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dividends T H E M A G A Z I N E O F T H E M I S S I S S I P P I S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y C O L L E G E O F B U S I N E S S • 2 0 1 8

JORDAN DANBERRY’S Stock is Rising


Dean’s Welcome R

ather than my traditional Dividends letter I would like to offer a tribute to an incredible woman who left a mark on thousands of people during her

89 years on this earth. Dr. Dora Herring, the woman I call the matriarch of MSU accounting, passed away unexpectedly on May 2, 2018. We featured Dr. Dora (as many called her) in the 2014 edition of Dividends, where we referred to her as a “trailblazer.” She was the first female accounting student at MSU, the first female hired to teach in the College of Business, the first person – male or female – in the State of Mississippi to hold a CPA and a Doctorate in Accounting and the first female to serve as President of the Mississippi Society of CPAs. Dr. Dora was involved in every aspect of Mississippi State University from planning the first Super Bulldog Weekend to the celebration of MSU’s Centennial. She was on the building committee for McCool Hall and worked diligently to transform the Department of Accountancy to a School of Accountancy. The latter is something that was high on her list of achievements. But there was more to Dr. Dora’s story than teaching in the accounting classroom or being the first in all aspects of her career. Dr. Dora was a role model and a champion for women in the College of Business in the 1960s. Looking around the hallways back then there were few people who looked like Dr. Dora. She never saw herself as different because she was a female and never allowed female students to believe they were anything but equal. But Dr. Dora was very cognizant of the fact that females in that era could face difficult challenges. She didn’t believe women should receive any special treatment because of their gender, but she was always quick to point out that each and every person, male or female, had to be prepared to deal with the trials of the workplace. She let her students know that life was not always fair and the playing field not always level, but that they should always take the high road. Working in a man’s world, Dr. Dora made her voice heard and often even wore black suits with pants to fit in. She blazed a trail while raising three sons and being a devoted wife for 58 years. She had a wicked sense of humor, once telling me that even though I wasn’t an accountant, I really wasn’t so bad! Those words endeared her to me. I was fortunate to have known her and called her a friend. When she retired after 30 years, her work continued in the community and in her beloved church until the day she passed from this earth. Dr. Dora Herring will always be one of the “legends of MSU accounting” and a cornerstone of MSU and the city of Starkville. Many people credit her for their successful careers and their knowledge of accounting. In concluding, I would like to share some wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.” Dr. Dora left footprints on the hearts of so many people... including mine. She is truly missed.

Sharon L. Oswald, Dean


Executive Advisory Board David P. Abney

contents Dividends is a publication of the College of Business at Mississippi State University | 2018

Boyce Adams, Sr.

2 A Superstar On and Off the Court

Richard C. Adkerson

Be it athletics or academics, Jordan Danberry drives to her goals.

Drew Allen Marsha Blackburn Mary Childs William Anthony Clark James A. Coggin Cynthia Cooper

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Helen Currie Larry Favreau Linda M. Garrett Jan L. Gwin John M. Hairston John Hill

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Joe Iupe, Jr. Lewis F. Mallory, Jr. Frank H. McWhorter, Jr. Lee Miller Mickey Milligan C.R. Montgomery

14 Fostering Home Grown Businesses Wade Patterson’s experience gives entrepreneurship students a head start.

22 Power Broker Dr. Helen Currie is among the most influential women in the energy industry. 26 A Supply Chain of Talent Frank Adams and the Supply Chain Program benefit students and state industries. 30 A Woman of Influence Lauren Steele has built a career as a leading social media influencer. 34 Out of the Middle Business knowledge has put Tom Hixon at the top in a variety of industries.

Paul J. Karre Don Mason

10 Open Heart, Open Arms Leslie Beasley puts her business education to work for people in need.

18 An Early Start MSU offers an entrepreneurship challenge to middle and high school students.

Thomas F. Darnell Haley R. Fisackerly

6 A Promising Paradox Campusknot and its CEO Rahul Gopal help students and professors communicate.

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Roderick A. Moore

38 Out Front on Analytics The College is stepping up to fill a demand for analytics-savvy professionals. 42 Family First From her relatives to her MSU family, recruiter Kelsey Waters builds lasting ties. 46 Champion for Equality Fair pay crusader Lilly Ledbetter brings her message to MSU students. 50 U.S. Immigration Policy: What Can We Learn? Dr. Sandra Orozco-Aleman shares what can be learned from Mexican migration.

Debrah Oberkirch Shirley Olson

54 Dr. B’s Brand Marketing students have come to trust Dr. Mike Breazeale’s “brand.”

Gee Gee Patridge Richard Puckett, Sr.

58 Success Finds Shelby Baldwin Student, ambassador, leader, recruiter, entrepreneur — Miss MSU doesn’t slow down.

R.L. Qualls Joe G. Rice, Jr.

62 Mr. Pat’s Home Turf Superintendent Pat Sneed nurtures the MSU Golf Course and the students who

Ken B. Robinson

learn there.

James Rouse

66 A User-Friendly Dressing Room Sadie Pierce aims to change how technology meets brick-and-mortar retail.

Robert A. Sheely

William A. Taylor, III

70 Positioned to Prosper Director of Development Zack Harrington welcomes colleague Jana Berkery.

Cyndi A. Tucker Jimmy L. Walden

72 What Are You Embarrassed to Buy? Dr. Carol Jones shares ways companies may ease consumers’ discomfort in

Loretta Walker Loyd “Aldie” Warnock

buying awkward products.

M. L. Waters

76 The MSU MBA: A Diamond Anniversary For 60 years, the MSU MBA has challenged and equipped future business leaders.

80 Going the Distance for 20 Years The MSU Distance MBA has extended the reach of business education for

Dividends is published by Tellōs, LLC. www.telloscreative.com

COVER: Jordan Danberry is a standout in basketball and business. Article, p.2

two decades.

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A Superstar On and Off the Court By Sharon Oswald and Kelsey Waters n the Southeastern Conference, student athletes are celebrities. The special level of talent these young men and women possess can sometimes make us forget that these superstars are students pursuing not just athletic dreams, but academic success as well. The spotlight, the roar of the crowd, the overnight superstardom can all be blinding, but Jordan Danberry understands her goals and will not let anything stand in her way. Of all the books on the shelf in her grandfather’s house, Danberry chose a college algebra book to study. Now, this might not seem extraordinary, but she was in elementary school at the time! She started copying the problems, and by the sixth grade she had taught herself algebra.

Danberry’s basketball career began in kindergarten, playing Upward Basketball. “I asked my mom for a basketball court for my fifth birthday, and she got it built for me!” exclaims Danberry. As she got older, Danberry cultivated her competitive nature shooting hoops at the local Boys and Girls Club. Later, she went to a few basketball camps in Arkansas, including one in her hometown at the University of Central Arkansas. During her high school years, she started accumulating accolades. In 2014, she was named the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year, and by 2015 – her senior year – she was a five-star prospect out of Conway High School. When the time came for college, Danberry signed with the University of Arkansas as a point guard. During her time as a Razorback, she started in 13 out of 30 games as a freshman and began making a name for herself at the collegiate level. In the fall of 2016, however, Danberry had a change of heart and made a very emotional request of then-head coach Jimmy Dykes. She wanted to be released from a somewhat flailing Arkansas team. She needed a change of scenery. “A lot of players don’t get released,” she comments. “He could have restricted me, but he didn’t and let me go.” Today she admits that making that request of Coach Dykes was one of the hardest things she has ever done – much tougher than playing in the NCAA Final Four. Upon being released, Danberry turned to her high school coach, Ashley Hutchcraft-Nance, for guidance. After a few phone calls, she was MSU bound. Hutchcraft-Nance was well known by Mississippi State coaches Johnnie Harris and Vic Schaefer. She too had been recruited by the coaching pair out of high school when they were on the staff at Arkansas, though Hutchcraft-Nance opted for Central Arkansas. When Danberry arrived at Mississippi State in January 2017, the Lady Bulldogs were already six games into the season. She would be starting a new position – wing guard. Today, Danberry shares

Photo by Beth Wynn

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The self-proclaimed math nerd from Conway, AR, with signature red hair puffs, plays wing guard on the SEC champion women’s basketball team at Mississippi State University. As a young child, her grandfather instilled in her that grades were important, and it did not hurt that granddad secretly slipped her dollar bills for making As. Danberry said she was a straight A student until she came down with a serious case of “senioritis” her last semester in high school.

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“My mom’s sister is 10 years older than me,” Danberry recalls. “It was her book. If I was bored in the afternoon, I started copying the problems. I really love college algebra.”

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that while she still talks to her former teammates, Arkansas just wasn’t right for her. “My GPA wasn’t good, and I just didn’t want to go to class,” she says. “Things were too comfortable for me. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Out of the state of Arkansas.” At MSU, she found a second family in her coaches and teammates.

Danberry was nicknamed the “X-Factor” for her role in the Bulldogs’ overtime defeat of Louisville that earned the team a berth in the 2018 NCAA Finals. Photo by Kelly Donoho/MSU Athletics

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“Coach Schaefer is intense, demanding, but eager to listen. He treats us like daughters and makes sure we stay out of trouble,” she observes. Although the transfer would turn out to be a great decision for Danberry, leaving Arkansas was a huge step for her. With such a close-knit family, it was difficult for her to leave home. Her mom, Angela, works as a nurse, and her stepfather, Brian, is a computer specialist in the area. She has a six-year-old brother, BJ (Brian); a nine-year-old sister, Phoenyx, and a beloved grandfather who lives right next door. Aunts, uncles and several cousins live nearby. She also has an older brother, Shaun, and two younger sisters, Asia and Trinity, who live in McCrory, AR, with her dad. All of this family was hard to leave behind, but their love and support gave Danberry the courage she needed to chase a dream all the way to Mississippi. Family gatherings in Conway are cherished times for her and, as she says, “We always eat good!” When asked about her favorite memories, they always have to do with family. Thanksgiving, in particular, is high on her list. The family convenes at her uncle’s house, about 30 in all, where they barbecue and have fun outdoors. Her toughest life memory also has to do with family. Danberry lost her grandmother when she was just 10 years old. “My grandmother was a big part of raising me,” she says. “It was hard for all of us, but my family is so close, we just all stuck together to get through it.” Her family members, particularly BJ and Phoenyx, are her biggest fans today. They love to cheer on the Lady Bulldogs, and Danberry’s time at the Final Four seems to have taken their enthusiasm up a notch. Danberry catapulted to the national limelight during the NCAA semi-finals game against Louisville earlier this year. Nicknamed the “X-Factor” by sports reporters, it was her two steals in overtime that eventually sealed the game for the Lady Bulldogs.

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But her superstardom is not limited to the court. Danberry was honored by the NCAA with the Elite 90 Award, given to the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among peers. The course load of a student athlete looks different than of most other students. With strong communication and the support of faculty, Danberry and the other Lady Bulldogs are able to develop schedules that help them balance academic and athletic commitments.

“She is a good student,” he states. “I always like the students who are willing to work hard, and I don’t think most other students realize how much time athletes have to devote to their sport. She is definitely someone I would strongly recommend to employers.”

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Danberry maintains a very high GPA in one of the toughest curriculums in the College of Business: economics, a major where her prowess in mathematics really pays off. Her econometrics professor, Dr. Randy Campbell, speaks very highly of her.

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Another of her favorite teachers is Dr. Sandra Orozco-Aleman, because “she is so energetic and passionate about labor economics.” Of all her classes, Danberry ranks intermediate micro economics as her very favorite – another course that she took from Orozco-Aleman. Danberry’s academic achievements have not gone unnoticed by her teammates. It is not unusual to find her tutoring them – especially when algebra is the subject! In her spare time, she is somewhat of a crime show junkie. All of the “Law and Order” shows, like “Criminal Intent,” and so many more keep her interests piqued. “I like finding clues and figuring out problems,” she says. “I love to do the crossword puzzles. My teammates make fun of me because they think crosswords are for old people! When I read, it is only mystery books. I really want to be a detective.” She has set her post-collegiate sights on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a plan she has had since meeting an FBI agent while in high school. She expects to finish her BA in Economics in December and hopes to continue into the MBA program. Although Danberry likes to stay busy, she enjoys playing video games, hanging out with her teammates and most of all spending time at the dog park with her pets Kane, a blue pit bull, and Bella, a lab-beagle mix. One thing is for certain: she has not regretted her decision to come to Mississippi State University. She loved spending time with the other teams while at the Final Four in Columbus, OH. “We all started line dancing and having fun with one another,” she shares. She also enjoys the fan interaction after every game, and she particularly likes the spotlight! As for her future predictions for the Lady Bulldogs, she states, “We are going to win it all next year!” And there is no doubt her family will be around to cheer her on. Danberry is truly a role model for young, aspiring female athletes. When asked what advice she has for young women, she replies, “Make sure you make good grades. You can’t get into college without good grades. Dream big, and go after those dreams because your dreams could turn into reality.” And isn’t Danberry a prime example of her own advice.

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Danberry particularly likes Campbell’s class because “every example is about basketball!”

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By Tom Lammert

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onsider this definition for paradox: one (such as a person, situation or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities. The key term in this characterization is “seemingly.” Qualities initially appear contradictory, but further consideration renders them complementary. Tech company Campusknot and its CEO and co-founder Rahul Gopal are in many ways defined by paradoxes.

Rahul Gopal is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of Campusknot, and most of his work happens here in the company’s third-floor suite. There is a waiting room/kitchenette with a comfy couch next to the office’s entrance, and on the coffee table burns a scented candle. Gopal walks in wearing jeans and a navy blue shirt with sleeves rolled up past his elbows, as if to show he is ready to get to work. He squats to calm his puppy, “Z” – short for Zlatan, the first name of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swedish soccer star. Naming his puppy after a soccer player is indicative that Gopal adores the sport – he himself has played since he was a kid in Mumbai, India – so it is not a surprise to see the World Cup match between France and Uruguay playing out on a monitor in his office. Gopal seats himself in a chair that faces the game. Behind him, a window frames a perfect view of Main Street. This office is not the stereotypical space designed by millennial entrepreneurs. Gopal does not pass time by lounging in a beanbag, and he cannot escape to an in-house yoga studio via a fireman’s pole. The Campusknot office has computers on desks with chairs pulled up to them. For a company with a mission to revolutionize academia’s stance on incorporating social media into its classrooms, the office is atypically conventional.

Photos by Logan Kirkland

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To bring together professors and their students, Campusknot created software with an interface that takes its cues from ubiquitous social media platforms. Students create a profile (à la Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) then use it to communicate with their professors and peers. For instance, if a student misses a class, he or she can find the course’s Campusknot page and post a request for notes. Other students or the professor can respond to the request. This back-and-forth creates a thread that looks like the digital conversations associated with social media, not academia. Campusknot benefits students by providing an interface that mimics the apps with which they are comfortable, and it benefits professors who implement the software into their courses. Professors can use Campusknot to take attendance, administer in-class quizzes or polls, post notes and distribute assignments. Whereas other educational software can perform these same tasks, Campusknot allows users to do so through an interface that is intuitive and familiar.

