Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Those Who Serve

In recognition of Memorial Day, we are republishing a blog about Donovan Campbell’s orientation speech at Wake Forest University from last August. Campbell, a Marine, wrote the New York Times bestseller, Joker One, based around his experiences in Iraq. To watch his entire presentation, click here.


photoThe first-day speakers at orientation for the Wake Forest Schools of Business had a potent message for the incoming classes: to find true success, future business leaders must develop an acute sense of self-awareness and purpose.

Before the first student had arrived, the event had proven groundbreaking by Wake Forest's standards, as organizers assembled 400 students from all five programs for the initial activities. Students from the full-time and evening MBA programs in Winston-Salem and Charlotte were able to mix and mingle with students entering the school’s MA and MSA program. (The gathering was so large that the university had to secure space at the Forsyth Country Club to accommodate the entire group.)

Every speaker had their own general perspective on setting goals and expectations, yet the general theme of responsibility and service permeated their individual presentations.

The most moving presentation by far came from Donovan Campbell, a Marine and graduate from Harvard Business School, who used a collection of successes and failures to demonstrate what a privilege it is to enter business school. He shared his experiences and hard lessons learned while leading a company in Iraq, which also served as the basis for Joker One, a New York Times bestseller.

“Humans are adaptable,” he noted, adding that he had even witnessed teenagers doing amazing things in combat. In comparison, that should serve as motivation for students to push themselves. “Failure is inevitable,” he added, admitting to his own shortcomings. “How you respond matters. You must default to responsibility.”

Trying hard to hold back tears, Campbell told a gripping account of rejecting an urge to seek retribution when a member of his company was killed defending school children. “We are Marines and we are better than this,” he told his men, acknowledging that only his faith and core values served as the basis for his decision.

As far as corporate scandals are concerned, Campbell charged incoming MBA candidates to turn the tide back toward responsibility. "We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redeem our profession,” he said.

Dean Steve Reinemund emphasized setting goals and finding purpose and passion in his remarks, charging students to find their place in society by investing time identifying desires and charting a path to accomplishing them. “What is it that you expect to get from your investment?” he asked.

Dean Reinemund also emphasized ethics, which he hopes will permeate the curricula within the Schools of Business. He stressed the importance for future leaders to respect individuals and espouse service, warning that ignoring such deeds yields “deviant behavior and dysfunctional organizations.”

Building on that message, Dr. Nathan Hatch, Wake Forest’s president, encouraged students to explore their passions rather than fall into the rut of “jumping through hoops” in pursuit of grades or a degree. Simply going through the motions is destined to “create a manufactured self” devoid of true passion. Rather, spend time developing “deep vocational discernment,” he said.

With that in mind, today’s leaders have a unique opportunity to reestablish trust and credibility in a world where average citizens correlate business schools with Enron and Madoff, along with exotic mortgages and government bailouts.

Dr. Jim Loehr, co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, rounded out the day, presenting a case study for treasuring and conserving energy to maximize performance. He implored students to write out what they view as necessary for success, calling such a move an imperative for staking out future decisions. “Before you launch be certain of what you want,” he said.

Another key takeaway was the need for improved engagement, with Loehr noting that individuals and the organizations they run often fail to reach their full potential when the leaders lose focus. “How easy is it to get self-absorbed?” he asked.

“Performance is directly related to your level of engagement,” he added.

Monday, May 24, 2010

360 Degrees: Photos from the NC CEO Forum

Including a few shots from the NC CEO Forum:

NC CEO Forum 001.JPGSteve Reinemund, the dean of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business (left), moderates a panel discussion on the Triple Bottom Line, including Vern Davenport from Allscripts, Cynthia Marshall from AT&T North Carolina and Rick McNeel from LORD Corp.

"In today’s world, every employee carries the corporate checkbook everywhere they go," Davenport said during the discussion. "It only takes one person to destroy a company's image." Marshall added: “I tell our employees that we don’t just work here, we live here. People expect us to act like we live here.”


NC CEO Forum 028.JPG

Ben Cohen, a co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., uses Oreo cookies to show just how much money the United States invests in military spending, compared to how much is dedicated to causes ranging from education to world hunger.

Cohen would explain that it would only take a relatively small amount of money – or just a few cookies – from the U.S. miliary budget to address many other issues plaguing the country and the world.



NC CEO Forum 040.JPG

This is a photo of my moment in the spotlight, asking the first question after the Ben & Jerry keynote:

“The global need for triple bottom line investment is so extensive. How does a company such as Ben  & Jerry's gauge, prioritize and ultimately select where to allocate its time and financial resources? How does the company communicate the need for such allocations to employees and investors?”



