional institution, but now I know that World Campus is too, he said. Within the Finance major, Ive found people eager to include me in events and organizations in any way they are able. Its been a very fulfilling experience for me.

    To learn more about the Penn State Behrend Finance degree offered through World Campus, visit


    Fostering a Culture ofEntrepreneurs are a national asset. Their innovations inspire and improve our lives, generate wealth and resources, spur new industries, and create jobs. Thats why Penn State Behrend is working hard to create an entrepreneurial culture that will inspire, motivate, and encourage new ideas and collaboration among students, faculty, alumni, and partners in the Erie region and beyond.

    Most of the new jobs today are created by companies that are less than five years old, said David Causgrove, lecturer in marketing. With large U.S. companies closing or relocating overseas, its important that we have start-ups to fill that void.

    The Black School of Business has made entrepreneurship a priority, encouraging the development of new idea generators through curricular changes, by forming partnerships with community resources, and by pairing business students with others who have the skills and resources to bring an idea to fruition. Today, would-be entrepreneurs even have a dedicated spaceInnovation Commons, an idea laboratory in Burke Center equipped with plenty of meeting space and resources like AutoCAD modeling programs, scanners, and 3D printers for prototyping.

    The colleges efforts have begun to pay off. Wed like you to meet three of the entrepreneurs the Black School has helped nurture.


    Drew Lang

    MBA student Drew Lang was up late studying for his undergraduate Biology degree at University Park when he realized he was missing some of his notes. In that void, he saw a business opportunity. I knew I couldnt be the only college student who had ever lost their notes or had to miss a class, he said.That night, he came up with the concept and business plan for an online company that would offer

    a platform for students to buy and sell notes. Students upload their notes and set the price. Potential buyers see a preview before deciding if they want to purchase the notes. Lang Enterprises takes a commission on sales.

    Lang has been making use of the colleges new Innovation Commons and has engaged students in the Marketing Club to help him create a marketing strategy for the company. This spring, two Black School of Business undergraduate students worked as interns for Langs Omega Notes site.

    Lang said his MBA coursework has been instrumental in helping him launch Omega Notes. I couldnt be happier with Behrends MBA program, he said. Ive been able to take a lot of what Ive learned and

    immediately apply it to what Im doing with Omega Notes.

    Eric Wehler

    Eric Wehler 15 said the Black School of Business played an integral part in creating his The website allows Penn State Behrend community members to exchange or purchase textbooks, appliances, furniture, and school supplies. The site also allows property owners to post and update student rentals.Think craigslist, but for students, said Wehler, who graduated in 2015 with a degree in Project and Supply Chain

    Management and a minor in Management Information Systems. Its a service for the students and a way to help them save or make a little money.

    The site started as a class project for Wehlers MIS 430: Systems Analysis course in which teams of students had to come up with a solution to a real-world problem. Wehlers group did such a great job that their instructor, Dr. Ido Millet, professor of MIS, encouraged them to develop the project beyond the classroom.

    Dr. Millet gave me the support and drive to start it up, Wehler said. All of the faculty in the school really helped to inspire and encourage me. I could not have done this without their help.

    Wehler is working full-time in the purchasing department of UPMC in Pittsburgh, but hes still running, too. He hopes to tap into the resources available in Innovation Commons to expand the business.

    If I can create a cash flow, I can work on it full time, Wehler said. Thats my dream. Membership to the site is free. Penn State Behrend students can sign up at


    Fostering a Culture ofFaith Kindig

    Faith Kindig, a senior Project and Supply Chain Management major, was recently awarded a grant from Ignite Erie, a local industry-university collaborative initiative, to help her urban farming businessErie Sproutztake root.

    My goal is to start a coalition in the Erie community to bring affordable fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden to the dinner table, Kindig said. We need to eliminate food insecurity for those living in poverty and invest in the at-risk youth in the community.

    The Erie Sproutz concept combines community gardens, aquaponics, and a no-waste marketplace to fulfill a need in the city of Erie.

