HarbertMagazine Fall 2016
k r a p s e v i t cr ea ? be captured
you really look at innovation and creativity, they are, ironically, boring. The full arc of creative development doesn’t make for a good story. There’s no drama. There’s spectacle in the eureka moment, the blinding flash; there’s drama in the serendipitous, and the accidental, miraculous discovery. But the frequently long, slow slog toward a discovery, the incremental improvements that, taken together, add up to something significant, even revolutionary, are actually dreary. The new has always driven profit. Because a good idea can make a lot of money, and transform a company, an industry, or even a culture, businesses have worked very hard to understand, cultivate, promote, and manage creativity. In so doing, we have built a myth of creativity, and around this myth we’ve come up with all sorts of theories and opinions on how to ignite that creative spark. Let’s have flexible work schedules, brightly colored rooms, flat organizational structures, innovation afternoons and cross functional, conversational gatherings. We’ve had so many theories and opinions that the Wall Street Journal has suggested that the word innovation has lost its meaning: “Companies are touting chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies, and even innovation days, but that doesn’t mean the companies are actually doing any innovating.” There’s no magic prescription for creativity, but if you look at innovation across disciplines and time, some commonalities emerge. You have to be interested in what you’re doing. If, when you get to work, you’re waiting to go home, chances are you won’t be making a creative contribution. And you have to be curious. Do you enjoy learning, not just about your job, but about the world at large? If learning something new, trying something different, or toying with a problem isn’t fun, then you’ll have a difficult time turning a creative idea into a profitable innovation.
You’ve seen artist Kevin Sprouls’ work in a variety of publications, most notably in the Smithsonian Magazine and in the aforementioned Wall Street Journal. He’s the guy who does those portraits that are made up of hundreds, if not thousands of little dots. In an article for Fast Company, Sprouls talks about his creative process and has some solid lessons for us. To begin, Sprouls works from a photograph. That image is a framing device which sets up a clear vision for his work. That vision creates a standard against which each little component can be measured. Without a guiding vision, it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae. You have to be able to stand back and evaluate your progress—or lack of it. It’s impossible to make that evaluation without a clarity of vision. Next, as you look at what you’ve done, ask what supports your vision and what’s off-point. Steve Jobs was famous for eliminating the superfluous, and infamous for saying “no.” Eliminate everything that does not support the vision. And remember, nothing replaces work. There is no substitute for the mastery of craft. The sudden breakthrough is dramatic, not realistic. Creativity and innovation are almost always the result of incremental improvements. Practice, work, and take the small steps which make up the big leap. Sprouls is not particularly aware of his “creativity.” Neither are some of the more innovative firms. Often, the companies that generate new products, processes, or markets do so as part of their normal, day-to-day operations. It’s not what they are, or what they aspire to be. It’s what they do. In all disciplines, but particularly in business, creativity and innovation demand action.
Do what you do. Get to work, and you just might capture lightning in a bottle.
HM, Fall 2016 3
HarbertMagazi HarbertMagazinnee Credits Director, HCOB Communications & Marketing Troy Johnson
Editor, HCOB Communications & Marketing
Created by The Media Production Group Director,
New York Alumni Event Tuesday, October 4
Nashville Alumni Event Wednesday, November 2
6:30–8:30 p.m. The “21” Club
6:30–8:30 p.m. The Citizen
Atlanta Alumni Event Wednesday, November 16
Entrepreneurship Summit March 30–31
6:30–8:30 p.m. The Peachtree Club
Auburn University Hotel & Conference Center
Bruce Kuerten Jim Earnhardt
Art & Design/Production Jason Adams Jenni Hunt Tiffany Smith
Illustrations Jason Adams
Contributors Bee Adams John DiJulio Jessamyn Saxon Larry Shaw Tiffany Smith Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business Office of Communications 216 Lowder Hall Auburn, AL 36849 (334) 844-8847
For general information or information about events, please contact the Office of Advancement at email@example.com or 334.844.1387.
harbert.auburn.edu firstname.lastname@example.org Auburn is an equal opportunity educational institution / employer. © 2016 Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business
About the Cover In keeping with the theme of this issue, the cover image was not plucked from the Internet or purchased from a graphics service, but was created in the Media Production Group studio by Jason Adams, Jenni Hunt, Jessamyn Saxon, Larry Shaw, and Tiffany Smith.
HarbertMagazine FEATURES 18
Tom Luckie, Luckie & Co.
David Bancroft, Acre
Conversations from the C-Suite
It Doesn’t Work Unless You Do
Bringing Home the Bacon
Martin Killgallon, Ohio Art
Jay Brandrup, Kinetic
Saying Yes to One Thing . . . Can Mean Saying No to Another
Playfulness at Work Inspires Creative Collaboration
Dean’s Last Word
MORE GOOD STUFF
What You’re Up To
Mission in Action
38 With Your Dollar
What We’re Up To
How We Think
42 Alumni News
HM, Fall 2016 5
Letters to the Editor Here’s where you have the space to comment, critique, reflect, or rant. If you’ve got something to say about business, business education, the college, or the magazine, let us hear from you. E-mail us at email@example.com
The Dreaded F-Word
e heard from a number of readers about our Spring 2016 issue, which addressed failure in business and our quest to grow from those moments. Here is what we received.
“The reality is we all fail on a day to day basis and do not even realize it.
ge of Business • Harbert Mag azine • No. 5 • Spring 2016
“Failure is an event, not a person. Why did you fail? Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Be honest about your business plan and work ethic! Seek advice from successful people who you can trust. Ownership might not be for you. Fear is natural, but don’t agonize over it.” —Richard Hethcox (’70) Owner of Hethcox All-American Products
J. Harbert Colle
“Lost my first construction company in 2009 due to the housing market failure. Got back on my feet through a regular 8-to-5 job, which I still do, but started another construction company as it is my dream job. Don’t give up on your dreams, but don’t be afraid to take on a different carrier if necessary to monetarily provide for your family and dream career.” —Jeannine Nicole Bailus Seeley (’05) Owner of Arrowhead Construction
When you learn to accept that we as humans have faults and nobody in this world is perfect, you take failure and learn from it.” —Robert Henry Thayer II (’01) VP of Marketing for Tri-North Builders
In this issue C-Suite: Doug Fras er Tough Lessons Finding the Needle
Flying in the Face of Failure After the Fact Fast Food Failures
“My best advice is to take a moment to reflect and mourn the bad
decision/outcome, etc., then bury it and move on. We all fail at something in our careers. I will even go so far as to say that if somebody ever tells you they have never failed, then rest assured they have never actually made a decision. We all need that moment to reflect and learn from the outcome. However, from there you must put it behind you instead of carrying it as an anchor. This was the best advice I was ever given by an early mentor, and I remind myself to use it often.” —Dennis M. Moore (’89) VP & COO of Brier & Thorn, Inc.
“Failure is going to happen in one form or another. The most important part
of growth is failure. It’s OK to fail, but it’s pitiful to stay down!” —Ken W. Lewis (’81) VP & Marketing Director of Life Insurance Company of Alabama
Stay Connected! Your feedback and active involvement will help keep the Harbert College on track to becoming an elite business school.
“I believe we are the sum of our experiences. The ability to get through
tough times is built not only on success, but failure as well. I have had experiences that I would have preferred to not go through, but they are what made me what I am today. Especially in today’s business world, it’s hard to get ahead without taking risks, and that is inherently going to lead to some tough times. Embrace it, learn from it, and march on.” —Mark E. Ledbetter (’81) VP of Sales Support for Hortonworks, Inc. 6 HM, Fall 2016
e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Van Emst/OA News
When Harbert College Dean Bill Hardgrave arrived at work before sunrise the morning of June 27, he followed a fire engine to the parking lot. An electrical fire that started in a student common area just before 5 a.m. necessitated the temporary closure of the building and relocation of summer classes. Belfor, a disaster recovery and property restoration firm, set up shop on campus by noon. There were anywhere from 25 to 250 contractors and sub-contractors working around the clock and on weekends to ensure classrooms and offices would be ready for use in time for the start of fall semester in August. The companyâ€™s attention to detail extended far beyond air purification and removal of smoke and soot damage. One Belfor employee, Chuck Morris, watered plants in faculty and staff offices during the building closure. While Belfor worked, Harbert College administrators worked from offices provided by the Ginn College of Engineering, while other employees fashioned their own temporary habitats ranging from the university library to a nearby Chick-fil-A.
Todd Van Emst/OA News
ABOVE: The fire started in the student common area at the top of the ground floor stairs. RIGHT: Belfor cleaned the building from top to bottom, using special recovery processes such as spray coatings to trap and remove smoke damage from surfaces. BELOW: Belfor employees worked around the clock to get Lowder Hall fully open for fall semester.
What You’re Up To Shoot us a photo. Drop a line. Jot a note. Let us know what you’re doing. Here are a few of the things we’ve heard. Send us your news and keep up-to-date at harbert.auburn.edu/news
Shannon Scarbrough, (’96, marketing) channeled his passion for adventure into starting a business in a unique location. He owns Elbrus Elevation, an outdoor adventure company located in Russia. Scarbrough helps his clients scale Mount Elbrus (elevation 18,510 feet) or find more grounded pursuits such as horseback riding and nature hikes.
Tyler Heinzelmann has a fast-paced career as brand
training manager for Porsche Cars North America in Atlanta. The 2012 entrepreneurship graduate joined Porsche in 2015 as a driving coach at its Porsche Experience Center. He assists with the launch of new vehicles and ensures that customer service representatives, driving instructors, dealers, and other members of the Porsche team are fluent in the brand’s history and the details of each vehicle.
Maj. Keithner S. Tucker, a 2001 management
information systems alum, celebrated four years cancer-free in May 2016. He retired from the US Army on October 1 and earned Legion of Merit recognition after a 20-year career, most recently serving as assistant project manager for the Army’s Integrated Air & Missile Defense Lower Tier Project Office.
Cameron Doody, Bellhops co-founder and a
2009 supply chain management graduate, earned Auburn University’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in April 2016. Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bellhops has been described as “the Uber of moving.” After initially raising $6 million in venture funds in 2014, the company added another $13.5 million in Series B funding in 2015, and now serves more than 80 cities.
Mark Lolley, (’84, accounting) describes his business
as a laboratory where engineers have the freedom to “blow things up.” As president of APR, an Opelika, Alabama-based automotive engineering firm founded in 1997, Lolley believes in giving his employees the freedom to push creative boundaries and helping vehicle owners maximize the horsepower of their Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen vehicles. APR provides aftermarket performance products.
Atlanta Young Alumni Chapter
members partnered with Open Hand, an organization dedicated to “empowering people to live healthier, more productive lives.” Members helped package more than 1,700 meals for city residents with dietary restrictions. The college has launched young alumni chapters in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Nashville. 8 HM, Fall 2016
Rhyan Ruf, (left), a 2015 marketing alumna,
attended the 2016 NFL Draft in her capacity as a client marketing coordinator for Atlanta-based Element Sports Group. “Never in a million years did I think I would get to do it within one year of graduating, let alone being in the green room for it, surrounded by some of the best college coaches and draft picks of the year,” she said. Ruf helps create and manage marketing, social media, and philanthropic partnerships and helps clients pursue new opportunities for endorsements, special appearances, and national partnerships.
What We're Up To Harbert College of Business faculty and students are busy shakin’ it up. Here’s a few of the things that We’re Up To:
Victoria Draper, a senior marketing major, earned a spot in ESPN’s
highlights for her diving catch in the late stages of Auburn’s 8-7 win over Florida State during the Women’s College World Series softball semifinal game. Draper and three other business students —senior infielder Madison Dickey (finance), senior outfielder Maria Mitchell (marketing), and senior pitcher Rachael Walters (marketing)—helped lead Auburn to the championship series.
Brian Connelly, management faculty member, is the inaugural recipient of the Luck Eminent Scholar Chair. The position is funded by a $2 million endowment created by a gift from David and Terri Luck and matched by Raymond J. Harbert. Connelly has won numerous college and university level awards for teaching and research. His work has been published in top journals and referenced by USA Today and other media outlets.
Brian Gibson, Wilson Family Professor of Supply Chain Management, discussed the ways changing consumer preferences and new technologies are putting pressure on retail supply chains during a Harvard Business Review webinar for industry professionals. Gibson, executive director of the college’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation, also discussed the “State of the Retail Supply Chain” report crafted by Auburn faculty.
Master of Real Estate Development 2018 cohort members hit the pavement in Philadelphia to gain insight into the diverse array of metropolitan market issues. They explored unique solutions to the city’s affordable housing problem, met with real estate developers and business planners, and gained insight into powerful changes they could effect by investing in their own communities.
Elizabeth Benson, a business graduate student, helped lead Auburn to its fourth national championship in equestrian in April. Benson, who helped Auburn overtake Texas Christian in the finals, earned a spot on the all-championship team. She was a member of Auburn’s 2013 national title team and finishes her equestrian career as the most decorated rider in school history.
Troy Miller joined the college as
director of advancement in May 2016. Before coming to Auburn, Miller served as executive director and chief development officer at the Lock Haven University Foundation. Miller, who brings nearly 20 years of fundraising experience, also served in fundraising roles with Penn State University’s Nittany Lion Club and College of Medicine. HM, Fall 2016 9
How to Build Cool Things O nce upon a time, there was a boy who couldn’t draw, but longed to be an animator. Every week, he’d watch The Wonderful World of Disney, and get to see Walt himself unveiling the Disney process—walking his audience through the strategic blend of technology and hard work that made the show possible. One day, Ed Catmull set a goal to develop a way to animate for movies, “not with a pencil but with a computer.” Because of that, he went to the University of Utah and obtained degrees in physics and computer science. Because of that, he had the opportunity to create some of the world’s first computer animations. Eventually he and some friends created Pixar, which runs on the mantra of co-founder John Lasseter: “Art challenges technology, technology inspires art.” The deep integration of technology, art, and business is Pixar’s core advantage. George Lucas, Steve Jobs, and many others have relied on the company to create great films and groundbreaking technology. Disney, which bought Pixar for $7.4 billion, counts on the company to consistently produce a profit. They haven’t failed yet.
Here’s How Pixar Does It
Here are some of the ideas from the Pixar team. We’ve linked them to technologies that you can use to emulate the processes, no matter the scale of your challenges.
Create a brain trust
Put smart, passionate people . . . together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid.
The Tech Tool
Unless your product can be made, marketed, and distributed solely by you, you’ll need to work with others. Open up your options with free group project management software like Trello or Asana. These tools can help you bring together the best minds to think through your problems, no matter where on Earth they’re actually located.
Survey the domain
“You cannot do enough research; believability comes out of what’s real.”
The Tech Tool
Pixar may send its writers all over the world to capture the authenticity of a story; but if you can’t afford an international plane ticket, you’ ve still got the world at your fingertips. Do a tag search on Instagram. People will show you what’s important to them, and their experiences may inspire a breakthrough.
10 HM, Fall 2016
You Can Do It If the perfect tool to develop your product doesn’t exist, create it! Most of Pixar’s revolutionary software and tools have been developed in-house. Sometimes, it may be worth investing the time and money to build exactly what you need. To show that, here are three occasions on which a business’s creative necessity was the mother of invention.
Elicit constructive feedback
“Know that you are more wrong than you think you are.”
The Tech Tool
Can’t get people to tell you what they really think? An anonymizing chat tool like Slack can help free people up to deliver the candor Pixar says is essential to progress. The tech can’t help you overcome all your defensiveness and fear, but it may provide an environment where ideas can flow freely, and hierarchies don’t exist.
Show your work
Since everyone shows incomplete work, and everyone is free to make suggestions, the embarrassment goes away. Once the embarrassment goes away, people become more creative.
The Tech Tool
Leveraging 3D printing or tablet drawing apps like Autodesk Sketchbook to publish prototypes of your product can help you get the ideas you need to hone your concepts before you take them to the finish line.
The story tool
It’s the storytelling. That’s why we put so much importance on story. No amount of great animation will save a bad story.
The (Low) Tech Tool
Just fill in the blanks: Once upon a time . . . Every day . . . Until one day . . . Because of that . . . And because of that . . . Until finally . . . And ever since that day . . .
1801: The Automated Loom
In 1772, Frenchman Joseph Marie Charles inherited his father’s weaving workshop. By 1778, he was deeply in debt and threatened by court action. He began creating weaving devices, hoping to speed up the labor-intensive process and increase his profit margins. Although some of them were complete failures, he at last met success with a loom that could weave patterned silk automatically. Local weavers, fearing for their livelihoods, protested vociferously, but the loom caught on, was eventually claimed by France as essential public property, and netted Charles a pension and a royalty. Incidentally, the punched cards the machine used to create patterns would later inspire early methods of programming computers, paving the way for an entirely different technological revolution.
1979: Non-linear Editing Software
American cinema owes a lot to Star Wars, including the modern edit workflow. George Lucas hired Ed Catmull to develop cinema technology at Lucasfilm, and requested the creation of a computer-based video editing system. That doesn’t sound revolutionary, until you consider that at the time, editors cut film with razor blades and pasted it together with tape. Non-linear editing was so progressive that, at first, Lucasfilm editors refused to participate in testing the new software. Non-linear editing software is now a multimilliondollar industry.
2006: Energy-Absorbing Plastic
Snow skiing has a $4.8 billion annual economic impact on Colorado alone, making it big business. Problem is, it’s a dangerous sport. Johns Hopkins researchers have estimated that about 600,000 people nationally are injured each year skiing and snowboarding. Helmets and body armor seemed like a potential solution, but helmets designed for, say, bicycling, are only designed to take one impact. If you crash, you replace your helmet immediately. Beginning skiers, however, spend a lot of the day falling, with potential repeated blows to the head. British engineer Richard Palmer was able to discover a material whose molecules lock together on shock, but then return to movement and flexibility afterwards, allowing them to absorb multiple impacts. He founded a firm to market the product, and won lucrative contracts from the US and Canadian Olympic ski teams and the UK Ministry of Defence. HM, Fall 2016 11
Mission In Action
Elite Perspectives Offer Professional Development Reading a job description is one thing, but hearing about it from professionals who are experts in their respective fields has much more impact. What if students had an organization that could steer them toward career opportunities and internships? Members of Harbert College’s Financial Management Association Honor Society do. FMA members have the opportunity to get first-hand career advice from industry professionals, meet with financial executives and learn how these professionals turned failures into career successes, receive career coaching and resumé guidance, and participate in mock interviews. To be considered, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA, be at least a second-semester freshman, and pursue either a finance degree or have a genuine interest in a finance career with an equivalently difficult major. For instance, four of the organization’s 50 members are currently pursuing engineering degrees. Applicants are selected by a panel of FMA officers through an interview process. “Getting the chance to sit down with industry leaders and ask them questions about their personal experience in a specific finance career helps young professionals like ourselves learn more about many career options offered to someone with a finance degree,” says senior and FMA President Krista Alexon. An executive from BBVA Compass might address members one week, while the CEO and founder of Reliance Financial Group, a high-growth registered investment advisory firm, might bring his or her expertise to Auburn the next. The group takes field trips— sometimes into the hearts of financial giants—each semester. For example, the FMA visited Delta Airlines’ Atlanta corporate headquarters in February and met with a number of top executives— even getting focused Q&A time with Delta CFO Paul Jacobson, a Harbert alum (see photo). “There are some things you cannot learn in the classroom,” says Caroline Clothiaux, former FMA president who graduated in the spring and works within Delta Airlines’ Delta Connection finance group. “Meeting different people is the best way to learn about an industry. Every person I have talked to has had a different experience on how they have reached their level of success.” The FMA isn’t a long-standing Harbert College institution. It’s only three years old.