NC CEO Forum 046.JPGBen and Jerry on stage answering my question. They discussed how employees and investors all have a voice in the company’s selection of causes, whether that includes work on Fair Trade or support for groups such as the Children’s Defense Fund.





NC CEO Forum 053.JPGA picture with Cree Chairman and CEO Chuck Swoboda, who was perhaps the most-energizing speaker at the event. Yes, my eyes are closed … perhaps the camera was equipped with an LED flash!

“One day you will see incandescent bulbs on a shelf in a museum,” Swoboda said during his keynote, perhaps being replaced by the more-efficient LED lighting being developed and sold by Durham-based Cree. “We listen to what our competitors say we can’t do and basically we just go do that,” he added. On corporate culture: “We look for people who are unafraid of failure but unwilling to fail.”


~ A big thanks to colleague Shonna Brackett for snapping shots throughout the event!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

School’s Out … Bring On China

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09It's officially over. The first year of my MBA experience came to an end Wednesday with my last final. It's been an amazing year, filled with highs (Project Nicaragua, an amazing internship offer, etc.) and lows (social dynamics of differing personalities and overloaded schedules). I've learned a bit, grown a lot, seen some cool stuff, done some cool things, and survived the first half. Next up, China for two weeks, then back to Ohio for a few days, then off to Chicago to start my internship!

So, let's talk China. This is a school-sponsored trip, so we'll be traveling with two faculty members and will receive credit. There's a great group of first year MBAs going, but there is representation from the Charlotte and Winston-Salem Evening and Saturday programs as well. The trip will take us to Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Hong Kong (with a possible side trip to Macau).

What I'm most looking forward to is the World Expo, which is in Shanghai. Almost 200 countries will be there and it will be an amazing experience. I'm also excited for the typical touristy stuff: the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden Palace, etc. It will also be great to see how the Chinese work and live; we'll be visiting both foreign and local companies. We leave extremely early in the morning tomorrow, 6AM. Today is packing day, and there's a lot to bring for two weeks!

~ Justin Berthelot, Class of 2011

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why I Chose Wake: A Testimonial

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09 Perhaps it was the breakfast fed to prospective MBA-ers at a local restaurant, Midtown Café & Dessertery, where five-flavor pound cake, blueberry pancakes, and cheesecake brownies abound. Or, perchance, it was the four Ps of passion, purpose, performance and preparation … AND a sweet Wake Forest-colored planner given to everyone who was there. Maybe it was attending Derrick Boone’s Marketing class as a prospective student, where on that particular evening they were talking about a personal favorite of mine – the evolution of the vehicle, the Ford Taurus (my family has owned and cherished several).

And being a distance runner, something about gathering on Thursday mornings for a three-mile jaunt with other MBA students, faculty, and our Dean at “Dawn with the Dean” seemed just right to me.

Half-jokingly, I mention the above. Yet in all seriousness, these are the small details that enhanced and confirmed my decision that a Wake Forest MBA was for me. Having attended WFU as an undergrad, I was certain that I would receive both a challenging and amazing education – no matter the course, no matter the professor. I knew that I would be in a place where people are passionate about what they do, who truly enjoy getting to know each unique individual, and who love learning and sharing knowledge. There was also something about going back ‘home’ to Wake and, in another sense, starting something very new.

I am not a traditional MBA student; I come from education myself, having taught middle school students with learning and attention disorders for the past four years. I have also been a track and field and cross-country coach. I majored in English and minored in Journalism. I do enjoy running very long distances. And like many, it has taken me a while to figure out the path I want to start on, to ‘grow-up’ on.

When I decided to change my career path and landed on an MBA from Wake Forest, things simply fell into place. I felt welcome in the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. Above all, I felt supported in going after my dreams, encouraged to push myself further mentally, - and all along side amazing classmates, who I have learned so very much from. Maybe it is the Twix bars, gummy worms, yogurt-covered pretzels, sodas, coffee, teas, and cheeses and crackers that mysteriously appear at break that keep us all sugared up and caffeinated each week – but with all of these things and many more reasons, a Wake Forest MBA has proven to be a very rewarding and wonderful decision.

~ Molly Nunn, Evening MBA, Class of 2011

photo A sampling of Dean Steve Reinemund’s 2009-2010 Thursday morning runners.

Call to Act: Responding to Changed Views of Corporate America

The last of a three-part series on the NC CEO Forum, this looks at the current pressure on Corporate America to make changes now and demonstrate how they are improving the community and the world.


Speakers at this year’s NC CEO Forum not only focused on the future of sustainability, but they were equally willing to discuss current challenges to brand and reputation as customers expect more from Corporate America.