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Enter the Greater Starkville Development Partnership facility, a three-story building that houses local institutions and businesses. Find the elevator hidden amid a maze of hallways and ride it to the third floor. At the end of the hall is the office space for Campusknot, a company bridging the communication gap between tech-savvy, social media-obsessed college students and their professors – even that bespectacled professor whose suit is white with chalk dust because he spends his lectures at the blackboard scribbling notes.

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Some of the Campusknot team members: (from left) Sagar Shetty, Clint Vancourt, Ana Gonzalez, Rahul Gopal and Blake Tarver

In contrast, Gopal’s journey defies conventions. In 1989, Gopal was born to Saroj and P.S. Gopal. He says his parents “came from nothing,” making $50 per week before eventually securing comfortable positions atop their respective fields. Their work ethic is not lost on Gopal, but he admits he did not adopt a comparable one until his mid-20s. Consider Gopal’s academic history. He was not a top-level student as a child, earning Bs until college. His parents expected more from him, yet they did not scold him about his grades because he remained active. He played soccer, swam and joined the debate team. Gopal believes the time he spent with friends and athletics instead of on homework benefits him today because much of his job requires what he calls “soft skills,” like being a proficient communicator. It is difficult to argue against this perspective when he sits in the third-floor office space of his successful company. But it is equally difficult to believe that he did not focus on school, for the man holds multiple degrees. After high school, Gopal attended college in Mumbai. He studied instrumentation but was not devoted to his studies. Unhappy and therefore unfocused on his engineering studies, Gopal quit.

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Feeling dejected and lost, Gopal took one more shot at school. He reviewed English, took the required standardized English-language test along with the SAT and applied to a number of universities in the United States. He received acceptance letters from several. A college in New York offered him a soccer scholarship, but the money was not quite enough. Gopal wanted to take advantage of a second opportunity to study engineering. He opted to accept an academic scholarship from Mississippi State University.

The following semester, his academic performance did not improve, as he focused on building an engaging reputation among MSU’s international students. At the end of his second semester, Gopal lost his scholarship, forcing him to work several part-time jobs. This became a turning point. After a semester of this grueling routine, Gopal earned a 4.0 and won back his scholarship. It was also during this period that Campusknot began, with founder Hiten Patel and other cofounder Perceus Mody and help from the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach.

Gopal epitomizes the truth that perseverance can develop one’s passion for the very thing that once seemed difficult or impossible to overcome. He transformed from an unfocused student to a decidedly educated leader of a company that aims to help the students who struggle like he once did. That company today is valued at $5 million. Campusknot has active users in six states at ten U.S. universities – including, of course, Mississippi State. Campusknot allows Gopal to help students learn, and it allows him to do what he has always done – connect people. If his company continues to succeed, Gopal will connect the prototypical professor with the screen-captivated student. And when these two figures find a more efficient way to communicate, it creates another paradox – a cross-generational conversation and collaboration.

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Gopal’s story displays an astounding number of paradoxes. He has an aerospace engineering degree though he quit studying engineering at one time because it was not his passion. He is a brilliant, well-spoken man who once failed basic English. He holds two degrees, but his history suggests he was not always an aficionado of academia. He owns a successful company that itself seems paradoxical: a social media platform that enhances post-secondary education instead of distracting from it.

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Gopal remained focused on academics for the next two and a half years, and he graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering. At that point, he jumped right back into school, earning an MBA from Mississippi State as well.

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He arrived at Mississippi State hoping that a new country and a new academic environment could fix his scholastic failures. Yet when his first semester ended, Gopal found that he had underperformed in his classes despite having done well on certain assignments and showing an innate affinity for coding.

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eslie Connor Beasley knows how to draw a listener into a story, almost as if she’s painting a lush portrait with shades of detail or describing an action movie filled with pathos and drama. But paintings and films are not reality; Beasley’s tales are true. And they are testimony to how a Mississippi State business education can be used for the good of others.

She adds, “Odile stayed on the run and in hiding for a year.” Beasley stops, still overwhelmed at the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. When she connected with Odile, the Congolese family had been transplanted to its new, confusing life in Texas. Open Arms made all the difference. Odile, the first hire, learned sewing skills to produce fashion pieces from recycled t-shirts. Ultimately, she earned enough to obtain a mortgage on her own home. The money earned by employees of Open Arms means more than material goods, Beasley claims. It also means dignity for these women, who come from South Sudan, North Sudan, Congo, Nepal and beyond. “None of them wants to be dependent; each wants to provide for their families,” she says, “And to have a life of dignity and empowerment.” Which leads to another story. “Two of our women from North and South Sudan were widows,” she says. “One was Muslim, the other Christian, and their husbands had been killed in a conflict where the two religions were fighting one another – yet these women worked side by side at Open Arms and helped each other.” Beasley loves the outcomes. “This is a big part of my story and a big part of my heart,” she says, noting that she has always been led to help those in need. “My own family knew it when I was a little girl. I’d say, ‘That’s not fair!’ if I saw an injustice. Later – after I moved past wanting to be a dolphin trainer – I pictured myself running the Red Cross. By college, I chose business so I could take [my business training] into the non-profit world.”

Beasley, at center with husband Robert, and their children (from left) Conner, a U.S. Naval Academy freshman; Luke, a high school sophomore; Kyle, a high school senior, and Lily, a high school freshman. Photos courtesy of Leslie Beasley

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“In the middle of the night, Odile’s village got pillaged by rebels, so she ran away into the darkness,” relates Beasley. “She took nothing but her children, got separated [permanently] from her husband and wrapped her own shirt around a relative’s baby – born as they fled – so the small group could keep moving.”

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One such story she shares is about Odile, a woman from the Congo with five children, whom Beasley met and happily hired for her startup venture, Open Arms, that enables refugees in Austin, TX, to earn living wages.

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Open Heart, Open Arms

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Beasley earned two business degrees at Mississippi State – an undergraduate degree in marketing in 1986 followed by a management-focused MBA. Those degrees were invaluable as she established Open Arms.

“There I was at Mississippi State going through the College of Business, and I instinctively believed having a business degree would help me do work for social change,” she says. “When I established Open Arms, my business background was everything. The learning turned out to be so essential – the efficiencies, the marketing, the branding, the budgeting, setting up the systems – all of that came

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from my business courses. I particularly drew on the practical experiences we did during the MBA.” The business curriculum also taught change, growth and opportunity. Those elements came into play two years ago when Open Arms shifted its model to contract manufacturing – producing products for companies like Ikea Foods rather than the earlier model of selling directly to consumers. The company now operates under Austin’s Multicultural Refugee Coalition, and Beasley has turned her talents to other efforts for good. The mother of four, one of them an adopted daughter from China, serves as President of the Miracle Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on children living in orphanages around the world and aims to end institutional care of children by 2040. “I have been a missions coordinator in the past and agreed to take on the role of leading this global initiative,” she says. “We’ve learned from hard data that growing up in institutions is the worst way to grow up.”

Beasley shares a laugh with the other ladies of Open Arms.

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The goal of the Miracle Foundation is optimally to reunite children with their birth parents or, short of that, place them into family-like settings such as the foster home model. The news is good. “Rwanda, which went through a terrible genocide, has agreed that orphanages are not the best idea for children,” Beasley says. “They stand as a beacon of light for other countries – they have deinstitutionalized and established family care. They did it. They did it! No more orphanages.” Likewise, she notes, there’s been success in Romania and Moldova.

Beasley says she draws her bottomless supply of energy from the people around her. At Mississippi State she agrees that she was the consummate “joiner.” More than that, she was a leader.

Through the Miracle Foundation, Beasley helps orphans in India and other countries across the globe.

“I was deeply influenced by one of my mentors, Jimmy Abraham, who was in charge of Roadrunners and Orientation Leaders at the time,” she says, noting that his sayings still repeat in her head, guiding her along the right path. “He helped give me a sense of servanthood and appreciation for all the things that came along in my personal journey. He also instilled the deep sense of gratitude that I have for Mississippi State.”

This fast paced, conscience driven woman has journeyed to far ends of the earth – Uganda, Rwanda, you name it. She travels deep into villages and gets to know the people. It may seem worlds away from being MSU’s 1985 Homecoming Queen, but Beasley, amid the pomp, managed to add an element of her trademark social activism even to that honor. “At the time, students escorted the Homecoming Court,” she says. “I wanted to be escorted by my dad. I was told no, that my escort must be a registered student, but I got routed to the President’s office, and he said yes. Since that day, I believe it’s only been fathers with their daughters – so I changed the tradition.” Now she’s changing the world. Her own children have each traveled with her to Africa and have, as the mother puts it, “a good global perspective.” As for the rest of us, this dedicated alumna suggests that we “start with what’s personal – there are so many places to be involved. Whether you’re helping your neighbor, your community, whatever you care about, plug in and give back. An opportunity doesn’t need to be across the world. It’s usually right over your shoulder.” She continues, “I have this core belief that when others are better off, we are all better off. If you just take a stand for somebody or some group of people who are marginalized or oppressed, you get energized from that. “What’s important is that you do something.”

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In addition to jumping in, she listened and learned.

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“I was a Roadrunner, an Orientation Leader for two years, President of the Bulldog Hostesses and President of Phi Mu sorority,” she shares.

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She admits, though, “While we’re seeing a lot of courageous acts, there’s still a very long way to go in the world. It’s basically a human rights issue.”

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Fostering Home Grown Businesses W

ho better to inspire young Mississippi State University entrepreneurs than someone who has started four businesses, successfully sold two and licensed the technology for the others? Who better than a forward-thinking inventor who is named in 20 patents? Who better than an active alumnus who cares deeply for our students, particularly the impressive talent in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach? And who better than a professional who easily and expertly dispenses strategy and stepping-stone knowledge to students aiming to launch their own businesses?

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By Carolanne Roberts

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First of all, this accomplished businessman, with his keen eye for development, deals, sales and success, graduated from his alma mater with an engineering degree. “I designed computers – that was my goal,” he says from his Huntsville, AL, home. “My time at State was a lot of school and a lot of work, with tomato soup dinners so I could save money and earn my degree. I didn’t get any business experience.” As an engineering co-op student, the 1983 alumnus worked at the Kennedy Space Center during the first Space Shuttle launch and, back on campus, soaked up hands-on experience with technology in the College of Engineering. Then, in his 20s and several years along in his career path, opportunity literally knocked on his door. There stood a man asking Patterson to design a particular computer. Patterson suggested on the spot that they start a company.

“That’s where I learned my business skills,” he says. “You don’t know what you don’t know when you start, though I realized I needed to learn a lot. It would’ve saved me 10 years if I’d had something like the E-Center [MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach].” That first business ultimately sold to a company in Chicago which, in turn, sold to a concern in Switzerland. The by-product for Patterson was knowledge. “I’d learned how to take technology and turn it into products that a larger company would be interested in purchasing,” he says. Today, as a member of the E-Center’s Advisory Board, Patterson shares that real-life learning. The skill sets borne from engineering resonate when he talks to students about their companies. “First, I listen,” Patterson says of his approach. “I hear what their plans are and how they’re going to accomplish them, and I see if there’s something that will help them do it better or faster or do it differently to make more sense.”

Photo by Beth Wynn

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Wade Patterson is all that. But he wasn’t always.

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Last year, he launched the Bulldog Angel Network (ban. clubexpress.com) which provides students with investment dollars. The consortium of 25 MSU alumni provides time and advice to students, in addition to money. Many members also serve on due diligence committees, advisory boards and boards of directors for the companies in which the Network invests.

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“Without these MSU ‘angels,’ none of what we’re doing would be possible,” says the founder. The Bulldog Angel Network and Patterson’s E-Center advisory capacity take different roads to the same goal. In the early stages of the process, it is about educating students and leading them to the final platform through advising. “We educate them as they go through set stages with gatekeepers,” says Patterson. “When they clear a gatekeeper [usually academics and business people in tandem], they advance to the next stage and on to the next. The last of the five stages is an Investments Review Committee, which approves the proposed business for launch.” This is the point at which the Bulldog Angel Network comes into play. “This is the students’ opportunity to raise money, launch the business and take it forward,” Patterson says, citing the three very different student businesses to have earned Network attention and investments to date. “These are businesses that have launched and raised money to grow or eventually have good exits.” For instance, the first Network “winner” is a video game-in-progress from an MBA student highly recognized for player skills in the gaming world. “He is developing a PC game on the Steam digital distribution platform – they sell around $4 billion worth of games worldwide,” says Patterson. Next is Vibe, which emerged from the E-Center with Glo, lighted plastic cubes that infuse liquids with varying bright colors. Its uses range from bath balms to drinks served in dark restaurants and bars. The most recent is WISPrSystems, a drone-based solution to Internet delivery in rural communities. “In these areas where users need to receive Internet from towers via antennas, the key is placing the actual antenna,” Patterson explains. “Until now, this always involved a few hours of searching from a bucket truck, but with drones you can identify the area of signal strength in as few as two minutes, which obviously saves time and money.” Drone robotics, glowing water, games predicted to sell throughout the world – they are the products of businesses artfully enabled under the leadership of E-Center Director Eric Hill and the Center environment itself. “These three companies alone raised $610,000,” Patterson says. “Eventually I want to get venture capital into the area to look at later stage investments, as companies like these get larger

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and need growth capital.” When it comes to working with millennials, Patterson is all in.

In the meantime, Wade Patterson, the former engineering student from Columbus, MS, will continue to advise E-Center students, will grow the Bulldog Angel Network (offering students four pitch sessions a year to strut their stuff) and will applaud Mississippi State University again and again for the opportunities offered by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach.

“It used to be that only the large schools had programs like ours – Stanford, Duke, Notre Dame and so on,” he says. “But there’s no reason that State shouldn’t have it too. Our students are just as smart, and there’s nothing holding them back from developing their businesses. With the Internet, geography doesn’t matter anymore.” He goes on, “I don’t want students to spend that 10 years of learning that I went through after college. They can learn it in school and hopefully launch a business and be successful right out of school. And the best part is: they can do it in Mississippi. “This means we can hold onto our talent.”

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Today, rather than looking back, Patterson directs his efforts Photo by Megan Bean toward the future. The patent involving water heaters (you can buy his technology at any Lowe’s) and the motion-detecting faucets in public restrooms are in the “done” column, along with many other contributions. Today, Patterson teams with his daughter. While he is not disclosing exactly what they are working on, he does throw out phrases like “may take years” and “amazing to see what can be done.” He hints that their work world revolves around machine learning (think Siri, Alexa and talking Google).

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Patterson launched the Bulldog Angel Network last year, offering alumni the opportunity to invest their time, money and experience in MSU’s young entrepreneurs.

“I would love to have started a company during school,” he continues with a faint tinge of envy. “And to have had that kind of guidance, too.”

