Meeting a need and fulfilling a vision: This semester, a team of sophomores under the Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership was challenged by their Sophomore Experience course to identify a product to market and sell based on unfulfilled needs and wants in the University of Dayton community.
The class itself mandates the establishment of a business model in which students must brainstorm, source, fund, market, sell and manage the business independently.
The product they’ve set their sights on? Knitted UD crew socks.
“I thought of the increasing trend in crew socks over the past few years,” said Michael Keller, president of UD Crew Socks. “I ran with it, which ultimately led to me pitching the business idea to my class.”
His pitch was successful; when it came time to vote on projects pursued, it was the favorite. Classmates Andrew Hoffman, Matthew Markiewicz, Bridget Oleksy and Dillon Nino joined Keller on the crew socks team.
Overcoming setbacks is key in this program, just as in the real world.
“One of the biggest challenges we have faced is finding a good, reliable supplier. There are thousands of companies that make custom socks for low prices overseas, but that brings up a number of complicated factors, including shipping times, language barriers and quality concerns. Luckily, we found and are able to work with a supplier out of Columbus who has a great reputation.”
Oleksy, who heads the company’s marketing and promotion, highlights the value of this experiential education.
“This is an early opportunity to dive into the business world, one unparalleled by any other major program. I really believe in the value of this experience and the lessons it teaches us,” she said.
Profits first go in part towards a charity of the team’s choice, then into a scholarship fund, before the team ever makes a personal profit. The socks are available in two color schemes and can be purchased online at www.udcrewsocks.com. For more information, visit the team’s Facebook page.
It was at the end of his talk that his voice broke, the image in Peter McGrath’s mind still too raw to control.
“When I’m in Calcutta or Delhi or Lahore or Dhaka, and I see poverty come up to my car window, and it’s a 5-year-old girl in a dirty dress with her 2-year-old sister on her hip with no clothes on, and I look into her dark eyes and see despair, hopelessness, I have to tell you it’s the most frightening experience in the world.
“And we, as business people, have a responsibility to change that. The meaning of life is to give life meaning.”
McGrath ’72 shared lessons from his nearly 40-year career with J.C. Penney as the speaker for the 10th annual Business As a Calling lecture Nov. 14, presented by the School of Business Administration’s Center for the Integration of Faith and Work and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Jacob Program in Professional Ethics.
Many of his lessons were tailored to the budding business professionals in the Kennedy Union ballroom: Work hard. Never compromise your core values. Communicate effectively.
“You’re going to spend one-third of your life at work, so what you’re going to do to make a living, I hope you like,” he said.
He said he loves retail and developed a passion for working with designers and building brands. His work took him on a 10-million mile trek across the globe to visit factories, which is where he came face-to-face with such poverty.
His experiences led him to establish the Peter McGrath Human Rights Fellows Program at UD in 2012.
McGrath’s visit was about showcasing business as a vocation rather than just a series of jobs. “Each of the students, if they choose business, will have the opportunity to affect lives,” McGrath said.
The importance of nurturing entrepreneurs was the topic of the keynote address at the annual entrepreneurship dinner April 9, given by Barbara Hayde ’64, president of the Entrepreneurs Center.
“Being nurtured empowers you because it allows you to take risks because you have a safety net,” said Hayde. The nurturing Dani DeTrude ’13 has received from her experiences at UD empowered her to take on the University of Dayton Business Plan Competition and place third out of a record-high 114 entries from 240 participants. DeTrude teamed up with local businessman Russ Gottesman to present MyEndoShop, “a platform where consumers can endorse, or “endo,” their favorite products and share them with friends. It combines both social media and e-commerce in a new and compelling way,” explained DeTrude.
DeTrude, a MKT and ENT double major, presented the senior reflections at the dinner. She spoke of many ways in which UD has nurtured her throughout the years. Her experience with the business plan competition was one such example. “Introspectively, I realized that I am a capable, young, professional woman who can take on the challenges of assisting in a new venture and presenting its business model.” DeTrude and her team earned $10,000 in prize money and have the opportunity to present to the Connor Seed Fund.
Hayde asked two things of all the entrepreneurs present, students and seasoned business professionals: to give help and to get help. “You must never stop doing that for each other,” said Hayde. She said without nurturing, entrepreneurs face failure. “You can still fail forward,” she said, but with nurturing, that safety net is there. “Nurturing can provide a way ahead when times are tough.”