Tracy Richard, a finance instructor, has directed the group since its inception. “Before the FMA, we didn’t have a direct path to assist the students,” she says. “If you were a finance student and you knew you were interested in private equity, for instance, you didn’t have anywhere that you could go to learn more about that field other than on your own. You didn’t have a road map for who to talk to, what skills to work on, or exposure to any of the firms in that area.” The organization’s full-time job placement rate last year was 93 percent, while the internship placement rate for juniors was 100 percent. “Students involved in the FMA tend to be more engaged in the current events of both the business community and financial industry and as such, conduct themselves in a more polished manner during conversation with financial professionals,” says Harbert grad Tyler Stephens of Suntrust Robinson Humphrey. “Our (STRH) benefits are significant . . . we hope that the access to our team from a very early stage in their respective college careers has provided professional development and career-pathing for many students.” Jordan Carr, a senior finance minor from Birmingham, credits FMA and its interaction with industry professionals for a summer internship in base stock and specialties at ExxonMobil. “Those [interactions] are great to bring up in interviews,” he says. “Having those experiences to reference not only lets you talk the talk, but it also shows that you are interested in the industry and willing to go beyond the classroom.”
“I think the more perspectives you are exposed to, the more open you become to different jobs and opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise considered.”
FMA students receive a behind-the-scenes look at Delta’s operations. 12 HM, Fall 2016
Capstone Project: Real World Real Estate
Students in Auburn’s Master of Real Estate Development program spend their final semester on a capstone project aimed at incorporating what they have learned in the previous five semesters. Their earlier work on aspects such as design, planning, construction, and finance prepares them for tying that knowledge together into a major development proposal—not a hypothetical one, but a real-world real estate project. Business situations for capstone projects must be “reasonably scaled mixed-use developments in urban areas,” says Michael Robinson, MRED program director. They also must be located within a day’s thereand-back drive of Auburn, so that students can visit the site on the first day of on-campus residency. The developer must have a site, be willing to work with MRED students, and serve as part of the review team at the end of the project, Robinson says. The challenge for this year’s MRED student teams was the construction of a three-acre mixed-use residential/commercial district that surrounds a vintage tavern in ever-changing west midtown Atlanta. Northside Tavern, originally constructed in the 1940s as a gas station, has since evolved into one of Atlanta’s most popular nightspots. “The plans have the capacity to respect the Tavern—but also forecast what the future of the area will be,” Robinson says. “This development can set the bar for what new developments in that area should be like. We challenged the students to think about what use should go there (commercial/residential), what the scale of the project should be and what it should look like. Should it have an industrial look? Should it look contemporary?”
The Allen Morris Co. will develop the site, which is located between Howell Mill Road NW, Brady Avenue, and 11th Street NW. Plans call for a $216 million project with 409 rental units, including residential and commercial space. Recommendations from teams of MRED students will be presented next spring—complete with market studies, building plans, and financial analyses. Aside from the challenge of the project itself, these non-resident students/business professionals must leap logistical hurdles. “We have five teams of four students and they work all over the country,” Robinson says. “Getting them together when they are not face to face is a difficult challenge, and we do that, in part, through WebEx meetings. Many of them work on every piece of the project. What’s required are a complete set of plans, sections, elevation models, 3D models, a market study— which is a significant element—and the financial analysis component. They can divide the work, but we like for them to collaborate. “Then they put all of these pieces into a comprehensive project (including a 60-page report followed by an hour-long proposal in front of industry judges). “The capstone makes them bring all of those pieces together and put them into a project that stands the test of professional scrutiny.” MRED is a joint program between the Harbert College of Business and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.
2016 Capstone Project Presentation Renderings Northside Tavern Midtown Atlanta
How We Think
It’s Not Creative Unless It Sells Creative advertisements can really grab people’s attention. An awesome jingle. A talking dog. A dancing baby. But if these do not call attention to your brand name—or give people a reason to buy your product—you’ve just blown all of your money making a highly entertaining commercial for somebody else’s highlight reel in the advertising agency.
If creativity does not help us make money, it is not only a distraction, it is useless. There is often a disconnect between impactful advertisements and the creative minds who make them. This fails to serve the consumer, who still doesn’t know what to buy, and the marketing manager, who stands to lose thousands, if not millions, because a creative message failed to reach the target audience. Why? The disconnect between failed advertisers and potential consumers often begins with a disconnect between companies wishing to market their product and advertising agencies. Companies hire people within marketing and advertising agencies to create the execution of the ads. These are your artists. These are your film producers. These are your copy writers. They don’t know your company. They don’t know your brand. They don’t know your customers. They don’t know your competitors. And they are not going to find out in any reasonable, cost-effective time frame to help your company unless you provide this information to them. You are hiring them as outside creative talent that dramatizes and drives home that main selling point. The company has to give them who the target market is, both in terms of demographics, buying characteristics, and everything else. They have to talk about what the key brand performance facts are. Companies must provide the creatives the main selling points, or the background to be able to draw that picture for the audience. If they do not, then they are going to get bad advertising. What really works in advertising, and this has been shown over and over again in terms of empirical tests with real products in the marketplace, is coming up
14 HM, Fall 2016
with a brand-differentiating message and then communicating that in a creative and exciting way. A brand-differentiating message is something that is distinctive about your brand and gives people a real reason to buy that other brands don’t have. If we have that and can communicate that in a way that’s impressive, exciting and interesting, then we can get their attention on your brand name and get their attention on the key selling point. This drives sales. But creativity in advertisements for the sake of creativity is dumb. Trying to teach creativity, in general, is destructive. What you want to do is have people be creative on message. Then you will be profitable.
Avery Abernethy Torchmark Professor of Marketing
“Yes, but how should we feel about your brand . . .”
Help Us Help You We’re the guys you call when you want clever copy, eye-catching graphics, or a magic video. We’re the creatives. If the awards on our shelf are any indication, most of the time we get it right, but every now and then, despite our very best efforts, the finished product doesn’t quite work out. The blank page can be a difficult taskmaster and we’ll readily admit that we get nervous every time we have to face it; however, filling that page is generally not an issue. In fact, by the time we’ve all weighed in on a creative problem, there are more than enough ideas and more than enough opinions. When things take a wrong turn, the issue usually isn’t a lack of ideas, it’s that those ideas solve the wrong problem. And that’s where you, the client, can help us stay on track. Nobody knows your product, your brand, your customers, your business better than you do. One of the first things you need to do when working with creatives is to pass that knowledge on to us. It’s called a creative brief.
“Gee, I’m gonna have to think about that . . .”
If we’re smart, we’ll ask you all sorts of questions. What do you want the graphics, the ad, the video, the website to do? Who is your audience? Are you looking for a new audience? Who are you? Are you buttoned-down and three-piece, or are you flip-flops and shorts? How does this thing, this position, this idea you’re selling, advocating, pushing make your customer’s life better? Make the world better? And if your business and your product didn’t exist, what would be lost? What hangs in the balance?
When your audience, your customer, your client see the ad, the video and/or the website, what do you want them to do? As important as those questions may be, sometimes clients get impatient. “You’re the creatives, you figure it out. I don’t have time for this. That’s what I’m paying you for. I just want more—fill in the space—money, orders, customers, success.” Well, duh. But if you don’t help us with those questions, it’s difficult to find the magic that will help you reach your goals. If we are successful, it would be by accident, not by intent. Nature abhors a vacuum. So does creativity, and so do audiences. When we build the ad, the video, the website, we will define your business, your brand, and your product. We will fill the blank page and the empty screen. It will be creative, but it may not be what you need or want. And the audience will connect the dots and take away a story from what we create, but, again, it may not be the story you need or want to tell. It may not address the problem you face. So when working with us creatives, take the time to answer our sometimes annoying questions. Be as specific as you can about your business, your brand, your product, and your audience. After all, it’s yours, right? Only then can you and your creatives come up with something that’s imaginative enough and specific enough to do the job you need done. It’s not creative unless it sells. So who are you? What are you selling? Who are you selling it to, and what wonderful things happen when it’s sold? Just give us a little bit so when we pull the rabbit out of the hat, it’s the right rabbit.
Bruce Kuerten Director Media Production Group
HM, Fall 2016 15
How We Think
THINK The word think brings to mind two powerful business examples—IBM’s slogan “THINK” from the early 20th century, and Apple’s “Think Different” marketing campaign in late 1997.
While the leaders of IBM and Apple lived in different times and were vastly different in style and focus, both worked tirelessly to instill a culture that valued deep thinking in their employees and in the fabric of their companies. “THINK” was the one-word slogan developed by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. It was used in IBM sales offices, research and development labs, manufacturing plants, company publications, and with customers starting in the early 1920s. When asked what he meant by the slogan, Watson would reply, “The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough.” Watson felt that many of the problems in business and the world could be solved if people took more time to think. IBM recently revived its “THINK” theme in the form “outthink” in messaging around its Watson cognitive computing and artificial intelligence initiatives. The message is “When your business thinks, you can outthink.” “Think Different” was the advertising slogan launched by Apple in 1997. It was used in television commercials, print advertising and a number of other promotions for Apple products. Steve Jobs had just returned to lead Apple, and when talking about Apple’s values would say that Apple at its core was made up of people with passion who believed they could change the world we live in. “Think Different” was designed to link Apple, its culture and its people to those people, past and present, who by being crazy enough to think differently have changed the world. Apple’s ability to revive its PC business, innovate in new products (iPod, iPhone, iPad), innovate in distribution (Apple stores) and innovate in marketing certainly confirms Jobs’ belief that Apple could and did “Think Different.” Most business people believe they think and, if they are successful, believe that they are thinking well and making good decisions. What differentiated Watson and Jobs was their ability to inspire their employees to think, execute and take risks at a more insightful level, with more intensity, with a greater sense of urgency, and with a more holistic vision than others in their industry.
While Watson focused on businesses and Jobs focused on technology for individuals, both consistently approached their work with intense passion, created a superior vision and inspired others to help make that vision a reality. For those who want to pursue innovation and change the world, here’s what I think is important: Learn how to inspire others Make the investment in time and energy to become an exceptional communicator. Learn how to inspire others with your verbal and written communications skills. Having a great idea is not enough. You’ll need to inspire colleagues, investors and those who will purchase and use what you create. Chris Anderson said it well in Notes from TED Talks: “Most people are capable of being convinced by logic, but they aren’t always energized by it. And without being energized, they may quickly forget the argument and move on.”
Read, read, read Read about people who have changed the world, how they thought about things and their road to success. Think about what they had in common, how they differed and how all of that relates to what you’d like to accomplish with your life. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn. Buckle up for the ride Remember that the path forward will not be straight and level. The road to success will have its ups and downs, its twists and turns. Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 when the board of directors fired him. His passion for the company he founded never wavered and he returned 11 years later to revive a struggling Apple from near-bankruptcy and transform it into one of the most valuable companies in the world. I believe Jobs had it right when he said, “The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do.”
Lou Bifano Instructor Department of Management
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R EARTIGVE S ME ER
Most creative breakthroughs emerge by combining existing ideas. Artists call this bricolage: using materials and resources that are available as the inputs into a creative process. Entrepreneurs also engage in bricolage by combining existing business ideas. Hmm . . . two great tastes that taste great together— just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The end result can lead to magic and is a great way for people to jump-start their businesses. Creativity is often romanticized—a tinkerer mysteriously receives a lightning bolt of insight that gives rise to a unique product or service. Devoting energy to trying to invent a completely novel business is unlikely to succeed because very few new ventures arise this way. Most entrepreneurs need to adjust their mindsets. Instead, think about how to take the strong elements of two or more existing business ideas and add your own ideas to them in order to create entrepreneurial magic. This is how bricolage works: Consider one of the greatest inventions in the history of civilization: the printing press. As noted in the Wall Street Journal, the key components of the printing press had each been created individually long before Johannes Gutenberg started printing Bibles in the 15th century. A blacksmith in China had created movable type 400 years earlier. Gutenberg’s pressing device was adapted from a German wine press. The ink and paper had been devised by others as well. Gutenberg’s creative genius lay not in a eureka moment of unprecedented discovery, but in taking others’ ideas and combining them in a new way. Miniature golf and haunted houses are not exactly high-growth markets. Many people view the former as mundane while the latter is relevant mainly in the weeks leading up to Halloween. A company called Monster Mini Golf has adapted the best elements of each concept by creating indoor miniature golf courses with a haunted house theme. By regularly changing the scary elements that surround the course, Monster Mini Golf provides an experience with year-round appeal that attracts repeat customers. The company has locations in 14 US states and in Canada. Entrepreneurs can leverage the bricolage concept in order to differentiate their ventures from those of their competitors. Consider the increasingly crowded craft brewing industry. While many companies
simply brew and sell beer, Oskar Blues—founded and led by 2015 Auburn Entrepreneur of the Year Dale Katechis—deftly combines brewing with other businesses. CyclHops Bike Cantina in Longmont, Colorado, is a combination taproom, restaurant, and mountain bike shop operated under the Oskar Blues corporate umbrella. The CyclHops concept works because the culture and demographics of craft beer customers and mountain bikers overlap significantly. Given a choice between visiting a basic taproom and being immersed in the multifaceted CyclHops experience, many people choose the latter. In educating students, I have relied on bricolage. Textbooks are informative, but let’s be honest, they can be awfully boring. Graphic novels don’t always have your typical “board of education” value, but they are entertaining. Why not combine the best of both formats? In writing two graphic novel textbooks about entrepreneurship and family business, my co-authors and I shared all of the key principles, but we did so in a way that is fun for students to read. A research study later found that students learned more from the graphic novels than from traditional textbooks, probably because their engagement in the reading was higher. Entrepreneurs need to realize that not all combinations work. An acquaintance started Bean Counters—a mashup of a coffee shop and an A.G. Edwards-type brokerage house that quickly failed. Despite the clever name, few potential patrons were willing to endure sales pitches for investment services while enjoying their java. As with any other new venture, get feedback on a bricolage-based idea from your mentors, peers, and potential customers. Sure, bricolage has a long history of success, but you can’t just slap two ideas together and run with it. And even if your idea is excellent, you must execute the idea properly to be successful. Bricolage can generate creative ideas, but it cannot substitute for follow-through.
Dave Ketchen Lowder Eminent Scholar Department of Management Harbert College of Business
MORE As a self-described “human experience agency,” Birmingham-based Luckie & Co. encourages the brands it represents to take their customers on a journey. Opening a box of Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies means unwrapping a smile. Making a transaction at Regions Bank should be “as easy as riding a bicycle.” Vacationing in Alabama is as much about the “cuisinery” as it is the scenery. Sharp creative elements and snappy messages matter to Luckie & Co. Chairman and CEO Tom Luckie (’76) as much as they did when his father, Robert “Ace” Luckie, Jr., started the advertising firm in 1953. But the approaches that Luckie uses to determine the right message and medium have changed significantly since its pre-“Mad Men” foundation. Luckie has remained nimble by blending big data and behavioral science with time-tested marketing approaches. The results? Dramatically boosting the economic impact of tourism while working with the Alabama Tourism Department. Storytelling that 18 HM, Fall 2016
helped Little Debbie’s annual sales grow from $200 million to more than $1.4 billion. Driving more consideration and brand favorability for Regions Bank, and in the process, building an icon symbol to help them stand out in a sea of financial marketing. Making Vanderbilt football season tickets a hot commodity for a time, which SEC football fans will readily acknowledge as a marketing triumph. Today, Luckie & Co. has grown to include offices in Atlanta and Austin. An iPad serves as the firm’s lobby receptionist now, and dogs are even welcome companions in the workplace on occasion, but there are nods to its 1950s roots. There’s an old typewriter encased in glass near the elevator. The firm’s story begins on the sheet of paper inside. “It all started with a borrowed typewriter and a second-hand table.”
Tom Luckie, who earned a marketing degree from Auburn in 1976, and started working with Luckie & Co. after he graduated, attributes the successive chapters in the story to the firm’s creativity, adaptability, and willingness to focus “the human experience” mindset inwardly as well as outwardly.
HARBERT MAGAZINE: Did you always know you wanted to lead the family business? TOM LUCKIE: Not necessarily. My dad always said, “I don’t want you
to wake up when you’re 40 years old and say what the hell am I doing?” He didn’t want to force us into this business at all, but he gave me and my brother that opportunity. I was a business major. I was always interested in business and marketing. When people say I like people and that’s why I got into business, it drives me crazy because I don’t think that’s a reason to go into any business. I do enjoy being around people. I do enjoy selling an intangible. This is not a tangible that we’re selling. We’re selling the unknown in so many ways and that’s a little bit of a challenge. It’s a fun industry, but it has changed. My goodness, has it ever. I would dare say our industry has changed as much as anybody’s. I know everyone says their industry has changed, but ours really has. It’s gone from a beauty pageant of who likes this ad—do you like the red ad or the green ad?—and it’s so much more than that. It’s so much more data-directed, digital-directed, analyticsdirected. There are so many more facets that have changed it. The positive side is it’s evolving, it’s changing and you get to embrace new technologies and new things. A lot of industries just don’t do that. There are two sides to it. The good news is our agency has really evolved quite a bit in embracing these new types of technologies and new attitudes about the workplace. I’m really proud of that. We’ve adapted. We haven’t cracked the code. We don’t have it all right. But we’re evolving, changing every day. And we have recognized that to be relevant in marketing you can’t think the way you did 20 years ago, much less two or three years ago. I’m proud of that fact.
HM: How does the data-directed approach influence the creative side of what you do? Do you lose that “gut feeling” you might have relied on at one time?
TL: When we merged with an Atlanta firm and their background
was all digital, data, and analytics, some of our creative folks were concerned that we’re losing our creativity and moving into the data world. Data can be measured in real time and you know exactly what the customer is doing on the customer journey. After we talked through it a little bit more, they said all the data does is make the creative more focused. Instead of a shotgun, it gives you more of a rifle. You’re focusing on the real issues, the issues that are affecting the customer and impacting their heart and their head. The creative types can be a lot more effective. We can define and confirm that the advertising investments on our clients’ behalf are effective because we have the data that says this or that [worked]. It’s been a good thing.
HM: How much has the accessibility of data and the expectations your clients possess as a result changed the creative process for your firm? TL: We have a saying around here. Data is creative with a soul. It
really helps you define what you’re trying to do. It’s changed the way we approach things. We can more clearly define what we’re trying to say on that customer journey. What is the value of a customer over their lifetime? What are their spend patterns? If you get a customer at 30 years old and you know they’re going to be following you for the next 20 to 30 years, you know the value of that customer and can invest in them on different levels along the customer journey. That’s where the consultation is so key.