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“The only difference I see between them and the students when I was in school is that they are a lot farther ahead than we were,” he observes. “The E-Center students execute with patience, all while balancing their classes and exams. It’s pretty amazing what they’re doing. They’ve got the opportunity to launch real businesses.

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An Early Start ndrew Echols steps on stage, introduces himself and begins pitching his business idea, hoping it will be favorably received. His “Focus On” is an earpiece for students who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While statistics pertaining to ADHD’s prevalence are somewhat uncertain, he uses a number that aligns with the National Survey of Children’s Health estimate, noting that 6.1 to 6.4 million American children are at a learning disadvantage due to ADHD’s symptoms. Echols acknowledges that some find relief through stimulant medications or therapy but points out that these solutions do not work for everyone.

Responding to a query about how he plans to market Focus On, he shares his intent to take the earpiece to healthcare providers, specifically pediatricians, with the hope of gaining their endorsements to establish credibility. His audience seems satisfied.

The pitch process is not unlike that experienced by most entrepreneurs, with one significant exception: Echols is in sixth grade. He is one of many Starkville students to have participated in the first Innovation Challenge last spring. The idea for the competition came about in early 2018. Scott Maynard, then Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, wanted to find a way to incorporate entrepreneurship into the curriculum for Starkville high schools. Aware that Mississippi State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (E-Center) excels at equipping college students to develop their own businesses, he contacted Jeffrey Rupp, the E-Center’s Director of Outreach. Together they came up with the Innovation Challenge, and International Paper signed on as the sponsor. The Innovation Challenge was designed as a competition for middle and high school students, individually or with peers, to submit plans describing a product and how they would market it. Clockwise from top left: Go Bus team members were mentored by MSU student Cameron Maddox, cofounder of Cowbell Carts, LLC. Jacob Miller, marketing major and founder of Black Creek Innovations, LLC, advised the Robo Drone team. Winners (from left) Ian Zhang, Lyem Ningthou, Andrew Yu and Vivik Nagarajan Finalists gathered with Jeffrey Rupp for a group photo in the E-Center. The finalists received instruction from Chip Templeton, Director of MSU’s Small Business Development Center, in the COB’s Strategic Finance Lab. Photos courtesy of Starkville High School and the MSU E-Center

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Echols tells his audience that an investment of $200,000 will produce 4,000 earpieces. This translates to a production cost of $50 per earpiece, and Echols plans to sell annual prescriptions for about $1,500.

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It is this gap in the market that led Echols to conceive the Focus On earpiece. The inconspicuous, portable device will produce sporadic sounds in the user’s ear, intended to bring a daydreaming student back to reality.

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By Tom Lammert

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Those who created the most feasible plans would then pitch to judges in a competition modeled after the pitching process MSU students experience at the E-Center. The winning person or team would receive $500. Once the competition was planned, an informational meeting for interested students and parents was set. It was to take place at Glo, a company that epitomizes what the Innovation Challenge was designed to teach: that a problem or question can spark an idea that may turn into a successful business enterprise. Glo evolved from an MSU student’s desire to add colored light to tea bags as part of a branding project. Today, liquid-activated plastic Glo cubes are sold and shipped internationally. They light up drinks in restaurants and bars, are encased in bath balms and have even been featured in the VIP tent at the Oscars.

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The Innovation Challenge winners receive their checks. From left are Jeffrey Rupp, E-Center Director of Outreach; Julie Kennedy, Armstrong Middle School Principal; Go Bus team members Andrew Yu, Vivik Nagarajan, Lyem Ningthou and Ian Zhang; Hunter Harrington, Greater Starkville Development Partnership Director of Membership Development and Dr. Eddie Peasant, Superintendent of the Starkville Oktibbeha School District. Photo by Brooke Lammert

When Rupp arrived at Glo for the meeting, he brought about 20 handouts for the turnout he anticipated. However, the room was soon crowded with more than 60 ambitious, inventive students and their parents, who listened as Rupp explained the contest. For several weeks, students at Starkville’s independent and public schools – Armstrong Middle School, Starkville High School and Starkville Academy – as well as home schooled students, developed product plans. Rupp and E-Center students evaluated more than 50 entries and selected nine finalists to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. First, the finalists – 19 students, ages 12 to 17 – received the benefit of some guidance and instruction through the E-Center. Each of the nine teams or individuals were assigned an MSU entrepreneurship student as a mentor to offer suggestions and help with brainstorming. Sessions with COB faculty helped the budding young entrepreneurs understand how to develop business plans and market their products. There were two classes – one on marketing with Dr. Joel Collier and one on writing a business plan with Chip Templeton, Jr., Director of the Small Business Development Center.

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On April 28, the finalists arrived at Starkville Community Theatre. Approximately 50 people including Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill filled the auditorium’s tiered rows. When the final pitch competition began, each team was allotted three minutes to present its product or service, followed by two minutes of questions by the judges, who were business and community leaders.

As the judges prepared to announce the winner, they praised the potential start-ups – Focus On, 100% Human, Healing Paws, Go Bus, Robo Drone, The Dough Company, Solar Heat, Team-Up Sports and Jones’ M and M Inventions. They reminded the teams that they were selected among dozens of entries for their thoughtful, creative ideas that addressed needs in the marketplace. Then the final result was announced: Go Bus had won the inaugural Innovation Challenge.

The team members’ humility and graciousness in accepting their prize suggested their participation was about more than simply winning – it was about creating and sharing a good, valuable product. From that perspective, each participant found success. They experienced some of what goes into building a business as well as the challenges and triumphs that can be involved. They put into practice speaking and presentation skills that will serve them in any career. And they took the first steps in developing business ideas that they may continue to pursue. Based on the success of Starkville’s Innovation Challenge, the E-Center is growing the program statewide, for it achieved its purpose – to introduce secondary students in Starkville to the process of entrepreneurship. Rupp says they are currently working on similar contests with several schools around the state, including the Mississippi School for Math & Science.

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An hour passed, with each team in succession describing a problem, presenting an innovative solution and responding to judges’ questions. As they pitched their ideas, their poise, acuity and presentation skills belied their age.

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Before leading off as the first to pitch, Echols handed a pamphlet to each judge, describing his product. Eric Hill, a judge and MSU’s Director of Entrepreneurship, could not contain his enthusiasm for Echols’s professionalism. Browsing the pamphlet, he leaned toward the judge sitting next to him and whispered, “This is fantastic. Our students [at the E-Center] need to step it up!”

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Rupp introduced each of the finalists. Besides Echols, there was Piper Conrad, whose 100% Human would offer products from shirts and hats to customizable dolls offering reminders that humans have more commonalities than differences. Evie Daniels’ Healing Paws would provide centers for pet therapy. Andrew Yu, Lyem Ningthou, Vivik Nagarajan and Ian Zhang developed Go Bus, a phone app that tracks public school buses. The Robo Drone team, Darious Calhoun, Tyler Cash, Dylan Folds and Noah Scott – came up with a plan for drones to haul water in famine areas like sub-Saharan Africa. Hanna Jian and Kayleigh Thomas created an egg-free cookie dough that is safe to eat raw. Quorvon Lucious and P.J. Tate designed a solar-heated jacket. TeamUp Sports, an app created by A.J. Willard, Tyler Highfield and Bates Bennett, would connect amateur athletes for pick-up games in their communities. Marlee Jones prototyped a floating phone case that repels water and is shock-resistant.

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By Carolanne Roberts

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ometimes what you do with your life has bubbled inside you from an early age.

In the case of Dr. Helen Currie, Chief Economist for ConocoPhillips, what started as an interest turned into a profession and a calling. Among the significant hallmarks of the MSU alumna’s career is the recent honor of being named one of the “25 Influential Women in Energy” by Hart Energy’s Oil and Gas Investor, a global source for news and data relating to the industry.

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“I knew I’d be a business person of some sort,” she recalls, speaking from her Houston office. “But by the time I was a teenager, I became enamored of the two minutes of Wall Street reporting on the nightly news – what the stock market did that day, etc. I was fascinated. As for economics, I found it interesting.” During her undergraduate years at Millsaps College in Jackson, her interest in economics took a stronger hold. Formative were an internship in the Office of the State Economist and similar roles elsewhere in state government. “It all gave me a taste of what economists do,” Currie says. A larger bite came with her master’s degree studies in economics at the University of Washington in Seattle. It was a distance in both geography and thought and brought an opportunity to explore environmental issues. “Within the broad field of economics, I found the [environmental] sub-field quite interesting, and the University was very strong in it,” she recalls. “Having environmental economics as one of my specialties played directly into my working at the Washington State Department of Ecology at the same time.” She notes that the state agency frequently met with energy industry representatives – refineries, motor fuel distributors, utilities, power generators and so on – to “ensure that the regulatory language we were drafting was feasible to the extent that there was latitude in how the regs are structured. It definitely gave me some great foundational knowledge for environmental law as it pertained to the energy sector.” The student worked, listened, participated and learned. She still wanted a PhD, and she desperately missed the South’s warm climate and proximity to family. Mississippi State offered these things. “[It had] a program I really liked, with several professors, including Ed Duett and Larry White, who were interested in working with me in the areas where I ended up writing my dissertation,” she shares.

Photo courtesy of ConocoPhillips

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When she was a young girl, Currie’s family owned and ran a business in Utica, MS, though she had no particular role models for economics or finance.

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Currie admits that while she knew she wanted to pursue a doctorate, she puzzled over whether to choose finance or economics. Ultimately, she decided on finance, writing her dissertation on valuing mortgage-backed securities. The result, she reports, was that “the training in the field of finance was the nuts and bolts of what got me started in the energy business.” During her time in Starkville, Currie found Dr. George Verrall of the College of Business to be “both a mentor and inspiration to hit high standards. He was one of those people you hope every student has a chance to meet – so giving of his time and energy.” Soon Currie would be an academic herself, a faculty member sharing her own caring and influence. While moving ahead with her dissertation, she taught first at LaGrange College in Georgia for three academic years and then Elon University in North Carolina for two.

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“Both schools had the liberal arts environment that worked for me at Millsaps, and I absolutely loved the time I was on faculty,” she recalls. “It was an opportunity to invest in students who might be the leaders of tomorrow.” However, real life applications of her knowledge beckoned as she completed the PhD from MSU in 2000. “The fact that I had veered from economics and environmental economics into finance at Mississippi State was an important part of how and why I was able to go from being an academic to being in Houston on a very large commercial natural gas and NGL [natural gas liquids] trading floor,” she comments. Currie departed a world of academic research for one in which she dealt with real dollars, real money. She joined Conoco in 2001, which became ConocoPhillips after a 2002 merger. “Conoco/ConocoPhillips is a great company to be a part of,” she states. “I count myself very fortunate to have found my way to the company that I did.” In the beginning, she worked in the risk management area. “I knew how to look at a trade or transaction correctly in our system of record,” she says. “I understood risk metrics and the whole field of risk management.” Her challenges, she continues, are “anticipating where energy markets and energy prices are moving and providing my management with sound guidance. That then informs what type of investments we make, the magnitude of our capital spending and so forth.” Always in her mind is the impact of those decisions.

“If there’s one important thing I do, it’s informing my management about the signposts that indicate where the markets are heading,” she remarks. “Our industry has been through a downturn, and we’ve endured a number of cutbacks. With that as a recent backdrop, I’m very aware of the implications of trying to make sure we get it right.”

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Currie continues, “U.S. oil production is at a record level today because of what we now call ‘unconventional’ production-type oil plays we’re developing. The positive economic corollary is the number of domestic jobs it creates and the income generated from those jobs.”

On the work front, it is no surprise that Currie is one of the “Top 25 Influential Women in Energy.” Her industry-leading advocacy work with ConocoPhillips to lift restrictions on crude exports is alone worth honoring; so are her day-to-day responsibilities in corporate planning. Currie has a favorite quote from former Millsaps professor and MSU College of Business alumna Dr. Shirley Olson, who says, “Always learn from whatever situation you’re in, and always look to what’s ahead of you.” That lesson, so well learned, is also decidedly well played – for the benefit of us all.

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With the demands of her job, the Chief Economist turns to the outdoors for scene changes and movement – running, walking, biking. She and her husband Dayne Zimmerman, a Millsaps classmate she re-met while each earned advanced degrees at Mississippi State, both play piano. Their limited trips back to their home state tend to center around holidays, as much as they would long for more.

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Alumna and ConocoPhillips Chief Economist Helen Currie is one of Oil and Gas Investor’s 25 Influential Women in Energy. Photo courtesy of ConocoPhillips


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A Supply Chain of Talent T

he Golden Triangle is growing. Made up of Starkville, Columbus and West Point, MS, it is not the sprawling urban metropolis where most people would expect to find a marketplace designed for big industry. However, a close look at this community reveals important characteristics needed for successful industry: available workforce, affordable abundance of land and strong academic development opportunities. Companies like PACCAR, Yokohama Tire, Airbus and Steel Dynamics have made homes in the Golden Triangle and are reaping the benefits of a close relationship with Mississippi State.

Adams defines supply chain as “a linking of organizations and activities together in a way that converts inputs into something a customer wants to buy and puts it where they want to buy it.” Adams earned a BA in history at MSU in 1997. While his education focused on his love of history, his career took him down a different path. For 10 years he worked at a medical device company, which was sold twice during his time there. As an operations support manager and then administrator, Adams built experience in the logistics and operations associated with supply chain management. When he decided to go back to school, he figured it was “smarter to play to what I knew.” In 2008, Adams received his MBA from the University of Alabama, where he concentrated on the study of supply chain management. He then also completed a PhD in marketing at Alabama. At MSU, Adams is now in his seventh year of working with supply chain students. As an Associate Professor of Marketing, he has the challenge of teaching three classes while also managing and developing curriculum for students in his field. Currently, supply chain management is a concentration available to marketing majors, but Adams has the goal of making supply chain available across disciplines in the College of Business. Right now, Supply Chain Management is successful under the umbrella of marketing because it works toward meeting customer needs. Yet the curriculum must expand and change to meet future business needs, which will include increased demand for employees who understand supply chain processes.

Frank Adams with family pets Hoss and Henrietta Photo by Shelby Baldwin

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Dr. Frank Adams understands this need. Through his vision and industry experience, Adams is enhancing Mississippi State’s Supply Chain Management program so it will benefit students and industry equally.

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MSU produces a resounding heartbeat throughout the Golden Triangle, with historically strong programs like engineering and agriculture. As an institution of higher learning and a land grant institution, Mississippi State has a duty to provide education and training that makes a positive impact on the state, its communities and its people. To do this sufficiently, MSU invests in local communities by providing highly trained business leaders in addition to technical ones.