Steve Reinemund, the deal of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business, made that point clear as he moderated the event’s first panel discussion. “It is hard to imagine the rate of change in just a year,” Reinemund openly mused. He highlighted three “gold-plated companies” – BP, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Johnson & Johnson – that have seen their reputations significantly tarnished.

Vern DavenportSuch pressure always looms for other big companies, panelists said.

"In today’s world, every employee carries the corporate checkbook everywhere they go," said Vern Davenport, the president of public sector at Allscripts, a Chicago-based medical software company. "It only takes one person to destroy a company's image."

All constituents are “more demanding,” Davenport added, forcing companies to broaden their priorities to areas such as people and planet.

Cynthia Marshall, the president of AT&T North Carolina, agreed, noting that  customers “expect us to do things right and do the right thing.” She paused. “They are different.” That means that everyone who works at the company must be mindful of their actions. “I tell our employees that we don’t just work here, we live here,” Marshall added. “People expect us to act like we live here.”

Cynthia GAT&T is taking action to address a growing need for community and environmental activism, Marshall said. The company is looking to replace its fleet with compressed natural gas vehicles, which should lead to more than 80,000 efficient automobiles by 2013. AT&T also named its first chief sustainability officer a year ago, naming Charlene Lake to the post.

Rick McNeel, the president and CEO of LORD Corp., also used the forum to outline steps the chemical company has taken, including the creation of a sustainability program last year. “Wall Street must not drive your company," he said, adding that strategy should instead direct decision-making.

During a separate panel, David Miller, the president of DuPont Electronics and Communications, warned that government must be careful about encouraging consumers to seek more efficient products and resources before U.S. companies are prepared to provide them. The risk, he said, is that U.S. consumers end up buying foreign-made products.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Family Businesses Honored at Charlotte Event

Reposted from Business Leader Triad; originally posted on Thursday, May 20

AllisonJ Family businesses, John Allison said, make up the backbone that supports our nation’s economy and its communities. “Every business in America, to some degree, is a small business.”
Sustaining a family business hinges not only on financial success but also on the personal relationships built along the way. “I think successful family businesses have something that’s very important. You have character,” Allison told the group of about 150 that gathered for the 2010 N.C. Family Business of the Year Awards.
Allison, a retired chairman and CEO at BB&T Corp. and a distinguished professor of practice at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business, was the keynote speaker for the second annual event, held at Discovery Place in Charlotte.
The Family Business Center at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business honored four North Carolina companies that have successfully combined the best of family and business while making positive contributions in their respective communities.
BakerKKathy Baker, director of the Family Business Center, congratulated the winners and thanked all FBC members and  the corporate sponsors who helped to make the second annual NC Family Business of the Year Awards such a success. She encouraged all family businesses in the state to take part in the FBC and to share their stories.
“While the awards program provides an opportunity to recognize our winning companies for their achievements, it also offers the opportunity to share a bigger story,” she said.
“The applications we read, the family business histories and the stories, were just wonderful. It’s nice to win, but even if you don’t win you have a beautiful collection of history to pass on to your family.”
More than 100 companies were nominated for the awards.
“The event was a great success, and it built on the momentum gained from our first inaugural ceremony last year. I expect interest in the awards and Family Business Center to grow throughout the year, culminating in the third annual NC Family Business of the Year Awards in 2011.”
The 2010 winners are: small category, Griffith Real Estate Services of Charlotte; medium category, Partners In Care of Charlotte; large category, Pate Dawson of Goldsboro. Birch Brothers Southern of Waxhaw is the winner of the Century Award, which honors companies that have been in business for 100 years or more.
In commending the family businesses, Allison talked about his company and its 10 core values, which are non-contradictory and integrated. Found within those core values are three great virtues – purpose, reason and self-esteem. Referring to the first virtue, he said most people want to make the world a better place in which to live, and businesses represented at the May 6 awards ceremony share that common goal.
“People should pursue things that give them energy and make them feel better about themselves,” referring to the second virtue, reason. “Family businesses can make the world a better place to live and at the same time self-energize.”
Allison also talked about the necessary commitment to life-long learning and the importance of gaining knowledge from experience.
“I suspect that in this room we have a lot of very successful experiential learners. I find that small business owners are primarily experiential learners,” which enables people to better learn from their mistakes, to evade less and to focus more. “That is a giant competitive advantage in life.
“To be happy you have to have high self-esteem,” which, he said, is earned through how you live your life.
“Self -esteem is the foundation of happiness, and happiness is the end of the game.”
Ron Norelli, president of the Family Firm Institute, cited case studies that indicate just 60% of family businesses survive from the first to the second generation, and fewer than 10 percent survive into the third generation.
But in regard to the businesses honored May 6, Norelli said, those statistics ring false. A common theme among the family businesses that received the awards, he said, was a system of values.
“I want to congratulate the winners tonight, who clearly have known how to change, known to change their business models and change their strategies. But they haven’t compromised the value system.”
The E.C. Griffith Company, which began in 1912, is one of Charlotte’s oldest family-owned real estate firms, and the company has developed some of Charlotte’s leading institutions for the past 98 years. The E.C. Griffith Company, Griffith Real Estate Services, and the members of the Griffith Family are concerned environmentalists, constantly working toward a balance between development and conservation.
In 2003, Don and Sally Olin founded Partners In Care, an in-home care-giving service for seniors and adults, but it’s also much more. The company helps seniors retain their dignity and remain independent in their homes while providing peace of mind for their families. The company’s tagline, “Families Helping Families,” is truth in advertising, proving a for-profit service can flourish if its foundation and operational structure is built with strong morals and ethics. The company’s five family members and 160 extended family members work by the same philosophy -- treat each client as though they would treat their own parents.
In the past 125 years, the Pate Dawson Company Inc. -- founded in 1885 as by J.H. Pate as J.H. Pate Grocery -- has grown from a small independent grocery store to the 27th-largest food-service distribution company in the United States. With a family history that has focused on a willingness to change and always putting family first, the company has not only survived but has thrived through bad and good economic times. During the past five years, the Pate Dawson Company Inc. has grown sales to more than $25 million, yet the values -- hard work, honesty and integrity -- remain firmly rooted.
The Century Award winner, Birch Brothers Southern, was founded 127 years ago in Massachusetts by Albert Birch, though the business actually began in England 38 years before. The company has transitioned from a manufacturer of textile machinery to the maker of custom machinery for a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, nonwovens, technical textile, medical, paper, home fashions and others. The company, which has 25 employees, has purposely managed sales and company size to remain flat for the past five years, thus avoiding debt accumulation and overextension as new markets were explored.
Awards Patron level sponsors BB&T, Fennebresque & Co., GenSpring Family Offices, PricewaterhouseCoopers, ReGeneration Partners and Southern Community Bank & Trust provided generous financial support for the event. Business North Carolina was the media sponsor, and GenSpring Family Offices sponsored the special section on the Family Business of the Year Awards to run in the May issue of Business North Carolina.
Several Family Business Center members have contributed to the success of the awards program. Wildfire provided design of all the marketing materials, and Sun Printing printed the programs. Biltmore Wines provided wine and beer for the event.

