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Inside VTMBA Fall 2016

Alumni Newsletter

Dispatches from India and Dubai: MBA Study Abroad

Also in this Issue

Evening MBA Ranked #16 for Second Year U.S. News & World Report Best Grad School

Hokie Community Spotlight: Executive MBAs and Entrepreneurs……………………Page 3 Pamplin Launches Executive Ph.D. program……………………….….Page 11

Online MIT Ranked #2 for Second Year U.S. News & World Report Best online Graduate computer Information Technology Program

Graduate Programs Launch Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations…………………………..Page 12

From the MBA Advisory Board To My Fellow Hokie MBA Alum, All of us are fortunate to have graduated from an impressive institution that grows more impressive each year. In 2016, Virginia Tech’s part-time MBA program ranked 16th among the nation’s best business schools by US News & World Report, up 30 spots from 2015. As president of the VT MBA Advisory Board, I am very proud to represent Tech, and I’m writing to encourage you to get involved with our dynamic alumni community, where the Hokie commitment to UT Prosim is as strong as ever. Will you join me, and my board colleagues, as we strive to positively impact the continued advancement, success and recognition of the VT MBA Programs? Our mission is to lead VT’s MBA alumni, in collaboration with faculty, to support students, advise program leaders and establish strong relationships with our business community. The Board make-up includes MBA alumni from all four VT MBA programs (Full-time, Executive, Professional and Evening), and related activities occur in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke and Blacksburg. Our focus is on VT MBA program strategy (market penetration, emerging opportunities in the Virginia technology and business sectors), alumni engagement (panel discussions, guest lectures, networking and recruiting events, fundraising) and career mentoring. Together, we can provide alumni with leadership, networking and volunteer opportunities, while positively contributing to the Hokie Nation. Our vibrant alma mater leads the way in business, technology, service, learning and research. Let’s ensure that Tech’s success and impact continues to grow in the coming years. I look forward to meeting you and working with you. Best,

Jessica Gulick Jessica Gulick, Executive MBA ‘07 President, VT MBA Advisory Board Founder and CEO, Katzcy Consulting

What can you do to help? Sign up to volunteer at this link . We’ll regularly email you about upcoming opportunities.

Consider joining the Board by submitting a nomination request to

Make a donation to enhance the VT MBA programs by specifying the MBA Excellence Fund (#860562) at http://www.givi

Ways to Get Involved

Become an MBA Alumni Volunteer

Mentor current MBA Students

Throughout the year, the MBA Advisory Board and MBA programs need volunteers to help plan events, participate in class programming and create ways for alumni and current MBA students to connect. If you would like to be on the distribution list to hear about volunteer opportunities, please email Emily Pinette (Associate Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations) at, subject line: MBA Volunteer

Each academic year, the MBA Advisory Board’s Career Committee matches MBA alumni mentors with current student mentees. Now in its third year, the Mentor Program has matched over 100 current MBA students with Alumni mentors. To learn more or to sign up to be a future mentor, please email Emily Pinette (Associate Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations) at, subject line: Mentor Program.

Give a Guest Lecture in a Class

Host a Mixer in your Town

Periodically, MBA faculty members invite alumni into the classroom as guest lecturers on a specific subject matter. If you would like to be included on a potential guest speaker list, please email Emily Pinette (Associate Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations) at, subject line: Guest Speaker. Also list your specific area of expertise.

Sometimes the easiest way to connect with local MBA alumni is to get together for happy hour. If you’d like to coordinate a happy hour in your town, the MBA Advisory Board and MBA programs have a process to facilitate the event and get the word out to alumni. If you’d like to learn more or would like to coordinate a happy hour in your town, please email Emily Pinette (Associate Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations) at, subject line: Happy Hour

Hokie Community Spotlight: Executive MBAs and Entrepreneurs Over the last several years, the VT Executive MBA has served as an informal incubator, helping students to shape and grow their entrepreneurial endeavors. Using what they learned in class and the connections with the Hokie community, many EMBAs have started firms or joined other small businesses.