UD’s annual RISE Forum is about more than CEOs discussing the stock market and economic recovery on stage in UD Arena. It’s about the students who got them there.
The 60-plus students in the Davis Center for Portfolio Management started planning for RISE 13 half a year before the three-day event, April 4-6. Sam Girouard ’14, a finance and marketing major, started making calls to schools, sponsors and panelists to pitch RISE back in November. He helped with the physical set up in the arena, hotels and on campus beginning two days before attendees arrived, and will reverse the process upon RISE’s conclusion.
“My favorite part of RISE is the team aspect of putting it all together and seeing it in motion,” said Girouard on the first day of RISE 13. “We were all so excited this morning.”
When Giorouard isn’t behind the scenes helping the event run smoothly, he’s enjoying the panels; he appreciates the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into applied finances, learning from people who work in the industry and see the market change every day. “Classes are great, you learn a lot, but getting their [panelists’] experience passed down to you is priceless.”
RISE 13 panelists included professionals from BlackRock, Barclays, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and many more. “Hearing something a Federal Bank president has to say is not something you ever get to hear — and we had two,” said Girouard. “Hearing from top financial minds is a treat.”
Campus to Career – Bridging the Gap was held Tuesday, Mar. 12. The event, hosted by Career Services, provided resources to female students to help prepare for the transition from life as a collegiate to life as a professional.
Katy Utter ’14 attended the conference because she thought it sounded like a fun way to network and learn more about the professional world. “I am a marketing and entrepreneurship student and plan on getting a job in social media marketing after I graduate,” said Utter. “I think that this event helped me expand my network and my knowledge about using social media in a professional and personal setting.”
After speed networking, breakout sessions and a keynote address from Krista Neher about the importance of personal branding on social media, a panel of four young professionals addressed the undergraduates. Sara Dorn ’12 was one of two UD grads on the panel. Dorn gave advice to current students about the process of relocating for a job, which she has done twice since graduating, and the responsibilities that come with a job. “In college, if you miss a class or don’t do your homework, you will feel the consequences, but in a job, slacking off affects a lot of other people, too,” said Dorn.
Campus to Career was a success for Utter and Dorn; along with gaining applicable advice to use in the workforce, Utter also won a Kindle Fire in the raffle held at the end of the night. Dorn was glad she was able to help UD students feel prepared to leave campus and take on a career. “Being an alum and giving advice to current students was really rewarding,” she said. “Considering I obsessed over my career during my senior year, I know what a scary, exciting time it can be.”
Women in the School of Business have a new resource in development this semester: student-run organization Women in Business.
“The University of Dayton Women in Business organization is beneficial to UD”s campus because it provides women with the resources to land a job that they are passionate about and will therefore allow them to truly succeed personally and professionally,” said co-founder Bridget Liddell ’14.
Liddell and Rachel Kilbury “14 are excited to bring this organization to campus. Kilbury was inspired at the Winning Women conference she attended in New York City last fall. Other students attending the conference had Women in Business clubs at their schools. “I thought it would be really valuable to bring back to Dayton,” Kilbury said. “There are great opportunities to offer to all women in the business school.”
Kilbury and Liddell want to get as many women in the SBA involved as possible. Though seniors are graduating in two months, they can leave their legacy by offering experience and advice to the underclassmen. The co-founders want women in every business major involved in running the club. Dede Ferry “15 is in charge of finances for WIB and Kilbury says Ferry will contribute to the sustainability of the club, leading after Kilbury and Liddell graduate.
WIB plans to help female business students by bringing in speakers and having workshops on technical skills, resume building, interviewing practices and more. Kilbury said, “The biggest emphasis is that we want to help women in the business school find what they’re passionate about and help them get there.”
There is a lot to be learned in a classroom. There’s a lot to be learned outside of one, too.
Walk the Talk, an event that brings the two worlds together, is in its 14th year of connecting business students with professionals to discuss issues companies regularly face. Brother Victor M. Forlani, SBA Marianist in Residence and host of the event says it allows students to “get perspective of what it’s like on the ground.”
“When you teach courses you’re way up here with theory,” said Forlani. “But when you’re in a dilemma, you don’t have time to go review Aristotle. You have to have instinct.” The catered luncheons take place in the Miriam atrium about seven times each semester. Local businesspeople, typically from the Dayton Rotary Club, sit one or two to a table with junior and senior business majors. A case study depicting a practical business dilemma is discussed around the table and recommendations are shared with the room of 35-40 students.
