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HarbertMagazine Alumni Magazine, Spring 2014

CHANGE

REVAMP

EXAMINE

OVERCOME

TWEAK ADAPT REBUILD

RECALIBRATE

EVOLVE RECALIBRATE

QUICK PIVOT IMPROVE

REFINE

TRANSFORM ADJUST

EDUCATE REFOCUS

In this issue Continuous Development The Future of Money? Speech-o-tron 3000

Turning a Zero into a Hero Tapping Alabama Beer Chick-fil-A: Eat Mor Healthier


ADAPT

CHANGE

RESPOND REINTERPRET

REACT ADJUST


We’ve seen it happen. An established company introduces a new product, or tries a variation on an existing product; a start-up debuts an innovative technology or comes out with the next great thing. The publicity machine cranks up; the flacks beat the drum. And splat. The new thing falls flat. YouTube started as a dating service: “Tune in Hook Up.” Seriously? And Twitter began as a podcasting site just as iTunes hit its stride. Another good idea destroyed by the facts. OK, now what? Time for the pivot. Time to get to Plan B. Regroup, reinterpret your brand, your approach, your product. Be operationally responsive, change direction. We can talk about effective management, remarkable technologies or efficient manufacturing, but all successful enterprises are responsive to their customers. In the parlance of Silicon Valley, they “pivot quickly” and “get to Plan B.” Nothing new in that idea. What’s different in the fast pace of today’s economy is how quickly the enterprise must pivot to be successful. Eric Ries, entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School (where his ideas have been developed into required course materials in the MBA curriculum) coined the term “quick pivot.” He describes it as “a change in strategy without a change in vision.” As Ries has developed his ideas, he’s come to understand that the concept of a quick pivot doesn’t just apply to small entrepreneurs and new ventures. A start-up, he says, is an “institution designed to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty,” and he carefully notes that the most important aspect of that definition is

what it doesn’t say. “It doesn’t say you’re in a garage. It doesn’t say what industry you’re in, or the size of the company. It’s completely agnostic.” New ventures are “start-ups,” and so are new ideas in established companies. Big company or small, each must be agile and responsive. Ries says, “Look at an enterprise through the eyes of a customer and discover which things really deliver value versus which do not. Everything that does not is wasteful and can be eliminated.” It’s a simple idea, but it’s far from easy. In this issue of Harbert Magazine (itself a product of pivot) we take a look at some ideas and some “start-ups,” each of which have been successful, and each of which have demonstrated a remarkable responsiveness to the business environment.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 3


HarbertMagazine Credits Director, HCOB Communications & Marketing Troy Johnson

Editor, HCOB Communications & Marketing Joe McAdory

Design/Production Jason Adams Josh Carnley Rachel Herring Jenni Hunt Tiffany Smith

Contributors John DiJulio Jim Earnhardt Bruce Kuerten Michael Magan

Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business Office of Communications 023 Lowder Hall Auburn, AL 36849 (334) 844-8847 harbert.auburn.edu cobletters@auburn.edu Auburn is an equal opportunity educational institution / employer. © 2014 Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

What’s in a Name? You may have noticed the new name on the masthead. We’ve pivoted to capitalize on an unexpected opportunity. For nearly three decades, we were known as a College of Business. Less than a year ago, we became the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. The new name on the cover helps us solidify that identity. We’re proud of what we were before last year, but we can’t help but be energized by the possibilities of what we can become. Tell us what you think. Send your comments and story ideas to cobletters@auburn.edu.


HarbertMagazine

WHAT’S INSIDE

FEATURES 22

26

30

SPEECH -OTRON 3000 Bitcoin

Educational Innovation

Coca-Cola

34

38

58

Is This the Future of Money?

The Rise of Speech-o-tron 3000

Turning a Zero into a Hero

PREVIEW

Back Forty Beer Co.

Tapping into Something Special

MORE GOOD STUFF

Chick-fil-A BALANCE Eat Mor Healthier

Bill Hardgrave

Dean’s Last Word

6

Letters

10

International

40 Research

8

What You’re Up To

12

How We Think

42 With Your Dollar

9

What We’re Up To

20 Technology

44 Alumni News

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 5


LETTERS Loving our new look Here’s where we publish your letters—where you have the space to comment or 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 cobletters@auburn.edu.

I just got the latest (and redesigned) issue of The Shareholder, and I absolutely love it! I’m excited for future issues to pop up in our mailbox.

Courtney Wolf ’08 Thanks for writing, Courtney. We’re glad you like the new style, and we’ll do our best to deliver substance as well. —Ed.

Giving thanks I am writing to thank all the faculty and staff of the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business and especially the Finance department for all their time and efforts that contributed to my success at Auburn. I have accepted a position with Waddell and Reed financial advisors in Nashville, and am in the midst of their training program. Without the knowledge and skills I obtained while at Auburn this opportunity would not have been possible. I would especially like to thank Dr. Jung Chul Park for his efforts. Dr. Park not only assisted me while I was in his investments class but was a friend and mentor long after I left his class. His door was always open and went out of his way many times to help me. Dr. Park is the epitome of what it means to be part of the Auburn family. Thank you and War Eagle,

Richard Hirschey ’13 Thank you for your e-mail, Richard, and congratulations on your new position. We especially enjoy receiving stories like yours. We’re not at all surprised by your experience with Dr. Park. Beyond being known as a phenomenal lecturer and mentor, Dr. Park has earned quite a reputation as a researcher. In the last year alone, he earned the SHB-Korea America Finance Association Young Scholar Award, as well as the Harbert College of Business’ Outstanding Research Award. We appreciate your feedback and invite other readers to share their stories about professors who positively shaped their professional development. War Eagle! – Ed.

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Big Data Offers Huge Opportunities According to a recent survey by IBM, more than 90 percent of the world’s data has been created since 2011. Harbert College created a business analytics major to help meet demand in a growing field that touches all facets of business. We asked our graduates how Big Data has made its mark in their job settings and how they wrap their arms around the beast.

I think it’s great that a business analytics program has been created. The job market for people with Big Data skills is off the charts right now. I have been working for Lockheed Martin Corporation since graduating from Auburn (aviation management major, logistics minor) in 2007, and in my current position support the Corporate Internal Audit organization doing Big Data analytics. When I first joined the group in the beginning of the year, they were using a few traditional tools such as ACL, SQL databases, and OBIEE tools for data visualizations. However, they quickly understood that the amount of data available to process was overwhelming their current setup, so I was brought in to help them use more robust tools and processes. Prior to supporting the Corporate Internal Audit organization, I was in a business analytics group in Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics Supply Chain organization supporting the F-35 Lightning II program. I built descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive models that were used to help optimize inventory and the supply chain to better support the production line, and help management with decision making. I am currently evaluating and implementing Hadoop (HDFS, MapReduce, Sqoop, Flume, Accumulo, Ant, Hive, Pig) while using the scripting language Python and statistical software R for various analyses. My colleagues and I are the main people primarily focused on implementing Big Data functionality and capability to help the Corporate Internal Audit organization discover and predict fraud, insider threats, and other risks the corporation may face. In addition, we are looking to get into decision support analytics to assist the executives with making better decisions when dealing with uncertainty and risk (which is big since Lockheed Martin wants to grow internationally).

Kell Rozman ’07 So glad to hear that you started a major in business analytics. I graduated in 2008 with a degree in finance and later worked as a business analyst for a few years. Wish this major had been around back then!

Sarah Higginbotham ’08

To send us your feedback or to get involved with the Harbert College of Business visit us at harbert.auburn.edu or e-mail cobletters@auburn.edu


WHAT YOU’RE UP TO Shoot us a photo. Drop a line. Jot a note. Draw us a picture. Put the message in the bottle and let us know what you’re doing. Here are a few of the things we’ve heard:

Zach Gilbert, who played defensive back for the Tigers from 2004–07 and earned his MBA in finance from Harbert College in 2011, is a financial advisor at Wells Fargo in Birmingham. Gilbert serves as a mentor at Restoration Academy and is a board member of the Greater Birmingham Auburn Club.

Magda Cooper, a 2005 graduate in marketing, and her husband Corey co-own Bote Board, a multi-purpose fiberglass standing paddleboard company. The couple began creating the boards in a garage beneath a Mellow Mushroom restaurant in 2009. Since then, the couple’s business has sold more than 5,000 boards.

Anita Gentle Newcomb, 2013 School of Accountancy Alumna of the

Not only has Michael Fucci had parts in General Hospital, Entourage, and in a number of automobile commercials, but the 1994 graduate in finance also works as an attorney in Southern California and has taken five mission trips to Egypt.

Year, trekked for 10 days last summer across the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge Plain. Newcomb—president of A.G. Newcomb and a board member at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore Branch—plans to scale Mount Blanc in the Alps this summer and tackle the Himalayas in Bhutan in 2015.

8 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


WHAT WE’RE UP TO Stay in touch! Let us know what you’re up to and keep up to date at harbert.auburn.edu/news and with theshareholderonline.com.

On our side of the world, Harbert College of Business faculty and students are shakin’ it up.

The War Eagle Flying Team took second overall and first place in flying events at the NIFA SAFECON Region IX Competition October 29– November 2, earning the program a trip to nationals May 12–17 in Columbus, Ohio. Blake Schuette, a senior in marketing, was the top-scoring female and finished second overall.

Tara Jones, a senior in marketing, was presented the Political Science Award by US Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Anniston) on November 7. Jones, who served as Miss Auburn in 2013, helped raise $7,500 during her campaign for non-profits dedicated to fight the world’s water shortage.

Bank directors learned about cyber security, regulatory changes, and industry trends February 20–21 in the annual Auburn Bank Directors’ College. Above, from left, Retired US Army Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, former US Defense Intelligence Agency director and the event’s keynote speaker, talks with Harbert professor John Jahera.

Koparan Iscan, who is pursuing dual MBA/MSF degrees, scored in the 96th percentile on the Bloomberg Aptitude Test on December 18— earning high marks in economics, investment banking and global markets. Employers use the test to screen prospective applicants. For more on Iscan, visit http://bit.ly/1l2kyRA HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 9


INTERNATIONAL We’re Going Places Every year Harbert College students study at far-flung locations across the globe. This international exposure fosters a broad awareness and develops the skills necessary for success in the global economy. In 2013, Harbert College accounted for 30 percent of all Auburn University students studying abroad.

Berlin, Germany

A stop for management students participating in the Central and Eastern European Studies Program, the German capital is a fertile ground for both start-ups and established corporations.

Budapest, Hungary

A financial hub of eastern Europe, the city is home to nearly 40 banks. Here management students interact with executives from multinational corporations and government officials.

Chengdu, China

Host to more than 200 Fortune 500 companies, Chengdu’s growth as a manufacturing hub has outpaced Shanghai and Beijing. Interning Harbert students get a different perspective on companies like General Motors, Chevron, Carlsberg Beer, and Apple.

Dublin, Ireland

Undergraduates have an opportunity to strengthen their résumés by participating in a six-week internship program which enables them to work directly for companies whose reach extends worldwide.

London, England

Another six-week internship allows students to work in one of the world’s leading financial centers.

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Lyon, France

An exchange program with one of the top-ranked business schools in France lets students spend up to two semesters studying European business from the inside out.

Pamplona, Spain

The Global Perspectives in Business: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Technology Program challenges students to identify innovative solutions for businesses in Spain.

Pforzheim, Germany

At Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences, exchange students can take a variety of business courses in English or join an intensive “German as a second language” course.

Prague, Czech Republic

Students can get a look at Prague’s thriving industries which include financial services, computer technology, and pharmaceuticals.

Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo, Brazil Brazil, the host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, boasts the world’s seventh-largest economy with a GDP of $2.4 trillion. Master of Accountancy students learn about the country’s complex tax system, and get an in-depth look at manufacturing facilities.

Sydney, Australia

Harbert College students can participate in a 6-week, 40-hour-per-week unpaid internship program through a partnership with the Academic Institute of Australia.

Tokyo, Japan

Undergraduate students can take part in a semester-long exchange program with the College of Economics at Nihon University, Japan’s largest university.

Ulsan, South Korea

An exchange program with the University of Ulsan exposes Harbert students to a unique setting—a city built around a Hyundai conglomerate.

Wroclaw, Poland

One of the destinations on the 2014 Central and Eastern European Studies Program tour. Students take a look at the companies that drive Wroclaw’s economy: Siemens, Bosch, Nokia, HP, IBM, and Google.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 11


HOW WE THINK

Continuous Development

12 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


International Etiquette Thinking of giving a letter opener as a gift in Hong Kong? Not a good idea. Sharp objects, such as letter openers and knives, are associated with severing a relationship! Going to Japan? If you receive a gift, think twice before tearing off the wrapping paper right away—that would be impolite. In Austria, however, open that gift immediately unless you want to be considered ungrateful and rude. What is perfectly acceptable in one country may be totally taboo in another. In Japan, it’s not only acceptable to slurp the noodles in your soup, but it’s considered good table manners to do so. On the other hand, if you’re enjoying a nice bowl of soup in England, slurping is considered rude and would seem rather uncouth. Oftentimes, travelers assume others around the world act, see, and do things just like they’re done in Hometown, USA. They automatically try to shake hands with people who bow upon greeting them, and they try to make direct eye contact with foreign business associates who find it offensive. As a savvy traveler, how do you successfully navigate cultural pathways? Start by reading. Research a country’s customs, courtesies, traditions, and etiquette. With this knowledge you’ll fit in better, and demonstrate respect for the people of the country you will be visiting. Next, observe every courtesy when you travel abroad on business. Failing to do so could be disastrous. The social blunders you may commit could cost both you and your company business and relationships.

Here are some international business etiquette tips that will make you a savvy and successful traveler: • Dress conservatively when in a foreign land. • Use titles and last names when you first meet people. • Brush up on appropriate greeting customs—kiss, bow, or shake hands? • Know the protocol and ritual involved in presenting and receiving a business card. • Research a country’s cuisine and dining etiquette so you will be ready to eat the local food without embarrassing yourself or causing offense. • Find out the appropriate etiquette and protocol involved in business gift-giving—an integral part of business culture in many countries. • Always express interest in your host country’s history, culture, and food. • Decision-making in other countries is often slower than in the US. Don’t rush. Develop your relationships. • Don’t get frustrated with a lack of punctuality. The American view of time and punctuality is different from other cultures. • Express genuine gratitude for your host’s thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity. Business success abroad is best accomplished by savvy travelers successful at crossing cultures. Some research and study are necessary, but your openness and willingness to learn about others is key. Prosper in the journey!

Shanna Ullmann

Director, Engagement Mentorship Program Harbert College of Business

How do professionals conduct themselves in the business environment to add value to their enterprise? Do they know proper etiquette and dress? Are they sensitive to customs and protocol, respectful, and collaborative with co-workers? When it comes to professional comportment, Timothy and Shanna Ullman are the power couple. Shanna, director of engagement for the Harbert College, is a certified international protocol officer. Timothy, Harbert’s director of professional development, draws on work as a cross-cultural trainer with 26 years of experience in Europe, Asia, and Africa. HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 13


Professional Development For the serious-minded professional, professional development never stops. Why not? We meet new challenges and opportunities with each successive level in our careers. The professionalism we acquire and practice as new hires is insufficient for a managerial position and woefully lacking for senior leadership requirements. Professionalism is how we conduct ourselves at work. Professional development is a lifelong commitment to increase our conduct—our behaviors and habits— valued by organizations and others with whom we work.