Growing through the MBA Experience Rashad Howard, EMBA’11 Principal, Visual Connections, LLC

Tim Hoke, EMBA ‘14 CEO, Heroic Aleworks

Rashad Howard never dreamed he would get his MBA. It was a well-timed conversation with a friend from the Airforce Academy that would lead him to the MBA, Virginia Tech and ultimately to his pursuit of entrepreneurship. Coming into the Executive MBA program, Rashad expected to gain knowledge, create connections and build friendships. Along the way, he picked up the tools he needed to become Principal at Visual Connections, LLC, a government IT services and third party integration firm that has experienced significant growth since 2014. The MBA helped me to bridge the gaps in professional skills and in business. Without coursework, I wouldn’t have been able structure the initial partnership deal that lead to join Visual Connections, Rashad said.

Leveraging the Hokie Community

my my to me

However, his MBA experience didn’t just get him in the door. Rashad uses it in his day-to-day work, helping to grow the employees in his firm. Rashad teaches a course on consulting for new hires, utilizing many of the case studies that he used in his classes. All employees are also given access to Harvard Business Review, a mandate created by Rashad and designed to give the firm a taste of what the MBA degree can do. There are “100 new people who have benefited from Virginia Tech,” because I was able to take my experience there and use it to shape the experience of other people, Rashad said.

Tim Hoke had always wanted to start a business. Little did he know, it would come at the intersection of two of his interests: Home brewing and comic books. After a six month industry analysis, Tim and his business partner created Heroic Aleworks—a comic book based brewery where the beers are named for heroes and villains that have been created by Tim and the Aleworks team. The brewery’s first tap room is set to open October 2016 in Warrenton, VA. This moment has been several years in the making. Starting in 2014, Tim began pursuing funding through friends and family. During that time, he also attended a Hokie Investor Network event, where he met a Virginia Tech alumni in banking who ended up helping him get a small business loan. This connection paved the way for additional rounds of funding and the opening this Fall. Given that he got his break from the Hokie community, Tim also plans to give back, tapping into the undergraduate community for interns at the brewery as their operations grow. But it wasn’t just the Hokie network that helped Tim turn his dream into a reality. Tim says his MBA influenced many of his business decisions, using process improvement to think about the brewing process and marketing to build his brand.

Classmate Profile: Christopher Little, EMBA 2011 (Great Falls Cohort)

Chris Little is an Army veteran, entrepreneur, husband and father of two who saw an MBA as a ticket to greater business success, especially in the competitive environment of Northern Virginia and the greater Washington metropolitan area. Inside VTMBA asked Chris a few questions to learn more about his inspiration, his successes and the key lessons he took away from the program. [VT]: What were you doing professionally before you went to VT EMBA?

decision (especially since I was paying for the program out of my own pocket).

Chris: I was running a twofranchise operation for Duct Doctor USA and working a full time job as a financial analyst for MITRE Corporation. At the time, I decided I had lived a life of ‘not’ for long enough and wanted to work hard, earn more and enjoy myself. Life can be so sweet, but often much too short, so why not take advantage of the short time you are given? I thought the knowledge I would gain by earning my MBA would help me in managing my small business and create more opportunities for me in the future.

[VT]: What are the most important lessons you took away from the EMBA program?

[VT]: Why did you pick the VT EMBA?

Chris: I started my small business in 2004 and learned most lessons the hard way (trial and error). Trial and error is a costly way to learn, and it sometimes leaves the ‘why?’ of the lesson unclear. The MBA program filled in the blanks for me, often providing the textbook definitions and the rationale for the ‘hard-knocks’ lessons I had learned.