You can’t confuse fun with doing great work. You still have to have the discipline to get the work done.
HM: How would you describe the creative approach of your firm? Is it holistic or are there clearly defined roles for individuals or teams? TL: I think for a long time the industry would put creative folks
in silos. In the old days you’d have a creative brief and the brand strategist or planner would write the creative brief and slip it under the door of the creative types and, three weeks later, you’d come up with the campaign. That is never good. We did that. Many firms did that. It’s so much more about collaboration [now]. It goes back to great ideas can come from anywhere. Our media director, she is really about—and all of us are—collaboration. You know what the assignment is up front. You decide what is the brand strategy and what channel this is going into. If you tell somebody in the media department—and I hate to say department because we’re trying to tear down those walls— but if you say we’re going to have a 30-second spot on the 10 o’clock news or whatever TV show, that just restricts them so much. If you’re up front and everybody has a conversation about what the brand strategy is, great ideas can come from the account people, from the strategy people, from the data people, from the media people. It comes back to content and context. Where are you going to put the content and in what context?
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HM: You’ve done work for everyone from Regions to Little Debbie. In the case of a client like Vanderbilt University athletics, where football hasn’t fared well historically, how do you negotiate the challenge of creating a campaign that will make people want to buy season tickets? What’s the thought process when you approach a challenge like that? TL: It was an interesting challenge. Vanderbilt doesn’t have a great
football tradition and hadn’t for a number of years, but they hired James Franklin as head coach. He had a great reputation. They felt like they needed to be more aggressive with the marketing . . . It was more about getting people excited. And it’s hard to do. The good news is we created a lot of awareness and a lot of excitement through the campaign. Obviously, marketing can only do so much of the job. At the end of the day, people have an affinity for a product or brand. They’ll try it, but they’re not going to keep coming back unless there’s a reason and it fits their lifestyle or satisfies a particular need for them.
HM: Being able to deliver on the brand promise, too, is crucial. Is there any one campaign you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of—one where you had to overcome unique challenges? TL: This wasn’t one campaign, but for 12 years we had been doing
all of the work for the Alabama Department of Tourism. We really changed the perception from Alabama being a drive-through to a drive-to state. . . . Tourism went from $4 billion to $12 billion in 12 years. That’s a huge increase. We did a Year of Sports, Year of Food, Year of Gardens and we really brought a lot of great attention to Alabama. There have been others, the work we’ve done with Regions. That’s a tough industry with all of the headwinds from the federal government, all of the regulations. After the meltdown of 2008, the banking industry has been under assault. I think we’ve humanized the Regions brand . . . we’ve been able to create positive brand equity for Regions.
HM: How did the green bicycle come about? That’s kind of an enduring symbol for Regions. TL: Brad White, our chief creative officer led the team that
developed the bike. When Regions and AmSouth merged, we were actually doing work for Regions and were able to secure the business of AmSouth. . . . We did a lot of research and the idea was that banking should be simple. People have so much on their plates and there are so many moving parts in life and they want a relationship where it was easy. Brad’s team came up with the metaphor—banking should be easy. Just like riding a bike. . . . It was a metaphor for trying to make the connection between life and the ease of banking and it has been enormously successful. People connect Regions with the music and
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the green bike. The challenge becomes you as a bank have to offer more products and technology than just a green bicycle. That’s one of the challenges, trying to move away from the bike and trying to retain the brand core strategy and still use that as a metaphor. We’re using that in different ways than we did eight or nine years ago.
HM: You have a bar, a pool table, and foosball in your office. It looks like you indulge in playfulness. Is that something that can be translatable to other businesses? TL: We still have little offices and there’s a lot of real appetite for
cubbyhole people, and not just creative types, to be in a more collaborative space where there are more fun and engaging workspaces. You have to make the workplace fun and engaging. We let dogs come in. I’m the biggest dog lover out there, but I never thought I’d be comfortable with dogs coming in. This summer, we tried work from home one day a week and I had trouble with that. But some of our leadership team, that’s what they wanted to do and it has been pretty successful. So long as we can find you with five minutes notice and you can get your work done. We have 45 people in our Atlanta office, and that’s a different marketplace. You have to be pliable and adaptable to where the market is going. . . . We have to make it a place where they can professionally grow, where they enjoy the workforce, the collaboration and their associates. It has to be rewarding. If it is more of a fun space—there’s a bar behind you—we try one day a week to have a social hour at 4:30pm or so.
Tom Luckie and the Luckie & Co. team gather in the lobby of their workplace.
HM: Could you do that at an accounting firm, break out the Woodford Reserve and have a foosball table? TL: I think it would [work]. I was in Atlanta last week talking to a prominent guy in our industry. He was talking about one firm in the consulting business and they don’t work in the office. They want you out of the office. You have a locker where you can put your stuff and plug your computer in. That’s where it’s going. If we’re not trying to be on the leading edge, if we’re not relevant, we’re going to struggle attracting people to our company.
HM: What is different about new hires now than when you started? TL: Millennials, for sure. Their PTO time is more important to
them. They want to be part of something that is bigger than just doing ads. They want to be part of a company that has a purpose and has a mission. They want to be part of things that are good for humanity. We talk about ourselves as more of a human engagement type of firm. I think most of them gravitate to them.
HM: When you seek out new talent, do you have a different type of employee now? Are they more versatile? Can they do a variety of things or do they have a particular core competence? TL: We’ve hired several people lately that did
HM: How did the bar and the pet-friendly days become part of the picture? TL: We just evolved. In our business, we listed one time how
many different services we provided. It was about 45, from doing a catalog to network TV spots. You can’t be best in class in 45 different things. We tried to narrow the scope. If you’re going to change where you’re company is going, you have to be consistent with the people you’re hiring. They have to share your attitude toward your change in culture, and what sort of work environment are they looking for? It wasn’t radical. We’ve listened to our team members and I think we try to be open. I believe we have an attitude of openness.
HM: You’ve remained very nimble in an ever-changing environment. What are you keeping an eye on in terms of new technology or consumer habits? What’s just over the horizon that intrigues you? TL: One thing we’ve done is we formed a board of advisers about
18 months ago. I know I’m not smart enough to figure it out myself. Each of them have different skill sets, and they’ve helped us. We’ve tried to stay current and we try to recognize what’s next. I don’t know what’s next, but I do know that what’s next is going to be important
not, I would argue, have the background on specific types of accounts. What they do have is the savviness, the understanding of the bigger picture and thinking like clients think. We’re not here to be an order-taker. We’re trying to have conversations that are more C-suite, where we can control the strategy. If we can control the thinking and strategy with clients, we’re not a vendor. We’re a partner. That’s where we’re trying to take our business.
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Creativity It doesnâ€™t work unless you do.
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Original. Out of the box. Inspired, innovative, inventive, imaginative. Quick-witted, ingenious, artistic. Fertile.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” —Thomas Edison These creatives have their counterparts in business: Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Like their more “artistic” counterparts, they are no strangers to hard work. So here’s a question. If a substantial part of creativity and innovation is work, can it be managed like work? Can creativity and innovation be fostered within a company? Can it be managed to provide a reliable contribution to the enterprise? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, but it will take (here’s that four-letter word again) work and (not so paradoxically) creative thinking. To foster creativity in yourself, as well as in your enterprise, first demystify it by breaking it down into its component parts. Work is one of those parts. Be prepared to work, to master the basics. You’ll never create the next great app if you don’t know how to write code. If you’re managing a team, make sure the members have the necessary basic skills and give them the resources to maintain and expand those skills.
These are the words that describe the cool folk, the creatives. Well, maybe not fertile, but you see where we’re going here. Creativity is a highly valued asset; and whether we’re in business, or in the arts, whether we drive a cab, write code or compose music, we generally appreciate those efforts that give us a different view, call into being a graceful simplicity, or find a new way to move us, to take us from here to there. For the musician, the painter, the poet, the value of creativity comes in the making of something beautiful. For the engineer, an elegant design that contains nothing more than the task requires. For the scientist or the inventor, it may be an insight that leads to something heretofore unknown. For the businessman or woman, creativity may encompass all of the above as long as it benefits the “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the bottom line. result of good work habits.” Controlled. Disciplined. Focused. Managed. Organized. —Twyla Tharp Planned. Ordered. Structured. Not words that go with creativity. Those are the words of the uptight, narrow-eyed bean counters, Cornell professor Robert Sternberg, says there’s nothing mystical not the cool folk, but those are the words that put creativity to about creative thinking. “Innovations arise from habit. . . . If we work. And that is the issue in this information age. For the past are to assess creativity, we need to assess it as a habit of ordinary decade at least, the Holy Grail for companies has been innovation. life.” Proctor and Gamble encourages innovation by making it But despite all that has been written about creativity, despite the ordinary. “At P&G, we think of creativity not as a mysterious gift example of companies like Google and Apple, Tesla and Amazon, of the talented few but as the everyday task of making nonthere doesn’t seem to be a clear process to catch lightning in a bottle. obvious connections—bringing together things that don’t normally However, as contradictory as it may sound, there may be some go together,” says Craig Wynett, chief innovation officer. guiding principles. Along those same lines, Steve Jobs talked about creativity as The cellist Pablo Casals, when asked at the age of 93 why he connecting the dots. “It’s just about connecting things. When you continued to practice hours each day, said “I’m beginning to ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty notice some improvement.” because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed Let’s go back a step or two and think about those words because obvious to them after a while.” Of course there are flashes of they fit together much better than you might think. Those freeinspiration, but if, as Jobs thought, creativity is just connecting the spirited, arty, creative types—the Picassos and Hemingways, the dots, then to be more creative you and your company have to get Yo-Yo Mas and Misty Copelands—all exhibit a tremendous work a lot of dots and find new ways of connecting them. ethic. They understand that thousands of hours of practice go Those dots usually come in the form of a knowledge and into mastering a craft that is merely the preface to creativity— awareness of your company’s capabilities, and a sensitivity to the just the price that admits you into the possibility of making ever-changing needs of the marketplace. Look within your something unique. They all were/are controlled, disciplined, company or industry. Research both successes and failures, underorganized, focused and they all were well versed in the structure stand workflows and look for those traditional structures that may and rules of their respective disciplines. be on the cusp of change. More broadly, be aware of how changing demographics shape consumer demand and how perceptions close some opportunities and open others.
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“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.” —Voltaire
“Success is a collection of problems solved.” —I.M. Pei
“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” —Albert Einstein
So, much of what we call creativity and innovation comes down to problem solving. And that’s true for even the arty-est of artists. How do I get the color right, play that note with just the right tone, or compose just the right phrase? Back to Steve Jobs. Most of the time so-called creative people don’t think of what they do as creative. Rather, they are solving a series of small problems. There is a difference, broadly speaking, between how artists solve problems and how the rest of us do. Often, artists will deliberately attempt to solve a problem differently than it has been solved in the past. In so doing, they escape the “anchoring” trap. Businesses generally focus on the work of making money from known products, services, and business models, but following traditional, proven practices may not be the path to innovation. If your mental models are anchored, if you have a cognitive bias, you can’t change the way you react to a problem. However, you can change the way you define the problem. Remember the battle of Troy? The Greeks went at the Trojans for 10 years. No luck. Couldn’t knock down the city walls, couldn’t tunnel under them, couldn’t overcome the skill of the Trojan army. Then Odysseus built the Trojan Horse. He was a trickster. He changed the problem from fighting the Trojans to deceiving the Trojans, and when he did so, his experience—his bias—was no longer an anchor, it was an aid. To have the mental agility to find the right analogy, or see the problem in a different way requires an openness to ideas, a critical faculty, and the confidence to set aside ego.
Don’t just look inside your own industry. Your competitors are doing that. First, distill the problem/issue/opportunity down to its basic elements, then try finding the solution in an analogous field. That approach is called (not so surprisingly) analogous field thinking. This thinking can provide innovative solutions to problems or create new opportunities. What may be new in one industry or field may be a triedand-true practice in another. When Lexus set about to define its relationship with its customers, it didn’t look at Mercedes or BMW. Lexus looked at how the Four Seasons hotels treated its clientele and established it reputation for luxury. Lexus sent their personnel through the Four Seasons training regimen and copied their techniques shamelessly. The Schindler Group makes escalators. They were having difficulty installing the escalators in multi-level shopping malls. At the heart of the problem was maneuvering the various escalator components into and around the confined spaces inside the malls. The solution ultimately came from the mining industry, which confronts the same problem with large conveyors that must be moved up and down through narrow mine shafts.
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“We're all working together; that's the secret.” —Sam Walton
“Originality is fragile. . . Our job is to protect the new.” —Ed Catmull
If you have good people on your team, chances are they will have good ideas. Some of them will be better than yours. Don’t get in the way. If you don’t understand an idea, ask questions and prompt your team to ask questions if they don’t understand your ideas. Five-year-olds ask 300-odd questions a day in school, yet by the time those five-year-olds hit middle school, the number of questions drops below 20. What do you think happens to creativity when people stop asking questions? Few managers actually say, “That’s a stupid question,” or “That’s a stupid idea,” but the eye roll and the body language can easily convey exasperation. And that irritation shuts everything down. Now, it’s true that not all ideas are good ideas (that includes your own, by the way) and off-point ideas can often delay action and derail productivity. Keeping things on point is the job of the manager or team leader. In effect, you’re like the conductor of an orchestra or the director of a movie. Notice that both of these jobs require an operating knowledge of the medium. You can’t conduct an orchestra if you can’t read music. And both of these jobs demand a simple, clear vision of the project.
Critique is always the hard part. It would be great if ideas were just ideas, but ideas are brain children—a part of the person who puts the idea forward. And rarely do first ideas, early ideas, emerge fully formed and beautiful. Pixar founder Ed Catmull calls them “ugly babies.” It’s easy for these ugly babies to be compared to a finished product and suffer greatly from the comparison. But critique is necessary. If you know the problems, you have a chance to solve them. However, for critique to be effective it requires a degree of trust and respect. It always takes time to refine and focus the vision necessary to move a project forward. The original idea for Monsters, Inc. was about a middle-aged man coping with a cast of frightening characters only he could see. “What nobody knows is how many wrong turns the story took, over a period of years,” says Catmull. So far, Pixar’s feature films have garnered 15 Academy Awards and have grossed more than $600 million per film—a performance that has placed nearly all of the company’s films on the top 50 of all time. The company is an outrageously successful creative enterprise and that success is a product of thoughtful management practice. Teams are assembled to help directors refine their ideas, “You must kill your darlings.” but in the early stages of development, emphasis is more on the —William Faulkner working relationships among the team than the idea. Pixar has created an environment that both promotes and “Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. manages creativity. The company invests heavily in its employees, It's about saying NO to all but the most crucial.” educating them and expanding their skills. Though the management —Steve Jobs structure is informal and fluid, there is a shared understanding of the organization, processes, and work that goes into making A statement of vision unites a team and focuses its ideas. It also a successful product. Like Toyota, where a worker can stop the becomes a yardstick against which you can measure the value of entire production line, Pixar practices a culture of humility which a concept. If an idea doesn’t support the vision, if it’s not loadallows new problems to be identified, discussed, and addressed bearing, it’s irrelevant. openly and honestly. Pixar’s executives are wary of success and A caution here. Remember those rules apply to you. Subdue the complacency it may engender and—again like Toyota— your ego and kill your darlings. The first ideas to question are your the company treats every project as an occasion for continuous own favorites, and be especially critical with the ones you think improvement, and opportunity to identify and solve are your best. They’re often not, and falling in love with them new problems. usually blinds you to something better and certainly makes it Catmull again: “I often say that managers of creative enterprises difficult to generate the environment that enables all to work must hold lightly to goals and firmly to intentions. . . . At Pixar, we toward the success of the project. Talk about aims and goals, are willing to adjust our goals as we learn, striving to get it right, don’t get fixated on specific solutions. not necessarily to get it right the first time. Because that, to my And note that the decisiveness most manager/leaders seek to mind, is the only way to establish something else that is essential project can often ruin the creativity of a team. Actor John Cleese to creativity: a culture that protects the new.” is best known for his roles in Monty Python, but he’s also a well-respected business consultant. He says, “The people I find it hardest to be creative with are the people who need, all the time, to project an image of themselves as decisive, and who feel to create this image they need to decide everything very quickly with a great show of confidence. Well, this behavior, I suggest sincerely, is the most effective way to strangle creativity at birth.”
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The need for creativity confronts David Bancroft every day at Acre, his acclaimed restaurant in Auburn. Creativity in the kitchen is critical to the restaurant’s success, but so is creativity in the business processes that merge to make the moment a dish is served to a diner.
Earlier this year, Travel + Leisure named Acre the best farm-to-table restaurant in Alabama, citing Bancroft’s approach of “pairing bold modern flavors and deep Southern roots with a reliable eco-conscience.” For Bancroft, a marketing major during his Harbert days, the path to a career as a chef and restaurateur did not run through traditional culinary school. His mastery of the craft began early. His interest in food and his skill in creative cuisine were nurtured at his grandparents’ farm in south Alabama, on a Louisiana houseboat, and in an Auburn fraternity house. On visits to his grandparents’ farm, he learned to properly butcher fish and game. He enjoyed the fresh vegetables his grandmother prepared and preserved. Years later, those influences—a “full cycle of food” from local sources—would undergird his approaches at Acre, where some menu items are grown on the restaurant property.
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A summer spent as a deck hand further reinforced the merits of fresh, locally sourced food. On the boat—“like a small hotel on the water”—Bancroft not only helped get the fishermen out on their boats each day, but also cleaned their catch and often served it straight from the water. “The freshness and the quality of the food was an inspiration,” he says. After he enrolled in Auburn, Bancroft had another valuable experience when his fraternity elected him kitchen steward. “I had to control inventory and manage meals with the cook,” he says. “It was like running a small kitchen.” His first restaurant job only strengthened his conviction that maximum freshness and locally produced food were the keys to the business he wanted to build. Acre was still years away, but Bancroft gained insights into the local market to go along with his deep understanding of the kind of food he wanted to serve and what it would take to get it. “When I first got into the restaurant business, I was really disappointed in the quality, how many items were frozen and just dropped into a fryer straight from a bag,” he says. “I was aware of that issue from day one. I knew that kind of food was not proper.”