Emerson Electric CEO Touts Integrity at Wake Forest Commencement

The Wake Forest University Schools of Business honored 404 master’s students at a hooding ceremony Sunday, May 16 in Wait Chapel, followed by the University’s commencement exercises a day later at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Holders of master’s degrees wear a symbolic hood draped around the neck and over the shoulders, displayed down the back with the lining exposed. The hood identifies the level of the degree, the field of learning, and the institution that awards it.

This year’s graduate business students who received hoods included: 76 in the Full-Time MBA Program; 30 in the Executive MBA Program; 37 in the Winston-Salem Evening MBA Program; 47 in the Charlotte Evening MBA program; 42 in the Charlotte Saturday MBA program; 74 in the Master of Science in Accountancy Program; and 91 in the Master of Arts in Management Program. Seven graduates received joint degrees as part of programs offered with other Wake Forest schools: five with the School of Law and two with the School of Medicine.

The hooding address was delivered by David Farr, chairman, CEO and president of Emerson Electric Co. In his speech, Farr provided words of wisdom to the students to use in advancing their careers and achieving their future goals. One piece of advice that was met with a round of applause: “Be honest and act with integrity. There is no room in business or in life for deception or fraud,” he explained. “You must be uncompromising in your personal ethics and your level of expectations from others. Remember, when integrity and trust are lost, they are gone forever."

In his speech, Farr stressed the importance of the graduates developing new leaders as they grow in their own leadership roles. “The process of developing leaders is full of unknowns, uncertainties and failures,” Farr said.

“It is also very hard work. Just as you look for quality leaders to help your career, be the kind of boss you would like to have. Look as those growing behind you and help them develop.”

Farr asked the students to remember that, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm and intense personal commitment. There are many smart people in this world who do a great job at work, but there are relatively few who have enormous commitment, energy, intensity, passion, vision and drive to lead winning global organizations. Those who do make a difference every day are the people others want to and will follow.”