Chris: I was raised in Southwest Virginia, I have an uncle who played football for Tech, and I grew up cheering for Virginia Tech football. It was a simple choice for those reasons alone. The strength of the program, its reputation in the region and price all factored in to my

Chris: That no matter how difficult, heated and stressful the current situation may be, you must simply remember to breathe, put your head down and do your best. I once read that, "If a man does his best, what else is there?" Anything less will give you something to ponder down the road, a wasteful use of time really. [VT]: What has helped you most?

I also met truly life-long friends, some of the best people in my life, during the program. It’s also how I became actively involved with the Road Warrior Foundation (, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that raises funds to support ‘adventure therapy’ for wounded US service personnel. The group was founded by another Great Falls cohort classmate and veteran, Steve Berger, and his USAF Academy classmate Craig Anders.

[VT]: What's your best memory of the VT EMBA program? Chris: The international trip by far - what a great experience visiting Ireland and Turkey especially given all that was happening then with the financial crisis and all that is happen now with the failed coup. That, and the satisfaction I get from applying the classroom, textbook lessons I learned to real life, real-time.

(Rob Doolittle, MBA Advisory Board Member, wrote this interview).

A Look at Graduation 2016 On May 15, Virginia Tech hosted its National Capital Region graduation ceremony.

Evening MBAs: 2016

Executive MBAs: 2016

MIT Students: 2016

President Tim Sands presented diplomas to students in the MBA and MIT programs.

Being Innovative…What Does that Really Mean?

You frequently hear executives or leaders of various organizations Alumni Column By Evelyn V. McGill VT, MBA ’90

encouraging their employees to be innovative, or to “think outside the box.” They further stress this idea to their customers or constituents, with “innovative” being the key adjective used to describe their organization. The word can be overused, almost to the point of it being cliché, but it poses the question, what does it mean to be innovative?

The Little Black Book of Innovation defines innovation as “something different that has impact” (Scott D. Anthony, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, 2012). Using the words “different” and “impactful” to define innovation is indicative of the ever-changing lives each of us experience on a daily basis. Driverless cars, voice remote controls, GPS tracked mobile devices, digital books, automated training, and remote controlled security systems exemplify a few innovations that are in demand. Even the ability to deposit a check by using your phone is an indicator of how innovative technology has been advanced to simplify the lives of humans across the globe. Name any product or service in today’s age and chances are automation has improved its functions significantly since its inception. The masterminds behind these changes are constantly researching and developing new or updated products and services with the goal of appealing to existing customers, while attracting new clients by remaining competitive, delivering something fresh, different, and impactful. Driving change is always a major goal for leadership. In the private sector, bottom lines are always important and a key determinant for a company’s success. Developing products or services requires knowledge and abilities that are forward thinking, with a positive impact on customer experience. Companies want the competitive edge, continuously seeking to earn more share of the market while improving profits. In order to achieve this, innovators look for new ideas and methods in order to better serve customers. The Harvard Business Review identified several leadership traits necessary at GE for innovation including external focus on the customer, seeking simple solutions to complex problems, imagining new and creative ideas, creating an inclusive environment with diverse ideas, and identifying expertise to build on experience (January 2009). Public sector agencies are similar, but with less focus on the bottom line and more attention to providing high quality services. Often public sector agencies get labeled as status quo, with no real innovation or change due to being more service oriented versus profit driven. To be on the cutting edge in the public sector requires forward thinking, a passionate staff, sufficient budget and resources, and support from the agency head for innovative initiatives. Paperless projects, mobile websites, video conferencing, performance report cards, and other enhanced customer interaction are just a few examples of innovation in the public sector. Keeping the public aware of how tax dollars are spent and how well services are being delivered are both essential to maintaining transparency. Succession planning and career development programs are other examples of initiatives in the public sector that require constant review and updating, ensuring continuity in delivering high quality services. Innovation is all around us personally and professionally, whether in business or in public, service oriented agencies. The world changes so quickly, that we often do not stop and think about what it takes to bring about such change as our focus is on adopting and adjusting to the innovation. While staying current with change is quite challenging, it is required to ensure that as an individual you are able to navigate through a life surrounded by innovative ideas, gadgets and business processes. For those of us that lead organizations, it is a mandate to be innovative to ensure that your organization remains competitive, cutting edge, while meeting your customer needs.