• Offer to help colleagues. Be that person who willingly helps an overburdened co-worker so everyone is successful.

change management techniques would position the organization to capitalize on the market, so he learns how to build guiding coalitions to foster change. In short, he actively engages in professional • Stay positive. If you think somedevelopment, adding value to the organithing can be improved, take action zation, others, and to himself. to make it happen. Bottom line: individuals who actively • Take responsibility. Take ownengage in professional development ership of the good things you do become highly prized for their vast as well as the mistakes you make. Don’t blame others; instead, admit abilities to interact, motivate, and lead others in the workplace. the mistake, learn from it, and make it right in the future.

You add value by becoming the best “you” you can be. But professional development doesn’t stop here.

Successful professionals learn to master and grow their skills and abilities, allowAs a working professional, what can you ing them to expand their value to the organization, to others, and to themselves. do to increase your value? Here are a few recommendations: President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The First, know your strengths and expand most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get on them for the organization’s benefit. along with people.” This is true at every Second, identify your weaknesses and stage of life, whether professional acquire new skills that will turn them or personal. into strengths. At the basic level, professionalism is Next, explore growth opportunities putting into practice principles such as: where new abilities would be helpful to • Be on time. If work starts at 8 a.m., others in the organization. and you show up at 8—you’re late! Finally, assess the organization’s needs Showing up and working are two and the additional skills you can acquire different things. to increase its competitive advantage. • Dress appropriately. Whatever For example, a manager who wants to the dress code for the workplace, add value might take stock of himself and always be neat and clean. the organization. He’s good as a one-on• Communicate effectively. Know one speaker and could take it to the next when and how to talk with super- level by learning and practicing public visors and co-workers and know speaking. However, he isn’t very good when to listen. Also, write profesat workplace conflict. Solution: take a sionally for your audience. conflict resolution course which would • Don’t be a grump. We all have bad give him positive abilities. days, but don’t take it out on your boss, co-workers, or customers. Check your attitude at the door and be professional.

He also sees opportunities with potential foreign customers and learns international business etiquette. Finally, he knows

The Office of Professional and Career Development assists students with the necessary skills and abilities for workplace success. They learn interpersonal skills, interviewing techniques, effective communication principles, dress and appearance guidelines, time management, and much more. The goal is to give students a competitive advantage in the workforce—not just being the candidate of choice to hire, but being the individual who represents their employer with polished professionalism distinguishing them in the marketplace. What do you want to achieve professionally? Personally? Your future depends largely upon you. It depends on your willingness to push beyond your comfort level to discover unanticipated horizons. Commit to your own professional development and embrace the new opportunities which are sure to come your way.

Timothy T. Ullmann

Director, Professional Development Harbert College of Business


Blue Sky Your Career The Harbert College of Business offers a number of programs—on campus and distance, from certificate to PhD—that are proven to add significant value to an undergraduate degree. Not only have these programs been proven to enhance the earning capability of hundreds of graduates, their quality has been recognized nationally and internationally. European CEO Magazine calls Auburn’s Executive MBA Program the “Best Executive Remote Learning Programme, North America;” and U.S. News & World Report places Auburn’s online graduate business programs in the top fifteen nationwide.

Expand your skills and chart a course to success.

OUR GRADUATE PROGRAMS Executive MBA For working professionals with at least eight years experience, the EMBA combines distance study with on-campus residencies to give executives the skills necessary to advance their careers.

Physicians Executive MBA The program prepares physicians for positions of leadership and helps them improve their practices.

Master in Real Estate Development For professionals with three years experience, the program enhances leadership skills and professional knowledge.

Master of Accountancy Graduates have one of the nation’s highest pass rates on the CPA exam. They enjoy a good starting salary and a better chance at promotion once hired.

Graduate Certificate in Accountancy This program—which does not require an entrance exam— enables participants to update accounting skills and prepare for the CPA exam.

Master of Business Administration Auburn’s MBA provides a broad business skill set and the opportunity to choose from six specialization options.

Master of Science in Business Administration/Finance With thesis and non-thesis options, the program offers specialized instruction for students who anticipate a career in finance or plan to pursue further graduate work.

Master of Science in Information Systems This flexible program enables students to develop greater technical expertise while customizing the program to meet their individual career goals.

PhD in Business This program offers three concentrations: information systems, management, and finance. Each prepares the graduate to contribute new knowledge to the operation of business organizations and compete for faculty positions at leading universities.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 15


HOW WE THINK A Truly Loaded Leprechaun Imagine a great bar: the Loaded Leprechaun. It’s a very cool place to blow off some steam, down a few frosty pints, and get up on the tables to scream “Wild Rover” with 60–70 of your closest friends. In the revelry of the moment, you might even decide to write a note on a dollar bill and stick it somewhere— maybe a wall or the ceiling—to join the hundreds of others left over the years. If you do, the staff will let out an appreciative Celtic yell and you’ll be among the ranks of patrons who’ve helped make the “Dollar Holler” an O’Shaughnessy family tradition at all seven of their locations. Your imagination continues to wander . . . seven locations, dozens of years, thousands and thousands of bills . . . that’s a lot of money. Maybe a million in wallpaper. What happens if the O’Shaughnessys decide to remodel? Sell the business? Maybe just clear it all off and start over? Is all that money still good even with all the grease and grime and writing all over it? Is all that money income? Taxable income? You snap out of your daydream. The Loaded Leprechaun isn’t real. It’s a case study in a Harbert accounting class. Faculty members Kerry Inger, James Long, Tina Loraas, and Jonathan Stanley created the case as a way to engage students in the thorny accounting issues they may encounter in the

real world. “We got to thinking, as any curious accountant would, what are the accounting implications of all that cash?” Inger said. In the case, the restaurant staff does not track the bills, other than reminding customers not to remove them from the walls, and the management ignores them for accounting purposes. Is this proper? It’s a gray area, and a great way to engage students to think critically about converging tax treatments. • Writing on US currency with a marker can be construed as defacement. Do these bills still count as legal tender? • How should the Loaded Leprechaun management account for “Dollar Holler” currency? • How should the business report this money in financial statements? • How should the Loaded Leprechaun report “Dollar Holler” transactions for federal income tax purposes? “The most important takeaway is for our students to identify a variety of accounting issues: specifically legal, financial accounting, tax, and audit issues related to one transaction,” Inger said. “Students are able to see the interrelated nature of accounting and that accounting issues are present where you might least expect them.” So if someday you should find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you’d better be prepared to account for it properly. Auburn faculty don’t believe in leprechauns and the IRS does not take kindly to blarney.


Know Thy Customer: Then We’ve come a long way, baby! (Or have we?) Although most of his students have never seen a Sears catalog—“They just don’t deal with that sort of thing”— there are still lessons to be learned from such oldschool publications for those attuned to online buying, says marketing chair and Torchmark Professor Avery Abernethy. “There’s a lot of similarity with e-commerce and what had been done forever with catalogs,” he said. “If you think about it from a marketing standpoint, it’s a heck of a lot easier to sell something if you know something about your individual customers. That’s not radical.” For decades, companies using catalogs knew who ordered merchandise, what they ordered, how often they ordered, and what quantities they ordered. This data allowed them to “target mailings to subsets of customers based on their previous purchasing history,” Abernethy said. The same thing happens today, but in a far more technologically advanced way. “The only thing different in this and what is going at Amazon or L.L.Bean is that the cost of collecting and correlating that information is much cheaper,” he said. “If you have an Amazon account, Amazon is tracking everything you buy, and what you have looked at but not purchased as well as what you bought.” Today’s tools are different and in many ways better, but the basic business concepts are much the same. “From a business education standpoint, the really important takeaway from this is the basic theory,” Abernethy said. “Understanding your customer before you try to sell to them. Track your cash flows. Make sure all your business and marketing activities are profitable. Aim your business activities at groups you think are likely to be profitable.” Marketing students must realize that marketing is responsible for profitable cash flows, he said. “Not just sales, but profitable sales.” “Tactics can become outdated as the technology and the law change,” said Abernethy, “but the basic theories to approaching business problems are pretty much timeless.”

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 17


Know Thy Customer: Now

Enterprise-Level Content Marketing Businesses that develop authentic and long-lasting connections with their customers thrive in today’s economy. This is most commonly done through content marketing. At its core, content marketing is the process of understanding not only your audience’s challenges, but also what they love. Joe McCarthy, business development executive at Skyword, breaks down content creation into three types: brand-defining, brandaligned, and branded content. Brand-defining content establishes the public perception of your business. Through audience analysis, the marketers at Red Bull found out their customers didn’t want to read about energy drinks; they wanted information on extreme sports. Red Bull focused on those topics, and is now regarded as the go-to source for breathtaking sports. Brand-aligned content appeals to an audience who may be interested in a product but needs advice and mentorship before purchasing. An outdoor gear retailer might create a blog that integrates equipment advice with tips and best practices for outdoorsy consumers. When it comes time to buy new equipment, frequent readers will know exactly where to go. Branded content gives ready-to-convert shoppers an extra push. This material simply extols the benefits of the product. Note: customers who want more than the product (think Red Bull) will have an adverse reaction to branded content. Content marketing is an increasingly established practice so it does require an investment of time and money. However, it can deliver significant returns on those investments over time.

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Small Business Content Marketing Seven tips for marketing your business in the era of instantaneous feedback If you’re starting or growing a small- to medium-sized business, here are seven tips from digital marketing expert Dr. Astrid Keel to help you build your platform.

1. Social media and online marketing are more important

4. Be careful making decisions based on social media

2. You don’t need a presence on every social media site.

5. Internet media can give you “real-time” metrics. To make

3. Ensure your online efforts—though they may be more

6. For any analytic tool you use, make sure you understand

for some businesses than others. Have a presence online, but don’t reallocate your entire marketing budget to online marketing. Concentrate on at most three platforms that your customers or potential customers use. Every couple of years, re-evaluate. casual in tone—tie into your other marketing endeavors. Because people can use screenshots to preserve and disseminate anything you (or others) write, triple-check everything.

feedback. Those tweeting about your company may not be your customers, or they may represent a small portion of your customers. the most of this data, determine your goals, the metrics that correspond to those goals, and then build custom reports so you understand what factors are affecting your outcomes. what it measures and what it means.

7. There are on-site tools, which measure visitors’ behavior

on your website, and off-site tools, which measure your brand’s online presence (regardless of whether you have a website or not). If you do not have a website or social media presence, you can still use off-site tools.

Dr. Astrid Keel

Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing Harbert College of Business


WEBSITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION Not only have we re-designed and re-named the magazine you’re holding, we have a few more surprises in store. Our website’s getting a makeover. More than a year has passed since we upgraded the site—a long time in the digital realm. By June, you should see the new finished product at a new address:

www.harbert.auburn.edu The new site will have a lighter and brighter look, more in the way of multimedia, and, best of all, will be optimized for your mobile devices. Be on the lookout for the Harbert College of Business online store. If you want to wear the brand, check it out. You’ll be able to place orders for Harbert College polo shirts, T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, pen sets, and other goodies.

The Harbert App! Our alumni and students are busy, technologically-savvy people on the go. There’s no reason why our Harbert news can’t travel fast as well. We’re developing a Harbert College of Business app that should be available to alumni and students by the end of the year. Based on the survey feedback we’ve received from you, we’ll include the following features, all integrated with your favorite social media sites: • An alumni locator to help Harbert College students and graduates network • A directory for alumni looking to find a favorite professor or tailgate party • Mentorship and internship connections between alumni and soon-to-be graduates • Reminders about upcoming alumni events • A Harbert news feed If you don’t see a feature you’d like, it’s not too late to tell us. E-mail us at cobletters@auburn.edu and let us know if there’s something else that the Harbert College app can do for you. 20 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


TECHNOLOGY How to Survive an App-alanche!

Our Picks

Bewildered by business apps? Overwhelmed by options? We’ve pored through Forbes, BusinessWeek, and the Wall Street Journal to bring you the top-of-the-line mobile business applications.

Quicken mobile app

Dropbox for Teams

Enhanced sharing and file revision history make this popular app powerful for business users. Share files with employees, vendors, and clients while in the office or on the go. Free to download, activation is $15 per user per month. For web, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire

Square Register

Forgo the cash register: accept credit cards and sell on the go with this app and a free accompanying pocket-sized credit card terminal. Free to download, 2.75% per swipe. For iOS and Android

Evernote Business

Present your ideas remotely or share notes with your team with this business upgrade to the popular note-taking app. Free to download, $10 per user per month. For web, iOS and Android

Categorize expenditures and income, create budgets, and view beautiful reports on your business any time, anywhere. The 2014 version allows users to photograph receipts to track purchases and reduce clutter. Service options vary. For iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire, in conjunction with Quicken for Windows 2014.

Springpad

A simple, elegant organizer. Save notes, tasks, ideas, and shopping lists to your phone and track progress on to-do lists. Great for team or personal use. Free. For web, iOS, and Android

Basecamp

Mobile access to the popular project management tool. Used by freelancers, mid-sized businesses, and enterprise clients, Basecamp keeps you on track and in touch without flooding your inbox. Free to download, service plans start at $20 per month for 10 team projects. For web, iOS, and Android

Tick

On the road a lot? AroundMe uses your phone’s GPS to find restaurants, gas stations, coffee houses and parking lots near you. Great for the adventurous commuter or the business traveler. Free. For iPhone and Android

A clean, simple app for creating time cards or keeping your team on budget. Enter time manually or run a timer for accurate-to-the-minute billing. Visual indicators help prevent budget overruns, and client reports are easy to print. Free to download, service is free for one project or $19 per month for 10. For web and iOS—search keyword “tickspot”

On Trend

Amazon Kindle/Audible

AroundMe

As of publication, the most popular and highest-grossing business app in the iTunes store is TurboScan, which allows users to scan multipage documents with their iPhone. With a five-star rating from 1,540 users, they’re clearly doing something right. $2.99. For iPhone

Catch up on the latest business books and magazines while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for an appointment. Prefer audiobooks on that long commute? Check out the Audible app, which also supports Kindle Whispersync. Free. For web, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and, obviously, Kindle devices

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 21


IS THIS THE

FUTURE OF MONEY? 22 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


01010000011001001010100101001010111011001010100 0100101001010101001010010101001010001010010100 TECHNOLOGY 10010010100100100101010010101001010010110101010 010101010101010100101010101010101010101001010101 101010100101001011010010101010100101010101010101 01010010101010010100101000010101010100101010010 010010100101010110010010101001010101010101010101 Mt. Gox and Bitcoin 01010101010100101010100000110010010101001010010 011101100101010010100101001010101001010010101001 1000101001010010100100101001001001010100101010 010010110101010101010101010101010010101010101010 101010010101011010101010010100101101001010101010 01010101010101010101001010101001010010100001010 101010101010101010101001010101001010010100001010 01010010101001010100101001010101100100101010010 01010101010101010010101010101001010101000001100 001010100101001010111011001010100101001010010101 1001010010101001010001010010100101001001010010 001010100101010010100101101010101010101010101010 001010101010101010101010010101011010101010010100 011010010101010100101010101010101010101001010101 01010010100001010101010010101001010100101001010 011001001010100101010101010101010100101010101010 101010100000110010010101001010010101110110010101 01010010100101010100101001010100101000101001010 10100100101001001001010100101010010100101101010 Since Bitcoin came on the financial scene in 2009, it has been the subject of conversation, controversy, and speculation. Is it the future of money? Is it a cyber Ponzi scheme, or a way for drug dealers to hide and move money? In January of 2013, Bitcoin’s value on trading exchanges hovered around $13. By December, the currency hit a high of $1,200 and then leveled out around $600. In February of 2014, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges declared bankruptcy. Exactly what led to the demise of the Mt. Gox exchange—software vulnerability, or simple embezzlement—remains unknown, but some 850,000 Bitcoins went missing. At the time, the value of those coins was some $450 million—almost 7 percent of the total Bitcoins in circulation.