Wake Forest University Dean of Business, Steve Reinemund, closed the evening by extending his hearty  congratulations to the Class of 2010. “You have worked hard and are well-prepared to chase your dreams. I trust that you have developed a life plan and that your vocation - your place in society - is becoming clear to you. Most of all, I trust that you are leaving here with a clear sense of your true north - with your moral compass well-tuned and calibrated - so that your success will come with integrity.”

The entire faculty and staff of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business would like to congratulate the Class of 2010!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How a NC Company Plans to Obsolete the Light Bulb

The second of a series on the NC CEO Forum, with a look at Cree Inc. and its efforts to establish LED as the leading lighting source in the U.S. and abroad.

One of the most energizing speeches at the 2010 NC CEO Forum came from the chairman and chief executive of one of North Carolina’s burgeoning success stories.

Chuck Swoboda - click to read more about Mr Chuck Swoboda of Cree Inc. (left) unleashed a wave of straight talk during his allotted time at the event, overriding any post-lunch urge to doze off. Cree, a “23-year-old overnight success,” is busy making the case that LED lighting is a greener and, over time, cheaper way of illuminating the world. The CEO readily acknowledged that his company has faced an uphill battle against established companies and incandescent technology that he believes is well past its prime.

“One day you will see incandescent bulbs on a shelf in a museum,” Swoboda said as he showed the audience a 75-watt light bulb, comparing its 21st century usefulness to vinyl records. He referred to florescent bulbs and an intermediate, and still inefficient, solution to lighting, predicting that both would eventually give way to new technology.

LED lighting is “the cleanest and cheapest energy that we never use.” The issue? Established lighting manufacturers are fighting the movement, “protecting what they have.” Interestingly, Jerry Greenfield told a similar story about how Ben & Jerry’s early in its life had to fight through bullying tactics from Häagen-Dazs and then-parent company Pillsbury.

Swoboda cautioned that preventing innovation “doesn’t work,” using the current challenges of the U.S. automakers to prove his point. Cree, in contrast, relishes challenges. “We listen to what our competitors say we can’t do and basically we just go do that,” he said. Cree also nurtures a culture where employees are challenged daily to make the Durham company’s own products obsolete. “We look for people who are unafraid of failure but unwilling to fail,” he added.

imageOn a bigger scale, Swoboda lamented how the governmental and regulatory environment stymies innovation in his industry, suggesting some necessary adjustments. First, the U.S. needs “progressive” regulation where subsidies are replaced with higher energy standards than what are in place now. Another issue involves purchases contracts for state agencies, which are creating a barrier of entry for LED lighting.

Cities such as Raleigh and Los Angeles are experimenting with cost-saving lighting changes as are countries such as China. In fact, the vast majority of Cree’s business involves foreign markets looking to compete against the U.S. with more efficient infrastructure rather than cheaper labor costs, Swoboda said.

Before his speech, Swoboda gave me another compelling argument for supporting LED technology – employment opportunities. Cree has grown from a team of five engineers in the late 1980s to a publicly traded company with several thousand employees. (The company earned nearly $30.7 million in its last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2009.)

Finally, he said energy regulators need to do their jobs and create guidelines to encourage utility companies to sell less energy. “We need to change the incentive structure,” he said. “So they can make money by saving energy.” Cree meanwhile is doing its part – Swoboda used the event to pledge up to $1.5 million over the next three years to provide LED lighting in kitchens for homes built by Habitat for Humanity.

Sustainability in the 21st Century – Ben & Jerry

This is first of a series detailing my experiences at the NC CEO Forum, where corporate leaders across the state discussed the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) and ways to promote social responsibility, community involvement and green efforts. A release about the contest can be found here.

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09 I promised a detailed field report of the NC CEO Forum, where I was recognized Tuesday as the event’s CEO of Tomorrow. I was obviously excited and prepared to present my winning question live to the founders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, but I discovered that the experience would be about much more than simply meeting the iconic ice cream entrepreneurs.

The key topic was sustainability and social responsibility, with panelists and speakers outlining perspectives and strategies for the triple bottom line – a concept where corporations focus efforts on people, planet and profit. Views were varied and vast, differentiating by company size and industry.

Jerry Greenfield, one half of the ice cream duo, took the lead in discussing their view of responsible corporate leadership. After musing about their transformation from 1960s hippies to legitimate businessmen, Greenfield acknowledged that business "is the most powerful force in society today.” But rather than conform to business as usual, the men decided to search out ways that business and community involvement could co-exist.

“We’re all interconnected. As we help others we also help ourselves," Greenfield said as attendees munched on complimentary servings of the company's famed ice cream. (In fact, they brought so many samples that we had ice cream available the entire day!)