Study Abroad: Dispatches from India and Dubai Evening MBA students traveled throughout India and Dubai for two weeks as part of the 2016 International Marketing in Emerging Economies Study Abroad. They participated in meetings with multi-national businesses and learned about marketing tactics in these surfacing economies. And along the way, they found time to blog‌.

Here I am, jet lagged and blogging at 4am in New Delhi, India! I must say, that was the most painless 24 hours of traveling that I have ever experienced- no sarcasm intended. The first 13 hour flight felt shorter than my 4.5 hour flight to California- it’s nice being surrounded by a great group of Hokies!

On Monday, we had a meeting with Microsoft, which was amazing. Vinnie (pictured here) was able to share her wealth of knowledge with us about the company, and how it is helping to improve the educational system in India as well as the rest of the world. This meeting really changed my perspective on what I want out of my future career.

On Tuesday, we had a meeting with the JRE School of Engineering and Management. It was a small school, and it was so interesting to learn about their program in comparison the programs in the U.S. We were paired into groups with the students and assigned a topic to present with them. My group was assigned Patanjali, which is a company based on the premise of healing with yoga along with natural and organic products (right up my ally!) Our assignment was to come up with a plan on how we would expand Patanjali into the United States

Study Abroad: Dispatches from India and Dubai

Jaipur: I finally got to ride an elephant! I had been waiting for this all week (actually since I saw it on the itinerary a few months ago). Our elephant was named “Mali,” and she took us up to Amber Fortwhat a view!

It may have only lasted for fifteen minutes, but the sunset on the beach tonight was one of my favorite moments in Dubai. Our bus driver pulled off just in time and let us explore Jumeirah Beach for a little while where we were able to catch the beautiful sunset over Burj al Arab (the 7-star hotel).

During our last days in Dubai, we took an elevator up to the 125th floor of the Burj Khalifa, had a meeting with du- Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, went dune bashing in the desert (popping a tire in the process), got a tour of the Burj al Arab hotel, did some gold souk shopping, and finally escaped the commercialized world of Dubai for a little nap time on the beach before our 15 hour flight home (of which I slept the entire time). I can’t believe our trip has come to an end already! It flew by, but at the same time I felt like we were gone for a month with everything we squeezed in each day. Dr. Khan did a phenomenal job planning this trip… thank you VT for an unforgettable learning experience!

Pamplin News In Brief

Pamplin MBA Programs Tour Visa’s Data Center and Cyber Security Center What could you do in half a second? For the people, facilities and systems at Visa, that’s all the time they need to ensure that your card purchases go through quickly, conveniently and safely. Pamplin MBA faculty and staff got a firsthand look at this process during a tour of Visa’s Data Center and Cyber Fusion Center in Ashburn, Virginia. The tours, organized by Visa Executive and Executive MBA Alumna (2007) Maureen McAllister, showcased Visa’s global operations, the skills and expertise of its workforce and its commitment to creating a safe and convenient experience for users worldwide.

The Data Center, which opened in 2009, is one of Visa’s four major data centers throughout the globe. During the tour, faculty and staff learned about the operational capacity required to not only process billions of financial transactions, but also to keep the center up and running—no matter what might be happening outside the Data Center doors.

The Cyber Fusion Center, which opened in January of this year, serves as a central hub for Visa’s cyber security operations teams, which monitor emerging cyber threats, organize rapid responses to detected threats and coordinate information sharing. The state-of-the-art system allows Visa to proactively protect its users around the globe.

“Tours like this not only help us build and sustain relationships with the business community, but they also connect our faculty to new ideas and potential research opportunities that serves the entire Virginia Tech community,” said Dr. Parviz Ghandforoush, Associate Dean for Pamplin Graduate Programs.