The cases are typically written by the School of Business Administration and attempt to stay abreast of current events and issues in the business world. “The idea is to bring everything together that you’ve learned and apply it,” said Forlani. “Students have visions of him or herself in that situation.”
An ancillary benefit to the discussion of realistic situations is networking with local professionals. Students get experience interacting with businesspeople and could pick up interview tips or even a job lead. Walk the Talk is more than a classroom experience; and yes, professional dress is required.
Nike implores you to “just do it.” Bo Balogun ’07 loves what it is that he does.
An employee of Suite in Chicago, Balogun is account manager for Nike’s central territory. He helps the company with initiatives to drive the brand, engage socially and increase revenues, and he doesn’t use conventional methods to do so.
“People are still doing traditional, but nontraditional is the way to go,” Balogun told a standing-room-only audience in a Miriam Hall classroom Jan. 24. Balogun uses marketing, search engine optimization, video production and more to follow Suite’s preference of authentic storytelling, putting in brand messaging and creating real content. Suite’s specialty is live social media. Their LiveLab digital network is a live streaming stage blending physical space with social digital mediums. “LiveLab is about activating new conversations and optimizing existing ones,” said Balogun.
For Balogun’s Nike account, LiveLab allowed the creation of NikeFuel House, June through October 2012, an interactive space that engaged customers in live tests of new NikeFuel products. “We want to keep the conversation going long after the shoe has been purchased,” said Balogun. “Every social media element has to have a call to action.” Last spring one campaign called residents of Chicago to pick a side – Northside or Southside – for which they earned their NikeFuel points, a metric gauged by physical activity, accrued while wearing particular Nike products.
Balogun encouraged the audience to take advantage of the resources UD has to offer in seeking out the jobs they want. As a UD football player and a member of the 2007 national championship team, Balogun loved sports and wanted to get behind commercials. So with a little help from UD, and just how Nike urges, he just did it.
If you’re planning to pursue employment after graduation from UD, you’re not just a student. “Finding a career is a full-time job,” said Larry Connor to a room dominated by entrepreneurship students Jan. 25. “Act like it.”
Connor is a longtime entrepreneur who currently runs the Dayton-based Connor Group. He started it 20 years ago and the business owns large, upscale, optimally-located apartment communities in eight cities. Connor is a supporter of UD’s entrepreneurship program. He came to campus last week to speak briefly about his entrepreneurship experience, but mostly about how to be successful at interviewing for a career.
“It really takes work to find the right career for yourself,” Connor said. To help prepare students for the process, he gave advice on how to make your first impression a lasting one, on making your resume concise and on general do’s and don’ts for a formal interview. With Connor’s extensive experience as an interviewer, students got an inside look at what will be expected of them when they meet their potential boss for the first time; if a candidate is more than five minutes late to an interview, “they’re out,” said Connor.
Connor emphasized the importance of fit with the company and its culture; employees are at work, with their coworkers, for more time than they are anywhere else with anyone else. It’s important to be an active participant in the interview, asking your own questions after answering the company’s.
A final phrase to inspire students to have a successful interview: “If you want to be exceptional you can’t do what everybody else is doing.”
Digital marketing firm Rosetta connected with UD this October by hosting the Rosetta Digital Marketing Competition.
Four teams of four to five students participated in the competition, a challenge of creating a marketing campaign to implement in a digital space. The digital component was the sixth wave of an anti-drug campaign.
While comprising a campaign, the teams learned about Rosetta through a webinar each week of the month, which included a visual PowerPoint and audio presentation given virtually by company employees. “It really seemed like a practical experience,” said participant Emily Gardner, a senior marketing major. Gardner said Rosetta gave each team the background of the campaign, but they had a lot of liberty with design and direction.
The anti-drug campaign specifically targeted teens. Gardner’s team explored that demographic by looking at online behavior and discovering what platforms teens visit most frequently. Her team created a Facebook page as one way to reach the target market.
Final presentations were given in a Science Center classroom Oct. 29 to a panel of four judges from Rosetta, two of whom were UD grads. Each team had 15 minutes, followed by a Q&A session. The students had to present a marketing plan, a timeline and a budget – essentially what Rosetta would present to a client.
“It was interesting because the campaign was not for a product or for a retailer, it was to raise awareness,” said Gardner. The judges gave feedback about creativity and functionality and held a social event afterward. “It definitely gave me practical experience about what a digital marketing company does and taught me how to do a holistic marketing campaign,” said Gardner.