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By Kelsey Waters

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28 Adams sets high expectations, treating his students as professionals in the making. Photo by Emily Daniels

At every turn of his continually adapting curriculum, Adams focuses on students – yet he does not see them merely as students. Adams is growing professionals. He describes supply chain management students as “systemic thinkers” who problem-solve in every capacity of business and notes that these “practically minded souls” are diverse in personality, success oriented and ready to work. Adams sees them for what they will be and anticipates how they will be joining the workforce. As he looks to the future, he sees expansion in the warehousing and logistic operations fields. Online companies like Amazon are increasingly able to meet consumers’ needs for instant gratification, continually improving delivery and expanding product offerings. Adams sees this and knows his students have to be prepped and ready to help their employers outpace the competition. As the Supply Chain Management Program grows, Adams focuses on bringing in speakers from companies like Williams Sonoma because real-world perspective “solidifies course content in a way I can’t, and it brands Williams Sonoma in [students’] heads.” Adams is constantly focused on connections, as he understands that while strong knowledge and training are vital, networking equals success. The relation of education and networking has resulted in a new goal for Adams and the program – a Solutions Center. The location of Mississippi State in the Golden Triangle gives Adams the unique opportunity to create a funnel of trained, educated professionals to direct straight into the leadership workforce of the fast-growing economic zone. He hopes to create a Solutions Center to bridge gaps between students/young professionals and industry within the Golden Triangle. At the Center, annual seminars or summits would keep industry and education abreast of information, problems and changes happening within the workplace. The Center would also regularly place interns within companies, allowing them to gather experience as well as data for problem-solving that would be analyzed and shared within the Solutions Center. Creation of the Solutions Center could change the face of education and industry in the Golden Triangle. Industries could identify strong candidates for hiring, while students would have the opportunity to discover the career opportunities available in the region. Together, Mississippi State’s Supply Chain Management Program and the flourishing industry of the Golden Triangle

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could make huge strides in fighting the “brain drain” that plagues the state. In Adams’ mind, this is how MSU can make itself stand out. The creation of the Solutions Center would merge the University’s three pillars of teaching, service and research and would “push them together, so that single efforts are serving more of these ends.”

The way in which Adams invests in his students is refreshing, sincere and authentic. More importantly, it promises success – not just in industry, but in their development and growth as individuals

prepared to take on challenges. Frank Adams is always listening. Always watching. Always thinking. He seems to be able to gauge his students’ potential even before they are aware of it themselves. Adams sets high standards of excellence for his students, treating them like employees. Meeting his expectations sets them up to meet the expectations of the real world that often seems so jarring to fresh graduates. Adams views much of life through a supply chain “lens,” gauging logistical, purposeful movements in everything. From relationships to products, he understands that there are deliverables, markets, transportation and problems to be solved. Clear, concise communication and thinking can bring success to any venture, and this way of thinking comes from having supply chain on the brain. “You cannot see it, but it underlays and supports everything around you,” he observes. “It is the foundation on which everything you buy or own or have rests.”

Adams received the 2018 College of Business Faculty Research Award. Shown with him are (from left) MSU President Mark Keenum, Dean Sharon Oswald and MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw. Photo by Beth Wynn

The goals, dreams and success of MSU’s Supply Chain Program stem from the mind of one Dr. Frank Adams. As he moves forward, the creation and implementation of the program’s Solutions Center will create a functional, real world education for supply chain students. This will result in a relationship between education and industry that will set a standard for all other institutions.

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stronger, more flexible and quick thinking and substantially more

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functioning in an unpredictable world. Adams is making his students

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Adams’ passion and dedication to developing strong, prepared and willing graduates has given him a vision of how to grow the Supply Chain Management Program at Mississippi State. He sees internship support from industry and alumni contributions as vital to its success. The opportunity to travel or earn money could create a beacon, drawing students interested in the field to MSU – especially if a 100 percent placement rate could be achieved. The Solutions Center dream is to establish a group of local industries that would invest time, experience and knowledge in students beyond what they receive in the classroom by allowing them to research and serve as consultants as part of their undergraduate education.

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A Woman of Influence By Alexandra Brasher

One could say Lauren has a knack for utilizing hard work and talent to inspire others. Although many MSU students have this quality in common, it has taken Steele down a unique career path.

Steele is adamant about seizing opportunities. “I’m the kind of person who when faced with whether to know or not know, I usually choose to know, to say yes, to walk through the door, to try things,” she remarks. “And it was free. And it was amazing.” Once Steele began counseling, she realized she was talking a lot about social media and how it made her feel. She would spend the whole hour obsessing over how people were choosing to portray themselves online and how that presence did not correlate with reality. “Social media was integrated [into] my actual feelings,” she says. “My real world, real-life feelings. Social media made me feel bad. Because yes, comparison is the thief of joy. And social media was stealing some of mine.” Steele came to realize that social media is different for every person. She believes everyone posts for different reasons, and everyone feels different upon seeing a post, based upon their own interests and, often, insecurities.

It was during these counseling sessions that Steele decided to start her own blog as a way of taking back the reins of social media. Her goal was specific. She wanted social media users to feel empowered rather than question their value or importance. Viewing social media as a form of empowerment rather than a crutch changed Steele’s life in more ways than one. She began posting her daily fashion looks online. Even as she graduated and

Photos courtesy of Lauren Steele

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“I’ve never done counseling,” she thought. “It’s free. I wonder what I would even say. Would it be awkward? It’s free. What would I talk about? It’s FREE.”

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A dual major in Spanish and business with an emphasis in marketing and a concentration in international business, Steele is a proud Starkville native, having attended MSU events from a young age. Upon graduation from Mississippi State in 2010, she attended law school at the University of Mississippi, where she one day received an email touting free counseling services.

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H

omecoming Queen, Diamond Girl, Miss Maroon and White, Pom Squad member, Alumni Delegate. These are just a few of the accolades Lauren Cobb Steele picked up during her time at Mississippi State.

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got married, Steele continued to maintain her online presence, posting often about fashion and other life musings. Her blog quickly evolved into her most time-consuming hobby, and she was rapidly gaining followers along the way. Meanwhile, Steele had passed the Mississippi Bar Exam and was preparing to move around over the next few years as her husband completed medical school and entered his residency. She decided that it was not beneficial to retake the bar exam in every state where they would live, so upon moving to Chapel Hill, NC, in 2013, Steele got a job helping Duke Medical School with its reaccreditation process. All the while, she continued blogging.

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Around the same time, Forrester Research released a report that 70 percent of consumers trusted brand or product recommendations from friends of family, while only 10 percent trusted website ads and nine percent trusted text messages from companies or brands. The advertising industry had seemingly hit a road block, as social media usage was only escalating – and marketers were seeking an answer. By 2014, Instagram had become wildly popular, and Steele was right on trend as part of the first crop of users to employ the app for a fashion/lifestyle blog. The combination of advertising mistrust and social media’s popularity led to the burgeoning of Steele’s career today: influencer marketing. Undeniably one of the most impactful marketing developments in the last 15 years, influencer marketing involves corporations or other entities paying a popular social media figure to publicly endorse a product or concept. According to international influencer marketing agency Mediakix, global spending on influencer marketing reached $500 million in 2015. By 2017, this number had risen to $4.4 billion. Four years and 173,000 Instagram followers later, Steele was a legitimate influencer, profiting enough from her blogging to make a living. As Steele and her husband made another move – this time to Birmingham, AL – she decided the time had come to make blogging her full-time career.

“It’s funny to even say that because I truly don’t look at this as a job,” Steele says. “I look at it as a way of connecting with other people and scrapbooking my life.” Steele earns money through two methods: affiliate links and sponsored content. With affiliate links, Steele posts the link to a product that her followers may then click to buy, leaving Steele with a portion of the profit. Sponsored content, a more traditional concept, occurs when Steele partners with a brand to promote a product. Steele spends around 50 to 60 hours a week blogging. When she began, her photos were taken with a DSL camera; now, Steele uses an iPhone to take her photos, which she then edits in Adobe Lightroom. While marketing’s evolution afforded Steele the opportunity to be financially stable as an influencer, her success did not happen instantaneously. She has made an effort to post something every single day since she started blogging. She has spent countless hours documenting her lifestyle on social media and asking friends and family to photograph her along the way. While Steele’s elegant, yet achievable style is what initially draws viewers in, one quickly realizes the true reason for Steele’s success. The same qualities that led to Steele’s accolades on Mississippi State’s campus are what drew in

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Lauren Cobb Steele (center) as Miss Maroon and White 2006.

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her mass social media following. She is undeniably genuine, and she has been since the beginning. As Steele’s brand has evolved and she has been able to foster this influencer lifestyle, she presents herself and her ideas as authentically as she did back in 2013. You can often see Instagram stories of Steele’s husband, David, lounging on the couch in his scrubs at 10 p.m. Or their small yellow lab, Nilla, snuggled nearby as Steele types away on her laptop. She did not set out to become a popular social media figure, but with her work ethic and her affinity for interacting with others, it is a natural outcome. With Steele, what you see is what you get. She will never publicly endorse a product unless she believes in it, and she still “speaks” to her 173,000 followers as if they were the original 100. She is real, and people can tell. Year by year, more choose to follow. Steele’s favorite part about her career is not receiving freebies or recognition. Through blogging, she has come across some of the most empowered, hardworking and authentic women she has ever met. She says that this is what has made her the most grateful – along with being able to determine her own schedule, especially with a husband completing a medical residency. As for the future of influencer marketing, Steele believes that it is not going away anytime soon. “As long as the Internet exists and people are using it, and you can have a window into other people’s lives, influencers will exist,” she states. In terms of her own future, Steele intends to keep up her original goal: simply doing something she loves while positively interacting with social media and her followers. “As soon as you think you’ve made it, that’s when your business starts to decline,” she remarks. “I intend to continue living my life authentically both in the real world and on the Internet.” For more on Lauren Steele’s advice to those who want to follow in her footsteps is simple. Cobb Steele, visit her website, lc-steele.com, “Be consistent. Be patient. Be yourself.” or follow her on Instagram, lc_steele.

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Photo by Russ Houston

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Out of the Middle I

f the College of Business’ 2018 Alumni Fellow, Tom Hixon, had his druthers, he would duck out of the limelight and let others bask in the glow. Hardly the sort to boast, he is content with who he is and where his journey has led. When he agreed to share his story, Dividends jumped at the opportunity.

“For instance, I had [W.A. “Bill”] Simmons, [R.S.] Wofford, [Joseph] Curry and [Will Hoyt, Jr.] Owen for accounting classes – and all these professors also worked for CPA firms and other businesses. They had real life experiences to share with us, and what they taught really stuck with me. I can’t say enough about the quality of the professors and the accounting education you get at Mississippi State.” Now, when Hixon returns to campus to meet with business students to share and to listen, he applauds his choice of major, drawing a laugh as he remembers, “I had engineers up on a pedestal. They were the big gorillas in college, and just about everybody who went to State had a slide rule on his belt. But then I learned something important.” He learned that “important something” during summers in Los Angeles, when he did accounting work for North American Aviation, part of the robust U.S. space program. He shares, “Out in the real world, business majors were managing a lot of professionals, including the engineers. Engineers were working for the business guys who knew business skills, accounting and management.” As a first job after college, Hixon found himself working as CFO at the Pentagon Annex in the Washington, DC, area. In the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the MSU grad was responsible for nearby military commissaries, retail, restaurants and even golf courses. Within his domain were Andrews Air Force base, Walter Reed Medical Center, Fort Lee, Fort Meade and other area bases. Photo by Kirsten Shaw

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“A business degree is absolutely the best thing because you have so much versatility,” he says, reflecting on a 50-year career that is Tom and Miriam Hixon with MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum still thriving. “I earned a BS in accounting at a reception honoring the 2018 Alumni Fellows in 1967 and could go on and on about how Photo by Logan Kirkland valuable that’s been to me. What I’ve done professionally through the years very much results from having a good business background, and that is exactly what I got at State.

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We start in the 1960s, a time of psychedelic music, the Vietnam conflict and youthful introspection. Hixon, a young man from Charleston, MS, arrived in Starkville to figure out his own future in the midst of it all. A good student, he ruled out his original plan for medical school and signed up for general business studies – changing the direction of his life.

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“I got about 10 years’ experience in three,” he says. “We moved at 100 miles an hour. It was so fast-paced.” With a return to Mississippi in 1970, Hixon joined Valley Food Service for seven years, then moved to Forestry Suppliers, which he calls a “neat little company where we sold instruments and supplies to foresters, geologists and engineers.” At both jobs, he served as CFO until Forestry Suppliers’ founder saw something more in the young man he mentored. “He chose to take a businessman – me, the CFO – and make me President,” recalls Hixon. “He wanted someone with business education and experience to run the company.” This new beginning was fresh and promising.

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“We were told back then, ‘It’s not tough to get to the top. It’s getting out of the group in the middle that’s hard,’” he says. “This is when I got out of the middle. I liked it. The forestry industry was, of course, different than food service or the Washington, DC, job, but I quickly found that the principles of business pretty much crossed over to any business you get in. It’s the same tool box with different products. The common denominator in my career has always been distribution – different products, yes, but always distribution.”

Hixon, fourth from left, and the other colleges’ Alumni Fellows greet the crowd at the MSU-Texas A&M game. Photo by Logan Kirkland

Life at the top of the ladder was successful, with Hixon directing far-flung distribution centers from his Jackson-area base. Then he made yet another good move. This time the product was medical supplies, and the company was Gulf South Medical Supply. Once he narrowed and focused Gulf South’s diverse business model, Hixon explains, “We grew fast for the next 10 years, averaging 45 percent growth compounded annually. Not only did we have above average growth, we had above average profitability.” In 1994, the company went public, which provided resources for further expansion. By 2000, the run rate climbed to $400 million. A major lesson learned from Hixon’s story is this: Nothing stays static. Later in 2000, after his 10 years at the helm, Gulf South Medical Supply merged with another large company, and his life changed. Non-compete contracts scattered Hixon’s valuable and devoted managerial staff. Yet nobody in that close-knit group was ready to say a final good-bye. In fact, they reunited in 2001 with Tom Hixon as owner and Chairman of the Board of the newly-created First Choice Medical Supply.

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“We started this one from scratch and took a lot of pride in that – it’s not easy,” he says. “This time, I let them manage it instead of me. Over the next 17 years, they earned more than 75 percent of the company,” Hixon explains. This past year, the company sold to McKesson, a business with about $200 billion in annual revenue.

MSU students hear and heed these stories and more when Hixon comes to campus. He re-engaged with his alma mater about 10 years ago, lured first by athletics and then by giving opportunities. First, he donated funds to build the golf practice facility; Hixon himself is a golfer. A gift to the College of Business followed, as the proud alumnus became acquainted with and excited about the Center for Entrepreneurship & Outreach.