One solution: Buying brownies from Greyston Bakery, a New York company that hires people who are down on their luck. (He said Ben & Jerry’s bought about $2 million in brownies from the bakery last year for its ice cream and other products.)

Cohen spent much of his time behind the podium pushing the U.S. government to do more for its citizens and the world. He wants to see the government cut back military and defense spending to fund education, veterans’ benefits and world hunger initiatives. Using OREOs to make his point, he showed that it would only take a haircut from the Pentagon budget to significantly fund other programs. Just last month, he blogged on the Huffington Post about his love for the cream-centered cookie.

I asked Ben and Jerry to discuss how they prioritize and select projects, and how they communicate their decisions to employees, investors, and customers. Greenfield stepped in, pointing out that engagement and involvement are critical to the process, noting that employees were instrumental in getting the company plugged into working with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). The company is also moving toward buying more Fair Trade ingredients for its various products.

The biggest thrill came after the presentation, when I was allowed to meet the ice cream moguls back stage. They came across as genuine, with Greenfield taking the lead asking me about the curriculum at the Wake Forest Schools of Business. He took a great interest in what type of MBAs were being churned out business schools, emphasizing his hope that corporate responsibility and social awareness were being introduced to courses. I assured him that Dean Steve Reinemund had a keen interest in bringing more ethics training into the program, which seemed to please both men.

Then Greenfield grabbed me by the shoulder and told the photographer we needed a group shot. Cohen joined in and the guys hammed it up while several shots were snapped. They were courteous enough to personalize a forum program for my 8-year-old, who had been routing for me during the entire CEOs of Tomorrow campaign.

They had a lighter message for the next generation. “Hope you’re getting lots of dessert.”


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Getting On Stage With Ben & Jerry

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09 We did it! The Wake Forest University Schools of Business can now say that it is home to the 2010 CEO of Tomorrow! Thanks to everyone who stepped up to the plate and made this a reality. I may be the one making the trek to Raleigh but Wake Forest really pulled together to make this happen. This is going to be an unforgettable experience, and I wish I could bring many guests with me to share in the networking opportunities that the NC CEO Forum will offer.

I want to share a few reflections from the competition. About two weeks ago, Dean Reinemund sent an email out to the entire student body, encouraging each of us to submit a question to the NC CEO Forum and vie for a coveted spot on stage with the founders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. Though mired in the back end of an insane semester, I decided to take a look at the topic - “Triple Bottom Line: 21st Century Leadership in People, Planet and Profit” – and give it a shot. We had already learned about the topic in Dr. Bern Beatty’s financial accounting class, providing an excellent foundation as I started to craft my question.

Where to go with the question, I thought. I didn’t want to hand these guys soft serve. Yet knowing the the event planners were naming the finalists, I didn’t want to introduce a question so edgy that it would strike fear in the hearts of those making the selection and risk zinging the keynote speakers. Tapping into years of journalistic experience, I came up with a multifaceted question that I hope will give people a better understanding of the company’s thinking:

“The global need for triple bottom line investment is so extensive. How does a company such as Ben and Jerry's gauge, prioritize and ultimately select where to allocate its time and financial resources? How does the company articulate such allocations to employees and investors?”

It was exciting to get the email confirming that I would represent Wake Forest as a finalist. I went on a marketing blitz, tapping into my existing follower base on Twitter, posting on my Facebook account, and reaching out to a number of groups through other forms of social media. I know many of you voted dozens of times. The wide-ranging support that I received meant more than the final result, though I must admit that winning feels good! This is not just about me, but it further validates the effort exerted by every student, professor and faculty member to make Wake Forest a premier business school.

I must admit that midway through the competition I went through my own personal version of the Prisoner's Dilemma, where I briefly wondered how much effort was coming from the other three finalists. NC State's Sean White really seemed to have a strong network across multiple social media platforms, but it was more difficult to gauge what the students from Duke and UNC were doing. Should I ease up or continue to aggressively push for votes? Should I shirk or continue to exert maximum effort? I chose the latter - efforts by the other finalists were nothing short of motivation to keep finding ways to promote my question and meet my goal. Thankfully my summer "break" finally came, yielding more time to "campaign."

The NC CEO Forum kept all four finalists in suspense, taking a day and a half to announce the winner after what it called “epic” voting totals. What that says is that Wake Forest and others voted and voted and voted. I know there was strong competition from the “bigger” schools but dedication to a cause can speak much louder than sheer numbers. By noon Wednesday, I had grown weary of refreshing email and decided that I would stop watching and waiting for the pot to boil. It took a call about an hour later from my friend and teammate Shonna Brackett to hear the news that I had won. Honestly, it was a great way to find out! A quick check of Twitter confirmed the victory and of course I retweeted as quickly as I could.