MSBA Starts this Fall The new Master of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality & Tourism Management welcomed a new group of incoming students this Fall. Students in the program will take core courses from the MBA program, followed by selected courses in Hospitality & Tourism Management with a focus on Business Analytics and Revenue Management; International Hospitality and Tourism Strategy; or Entrepreneurship in Hospitality and Tourism Management. The program also provides opportunities for field studies and work experience. For further information contact Dr. Mahmood Khan (, Director MSBAHTM program.

Pamplin News In Brief

MBA Alumni Wins Alexandria 40 Under 40 Award Chris Denby, CEO of Markitecture, an architecture and engineering industry marketing firm, was one of 40 honorees in the inaugural class of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s 40 under 40 Awards. The Awards were established to recognize top men and women, age 40 and under, engaged in a variety of fields including business, technology, nonprofit management, civic life, public service, education, and the arts, who are shaping Alexandria for the future. Chris is a double Hokie, receiving both his MBA and BA in Architecture from Virginia Tech

Congratulations Chris!

NCR Hosts Egyptian Visiting Scholars The Pamplin College of Business at the National Capital Center is hosting four Egyptian Visiting Scholars for one year. Three of the scholars are from Helwan University and one from Sadat University in Egypt. They will be pursuing Ph.D. degrees, which will be offered by their respective universities. During their stay they will be conducting research in Hospitality and Tourism Management. They are funded by the Egyptian Embassy while they complete their research work. The purpose of the research includes a comparative assessment of US and Egyptian hospitality businesses. They will be conducting research work under the direction of Dr. Mahmood Khan, Professor, Hospitality & Tourism Management. This provides an opportunity for intercultural studies in a diverse environment in the rapidly growing field of hospitality management.

Pamplin Launches Executive Ph.D. Program in NCR

Inaugural cohort of Ph.D. students concentrating in Executive Business Research starts Fall 2016 This Fall, Pamplin welcomed its inaugural cohort of parttime Ph.D. students concentrating in Executive Business Research. Based at the National Capital Region, the cohort of 12 students will meet monthly for an in-person residence at the Falls Church campus. However, the hybrid design of the program ensures that these experienced, working professionals will also work alongside full-time doctoral students in Blacksburg as they complete their years of study. The new concentration is designed specifically for experienced executives interested in conducting high quality research on emerging business issues. Many of the students are looking toward careers that emphasize the creation and use of research in the academic, business or government settings. During the program, students will gain an in-depth understanding of scholarly literature in their chosen business discipline, rigorous training in analytical research techniques and experience in conducting high quality original research embodied in a dissertation addressing a complex business problem.

With this inaugural cohort underway, the program is looking to bring in its next class of new students Dr. Dipankar Chakravarti (, Director Ph.D. in Business, Executive Business Research Concentration. Or visit:

Pamplin Graduate Programs Launch New Office Career Services and Alumni Relations This year, the Pamplin Graduate Programs—headquartered in the National Capital Region—created the new Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations, serving the Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Professional MBA and Master of Information Technology program.

The office, headed by Associate Director Emily Pinette, will offer career services programming for current students as well as supporting projects, events and programs for the MBA alumni community. As part of the phase one launch, MBA and MIT students now have access to personalized career service appointments. The office has also coordinated with the MBA Advisory Board on its 2016 events and helped to manage the third year of its Career Mentor Program. In 2017, the office will continue to build upon its success, creating more programming for both students and alumni.

Prior to joining Pamplin, Emily worked in career services, employer relations and program administration at several Washington, D.C.-area universities. As an Assistant Dean at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, Emily managed the Masters in Public Relations and Corporate Communications Program. While there, she led the admissions committee, managed program staff and recruited faculty. Prior to joining Georgetown, Emily worked as a Senior Career Consultant at The George Washington University’s School of Business, where she focused on career coaching and building programs for business students.