Some comments from cyber security expert Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, USA (Ret.), a former US Defense Intelligence Agency director, may put these losses in perspective. “In 2012, one-fifteenth of the gross domestic product went out the side door.” And he’s talking about good old US of A dollars, not Bitcoins. “The numbers aren’t in for 2013, but they will be north of that.” If you do the math, that’s 6.67 percent.

We don’t really think about it, but most of the time we’re using some form of digital currency—credit cards, debit cards—and there’s no question that this digital currency, no matter what you call it, is under attack. As Burgess noted, huge amounts of it go missing. We don’t know what the future of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies may be, but we do know that the security and stability of financial transactions are key issues.

Mt. Gox, which began life as an Internet trading card market, was not the most stable of exchanges. Starting in 2011, there were several publicized security concerns. In May of 2013, assets belonging to Mt. Gox were seized by the Department of Homeland Security when the FBI closed down the Silk Road drug market website. With the collapse of Mt. Gox, the price of Bitcoin dropped, but oddly it quickly recovered, and by the middle of March 2014 was again trading in the $600s.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 23


computer program, an app, you create a virtual wallet in which to store your virtual currency. According to Reuters, over 21,000 commercial vendors currently accept Bitcoin, including PayPal, Virgin-Galactic Airlines, Overstock.com, and Tesla Motors. eBay is looking at the currency, and—through an intermediary—you can even order Domino’s with Bitcoin.

Over the years that mankind has been doing business, currency has taken many different forms: shells, beads, grain, metals, coins, paper money. These days, only a small fraction of the world’s currency exists in physical form. Most of it resides in ledgers on the hard drives of banks. Today we rarely use cash for anything but the smallest of purchases. Instead there’s the credit card. A few years back we all carried a check book—which we had to balance once a month. Now a debit card suffices, and with transactions occurring almost instantly, a mobile phone gives you an up-to-date balance in moments. Both credit and debit cards are, for all intents and purposes, digital currency.

Despite the failure of Mt. Gox and the security issues involved, the basic design of Bitcoin may be inherently more secure than the typical credit or debit card transaction. Say you pay cash for a commodity. You pull out your wallet, take out a few bills, push them across the counter, and get your change and your goods from the seller. Not quite the same thing with a credit card transaction. Typically the buyer hands over, or sends private information to the seller who uses it to request a payment from a payment processer.

Bitcoin is to money as e-mail is to paper mail, and Bitcoin moves from one person to another, one wallet to another through the Internet—privately, without any fees. You use a mobile app. Unlike standard currencies, this virtual currency is not controlled or tied to any person, group, company, bank, or government. The total number of Bitcoins is capped at 21 million, so the currency cannot be devalued by a government simply printing more. Only market forces control the value. Virtual currencies are not new, but the idea of a secure currency, free of regulation, has attracted some attention. In fact, JPMorgan Chase has submitted a patent application for a virtual currency platform. The application states that existing transaction methods are costly, inefficient, and insecure. You can buy a Bitcoin just like you would any other commodity or currency, and its value—just like any other market good—is what the buyer will pay and the seller will accept. With a

You hand over your card to the seller—who now has your information. The seller swipes the card through a reader—that now has your information. The purchase details are now transmitted by a carrier—who now has your information. There’s a pattern here. And eventually this information hits your credit card company. If you use a debit card, all of those folk get a look at your PIN and your bank balance. Essentially, the seller has reached into your pocket, pulled out your wallet, and he and all his associates have gotten a good look at all your private information. As far as security is concerned, there are simply too many potential leaks. Think Target. Using Bitcoin, each transaction is unique, and each transaction is protected by a unique set of encryptions created by the seller

010100000110010010101001010010101110110010101001 01001010010101010010100101010010100010100101001 010100100100101010010101001010010110101010101010 0101010101001010101010101010101010010101011010101 001010010110100101010101001010101010101010101010 01010101001010010100001010101010010101001010100 0100101010110010010101001010101010101010101001010 BITCOINS vs CREDIT CARDS 01010100101010100000110010010101001010010101110 0010101001010010100101010100101001010100101000 01001010010100100101001001001010100101010010100 0110101010101010101010101010010101010101010101010 001010101101010101001010010110100101010101001010 SELLER

1. Bitcoin wallet is purchased.

2. Purchase made with Bitcoin.

1. Buyer is approved 2. Purchase made for credit card. with credit card.

24 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

3. Wallet info is sent to 4. Buyer remains completely the seller in private. private with exact amount ready to be exchanged.

3. Buyer info is sent to seller in public through third party.

4. Risk of hackers, rogue employees, or anyone else stealing from account.

5. Buyer signs for seller in private.

6. Transaction is complete and now irreversible.

5. Buyer signs for seller in public. Seller has to pay fee for transaction.

6. Transaction is complete and is reversible.


1 10 01 10 0 01 0 01 01 0 0 0

$ 1,000

$ 750

$ 500

$ 250

$0

Jan. 2013

Apr. 2013

July 2013

Oct. 2013

Jan. 2014

Mar. 2014

Bitcoin values from January 1, 2013 – March 3, 2014 and the buyer. Like cash, Bitcoin is a push system. The buyer “pushes” money across the counter to the seller. Credit and debit cards are a “pull” system. The cards give information to the seller that allows him to pull money from an account. The nature of the Bitcoin transaction benefits and protects both buyer and seller. There are no fees, no intermediaries, no brokers, no banks. No personal information is contained in the transaction. On the buyer side, this security eliminates issues of identity theft, and on the seller side, the security protects merchants from fraud and fraudulent chargebacks. And in a world where profit margins are tight and fees can run 2 to 3 percent, “no fees” means a lot.

So what’s the downside? Pretty much everything you’ve heard. Bitcoins are not widely accepted. If your Bitcoin file is corrupted or your hard drive crashes, your coins are essentially lost. Bitcoin has no physical form. Despite what we see in Photoshopped pictures, there are not tangible Bitcoins. You can’t use them in a vending machine or leave them on the table as a tip. There’s no buyer protection. The transactions are between buyer and seller, with no third party interaction. And the transaction is instantaneous. You can’t call someone and say, “stop payment.” Because the total Bitcoin market is relatively small and investors are moving into and out of the market quickly, the value of a Bitcoin has fluctuated wildly. While the lack of regulation and government control may be appealing to the privacy zealots, Bitcoin currency is not “protected” and guaranteed by a large financial

institution or a government. There’s no buffer to large market fluctuations, nor is there insurance against loss or theft. And last, but certainly not least, the Bitcoin system is software, and—as evidenced by the Mt. Gox failure—there may be unanticipated flaws and vulnerabilities in the system that can compromise the value of the currency.

Is Bitcoin the future of currency? We don’t know. Yet. The basic ideas behind Bitcoin are sound— security, transparency, privacy, efficiency—but the execution of the system has been spotty and the product, like any new venture, has suffered growing pains. It may be another good idea destroyed by the facts. Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, says that, “to be successful, money must be both a medium of exchange and a reasonable stable store of value.” While he’s willing to concede the first point, he’s skeptical about the second, as unlike a precious metal or a government-backed currency, “it remains completely unclear why Bitcoin should be a stable value.” On the other hand, Milton Friedman, another Nobel-winning economist, said (fifteen years ago, by the way) “One thing that’s missing but will soon be developed is a reliable e-cash, a method whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B without A knowing B or B knowing A—the way I can take a $20 bill and hand it over to you, and you may get that without knowing who I am.”

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 25


The Rise of

The Speech-o-tron 3000 From the Classroom to the Green Screen and Back

26 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


. . . clearly, the traditional way of. . .  doing things was not going to work. At first glance, Harbert College’s course in Business Communication looks like a breezy, quirky way to learn how to improve your speaking skills. But that easy-going style is deceptive. It’s the product of long hours, hard work and no small amount of imagination. The collaborators that produced the course managed to find their way around a host of problems, design interesting, unexpected solutions, and ultimately create a successful educational experience. Communication skills have always been important to business graduates, and in recent years, with the proliferation of media, those skills have become vital. At the same time, business schools have struggled with how to teach effective communication. “In 2011, we decided to tackle the problem head-on by adding a new communications course to our core curriculum,” says Norman Godwin, associate dean for academic affairs. But that addition, though seemingly small, posed a large challenge. The problem was twofold: the sheer logistics of the course and the educational efficacy of the material. Communication courses are usually taught in sections of 25 students. “800 business students need the course each

year. That’s 32 sections. We don’t teach 32 sections of anything,” says Godwin. “We’ve got to teach this material, but we don’t have enough faculty and we don’t have enough classrooms. How are we going to do that?” The goal, ultimately, was to create a superior educational experience, to engage the student and develop relevant, tangible skills. “We were running into obstacles from the outset. We had to keep our goals in mind, but clearly the traditional way of doing things was not going to work. We had to find a different path.” That pivot was to technology. Many online courses simply place a camera at the back of a classroom and try to replicate the experience of the professor speaking before the class. Godwin: “While that approach can work in some circumstances, we didn’t think it was a good fit for the the subject matter and we knew we would not be taking full advantage of the opportunities the technologies afford.” Moreover, the amount of content that needed to be packed into the allotted timeframe demanded a highly-focused presentation. “Video captures everything and you don’t have a place for ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and rabbit

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 27


trails, taking time to collect thoughts,” Godwin said. “We needed a script, needed what we say to be set and efficient and effective.”

Again, the path to that script was not simple. The faculty went into the studios of the College’s Media Production Group and recorded the course as if they were presenting it in the classroom. That recording was transcribed and the content checked to ensure relevance and completeness. With textbooks in one hand and the transcription in the other, there were the inevitable additions and deletions, but eventually the material was turned over to the MPG screenwriters. It’s a bit unusual for a college of business to have experienced screenwriters at its disposal. The MPG filmmakers count

the Chicago, Nashville, and New York film festivals among their credits. “At first glance the material may seem a little dry, but we found several opportunities to make it interesting, engaging—even funny,” says John DiJulio, a producer with the group. “We had a good time.” The finished script was then placed in the hands of professional actors. “We got everybody in the right spot on the bus,” says Godwin. “The faculty know the material, and more importantly, they know how students learn the material. The filmmakers know how to use the media, and the actors can take a carefully written piece and deliver each take as if 28 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

it were fresh and new. Everybody does what they do best.” Ironically, the obstacles created unanticipated opportunities and the project’s second pivot. With 800 students, testing and grading can be a daunting task. Not only must four 3-minute-long presentations by each student be graded, but there must be assessments of the students’ grasp of conceptual basics and terminology, along with a way to gauge critical thinking capability—can the students see the differences between a good and a bad presentation; can they recognize specific mistakes? “The break from instructor to actor, allowed us to take actors and let them create, effectively, our test,” Godwin

said. “An actor can give five versions of a speech, each with a single, different mistake. The students grade these versions, then we grade their grading. We could never do that without actors. If we hadn’t encountered the obstacles we did, we wouldn’t have made the discoveries.” The course has proved very successful. Learning assessments demonstrate high educational value. Student surveys indicate an approval rating above 80 percent. And the course is handled by one instructor and occupies a single classroom, one hour per week. However, Godwin and the Media Production Group look at Business Communications as a work in progress. They adjust and tune to improve performance, value, and efficiency. “We’re looking for continuous improvement,” Godwin said. “The process to put together something that is high quality is very difficult. It requires a lot of thought, a lot of effort and good performance by everybody.”

“If we hadn’t encountered the obstacles we did, we wouldn’t have made the discoveries.”


Educational Technology & the Harbert College From apps, to websites and blogs, to innovative distance and classroom technologies, the Harbert College stands at the forefront of educational media production. In the fall of 2014, the college will offer a classroom-originated, distance undergraduate degree in accounting. Currently, the Master of Business Administration and Master of Accountancy programs enjoy both high demand and high rankings. The online MBA is ranked twelfth nationwide by U.S. News and World Report. The Executive and Physicians Executive MBA programs rely on a studio-based model, as does the Master in Real Estate Development program. European CEO Magazine called Auburn’s Executive MBA Program the “Best Executive Remote Learning Programme in North America.” The PEMBA program was ranked thirteenth by Modern Health Care, and the MRED program ranked 63rd in the world and twentieth among US universities. Auburn placed fifth among US universities offering a master of real estate development program and eighth among schools offering either an MRED or real estate master’s degree option (non-MBA or finance programs). In addition, the college, with its in-house Media Production Group, has produced innovative courseware for both the distance and classroom environments. This material is presently in use by several other universities and has enjoyed a successful—and profitable—life in the commercial marketplace.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 29


Turning a Zero

30 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


into a Hero It’s tough and bold. It’s all a college football-loving, NASCAR-crazed young man can handle. It’s Coke Zero—the can in black. But it didn’t start out that way. It started out in a soft, gentle-toned white can with the tagline, “Everybody Chill.” And it wasn’t exactly an overnight success. But Coke didn’t become one of the world’s leading brands by being resistant to change and innovation. The company faced the facts: the white packaging certainly didn’t resonate with young men, and those same young men don’t particularly like diet soft drinks. So with an idea from its Australian division, Coke pivoted the color scheme to black and red, distilled the tagline down to “real taste, zero calories,” and patterned the marketing closer to light beer commercials than traditional Coke ads. “Bloke Coke” was born. Coke Zero’s avoidance of the four-letter word “diet,” combined with its taste and edgy packaging, enabled it to become the company’s twelfth brand to reach $1 billion in global revenue. It is arguably the most successful “new” soft drink venture of the last decade. “The essence of Coke Zero is that you can have the great taste of Coca-Cola with zero calories,” says Sharon Byers, senior vice president for sports and marketing entertainment at Coca-Cola North America and a Harbert College of Business grad. The marketing campaign tasks the brand voice to “be the ultimate defender of guy enjoyment on the premise of not having to make any sacrifices. That’s why you’ll continue to see integrated campaigns anywhere there are universal ‘guy’ assets like NASCAR, and the NCAA Final Four.”