But a culinary dream doesn’t get very far without a creative business plan to support it. As many a failed restaurateur can attest, great food doesn’t automatically mean great business success. There’s more to the restaurant than the kitchen. Building a restaurant around fresh food produced locally has benefits that extend beyond the table. The mutually beneficial collaboration with suppliers also supports the local economy. The chef-grower connection covers more than purchase and delivery agreements. “We spend hours and hours on the phone with local growers, talking about rain, what’s in the fields, talking about farming,” Bancroft says. He has even helped area farmers expand their cash crops beyond those in the rows in their fields. “We’ve taught them how to forage for mushrooms and identify varieties, so now they supply us and get cash value for that, in addition to what they’re already growing for us.” Echoing the famed Toyota Production System, Bancroft has made his suppliers into partners. A focus on “seasonability”—knowing when items are available, when hunting seasons end, when various vegetables are at their
Echoing the famed Toyota Production System, Bancroft has made his suppliers into partners.
prime—helps shape Acre’s menu. “I know exactly where it came from. It’s just cleaner food,” Bancroft says. “We don’t get to the smell test. We don’t let quality get to that point.” Acre’s in-house preparation doesn’t stop with local produce. The restaurant also cures its own meat and does its own butchering. This is not the cheapest way to do business—just the best, in Bancroft’s view. In a sense, there’s also a collaboration with customers, especially those who understand Acre’s approach and Bancroft’s commitment to it. “People can get frustrated with our kind of restaurant and think it’s too costly,” he says. “But our restaurant is taking on support of local growers. That costs more. It’s not like some wholesale grower out of China; it’s local families making a living.” Managing the higher costs of food and labor does require creativity, however. As Toyota and other practitioners of lean manufacturing have demonstrated, minimizing waste is crucial. It’s the same principle for Bancroft, for whom eliminating waste is a central factor in keeping overall costs in line. Just as Bancroft tries to use all available space for growing produce, Acre also has to “use every bit of the product,” so parts that don’t end up on a plate are used for composting. The restaurant grows produce in the compost. Sustaining Bancroft’s approach requires the agility to adjust to shifting circumstances—again, not unlike the challenges the
Toyota system and other lean manufacturing principles were developed to address. Setting the menu requires the creativity to adapt quickly to what is available—or suddenly not available— that day. “Most restaurants like to play it safe,” Bancroft says, “and it’s easier to run a business if everything is consistent. But in a restaurant like ours, it’s like a new game of Boggle every day. You shake up all the letters and see what you’ve got.” Whatever it is won’t be a commercial, processed product. It won’t be hauled out of a freezer. It may come from a nearby farm even nearer—from a plot on the restaurant property. Edible landscapes that provide fresh produce surround the restaurant. “You’re eating Alabama at the height of the season,” Bancroft says. “Our goal is to connect that and get our food sources closer to our door.” Sometimes they’re literally at the door. Bancroft has picked ears of Silver Queen corn from a garden plot near Acre’s front door, walked back to the kitchen, and prepared poached corn with butter and cream. It’s hard to get more fresh and local—and to more closely follow a business plan—than that.
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Saying YES to One Thing Even if their companies call them “creatives,” artists and designers have not cornered the market on creativity. Creative practices can be woven into a company’s operations in ways outside the more commonly recognized creative areas. Take Harbert graduate Martin Killgallon, who mixed creativity with sound business principles in a move aimed at enhancing his company’s performance and improving its prospects for future growth. Selling off the company’s best-known product was a crucial decision to better position the company to succeed. As president of Ohio Art, Killgallon was leading a company with two distinct lines of business, one well known to the public and one well known in certain industry circles. Its toy division—remember the Etch A Sketch?—needed additional investment. So did its metal lithography business, an operation whose products are familiar to millions of consumers, even if its name is not. Products that have used Ohio Art’s metal lithography—a process similar to offset printing, but using metal instead of paper—in their containers include Barbasol shaving cream, MinWax wood stains, and Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco. Before digital photography largely replaced film, Kodak film canisters were made with Ohio Art metal lithography. “We did not want to expose the company to considerable risk by borrowing the money to make that investment, so we decided to get creative,” he says. “With this in mind, we made the decision to sell one of our divisions to generate the cash to invest in the other division. After evaluating the opportunities and threats facing each division, we made the decision to sell the toy division and significantly upgrade our metal lithography manufacturing capabilities.”
Saying goodbye to the beloved Etch A Sketch, enshrined in the National Toy Hall of Fame and in the memories of countless children over the nearly 60 years it was manufactured by Ohio Art, wasn’t easy. Rights to the drawing device, brainchild of a French electrician named Andre Cassagnes, were acquired in 1960 for $25,000—more than $203,000 in today’s money. It made the Ohio Art name and its globe-themed logo of the time familiar sights in homes across America—homes that likely also contained items using Ohio Art’s metal lithography products. “I think it’s such an icon, it’s a part of our everyday life here,” Killgallon told the Toledo Blade when the sale was announced in February. “It’ll be bittersweet, but we had to look at the long-term future of the business.” Although geared toward the future, the decision to focus on metal lithography also reflects the company’s beginnings. Ohio Art was founded in 1908 by a dentist with a creative eye for decorating trends who gave up his practice to manufacture metal picture frames. Within a few years, the company went into the metal lithography business and has been in it ever since. “Our lithography business has been very strong and profitable, but it’s very capital intensive,” Killgallon says. To better adapt to the modern marketplace, the company needed additional capital—without the usual accompanying debt. Thus the bittersweet decision to sell Etch A Sketch. The added investment in the metal lithography business not only allows Ohio Art to better serve its larger commercial customers, but also opens the door to new ventures, such as
“We must always be willing to think creatively about all aspects of the business and be willing to dream up new and better ways of approaching our business.” more direct-to-consumer items through smaller custom runs for individual customers. Killgallon, a 2001 MBA graduate and his family’s third-generation president of the company, says Ohio Art also is stepping up its sales and marketing efforts for premiums and giveaways. These new opportunities, grounded in the company’s long-established core competency in metal lithography, broaden its appeal to potential customers. “Creativity is critical to my role and certainly a characteristic that we value as we look to hire new employees,” he says. “We must always be willing to think creatively about all aspects of the business and be willing to dream up new and better ways of approaching our business.” But creativity purely for the sake of creativity can be a costly and unproductive course for a company, as the trend-sensitive toy business often proved. “In our previous life as toy manufacturers we developed new products every year that had to be innovative in order to hold the attention of our notoriously fickle and fad-driven kid consumers,” Killgallon says. “Sometimes that innovation was driven by a cool new technology. We constantly had to weigh the cost and benefit of these new technologies and also be disciplined about not overloading a product with features just because we could. Creative technologies can equal failure if the consumer does not see value in the experience offered by the new technology.” As different as his executive role may be, the Harbert grad still employs executive-level creative thinking in meeting the needs of his company. “As leaders of the company, it is our responsibility to make sure we do not get set in our ways and always make sure we are challenging ourselves and our employees to transcend the existing methods and not be afraid to positively disrupt the traditional ways of thinking,” he says. The end product reflects that corner-office creativity as much as the creativity of designers and artists.
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“ here’s always a cat and mouse game between fraudsters and those who are looking to stop them.” — Shawn McGrath, Partner in EY's Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services
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As technology has advanced, so have the methods of fraudsters. Insurance fraud here. Accounting fraud there. Insider trading. Ponzi schemes. Even something as simple and pervasive as a telephone scam. It adds up to real money—$3.7 trillion in corporate profits lost in 2014, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Where did it go? How did it disappear? Who is responsible?
can be tracked electronically. “We might look at a company’s To find out, those investigating fraud have stepped up their sales force and examine all of their travel and entertainment game by using creative means to unravel hidden truths. They’ve thrown away those old, dusty ledgers, adding machines, and transactions to identify spending in high-risk locations,” McGrath spreadsheets with carbon paper. Toss out that stereotypical image says. “Geospatial analysis overlays transactions onto a map so you of an accountant wearing black-rimmed glasses, a button-up can more easily identify red flags in terms of large amounts spent white collared shirt, and a pocket protector. Accountants aren’t in locations of concern to investigators.” just bean counters anymore. Forensic accountants and securities fraud investigators are more • emotive tone analysis This device analyzes the emotional tone of words published like Crockett and Tubbs: a financial vice squad, pocket protectors in letters, emails or text messages. Why is this important to a optional. “At the end of the day, a high-performing fraud fraud investigator? investigator is a mix between Sherlock Holmes and Barbara Emotive tone analysis looks for words that are linked to pressure, Walters,” says former Auburn School of Accountancy Director rationalization, or opportunity–the three risk areas for fraud. DeWayne Searcy, now CIO and VP at Cowin Equipment Company. “Communications with high-frequenices of language related to “I like to call forensics the sexy side of accounting,” says Shawn these three concepts are identified and ranked,” says McGrath. McGrath, partner in EY’s Fraud Investigation and Dispute When writing your next office memo, it might be a wise choice Services, who earned an MBA at Harbert College in 1997. “If you to avoid phrases such as “cover up,” “write off,” “meet the deadline,” pick up a Wall Street Journal on a given day, you’ll find reports “nobody will find out, ” “I deserve . . . ”, or “sounds reasonable.” of fraud and corporate misconduct on the front page. What we “We use [emotive tone analysis] to narrow the scope of our do is a little bit different than the perception of an auditor or tax review, ” McGrath says. “We’ve historically relied heavily on accountant, where you get the black-rimmed glasses stereotype.” e-mails, but we are increasingly reviewing other mediums Forensic accountants aren’t often involved in tax returns or of electronic communications such as instant messages, text balancing corporate books. Instead, they dig deeper into messages, and voice recordings. ” corporate bookkeeping, e-mails, transactions, and financial statements with their own crafty microscopic techniques in search • Transaction monitoring software of the truth during investigations and litigation. Would-be money launderers know that banking transactions in Take a look inside a forensic accountant’s creative new tool excess of $10,000 are automatically red-flagged. So, they’ll make a kit. What in the world is geospatial analysis? you might ask. make a series of payments below that threshold, say five $2,000 Got something else? Yes, that would be the emotive tone analysis payments instead of one big one. To combat this, financial instidevice. Be careful what you say, or how you say it, around that. tutions use analytical tools–sophisticated transaction monitoring Wait, another one? Looks like you’ve found the RoboCop. No, software to flag suspicious account activity for investigation. it’s not an armed, steel-plated crime fighter. As long as there is greed in the world, Searcy notes, there will be So what is RoboCop? Created in 2013 by the Securities and fraud. The window to conceal that fraud continues to shrink. Exchange Commission, it is actually the Accounting Quality “Greed does not let someone commit fraud once,” he says. “You Model—a data analytics tool that mines thousands of corporate commit a small fraud. You get away with it. You do it again, but filings, searching for high-risk activity. RoboCop, as nicknamed steal just a little bit more. You get away with it. Eventually, the size by the media, identifies earnings management filings by analyzing of the fraud will catch up to you. discretionary accruals and classifying their risk type. It compares “For example, company management might book sales in one them to filings from similar firms, and assigns them a risk score. quarter that should be booked in a future quarter. The reason for If the risk score is high, that filing could be red-flagged for doing so is to not report disappointing quarterly sales. In essence, further review. what management just did was steal tomorrow’s sales to cover “When I first started forensic accounting investigations, yesterday’s disappointment. Now, the next quarter starts in the evidence was in the form of banker's boxes full of paper financial hole by the amount of sales stolen from that quarter. statements and accounting records,” McGrath says. “Now, you’ve “Eventually, there are not enough sales to steal to keep making got this explosion of big data–a staggering increase in the volume, up for the deficit. Management is always waiting on that big velocity, and variety of electronically stored information. In order quarter to offset the stolen sales. For the most of them, it never to make sense of it all, you have to leverage technology.” occurs and the fraud is discovered.” Investigators combine these tech tools using different strategies “With evolving detection tools, the window to commit fraud and analysis techniques to close in on the bad guys. continues to shrink.”
analysis This technique uses GPS, satellite photography, and historical data, including street addresses or postal codes, to plot transaction locations. What if investigators are looking into a potential bribery case? Whether it’s cash in-hand or via gifts and entertainment, subjects
fact is, a cooked book can’t stay cooked forever.
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Playfulness at Work Inspires Creative Collaboration Jay Brandrup believes in the “science of play” and
that truly creative solutions to business problems don’t emerge from a labyrinth of cubicles. At Kinetic, the Birmingham-based website design and development company Brandrup founded two decades ago, the eureka moments may come while moving a two-foot-tall bishop on a life-size chessboard or exploring a virtual world on the Oculus Rift game system. Kinetic’s workplace serves as a fully stocked laboratory for the science of play. The firm bought a former nightclub in foreclosure in 2012 and enlisted an architect to turn it into a place that would embrace whimsy and inspire wonder. The resulting aesthetic— described by Appleseed Workshop principal architect and Auburn alum Mike Gibson as “cowboys vs. aliens”—preserves the history of the oldest commercial building on the city’s oldest street while encouraging employees to interact and brainstorm. “It feeds our work perfectly because it’s a bit of a metaphor for our team,” Brandrup, a Harbert College finance graduate, says of the “crash-landed spaceship” motif. “Our team is made up of left-and right-brain individuals who create web-based solutions that are the perfect blend of form and function.” Tech and non-tech companies alike buy into the value of the occasional recess period. The National Institute for Play (yes, there really is such a thing) provides consultation for a variety of companies, including Whole Foods, on how to create work environments that attract young talent and encourage older employees to approach their jobs with a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. At Daxko, a Birmingham-based software company led by Harbert College management information systems alum David Gray, it’s not uncommon to find the employees riding push scooters through the open areas. The company’s small thematic quiet rooms include the “Barbie Room,” featuring vintage sketches of the dolls, and another that includes a dinosaur bust as a focal point. Muscle Up Marketing, a Roswell, Georgia-based firm founded by 2004 Harbert College logistics graduate Jon Butts, also offers its employees room to zoom on scooters. However, the company’s most coveted prize may be the World Wrestling Entertainment-style championship belt Butts presents each month to employees who have been particularly creative or resourceful. “No company can be successful if the employees are not happy,” says Butts, whose company ranked 40th on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing businesses in 2015.
Top left: Jay Brandrup, at one of Kinetic’s omnipresent stand-up desks. Above: The double-decker cube workspace and caboose interior greets
visitors, the pre-war vintage caboose marks the main entrance, and the upstairs game room has about every toy imaginable. To view more of Kinetic’s workspace, visit kinetic.com/tour
Bringing playfulness into the workplace in order to help create But isn’t there the risk of distraction or even outright abuse the desired environment can be difficult. Simply setting up a of all of the fun stuff? “It’s always possible for someone to take game area probably isn’t enough, and a forced atmosphere of advantage of these opportunities in a negative way,” Brandrup false “creativity” can have disastrous consequences. David says. “But if you find the right people who have a passion for Seignior of the Centre for Workplace Leadership warns of “the what they do, we think short diversions are definitely beneficial misguided attempts at integrating work and play to boost morale to longer-term productivity and creativity.” and productivity such as: trust and team-building exercises, Even mega-companies like USAA, with more than 28,000 paintball skirmishes, excruciating ice-breakers, free-range workers, see a connection between employees’ happiness and blue-sky ‘no-such-thing-as-a-bad-idea’ brainstorming sessions, comfort and their creative output. It’s no accident that USAA has consuming forests of butcher’s paper and oceans of good will.” made Fortune’s list of Top 100 workplaces each of the 11 years. Camaraderie and creativity are a potent blend, but achieving Many of the company’s campuses feature a Relaxation Room, both is challenging. where colleagues can play Wii Golf or ping pong, and an Energize At Kinetic, management embraces that challenge and has Room, where they can exercise at the end of the workday. Beyond seen the results. “There’s nothing more beneficial to cultivating a the physical perks, the company offers tuition assistance and culture of creativity than to work with people you genuinely enjoy has adopted gaming concepts in aspects of its wellness program, collaborating with,” Brandrup says. “Employees become more encouraging team members to unlock achievements related to creative because they’re more willing to collaborate and dig healthy eating, exercise or mindfulness. deep to find that solution that is perfect for each client.” A healthy work-life balance enables personal Kinetic’s entrance features a bright red caboose satisfaction and professional fulfillment and makes us more effective at supporting our members,” says adjacent to a pair of boxcars that, despite still being USAA Vice President of Marketing Wes Laird, a on rails, have been retrofitted into office space. The 1990 Harbert College finance alum. building also includes a sauna, steam room, and With more than 25 percent of its workforce exercise equipment. Collaborative spaces being military veterans or spouses, USAA include a willow tree-covered courtyard also offers a “Zero Day PT” challenge outing where employees can grill burgers and watch that puts a new twist on play. The company trains pass, a glass-and-brick conference partners with nearby military bases to provide room where the table is held up by a pair of a “condensed experience” of the first day of 1,500-pound train wheels and axles, an boot camp. That means 3:30 a.m. wake-ups upstairs “think tank,” a game room outfitted and intense activity directed by no-nonsense with arcade games, ping-pong, foosball, drill instructors. But, believe it or not, it yields billiards, and pinball, and a large, artificial ideas and camaraderie as well as sore muscles. turf-covered rooftop featuring the life-size “At the end of the day, it’s a great team chess set and a synthetic turf golf course Kinetic’s rooftop golf course building event and further ingrains the mantra where the firm hosts its annual “Kinetic Cup and outdoor space. of knowing what it means to serve into our Rooftop Golf Shootout” (kineticcup.com) for colleagues and clients. culture,” Laird says. “Our experience creates a work environment conducive to creativity and collaboration that, in the end, produces Brandrup also held on to one remnant of the building’s former existence as Zen Nightclub. The LED-lit bar serves as a great place innovative and effective solutions to better serve America’s for employee happy hours. military community.” Offices have no doors, and walls serve as what Brandrup What if you don’t feel like being yelled at by a drill sergeant calls “strategically placed windows” that ultimately fuel idea while running an obstacle course, or your company won’t spring generation. “It has actually allowed for a unique opportunity for a ping-pong table? How do you unlock your imagination? You to ‘overhear’ discussions and exchanges of information,” he can always put a Nerf basketball hoop on the back of your door. says. “Normally, that may be a bad thing. But in an office where Problem solved. collaboration is key, it allows people to jump in and provide Whether corporate or individual, these opportunities for play insights where they normally may not have even been privy to can help prompt greater creativity. “Many times these activities are hearing the exchange. That more often than not leads to even simply a way to recharge and de-stress, but sometimes they actually better solutions.” turn into productive sessions due to the relaxed atmosphere,” Neuroscience and psychology research backs up Brandrup’s Brandrup says. “Either way, we feel like it’s beneficial. It goes back assertion that playful workplaces with pleasant surroundings to making your employees happy and giving the ability to have encourage productivity and creativity. The spaces we occupy fun in their work life. You can’t really quantify how greatly that influence who we are and how we behave. No one wants to live kind of culture benefits creativity and productivity.” their own version of the movie Office Space, lost in a soul-sucking, fluorescent-lit cubicle, quietly filling out TPS reports.