“It was like a lightning bolt hit me,” he muses. “When I went through

Mississippi State has a venue where students can hear and see the options of being in business for yourself – and can test out those options while in school.” Hixon’s interest in students’ futures is rooted in his own MSU past. He cherishes his important faculty mentors from the “Greatest Generation.” “They had an unbelievable influence on my life,” he states. “I had a chance to work for two or three who were as tough as they could be. But they knew how to teach and made a profound effect on my career.” Today, totally invested in MSU, Hixon is the one making impressions. He now serves on the boards of the MSU Foundation and the Bulldog Club. Around Jackson, you’ll find him at his desk daily, working real estate and other deals. He is often on the golf course or at his farm with his team of cutting horses. He is also devoutly religious, a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church. His priority in life, Hixon says, is family. “I love my family,” he states. “I give so much credit to my wife Miriam for encouraging me at every turn.” Together they share the two sons and five grandchildren. It is little wonder that this accomplished and giving man doesn’t seek the spotlight. He is too busy giving, doing, achieving and envisioning the next step. “I’m not slowing down,” he says with characteristic energy. “I’m having fun. I think business can be healthy for you. I like to stay active in my businesses – so I’ll keep doing it.” And that, of course, is the best news of all.

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years of working for someone else. I’m absolutely thrilled that

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college, you graduated, interviewed for a job and retired there after

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Noteworthy is the fact that both Hixon sons, now entrepreneurs, worked in the business from their teenage years forward. The very proud father reports that Tommy Hixon, Jr., a 1993 MSU marketing graduate, went on to become President of First Choice. Son Shane’s career achievements include owning and operating an optical supply company.

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By Kirsten Shaw

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e live in a data-centric world. Information is generated in hundreds of ways, from smart phones to the Internet of Things. In 2017, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were generated every single day, according to software company Domo – with 90 percent of all data having been generated during the two previous years.

Yet there is a snag. While technologies exist to analyze these large volumes of information, the human factor is still catching up. “There’s a gap,” observes Dr. Stephen France, Assistant Professor of Quantitative Analysis. “There are a lot of professionals with business skills but limited quantitative skills – and a lot of good technical experts, like computer scientists, who don’t have business skills. Companies need people with both.” One area where companies visibly use data analysis is in marketing. Customers can be grouped into segments that may be targeted for promotions. Consumer data is consulted in product design. Recommendations are delivered to individuals based on their demographics and personal shopping histories. The need for data analysts exists in every area of business. In accounting, analytics can be used to discover patterns in data, to predict whether a company will be a going concern or to find instances of fraud. In human resources, analytics help in evaluating which employees are suited for which job and offer training or performance metrics. Supply chain coordinators are becoming increasingly dependent on data analytics. “Managers take costs out of supply chains and improve customer service by making better estimates of where and when their customers will need the things they purchase, and in what quantity,” comments Dr. Frank Adams, Associate Professor of Marketing and Director of the College’s Supply Chain program. “In a similar manner, understanding which supply risks to hedge and which to tolerate helps managers have what they need to serve their customers without overbuying expensive inventories.” Responding to the marketplace, the College of Business has introduced new initiatives to prepare students to meet the demand for analytics-savvy professionals.

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Indeed, technology now enables consideration of all relevant incoming data to make business decisions, rather than having to rely on select information provided by reports, focus groups or sampling. Companies may use data analysis to suggest solutions to specific issues, reveal problems or enhance understanding of particular subjects or behaviors.

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“The seemingly endless flow of data from the software ingrained in nearly every facet of today’s society and business can be easily overlooked,” remarks 2017 finance alumnus Austin Lewis, who began his career as a Portfolio Analyst at CBRE in Memphis. “However, neglecting this resource in today’s age is putting your business at an enormous disadvantage. Many insights and discoveries are made possible by leveraging the vast amount of data we transmit daily.”

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Out Front on Analytics

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One of those initiatives is a Business Analytics minor that aims to equip business majors with more technological skills and students from technical majors with more business skills. It is available to students in any discipline campus-wide, with certain prerequisites. Courses are taught by professors of Quantitative Analysis, Business Information Systems, Economics, Accounting and Marketing. Some accounting graduate students were the first to sign up for the minor last spring, and this fall the program expanded to enroll undergraduate and graduate students of various degree programs. “The minor is something we strongly recommend to our Supply Chain program students, to help them build the tools that will make them more competitive,” says Adams. “I see those kinds of skills as being an area of expertise that will move from ‘that’s extra-valuable to have’ to ‘you’re obsolete without it’.”

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“The minor is practical in nature,” states France. “It focuses on both acquiring skills and applying them.” Skills include business or economic forecasting, database systems and decision analysis. Students may choose to study applications in areas such as transportation, accounting, marketing research and supply France teaches forecasting techniques to students in his Business chain management. Forecasting and Predictive Analytics class. They are using the Photo by Beth Wynn same commercial tools that many businesses employ – ones that are free and widely utilized, such as Tableau, R and SQL Database. Examples of core classes are Business Database Systems, which introduces database applications, and Business Decision Analysis, which teaches techniques such as optimization modeling to solve decision problems that may arise in areas such as supply chain and production planning. France teaches Business Forecasting and Predictive Analytics, in which students learn a wide range of forecasting techniques for business prediction. One challenge he assigns is for students to use a real-world dataset to perform some prediction challenge. An accounting student might use financial data to predict fraudulent transactions; a marketing student may predict response to a promotion and a supply chain student could predict future inventory. For all of these tasks, students must apply and tune prediction techniques to optimize forecasting performance. “I learned how to approach business problems from a quantitative perspective,” says Lewis, who graduated before the minor was established but took several analytics courses from France. “Taking data and analyzing it provides a better understanding of relationships that would otherwise remain hidden or ambiguous.” Accounting alumnus Geoffrey Taylor, now employed with KPMG, was among the first to complete the minor. “I had changed my major from computer science to accounting after my freshman year

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because I was drawn toward a career path where I could explore the business world,” he explains. “That being said, my passion for software and technology never went away. The new Business Analytics minor seemed like the perfect way to incorporate my enthusiasm for technology into my accounting education.”

The accounting profession is among those most impacted by the new analytics technologies, and this has led the College of Business to another initiative: The Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy (ASAC) has incorporated data analytics throughout its curricula.

One example of what students are learning is seen in a case study from the fraud course, taught by Dr. Brad Trinkle. In the study, they take on the role of internal auditors for a major university. Using data analytics techniques, they assess the information provided to discover fraudulent P-Card transactions (a P-Card being a credit card used by department personnel to make small, routine purchases). ASAC’s curriculum shift emanated from discussions of the School’s Advisory Council, a group of practitioners and employers who keep the School apprised of needs within the profession. “From the firm’s perspective, we are trying to think proactively about our clients’ needs,” says Council member John Scott, a HORNE LLP Partner and 1982 alumnus. “Similarly, we want to equip our people with every tool to succeed.  Our clients’ desire for insights into big data, and what their data actually means to their decision making, is the central matter. We have a number of available tools to help with this process, but unless our employees can use the tools and interpret the data, we haven’t helped the client.” He continues, “The curriculum changes within the Adkerson School of Accountancy were designed to give MSU students a leg up in this rapidly developing field.  We discussed these in detail at the Advisory Council, and Dr. Mauldin and his team made it happen. One of the best features, in my opinion, is the flexibility in design.  As things change, we will be able to adjust and tweak the courses without a wholesale revision.  Best of all, our MSU accounting students will be better prepared than many of their peers from other schools as they enter the workforce.” The same can be said of all MSU students who receive analytics instruction through the College of Business. They will be eagerly welcomed into today’s technology-filled marketplace and begin their careers on a strong foundation.

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The School has integrated analytics into its existing structure. For instance, Accounting Systems I and II, which have long been required of all accounting undergraduates, now have a data analytics focus. A graduate level elective fraud course was restructured as Fraud Examination and Data Analysis and is now a required course.

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“In accounting, analytics is useful in maintaining the integrity of financial reporting, detecting fraud and ensuring compliance,” says ASAC Director Dr. Shawn Mauldin. “The goal of our curriculum changes is to ensure that Mississippi State accounting graduates have the technology skill set to make strategic, data-centric decisions in a complex and rapidly changing professional environment.”

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He continues, “The minor gave my résumé a competitive edge and helped me catch the attention of the KPMG Memphis Advisory team. I started work in early August and consistently find myself referring back to the lessons and techniques I learned in my Business Analytics courses. Thanks to professors like Dr. [Mark] Lehman and Dr. [Robert] Otondo, who created engaging classroom environments through critical thinking and open discussion, my transition into the working world has been very smooth.”

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Family First W

hen talking with Kelsey Waters, it is easy to feel that your conversation is the only one that matters. She looks you in the eye and gives you a wide, easy smile. She is engaging and approachable, professional and personable. It is no wonder that, with her natural demeanor and a relentless devotion to Mississippi State and its students, Waters is a successful recruiter for the College of Business.

After a year and a half, Waters decided it was time to pursue other opportunities. She texted T.J. Walker, a friend who worked at Mississippi State, about available jobs. He told her that the following day, four recruiting positions would be posted for locations outside Mississippi. Waters submitted her application and soon received an offer for employment on the East Coast, based in Greenville, SC. She recounts the very first time she stepped into a high school in South Carolina and met with a welcome surprise. “When I checked in as ‘Kelsey, from Mississippi State,’ this mother rounded on me with big, longing eyes and asked, ‘Did you say Mississippi State?’” Waters recalls. “That’s how I met Shay Hughey. She and her husband had graduated from MSU and had served as Road Runners and Orientation Leaders. Shay was working the lunch counter that day for the parents’ association and introduced me to their son Tripp and daughter Lauren.” It would be years before Lauren graduated from high school, but she was always excited to see Waters at college fairs and other recruiting events. “Lauren would run to my table, grab the pom-poms and sing the fight song to anyone who would listen!” Waters shares. “Once she arrived on campus, she joined a sorority, ran for student government, worked New Maroon Camp, served as an Orientation Leader and took every opportunity to give back to the University. Once, I was in the Union and looked up to see Lauren rushing at me. She wrapped me in the tightest hug and made me feel like the most important person in the room. That’s what is so special about her…she is warm, funny, a force to be reckoned with. Her spirit encourages everyone she meets.” Family college loyalties were more often a challenge than an advantage for Waters. Recruiting in the Carolinas meant competing with generational ties to schools in those states, but Waters was up to the task. She listened to students’ goals and needs and looked for ways Mississippi State could help meet them. Photo by Megan Bean

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When the time came for college, Waters enrolled at Delta State University and majored in English. Her ability to engage others found outlets in sorority membership and involvement with university recruitment. The mix of social activities with the solitude required by her interest in literature helped Waters thrive during her college years. On graduating, she was not ready to leave; she had lined up a job with the University’s recruitment office.

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The Assistant Director of Recruiting and Events for the College, Waters has always been outgoing, and she suspects her family deserves the credit for cultivating her personality. They are a “tight knit crew,” she says of her parents and older brother. The foursome was often on the road during her youth, traveling to her softball games or her brother’s baseball games.

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By Tom Lammert

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“Hudson Thames was one of those students who had planned his whole life to attend an institution in South Carolina,” she says. “During a college fair at Wando High School, I met Hudson and his dad and talked about the vet school and about how his dad’s military service would help pay out of state tuition. Mississippi State became a real possibility for him.” She kept in touch – calling, texting and writing to Hudson about his opportunities in Starkville. One day, his mother called to say that her son had decided on Mississippi State. “She told me that she was excited Hudson had chosen MSU because we wanted him more than anyone else,” Waters says. “Having this mother in Charleston, SC, feel the passion MSU has for its students left me beaming. Mrs. Wendy knew we were going to take care of Hudson and provide him with the resources to grow and follow his dream of becoming a veterinarian.”

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It was during her time in South Carolina that Waters met her husband, Calvin, a firefighter. The two spent their free time cruising up and down the East Coast. Waters enjoyed her professional travels, but the spontaneous road trips with Calvin remain her fondest memories of life there. After a few years, the College of Business offered Waters a position on campus. It would mean temporary separation from Calvin until he could find a job in Starkville, but Waters felt led to accept the position that would bring them nearer to family. Her parents live in Columbus, MS, and her brother’s family – including her niece, Elliott, whom Waters adores – lives in Corinth, MS. She knew she was returning to her relatives, but Waters did not anticipate another benefit: Her co-workers in the Dean’s office would become a second family. As COB Assistant Director of Recruiting and Events, Waters devotes time to sharing all that Mississippi State and the College have to offer, helping students discover that MSU is the right place to be. Often these conversations take place in a room that was designed to make students and their families feel at home as they learn about the COB. Completed in January 2018 and located on the second floor of McCool Hall, the Renasant Bank Campus Visit Room serves as a space for Waters to welcome students and their families. No other academic department on campus has a room dedicated to hosting prospective students, and this room’s aesthetic certainly impresses and reassures future business students. It feels more like a den

Waters says prospective students and their families feel at home in the COB’s Renasant Bank Campus Visit Room. Photo by Megan Bean

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or a home office than it does a conference room. On the white walls hang large photos depicting bird’s-eye views of Starkville’s Main Street. If a visitor wants coffee, a Keurig machine is at hand in a corner of the room. Padded chairs offer comfortable seating for more than two dozen visitors. Shelves brimming with business literature frame the flat-screen television that Shelby Baldwin, Waters’ intern, uses with visiting groups to describe the clubs, organizations, internships and other programs associated with the College. Waters praises Baldwin’s PowerPoint presentation, which she is also able to use in a more intimate format.

Whether hosting meetings there or talking with a prospective student on the Drill Field, Waters evangelizes about the faculty, staff and students at Mississippi State who cultivate a genial atmosphere. Incoming students and their parents are intelligent and perceptive, and Waters is aware that they will sniff out disingenuousness if her claim about MSU’s atmosphere is not sincere.

There is perhaps no greater example of this than Waters herself. Her affection for students and their families shines through, both in the way she speaks of them and in her actions. She tells the story of Katy King, who was a high school senior in Charlotte, NC, when they met in 2014. “As the child of an MSU alumna, Katy politely attended my visit to her high school,” Waters recalls. “She didn’t have many questions, and she honestly sat very quietly in our time together. Afterward, I met her mom and two aunts for lunch at Newk’s. That lunch jumpstarted an incredibly important relationship for me.” Waters continued to meet with Katy and her family to discuss Katy’s potential journey to MSU and just how great it could be for her. Fast forward to graduation, and Katy headed straight to Starkville. “In one short year, that quiet young woman had joined a sorority and academic clubs and was running for positions on campus!” Waters says. “Following Katy were her sisters Sarah and Julie. All three chose accounting, and they have grown into amazing, independent, caring people who have impacted my life in ways they could never know. I’ve also developed a deep friendship with their mother Rachel. This family has brought me love, laughter and immeasurable joy. The amount of pride I have in seeing what these sisters accomplish is something I never would have expected in this career.”

She continues, “I thought being a recruiter meant that I would help students get to college. I didn’t realize it also meant getting to watch students turn into the incredible people they would become.” Waters herself is now an MSU alumna, having earned a master’s degree in workforce education leadership. When she talks with recruits about the strength of an MSU education, paired with the university’s family atmosphere, there is no more authentic selling point than her own experience.

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She assures them the welcoming aura is genuine. Waters is thankful that her experience with her co-workers validates her claim that the Bulldog family is, in fact, a family.

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From time to time parents ask, “This hospitality – is it just the red-carpet treatment, or is this actually what it’s like?”