Coke Zero has evolved its list of strategic partnerships over the years and in 2013 made its debut as a sponsor of ESPN’s College GameDay. Byers has been responsible for Coke Zero’s strong presence on the show, particularly with the creation of Section Zero—designated seating with enough Coke Zero signage to almost guarantee television face time for the football crazies. Despite the resounding success of Coca-Cola’s approach to Coke Zero, the company is not one to rest on its laurels. Ever-​sensitive to changes in the marketplace, Coca-Cola has begun to experiment with yet another pivot. The “Just Add Zero” marketing campaign debuted in January in the UK. It features a variation on the red circle icon, and according to UK’s Marketing Week “has been created for a new demographic of young people who have emerged out of challenging times, but have a positive outlook and are focused on living richer.” Though the anchor television ad follows a male protagonist, it takes a twist at the end to include a woman’s perspective which Coca-Cola says demonstrates its efforts to broaden Coke Zero’s male target market and appeal to women too. Brid Drohan-Stewart, marketing activation director at CocaCola GB says, “This campaign speaks to the adventurers who always seek out possibilities in order to experience greater things. The ads resonate with our audience and communicate their attitude.”

Sharon Byers (’87) has been instrumental in helping Coke Zero become a drink of choice for college football fans.

The Coke Zero Zone at ESPN’s popular College GameDay gives zany fans an opportunity to show their school spirit on national television. School celebrities—here, former Auburn head coach Pat Dye and Aubie—make their way into the section for TV time. Coke Zero made its debut as a sponsor of College GameDay in 2013. 32 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


This “Just Add Zero” commercial, introduced in January in England, spans a minute and a half and takes viewers on a fun-filled evening— beginning with a young man and ending with a young woman—both carrying the same message.

The Progression of Coke Zero At first Coke Zero was sold in white cans, but Coca-Cola researchers discovered that the white packaging connoted diet drinks, and that was a turn off to the coveted young male demographic. The company pivoted with an idea from its division in Australia and re-released the product in black cans. Within six months Coke Zero was off and running.

2005

2006

2007–Present

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 33


TAPPING INTO SOMETHING SPECIAL Harbert College graduates putting Alabama’s craft beer industry on the map Grab a stool at any sports bar and you’ll see an endless assortment of beers snuggled together tap-to-tap. That’s precisely where Jason Wilson didn’t want his label when he poured his energy and $31,000 of capital into building Back Forty Beer Co. in 2009. “I had big plans for this brewery and I knew the opportunity we had in front of us if we handled it right,” said Wilson, Back Forty’s founder and president, who earned a degree in logistics from Harbert College in 2005. “We knew coming in that we were walking into a market that was completely undeveloped.” According to Wilson, Alabama is largely seen as a wasteland for craft beer in America—a back forty, if you will. With mass produced light beer being the drink of choice for many Southerners, the craft beer market has been largely ignored. That market may be underdeveloped, but there were still a bunch of taps behind that bar. And those taps carry the labels 34 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

of well-known, mass-produced beers that have been around for a long time. Those are the beers your dad, and probably his dad drank. Their business models and their market share are solid. Wilson and Back Forty started conservatively by brewing high-quality classic draft beer styles and hoping to evolve customers and customer tastes along the way. It wasn’t easy. Just when the start-up looked like it would stall from lack of funds, Wilson managed a collaboration with a microbrewery in Mississippi. Back Forty’s first beer came out in 2009. On a wave of favorable response the second beer, Truck Stop Honey Brown, debuted in March of 2010. That one made the difference. It took the Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival. The recognition increased distribution offers, helped Wilson secure a small business loan and allowed his fledgling company to open its own facility in Alabama. The first production batch rolled out of the Gadsden brewery in January of 2012.


Draft beer accounts for a sizable chunk of the company’s revenue, but Back Forty knew they needed a little more. “We’ve done more pivoting than James Brown!” Wilson said. “You hear a lot of business professionals say that your business plan is a living document that evolves as you go, and that’s so true.”

A Toast to Success

Jason Wilson (’05) and David Carn (’04)

To expand the market share without going head-to-head at that crowded tap, they came up with a different approach. Rather than trying to convince bar managers to stock their beers, Back Forty approached the restaurant chefs. They talked of local, organic foods, engaging, complex flavors and interesting food pairings and began to win over experienced chefs with a taste for adventure. The company’s range of beers—Naked Pig pale ale, Truck Stop Honey brown ale, Freckle Belly India pale ale, Kudzu porter, and Fence Post session ale—struck the right notes with both food enthusiasts and craft beer aficionados. The first gourmet convert was Leonardo Maurelli, formerly the chef at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, and now the award-winning executive chef at the Montgomery bistro, Central. With Maurelli came Billy Thompson, head chef at Union in downtown Mobile, and James Beard award-winning chefs Chris Hastings at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, and Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami. “Food has come to define our company and our market. We were foodies before we were brewers,” Wilson explains. “Chefs, brewers, architects—we’re all the same. We’re craftsmen at the heart of it. We care so much about our product.” The company website features video-based “how to cook with beer” recipes and suggestions for creative food pairings. Apparently, Back Forty offered the right message to the right audience. David Carn, business manager and 2004 Harbert graduate, described the relentless rotation of kitchen drop-ins as “guerilla necessity” given the start-up’s limited resources at the time. “A lot of times, when you’re restricted to a small amount of tools, you’ll be surprised at how creative you can get,” he said.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 35


Draft beer helped Back Forty gain a foothold with restaurants, but its willingness to branch out into selling bottled and canned beer as well as a wide variety of rubs and marinades has enhanced long-term revenue potential. “I honestly feel like we pivot on a weekly basis,” Wilson said. “The challenge in all of this is staying focused on the vision while everything is changing around you.” With distribution across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida, this year Back Forty will produce about 10,000 barrels of beer and double its revenue for the fifth consecutive year. As president of the board for the Alabama Brewers Guild, Wilson has helped lead the charge for new legislation. “We told legislators that 60 million-odd cases of beer were sold in Alabama in the last year,” Wilson said. “More of those cases should

36 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

come from Alabama.” According to the Alabama Brewers Guild, the state’s craft beer industry employed 2,466 people full-time, and generated a total economic impact of $238 million in 2012. “We still have tremendous room to grow,” says Wilson. “There could be a brew pub producing 2,000 barrels of beer in every town in America and we [craft beer makers] would still only reach about a third of Anheuser-Busch’s annual production in the US,” Wilson said. “Now we’re trying to hold onto the rocket ship.” So move over, dad’s beer. Make room for the new guys on the block. They pivot just like James Brown.


Failure Can Be Your Friend From upscale, white tablecloth restaurants to smoky BBQ shacks, Back Forty’s relationships with various chefs have opened doors for the development of numerous non-beer products. Back Forty employees are free to experiment like mad scientists in a chemistry lab, exploring and testing dry rubs, marinades, and a host of other taste sensations. It’s all part of the company’s desire to push creative boundaries and not fear new approaches. In the words of other start-ups trained to adjust on the fly, “fail fast, fail cheap.” “At Back Forty, it starts with letting people know it’s OK to fail,” President James Wilson said. “Failure is not only inevitable, it’s necessary to achieve success. We are never afraid to explore a new market or even a non-beer product like our bottled malt vinegar and wildflower honey.” The failures play a critical role in refining a methodology that will ultimately lead to the development of successful product lines. Back Forty tests its products, offering samples in its tap room and making them available for special restaurant-hosted events, all with an eye on finding standouts with broad appeal that can be mass produced.

“The challenge . . .  is staying focused on the vision”

“We’ve explored ideas that didn’t work out, and that’s OK,” Wilson said, “ . . . as long as we are quick to recognize a pivot point and not go one step further down a path than we have to.”

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 37


Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” The same applies to any industry, large or small. Where are today’s customers going? What’s important to them? How do you change direction to meet their needs? Sometimes an experienced company will pivot long before an obstacle presents itself. In the case of fast food giant Chick-fil-A, which hit $5 billion in sales in 2013, so much appears constant on the outside—the popular and spelling-challenged cows, the memorable slogan “Eat Mor Chikin,” and the friendly “it will be my pleasure to serve you” greeting at the drive-thru. In reality, the company is constantly changing in an effort to be “America’s best quickservice restaurant.” “In the last five to six years, the percentage of our customers who care about eating more nutritious, healthier ingredients has risen sharply,” said Chick-fil-A Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Robinson, a 1972 Harbert graduate. “More than a third of our customers are trying to cut salt and fat out of their diets.”

Steve Robinson (’72)

Executive Vice President, Marketing Chick-fil-A, Inc.

38 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

A February 2014 report by Reuters detailed Chick-fil-A’s responsiveness to food bloggers and health activists. “We’ve already taken trans fat out of all of our menu options, and we’re on a very aggressive path to get all MSG (monosodium glutamate, a food additive) removed from our menu,” added Robinson, who noted the restaurant chain pulled yellow dye from its sauces and chicken noodle soup in December. Chick-fil-A’s plan could lead to a paradigm shift in the American fast food industry. “KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc. are all going to go on notice now,” health blogger and activist Vani Hari told Reuters.


“Chick-fil-A, that’s their competitor. If they’re moving toward antibiotic-free chicken, the rest of the industry better listen up too.” The tried-and-true fried sandwich and waffle fries will still be available, but the company continues to research ways to make them “guilt-free.” That means ditching high-fructose corn syrup and removing processed sweetener from the white sandwich buns. “We’ve got an indulgent part of our menu and the healthy options,” said Andrew Barnes, a Chick-fil-A TigerTown (Opelika, Alabama) franchisee who holds an MBA from Harbert College. “We are trying to improve the quality of the ingredients in our menu items. We want to listen to our customers and accommodate their needs.”

Robinson said the cow advertisements grab consumers’ attention, have fun for 23 to 25 seconds, and still allow for information about a new product or promotion at the end of the commercial. “We get higher recognition, higher recall because people enjoy watching the cows,” he said. “We’ve stuck with it for 19 years now. We have equity in it.” Whether Chick-fil-A is changing recipes, menu items, or sticking with an iconic advertising campaign, some things are certain: a commitment to provide the best quality product and a constant effort to respond to a changing marketplace.

On the outside, don’t expect a re-engineered message. “People see the cow and they know it’s Chick-fil-A,” Robinson said. “It’s simple and it gets the message across. It gives us a chance to compete in a space that’s very noisy, at a fraction of what other people invest. We’re building equity in an iconic image that immediately signals Chick-fil-A.”

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 39


Keep on Truckin’, Baby You’re driving down the highway, cranking the tunes, and as you slip around that big semi, you notice that the driver, eyes forward, is intensely nodding his head. What’s he doing? What’s he listening to? You signal to pass him; he flashes his lights to let you know you’re clear. You swing into the lane in front of him and roll along. What you probably don’t suspect is that he’s listening to Stephen Swartz, associate professor of supply chain management at the HCOB, and Swartz has got a lot to say. As a regular guest on Sirius XM Radio’s Road Dog Trucking News, Swartz will weigh in on a variety of issues connected to the business of trucking. He’ll offer tips to help drivers maximize fuel and “dollar per mile” efficiency or demystify the findings of a government-funded safety study. But when drivers aren’t listening to him, he’s learning about them. Swartz studies their attitudes and behaviors as part of his on-going examination of “the man-machine interface,” the relationship between truckers and their tractor trailers. Much of his research focuses on preventing crashes between fully-loaded semis and, say, child-laden minivans. For reasons both obvious and obscure, some minivan drivers insist on merging into the tight space in front of a rig at 60 mph without considering the physics of an 80,000-pound moving trailer truck. That can be a problem. A 2013 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute revealed that car drivers are either fully or

40 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

partly at fault in 81 percent of accidents involving trucks, but Swartz said it’s still important to change the way drivers think and behave when it comes to safety. “Nobody’s making money when the truck is on the hook,” Swartz said, referring to the giant tow trucks used to pull trailers out of ditches. “The most profitable trucking companies are also the safest.” Swartz’s current research taps into his interests in behavioral science and business analytics. “I’m developing intellectual property that can be used to assess precursors to better and more ethical behavior among truck drivers,” he said. “It’s a predictive analytics toolkit that will enable companies to assess how safe their drivers will be. There are very few people doing the kind of research I’m doing.” Call it a Myers-Briggs for the big rigs. Swartz has amassed numerous hours of interviews and surveys from 1,500 drivers. He is particularly interested in how driver attitudes about safety are shaped. How do drivers’ inherent views of right and wrong shape their behavior with regard to speeding or tailgating? What role does their peer group or family play in their adherence to or disregard of rules of the road? “The human is the weakest link in the safety chain,” Swartz said. “We’re talking about high responsibility with minimal supervision. What are the penalties for making the wrong decision? Loss of life.” So next time you see Swartz tell him, “Thanks, good buddy.”


RESEARCH Team Discovers Hi-Buzz Threshold for IPOs Remember when social media giant Facebook went public in 2011? Business-related magazines, blogs, newspapers and television networks jumped on the story and couldn’t get enough of it. The same scenario played out with Twitter last November. In fact, anticipation of Twitter’s presence on the market was so strong among early investors that shares sold on the secondary market before it went public.

“There have been lots of studies about IPOs and Internet IPOs and what we decided to add to the mix was trying to figure out does the chatter or buzz about the IPO affect value? Crutchley said. “The more people are talking about the IPO—can the people who are issuing the IPO get more money?” Absolutely.

According to research by Harbert College finance professors Claire Crutchley and Beverly Marshall and marketing professor Astrid Keel, “hi-buzz” firms (those with 369 or more news items, blogs, etc., on the Internet during the period of study) had 91 percent higher values than other firms. When people are excited over the debut of a new gadget, a television show, or sporting event, they talk about it. In the business world such water cooler talk is referred to as “chatter,” or “buzz.” But how much does buzz actually impact stock prices for initial public offerings (IPOs)? That’s the question Crutchley, Marshall, and Keel answer in their work: “The Impact of Buzz on Internet IPO Valuation.”

The team concluded that “firm valuations are higher at the IPO” when there is a higher level of media buzz in the year preceding the IPO. In the business world’s urban dictionary, it’s called “hype.” But whereas a product’s hype stems from perception, it doesn’t always deliver on substance. “Hype is making everybody want this,” Crutchley said. The team formed a second hypothesis that there can be more to an IPO’s product than just the hype—those with substance, or in the tech world, “innovation.” Crutchley noted that investors see long-term potential in the IPO through such innovation, whether it’s an online restaurant reservation IPO or major web search engine.

How does anticipation and media sensationalism impact IPOs? Obviously, “buzz” played a large role in Twitter’s initial IPO price of $26 per share to its opening value of $45.10, and that’s what grabbed the professors’ attention. The team measured web hits (buzz) for 109 internet-related IPOs (including Google, Pay-Pal, Netflix, Orbitz, Open Table, Yelp, LinkedIn, and Pandora Media) between 2002 and 2012 and compared them with respective IPO market values. They studied the total values of stock in new public—original prices underwriters offer—then looked at values at the end of their first closing day, six-month values, then values at the end of their first year.