    Kindig said the idea for Erie Sproutz was born out of a desire to grow chemical-free food for her own daughter, Braya MSadoques, pictured at right with her mother.

    Though the business is still in the development stages, the idea is gaining ground thanks to encouragementand now seed moneyfrom the Black School of Business and Innovation Commons.

    Erie Sproutz has the potential to become an asset to the community by creating jobs, by providing healthy and affordable food options to those who need them, and by giving the community the tools they need to provide for themselves, she said.




    Business Trips Open Eyes and Doors for Students

    EngaginginCareer Exploration

    During their time in the Black School of Business, students are routinely encouraged to engage with industry professionals, interact with alumni, and experience first-hand the professional environments they will be working in.

    They have various opportunities to accomplish these initiatives individually, but the schools annual spring business trip is a three-fer, allowing students to achieve all these career-enhancing experiences in a single whirlwind visit to a major metropolitan city.

    The trip is very beneficial for students, said Eric Robbins, lecturer in finance and team leader of the spring business trip. It allows them to explore career options, get a taste of what it would be like to live in a big city, and network with alumni and business leaders.

    This year, forty students visited Charlotte, North Carolina, where they toured and met with high-level executives at several businesses, including Duke Energy, Ingersoll Rand, Ernst & Young, The Agency Marketing Group, Bank of America, and MetLife.

    The Student Government Association provides some funding for the trip, which reduces the cost of the trip for students to just over $250, a nominal amount for a three-day stay in a large city, and a bargain considering the wealth of experience they gain and contacts they make there.

    A highlight of the trip each year is an alumni gathering in the destination city.

    We invite Penn State Behrend alumni in the area to join us for dinner and conversation, Robbins said.

    Students and faculty members gather in the executive-level atrium at Duke Energy in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Students Ve Le and Sally Basheer.


    EngaginginCareer Exploration

    Its a great opportunity for students to engage with alumni, make valuable connections, and get advice and insight from graduates.

    These networking opportunities can open doors for students.

    After reaching out to an alum I met at the dinner in Chicago, she spoke with her HR manager who guaranteed me a phone interview for a full-time position at the company she worked for, said Cory Phillips, a senior Finance major. Without that personal connection made through the business trip, this simply would not have been a possibility.

    Past spring business trip destinations have included New York City, Chicago, and Boston.

    The spring trip is not the only opportunity Black School of Business students have to travel and network with business professionals and alumni. Students can also participate in global internships, sign up for

    study-abroad experiences, present research at industry conferences, and compete in national competitions, such as the CFA Institute Research Challenge.

    Weve learned that the impact these kinds of experiences have on students is profound and lasts a lifetime, Robbins said.

    Nicole Overby, a sophomore Accounting major who attended the Charlotte trip, agreed: It was an unforgettable experience, Overby said. Im so excited for my future after seeing all the different career paths and opportunities available to me.

    Accounting majors, from left, Stephanie Alexander, Sally Basheer, Ve Le, and Sarah Meacock in downtown Charlotte.

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    ThinkingACROSS Boundaries



    Across the country and around the world, Black School of Business alumni are putting their Penn State Behrend education to work, enjoying rewarding careers and purposeful lives. Many look back fondly on their time at Behrend and wish they could find a way to help the next generation of business leaders.

    Bruce Gray 80, a senior vice president for Bank of America in New York City, wants alumni to know that they can give back to current students in ways that dont require airfare or a major time commitment.

    I wish more alumni knew how easily they can stay connected and engaged with current students, Gray said. I mentor a group of business students through bi-weekly conference calls in which we examine some facet of the finance industry, work on a case study, or take an in-depth look at a current market trend.

    Gray said hes invigorated and inspired by his interactions with students.

    They force me out of my comfort zone, he said. For example, a couple of years ago, my group wanted to examine Facebook from an investment-opportunity standpoint. Ive never done a stitch of tech lending in my life, so I was definitely out of my area of expertise. But, I dove in and learned a great deal from that whole experience.

    Were it not for his bi-weekly mentorship meetings, Gray said he would likely stick to his specialty. Id probably only read real estate finance news. Working with students on a range of topics forces me to take a broader view of the entire finance industry.