What are my plans for Tuesday? I want to get to the event as early as possible. There will be countless networking opportunities, an early panel discussion led by Dean Reinemund, and so many high-caliber presentations. I am eager to get on stage with Ben & Jerry, ask my question(s) and make our school proud. My daughter is very proud of me - she wants credit for at least 12 votes - and she is hoping I try and get them to sign something (maybe the lid to a Cherry Garcia pint). Tempting, though I would need to eat the ice cream over the next six days to have the item ready for signatures. A sacrifice that could be made, I suppose.

When possible, I plan to blog and/or tweet from the event, and you can guarantee that there will be a hefty post-event blog chronicling my interactions and experiences at the 2010 NC CEO Forum. Each of you will get a “front row seat” to this event, I promise.

Again, thank you! And congratulations to all the finalists for what is sure to be an amazing shared experience!

Paul Davis / @WakeForestMBA

Teaching Middle-School Students to Love Cell Science

If the nation's ability to remain an economic power rests in the hands of today's middle-school students, then the future looks bright.

A new tool developed at Wake Forest University — a video game called CellCraft — will be featured May 12 at the White House in the inaugural celebration of National Lab Day.

Former graduate student Anthony Pecorella ('04, MA '06), who directed the CellCraft project, will be showing the game to various White House officials. Pecorella, who received a MacArthur grant to work on the project, will be attending the White House program with other researchers who received MacArthur grants.

On May 11, 30 students at Hanes Middle School in Winston-Salem were among the first to play the final version of CellCraft, a high-action game in which players must learn the inner workings of a cell to save the inhabitants of a planet set for destruction.

Jed Macosko"If you learn how cells work, your cell will thrive," Jed Macosko (right), an assistant physics professor at Wake Forest  and science adviser to the project, said. "If you squander resources or ignore threats, your cell will die."

The video game was developed with testing at Hanes Middle School and Reagan High School. The game teaches students high-level cellular science and, more importantly, inspires them to love it. In pre- and post-game tests, CellCraft's developers found that middle-schoolers who played the game not only gained a greater understanding of science concepts but also said they enjoyed learning more.

"To remain a world player, we must open up a new realm of ideas for our children, one that will inspire them into careers in sciences," Macosko said. "I think that the nanoscopic world inside the cell is just the thing."

President Obama established National Lab Day in November to rally America's educators, scientists, businesses and foundations to solve that crisis: The country will not be able to compete worldwide if today's students continue to shun science careers.

Reaching middle-school students is key. A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2003 showed that, among 15-year-olds in 30 of the world's developed nations, the U.S. ranked only 18th in math and 24th in science.

According to the National Science Teachers Association, if teachers don't engage students in science by seventh grade, then those young people likely are lost to science careers forever.

CellCraft was funded in 2009 by a $25,000 Young Innovator Award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, via the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advance Collaboratory.

Courtesy Office of Communications and External Relations, Published May 11, 2010.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mastering Humility and Confidence

"To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness." - Benjamin Franklin

"Be humble, for the worst thing in the word is the same stuff as you; be confident, for the stars are the same stuff as you" - Nicholai Velimirovic

20091020chaiken0010 Humility is ironically a powerful virtue. I first encountered the power of humility when I was a performing musician. In an industry where big heads and pretentiousness are the norm, it's difficult to not step up and "toot your own horn." Wouldn't I get lost amongst the floating words of conceitedness, pride and vanity? Part of my rebuttal was being shy, but the other part was the look on people's faces after an encounter with a guru of pride. I didn't want to be the person who's snide comment made a person look down to the ground and question him- or herself. It's difficult, as a performing musician, to keep a strict adherence to the line that separates self-confidence and conceitedness. It's important to have self-confidence (self-efficacy); to think from the moment your foot steps on to the wooden stage that you are the greatest in the world. However, turning it off after a performance is another thing.

One of my proudest moments came during a rehearsal with a jazz ensemble. During a break, the director showcased me with words. "Eric's going to be a great musician. Not only because he is good, but also because he is one of the most humble people I know. That's a rarity for trumpet players." This was a positive stroke I still remember with great detail. I tried to let the sound out of my horn speak for itself, and it did. Oh it took time, but my humble approach helped demand the respect of other musicians and professors without the need to sell myself. This was before the social media boom.