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Waters wants her discussions with students and their families to remain personal. She learns about her recruits by asking about their hometowns, interests and plans for their academic careers. She wants prospective students to feel welcome and at ease. Paired with Waters’ affable nature, the Renasant Bank Campus Visit Room is a space that feels like home.

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By Carolanne Roberts

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illy Ledbetter is a modern legend. She is a charming Southern lady with just the right combination of edgy drive and composure. She is the person newly-elected President Barack Obama danced with right after his wife Michelle at his 2009 inaugural ball. And she is a focused and determined woman, a non-stop fighter for what’s right.

But Ledbetter did just the opposite. After 10 years of lobbying for change, she witnessed President Obama, as his first official act in office, sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act into law. Ledbetter herself now travels the country both to tell her story and to encourage women to be heard. This included a memorable stop in Starkville earlier this year, where she addressed a packed Taylor Auditorium as the College of Business’ 2018 Leo W. Seal, Jr. Distinguished Speaker. To every audience that includes young women – MSU being one – she says, “I won’t stop speaking out. What happened to me should not happen to anyone, especially in the United States. It hurts the individual and the family, it hurts your retirement for the rest of your life and it also has a longer reach – it hurts the community, the state and our nation.” She tells her listeners, “I’ve testified twice before the House and twice before the Senate, and I went from office to office in Congress sharing my story with Republicans and Democrats. I can tell it in a five-minute nutshell because that’s all the time you get to testify. I tried keep my politics neutral and am grateful that the Ledbetter bill was co-sponsored by both parties. It became a law because of both parties.” She would never have imagined this kind of tribute, much less a bill carrying her name, in the early days. Ledbetter was an outstanding high school student. Her mother, while encouraging secondary education, discouraged college and sent Lilly into the work force. Eventually, as a District Manager for H&R Block, Ledbetter managed 16 locations in Alabama, hiring and training staff. When she moved to Goodyear she started as a Supervisor. Her later promotion to Area Manager increased her responsibility but not her paycheck. Still, Ledbetter would have continued there except for what happened next. Two years short of retirement, she received a note in the mail – actually a torn piece of paper from a still-anonymous sender. On it were written the salaries of four managers, Ledbetter and three men. Hers was by far the lowest.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Ledbetter

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That could have been it. Cut losses, go home, feel victimized.

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Remember the headlines? Lilly Ledbetter from the Possum Trot section of Jacksonville, AL, sent waves all the way to the Supreme Court upon learning she was earning up to 40 percent less than her male counterparts at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in nearby Gadsden, AL. On the technicality of timing – she didn’t start her fight within 180 days of the first unequal paycheck – she lost her Supreme Court case, which meant zero back pay and a hefty hit to her Social Security and retirement benefits. For nearly 20 years, she had worked as the only female area manager at Goodyear. In the end, she left the job. It was her own decision but also the only feasible path.

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Champion for Equality

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48 Students filled Taylor Auditorium to hear Ledbetter speak. Photo by Megan Bean

Life changed in that moment. She filed a gender pay discrimination suit in federal court and won a $3.8 million verdict, only to have it overturned on appeal. Over the next eight years her case made its way to the Supreme Court, which found in Goodyear’s favor. The rest is literally history. “My daughter bought me a college history textbook, and I am in it!” she proclaims. Looking back, she explains, “I knew that no matter how much training you had at that point, if you were female you were born the wrong sex. I had no choice but to get out there.” Little did she know she would attract the attention of such political luminaries as Hillary Clinton, the late Senator Ted Kennedy and a young Senator Obama. “I’d taken aptitude tests which had determined I’d be productive in public speaking or politics,” she reports, on her efforts to draw attention to the equal pay issue. “And I’ve never been nervous in front of a crowd or in an interview. I’d be on the phone with radio call-ins at 5 a.m., then would go on to maybe do an NPR interview and perhaps one for a paper or a magazine.” In 2008, she appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, once again speaking for the cause. “I got so caught up in the crowd reaction, all the hollering and crying,” she recalls. “I could see the tears on women’s faces and hear the men shouting, ‘Yes, yes!’ I had to wait to continue and went on to speak for about six minutes on national TV.” On Obama’s inauguration day, she rode the train from Philadelphia, PA, to Washington, DC, with the soon-to-be President and Vice President. The attention and star power helped get the law enacted. But, she reminds her audiences, “I never got a penny. It’s been a long time since I filed in 1998, and I never got a penny.” What she has gotten, beyond the bill itself, is feedback from women inspired by her diligence. “For instance, I got in a cab and the driver said, ‘Oh, you’re the equal payday lady’ and told me how he told his wife about me after hearing an interview on NPR. She went to her employer and got $6,000,” Ledbetter shares. “A lady in Mississippi got $125,000 and quit the job on the spot. She’ll graduate from college because she used that money for education. I get calls and letters all the time telling me how much what I’ve done has meant to them.”

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One such fan and fervent supporter is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the dissenting argument in Ledbetter’s case – even reading it from the bench – and keeps in touch with her. “She has my bill framed in her office,” says Ledbetter. “She’s my number one inspiration, my all-time favorite woman. She has accomplished so much in life but once told me that her first three jobs paid her less [than men] because she had a husband. She understands the cause.”

“I tell them they need to negotiate their starting salaries because future raises are based on that number,” she says. “I tell them that less pay is a fact. So I give advice to help get equal pay from the start.”

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With a biography in print and a film script floating out there (Ledbetter favors Meryl Streep to portray her), this crusader continues to inspire. Tireless and still determined, Ledbetter persists with her speeches and comments in the press. She is aware that students such as Mississippi State’s, who sat rapt and engaged as she spoke in Taylor Auditorium, will one day carry the torch for her.

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Ledbetter’s legacy is summed up in the words of President Obama on that special day: “…this is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did, and keep standing for what’s right, as Lilly did, we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.”

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The enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act is a well documented moment in history. Numerous YouTube videos chronicle the triumphant and poised woman walking alongside President Obama into the signing ceremony for that important bill.

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Ledbetter took time to meet MSU business students, including members of the University Women in Business chapter, which joined the COB in sponsoring her lecture. Photo by Tyler Ash


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By Sandra Orozco-Aleman

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One focus area of current immigration policy is the reduction of unauthorized immigration. Estimates indicate that more than 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the United States. Unauthorized immigration can occur in two ways: Either a person enters the country without appropriate documentation, or he or she loses appropriate documented status while in the country. Improving border security directly through the increased use of fencing, border patrol and other measures is one tactic for stemming unauthorized immigration. Other strategies include targeting labor demand by imposing sanctions on employers of undocumented workers and labor supply by imposing penalties on undocumented workers themselves. While immigration policy is typically considered a national issue, some states have enacted legislation that impacts the regulation of federal laws. For example, in April 2010, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, arguably the most restrictive and controversial immigration bill ever passed by a state. The law, which was scheduled to take effect on July 29, 2010, targeted labor supply by making it a crime instead of a civil offense to apply for or hold a job in Arizona without legal authorization. It required police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone they believed to be in the country illegally and allowed them to stop and arrest anyone they had reason to believe

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the 1996–2017 period, the total labor force increased by about 26 million and half (about 13 million) of the increase was among the foreign born.

One meaningful way to contribute to the policy debate and shed some light on the potential effect of immigration policies is by engaging in rigorous research. How would changes in immigration policies impact the number of documented and undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor market? How would changes in immigration policies affect the U.S. economy and the average American family?

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mmigration has played an essential role in American political, economic, social and cultural history. It can foster economic growth, promote innovation and increase human capital. Shortages in the labor market can be addressed by attracting foreign workers. In 2017, 17.1 percent of the U.S. workforce were immigrants.1 Within the broad category of immigrants, some hold appropriate, current, authorization to live and work in the United States, and some do not. Immigration policy debate actively scrutinizes both authorized and unauthorized immigration.

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U.S. Immigration Policy: What Can We Learn From Mexican Migration?

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lacked authorized immigration documentation. The law also allowed police to arrest an individual they believed to have committed a crime, even for offenses that would normally have resulted only in a ticket, causing him or her to be deported. In short, the law substantially increased the expected costs of being an unauthorized immigrant in Arizona.

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On July 28, one day before the bill was scheduled to go into effect, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking much of the law, pending the outcome of a legal challenge by the federal government. Two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several components of the law. As a result, the primary way in which one can evaluate the law’s impact is to study the announcement effect from April through July. A key question is whether a state law such as SB 1070 can deter undocumented workers from entering the United States. In the paper “Illegal Immigration, State Law and Deterrence”2, which I co-authored with Dr. Mark Hoekstra, Source: Hoekstra, Mark, and Sandra Orozco-Aleman. 2017. “Illegal we address this question. We Immigration, State Law, and Deterrence.” American Economic Journal: examined whether Arizona SB 1070 Economic Policy, 9(2): 228-252. deterred entry into Arizona from Mexico using survey responses of undocumented workers passing through Mexican border towns on their way to the United States. Results indicated the bill’s passage reduced the flow of undocumented immigrants into Arizona by 30 to 70 percent, suggesting that undocumented workers from Mexico are responsive to changes in state immigration policy. Our results indicate that the decision to immigrate without authorization is sensitive to expected benefits and costs, even to the point that a law that has only been announced, but not enacted, impacts the immigration and locational decisions of new immigrants from Mexico. This large response suggests that laws such as Arizona SB 1070 will continue to have appeal among states attempting to reduce the inflow of unauthorized immigrants. The Arizona law is an example of a policy that stemmed the flow of unauthorized immigration by reducing the appeal of relocating to Arizona, inducing a pull factor – pulling individuals to remain in Mexico. There are also push factors for migration including economic conditions and personal safety. One example of a push factor in Mexico is the increase in drug-related violence over the last decade that has triggered the migration of individuals and families from the most violent regions of Mexico in search for safety. In 2006, the Mexican government launched an aggressive military campaign against drug trafficking organizations that sparked competition, fragmentation and alliances among criminal organizations. The move led to instability and a staggering amount of violence, prompting the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans.3 The movement was not only internal; it forced individuals to search for safety beyond Mexico’s borders. In the paper entitled “Drug Violence and Migration Flows: Lessons from the Mexican Drug War”4, which I co-authored with MSU colleague Dr. Heriberto Gonzalez-Lozano, we examine the effect of this increase in violence on the inflows of immigrants from Mexico into the United States. Violence imposes a social and economic burden on individuals and businesses, affecting individuals’ incentives to migrate. On the other hand, violence can also affect migration decisions

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Foreign-born workers: Labor Force Characteristics -2017.” May, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/forbrn_05172018.pdf

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Hoekstra, Mark, and Sandra Orozco-Aleman. 2017. “Illegal Immigration, State Law, and Deterrence.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 9(2): 228-252. https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/pol.20150100

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2015). “The Human Rights Situation in Mexico.” http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/mexico2016-en.pdf

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Orozco-Aleman, Sandra and Heriberto Gonzalez-Lozano. 2018. “Drug Violence and Migration Flows: Lessons from the Mexican Drug War.” Journal of Human Resources, 53(3): 717-749. http://jhr.uwpress.org/content/53/3/717

Sandra Orozco-Aleman Dr. Sandra Orozco-Aleman is an Associate Professor of Economics in the College of Business. She received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. She worked for six years as an economist and financial researcher for the Mexican Central Bank. Orozco-Aleman’s research focuses on the labor market impact of immigration, unauthorized immigration and U.S. immigration policy. She has published articles in leading academic journals such as the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and the Journal of Human Resources. Her work has been presented at major academic conferences including those of the American Economic Association and the Society of Labor Economists. She teaches graduate courses on labor economics and special topics in econometrics, as well as undergraduate courses on intermediate microeconomics and labor economics.

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While there is a large body of literature on immigration policies and their effects, there is still much research to do. Understanding the determinants of authorized and unauthorized immigration creates the opportunity to affect immigration policy reform.

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Violence pushes immigrants to leave their homes, while restrictive U.S. policy, even at the state level, pulls in the opposite direction – pulls them to stay where they are. Laws and regulations in both Mexico and the United States affect immigration flows including the characteristics and skills of immigrants. This in turn impacts the economic growth, innovation and human capital in the United States.

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through changes in migration costs. We considered two different types of violence: local violence where prospective migrants live, and transit violence on the routes taken to the U.S.-Mexico border. Moreover, we used electoral cycles to predict violence because drug violence has been broadly associated with municipal elections; drug cartels have attempted to influence elections to make sure the person elected does not interfere Source: INEGI with their criminal activities. Our findings show that local violence increased migration, but violence along the passage to the United States deterred individuals from migrating. Overall, data analysis showed that between 2007 and 2012, on net, violence positively affected migration flows. Violence was responsible for a 1.53 percent increase in the migration rate between Mexico and the United States.

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Dr. B’s Brand By Kelsey Waters “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

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n the world of business, the level of trust held in a brand can result in the loyalty or the loss of customers. In the world of higher education, students’ success may rely on the level of trust they have in a professor’s “brand.” Faculty members have to earn the loyalty of their students or deal with potential loss of attention and focus in class.

The Mississippi native started his academic career with the idea of becoming a doctor. Like so many other bright students, he was urged toward the medical field by friends and family; however, his father told him that a degree in accounting would set him up for a career with flexibility and growth. Still not sure what the future held, Breazeale chose to study accounting, and the future marketing professor flourished in a field of study that was much more analytical than creative. Feeling the allure of success at an early age, Breazeale got into business while a sophomore at Millsaps College in Jackson, with the purchase of a local video store. Within a few years of graduating, he had also acquired Mississippi’s largest single-screen movie theatre – Deville Cinema. These ventures enabled him to follow his creative instinct and passion while also offering an artistic escape to local residents. After experiencing life as a business owner, Breazeale moved into real estate. With an effervescent personality and sincere interest in people, he found incredible success and soon started traveling the country to train other real estate agents. Sharing his stories with those he trained helped him see that he was being called to teach. To pursue a teaching career, Breazeale earned a PhD in marketing at Mississippi State University. After completing coursework, his first stop as a professor would be Indiana University Southeast, followed by the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Both positions provided opportunities for him to grow as an educator and develop his own research interests. It was during his time in Omaha that Breazeale would begin studying the idea of “unbranding.” The concept was to work toward dismantling “violent extremist organizations” – terrorists – by diminishing the effectiveness of their marketing strategies. Unbranding could be used by the U.S. Department of Defense and other institutions overseeing public safety. Also while at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Breazeale began working with biometric technology that would help students and researchers dive deeper into the understanding of brands and consumers. As he made his move to Mississippi State in 2014, he knew he wanted expertise in this technology to be a goal of the College of Business. Working with colleagues like Dr. Melissa

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Dr. Mike Breazeale, more commonly known by his students as “Dr. B,” understands this phenomenon better than most, and the self-described “mentor in a sweater vest” strives to help his students find their place in a world dominated by labels.

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When professors step in front of a classroom or offer support outside the classroom, the personas they convey are their brands, their characters, their connections to the young people in their care.