    The Black School of Business frequently welcomes alumni guest speakers to share information about their chosen field with current students. Their insights help students make career decisions.

    I remember being an accounting student at Behrend and being uncertain of what my future would look like or which type of accounting I should go into, said Angela Hudak 99, who recently returned to the school to talk with students. Hudak is now a partner with Ernst & Young, a multinational public accounting firm. I didnt know if I wanted to be a CPA, or what it would be like to work for a Big Four firm. I hope I was able to provide some clarity to the students I met with.

    Alumni also can help students connect the dots between campus and the corporate world.

    Gray, who serves on the Black School of Business board of advisers, strives to help students apply the lessons they are learning in class to real-world

    Bruce Gray 80 Eric Wehler 15 speaks to students in the Black School of Business.

    Alumni-Student Engagement Is a Win-Win

    Angela Hudak 99

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    problems and situations. He is assisted by student captains, typically seniors, who volunteer to facilitate the group in Erie.

    I require them to be prepared to jump in and add to the discussion if theres a lull, Gray said. Its fun to watch their leadership skills emerge as they gain confidence.

    Confidence is something both Gray and Hudak say is important in the business world, but not always easily gained through coursework.

    With my mentees, I work on teaching them to have confidence in their ability to hold their own in a financial conversation, Gray said. They have the knowledge, they just sometimes lack the confidence to use it.

    Hudak says Black School of Business students need not fear; they are well educated and can keep pace with their peers.

    I wish Id been more confident in the education that I received when I first started out, Hudak said.

    I was well prepared for the CPA exam and to start my career.

    When students do start their careers, Gray said theyll continue to benefit from a strong alumni network.

    I think Penn State grads are just as supportive, if not more so, than the Ivy League school alums, he said. We really stick together and try to help one another out. While Im not a member of investment banking or markets teams, Ive assisted them with their recruiting efforts by bringing some of the Black School students into that mix.

    Hudak, too, says Penn State prideand especially Penn State Behrend prideruns deep.

    When people ask where I went to school, I tell them Penn State Behrend, she said. Im proud of Behrend and the education that I received there.

    Would you like to help mentor the next generation of business leaders or share your experiences with students in a guest speaking engagement or other special event? Contact Laurel Brown at or 814-898-6686. Wed love to welcome you back home. Whether youve been gone for a year or decades, we know students can benefit from your insight.

  • Penn State Erie, The Behrend College Black School of BusinessBurke Center5101 Jordan Road Erie, PA 16563-1400

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    Student Investment Team Reaches CFA Regional Finals

    II grew up in Moscow and started college at the University of Maryland in Germany. But I thought, if Im going to study the American educational system, I may as well live there, so I applied to Penn State. I was attracted to Behrend because of its size. I loved Behrend when I visited. It was definitely the right decision.Olga Vanieva 04 Marketing graduate and senior product manager of customer experience at Yahoo Inc.

    A student investment team from Penn State Behrends Black School of Business reached the regional finals of the Chartered Financial Analyst Institutes Research Challenge in Chicago on April 13, topping teams from nearly 1,000 other schools.

    The Penn State Behrend teamDrew Barko, Samantha Chiprean, Eric Frei, Ricky Grullon, and Kelsey Schuppspent more than 130 hours preparing a detailed financial report and one-year stock valuation for the initial competition, which was held in Pittsburgh in March.

    In Pittsburgh, the team competed against students from the

    University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne and Penn States University Park campus. In Chicago, they won an initial round of regional competition that cut the number of teams from 106 to just 21. They outperformed students from Loyola University Maryland and Binghamton University.

    The performance of our team is a testimony to the high caliber of our students and the excellent instruction they receive from our faculty, said Greg Filbeck, associate director of the Black School of Business and the teams adviser.

    From left, Dr. Greg Filbeck, Samantha Chiprean, Kelsey Schupp, Eric Frei, Ricky Grullon, adviser Josh Armstrong, and Drew Barko.