“What we’re saying is that this buzz is actually reflecting some reality,” Crutchley noted. “If it was simply perception, then we think it would have disappeared.”

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WITH YOUR DOLLAR The Beginning, Not the End

43 9

endowment contributors have answered Mr. Harbert’s call for “challenge match” gifts. graduates and friends of the college have each given $1 million or more since last June: Anonymous Jim ’60 and Mary Ann Benoski Fred Blatchford ‘85 Kerry ’79 and Laura Bradley Bob ‘91 and Julie Broadway Nick Davis ’84 and Sergio Marentes Tommy ’83 and Suzanne Inzina David ’71 and Terri Luck Norma Triplett

Raymond J. Harbert’s $40 million commitment in June 2013 created unprecedented opportunities for the college to grow and improve, but consider the ripple effect it generated. His promise to match new endowments dollar-for-dollar up to $15 million will effectively turn his original commitment into $55 million. As Harbert College Dean Bill Hardgrave explained, your generosity “represents the start of something” for a college determined to earn a place among the nation’s elite. Help us move closer to that finish line by contacting the Office of Advancement at (334) 844-2983.


“Flip This House,” Harbert Style The Harbert College of Business needed a new look to reinforce its new identity, and it needed one in a hurry. Between the announcement of the Harbert naming gift in June 2013 and a celebration event for alumni at Lowder Hall in early October, there wasn’t much time to repaint, rip out elements, and replace them with new treatments.

Lauren Duke earned an MBA from Auburn in 2011. She specializes in creative flourishes and quick turnaround for Nashville-based Advent. Duke knew the place and the space and was eager to take on the challenge.

RENOVATIONS

“It was amazing to be able to work with the Auburn University Harbert College of Business as a recent alumna,” said Duke, an Augusta, Georgia, native who came to Auburn after completing an industrial design degree at Georgia Tech. “Having the opportunity to have walked through the lobby during my time there as an MBA student gave me a unique perspective on the aesthetics of

school. That vision unfolds for visitors as soon as they step through the main entrance. Wall panels in the foyer provide an overview of the college’s rankings, students, academic programs, and historical milestones, as well as its mission and vision. Blue glass displays pay tribute to 1982 alumnus Raymond J. Harbert and the building’s namesakes, Edward and Catherine Lowder.

the current space and how it should evolve to tell the college’s story in a modern way.”

A brass tiger sculpture in the area below the stairwell offers a prime photo opportunity for alumni, as well as current and prospective students. After a social media campaign, the tiger has been named “Harbie,” a hybrid of Harbert and a certain lovable university mascot.

A space that once featured large white display cases and bronze plaques now has the sleek, modern look of a fast-moving, forward-thinking business

Come for the Coffee, Stay for the Ambience Grab a latte, find an overstuffed chair, and get comfortable. Lowder Hall will soon be the kind of place where alumni, students, faculty, and staff can relax, refuel, and recharge. By August, the tiny coffee shop on the ground floor will be transformed into

a full-service Starbucks—complete with a 3,200-square foot lounge that will offer inside seating for 80 customers and an additional 20 seats outside. By early summer, interior renovations will begin to make the student common area and classroom spaces on the first

and second floors more inviting. The first phase will include the installation of new flooring, wall coverings, and more comfortable and plentiful seating. Future facility improvements will include updates to classroom seating, wall coverings, and furniture.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 43


ALUMNI NEWS You came to the College of Business where you learned the skills that help launch you into your career and into your life. Thanks to all of you who have written in so far. Keep sending us your news. If we haven’t heard from you, please drop us a line and stay in touch with us and with your fellow alums. We want to hear how far you’ve flown. Send your news and comments to:

cobalumnews@auburn.edu

The Harbert College of Business originated as a school in 1967. We are proud to claim earlier business graduates as our own. Jim Tanquary (’52) is recently widowed.

He sold an RV a year and a half ago, but is thinking of purchasing a new motor home for travel and recreation.

Bennie Underwood (’50) is retired after a career in accounting. He credits the Becker CPA Exam Review—the same used in Harbert College’s Master of Accountancy (MAc)—for helping him realize his career goals. Guy Young (’56) utilizes the 50-plus years

of experience in human resource and risk management he gained with three corporations. He remains active as a risk management consultant for an insurance broker. Guy played on the Auburn baseball team for three seasons and served as captain as a senior.

1960s Gary Beasley (MBA, ’67) retired in 1999

after a 30-year career with ConAgra Foods, Inc., as controller in several of its divisions.

R. Jackson Burkhalter (’69) enjoys mentoring new management and is planning for the restructuring of his company, Windsor Management Group, which is approaching its 30th year of existence.

while his sons, Keith and Dylan (both Auburn graduates) run the family’s shop in Arley, Alabama. The family specializes in small-scale residential and commercial projects. Learn more at woodstudio.com.

Dr. H. Samuel Cooke (’69) had an epiphany

four years after he “landed” in Huntsville, Ala., following his military service. The best path up the career ladder was to “get into engineering and go all the way.” He did just that, earning a PhD, and now consults on missile development projects for the US Army.

Larry Freeman (’67) rang in the New Year

by retiring on December 31, 2013. He’s in good health, but quickly points out that he plays “terrible” golf.

Randy Cochran (’69) used his business education to turn his passion for woodworking into Wood Studio, a custom woodVirgil Gamble (’65) enjoys retirement after a working design and fabrication service. career as a stockbroker. He currently operates a shop in Fort Payne John Green (’66), who retired from ExxonMobile Corporation in 1999, describes himself as “70 years young.”

Jerry Hofferbert (’61) retired after a 43-year career as an insurance claims representative, but remains active and exercises daily. 44 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


Wilburn Hyche (’64) continues to practice law with the firm he owns in Brandon, Mississippi. A retired municipal judge, he and his wife make frequent visits to Auburn to enjoy sporting events.

taken up oil painting and recommends that “everyone should try it.”

Freeman Walton (’66) retired from Power-

South Energy Cooperative in Andalusia, Alabama, in February 2013 as vice presiSidney Lanier (’61) retired from the US Air dent and chief financial officer. He and his Force in 1995 and served as the magistrate wife, Elaine, retired to the Birmingham for the town of Wedowee, Alabama, before area, where they’ve built a new home. retiring from that post in 2008. They have four daughters—two living in Birmingham and two living in Roswell, Eugene McGriff (’68) will celebrate the 37th Georgia. anniversary of his Dothan, Alabama-based State Farm insurance agency on June 1.

Michael Peace (’69) retired in 2007 as a

1970s

payroll software project manager with ADP. He is also retired from the US Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. He is passionate about woodturning, has published several articles in woodturning magazines, and demonstrates the craft at Tim Barton (’78) has served as senior divarious club events. Learn more at rector of finance at Cinram Group, Inc., mikepeacewoodturning.blogspot.com. in Huntsville since March 2013. The firm is one of the world’s largest providers of multimedia products and supply chain solutions to the home entertainment industry. Tim is also the proud father of two Auburn University graduates—Amy, a 2011 public relations alumna, and Laura, a 2013 College of Education graduate.

Mike Riddle (’69) enjoys retirement in the

Birmingham area with his wife, Linda [’66] and spending time with their three sons, daughters-in-law and their five grandchildren. “My typical day involves getting up at 6:30 a.m., drinking a hot cup of tea, reading the Wall Street Journal, jogging, checking on the stock market, doing whatever Linda asks me to do and preparing dinner after Linda goes off to her afternoon job with the Mountain Brook school system. Life is good.” Mike served as a commissioned officer in the US Air Force, earned law degrees and spent most of his legal career in real estate with a national title insurance underwriter.

Richard Robertson (’64) is retired and living in Auburn.

James Swenson (’68), who retired as an

airline pilot in 2009, enjoyed a busy year of travel in 2013 with an 18-day trip to China. He is planning another trip to Russia and the Baltic this fall. He has also

Claude Burden (’70) retired as a corporate

pilot after 25 years with the Southern Company in Atlanta and 11 more with Select Management Resources. His travels have taken him to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii. He enjoys rafting, zip lines, snow skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, and photography.

Susan Herndon Caples (’78) is intent on

Executive Award for a legacy of service, leadership, and engagement in the foodservice industry.

Larry Davis (’73) considers retirement “the

ultimate promotion,” and celebrated it with recent trips to Banff, Alberta, and the Canadian Rockies.

Col. Thomas Davis (’71) will retire from the

US Army in May. He has seen the world, living in Europe, Thailand, and Kuwait, and continued his education after graduating from Auburn by earning an MBA through Syracuse University as part of the Defense Comptrollership Program. He has also served as an adjunct professor for Troy University since 2001, teaching undergraduate business and finance courses.

Michael W. Forster (’74) is retired after a ca-

reer spent with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and J.F. Daughtry Engineering. He enjoyed a trip to Key West, Florida, with his wife [BA ’75] of 40 years and has also taken mission trips to Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Ralph Foster (’79) is celebrating his 25th

anniversary at Auburn University, where he serves as director of public service. He oversees a network of community and campus service partnerships in Auburn’s outreach division. He lives in Montgomery with his wife, Lesley, and enjoys golf and hunting.

Hank Galbreath (’76) reached his 11th year of service with Auburn University in 2014 after previously serving in the US Army. He works as a development officer for the university, advocating for the Honors College, graduate education, and military/ veterans activities. He and his wife, Ann, traveled to Colorado twice in 2013 and cheered for Auburn in the SEC and BCS championship games.

keeping ahead of the curve with innovations in fleet and fuel—adding hybrids to University of Alabama fleet to measure performance and customer satisfaction. She enjoys following her nephew, Kevin Streelman, on the PGA tour and plans to attend a tournament this spring. She’s celebrated the marriage of her youngest son, Rob Herndon, a 2009 Harbert College Robert Gilliam (’72) has been retired for 10 graduate, and looks forward to welcoming years and enjoyed a vacation to the Grand a second grandchild in June. Canyon and Sedona, Arizona, in October 2013. “The locals say that God created the William Caskey (’71) received the InterGrand Canyon, but he retired in Sedona! national Foodservice Manufacturers I agree!” He and his wife celebrated their Association’s Distinguished Foodservice 40th anniversary in 2013.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 45


Powering the Learning Connection between Brain and Body “We’ve been blessed in our life,” said Johnson, a 1970 graduate with a degree in management. “We were trying to think, ‘what can we give back?’ We’ve enjoyed doing scholarships and things like that, but we were trying to think what we can do to help a large number of students. This is something that is different.” Hettie Johnson, a speech-language pathologist who specializes in advanced teaching strategies, said it is important to “get the brain and the body working together.” “If you cause these parts of the brain to connect by studying while you use them . . . it makes it all work,” said Hettie, also a 1970 Auburn graduate. “There is this famous saying in neurology that neurons that fire together wire together.”

BILL JOHNSON retired from Alabama Power as vice president and as president of the Alabama Power Foundation—the company’s charitable arm—in 2010. But retirement didn’t end his love for benevolence. Last fall, Johnson and his wife, Hettie, commited $100,000 toward the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business’ Office of Professional Development program “Study With All Gears,” or SWAG. The program, led by graduate student Schavion Graham, is designed to offer Harbert College students an alternative, multi-sensory means to learning and achieving higher test scores.

Steve Goodson (’72), a profile story subject in the Fall 2013 Shareholder (“The Best Sax Ever”), has been added to the staff of Saxophone Today magazine to write a monthly column about saxophone design. His articles about the instrument have appeared in numerous publications throughout the world. His business, Saxgourmet Products, sells the world’s most expensive saxophone. He resides in New Orleans with his wife, Sharon.

Rebecca West Hagewood (’76) is a mortgage underwriter DE for FHA and SAR for VA loans, a career that brings fulfillment and challenges because the “mortgage indus46 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

The Johnsons have pledged to fund the program, now in its second year, for five years. “We have a long history with Auburn and we wanted to make a meaningful commitment,” Bill Johnson said. “Certainly, a scholarship is a great thing to do. It helps a student. But we were thinking that we could help a lot more students.” The Johnsons reside in Hoover, Alabama, and enjoy spending time with their grandchildren in Indiana.

try changes almost daily.” She also plays duplicate bridge and holds a bronze life master rank.

Scott Harden (’76, MBA ’77) had a 2013 to

remember, accepting a new position as director of internal audit at United Recovery Systems and taking an Alaskan cruise.

Donny Jones (’75) covers the southeastern

United States as a sales representative for the shaped wire division of Leggett & Platt. He recently moved from Hueytown, Alabama, to Gulf Shores and enjoys fishing in Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico every chance he gets.

Twila Kirkland (’73) serves as a business

development officer for TIC Federal Credit Union in Columbus, Georgia.

Paula Richard Lack (’79)

resides in San Diego with Michael Lack, her husband of 20 years; her two daughters and her pet pig, Millie. She takes the pig for walks when she’s not enjoying her other hobbies—paddleboarding, running, and skiing. Paula has a strong family connection to the college. While she was completing her degree in economics, her father, Septime S. Richard, served as the assistant to the then-dean of the School of Business, George Horton.

Arthur Leadingham (’77) will celebrate his

30th anniversary as owner of a CPA firm in July. He managed to make it to every Auburn football away game in 2013.


John Mason (’77, MBA ’82) looks forward to Robert Reynolds (’75) is nearing retirement retirement, but still serves as a part-time PeopleSoft consultant. He enjoys riding the trails and roads near his home on Amelia Island, Florida, recently named one of the state’s most bike-friendly places.

William Owen (’79) is president of Synergy VII Inc., a small business consulting firm focusing on marketing and communications. The company does business as CampusFans, which offers a platform for school fan bases around the country to support business professionals and owners from their respective schools and universities. “I sought out talent that could build a program while executing on mobile applications allowing Auburn people to sign up with their own professional profile in what we now call the family.” Owen wanted to create a vehicle that would allow Auburn fans to find alumni-run businesses and encourage them to work with each other. When a professional signs up for the app, a portion of the signup fee can be directed to an Auburn club of their choice. To learn more, check out campusfans.net/thefamily. Michael Rane (’74) retired from Great

Southern Wood in 2007, but continues to serve on its board of directors. He also serves on the board of a local hospital. He counts the British Virgin Islands among his favorite travel destinations, having sailed there several times.

with Vulcan—“497 days, but who is counting!”—where he has worked for 39 years. He completed his second year as a financial analysis manager after 20 years as a controller/director of finance. He enjoyed going to the BCS national championship game with his wife and two daughters.

dog, and helping a neighbor add a family room and laundry area to his house. “I’ve learned a lot about basic carpentry and home repair in the last nine months. Still an amateur, but not as green as I was last summer!” He also welcomed his son home from Afghanistan last year.