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JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER OF AMAZON.COM

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Moore, Dr. Adam Farmer and Dean Sharon Oswald, Breazeale has succeeded in bringing the newest technology to Mississippi State’s College of Business. With generous help from alumni, Breazeale has established the Market Innovation Lab and Observatory, or MILO, in McCool Hall. The use of MILO in an undergraduate setting allows students in the College of Business to study biometric research, which he says makes them “imminently more hirable” and helps them “not just get jobs, but jobs they want.” Students in the Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law, as well as other College of Business departments, are developing an analytical skill set that employers are eager to hire. Companies like Kohl’s are currently hiring biometric data analysts by the hundreds. For Mississippi State to educate its students in cutting-edge technology shows that they are competitive on a national level.

“They’re versatile and well-prepared,” he says. “They have so many avenues, from fighting terrorism with the Department of Defense to working with startup musicians and companies. Marketing is so much more than advertising and selling.” With the world of marketing being so diverse, how does Breazeale make himself stand out? Once again, by developing a brand. In addition to “mentor in a sweater vest,” he uses phrases like “passionately enthusiastic” and “destroyer of mediocrity” to describe his personal brand.

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For Breazeale, preparing his students for their careers by helping them create their own brands is an important aspect of his job. Asked to describe the Mississippi State marketing students’ brand, his eyes fill with joy.

For his students it might be hard to decide if Breazeale is an Associate Professor at Mississippi State or a superhero sent to save them from bland or boring academia. With classes like personal selling, consumer behavior and his brainchild and personal favorite, strategic brand management, Breazeale is focused on grooming his students for the next step. While he is a colorful character – in both personality and wardrobe – even he struggles with a college-age audience from time to time. The era of the cell phone is not lost on him, and he realizes asking students to go a whole class without checking their social media accounts is “like asking them to hold their breath until class is over.” With this in mind, his teaching tactics shift to fit the propensities of his students, and he offers a “cell phone break” during his classes. Small gestures of trust like this build his rapport with them. The introduction of cell phone dependence is not the first barrier Breazeale has faced in his classes. He has always found students reluctant to speak up in class. The importance of sharing in a creative field like marketing should be obvious, but it can still be intimidating to speak one’s ideas in a room full of people. Following the example of a colleague, Breazeale introduced a “talking stick” into his classroom. Decked out in school colors, the talking stick denoted that the person who held it could speak freely. Soon, students started to speak up so that they could avoid breaking out the talking tool. Breazeale’s goal is to “never make people feel dumb.” In the classroom, he says, it is not about being right or wrong, but instead it is about feeling comfortable building on the ideas shared within a comfortable and creative space. He focuses on his students always. Whether inside the walls of McCool Hall or traveling abroad, Breazeale is constantly working toward their growth and experience. This past year, he took

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a group on an 11-day trip to Ireland, Scotland and Iceland. They joined students from Steven F. Austin University of Tyler, TX, for the adventure. During this educational journey, students had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of international branding adapted to other cultures, not to mention spending time at world-renowned companies like Guinness. Breazeale and other marketing educators are always working to prove that their field of study is not “just sales.” By putting these students on the ground in places like Iceland, a country striving to reinvent itself, they provide opportunities to see that branding is about more than just products. Branding is a phoenix-like tool that can offer rebirth to companies, places and people. Mississippi State University strives to offer an atmosphere of family. Breazeale views the Bulldog brand as “loyal in thought and deed,” and holds himself accountable for extending this brand to his students and his classroom. “Once you have had me for a class, you have me for life as a resource,” he states. While he has made this promise to every class throughout his teaching career, not everyone takes it to heart. But when that one student from eight years ago calls him for career advice, “that’s as good as it gets!” Branding, when well done, carries with it personality, confidence and a sense of belonging, and Breazeale’s brand offers all of these to his students. He imparts his academic expertise to them every day in his classroom. More importantly, he imparts trust, belief and courage as they move toward the next part of their journeys. As an educator, Breazeale is engaged, encouraging and adaptable. As a person, he is invested, sincere and full of love and patience. The halls of McCool are brighter with him inside. The students are stronger with his leadership. The COB’s faculty and staff are inspired by working alongside him. In his eyes, Mississippi State University is a “hidden treasure” by brand. In the eyes of those around him, Dr. Mike Breazeale is the hidden treasure, a hero wearing a sweater vest like a cape.

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Breazeale earned the 2018 MSU Alumni Association Early Career Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award. He is shown here with COB colleagues (from left) Associate Dean Kevin Rogers, Academic Coordinator Vergie Bash – recipient of the Irving Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award – and Dean Sharon Oswald.

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By Emily Daniels “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” HENRY DAVID THOREAU

But the third generation Bulldog from Ridgeland, MS, says she was not always sure she would go to Mississippi State for college.

“When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to move somewhere far away for school. I had lived in Mississippi my whole life and wanted a change of scenery,” Baldwin remarks. “I toured a bunch of other schools in the Southeast before visiting MSU – mostly to please my dad – but when I finally did, I fell in love! The atmosphere at Mississippi State just seemed so different from anywhere else. Everyone was so friendly, and you immediately felt accepted.” Baldwin made her decision, and her excitement grew as she imagined the new chapter that awaited her at MSU. The week before her first semester, the eager freshman dove headfirst into New Maroon Camp, a weeklong student-led retreat which prepares first year students for campus life. New Maroon Camp helped Baldwin network and learn about the many programs and organizations that her new school had to offer. “It definitely helped in jump-starting my involvement. Everything I have been involved in and have succeeded in since I was a freshman can be traced back to a connection or experience I had during New Maroon Camp,” says Baldwin. She continues, “The program has been my biggest passion at State since I got here. I’ve been a participant, and as a counselor, I’ve held different leadership positions, including overseeing the camp as Executive Director this year.” As her first fall semester began, Baldwin decided to make the most of her college experience. She was selected by the Student Association to serve as a counselor on Freshman Forum, a small

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enior marketing major Shelby Baldwin has certainly been busy during her time at Mississippi State. From directing a week-long camp for nearly 1,000 excited new Bulldogs and co-founding a rapidly growing student organization on campus, to serving as an Ambassador and the recruitment intern for the College of Business and creating business plans for not one but two startup companies, it’s no wonder that with all her success she was named 2018’s Miss MSU.

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Success Finds Shelby Baldwin

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leadership conference which educates high school juniors and seniors about collegiate leadership and involvement. She also joined a sorority, where she met Kaylie Mitchell, a marketing student who had recently co-founded a quickly growing startup company through the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (E-Center).

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Baldwin began college majoring in secondary education, but by her sophomore year, she was leaning toward business. So when Mitchell offered Baldwin a marketing internship with her company Glo – which makes liquid-activated lighted drink enhancers – she jumped at the opportunity. Baldwin was named 2018’s Miss MSU. “I loved the fast-paced environment, Photo by Beth Wynn helping with a startup,” says Baldwin. “I was in charge of social media and assisted in sales, outreach and ad designs. I really never knew that I had a passion for digital marketing until I started interning for Glo, and now I use it in almost everything that I do. After a couple of weeks working there, I officially changed my major from secondary education to business administration with a minor in marketing.”

Interning for the student-run startup company also helped her get plugged into the E-Center, which later led to her creation of two new companies with business partners Calvin Waddy and Brandon Johns. The first, Thrive Island, is an online women’s clothing company. “The startups kind of happened on a whim,” Baldwin says. “It was spring break, and Calvin and I were broke college students trying to come up with ways to make money. We brainstormed, and through our research we discovered that online shopping, especially women’s clothing, was really lucrative. We both had strong backgrounds in digital marketing, so we created a website and Instagram account and both really took off. We’ve gotten nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram in just a matter of months!” After the success of their first startup, they also created a digital marketing agency, Rocketing Media, where Johns joined them. “With this company, we assist companies with website building, ad design, content creation, social media strategy and search engine optimization,” says Baldwin. They are now working with three restaurants in the Memphis area, and they hope to eventually work with clients in other areas as well. “That’s really what I love about the College of Business – it will set you up for anything you could possibly want to do with your life,” she says. “A business degree is extremely versatile, especially at Mississippi State. You can literally start your own business and be set for life before you even graduate.” Baldwin has also kept busy through her work as President of MSU’s Undergraduate Women in Business (UWIB) organization, which she co-founded in fall 2017 with former College of Business student Feifei Zeng. Modeled after Harvard University’s founding chapter, Baldwin says the organization is designed for women students to “hold each other accountable and push each other to be successful, so when we graduate, we can succeed in the careers that we’re all pursuing.”

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In two years, UWIB membership has grown to 175 “business-minded women” from various academic disciplines across campus. The organization meets bi-weekly, hosting guest speakers, Q & A sessions and various workshops such as résumé reviews, internship advice and proper business etiquette. Most recently, MSU’s UWIB worked with the College of Business to co-host women’s equality activist, public speaker and author Lilly Ledbetter, who shared the inspirational story of her fight for pay equity in the workplace and how her determination became a victory for the nation.

“I’m really passionate about all the things that the College has to offer,

something I love.” Baldwin recently changed her major to marketing and is set to graduate in May 2019. When asked if she has a dream job in mind, Baldwin stops, carefully reflecting about the various roles she has held during her time on campus. “I honestly think there’s no one dream job, just dream job characteristics,” she muses. “I know that I eventually want to work in a big city – I’d be fine with Atlanta or somewhere more northern like Boston, New Haven, Hartford. A good company culture supporting diversity is really important to me. I want to be working around people who are different than me – men and women from all different races and different backgrounds. I’ve interacted with several companies through networking and career fairs on campus that are really big on that, so I don’t think that’ll be hard to find.” She adds, “I do like being able to come up with my own deadlines and decide what I want to do on which days and working at my own pace, though. So for right now, I think my ‘dream job’ would probably be to continue working on the startups.” Baldwin is not sure what the future holds, but she has plenty of options. In a matter of just four short years, she has already racked up a quite impressive résumé. One could argue that success has already found Shelby Baldwin. And she’s just getting started.

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says. “And it’s just really fun being able to connect my job and doing

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and it’s a privilege to be able to help showcase that to students,” she

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And if Baldwin were not busy enough, she manages to find time to volunteer as a COB Ambassador, where she promotes the College of Business by helping to coordinate special events, recruit prospective students, meet and greet parents and visit with alumni. Through the Ambassador program, she met Kelsey Waters, Assistant Director of Recruiting and Events, who was impressed by Baldwin’s work ethic and knowledge about all the events and programs in the College of Business. With the help of Dr. Melissa Moore – Head of the Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law – a position was created in January for Baldwin to work as Waters’ recruitment intern. She assists Waters with the campus visit presentations, COB brochures, email campaigns, photos and graphics for Preview Days and Academic Insight.

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Mr. Pat’s Home Turf T

he pro shop for the Mississippi State University Golf Course is a modest brick building. Its covered concrete patio hosts a metal bench where golfers adjust their spikes or read the course’s policies, one of which stipulates that guests may wear “tasteful” t-shirts. At many golf clubs, allowing a golfer to wear anything aside from a collared shirt with slacks constitutes a sin as egregious as not repairing a lawn-sized divot. Features such as its unpretentious facilities and t-shirt policy distinguish the MSU Golf Course from elite country clubs, yet it is clear this course shares some characteristics with those built exclusively for wealthy patrons.

It takes about 30 seconds to drive a golf cart from the pro shop to the maintenance crew’s warehouse. Beneath its rafters there are at least half a dozen lawnmowers. There are weed eaters. There are leaf blowers. And there is Pat Sneed, the Superintendent of the Mississippi State University Golf Course. When he says hello, his gentle tone suggests why the course’s employees call him Mr. Pat and speak to him with reverence. Sneed’s unapologetically southern accent makes it obvious that he spent years of his childhood in Mississippi. Sneed grew up in Tupelo, spending his early years playing golf with his father and eventually working at the Tupelo Country Club’s course. Sneed dubs this summer job his “preliminary beginnings,” an era during which he initially “carried around a weed eater and a gas can for two weeks solid.” Every day he walked the course in the morning, took a break for lunch and then spent afternoons and evenings walking and trimming. It did not take long for Sneed to realize he wanted to ditch the crude work of weed eating for the more refined study of turf. His job at Tupelo Country Club introduced him to the science that is essential to proper turf management. Sneed began his college years at Mississippi College with the intent of playing as much golf as possible. While at Mississippi College, he took pre-med classes – his plan being to enroll in Mississippi State University’s veterinary medicine program. However, the program had a long wait list, and Sneed says that he never properly pursued the avenues that might have expedited his entry into the program. He still transferred to Mississippi State, where he knew several older students who told him the Golf and Sports Turf Management (GSTM) program could lead to a respectable career. Golf course superintendents and assistant superintendents made good money, but Sneed’s motivation to enroll in the GSTM program was more about having a career in golf.

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This impeccable green raises questions. Who keeps it pristine under such harsh conditions? How do the fairways look soft enough to nap on while the temperature hovers around 95 degrees? Someone must care for this publicly-funded course as if it were some celestial club where one day the ghosts of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth will haunt its tee boxes.

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Next to the patio is a putting green, its grass verdant and smooth. The surface’s apparent health might come as a surprise because it is July in Mississippi, and the summer of 2018 will not be remembered for its rain.

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He graduated in the fall of 1981 and headed to New Orleans to work as the Assistant Superintendent for New Orleans Country Club. He worked there for 10 months, and then, more than a decade after he had first hauled a weed eater and a can of gas across its lawns, Sneed took the position of Superintendent for Tupelo Country Club. He worked there for about seven years before moving to Florida for another seven. Sneed recalls the dates and lengths of his various jobs without hesitation; it is as if someone asked him to state the color of his shirt. In 1995, Sneed received a phone call concerning the MSU golf course’s superintendent position. His family had just gotten unwelcome news concerning his father’s health, so he was thankful for the opportunity to return to the nearby course and school where he had refined his craft. He has since spent the past 23 years providing leadership to countless students and employees as well as overseeing the living lab that is the course.

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The golf course is under the purview of the PGA Golf Management program in the College of Business. It is the host facility for the program, as well as the MSU golf teams and the GSTM program. Owned by the University, it provides a place for practice, tournaments and PGA seminars, and it is open to the public. The par 71 championship layout plays over 6,600 yards for men and over 5,300 yards for women. In 2012, a new practice facility, exclusively for PGA Golf Management students and players on MSU’s teams, was added to the existing practice facilities. It expanded Sneed’s territory with a 22,000 square-foot practice tee, an 8,500 square-foot putting green and an 80,000 square-foot short game area. As Superintendent, Sneed also has an intimate working relationship with Mississippi State’s GSTM program, which is housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is quick to mention the program’s critical role in maintaining the course’s conditions. In addition to Sneed, an assistant superintendent and an equipment technician, the course relies on GSTM students to function. Summer school can create what Sneed calls “scheduling nightmares,” but this is the only negative thing he has to say in relation to his students. They are all “well-rounded and refined turf professionals” who bolster the GSTM program’s stellar reputation. He credits his students with maintaining the quality course conditions, saying that if the GSTM program puts “knowledgeable students out there [on the course], the program will take care of itself.”