“There’s nothing more beneficial to cultivating a culture of creativity than to work with people you genuinely enjoy collaborating with.” HM, Fall 2016 35
Researchers are an inquisitive bunch. They identify a problem,
identify the cause of the problem, suggest solutions to the problem, then search for another problem. For three Harbert College researchers, approaches may vary, but the end goal is the same—advancing understanding in a particular field. “The interesting part about research is that it is a neverending story,” says Rafay Ishfaq, assistant professor in Supply Chain Management, who reiterated the words “cause and effect.” “It’s like exploring space. You go to a distant star you can see and put a telescope there—then you see there are even more distant stars. The creation of knowledge and discovery is a journey which will not be completed in a person’s lifetime.” Individual research projects are often creative journeys unto themselves. They incorporate gathering data, analyzing that data, then revealing solutions to everyday problems via the written word. But how do we get to that point? Ishfaq believes it’s a four-step process:
1. Awareness of the problem 2. A preview of the problem to understand whether it can be further exploited 3. Collecting data 4. Interpreting the data. “From there comes knowledge used for practice and advancing thought processes,” he says. “It’s a very mechanical process, but each step is an art.” Brian Connelly, Luck Eminent Scholar in Management, explained that there are two types of research, incremental innovations—piggy-backing off existing ideas—and breakthrough innovations—coming up with your own theories. “As researchers, we are contributing to an existing body of research and if that’s going to advance, then people need to continue to push it, little by little,” he says. “An important endeavor for academics is that we collect [ideas] at various conferences a few times per year. ‘What would happen if we took that idea they are working on and merge it with this other idea another person is working on?’ A new faculty member, Jeremy Mackey, is looking into abusive supervision. I’m chatting with Jeremy over lunch and realize, ‘What if we take your ideas
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and apply them at the corporate level, which is my area of research?’ Just like supervisors could be abusive to their employees, so too in the corporate governance environment, shareholders could be abusive toward managers.” Connelly likened “breakthrough” innovations to interrupting a group’s conversation about a movie and sharing your likes and dislikes about a completely different subject.“I completely change the nature of the conversation,” he says. “I take them from movies to politics or I can keep them on movies and make them envision movies in a way in which they had never thought about movies before. Breakthrough innovations require a new way of thinking about existing phenomena.” Jim Barth, Lowder Eminent Scholar in Finance at Harbert College since 1989, is an expert on banking regulations. He often gets his ideas from a simple source—the news. “All of my research is typically policy-oriented, and the way to know about policy issues is through the media,” he says. “It’s essential that one read, listen and watch what is going on. Typically, global financial issues are of importance to me.” Often the best research teams are the ones that define and play to each team member’s strength. “You might have someone who really excels at the latest analytical methods, which are constantly evolving,” says Connelly. “That person might work with someone who is well attuned to the latest theoretical developments. Those two might join together with someone who is an expert in a particular field of research.” Another thing: “You have to have a mastery of the English language,” Connelly points out. “We can fall into the trap of speaking only academic language and when we do that we divorce ourselves from reality.” Connelly noted that examples should be incorporated into the work rather than pages full of abstract concepts, but not drift too far. “It’s important to have structure and logic in your arguments,” he says. “Too often, we confuse meandering with creativity when in fact the most creative works are the ones that can be clearly understood.”
Bullies in the boardroom Why haven’t you hit your sales numbers? Why must your proposals be
re-written over and over again? Why can’t you get those TPS reports completed on time? You’re a disgrace! Ever had that domineering boss who not only gives you repeated grief over the slightest error, but also often chooses to do so in front of your peers? Whether the treatment takes place in a board room or a break room at a pizza joint, it can be demoralizing and professionally humiliating. Does this treatment inspire you? Does it make you want to work harder, not only to win the favor of your aggressive boss, but also to keep him or her off your back? Or does it make you scour the employment ads each morning, hoping to find a new place to reboot your career?
Believe it or not, such hostility is sometimes a creative maneuver—strategic bullying—to inspire personal development. Typically, strategic bullying is used to gain short-term compliance, boost productivity and send strong signals to groups of followers. But it comes with a risk. Jeremy Mackey, assistant professor in management at the Harbert College of Business, investigated strategic bullying in his recent paper, “Destructive Leadership, Ineffective Leadership, and Interpersonal Mistreatment Constructs: A Review and Leader-Member Exchange Theoretical Perspective.” “A lot of the current research argues that each supervisor can develop a unique relationship with each subordinate,” he says. “The really good supervisors will figure out which influence tactics will be useful with particular subordinates.” Mackey says strategic bullying is also used to pressure other employees not directly involved in the tongue-lashing, especially those who do not want to be subject to it during the next board meeting. He also believes the tactic is used to improve company numbers, simply for the manager’s benefit. “That’s a back-handed way of improving performance,” he says. But is operating like a corporate drill sergeant simply to improve numbers actually worth it? Mackey doesn’t believe so. “For leaders who use this tactic and go too far, they could push subordinates over the edge,” he adds. “A few of the key things that you might see from an organizational perspective are decreases in job commitment, decreases in productivity, and higher rates of absences—employees remove themselves from the work place because they do not want to deal with that supervisor. Its long-term use can lead to employee turnover.” Mackey also suggested that strategic bullies set negative workplace examples for future leaders within an organization. “If their organizational role models are engaging in these negative displays, then they will pick up on these behaviors and believe that is what is expected,” he says. So be careful. Know who to “coach” and how to “coach” them.
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With Your Dollar
Kerry Bradley (’79, marketing) “Because This is Auburn” Campaign Chair for Harbert College As chair of the Harbert College of Business Campaign Committee, I am thrilled that we have met and exceeded our Because This is Auburn campaign goal of $100 million. The committee and I want to thank our university and volunteer leadership, our alumni and friends, and our thousands of donors for their time and treasure. We have all worked really hard—and there’s more work to do! We are excited about hitting the goal, but even more so about what every dollar of our donor’s collective generosity represents in impact for our students. We know that every minute spent volunteering for a cause greater than ourselves, and every dollar, donated for a worthy reason, represents an investment. Auburn men and women know that Auburn University is a worthy cause. And as every business investment deserves ROI analysis, every philanthropic investment deserves rigorous analysis, too. That’s just good stewardship. The Harbert College of Business celebrates the importance of stewardship, whether through the annual scholarship dinner where our donors have the opportunity to interact with their recipients, or the annual reports mailed to contributors to show how their generosity has changed the lives of Auburn University students and faculty. It is not only our way to show donors the return on their investment, but also the best way we know to say “Thank you.” We want you to talk with our leadership, our faculty and our students, and we want you to see first-hand the importance of your support.
As we celebrate, we should also contemplate what else we can do together:
• We are working on funding an Auburn Student Investment Fund, which will enable students to gain real world experience by investing real money. Only 5 percent of business schools have such a student-managed fund. In addition, when the fund performs well and a return is earned, the students will invest that return back into the
college based on where they feel the money can do the best good. That is experiential learning. • Over the past five years, the number of students enrolled at the college has increased by 30 percent. For this reason, we are looking to build a new building for the college—one with state-of-the-art facilities and collaborative classrooms and student spaces that will complement Lowder Hall. • In the past five years, our endowment has grown from $32 million to nearly $80 million, but we still have not yet reached our $100 million endowment goal. Where the Harbert College of Business was once ranked near the bottom in the SEC, with your support, it is now moving its way up. Why is this important? Because a college’s endowment is a demonstration of its overall strength. Reaching the goal is not an arbitrary number. Reaching the goal would mean an additional $4 million dollars a year in support of students. Why should we do it? Because this is Auburn.
What can you do? Participate.
When college leadership comes to your town and you have the opportunity to visit with your friends and alumni, participate. When you are asked to come back to Auburn to speak with and mentor students, participate. When an Auburn student calls and asks you to support the college, participate. Every gift matters in our vision to make the college among the elite public business schools in the US. All alumni. Every year. Any amount. Next year, we will be celebrating another milestone: the 50th anniversary of the Harbert College of Business. This will be another opportunity for us to celebrate success and contemplate the future. For those of you who have yet to participate, the 50th anniversary is a perfect time for you to leave a legacy and support the Harbert College of Business. For those that have already participated, we still have work to do. We need your support.
N R U B U A
Together, we mean business. Because this is Auburn.
N R U It’s up A to each Uof us!B
Get involved by contacting the Office of Advancement:
334.844.1491 38 HM, Fall 2016
Your generosity has enabled the college to reach the following milestones with more than a year to go in the “Because This is Auburn” comprehensive campaign:
to generate “thought leadership” and reward teaching excellence
The Harbert College reached its campaign goal of $100 million in June 2016 with the help of a $1.7 million planned gift from 1983 alumna Cheryl Casey. Casey, who recently retired from Dreyfus Investments after serving as a senior vice president, said the estate gift will enable the college to address future needs identified by the dean.
$80 million in endowed support
Since the campaign began, the Harbert College endowment has grown from $31.6 million to $80 million. This will potentially generate nearly $3.2 million a year in perpetuity when fully invested. The college seeks to build its endowment to $100 million.
to recruit and retain top faculty
30% Enrollment Growth
Since becoming a named college, enrollment has surged to more than 5,000 students.
NEW ENDOWED FUNDS FOR EXCELLENCE
to enhance international study, internship experiences, student competitions, and a student-managed investment fund
in gifts and commitments to date
Reminisce with us As we prepare to celebrate our 50th birthday as a college of business in 2017, we’re feeling a bit nostalgic. We’ve been looking through photo albums and old copies of the Glomerata. As we look back, we invite you to do the same. Who were your favorite business professors during your days as a student? Who were the toughest? What class stood out as the best one you ever took? What was the most important thing you learned? We look forward to reading what you will share with us.
Send your memories and photos to: email@example.com
“Back when I was in Auburn from 1977-1981 and majoring in marketing in the School of Business, there was a very tough professor named Dr. Guffey who taught quantitative marketing analysis. Students dreaded taking his class as he was so hard. Even ‘A’ students were happy with a ‘C’ in his class and many had to take it more than once. I stayed in Auburn during the summers taking classes part-time (with neither Thach nor Tichenor being airconditioned) and working at Ware Jewelers at what was then called The Village Mall. I loved the relaxed atmosphere on campus, less traffic and ample parking that the summers offered—and grad students teaching classes, including quant! When I would tell people I made an ‘A’ in Quant, they would have a look of disbelief on their faces. I loved my little secret!” –Robyn Peck, Class of 1981 “My favorite College of Business memory was the time we spent in Prague going to school. It was truly a great experience and one I still talk about to this day. My favorite professor was Michael Kincaid. He taught me how to listen as opposed to just take notes and it helped me become a better student and businessman.” –Robert Henry Thayer II, Class of 2001 (MBA in 2009)
40 HM, Fall 2016
“I loved working in the finance department during my work study years with Juanita and Dr. John Jahera. They helped shape my life without even knowing. They prepared me for the real world. I would love for you to tell them both, ‘Thank you!’ War Eagle and happy 50th birthday! I am a product of our great College of Business and will continue to pay it forward because someone inspired me.” –Shavoriea Mason, Class of 1993 “I was a charter member of the first American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) student chapter in 1980. As part of that we were able to visit and experience several live manufacturing facilities, which was fascinating. That and the case study and programming classes were the best. Dr. James Cox was my favorite undergrad prof, and served as the chair on my thesis committee when working on my masters. Most valuable lesson learned was that I wasn’t the brightest student in the class, but if I worked hard enough I could compete.” –Mark E. Ledbetter, Class of 1981 (masters in operations management, 1987)
We’re building. Again! Fifty years after its founding as a school of business and 25 years after its move into Lowder Hall, the Harbert College will have a second home. A $15 million commitment from 1982 alumnus Raymond J. Harbert, matched by $15 million from Auburn University, will fund construction of a second business building. The gift was announced at the Auburn University Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 16, 2016. The as-yet unnamed multipurpose facility with approximately 80,000 square feet of classroom and meeting space will complement Lowder Hall and enable the college to adjust for growth in enrollment, which has risen 30 percent in the past five years. It will feature collaborative working and learning spaces, utilizing flipped classrooms and flexible space. The second building is part of the vision for a “business campus” at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Donahue Drive. Lowder Hall will remain the administrative hub of the Harbert College, but the second facility will accommodate needs that did not exist when Lowder opened in 1992.
Using flipped classrooms allows class time to be “active,” says AU Interior Designer Anna Ruth Gatlin. Professors and students are “discussing and engaging with the content that the students read/listened to/watched/learned before they came to class,” she says. It’s the opposite of what many of us grew up with—attending class to learn the content, then talking or writing about it outside of the classroom. “In those classes that can be flipped, the infrastructure needs to support that,” Gatlin says. “But the infrastructure also needs to support lecture classes, as they are not magically disappearing by any means.” Flexible learning spaces may feature tables on wheels or chairs that can roll, move, or swivel to facilitate collaboration, charging stations, and stronger Wi-Fi networks.
Learn more at harbert.auburn.edu HM, Fall 2016 41
As we prepare to celebrate our 50th birthday as a college in 2017, we can’t help but think about how much we’ve changed over the years. We know you have too, since your days as a business student. You’ve earned promotions, and made a move or two. You got married and raised a beautiful family. And now, perhaps, you’re enjoying grandchildren. We want to celebrate how far you’ve come. Share your stories and send your highresolution photos (300 pixels-per-inch) to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re feeling as nostalgic as we are, please feel free to include a photo of yourself from your time as an Auburn student.
1960s Joseph Blunk (’67, MBA) is retired and “thoroughly enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest” in Portland, Oregon. Jimmy Bowden (’69, business) is retired and
living in Lincoln, California. He enjoyed a 10-day vacation to Italy this past year and enjoys spending time with his five grandchildren and his wife, Pamela.
Wayman Duffey (’66, business administration; ’68, MBA) retired in 2009 after a 40-year logistics career with FedEx and Ryder. He now lives in a golf community in central Florida and plays five to six days a week. Dr. George R. Gardner (’65, business administration) is retired. He enjoys fishing with his sons on the Chesapeake Bay and traveling. Howard W. Hart (’69, business administration) has re-entered the commercial and residential remodeling field after 19 years managing shopping centers. He is the pres42 HM, Fall 2016
ident and owner of Howard W. Hart, Inc., al vacations to Alaska and drove the Alcan in Sebring, Florida, and is a state certified highway, which Wilburn described as “a building contractor. His hobbies include most beautiful view of God’s creation.” watching Auburn University football, baseball, and softball. Robert W. Lee (’62, business administration) is a State Farm agent in Oxford, Alabama. Theodore James Hiley (’64, busi- His hobbies include watching sports. ness administration; ’66, MBA) is retired and living in Dr. Rita Maldonado-Bear (’60, Tryon, North Carolina. This business administration) is past year, he completed his retired after serving as a prosecond community public lifessor of finance and econombrary project as chairman or co-chair of its ics at New York University’s development committee. In these roles, he Stern School of Business. has served as a community representative She taught for 30 years, served as Stern’s in all aspects of development projects, in- representative on the University Senate for cluding the selection of architects and lead- nine years, and published numerous jourership of local fundraising. “The opening of nal articles in addition to two books. She those libraries in 2006 and 2015 were two of resides in Newton, Massachusetts, with her the best days of my working life,” he says. “I husband, attorney Larry Alan Bear, and have been retired since 2000, but have nev- regularly visits family in Puerto Rico. er been without meaningful work to do.” Milledge Lamar Martin (’69, business adminisWilburn Hyche (’64, business tration) is retired from a career as vice presadministration) has practiced ident and CFO in Fort Worth, Texas. law in the Brandon, Mississippi, area for the last 35 years as an attorney for Hyche Law Offices. He has also served as a municipal court judge. He and his wife of 52 years remain active on their farm and also enjoy traveling. They have taken sever-
Gene McGriff (’68, business) John H. Salter III (’63, business celebrated his 40th anniveradministration) is retired sary as insurance agent with from his position in the UniState Farm in Dothan, Alaversity of Central Florida’s bama, in June. “We feel so School of Accountancy. blessed to have traveled this He has been married to his journey and serve our clients in the Wire- wife, Marilyn Pinson Salter, a 1963 Auburn grass,” he says. He also celebrated the birth alumna, for 53 years. of his third grandchild, Julianna Elizabeth Ray, in February 2016. Henry L. “Hank” Miller, Jr. (’64, business administration) is retired from Greenbrae in Marin County, California, and now serves as a docent with DiRosa Preserve Art in Napa, California, and as a volunteer with the Golden Gate Conservancy and the Presidio Trust in San Francisco. He recently spent a month in Italy, a visit that included a train trip from Rome to Balzano, hiking in the Dolomites, and another train trip to Venice. His hobbies include English Hunt Seat equestrian.
1970s Claude S. Burden
sity. One of his highlights includes his service flying Auburn’s eagle mascot to road football games. He and his wife have enjoyed trips to Hawaii, the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and Alaska, as well as a European river cruise.
Frederick W. Crispen
(’70, business administration) is senior vice president for express loans at Celtic Bank in Panama City Beach, Florida. He was selected as the Small Business Services Champion of the Year for the Mississippi Small Business Administration district. He enjoys traveling and golfing.
Jack G. Early, Jr. (’77, accounting) is a controller who is “currently searching for that great opportunity.” He enjoys fun in the sun and says, “we hit the beach every single Sunday—weather permitting—using our Auburn canopy and WDE flag. It’s very easy to find us.”
(’70, business administration) is retired after 25 years as a corporate pilot and captain with The Southern Company. He also worked 11 years for Select Management Resources in Atlanta. He learned to fly as an Auburn student and Bennie Glenn Ellis (’72, accounting) serves as served as a flight instructor for the univer- vice president of operations for Southland
Marketing chief points to diversification as key to telecom success Are you a cable TV or satellite subscriber? How about telephone or broadband? If so, you probably use Arris equipment, either in your home or in the distribution network that delivers the media. Arris, the world’s largest manufacturer of cable boxes and modems, is a $6.5 billion Fortune 500 company. But it didn’t get that way by simply specializing in set-top boxes and modems. Instead, the diversification of its product line has allowed the British company, whose US operations are based in Georgia, to flourish. “There used to be a lot of specialization in the telecommunications industry,” says RON COPPOCK, Arris’ president for international sales and global marketing and a 1976 business administration and marketing graduate. “There are companies that just make routers, or fiber optic products, and we’ve got routers and fiber optic products as well. But as consolidations occurred within the industry, companies were looking to do business with companies that can provide comprehensive enterprise technology solutions and not just sell the components.”
“The common thread worldwide is that everybody is trying to get bigger. These larger companies are becoming telecommunication and media providers rather than just cable TV, satellite, or telephone providers and we’re developing products and solutions for these diverse corporate players.” Coppock says the industry is in a state of change driven by “cord-cutters”—consumers
who forego cable in favor of streaming media via the Internet. “Those cord-cutters all need the big broadband pipe—and we’re in the business of providing those big broadband pipes,” he says, “all the way from the programming origination point to the WiFi ecosystem inside of the subscriber’s home.” Failing to grow via acquisitions or broaden one's product portfolio is a common mistake, he notes. “There are some companies that are slogging along and are vulnerable now because they passed up on the opportunity when they had a chance to sell or consolidate,” says Coppock. “Smaller companies are vulnerable to people who have a larger product line who can leverage scale and product bundles while earning a bigger seat at the table. I think about that a lot because we’ve been involved in buying a lot of these companies. We tried to buy others that have been very confident that they could make it as a stand-alone, onetrick pony. Sometimes that trick becomes quickly obsolete, particularly in such a fluid market.”