William Wade (’71) retired in October 2012 as associate executive director of Auburn position as a senior property risk engineer University’s Office of Information Techfor Zurich North America. He and his nology. He was involved in the design and wife, Barbara, enjoy traveling and were construction of the university’s current among those making the trip to Pasadena OIT building, which opened in February in January for the BCS national champion- 2012. ship game. Barbara Wallace-Edwards (’79) retired from Wade Robertson (’79) owns a recruiting her job of over 28 years in 2012 and practice that specializes in telecommunilaunched her second career, opening cations and IP/IT professionals and execProVision Travel Services. Her new life utives. His recent travel adventures have as a home-based travel consultant has included skiing in Colorado, fly fishing in equipped her with the insight to help Wyoming, and sightseeing in Europe. customers travel the world “at a fraction of the cost in most instances.” Rachel Russell (’78) retired after more than 34 years with BellSouth/AT&T and now works as a public arbitration contractor for the Financial Industrial Regulatory Authority. John Sadler (’70) retired in 2011 from his

Dr. Bill Thrasher (’74) has served

on the faculty of Moody Bible Institute since 1980 and on its graduate and seminary faculty since 1990. He oversees its master’s program in spiritual development and discipleship and serves as a frequent speaker in churches Johnny Ray (’72) is described as the “master and at retreats across the country. He has of the international romantic thriller,” and written numerous articles and books on for good reason. He changed professions a a variety of subjects related to Christian few years ago to become a novelist. He living. He and his wife, Penny, have three earned the Royal Palm Literary Award for sons, Will, Michael, and David. He said he his romantic thriller The Salsa Connection. is “forever indebted to the formative years His other novels include A War Hero in my business education at Auburn,” Returns, John Rain: The Hawaiian Affair, where he graduated in 1974. “These years Stalking Love, and Scandal—The Death of a were helpful to my theological training at Legacy. Formerly the owner and operator the master’s and doctoral levels, as well as of real estate, insurance, and brokerage my life in theological education.” Learn companies, Johnny resides in Florida. more about Dr. Thrasher at his website, victoriouspraying.com.

William Vaughan (’70) retired from the US

Government in 2002 after 33 years of service and worked for Lockheed Martin for a few years after leaving federal service. He stays busy walking Jocko, the family rescue

1980s

Bill Allen (’80) was named

chief human resources officer of Macy’s, Inc. in January 2013. He leads the company’s human resources, diversity strategies, and corporate communication and external affairs functions. He also holds the distinction of being honored as one of the top 40 graduates in the history of Harbert College. Now residing in New York City with his wife, Beth, Bill also serves as director of the Human Resource Policy Association in Washington, D.C., a global public policy advocacy organization representing chief human resource officers from the nation’s top 250 employers.

Samuel Baggette (’80) is assisting several

start-up ventures at the Kaufman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. He serves on the board of directors of ICF Industries, Inc., in Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 47


Changing Tacks: From Windsurfer to Family Businessman The rigor of that class and others would prove valuable some years later, after Pace completed a colorful path to his current role of managing his family’s assets. Pace was a track athlete at Auburn for three seasons, competing with two world record holders in his event. Track was fun, but then he discovered windsurfing. “It ate me alive,” he said. “I never wanted to be so good so bad.”

Katrina Crowe Pace and Tom Pace TOM PACE (’83) sprinted with Auburn track legend Harvey Glance and competed all around the world as a professional windsurfer, developing along the way a real appreciation “for people who are white-hot good at what they do.” He didn’t fully grasp it as a student at the time, he said, but it turns out his professors in the College of Business were also very good at preparing him for the varied business challenges he would face later. “It was always a tough thing for me as a kid to be in that class and think there was really a practical application, but as I’ve gotten older those things really come back,” he said. “I thought it was a load of horse hockey. Now looking back with 53-year-old eyes, I don’t know how I could get out the door every day without it. It’s absolutely cornerstone to how you do things.” Pace “bounced around” the College of Business before settling on a major in finance. He has vivid memories of his Introduction to Finance class, taught by John Jahera. “Word on the concourse was he was an absolute bear, and he did not disappoint,” Pace recalled.

Clay Boyles (’87) recently earned a pro-

motion to executive director of human resources for Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare, where he has HR responsibility for two physician companies employing more than 400 doctors and 2,100 staff in 125 physician practices across northern Georgia. He also went on a 10-day medical mission down the Amazon River. He looks forward to leading a two-week church camp for 1,500 high school youth at Montreat Conference Center in summer 2015.

William Bridell (’81) serves as first vice president at Morgan Stanley in Birmingham. 48 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

Pace was good. He reached a ranking of seventh in the world as an amateur and competed in the 1988 Olympic trials. He turned professional after that and raced on the world windsurfing circuit for more than a decade. As his competitive windsurfing career wound down, Pace returned to Pensacola, Florida, to help his parents with health and financial management issues. His Auburn degree was a powerful tool as Pace began advising family members on critical decisions. “It’s about protection of assets and revenue generation, growth of underlying assets, medical, and end-of-life concerns,” he said. “I cut my teeth on that with my family.” His father and uncle started a carton manufacturing plant, and his father invented the zipper closure still seen in cardboard packaging today. He later developed cardboard packaging to separate and protect bottles in shipping. At 88 and 94, respectively, they remain active and engaged, Pace said. “To say they are sharp as a tack is unfair to the tack.” The ongoing challenge for Pace is to structure the family’s assets in ways that are most advantageous. Taxes are always a consideration, but Pace has adopted what he called some of the best advice he ever got: Don’t make a bad business decision by making a good tax decision. Instead, make good business decisions first and the tax decisions will work themselves out after that.

Jo Ann Burkhalter (MBA ’89) attended Salesforce.com’s annual convention, Dreamforce 2013.

Michele Eastall Buschman (’87) received the national 2013 DHS Office of General Counsel Award for Excellence in Leadership and Management.

Wealth Management in Birmingham. He has been in the financial services business for more than 20 years. Campbell Wealth Management services cover all areas of financial management, including investment and retirement planning, risk management, and estate conversion. He specializes in helping clients develop a comprehensive and cohesive financial strategy tailored to fit their needs and meet their short- and long-term objectives. His firm’s website is campbellwealthmgt.com.

Randy Campbell (’83), whom you may remember as the quarterback of Auburn’s 1983 SEC championship football David Capets (’85) enjoys the fast-paced enteam, is owner and princivironment of the ever-changing telecompal manager of Campbell munications industry. “First there were


copper wires, then came fiber optic cables. TDM is rapidly being replaced by Carrier Ethernet products. And now, wireless connectivity suitable for enterprise and business applications is rapidly approaching. It’s hard to believe that when I graduated from Auburn I was happy to have a simple word processor for school projects. Now I can perform voice to text.” He also enjoys kayak fishing East Coast destinations stretching from Virginia to Florida.

Theresa Pearson Dunn (’80) is the third-generation and CEO of her family’s business, Crystal Lake Mfg., Inc., which makes brooms and mops. She’s also civic-minded, as evidenced by her run for Autauga County Commission. “Politics is new to me but I am very excited about running and about the possibility of serving the people of my county.”

Lee Ellis (’89, MBA ’90) currently works as an information security and compliMarcus Clark (’83) manages two businesses: ance officer, but is looking to make the Foreclosure Services of Alabama, and transition into the consulting realm to Gavel Down Investments. Foreclosure help senior teams execute on vision and Services of Alabama completes real estate strategy. He has served 28 years in the title examinations for attorneys foreclosing Alabama Army National Guard and on behalf of banks and mortgage comparecently became commander of the 31st nies. Gavel Down Investments acquires Chemical, Biological, Radiological and bank-owned real estate, and renovates, Nuclear Brigade. sells, and finances homes for the public. J. Andrew Gannon (’82) sold his business and Deirdre Bailey Colter (’86, MBE ’95) serves as recently completed a consulting contract. department head for business education at He recently enjoyed a two-week drive to Savannah Christian Prep School, as well and through Native American sites in as the head coach for cross country and Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. boys’ and girls’ track and field. Maria Goldschmidt (’87), vice president of Ted Danner (’86) manages service contract finance and a partner with Graham Comclaims for Nissan Extended Services mercial Properties, actively facilitated a North America in Nashville. He has lived $172 million merger of commercial propin four different states during his 15 years erties. One of her children is a freshman with Nissan North America. at Auburn, while her second will enroll in August. Linda Bridges Dixon (’83) recently began a new position as program director of the Darrell Hand (’80) assumed a new role as vice First Ladies Initiative of the George W. president for operations for his company, Bush Presidential Institute. She will trav- Universal Limited, in Birmingham. el globally to meet with first ladies (presidents’ wives) to encourage and support Floyd Harris (’83) has recently taken up their efforts to positively affect women and farming. children in their countries. In addition to traveling with President George W. Bush Joseph Hart (’83) traveled to the BCS and former First Lady Laura Bush, she national championship game and has will also host a White House conference England in mind as his next vacation with Michelle Obama. In March 2014, she destination. He has two sons currently in met with the first ladies of Uganda and college. Tanzania before traveling to Zambia and Ethiopia. Heather Hartman (’89) recently took on a new role as summer school coordinator at the John Dowless (’89) recently set a new gross University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She sales record as president and owner of enjoys riding her motorcycle on the scenic Millennium Consulting, Inc. His 2013 highways of Tennessee and North Carolina travels included Greece, Germany, and an with her husband of five years. Alaskan cruise. He currently serves on the Edgewood City Council and was recently Robert Houston (’80, MBA ’96) oversees appointed to MetroPlan Orlando. development and implementation of GDF

SUEZ North America investments in North America’s energy infrastructure as its vice president of business development. He’s currently involved in the development of pipeline infrastructure that will provide natural gas from southern Texas to the heart of Mexico. “My education in the Auburn Mechanical Engineering School and the College of Business made it possible.” He recently celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary, as well as his 15th year with GDF SUEZ.

Dale Kiel (’84), operational risk manager for corporate & investment banking at SunTrust Bank, took the “Taste of Europe” cruise offered by the Auburn Alumni Association in 2013. He also celebrated his daughter’s graduation from college and the launch of her nursing career. Dr. Sara Bliss Kiser (’89) has served as an associate professor of management at Alabama State University since 2012. Last spring, she earned the Donald R. Woodard Faculty Leadership Award—voted on by students in the College of Business Administration. Before returning to Alabama State, she served as Judson College’s vice president for academic affairs from 2007–2012. Before taking on that administrative role, she taught everything from economics to marketing while serving as department head for the college’s business administration department. Michael Kirkpatrick (’81) has enjoyed multiple years of sales growth while serving as president of DESE Research. He was recently elected to the board of directors for the Guntersville Alabama Chamber of Commerce and enjoys flying in his free time. He has earned seaplane, multi-engine, and instrument ratings from the FAA. Charles McCall (’83, MBA ’89) retired from the US Navy after 30 years and is now spearheading the start-up of a manufacturing facility in Singapore. Leigh Riley McElyea (Rebecca

Leigh Riley, ’80) merged her small business—Blazing Promotions—with those of two friends in January 2013. She handles the company’s southern division, Stellar Promos South.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 49


The company’s areas of operation include northern Alabama, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. She handles promotional products and logo-branded clothing and is eager to work with Auburn University alumni. Check out her customizable products at StellarPromosSouth.com.

Jeffrey Carl Rickard (’85), a

partner in the law firm of Marsh, Rickard & Bryan, P.C., in Birmingham, was recently elected to serve as president of the Alabama Association for Justice. ALAJ is a state-wide attorney organization headquartered in Montgomery that works to

protect the right to trial by jury. His son, Melissa Ryan (Melissa van Arcken, ’86) is Davis, is currently a student in the Harbert administrator for Oak Landing Specialty College of Business, while his daughter, Care in Attalla, Alabama. She enjoys Ashton, is majoring in education at traveling and tennis. Auburn. Penny Smith (’89) is the Dennis Ross (’81) is serving finance director/treasurer his second term in the US for the City of Auburn. “I House of Representatives am a CPA, certified governon behalf of central Floridiment financial manager, and ans in the 15th Congressiochartered global managenal District. He sits on the ment accountant. I am a past president of House Committee on Financial Services the Government Finance Officers Assoand serves on the Housing and Insurance ciation of Alabama.” She enjoys hiking, Subcommittee, as well as the Capital movies, reading, and time with family. Markets and the Government Sponsored Her husband, Allen, earned a doctorate in Enterprises Subcommittee. chemical engineering from Auburn.

Accounting Degree as Foundation for Professional Creativity Her website may be named “plainchicken”, but Auburn native STEPHANIE PARKER (’95, MBA ’01) is anything but. Parker’s taken the self-employment plunge, switching careers from accounting management to full-time blogging. “I majored in accounting for the job stability, but I was always more interested in marketing and advertising,” Parker says.

“It was hard to let go of the accountant mind-set,” Parker says, “but those skills have helped me succeed as a blogger. I am very organized, disciplined, and cost-conscious.” PlainChicken.com began as Parker’s creative outlet—a personal recipe storage site. Through the site, she discovered the world of professional food blogging. Parker set to work, developing her photography skills and creating original recipes. Her creative inspiration? “We never ate out when I was growing up; there weren’t any restaurants in Auburn at the time. My mom always cooked, and I always helped. I watched a lot of Food Network and learned a lot from the various cooking shows. It is really a case of practice makes perfect.” Parker loves her self-created, flexible job, but notes it isn’t easy. To stay relevant, she needs to stay on top of both food and social media trends, and continually invent and market recipes other people will want to make.

Stephanie Parker and AU alum husband Tadd Smith [’95]

Her Harbert College of Business degrees help her tackle the diverse demands of the competitive field. “I understand how to run a business. I personally do everything at Plain Chicken, Inc. I would never be able to be as successful if I didn’t have the business education and experience.”

“When I went back to Auburn to get my MBA, I took several marketing classes as electives. I was determined to follow my passion.”

To those wanting to become professional bloggers, Parker says, ”Write about something you are passionate about and treat your blog as a real business.”

After a lot of hard work, Parker realized her dream. Her blog, PlainChicken.com, now receives 100,000 hits per day. She also writes columns for the Birmingham News and the Mobile Press-Register.

Being organized is also essential. “Make a schedule and stick to it,” Parker says. “Your audience needs to know when to expect posts. If you are sporadic, you will lose your audience.”

50 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


David Strickland (MBA ’88) owns and operates Management Recruiters of Auburn-Opelika, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in February. They successfully completed 405 search assignments as of their milestone date. Teresa Sellers Thornton (’85), director of rates & regulations for Alabama Gas Corporation, is proud of her son, Christopher, who has been accepted as a Harbert College pre-business student for the fall of 2014.

1990s Jenny Day Austin (’98) serves as vice presi-

dent of investment banking for Financial Institutions Group. She celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary in May 2013 with a trip to Sonoma and Napa.