Today it's important to let your accomplishments be known, whether it's by your LinkedIn profile, or in a weekly blog you've created. We are in a job market somewhat likened to a debate: "I'm right and better." "No, I disagree with my opponent...I'm right and better." The challenging thing is we are constantly hit by so many different sources from so many different angles (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, blogs, email, phone calls, information interviews, online applications, resumes, cover letters, etc.). How do we keep note of not losing track of humility and transitioning to vanity? Fortunately it's a time when self-praise is accepted ... and expected to some degree. Living within this Age of Information, we have the opportunity to balance the self-praise with acknowledgement of the accomplishments of others. We also have a variety of means of connecting with experts in our respective fields to learn and develop ourselves more.

My most-respected trumpet professor once told me "remember, there's always somebody better than you." This was not to downplay my proficiency on my instrument, but to remind me that there are plenty of people and experiences to learn from and to maintain both a humble and open mind. In your job search campaign, develop the confidence needed to engage in a powerful and meaningful self-marketing campaign. Have the desire to excel and recognize the need to compete. Yet, consider evaluating how you use your personal sense of humility. Ask experts for their opinions. Engage in informational interviews. Seek material to develop your skills. Certainly acknowledge your strengths, but acknowledge your weaknesses as well and work in improving them. Learn. Find a mentor you haven't spoken to in a long time and let them know your sincere appreciation.

~ Eric Chaiken, Career Management Center

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mission: Ben & Jerry – The Home Stretch

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09By now everyone is done with exams and papers, and most of you have left campus for the summer (or  permanently). This will be a brief note to remind everyone that voting for the NC CEO Forum’s CEOs of Tomorrow competition ends at 11:59 pm TONIGHT!!! We still have one day to get out and vote, showing the other business schools that Wake Forest really means business! (Re) visit HERE to vote for @WakeForestMBA.
I want to thank everyone who has voted thus far and those who have taken the time to use their Facebook status updates or tweets to spread the word. I have seen a lot of outlets pick this up, exceeding my expectations. Just looking for a little more gas in the tank to cross the finish line – I know there is at lease one school out there hitting it hard. We can hit harder!
Again, I am grateful for all the help and I wish I could invite each of you up on stage when I ask Ben & Jerry my question (but let’s be honest we don’t want to totally intimidate those guys). In lieu, I am attaching this little clip to show the ideal (humorous) show of gratitude. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The First Year – A Collage

Summer doesn’t mean the end of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business student blog, but it does give us an opportunity to look at the year that passed. Here are a few photos that sum up the year we are leaving behind. Thanks again to everyone who has supported this effort!


Wake Forest Faculty “Feel the Love” at Yearend Event

RoehmMThe joint faculty of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business gathered at Castle McCulloch in Jamestown, N.C., last week for the first combined annual Faculty Awards Gala.
Michelle Roehm, senior associate dean of faculty for the Schools of Business, conceived and planned the event as a way to recognize and reward the outstanding achievements of fellow Wake Forest professors in three key areas: teaching, research, and service.
Steve Reinemund, Wake Forest Dean of Business, opened the evening by noting the accomplishments of the combined Schools, including the undergraduate program’s number one ranking in Academic Quality for two consecutive years in BusinessWeek, our graduates achieving the highest passing rates in the nation for the fifth consecutive year on the CPA exam, the World Championship title in the KPMG Global Case Competition brought home by our undergraduate student team, and the significant increases in the graduate program rankings.
“None of these achievements would be possible without your leadership and support” Reinemund told attendees. “You are the key driver in the success of our school and in the education the students receive here. What I hear most in my interactions with students is the special relationships they have with you and how much it enriches their lives. Not only do you teach them in the classroom, but you serve as mentors as they navigate through their collegiate and life journey. I thank you for everything you do.”
To make the awards as meaningful and memorable as possible, award presenters were selected based on the connection they have to the award or honoree -- such as a past recipient or a strong peer relationship.
The full awards list by category can be found here.
Reinemund closed the evening congratulating all the award recipients, noting the honor and privilege that comes from working with such a dedicated group of remarkable people. He also recognized Roehm for her tremendous accomplishments. “She sets the standard for teaching, research and service and has been an inspiration to all of us,” he said.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Finding the Way Back: Impacts of White Collar Crime

In March, Wake Forest University hosted a panel discussion on white collar crime. Fraudulent scandals in previously well respected companies such as Enron, WorldCom, AIG, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and Satyam Computer Services have shaken the nation’s faith in the business community. It is reported that the US government loses between $300-$660 billion per year to white collar crime schemes, investigations and prosecution. Companies, investors, taxpayers and society in general feel the consequences of these violations. We invite you to an intriguing session on white collar crime and corporate governance in which you will have the opportunity to hear from two former business executives who committed white collar crimes in addition to leading experts in the financial sector and forensic accounting.

To see the video of the panel discussion, click here.