HM, Fall 2016 43
International Trucks in Homewood, Alabama. He will celebrate his 70th birthday in October. He enjoys spending time with his 6-year-old grandson, following Auburn football, and traveling.
professor of accounting at the University of Cincinnati. His daughter, Tonya Crutchfield, serves long lines of hungry customers and music lovers at Blue Grass Barbeque in Moody, Alabama. Steve and his wife, Sharon, are active with the Mystik Orphans Ralph Foster (’79, business ad- and Misfits Mardi Gras Krewe. ministration) serves as director of public service for Michael S. Hawke (’77, business administraAuburn University, and has tion) is a controller for Wireless Advantage worked at the university for Communications in Dothan, Alabama. He 27 years. He recently cele- is married to Denise Gauntt Hawke. brated his 25th wedding anniversary. Richard Hethcox (’70, business) is a retired US James A. “Jim” Gaffney (’72, business adminis- Army officer who is now self-employed as tration) serves as controller for Concord in CEO and owner of Hethcox All-American Atlanta, Georgia. Products. The Fayetteville, Georgia-based company has facilities in Florida and CaliRay W. Gilbert, Jr. (’74, business administra- fornia. Richard enjoys golf and gardening. tion; ’77, MBA) serves as controller for Industrial Service & Supply in Valley, Alabama. He is also president of the Southern Christmas Tree Association and has been a grower for 28 years, serving counties in eastern Alabama and western Georgia. “We are a choose and cut operation with a gift shop, plus activities for children,” he says. “We are the only surviving farm in East AlBil Hitchcock (’79, business) abama from the 1980s and the only tree enjoys following his creative farm currently in operation. We either had muse while writing blog pieca good business plan or were persistent es for The Huffington Post. during the lean years!” One of his posts for HuffPost Comedy focused on his love of Maryland Turkey, which was a staple at the War Eagle Cafeteria. “Just thinking about it makes me salivate.”
$425 million annual Americas distribution network for STMicroelectronics, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based firm. “My MBA from Auburn prepared me well for a successful career in the semiconductor industry even though my bachelor’s degree was not technical,” Ashley says.
Kathy Flournoy Neighbors
(’72, business administration) is self-employed as an interior decorator in Alabaster, Alabama. She has been featured in the Birmingham News, B'ham Home, Over the Mountain Journal and in the Garden Alabama Symphony Decorators Showcase. She and her husband celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in May with a trip to St. Lucia.
Cheryl Sullivan Phillips (’79, accounting) is the
owner of CASP Accounting Services. She likes sewing and time with grandchildren.
Joel Raines (’72, industrial management) serves as a principal consultant for Vesta Partners in Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys trips to Lake Martin. Steve Robinson
(’72, marketing) retired in December 2015 as Chick-fil-A’s chief marketing officer. He remains active with consulting work and is involved with several boards. He enjoys golf, travel, and spending time with his children, Joy and Josh, as Orrie W. Irwin III (’77, finance) is retired and well as his four grandchildren. Steve is also living in Birmingham, Alabama. working on a book.
(’72, business administration) is CEO, “resident visionary, and benevolent despot” at Saxgourmet Products in New Orleans. The company, which specializes in high-end saxophones, recently finalized a manufacturing partnership with EMR Machine in Arizona. “Our mouthpieces are now manufactured in Delrin, a very high-tech and acoustically-superior polymer, on aerospace-quality five-axis CNC machines,” Steve says. “We are also doing extensive experimentation with bringing 3D printing to the musical instrument industry.” His son, Dr. Brian Goodson, recently completed his first year as a
44 HM, Fall 2016
David L. Jones
(’73, finance) is currently working on several transportation projects in the UK through his role as senior project manager and technology manager for Jacobs Engineering. He and his wife of 43 years, Mary Ruth Cox, have three daughters.
Steven Dale Jones (’79, finance) just began his 25th year as a Nashville, Tennessee-based songwriter. He has worked on new releases for singers such as Bonnie Raitt, Craig Morgan, and Josh Turner. E. Ashley McGaha (’79, MBA) serves as vice president and manages an approximately
Leo “Buddy” Rogers (’79, marketing) just celebrated 35 years of service with AT&T in Birmingham, Alabama. He has four children, including two Auburn graduates and two Montevallo alums, and boasts two grandchildren with another on the way. John Sadler (’70, business administration) retired as senior property risk engineer with Zurich North America. Before his 2012 retirement, he served as the hurricane risk specialist for the company’s property underwriting division. Both of his daughters, Leigh Sadler and Lindsey Sadler Vincennes, are graduates of Auburn University. He lives in Columbus, Georgia, with his wife, Barbara, herself a 1969 Auburn alumna.
Darshan Saini (’74, business administration), grandchildren, as well as boating, golfing, who serves as director of Cognizant Tech- fishing, bow hunting, biking, and camping. nology Solutions, was married in 2006. His 9-year-old daughter is in the 5th grade. Urban Earl Whatley (’71, accounting), founder, president and CEO of American Factors John Stam (’78, business administration) re- Corporation in Dallas, Texas, is “looking tired from his role as senior vice president for my place in the sun” after 45 years in the for Capital One Bank in Houston in 2014 workplace. “I have a 20-month-old grandand moved back to Alabama. son who makes me wish I was 20 years younger so I could keep up with him.” Teresa Schomburg Van De Bogart (’77, accounting) serves as VP of global IT solution delivery for Molson Coors Brewing Company in Denver. She was recently named to the Remax Board of Directors and was recognized by the Mile High United Way as the 2015 winner of the Wisebart Jacobs Award. She enjoys horseback riding, golfing, and cheering on the Denver Broncos.
Kurt Blumthal (’84, economics and finance) serves as vice president for Fidelity Bank in Atlanta, Georgia. He remains active with a lacrosse-playing daughter who is beginning her senior year of high school and a son who is involved in swimming and Boy Scouts. His hobbies include cooking, traveling, fishing, and hiking. William “Bill” Brewer (’83, industrial management) is both president and founder of Angel's Antique & Flea Mall and Brewer Enterprises in Opelika, Alabama. Under his care, Angel's Antiques has grown into one of the largest antique and flea malls in the South, with more than 550 vendors generating more than $2 million in sales last year. He has provided entrepreneurial guidance for Auburn business students as a member of the college’s mentorship program. His daughter, Angel, will graduate from Auburn University this year. Bill and his wife, Connie, have been married for more than 25 years.
Gary B. Wadkins
(’71, business administra- Lisa Padgett Arnold (’87, accounting) is the tion) serves as CEO of Four Star Capital CFO of JMF Solutions in Daphne, AlaGroup, a financial consulting firm in Hous- bama. She spends her free time training for ton. He enjoys spending time with his three half and full marathons.
Unwanted assignment leads to Henley’s change in dreams for career VAN HENLEY didn’t want to be a tax accountant. Sure, he'd earned an accounting degree from Auburn, but the young man from Milton, Florida, had his sights set on being an auditor. His parents had actually suggested he become a dentist. He informed his mother that he “didn't like chemistry” and that his passion was for debits and credits. “I loved the way it all made sense,” says Henley, who found his calling in a high school bookkeeping class during his junior year. “There was symmetry to it. So there was only one accounting class in my high school. There was a group of us who enjoyed it so much, we talked our teacher into adding a second year into the curriculum, so I took two years of accounting in high school. When I came [to Auburn] I knew what I was going to major in.” After graduating in 1980, he accepted a position with a major firm, and was on his way to fulfilling his dream.
“But they said, ‘Your first assignment is to work in tax for six weeks,’” Henley recalls. “I was like, ‘Why me? I don’t like tax. Why would you do that?’ But they said, ‘We need you to go there.’” So he did—and what he experienced surprised him. “I started to find tax pretty interesting,” says Henley. “I learned that a lot of it is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, fixing problems. I started to enjoy it.” Henley returned to his audit assignments at the firm’s Birmingham office, but wasn’t enthused. He’d become hooked on taxes. “As luck would have it, a couple of weeks later, a memo came from the corner office saying ‘We need a couple of people to transfer into tax from audit,’” he recalls. “So I went running down the hall and said, ‘Put me in.’ Thirty-seven years later, I’m still doing tax.” Henley is now senior tax partner at Ernst & Young in Dallas, Texas, and is grateful for the flexibility his field of study has allowed him.
“With an accounting degree, you can do so many different things,” he says. “You can go into public accounting. You can go into private industry. How many CEOs are former accountants/financial people? Many. The FBI hires more accountants than any other major. I tell students, ‘I’ve never known an unemployed accountant that was willing to work.’”
HM, Fall 2016 45
Amy Woodall Carroll (’87, international business) enjoys volunteering with Happy Tails Pet Therapy in the Atlanta metro area. As Atlanta’s oldest and largest nonprofit animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activity organization, Happy Tails serves people of all ages with physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs in a variety of settings. She and her three-year-old shih tzu, Zoey, visit patients at hospitals, school, rehab centers, and nursing homes. “We enjoy sharing time and love with children and adults of all ages,” Amy says. Michael Cousar (’89, accounting) is president
of Cousar Insurance Services in Anderson, South Carolina. He and his wife of 22 years, Carrie, have four children—Davis, 18; Anne Douglas, 16; Caroline, 12; and Ella Cate, 8. He serves as a high school football coach and also leads a non-profit that works with disadvantaged children.
Brent Craig (’85, economics) serves as district judge of Morgan County for the State of Alabama.
Andrew Eden (’89, finance) teaches history and coaches the boys’ basketball team at Ragland High School. His hobbies include fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and touring Civil War battlefields. Bryan Ford
(’85, marketing) serves as senior quality/M&P/ process manager for AT&T in Atlanta, Georgia. He will celebrate his 27th year with the company in January 2017. Bryan enjoys the dynamic communications market. “Over 75 percent of AT&T’s revenues are generated from products and services that were not even in existence when I began with the company,” he says.
Craig Heetland (’83, business administration)
was assigned by Cornelius, a Marmon/ Berkshire Hathaway Company, to be pres-
46 HM, Fall 2016
ident of the Asia Pacific region in August 2014. Craig resides in Singapore. In the first half of 2016, he visited New Zealand, Australia, the Great Wall of China, Italy’s Amalfi Coast, and the Maldives.
Sam L. House, Jr. (’80, industrial management) is employed as a senior engineering manager for STERIS Corporation, a decontamination, surgical, and critical care services provider in Montgomery, Alabama. Donna Leverette Hughes
(’88, marketing) serves as marketing and admissions director for John Knox Manor, an elder care facility in Montgomery, Alabama. She has been married to fellow 1988 graduate Scott Hughes for 25 years. The couple has twin 18-year-old daughters, one of whom is attending Auburn this fall, and a 12-year-old daughter.
Mark E. Ledbetter (’81, manage-
ment) serves as vice president of industry solutions for Hortonworks in Santa Clara, California. After 11 years with a large technology firm, he “took a flyer on a three-year-old startup” in Silicon Valley. The company went public in December 2014 and was recognized in 2015 as the fastest software company to hit $100 million in revenue. “It’s a fun ride,” Ledbetter says. When he’s not in California or traveling on business, you can find him on his farm in Hurtsboro, Alabama “getting ready to hunt, or hunting.”
Ken W. Lewis (’81, accounting) serves as vice president and marketing director for the Life Insurance Company of Alabama. He joined the company in 2005 as regional director for Alabama after owning an insurance marketing organization, and earned a promotion to VP in 2015. He is married to 1981 Auburn alumna Marianne “Bailey” Jenny Wooddall Hunt (’84, per- Lewis. Their two daughters are both Ausonnel management) is cur- burn graduates. His hobbies include boatrently serving her third term ing, hiking, and traveling the United States. as vice mayor for the town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Her areas of specialization include infrastructure, parks and recreation, and Chamber of Commerce public relations. She recently celebrated her youngest daughter's graduation from the Harbert College’s School of Accountancy. “What a great [Mother’s Day] gift!” she says. “She Jim Luther (’86, accounting) is retired and has one more year to complete the MAcc living in Cupertino, California. He recently program before taking a job with Ernst & enjoyed his dream vacation, which includYoung in Nashville.” Jenny enjoys biking, ed three months spent on a bicycle tour of playing tennis, traveling, and engaging in France, studying French, and climbing the volunteer work. country’s legendary mountain passes. His sightseeing and sports-watching time also Karen Miller Kimbrough (’84, per- included the Dauphine, the Giro d’Italia, sonnel management) serves and the Tour de France. as a specialist for Brahmin, and has earned the company’s Leader of Excellence honor. One of her favorite vacation adventures has been a trip to the Baltic Sea. Her several hobbies include playing bridge, serving on the Huntsville-Madison County Auburn board, volunteering in her community, and spending time at the lake. David Marsh (’81, business administration) served as head coach of the US Olympic Phillip Lankford (’83, accounting) is a share- women’s swimming team at the Rio 2016 holder with Livings, Lankford, Lambert Summer Olympic Games. He is the chief & Co., PC in Montgomery, Alabama. executive officer and director of coaching
at SwimMAC Carolina in Charlotte. He previously served as head men’s and women’s swimming coach at Auburn, winning a combined 12 national championships and coaching 49 Olympians.
W. Bryan Mash (’86, personnel management) serves as vice president of human resources for Club Car in Augusta, Georgia. The company is a part of Ingersoll Rand. “I’ve worked hard to establish a leadership team that will continue to move the Club Car business forward,” he says. In early 2016, two of the five Chairman’s Awards presented by Ingersoll Rand were awarded to members of Mash’s leadership team. “It validates the leadership competencies we’ve been building over the past few years,” he says. In 2015, his job took him around the world in one trip—from Singapore, to Shanghai and Dubai—with additional trips to Italy and the Czech Republic. Dennis M. Moore
(’89, finance) became COO of Brier & Thorn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in April 2016. He also serves as vice president for the risk management firm,
which specializes in middle market risk, audit, and compliance. He spends the “nonsnowy month” bicycling Wisconsin trails and logged more than 1,000 miles for the first time in 2015. His travel plans include visits to Prague and Budapest.
Kristie Sharp Nix Moorer
(’85, international business) serves as annual campaign director for the YMCA of Greater Birmingham. She has helped the YMCA exceed its campaign goal each of the last two years. Kristie re-married in 2015 and the third of her three daughters finished graduate school. She enjoys karaoke, coffee, exercising, and reading.
at The Home Depot. She and her husband, Hugh, have three children, ages 7, 7, and 5.
Cole Powell (’85, business administration) is a shareholder with Top 30 accounting firm Elliott Davis Decosimo in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Cole provides transaction advisory professional services, including financial due diligence and post-acquisition integration consulting, to urgent care, occupational health, diagnostic lab, imaging, and pain management healthcare organizations nationwide. He was married in May 2015. His oldest son and daughter-inlaw were recently commissioned as second lieutenants in the US Air Force. Henry J. Sims, Jr. (’83, business management) owns J and M Home Repair and Renovation in Elberta, Alabama.
Susan Cantwell O’Farrell (’84, finance) began a new role as senior vice president, CFO, and treasurer of BlueLinx, a business-to-business building materials distribution company (NYSE: BXC) in Atlanta, Georgia. She had previously worked for Accenture and spent 15 years as vice president in finance
Chip Smith (’84, finance), president of Marshall & Bruce Company in Nashville, Tennessee, was named 2016 Person of the Year by the Printing Industry Association of the South. The award is presented for service to the printing industry and community, as well as for efforts in bettering the graphics arts industry. He has served as president of the family-owned company since 2000. He and his wife, Mary, have three children.
WHY IS A DEFERRED GIFT ANNUITY A GREAT WAY TO GIVE? Because it enables alumni like Roger Champion ’66, and his wife, Donna, to show their gratitude to Auburn University and the Harbert College of Business while providing an income for their lives — a portion of which is tax free. Is a deferred gift annuity right for you? For example, if you were 55 years old and established a $25,000 gift annuity deferred for 15 years, the payout rate would be 8.2% and you would be eligible for the following benefits: CH A R ITA BL E DE DUCT ION
A N N UA L PAYOU T
Fixed beginning at age 70
TA X-F R E E PORT ION
**for 15.9 years
OR DI NA RY INCOME
**Once all tax-free portions have been distributed, the entire annuity will become ordinary income. Payment schedule is quarterly; annuity rate is from ACGA2012 table.
Learn more about how the Auburn University Office of Gift Planning can help you support the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business while also meeting your philanthropic and financial goals.
334 -844 -7375 | PL ANNE DG IVING@AUBURN.E DU | W W W. AUBURN.E DU/PL ANNE DG IVING
Charles Taylor Smotherman
(’87, accounting) chain and logistics in the Harbert College this year and finished third in her age group serves as corporate controller for Teradata of Business. His daughter recently gradu- at a race in Auburn. Corporation. ated from Clemson and his youngest child graduated from high school. Steve Talley (’83, industrial operations management) is a quality manager for Commscope in Catawba, North Carolina. He has worked for the company for 15 years. He enjoys making wine and attending daughters Casey’s and Liz’s swim meets and soccer games. His oldest daughter, 23-yearJennifer Day Brown (’97, accounting; ’99, old Jessica, married this summer. MAcc) serves as an endowment account analyst for the Auburn University EnRolanda Wilson Waddell (’84, accounting) is a dowment Investment Office. She married CPA and serves as vice president and chief Stephanie Batt (’91, accounting) is a program Chris Brown in June 2016. accounting officer for Hibbett Sporting analyst for AAR Corp. in Huntsville, AlaGoods, a Birmingham, Alabama-based bama. She is the mother of five children. Robert Dean Brown (’91, marketing) serves as company with 1,053 stores in 33 states. chief executive officer of Alabama Orthopaedic Clinic in Mobile, Alabama. David Winters (’83, MBA) works for the City of Atlanta as civil engineering manager and enjoys photography as a hobby.
James Zacharias (’87, finance) serves as executive director of MyHealth Network with Columbus Regional Healthcare System in Columbus, Georgia. He enjoys playing golf and tennis, biking, and spending time with his family. His son is studying supply
Karen Keeter Beane (’93, accounting) is the chief financial officer for the Talladega County Commission in Talladega, Ala- James Randy “Bo” Buckner, Jr. (’95, MBA) serves bama. She and her husband of 20 years live as senior vice president for Regions Equipin Sylacauga with their daughter, Sarah ment Finance Corporation and as presiTucker, who began competing in triathlons dent of Regions Capital Advantage.
Knopf leads small agency with large-agency experience in big data Time was, when an advertising agency wanted to sell a product, they had to pretty much guess what might convince a consumer to buy. Now they can leverage science by hiring data-whisperers like LYN KNOPF. “My goal is to let the data tell me what is important and let it inform the marketing,” says Knopf, who believes at least 50 percent of a campaign's success is due to accurate audience targeting. “Without a well-defined strategy and strong analytics, marketing dollars will be wasted when the target audience is missed.” Knopf, who earned her undergraduate degree in finance in 1993 and an MBA in 1995 from Harbert College, digs deep into client customer demographics as co-founder and director of data & analytics at Connexon Partners, a full-service marketing agency in Nashville. She's worked on projects for HSBC,
48 HM, Fall 2016
Knopf, (right), with her family BB&T, eTrade and Morgan Stanley, to name a few, and currently is providing merger communications for several large banks, running a home equity acquisition program for a
credit union, and creating brand awareness focused on new customer acquisition for a child care business. “Database marketing is the process behind organizing data such as age, estimated income, marital status, etc., digging through it to make sense of it, and turning it into something actionable,” says Knopf, whose company’s services include analytical work, web development, print advertisements, and direct mail programs. “Database marketing allows businesses to allocate marketing dollars to the audience that will be the best campaign performers, thus maximizing your ROI.” Knopf’s firm creates a better understanding of prospective and current customers, providing a detailed roadmap for business development by informing acquisition marketing efforts such as ad placement, prospect list purchase, and sponsorships.