Dwight Van Lierop (’85) recently added a sixth Brian Blakeney (’93) is a partner and CPA acquisition to his insurance agencies and with Wilkins Miller Hieronymus, one earned CPIA (certified professional inof Alabama’s largest CPA and consulting surance agent) status in 2013. He recently firms. enjoyed a trip to Hawaii. Christopher Braun (’96) manages a team of Herman Wilkes (’87) just completed a concommercial lenders. He is entering his tract with the United Arab Emirates govsecond year in the LSU Graduate School of ernment in supporting efforts to provide Banking. a standardized maritime and aeronautical search and rescue system. He modified a Donald Bravaldo (’93) founded his own Six Sigma approach to define the system mergers and acquisitions firm, Bravaldo and measure existing capabilities while Capital Advisors, in Atlanta three years performing a risk assessment for the ago. The firm employs six staff members operational environment. His work with and helps closely-held and family-run the UAE government culminates a 4-year businesses plan and execute successful effort that lays the foundation for a fully exits. The firm also works for middle compliant SAR system with international market industry buyers and private equity obligations. He spent 20 years in the US as buy-side advisors. Marine Corps and two years as the vice president for UAE operations for the secuJan Chamblin (’99) was prority consulting firm Good Harbor Conmoted to director of develsulting, led by former National Security opment for Auburn UniverAdvisor Richard Clarke. sity’s College of Veterinary Medicine in September Sherri Rigby Williams (’85) owns a pair of 2013. During her previous retail wine stores that feature wine bars. eight years with the college’s fundraising After nearly 10 years in the original store team, her responsibilities included event location, she recently took on a large explanning and management, donor recogpansion of the second store. Before startnition, budget planning and management, ing her own businesses, Sherri traveled the and volunteers and sponsorships. She also world as a flight attendant. created new recognition levels for the college’s Centennial Club. “Her track record James Zacharias (’87) led his group to for successful gift solicitation is exemplaalignment with St. Francis Hospital. He ry,” said College of Veterinary Medicine attended the BCS national championship Dean Calvin Johnson. game with his sons, one of whom is a freshman at Auburn. Patrick David (’93) serves as managing director for Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc. in Peter Zanetti (’82) serves as a district sales Birmingham. manager for VeriStor Systems, which provides enterprise data storage and data Danielle Deak (’96) recently celebrated center solutions. He’s celebrating seven her fifth anniversary with LexisNexis, years at VeriStor. where she serves as a supply management

specialist. The company recently created a specialized sales team to sell information solutions to supply management departments in its corporate market. She cheered on the Auburn Tigers in Pasadena in January and spent time on a wine-tasting tour of California.

Gay Gleghorn Dempsey (’90) serves as exec-

utive vice president and board member of Community Bank. “This job is always challenging with the ever-changing regulations and advancements in technology.”

Alan Fox (’90) serves as senior command

and communications and security chief petty officer in the US Coast Guard. Alan is stationed in Key West, Florida, aboard the USCGC Mohawk, which serves in the enforcement of United States laws and treaties, search and rescue, port and waterway security, and maritime domain awareness. “My shipmates and I patrol tens of thousands of square miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the south portions of the Caribbean Sea.” He has two sons attending Auburn—Sidney, a junior in studio art, and Carl, a junior in kinesiology.

Michael Fucci (’94) arrested Sonny Corinthos in his capacity as a police officer on General Hospital; served Vincent Chase, Ari Gold, and the rest of the Entourage posse as a waiter; and has also appeared in a number of commercials. Since earning a finance degree from Auburn, he has pursued his passion for acting, practiced as an attorney, and traveled the world doing Christian missionary work. “We go with the hope of helping others, but truthfully, we get so much more in return. You don’t always get to see the results of your work. You simply have to trust that whatever work you are doing, if you do it to the best of your ability, God can use that. We’re all part of the puzzle.” Michael is also founder and principal of AttorneyAppear.com, an agency that uses attorneys for fill-in roles when other attorneys are not available.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 51


Dr. Robert Gehling (MMIS ’99, PhD ’02) re-

tired from Auburn University Montgomery in May 2013 as an associate professor of information systems in its College of Business. He has continued to teach a few online courses for his former department as an adjunct instructor. Auburn University President Jay Gogue awarded him the title of professor emeritus in the Department of Information Systems in recognition for his more than 25 years of service to Auburn and AUM.

Sarah Houser (’96) serves as chief financial

officer and oversees information technology at CareHere, a hospital and healthcare firm in Nashville.

James Jenkins (’90) is building a trucking company “from the ground up” in the southeastern United States for CEMEX. He relocated from Orlando to Birmingham a year and a half ago, and recently completed Sandler sales training. Kelly Voyles Kardian (’96) owns Spiffy Stuff,

a “to the trade only” design center in Atlanta. The company—spiffystuffinc.com— represents more than 75 manufacturers and operates out of a 20,000-square foot showroom. When she’s not working, Kelly enjoys spending time with her husband and her three sons, ages 6, 7, and 11.

Jeff Matherne (’92) is a first year medical student at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Mike Otwell (’90) is vice president and chief

financial officer at Incepture, a staffing and print services company. He was recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal as the “Ultimate CFO” in September 2013. “We are very entrepreneurial at heart,” he told the Journal. “So the core leaders, including me, get to see the business in total and help drive the business. Even though I’m a CFO and CPA, it is working on the entire business that excites me and drives the numbers.”

David Shabo (’94), a 15-year veteran of the insurance industry, owns and operates an agency in Auburn. Charles Skinner (’90) farms in Hartford,

Alabama, and also takes on demolition projects as a contractor.

Glen Smith (’98, MAc ’99) became chief financial officer for Signature Office REIT, Inc., a publicly-held real estate investment trust based in suburban Atlanta with $680 million in assets under Stacey Powell (’91) serves as an instructional management. He enjoyed watching the technology specialist for Auburn Univer- Auburn football team and took a trip to sity’s College of Liberal Arts. Pasadena to watch the BCS national championship game. His wife, Michelle Steven Robbins (’91) serves as finance Johnson, is also a COB graduate. director in the health/physics division for Mirion Technologies (MGP). Shanna Swann Roberts (’91) uses her business

background to prepare the next generation of leaders as a teacher in the IT Academy at Southern Lee High School in Sanford, North Carolina. “I never would have imagined myself as a teacher 25 years ago,” she said. “Now I know I am able to share my knowledge, skills, and experiences with today’s youth and help impact their future.” Shanna draws on her previous experience working in human resources for manufacturing companies and later serving as a corporate manager. Her classroom is “covered in Auburn merchandise” and serves as a launching point for students interested in mastering Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud tools.

Andy Stewart (’90) became

president of Trustmark Bank in Selma, Alabama, in July 2013.

David Verinder (MBA ’91) serves as chief operating officer for Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System in Florida. Mathew Watson (’98) attended the ABA/

ABA Moneylaundering Enforcement Conference in Washington D.C., and also Ginnis Appraisal Services for seven years Joseph Rogers (MIS ’96) began a new role enjoyed a trip to the BCS national champiand with Sherpa Carry for two. Sherpa running a large marketing team. He calls it onship game. Carry is a start-up, producing hands-free a “big career departure” from his previcarrying cases for iPads. “Al Roker used ous role of running a large sales team. He Faye McLendon Whidbee (’91) is retired after the Sherpa on the Today show for a full looks forward to gaining broader professerving as a vice president in Bank of year, and we have attracted the attention of sional experiences. America’s Business Loan Center and after companies such as Nike and Macy’s, and also setting up a small business loan center executive staff across the United States.” John Herbert Roth (’98) serves as general at Union Bank in California. counsel and chief compliance officer Derek Meek (’96) was recently appointed to for Venor Capital Management LP in Robert Wiltuck (’98) serves as a managing a two-year Board of Trustees term for the New York City. The Hedge Fund Journal consultant at Planview. “I recently took Turnaround Management Association. published his article, “Power Down in the over managing a new segment of our Hedge Fund Industry: Military Principles business: moving our clients from an Craig Menzie (’93) is a principal with Com- and an Ethical Firm Philosophy” in its on-premise installation of our software mercial Insurance Associates in BrentNovember 2013 issue. He resides in Rivto a SaaS model.” He recently laucned a wood, Tennessee. He recently negotiated erside, Connecticut, with his wife, Ann, website and company WhereShouldWeEnew office space for the firm, which will and daughters Peyton, seven, and Frances, at.com, which focuses on locally-owned enable it to continue its growth. four. restaurants within the Phoenix metro area.

Walker McGinnis (’99) has been with Mc-

52 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014


Logistics and Supply Chain Program Leads to Adventures Abroad responsible for and taking a commercial approach to trying to secure the next charter or get closer to our clients and determine ways we can add value to their business.” Stack keeps up with market demands by communicating with fleet vessels, in-country operations staff, shipbrokers and clients to see what’s going on and where opportunities might develop for future business. His team also regularly asks charterers to share ways that Maersk Supply Service can make complex operations safer or more efficient. Although Stack works in Copenhagen, Denmark, he’s primarily responsible for operations in Angola and Maersk business in western Africa. “At one stage I was in nine countries in eleven days—most of it work traveling,” he recalls.

Roxana and Joshua Stack Characters in novels often dream of seeking their fortune and seeing the world. JOSHUA STACK, a 2005 graduate, actually lives that dream. Stack works in chartering and operations at Maersk Supply Service, a services company for oil majors including BP, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Petrobras, and ENI. It’s a complex job, which involves coordinating supplies for anchor handling tug supply vessels, subsea support and platform supply vessels. “A typical day for me is about trying to strike an appropriate balance between playing the role of operator of the ships I’m

2000s Matthew Abernethy (’07) started the Abernethy Law Firm in January 2012 with foci on tax planning, estate planning/probate, captive insurance, tax dispute resolution, bankruptcy, asset protection, banking/ finance, and family business succession planning. He primarily serves small business owners and high net worth individuals in the Atlanta metro area. He married Hadley Heaton Abernethy in 2013. They celebrated the birth of their first child, Reynolds Abigail Abernethy, in 2013.

It’s led to some travel adventures, but paid off in a spectacular Flickr feed full of images of exotic destinations like Peru, Paris, Singapore, Vietnam, and of course many sites in Africa. Stack credits the Harbert College with helping connect him to Maersk. “The logistics department having a close relationship with the company enabled me to get my foot in the door,” Stack says, “and applying the principles outlined in the Auburn Creed to my life and work have helped me take care of the rest.” The secret to his success? “No magic—just applying the values that makes an Auburn man or woman who they are—and the rest has taken care of itself.”

Ryan Akin (’07) is a business analyst for a medical software company. Melissa Autrey (’05) opened the Newmark,

Grubb, Wilson, Kibler brokerage office in Charleston, South Carolina for the Wilson Kibler group out of Columbia, South Carolina. She has worked in commercial real estate for eight years.

Robert Baker (’03) has been nominated to be part of an employee engagement committee, which will focus on improving employee morale among his company’s regional offices. Dr. Philip Barie (PEMBA ’03) takes care of critically-ill and injured patients as a trauma surgeon. He completed his thirti-

eth year on the full-time faculty of Weill Cornell Medical College as professor of surgery and professor of healthcare policy and research.

Amanda Baxter (’06) is a real estate attorney at Winstead PC. Matthew Bazar (’02) was married in Septem-

ber 2013.

Mark Bransby (’00) recently accepted a position in Auburn University’s Office of Information Technology after working for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Agricultural Information Technology office. His areas of responsibility and expertise include webpages and SharePoint.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 53


Kyle Bridges (’07) serves as manager at

Midtown Consulting Group, a boutique management consultancy located in Atlanta, and recently earned his MBA from Georgia Tech.

Alex Cuningham (’09) is an underwriter for ACE Westchester in Atlanta. He focuses on professional risk and applies his expertise writing directors and officers liability insurance policies.

Caitlyn Brinker (’09) serves as a procurement specialist for ARMA Global, a defense contractor in Tampa, Florida.

Jonathan Broadway (’00) enjoyed a trip to Las Vegas last November and to Pasadena for the BCS national championship game in January 2014.

Dr. Jeffrey Brown (’06) started a tenure-track assistant professor of accounting position at Baylor University.

Megan Trieber Bumpers (’07) became director of recruiting for Blair Logistics Inc.

Landon Burgwin (’09) is “living the dream” in Bozeman, Montana, working for Yellowstone Jet Center, a private aviation firm and home to the top-ranked fixed base operation in the Northwest.

Carrie Melton Davis (’08) pursues her passion for real estate development with Three Sixty, an Auburn-based firm. She graduated from Auburn with a finance degree, but opted for a career in the real estate industry after taking “Principles of Real Estate” as a senior year elective. She and her husband enjoy following Auburn sports and spending time with family. Paul Dickinson (MBA ’00) is a partner at

PricewaterhouseCoopers and resides in Bangalore, India. He is also a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force Reserves.

Suzanne Donaghey (’09) resides in Denver, where she works as a human resources coordinator.

James Burleson (’07) is planning a mission trip to Cincinnati in March.

Kristen Cain (’07), who sells online medical

resources to hospitals and medical schools in the Southeast, was married in 2013.

Gabriel Campos (’02) is involved in a joint

venture with the biggest distribution company in Guatemala. He finished his first marathon in November 2013 and became a Rotary Club member.

Kathryn Caspar (MBA ’08) took a new job as general manager of a smaller company and is in the process of building her own business. Marc Corbi (’07) serves as a financial analyst

in the operations department for a major website. He enjoys the “opportunity to add insights and efficiencies.”

54 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

Clayton Dudley (’05) began his third year

John W. Gray (’01) started his own law firm, The Gray Firm, in February 2013 after five years with a Birmingham-based law firm. His firm is tailored to assist business owners and business decision-makers. John said his firm “seeks to go beyond traditional legal advice, and form close relationships with clients, becoming an advocate for their legal interests. My business education helped me in many ways— concept planning, marketing strategy, and business management. The list could go on and on.” His firm’s website is www. thegrayfirm.net. Clint Hartsfield (’09) works in sales and handling for Snake River K9, which breeds, trains, and sells search and rescue dogs. He enjoys his surroundings in Jackson, Wyoming: skiing in the winter, fishing in the summer, and hunting in the fall. Ashley Grissette Hodgdon (’06) transferred to Dothan, Alabama, and now serves as a client associate with CapSouth Partners, an investment management and financial planning firm. Michael Horton (’07) left his career in bank-

ing to attend law school. Before beginning law school, he served as a business systems analyst for Regions Bank.

Andrew Hyatt (’02) moved to Colorado in search of employment opportunities.

with CRC Insurance as a wholesale property broker. “I am on the road for work a good bit, which gives plenty of opportunities to experience different cities.”

Wonanaweiye Iyegha (’09) is expecting the arrival of a second daughter in April and also plans to take the CPA exam.

Bryan Elmore (’02) was promoted from

Courtney Koons (’07, MAc ’09) celebrated her

Emily Guthrie Farrell (’07) works in the private

Benjamin Kramer (’05) married Erin M. Duggan in August 2013.

interim director to director in the budget services office at Auburn University. company services audit group of PricewaterhouseCoopers Atlanta. She and her husband bought their first house in June 2013. She was promoted to manager last summer as well.

Shelley Flenniken (’06) is pursuing her MBA

at Thunderbird School of Global Management after working for a combined seven years in advertising in the real estate market and government affairs sectors of the financial services industry.

five-year anniversary at Ernst & Young.