Phone:(703) 538-8413

MBA Programs: Welcome to New Faculty

William Becker is an Associate Professor of management at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. He received his PhD from the University of Arizona. His work has appeared in top journals including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Personnel Psychology. His work has received press coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, CNBC, Fox News, U.S. News & World Report, TIME, Business News Daily, Inc., Psych Central, Popular Mechanics, among others. His research interests include work emotion, turnover, organizational neuroscience, and leadership. Dr. William Becker


Dr. Becker's recent study on work emails after hours found that organizational expectations had a more negative impact than did the amount of email received. The results of that study were covered in multiple media outlets including the WSJ, CNBC, and Financial Times.

A former Presidential Management Intern, Susan Wharton Gates spent five years at the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget. Through two separate appointments, she developed budgetary and policy expertise in both international and domestic programs, ranging from refugee assistance and drug interdiction, to veterans education and mortgage benefits. In 1990, she joined Freddie Mac as an economist. Over the course of a 19-year career, she worked in a number of different areas, including financial research, mortgage credit risk, government relations and was later made vice president of public policy in the Office of the Chairman. In that role, Susan managed a team of public policy professionals, developed CEO Congressional testimony, and coordinated the management of corporate reputation risk.

Dr. Susan Gates

Evening MBA Business Ethics

Since leaving Freddie Mac in 2009, Susan founded Wharton Policy Group, LLC. She provides policy and regulatory analysis, advocacy and other consultant services to leaders of major commercial institutions in areas of mortgage reform, FHA and GSE restructuring, commercial valuation and indemnity insurance issues. A visitor at Virginia Tech’s graduate Center for Public Administration and Policy, Susan teaches normative theory (ethics), public administration, budget and managerial skills. In summer 2016, she began teaching business ethics at Pamplin. Susan is also a capstone advisor for Georgetown University’s master in real estate program and has published two scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals. Susan received a Masters in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in public administration and policy from Virginia Tech. In 2007, she completed the Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School of Business. In 2014, Susan opened a seasonal artisan business called Vintage Picnic on Maryland’s eastern shore. In 2015, she became a certified trainer, speaker and coach with the John Maxwell team. She has self-published three poetry books and is an engaging and soughtafter speaker.

MBA Programs: Welcome to New Staff

Annabelle joined the Executive MBA Program this Spring as the Assistant Director. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, she was the Assistant Director of MBA Programs at the College of William & Mary, where she worked with their EMBA, Flex MBA and Full-Time MBA programs. What brought you to Virginia Tech? The prospect of working for my alma mater was an opportunity I could not pass up! After working at the College of William & Mary as their Assistant Annabelle Ombac Director of MBA Programs, I knew moving Virginia Tech in the DC metro Assistant Director area was the next step to grow in my career. Executive MBA What is one interesting fact about you? As a former Hokie Ambassador, I hold the "Unofficial Record for Most Campus Tours" at 165 tours! What is a Hokie? Regardless if you got your degree here, anyone that supports Virginia Tech from student, alumni, friend or family is a Hokie!

Stephanie Birkenhauer joins the Evening MBA program as a Graduate Program Coordinator. Her primary role will be support the marketing and recruiting of students. What brought you to Virginia Tech? The great reputation of the school and programs as well as the dedicated support and “Hokie Pride” from the fans. It was hard leaving Kentucky where everyone is a proud “CATS” fan who “bleeds blue”, but it was refreshing to see the support the VT community gives their university. What is one interesting fact about you? Stephanie I recently moved here from N. Kentucky/Cincinnati, OH and this is my first Birkenhauer Program Coordinator time living in a big city and first time ever being on a metro train. Evening MBA What is one piece of advice you give students? It’s not always about getting the A in a class- Remember to be proud of yourself each semester, each day, and each time you step into your classes for taking this step in advancing your career.

Inside vtmba newsletter fall 2016  

Virginia Tech's MBA Alumni Newsletter: Fall 2016

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