Michael Christian Burgeen
(’96, marketing) serves as district sales manager for auto, home, and life insurance agency Alfa Insurance in Florence, Alabama.
Jeffrey Chubick (’93, management) serves as
enterprise backup manager for Regions in Birmingham, Alabama.
Billy Clarke (’93, accountancy) is the owner of Bill Clarke CPA, a full-service accounting firm licensed in Alabama and headquartered in Gulf Shores. Matt Clegg
(’97, accounting), principal of Wilson Investment Group in Auburn, recently completed 10 years of service with the Auburn Board of Education. He most recently served as board president and attended nearly 50 state conferences during his service with the board. Matt also completed nearly 200 professional development hours with the school board academy.
Jane Kennedy Thompson Clepper (’90, marketing) is an IS business solutions consultant with TSYS in Columbus, Georgia, and a certified smart card industry professional. Rachel Elizabeth Constantine
(’99, logistics) is employed by Courington, a property and real estate management company located in Albertville, Alabama.
Jill Lovett Crawford (’91, accounting) started a
financial planning firm—Consilium Associates in Alpharetta, Georgia—in 2015 with three partners. She was also married in October 2013. She enjoys weekends on the lake, travel, and gardening.
David Gray (’93, management information systems) is president and chief executive officer of Daxko in Birmingham, Alabama. Terrell Glenn Haggerty (’95, marketing) serves
as chief juvenile probation officer for the State of Alabama in Tallapoosa County/ Dadeville, Alabama. His hobbies include working out at the gym, going to church, and spending time with his wife, Stacy.
Dale Henderson (’93, marketing) serves as Chris Hutton (’94, aviation manager for SiteMix in Atlanta, Georgia. management) just received a He and former Auburn football player promotion to captain while Wayne Bylsma started a volumetric conapproaching his 10-year ancrete business in the metro Atlanta area niversary with Alaska Airthat specializes in delivery to smaller and lines. Based in Anchorage, specialty work sites. Chris pilots Boeing 737s. Jana Arrington Ingram (’99, management) is a programmer in Auburn University’s Office of Alumni & Development Support Services. She is married to William Chad Ingram, a 2002 management information systems Mike Holland (’90 finance; ’91, MBA) moved graduate. into the cybersecurity industry after 20 years in telecommunications and now Jeff Jackson (’94, finance) serves as executive vice president of busiserves as market president ness development for Fortalice Solutions for First Tennessee Bank in in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company Chattanooga. He earned the was founded by former White House chief promotion in March, becominformation officer Theresa Payton. When ing only the fourth market he’s not working, Mike stays busy traveling president in the bank’s 40-year history. He across the country with his children, two of enjoys activities including playing golf and whom are avid hockey players whose tour- traveling with his family. nament travels have taken the family to rinks in locales including Chicago, Detroit, Scott Jaye (’95, accounting) works as a seBuffalo, Denver, and “many more we have nior auditor for HPM in Auburn, and, in forgotten.” his spare time, enjoys playing golf at The University Club. Denise LeGear Howell (’98, accountancy) serves as presi- Kipp Keown (’99, finance) has been named dent of Howell CPA, PA in vice president of marketing for Blue Cross Biloxi, Mississippi. She began and Blue Shield of Alabama. He joined the business four years ago the company in 2002 and started his career and is currently in the pro- in the performance services division. He cess of adding certified payroll to the firm’s also served as department manager in the list of services. “During the last year, our marketing division. taxpayer representation services have significantly grown with a high rate of suc- Sara Bliss Kiser (’98, PhD in management) cessful pro-taxpayer rulings,” she says. recently earned a promotion from associate professor to professor of management Mathew J. Hultquist (’94, ac- at Alabama State University. counting) is the president of The Hultquist Firm, CPA, David J. Konya (’91, business administration) PC, in Greenville, South Car- serves as manager of transportation for olina. He recently marked freight forwarding services provider FedEx the 13th year of his business Trade Networks in Memphis, Tennessee. by hiring its 16th employee. By the end of 2017, the business will have grown by Dr. Charles Kroncke (’90, economics; ’95, PhD, approximately 30 percent since its foun- economics) serves as chair of business and dation. Mathew also celebrated his 18th professor of economics at Mount St. Joseph wedding anniversary with 1995 Auburn University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He taught University alumna Jennifer Ralston Hul- courses in international trade and social tquist. They have four children, ages 15, 13, justice at Tartu University in Estonia in 11, and 8. 2016 through a Fulbright Scholar Award. HM, Fall 2016 49
Charles and his wife, Kaie, enjoy visiting Development and Entrepreneurial EngageEurope with their two daughters: Liina, ment at Augusta University. He served as who is 11 years old, and Kabi, who is 8. that school’s dean of business for 10 years. His areas of research interest include information systems, distance education, and innovation management.
Jennifer Casey Nall (’93,
management information systems) serves as a nurse informaticist with Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
(’90, finance) recently earned a promotion J. Don Overton (’92, finance) is to senior vice president of an attorney, developer, and marketing for USAA in San builder with The Overton Antonio, Texas. He previousFirm and Sustainable Conly served as VP of enterprise struction. He was appointed strategy and planning, and was the compato the National Green Panel ny’s chief strategy officer. Wes enjoys run- for Construction ADR Disputes by Conning, working out, bird hunting, fishing, struction Dispute Resolution Services and and spending time at the beach. was also selected as chair of the Construction Law Section of the Arkansas Bar AssoDonny Lovelace (’97, economics; ’11, MBA) ciation for 2016 to 2017. serves as senior vice president of accounting and finance for Curo Health Services Jimmy Owen (’96, management) recently in Mooresville, North Carolina. He has also earned a promotion, becoming vice presaccepted an invitation to join the Harbert ident of advancement at Young Harris College’s MBA Advisory Council. College in North Georgia after previously serving in the development office at Emory Shavoriea “Shay” Mason (’93, business admin- University and the Woodruff Health Sciistration) owns TouShay Boutique in De- ences Center. catur, Alabama, and also serves as a hospital pharmacy buyer for Decatur Morgan Michael Pennington (’91, operations manHospital. She opened the boutique with agement) serves as director of inventory her 10-year-old niece, Layla, who aspires to planning for Big Time Products in Rome, attend Auburn University one day. Shay Georgia. His oldest daughter, Samantha, plans to open a storefront location in Nash- graduated cum laude from Kennesaw State ville, Tennessee, in 2017 that will employ University with a degree in accounting. women who were once victims of human “One down, four to go!,” he says. trafficking. TouShay sells fashion jewelry, scarves, handbags, and other accessories. Mark Christopher Smith (’91, marketing) is executive vice president—global wealth marShawn McGrath (’92, finance; ket executive for BBVA Compass. In his ’97, MBA) is a partner with free time, he enjoys boating with family Ernst & Young in Charlotte, and friends at Lake Martin. North Carolina. He earned a promotion to partner in EY’s Scott L. Smith (’99, marketing) fraud investigations and disis self-employed as the owner putes services practice in July 2016. When of We’ve Got Your Customnot working, he enjoys playing with his ers, a Tampa, Florida-based 5-year-old son and playing golf. search engine optimization firm. The company celebratDr. Marc Miller (’94, PhD, management) has ed its seventh year in business in 2016. He been named dean for the school of business launched Visibility Doctor to answer deat Henderson State University in Arkadel- mand for healthcare specific websites and phia, Arkansas. He previously served as ex- marketing in July. Scott, who celebrated his ecutive director of the Office of Economic seventh anniversary in May, has served as
50 HM, Fall 2016
president of the Tampa Bay Auburn Club. He also launched Campus Business Connections—aimed at growing Auburn businesses and facilitating online networking.
Mark N. Sobel-Sorrell (’91,
marketing) serves as director of player development for Seminole Gaming. In his role with the company, he works to build customer loyalty and develop business for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino locations in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida. He enjoys spending time with his children and networking.
Lil Soto (’96,
MBA) works for the Avina Foundation in Costa Rica. She works on water access and sanitation concerns in Latin America, as well as migration in Central America and recycling projects in Costa Rica.
Tangela Sconyers Souders
(’92, accounting) is president and chief executive officer of Wiregrass Federal Credit Union in Dothan, Alabama.
Marci Spivey (’97,
accounting; ’98, MAcc) serves as a senior vice president and senior tax consultant for Bessemer Trust in Atlanta, Georgia.
Robert Upchurch (’97, finance) has worked in healthcare sales for Quest Diagnostics for 15 years. He serves as the company’s health system business director for the South Region and is based in Atlanta. Scott Wedge (’94, MBA) earned Culture Am-
bassador status in 2015 at Walmart, where he serves as senior manager of quality for home products. As a culture ambassador, Scott leads new hire orientation sessions. He was married in 2014 and has taken up jogging as a hobby.
Entrepreneur defies the odds, creates haven for employees-as-family JON BUTTS admits that “everyone thought I was crazy” for walking away from what had been a well-paying and stable job in the middle of a recession. He started his own company, Muscle Up Marketing, in 2011 with $1,000 and no outside investors. A non-compete agreement with a former employer forced him to drive 130 miles a day roundtrip and build his business out of the back of his wife’s cousin’s insurance company. “On paper, all the odds were against me,” says Butts, who earned a logistics degree in 2004. It required strength to survive, let alone thrive. That initial $1,000 investment has paid off handsomely. The Roswell, Georgia-based company, a full-service agency specializing in direct marketing campaigns for gyms and other member-based businesses, ranked 40th on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies in 2015 after achieving 5,967 percent sales growth over a three-year period. “Of those 39 ahead of us, I highly doubt there are any that started with only $1,000,” Butts says. The company also won its category in the 2016 Top Tigers awards presented by the Harbert College to the fastest-growing companies founded, owned, or led by Auburn alumni. The company has also earned a spot on the “Best Places to Work” list compiled by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Butts says much of the company’s growth has resulted, to a large extent, from its laser focus on valuing its employees. He puts these values into action by treating
the office to lunch every other Friday, and allowing partial telecommuting so employees don’t have to neglect family. “I really look at my employees as my second family,” he says. “Not having an employee quit in over four years is an amazing feat in this day and age. I believe it shows that I truly invest in people and strive to provide them the best environment to help them flourish.”
Jon, (center), with Dean Hardgrave and Kevin Harrington of Shark Tank.
not working, Ken “lives and breathes” his guitars and enjoys watching his son’s travel baseball team.
Ashley Wurst Barba
Heather G. Boozer (’08,
human resources management) provides business counseling in the Small Business Development Center at The University of Alabama-Huntsville. “Entrepreneurship is my passion,” she says. “It gives the world character. Without entrepreneurs, the business world would lack innovation, growth, and culture.” Heather helps small businesses navigate a host of issues, including business plan development, accounting and financial analysis, human resources, marketing, and social media. She also owns Inspiring Awe Events, an event planning company. She and her husband, Justin, also a 2008 Auburn graduate, have two children: Lily, who is 6; and Easton, who is 3.
(’08, marketing) passed the CFP exam in March 2016 and has embarked on a new career in financial planAmy Canafax Acevedo (’05, accounting) mar- ning as an associate with TrueWealth in ried Adrian Acevedo in Cabo San Lucas, Atlanta. Mexico, in January 2016. They incorporated their favorite sports teams—the Auburn Tigers and the Los Angeles Dodgers—into their wedding. “At the end of his vows, my husband yelled, ‘War Eagle!’,” she says. Amy also earned a promotion to director of managed services for Southern California for Robert Half Technology in April. Brent Barker (’04, finance) serves as senior product analyst for HCA Healthcare in Nashville, Tennessee. He was married in June of 2015 and enjoys listening to live Sarah J. Brierley (’03, business administramusic at any of Nashville’s “amazing music tion) works as fleet services manager for venues.” Georgia Power Company in Atlanta.
(’02, management information systems) serves as delivery lead and senior solution architect for Rego Consulting near Atlanta, Georgia. When he’s
Brett Barnett (’02, management information Owen Brown systems) serves as PMO manager for FIS Global in Orlando, Florida. He enjoys visiting Disney World and Universal Studios with his family.
(’06, accounting; ’07, MAcc) serves as an assistant professor of accounting at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He and his wife, Erin, who earned a pair of accounting degrees from the Harbert Col-
HM, Fall 2016 51
lege, celebrated the birth of son Harrison sity School of Architecture and the Auburn Owen (pictured here in an Auburn tie) in University School of Interior Design. He August 2015. earned Auburn University’s Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding graduates under the age of 40, in 2015.
Birmingham-based manufacturer and sales agency of automotive, marine, furniture, and industrial products.
Lindsey Gall (’08, marketing) serves as a senior producer for MaxMedia in Atlanta, Georgia. In that role, she produces live action and motion graphics animation for the digital displays in AT&T retail stores. She recently bought her first house and married David Schrader. When not working, you can find them at sporting events, concerts, boating on the lake, or staying active with their dogs, Charlie, a Boston terrier, and Patterson Conner (’01, business administra- Roxy, a Rottweiler. tion) works in New Orleans as senior vice president and commercial banking team leader for Whitney Bank.
Carley Burns (’06, marketing) celebrated her 10-year anniversary with BBVA Compass, where she works as a senior product manager. She was selected to work in Madrid, Spain, for five months for project work and has earned multiple Employee of the Month awards, as well as the BBVA Compass Pinnacle Award in 2012. In 2015, she ran five half-marathon distance races and Brad Cooper (’08, accounting; ’16, MAcc) befinished three more in the spring of 2016. gan working for Auburn University’s Office of Development Accounting as an analyst in January 2016 after previously serving as the Harbert College’s accountant for three years. He and his wife, Kathryn, celebrated the birth of their first child, John Hollis, in September. Bobby Busby (’04, marketing) serves as business development leader for Horace Mann Educators Corp. His hobbies include golf.
Jennifer L. Chandler
(’02, business administration) is a certified personal trainer and serves as a licensed physical therapist assistant at Aegis Therapies and Kindred at Home, a hospice and home health care agency in Naples, Florida.
Ben Chappell (’03 finance, ’12 EMBA) is own-
er and principal of Interior Elements in Birmingham, Alabama, and manages the company’s operations in five states. He became the youngest principal of a Knollaligned dealership in the world in 2010 and eventually merged a group he founded in Birmingham with Interior Elements of Mississippi. The company’s footprint now includes North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, making it one of the largest contract furniture dealerships in the Southeast. Ben serves on a variety of professional boards, including the Advisory Board of Directors for the Mississippi State Univer-
52 HM, Fall 2016
Thomas Logan Davis (’02, accounting) is an attorney with Peeples & Davis in Birmingham, Alabama. The boutique-style firm handles family law. He is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section and a frequent speaker on family law issues. Dr. Kurtis W. Eaton (’00, MBA) serves as medical director for Alabama-Tennessee Complex Population Management with UnitedHealth Group/ Optum.
(’08, MS in finance) recently started a new rotational as a senior manager of advisory for Ernst & Young in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jason A. Gregory (’00, management) is own-
er and operator of Premier Used Cars of Americus, and Two Brothers Holding Company. He branched out after an “amazing” career working side by side with his father, Carl Gregory. “I was a part of something that only comes once in a lifetime,” Jason says. “He started the company from nothing, and in the last 15 years we’ve taken it to an elite level with the help of many wonderful employees.” AutoNation bought Carl Gregory’s company in 2015.
Brent Heckart (’04,
MBA) was promoted to chief financial officer of MECS in St. Louis, Ian Edgerton (’00, operations management) Missouri, in his sixth year with the compaserves as purchasing manager for Inline ny. He enjoys coaching his kids’ sports Electric Supply Company in Birmingham, teams and spending summer weekends at Alabama. Lake of the Ozarks.
Adam Faust (’03, marketing) has founded Dr. Kimberly Johnson (’05, MBA; Cahaba Textiles and also works as an in’09, PhD) was promoted todependent agent with the Merit Supply become assistant dean of the Division of The Merit Distribution Group Office of Student Engagement following the acquisition of his company, and Success in the Auburn Pinnacle Sales. As the president of Pinnacle University at Montgomery Sales, Adam helped lead a family-owned, College of Business in 2013.
Christopher Lee Kelley (’07, supply chain management) serves as a technical professional with KBR in Birmingham and started his own home inspection business, Engineered Inspections. His hobbies include designing and building autonomous aerial systems. Andrew Larson (’00, management information systems) is managing partner with Seaboard Traders of South Carolina. The company launched a new website—ColonyWear.com—that offers personalized merchandise and apparel. His hobbies include swimming, paddleboarding, and enjoying the historical attractions of Charleston, South Carolina. Bradley Lehmann (’07, finance) is a senior financial analyst with Fiserv in Alpharetta, Georgia. He welcomed a baby girl into his family in July. His hobbies include writing and recording music. Lyle H. Maurer (’07, business administration)
is a financial consultant with Regions Investment Solutions in Canton, Georgia. He earned Chairman’s Club recognition in 2015 as a top performer.
(’08, human resource management) serves as agency manager for Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Company in Burleson County, Texas. He earned the promotion after being the top producing insurance agent in the state for both of the two previous years. Seth’s hobbies include fly fishing.
Lucas Monroe (’09, finance) earned a promotion to materials manager for Card-Monroe Corp., an industrial equipment supplier based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lorin Moyd
(’09, business administration) celebrated five years as assembly manager, planner, and buyer with ALP Lighting in Lithia Springs, Georgia. When he’s not at work, you can most likely find him on the golf course.
Trey A. Novara (’09, finance) is principal and COO of Live Oak Partners, a cash management firm based in Birmingham, Alabama, which opened in April 2016.