Ernest Lee (’01) relocated his construction business to Auburn in 2013. “Our company has tripled net production each year since its inception in 2011.” Allison Lindsly (’07) was pro-

moted to Marketing Manager at The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where she manages all outgoing local market-


ing messages. The Roosevelt is home to the world famous Sazerac Bar. Allison volunteers for a number of organizations, including the Auburn Alumni Club, Autism Speaks, and Alpha Xi Delta.

Nathaniel Matthews (’02) is building a new

Jason Little (’01) works in Morgantown,

nies create a healthier workplace through an internal incubator at his company, Daxko. “Being a startup within a business presents unique challenges but great opportunity.” He and his wife also celebrated the birth of their second child.

West Virginia, as a commercial landman/ attorney focusing on join ventures, areas of interest and operating agreements in oil and gas exploration internationally, as well as in the Appalachian Basin.

apartment building complex. He ran the San Francisco half-marathon last year while clad in Auburn attire.

Richard Merritt (MIS ’02) is helping compa-

Neda Long (’07) will begin a career as an au- Brooke Culpepper Miller (’04), considered a

ditor with Deloitte in the fall of 2014 after completing her MBA at Belmont University in Nashville.

“professional reader” by publishing companies, receives free books in exchange for blogging about them. “For an avid reader,

that’s an exciting thing.” She also works in database management and event coordination.

Ashley Mittelstaedt (’09), a medical device

sales representative at Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Johnson and Johnson Company, reports that she is in the top 10 percent of sales representatives, and was married last summer.

Alan Moise (’06) works for a high-growth,

new construction-oriented senior housing operator, Assisted Living and Memory Care. The young company is growing rapidly, with new development opportunities from Texas to Virginia.

Hook, Line, and Sinker: Marketing Education Ties into Pro Fishing If this sounds like a fish story, well, it is. Lee competes in bass fishing, a club sport at most universities that isn’t governed by the NCAA rule book. That enables Lee to pocket prize money and seek out sponsorships as a member of Auburn University’s Bass Fishing Team. There’s a reason why the sport is jokingly referred to as “BASScar.” As is the case with NASCAR drivers, sponsorship support means everything for professional fishermen. “Having the marketing background translates into finding sponsors,” said Lee, a Guntersville, Alabama, native. “It’s all about how you market yourself to these companies. You basically have to have a sales pitch for why you should use their brand and work for them, too.” Before graduating in December 2013 with a marketing degree, JORDAN LEE managed to make more than a few of his fellow Auburn student-athletes jealous. After one of his victories, he happily collected a $5,000 check along with the keys to a Toyota pick-up truck and a brand new fishing boat outfitted with a 250-horsepower engine. He accepted these prizes without any fear that an NCAA investigator would force him to return it all. Unlike his counterparts in football, basketball, and baseball, Lee could accept payment for a job well done. His Auburn Tigers jersey also happened to convey a “This space for rent” vibe with its variety of logos advertising everything from big box retailers to automobile manufacturers.

Lee has found even more outdoors companies clamoring for patch space on his jersey in the last few months. He won the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Classic on Michigan’s Grand River in September, claiming a title earned the previous year by his older brother and former teammate, Matt. In doing so, he became the only collegiate angler to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic— billed as “the Super Bowl of bass fishing” with 56 competitors vying for a $300,000 first place prize on Lake Guntersville. He performed well, finishing sixth and pocketing $22,000. Lee’s photo graced the pages of Time in June 2013, when the magazine explored the rising popularity of collegiate fishing. “Telling a girl you fish for Auburn is not a good pickup line,” Lee told the magazine, explaining the sport’s low profile.

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 55


Christiania Morris (’09) manages four hotels at a luxury hotelier in Atlanta. She is also in charge or ordering liquor for the property to ensure outlets and banquets are stocked for all of their functions.

Tricia Ramage Peterson (’00) owns Three Sixty, a full-service real estate development needs firm based in Auburn. Away from the job, she relishes her role as a “boy mom,” an Auburn football fan, and a “lover of all things Southern.” Sarah Reeves (’07) is the social media and content manager at GDD Interactive, a boutique marketing firm based in Dallas. Her recent travels have taken her to the BCS championship game and to Costa Rica for the second time. Ryan Schaub (’09) works as product manager of a mobile/tablet game at KIXEYE. His 50-member team is the largest in the company. He was hired at KIXEYE to help the company make the transition from the web to the mobile market. He has spent five years in the gaming and interactive technology industry, specializing in product management, web-to-mobile design, free-to-play economies, production, monetization systems, and market research.

gion of Gensler, overseeing the marketing strategy for its offices in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and La Crosse, Wisconsin. In an 18-month span, she earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University, had a baby, and earned promotions at Gensler.

Robert Thayer (’01, MBA ’09) is engaged in

a cross promotion on construction safety by teaming with Wiley X Sunglasses to produce branded safety glasses.

Jeffrey Walker (’04) made partner at his law firm.

Christina Weeks (’04) is an internal auditor

with an advertising holding company in New York City. Her job enables her to travel the world and visit advertising agencies within the holding company. “In the last year I have been to Sweden, Poland, Thailand, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines.”

Rachel Leonard Wierenga (’05)

works as the associate director of planned giving at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Aaron [’05], a graduate of Auburn’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction. They have two daughters, Ruth and Marie.

Ralph Simpson (’01) serves as director of career services at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and remains active in tennis, serving as a member of two boards of directors—USTA Delaware and Rodney Street Tennis & Tutoring Association. He’s also a men’s 35 singles national champion (2008 and 2012).

of four Harbert College of Business graduates who works for ThreeSixty, an Auburn-based real estate development needs firm. She enjoys traveling with her husband, Matt, and raising her two sons.

Robert Sommerville (MIS ’05) received both a promotion and a raise within the last year. He received his MBA from UAB in 2013.

Ryan Wilson (’04) serves as senior decision support analyst at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Natalie Strickland (’00) is teaching a course in

Courtney Covey Wolf (’08, MBA ’10) is a sales representative with The Hershey Company and serves the Birmingham market. She was one of only three employees in the southeastern United States to be recognized for top tier performance in 2012. In January, she went into business with Julie Bunkley [’03] of Invision Events, a

career preparedness and enjoys “whatever sport or current activity my teenagers are doing.”

Nicholas Sutphin (’09) is marketing director at TreeHouse in Austin, Texas.

Leslie Wallace Taylor (’02) serves as regional marketing leader for the north central re56 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

Amy Rich Willis (’05) is one

boutique wedding planning firm serving brides in Alabama and Georgia. Courtney manages Invision Events’ marketing and branding. She and her husband, Greg, a 2011 Auburn graduate, enjoy traveling to exotic destinations, exercising, spending time with family, and following Auburn athletics. She is also launching an online women’s boutique, Lola.

2010s Delia Barnes (’12) recently transferred from Texas to California. She enjoys her “great job with lots of security.”

Scott Bishop (’12) serves as a financial advisor with Raymond James. “I partnered with an advisor that I previously worked with at Merrill Lynch after completing my MBA. We provide comprehensive financial planning and asset management services for over 200 households and manage approximately $130 million in assets.” Whitney Barnwell Bolger (’10) and her husband [’11], a marine biology graduate, proudly fly their Auburn University flag year-round in front of their home in Palacios, Texas. Whitney serves as the assistant tutor coordinator at a junior college. “I am very appreciative of my education from the College of Business at Auburn University,” she wrote.

Trey Bonner (’12) serves as a buyer at Lock-

heed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas. He works in subcontract management in major systems and equipment for production of aircraft.


Jeremy Busby (’11) serves as safety coordina- Adam McCollum (’13) is an ensign in the US tor for ITW, leading bi-weekly meetings devoted to safety issues, concerns, training, and ergonomics.

Monica Byrd (’11) prides

Navy stationed at the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida. He recently took his first flight in the naval flight officer training pipeline.

Meghan McCue (’12) changed industries,

herself on meeting client needs and negotiating the best possible deals for them with Three Sixty, an Auburn-based real estate firm. A native of the Auburn-Opelika area, she enjoys being a mother to her fantastic son and watching comedies and dramas like Sex and the City and Dallas.

financial advisor and has earned Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.

Jeffrey Christensen (’10) received a promo-

Ryan Parten (’10) became a quality assur-

tion to executive team leader at Target. He’s enjoying a “new title, new city, new co-workers, and connecting with Auburn alumni in Louisiana.”

Angelica Fields (’11) launched a new busi-

ness in 2013 and has doubled her initial investment. “I have discovered the power of network marketing in society, and even more so online.”

Andy Gilpin (’13) works in Washington, D.C., as an associate at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm.

leaving defense contracting for advertising, media, and public relations in New York City.

Rebecca Gray Montgomery (’12) works as a

ance lead at Nike.

Michael Portera (’10) married his college

sweetheart in 2012 and earned a promotion to senior associate at KPMG in October 2013.

Blake Prestridge (’12) is a financial planner at Wilson Investment Group in Auburn. He enjoys the outdoors, Auburn football, and Atlanta Braves baseball. Matthew Reed (’13) is assistant account

Virginia Kathleen Haworth (’10) serves as direc- manager at 20/20 Research in Nashville. tor of appointments for Florida’s Governor’s Office. She was able to attend the Brittney Rieben (MBA ’13) works as a finance BCS national championship game. analyst for Delta Air Lines’ cargo division. Her team is responsible for “closing the Justin Holland (’11) is preparing for tax books” on all of the cargo division’s season and a surge in the transportation/ expenses. She earned her MBA from retail industry. He recently received a Harbert College in May 2013 and considpromotion, and he’s also preparing for a ers trips to the Casablanca Stock Exchange major life change—a June wedding to a in Morocco and the Bank of France in “’bama girl. None of us are perfect!” Paris to be among the highlights in helping her “understand international Dr. Zack Jourdan (PhD ’10) was transactions in my current role.” Her travel promoted to department schedule hasn’t slowed down since head of information systems graduation. Her recent adventures include and management at Auburn hanging out near the top of the Willis University at Montgomery Tower in Chicago and sailing on a Chilean in January 2014. Zack, who navy ship in Valparaiso. earned his PhD from Auburn in 2010, enjoyed a year of professional milestones. He earned tenure and promotion to associate professor at AUM in March 2013, was promoted to department head of information systems in August, and graduated from AUM’s Leadership Academy in December.

Jon Roberts (’12) attends law school at the

University of Alabama. “It’s a bit more fun after the 2013 [football] season,” he said.

Gregory Rotunda (MBA ’13) serves as a shared service accounting supervisor. Lucas Salyers (’12), who was married in August 2013, now attends law school.

Dr. Tej Singh (PEMBA ’13), director of vascular surgery at El Camino Hospital and chief of vascular surgery and director of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Robert L. Mitchell Vascular Center in California’s San Francisco Bay area, has a passion for Olympic sports. He serves as a volunteer for the US Olympic Training Center and became a USOC Diversity Champion in 2013, a role that focuses on making the US Olympic and Paralympic movements more inclusive. He has served as a board member for USA Field Hockey and trained medical personnel to serve the US national team. Zachary Slocum (’10) works for the Co-

ca-Cola Company as a market development manager. He attended the BCS national championship game in Pasadena and was married in February 2014.

Kiersten Taber (’11) is launching a new

product, integrating existing business with acquisitions, and changing business models. She was married in December 2013.

Adam Yates (’11) is a buyer for Thompson Tractor Company in Bimingham. In his two-and-a-half years with the company, he has generated nearly $200,000 in cost savings.

Stay connected! Facebook: facebook.com/AUBusiness Twitter: twitter.com/AUBusiness LinkedIn: linkedin.com/groups/ Auburn-College-Business-Alumni-153974

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 57


DEAN’S LAST WORD Donuts with the Dean Editor’s Note: With the right hands at the wheel, it’s possible for a large organization to corner tightly and capitalize on opportunity. “Donuts with the Dean” reflects our driving style—fast, confident, and capable of pivoting on a dime—but it’s also a happening. The college regularly hosts a social event known as “Donuts with the Dean.” It’s a time to socialize, celebrate recent success, and, of course, enjoy delectable treats. The Silicon Valley-spawned notion of quick pivot—the ability to bravely plant a foot in future possibility while keeping the other firmly planted in the past—seems like one of those fanciful concepts that could never work in academia. We don’t think of universities as having very much in common with tech start-ups when it comes to agility, flexibility, and speed of change. The turning radius for change within higher education often resembles that of an ocean liner. Since last summer, we have proven that it is possible to respond with the agility of a sports car. For almost 30 years, we were known as the College of Business. In June 2013, we became known as the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. Even though we already possessed a solid reputation among our peers, that moment offered a chance for us to reboot, reflect, and recalibrate. We now know what it feels like to be one of those Silicon Valley start-ups, flush with possibility and full of confidence, ready to try new things while also being mindful of what has worked well previously. The magazine you are holding serves as an example of this. We re-designed it last year and have renamed it now in order to establish and tell the story of our new brand. At the same time, we will honor the legacy of The Shareholder by using it as the name of the college’s new annual report. Whether building, changing, or maintaining, every company’s journey is different. In this issue, we have highlighted the role our graduates have played in helping established companies, like Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A, and new ones, like Back Forty Beer, navigate their respective paths. For us, the journey started with our strategic plan—our vision and mission—and the self-reflection of who we are and the roadmap for where we are going. Colleges of business need to strike a balance between persevering and pivoting, between staying the course and adjusting. There are, to be sure, some things worth holding on to. We believe in preparing students for and conducting research that matters in “the practical world” described in the Auburn Creed, while also remembering our role in extending knowledge in the academy. We pride ourselves on our ability to prepare our students to succeed in the “professional now” by 58 HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014

providing a foundation that seamlessly blends new methods and ways of thinking with time-tested, proven fundamentals. We remain true to our new mission of “producing highly-desired graduates and generating knowledge that drives business thought and practice.” Our vision remains unchanged. We see our destination as being “among the elite public schools of business in the US,” but the Harbert gift and the identity it confirmed undoubtedly cleared the pathway. How do we get there? We expect the process to play out in stages over the next several years, but that represents lightning change within the context of a 158-year-old university. Since last summer, we have been laying the groundwork for new research centers and have started recruiting faculty “thought leaders” for new endowed chair positions. We have created new academic programs that will debut in the fall of 2014 (e.g., PhD in finance, online bachelor’s in accounting). Interior upgrades to student common areas and classrooms are ongoing, and we will soon have renderings for a planned Graduate School of Business building. As these and other changes take shape, we can’t help but be excited about our journey. We hope you’ll join us for the adventure. War Eagle!

Bill C. Hardgrave, PhD

Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Harbert College of Business


Our Mission: “We are dedicated to producing highly desired graduates and producing knowledge that drives industry thought and practice.�

Let Us Hear From You Whether you are an alum or a supporter, a student or a parent, you have a stake in our future.

harbert.auburn.edu or cobletters@auburn.edu

HarbertMagazine, Spring 2014 59


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Harbert Magazine Spring 2014