Jeannine Nicole Bailus Seeley
(’05 management) is an assistant underwriter with AIUA in Foley, Alabama, and also owns Arrowhead Construction in Elberta, Alabama. She started Arrowhead Construction in the fall of 2015 to meet the high demand for home repair and remodeling Joseph Oglesby (’05, business administration) projects in her area. owns Guthrie’s of Monroeville, Alabama, and serves as a city council member repre- Beth Wells Slaughter (’03, business adminissenting District 1. He is married to Emilie tration) celebrated her fifth anniversary as Davis Oglesby, a 2008 Auburn alumna. He owner of the Beth Slaughter Insurance has two children, James Hollis and Eloise. Agency in Fultondale, Alabama. She also celebrated another milestone—her 10-year Tricia Ramage Peterson (’00, hu- anniversary with husband Matthew Slaughman resources management) ter [’08]—with a road trip from Los Angeowns Three Sixty, an Au- les to San Francisco, California. She enjoys burn-based real estate firm. painting, crafts, and spending time with The company recently pur- her two daughters. chased a building on Opelika Road to house new staff. “We want to play an active part in the preservation and the rejuvenation of Auburn as a community,” she says. “It was quite an experience to tear down, build up, and reclaim this building to transform it into a new home for our growing company.” Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, and playing with her sons. Brandy Early Sponsler (’00, human resources management) serves as human resources Brittany & Charlie Saliba (’04, information sys- manager for the Alabama Forestry Comtems & ’02, information systems) each work mission in Montgomery. She accepted the for Auburn University. Brittany serves as position in February 2016. an information technology specialist, while Charlie is information technology managStephany Steinfath (’04, accouner. The couple celebrated the birth of their tancy) earned a promotion first child, Caitlin Stella, in March, 2016. in April 2016, becoming tax director for Integraph CorGlenn Scott (’02, MBA) serves as advisory poration in Huntsville, Alsupply chain and operations manager for abama. “I was able to travel Ernst & Young in Charlotte, North Caroli- the world throughout May and June to na. He is co-author of “Beyond Lean,” an meet with the controllers of almost all of industry whitepaper on the future of opera- our foreign subsidiaries,” she says. Passtional excellence. He and his family went on port stamps earned included Amsterdam, a dream vacation to the Mediterranean, and Stockholm, Warsaw, London, Sydney, and celebrated his 20-year anniversary of remis- Sau Paulo. sion from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Glenn continues to raise funds to find a Matthew Stisher (’07, logistics) is a logiscure, and serves on the Charlotte board of tics management analyst with Northrup the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He Grumman Corporation in Huntsville, plans to run his 22nd marathon this fall. Alabama, and also serves as a co-owner of Salty Nut Brewery.
(’03, information systems) accepted a new position in March 2016 as a web application developer for Collector Solutions in Pensacola, Florida. When he’s not working, he enjoys going to the beach,
HM, Fall 2016 53
running road races, and spending time riage and four years of him being canwith his wife, Evelyn (a 2004 Auburn grad- cer-free in May 2016. He is the proud father uate), and his daughter, Evelynn. of Christopher, who recently completed the US Naval Academy’s STEM program, and Jenna Tarapani (’09, accounting) recently Keithner Drake, who finished fourth in his earned a promotion to audit manager with first US Kids Golf Local Tour event in June. Deloitte and Touche in Tampa, Florida. She and her husband were married in 2011 after meeting at Auburn. They had a baby two years ago. Her hobbies include photography, travel, and cooking for her family.
Robert Henry Thayer II (’01 marketing, ’09 MBA) serves as vice president of marketing for Tri-North Builders in Madison, Wisconsin. He is currently undergoing training to obtain his pilot’s license in order to use unmanned aircraft in conjunction with construction projects. He celebrated the birth of his son, Robert Henry Thayer III, in December 2014.
Kyle Tiedt (’07, logistics) earned a promotion to senior corporate strategy analyst with UPS in Atlanta, Georgia. He also celebrated the birth of his first child, Krislyn Brooks Tiedt.
Maj. Keithner S. Tucker (’01, management information systems) retired from the US Army this month after a 20-year career. He earned the Legion of Merit and most recently served as assistant project manager for the Army Integrated Air & Missile Defense Lower Tier Project Office. He and his wife, Tiffani, celebrated 15 years of mar54 HM, Fall 2016
Matthew E. White (’03, accounting) serves as tax manager for CBIZ MHM in Clearwater, Florida. In May, he celebrated the birth of his son, Noah Michael White. Matthew enjoys golfing, fishing, boating, and following Auburn football.
Chad Wierschke (’05, finance) is employed as a business relationship manager for global banking and financial services firm JPMorgan Chase in Tampa, Florida. A father of two children, he particularly enjoys travelApril Vasko-Norton (’02, finance) serves as ing and fishing in his spare time. business manager for Alliance Mechanical Solutions in Loxley, Alabama. She recently celebrated her 5-year anniversary with the company, which is involved in the construction of supply ships in Mobile. “We have grown from a 20-employee operation to having 200 employees on staff,” she says. She and her family recently moved into a new home in Foley, Alabama. She and her husband enjoy spending time with children Millie, 3; and Max, 1. Jordan Battersby (’12, international business) is a patient access representative for Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia. Jordan has recently been accepted into Georgia State University’s nursing school. “After three years in business, I have decided to make a drastic career change,” he says. “I Erica Graves Walsh (’00, MBA) am looking forward to finding a career that handles enterprise strategy combines my knowledge in business and for tire and rubber company my nursing degree.” Jordan plans to go on Bridgestone Americas in an “Auburn reunion” cruise with several Nashville, Tennessee. She cel- friends, and likes to spend free time going ebrated the birth of her on day hikes in northern Georgia. daughter, Marion Breland Walsh, in January of this year. Brendan Boyer (’12, supply chain management) celebratGenevieve Zieman White (’04, ed his first year anniversary marketing) recently landed with The Boeing Company her “dream job” as Western in August. Based in CharlesRegion marketing manager ton, South Carolina, he serves for BayCare Health System as the supply chain management analyst for in Clearwater, Florida. It’s the company’s 787 Dreamliner. the largest non-profit health system in the Tampa Bay region. She completed a mas- Barry “Bear” Brown II (’10, aviation manageter’s degree in healthcare administration ment) serves as airport manager on duty from Ohio University in December 2015. for the City of San Jose, California. He reShe and her husband, fellow business alum cently earned certification as an Airport Matthew White, welcomed their first child Certified Employee from the AAAE. He and “future Auburn Tiger” Noah Michael and his fiancée like exploring the CaliforWhite, into the world in May 2016. nia landscape on his motorcycle, but he
Marathoner crosses a long-awaited finish line; pursues new challenges
Finishing 50 half-marathons in 50 states. It seemed like a good idea back in 2009, when ASHLEY AHNER “got the half-marathon bug” and completed the Disney Princess race in Orlando. An avid distance runner in high school, she finished races in Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia while balancing two jobs and a full load of MBA courses at Auburn. What's a few more races, right? There were times when she wondered if she had promised more than she could deliver. Running in torrential Kansas storms while dressed as Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz,” for instance, prompted some soul-searching. “I’ll be honest and say every race is tough for me,” says Ahner, who earned a finance degree in 2010 and an MBA in 2011. “I’m not
a natural runner. Every race is a challenge where I question if I will finish and if I can keep going.” She found plenty of inspiration along the way, including the Auburn alums who greeted her with “War Eagle!” when she ran race No. 43 in Montana in honor of late Auburn football star Philip Lutzenkirchen. She wore his “I know God’s working so I smile” bracelet in each race, including her last, which she finished at the 50-yard line of Jordan-Hare Stadium in March 2016. “I always just did everything I could to keep my eye on the little goal of the current race and the big goal of all 50 states,” says Ahner, who serves as director of royalties at Fermata Partners, a specialized consumer products licensing agency. “Coming back to Auburn to run my 50th race will always be a fairy tale memory.” “This last race wasn’t for me—it was for everyone who encouraged me and cheered for me along the way.” Balancing her running interests with two jobs and graduate school provided excellent preparation for her fast-moving career
with Fermata, which helps manage intellectual property rights for the PGA Tour and high-profile universities.
On any given day, Ahner may be chatting royalty rates with licensees or building projection models to help clients forecast their royalty payouts for the upcoming year. “The best part about my new gig is my co-workers,” she says. ”Since I am brand new to the licensing industry, it is incredible to be able to work alongside and learn from some of the titans of the industry.”
also enjoys video games and working out. Demitrah Burton (’13, international business) charge of the Soma Intimates brand’s “I’m adulting, but one thing at a time.” is an innovation project manager with loungewear and sleepwear. Georgia-Pacific in Atlanta, Georgia.
Patrick Darden (’15,
supply chain management) serves as an international logistics coordinator for BL Harbert.
Sean Fiery (’15, supply chain management) is Andrew Browne (’16, finance) serves as a fi-
nancial advisor with Capstone Financial in Atlanta, Georgia. When asked what he does in his spare time, he responded with a phrase common to recent graduates: “What free time?” He does manage to carve out time for the gym, golfing, “drinking a cold one, and watching the Kick Six.”
employed as an allocator with lingerie chain Soma Intimates in Fort Myers, Florida. He started with parent company Chico’s FAS in March 2016 as part of its executive management training program. During the program, Sean and his team presented a case study for the optimization of the company’s e-gift card platform through photo, video receipt, and instantaneous delivery enhancements. The case study earned first place in the program, and is now being reviewed by chief executive officer Shelley Broader and the Chico’s FAS executive management team. Sean has graduated from the executive management training program as an allocator, and is now in
Mike Geeslin (’11, accounting; ’12, MAcc) recently accepted an opportunity to join the Geeslin Group, a certified public accounting and consulting firm located in Peachtree City, Georgia, and founded by his father, Dale, a 1981 alumnus. Mike spent the first three years of his career in the audit and enterprise risk services practice with Deloitte and a year with the Intercontinental Exchange in Atlanta. Accounting truly runs in the family, as his mother, Beth, class of 1978, holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and Mike’s twin brother, Will, holds bachelor and master’s degrees in accounting from the Harbert College. HM, Fall 2016 55
Mike married the former Jayme Shepherd, in Pulaski, Tennessee. His hobbies include whom he met at Auburn while working at hiking, kayaking, and “building things” in Camp War Eagle in the summer of 2015. his garage. Mike and his brother, Will, plan to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro this month. Sandranetta Jones (’11, MBA) is senior product operations anBobby Greenawalt (’14, business administraalyst for Infor Global Solution), owner of Auburn-based Cigar & tions in Alpharetta, Georgia. Fine Spirits, was elected vice president of Since graduation, she has the American Beverage Licensees at the been an avid traveler, visiting group’s annual meeting in Denver in sum- locales including Punta Cana, Dominican mer 2016. Bobby started his first company, Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand B&B Bartending, while attending Auburn. Bahama Island, Bahamas; and Cozumel, In 2011, he and a business partner opened Mexico. She is also engaged to be married. Cigar & Fine Spirits and, eventually, The Cellar: Wine & Martinis. Katrina Kennedy (’16, business administration) is a business analyst for Nissan in Kelley Hydrick Greer (’10, supply Nashville, Tennessee. “I loved every minute chain management) is a of Auburn,” she says. “My personal favorite sourcing specialist for South- memory is playing hide and seek with ern Nuclear in Birmingham, friends at the Haley Center on campus.” Alabama. She completed her MBA in July of 2015 and was Ayaz Mahmood Khan (’14, MBA) married that fall. In her role in strategic serves as president and medsourcing for Southern Nuclear, Kelley foical director for Pain Mancuses on bidding and managing volume agement of Williamsport. procurement agreements. He started his own practice and expanded to include adMary Ellen Heuton (’11, MBA) diction medicine, and also enrolled in the has been named vice presi- MPH program. dent of business affairs and treasurer for the University Peyton Oglesby Mann (’16, human resources of Montevallo in Montevallo, management) is a mortgage loan processor Alabama. A certified public for Navy Federal Credit Union in Pensacaccountant, she previously worked at Mar- ola, Florida. She recently married fellow shall University as the senior vice president Auburn alum Logan Mann and enjoyed a for finance and chief financial officer. Her honeymoon in Riviera Maya. When not work experience also includes time as con- working, she enjoys going to the beach troller and director of advancement for Co- with her husband, and playing with their lumbus State University. golden retriever, Milo.
Kerry Hassler Higley (’10, business administration) recently started her own company, GenConnect Recruiting and Consulting, in Huntsville, Alabama. The firm helps companies recruit, hire, and retain millennial employees. She says the firm differs from its competitors in that it will coach new employees for one year after placement. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching dance at a local studio and playing with her two dogs.
Jared Miller (’13, accounting) earned a promotion to senior associate of business assurance for Moore Colson & Co. in Marietta, Georgia, and also became a CPA. He has passed two of the three sections of the Certified Internal Auditor exam. When he’s not working, Jared enjoys attending Atlanta Jacob Hobbs (’15, information systems) is a Symphony Orchestra concerts and trying customer support specialist with Vertafore, new restaurants.
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Michael Brown Phelps (’11, business administration) is the owner and operator of Southern Heritage Home Builders. He was married in June 2016 and enjoys working on his farm and spending time on the lake when not busy with work. Levi Ponder (’16, accounting) began working as an analyst for Georgia Pacific in Fletcher, Oklahoma. He had initially planned to intern with the company in Green Bay, Wisconsin, over the summer, but was offered a full-time position after interviewing in Atlanta during his 2016 spring break.
Courtney Recchio (’16, finance) started her career as an accounts receivable specialist with GE Capital in Jacksonville, Florida. She enjoys spending time at the beach, traveling, and reading.
Caitlyn Rummer (’10, international business) is operations coordinator for Techstars in Boulder, Colorado, and was married in September. Her hobbies include fly fishing and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
Kyle A. Scholl (’13, business administration) graduated from law school and is taking the 2016 Alabama State Bar examination this summer. His hobbies include golf and softball.
Jake Schwartz (’16, international business) serves as a consulting analyst for Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri.
Adam Sherer (’10,
MBA) is a quality manager for Nelson Brothers in Birmingham, Alabama. His family includes a wife of eight years and children Ayden, 5; and Emery, 3.
Maj. William R. Sitze (’15, executive MBA), an infantry officer in the US Army, graduated from the US Naval War College in Rhode Island in June with a master’s degree in defense and strategic studies. He is now being assigned as an operational planner with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
(’15, finance) serves as a personal banker with Liberty Bank in Albertville, Alabama. “In my short time at Liberty Bank, I’ve had firsthand experience with the recovering economy,” he says. “I’ve had the opportunity to help my customers’ dreams become reality through home ownership. I look forward to continuing my career with such a growing establishment.”
Riley Smith (’14, supply chain management)
recently joined SkyWest Airlines as a pilot after having served as a contract pilot and flight instructor.
Blake Bearden So’Brien
(’15, information systems management) has recently celebrated his one-year anniversary as a Salesforce consultant with Capgemini in Atlanta, Georgia. He has served as a business analyst on a global Salesforce/ServiceMax CRM implementation and has earned five certifications. His project work has taken him as far as Tokyo, Japan, for client workshops. “It was my first time traveling internationally and it was a great experience to learn and understand a new culture, way of living, and different opportunities that are offered personally and professionally,” he says of the trip.
Sean Suggs (’10, MBA) is vice president of manufacturing at Toyota Motor Mississippi. He has earned Executive Engagement awards each of the last two years, and participated in the Workforce Innovation Act with President Obama in Washington, DC. Sean is the proud grandfather of Alivia and Skyler. Sean has played golf in 26 different states and is “working on getting to 50.”
censed with more than 300 universities (including Auburn), as well as the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer. “We have built a supply network that reaches every major retail channel, including drug, mass, grocery, c-store, and specialty,” he says.
(’13, marketing) earned a promotion to general manager with Music City Tents and Events, an Inc. 5000 company based in Nashville, Tennessee. She originally joined the company as a receptionist nearly three years ago before being promoted into operations, then finally earning a promotion to GM.
George Xie (’10,
MBA and MS in finance) earned a promotion to assistant vice president—financial solutions advisor at Bank of America in April 2015.
Matthew H. Young (’13, accounting, ’14, MAcc) serves as a CPA with Pearce, Bevill, Leesburg, Moore, PC. He is engaged to Julia Stephanie Vaughn (’13, MAcc) is a senior Stewart, a 2016 graduate of the Master of audit and risk consultant with Northside Accountancy program who will begin her Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. career with Dixon Hughes Goodman in Birmingham, Alabama. Capt. Jordan Wall (’11, aviation management) serves as an acquisition project manager for the US Air Force at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. He is also a sponsored full-time MBA candidate for 2016. He is the first director of operations for a new $8.2 billion USAF acquisition program to replace 17 surveillance aircraft. He and his wife toured Europe last summer. “We got Are you a recent graduate or estabthere for free by taking Air Force cargo lished young professional in Atlanflights when they had space available,” he ta, Birmingham or Nashville? says. “It was absolutely amazing.”
Creating opportunities for growth
Ben Weaver (’13, finance) works in business
services for the Alabama Teachers Credit Union in Gadsden, Alabama. “As an Auburn business student, I learned the value of hard work and perseverance even though I didn't make the best grades,” he says. “Auburn's business school taught me to never give up! My whole life has been changed for the better because of the qualities that were instilled in me during my time at Auburn.”
(’13, marketing) is vice president of sales and marketing for Worthy Promotional Products in Eclectic, Alabama. The family-owned business is li-
Build your professional network and knowledge by getting involved in the Harbert College Young Alumni chapters. The groups offer something different than the typical alumni club meet-and-greets. The focus is on professional growth and development for alumni 35-and-under. The groups host quarterly events enabling you to learn while you network. Get involved, or start a chapter in your city, by contacting Development Coordinator Stephanie Froehlich at 334.844.2983 or email@example.com.
HM, Fall 2016 57
Dean’s Last Word
Vision Sets the Scene for Creativity “Filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with.” —Steven Spielberg For a movie to be successful, the director must find the spine of the film and communicate it so the various collaborators, from the stars to the grips, can hang their work on this central spine and support a common vision of the story. Most of the cast and crew that come together to make a major motion picture are creative, highly skilled professionals. It’s not the job of the director to boss employees, but to draw the best performances from collaborators. Articulate how light and dark will further the story, and the cinematographer becomes a collaborator who adds a full measure of imagination and experience to the project. Tell the cinematographer what light to use, and the movie is limited to the little you know about lighting. So it is with business and business schools. The CEO should not presume to know more about sourcing than the procurement director. And a business dean must trust that an academic adviser best understands what it means to provide a superior student experience. You won’t find Martin Scorsese arguing the science of acoustics with his sound engineer.
However, unlike a business or a business school, a film is a temporary project. It may span years, but never decades. The Harbert College intends to be among the elite public business schools in the country. That is the spine of our story. That’s our vision. This vision didn’t take shape yesterday, and it wasn’t defined by one dean or one administration. It began nearly 50 years ago when Auburn University established a School of Business and it has evolved steadily, through the purposeful work of our predecessors. Whether in business or business education, it is the creative ability of the team that overcomes obstacles and capitalizes on opportunities. For me, that means promoting a vision of the college that builds on our history and is the product of input from all of our collaborators: alumni, industry partners, faculty and staff, and students. It means ensuring that we have the resources necessary for each of us to succeed in our roles and make our shared vision a reality. Charlie Chaplin said, “Imagination means nothing without doing.” With the skill and creativity of our collaborators, we have captured lightning in a bottle and I believe it will energize all that we do. War Eagle!
Bill C. Hardgrave, PhD Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Harbert College of Business
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Let us hear from you
Whether you are a alumnus or a supporter, a student Letor aUsparent, Hear Youin our future. youFrom have a stake Whether you are an alumnus or a supporter, a student or a parent, you have a stake in our future.
Web: harbert.auburn.edu Web: harbert.auburn.edu E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-mail: email@example.com
HM, Fall 2016 59
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