The MSU Golf Course Photo by Logan Kirkland

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Many of them follow the path Sneed took after graduating. When they leave Mississippi State, they are hired by renowned, big-budget courses – both public and private. It is their accomplishments that make Sneed proud, rather than the effusive praises he and the course have received in publications like Golf Digest and Golfweek Magazine. In addition to his history with and love for Mississippi State University, Sneed’s students are why he returns to the golf course every morning. “It doesn’t make sense to do it for any other reasons,” he states. COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

Mentoring students keeps him busy, but Sneed makes time to innovate. According to Ryan Wilhelm, the course’s Assistant Golf Professional, Sneed’s commitment to maintenance never stops. Wilhelm describes how Sneed conducts experiments on the fairways. He says some golfers might notice that their approach shots gain or lose momentum at unusual, unpredictable rates, but these athletes should know that the extra strokes on their scorecards are for the greater good. During any season of the year as many as 15 research trials may cover the course, and Sneed ensures that whenever possible, turf varieties developed here at MSU are used as a functional part of the course in order to promote the University and the GSTM program. The last time the greens were re-grassed, Sneed used Mississippi Supreme, an MSU hybrid Ultra-Dwarf Bermudagrass released in the mid-1990s.

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Be thankful for Mr. Pat.

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The nature of a public university means this quality course will never be an exclusive escape for the wealthy, but the course will not suffer from a lack of such patrons. Be thankful that the course will remain an unintimidating place to play a round with friends because a kid from Tupelo played golf with his dad decades ago. Be thankful that this kid grew into a student who cultivated his affinity for turf management. Be thankful that this student left, then returned home to become the Superintendent for the Mississippi State University Golf Course. Be thankful that this superintendent has spent decades researching, mentoring students and maintaining the greens and fringes and fairways.

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A User-Friendly Dressing Room N

ot all shopping trips are vexing, but many consumers aren’t batting a thousand when it comes to having positive shopping experiences. Sadie Lee Pierce, a recent graduate of Mississippi State University and a former marketing intern for the College of Business, is developing a way to meet the needs of busy customers – and at the same time, help retailers.

Soon after they had devised their concept, called FormIT Tech, Pierce and Seale explained it to Eric Hill, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (E-Center). Impressed by the thoughtfulness and complexity of their idea, he told them they could absolutely bring the concept to market. With guidance from Hill and Dr. Charles Freeman, Associate Professor of Fashion Design and Merchandising in the School of Human Sciences, they began working on a business plan in the E-Center.

“Imagine if you could give your customer a quick, painless and unique shopping experience, all while collecting consumer data and increasing your shopper’s basket size!” Pierce exclaims. “With FormIT Tech, we would be selling the experience to the consumer and the data to the retailer while increasing sales.” Pierce describes FormIT Tech as software that uses tablets to automatically scan radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. “Retail outlets and boutiques would install FormIT Tech, then mount tablets in their dressing rooms,” she says. “When a customer enters a dressing room, the tablet can sense each item’s RFID tag. This process monitors the products brought into the room, and the tablet displays these products.” Pierce explains the benefits of tracking and displaying each item. First, FormIT Tech can help companies develop customer profiles. It can track and compile data about what items customers try on and take home, leave at the store or purchase later, either online or at another branch of the

Photo by Russ Houston

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When Pierce and Seale returned to Starkville, they pondered how they might bring a similar capability to retail stores. Shouldn’t clothing retailers and local shops have an in-house, automated means of browsing and purchasing merchandise? Pierce and Seale came up with a vision for how clothing stores could take advantage of emerging technologies like touchscreens to make shopping experiences more efficient and enjoyable.

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It started in 2017, when Pierce and former classmate Allie Seale attended the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in New York, NY. While perusing the booths that populated the convention’s floorspace, they met two young men who invented a technology that McDonald’s is installing in all its restaurants to expedite orders: digital self-serve ordering stations, which will allow customers to be seated and their food served at their tables.

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Pierce was made an “honorary College of Business student” in recognition of her many hours in McCool as student, intern and entrepreneur. She is joined here by COB staff members (from left) Kelsey Waters, Erin Henderson, Catherine Williams, Emily Daniels and Laura Rowell.

same retailer. The tablet can display the scanned clothes and show the customer variations of the same product. For instance, if a customer enters a dressing room with a red sweater, size medium, and he decides he wants the item in a different size or color, he can touch a call button to ask an employee to bring him the alternative. If he wants to see other red sweaters the store offers, he can browse the store’s inventory to see what else is available. The software is linked to the company’s inventory, so if a shopper makes a purchase, FormIT Tech accounts for this by modifying the store’s inventory. Pierce thinks this kind of interface can help two types of shoppers. Shopper A likes to pick up everything that appeals and tries on each item, with the intention of buying whatever works – or nothing. Shopper B enters a store with a specific item in mind, determined to find the item, try it on and leave without spending a lot of time. FormIT Tech can help Shopper A and Shopper B, by reducing the amount of time spent picking out, trying on, swapping out and purchasing clothes. In developing their idea, Pierce and Seale knew there were similar concepts on the market and determined their product design would include point-of-sale (POS) capabilities to distinguish it from the competition. This would mean that when Shopper B enters a dressing room and likes what she tries on, she can enter her payment information into the tablet. No check-out lines – she’s in and out of the store in minutes. Pierce was excited about the idea of POS, but she recognized it would complicate the software. To remedy this problem, they sought help from MSU mechanical engineering student Awbrey Foster, who started writing the software. Around this time, Seale’s other responsibilities as a graduating senior began to grow, and she let

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Pierce know that she needed to end her involvement in their venture. Pierce, continuing on her own, was selected as a national finalist in the 2017 Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) sponsored by the Washington, DC-based Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). “WBENC SEP is an amazing opportunity to learn, network and engage with the WBENC’s 14 Regional Partner Organizations, more than 14,000 certified women business enterprises and 300-plus corporate and government members,” says Andrew Gaeckle, WBENC Strategic Planning Director.

Pierce is not sure when FormIT Tech will release. They continue to work on the software, but whether it happens now or in the future, she is thankful for the experience.

“The opportunity to network with major corporations and the business and promotional background that the College of Business

Prior to graduation, Sadie accepted a position as a Merchandising Assistant for Burke’s Outlet, headquartered in Bradenton, FL, and soon moved up the ranks to Merchandising Analyst. In this role, Pierce allocates goods to stores, analyzing ways to get products to the floor faster. She also puts her marketing talent to use. “I enjoy working on market research, finding trends and learning what the Beall’s or Burke’s Outlet customer wants to see in stores,” she says. “I’m training under the ladies activewear buyer right now to eventually become a buyer myself.” Pierce had begun her college career at Texas State University, where she studied psychology, but soon determined that this was not the major for her. She spoke to some of her friends at Mississippi State, and they convinced her to make the 10-hour drive from Houston, TX, for a visit. She fell in love with the campus, transferred and started studying finance. After taking classes with some of her favorite professors – specifically Freeman and the COB’s Dr. Melissa Moore – Pierce altered her focus again, earning a degree in fashion merchandising and design. To supplement this, she double minored in marketing and business administration. In her senior year she was hired as the marketing intern in the College of Business Dean’s Office. She demonstrated her communication skills and creativity, assisting Marketing & Advancement Coordinator Emily Daniels in promoting the College to alumni and to current and prospective students through social media, advertising and various college events. Before starting at MSU, Pierce had no idea that by the time she graduated she would have created and pitched a software product plan – a software that perhaps she will eventually use in the boutique she has always wanted to own. Working for a large retail company has shown Pierce the constant advancements of the fashion industry. “Old brick-and-mortar is becoming a part of our past,” she states. “New brick-and-mortar needs to be experiential. It needs to be unique, and the customer needs to feel special. The future of retail is evolving, and through this evolution comes an expanding market. With FormIT Tech, I believe we will see a change in the way technology meets retail.”

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career in the retail industry,” she remarks.

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and E-Center have provided have prepared me for a long, successful

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The opportunity to participate in this prestigious conference meant that Pierce would spend five days in Las Vegas, NV, exploring her entrepreneurial career aspirations, making the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity to pitch her ideas for FormIT Tech and networking with representatives of Fortune 500 tech companies like Google and Facebook.

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Positioned to Prosper A Message from the Director of Development ere at the College of Business, we recognize that our strengths and achievements are due in large part to the generosity of our donors. Private support is essential for the College to keep us competitive among the nation’s top universities. A contribution to the MSU College of Business is an investment in the future success of our College and the next generation of well-trained business professionals. The past several years have been an exciting time of growth and development. With new research and technology facilities, a state-of the-art finance laboratory, an ultra-modern Center for Entrepreneurship & Outreach and a recent boom in programs such as International Business and Supply Chain Management, we have never been better positioned to prosper.

The impact of your gift may be doubled or tripled by a company match. Please be sure to check with your human resources office to see if your place of employment is a matching gift company. A growing university means the College of Business must increase our development efforts with alumni and friends like you. We recently welcomed MSU alumna Jana Berkery as the new Assistant Director of Development for the College of Business and the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy. A Starkville native, Jana graduated from MSU in 2005 with a degree in sports communication and a minor in marketing. She began working at her alma mater in 2011 as Coordinator of Annual Giving for the Bulldog Club athletic fundraising organization. She also has previous higher education experience with Mississippi University for Women and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jana joined the MSU Foundation in 2013 and most recently served as Director of Annual Giving for the University. Her previous experience in fundraising and her loyalty to MSU will prove invaluable as we continue to build relationships to further advance the College of Business. Jana and I look forward to building relationships with our alumni and friends, because together we can accomplish great things for the College of Business and Mississippi State University.

Zack Harrington (’09, ’10) Jana Berkery (’05) Director of Development Assistant Director of Development College of Business College of Business zharrington@foundation.msstate.edu jberkery@foundation.msstate.edu 662-617-0942 662-617-9807

Photo by Beth Wynn

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Mississippi State is now in its sixth year of Infinite Impact, the University’s capital campaign, which is approaching $900 million toward an established $1 billion goal. The College of Business is one of MSU’s largest academic units, and because of this our College is pivotal to the success of the campaign. Any contribution through 2020, regardless of the designation, will count toward our campaign goal.

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There are numerous giving opportunities available to help us uphold the vision and mission of the College of Business. Through outright gifts, annuities, personal properties or real estate, bequests or gifts of stocks, bonds or other securities, you are helping us to attract and retain the best and brightest students and faculty.

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By Carol Esmark Jones

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hopping online has surpassed brick-and-mortar purchases in certain product sectors. The increased opportunity to be more discreet in one’s purchases has been a relief for many. Buying antifungal cream or items for family planning can cause awkwardness in public. This is a reason websites devoted to the online purchasing of embarrassing products have become popular.

In the case of embarrassing products specifically, shoppers already go to less-crowded stores and wait for an aisle to become clear before making their way to a selection. Products that are locked up or behind a counter get requested infrequently, and some shoppers will buy other products with the sole purpose of masking the embarrassing one. Occasionally, a shopper might even steal products to avoid the embarrassment of being seen buying them. In addition to these tactics, I, alongside doctoral student Christian Barney and Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Adam Farmer, have found that blending into the background tends to be the best approach in packaging embarrassing products.1 Products that stand out or are overtly flashy get left behind, as people tend to prefer those that are packaged in discreet ways. Anonymous packaging means that the contents are not obvious to a bystander and that embarrassment can be alleviated by the perception that no one knows what the buyer is getting. Specifically, products that are packaged in cool colors (blue and green) are seen as more anonymous than those packaged in warm colors (red and orange). Blue is a positive color that tends to get overlooked in the presence of eye-catching red; even babies look at red longer than blue.2 This suggests that in a store, other shoppers would be more drawn to stare at a red-packaged product in a buyer’s hand than to a calming and less noticeable blue. A box shape is also seen as less noticeable than a tube shape. A box-shaped product does not easily disclose the contents, as it could be anything packaged inside. However, a tube shape is less commonly used and typically contains some kind of ointment or paste – which does not usually sound appealing.

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However, there are times when waiting for two-day shipping is not practical. If problems or discomfort occur, hemorrhoid ointment or Pepto-Bismol might be needed – stat. But how can stores make the shopping experience less embarrassing and the consumer more likely to make a purchase? My fellow researchers and I have been conducting studies to figure out just that.

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Depends.com even has a Q&A section devoted to discussing how someone can get over their embarrassment about buying protection. One user commented, “I’m glad I don’t mind wearing these one-tenth as much as I don’t like buying them.”

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The more anonymous a product’s packaging, the less embarrassed a shopper will be. Shoppers are embarrassed when they believe that others are making judgments about their purchases or that their purchases reveal too much information. For instance, plus-sized consumers face embarrassment when they have to shop for clothing in a separate section, signaling to others that they are different from the non-plus-sized shoppers. However, everyone loves a deal, and embarrassment can be more easily ignored when a good discount is offered via a coupon or bonus buy.

Shoppers for embarrassing products like to hide, but many times the products are located in exposed areas near the pharmacy. Anonymous packaging is particularly important when products are displayed on an endcap in a store, where a shopper is more exposed

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than in an in-aisle location. Relating to being exposed, other research I’ve conducted – with Dr. Stephanie Noble of the University of Tennessee – has found that when employees get close to a shopper in a store, the shopper can feel more accepted in a shopping experience, regardless of embarrassment.3 In fact, the more anxiety a shopper feels during a shopping trip, the more beneficial close proximity of an employee becomes. This feeling of acceptance can lead a shopper to purchase a product, particularly if the product is not expressive of who he or she is, as with make-up remover or soap. Yet a more expressive product, like nail polish, requires more time for browsing, and a nearby employee or other shopper might deter one from making a selection. Shoppers tend to pick stores that match certain personality characteristics. As a result, stores are filled with people who have some sort of similarity. It is human nature to want to be accepted by peers, and one way to show that acceptance is through close proximity. Another way is through eye contact. However, proximity or eye contact can have negative consequences if customers feel they are being watched. A project conducted with Dr. Stephanie Noble and Dr. Michael Breazeale showed that if shoppers believe they are being watched, they will feel a loss of privacy control that will cause them to attempt to leave an area without making a purchase.4 This can be mitigated through the simple addition of a shopping basket. As mentioned earlier, shoppers like to mask their products. A shopping basket, cart or reusable bag can help people regain control over their privacy. At the heart of all of this research is the idea that a shopper wants to be able to control his or her shopping experience and level of privacy, whether through product choice or personal space. Perhaps control over the environment is one reason online shopping has become so popular. A shopper can more easily predict a shopping experience if done online as opposed to in-store where other shoppers are included and are unpredictable. Stores can find ways to give some of that control back to a shopper through careful consideration of packaging; aisle height and width; availability of shopping carts, baskets or bags provided throughout the store (not just at the front) or appropriate employee training. Another way in which stores might be able to give privacy and control back to the shopper is through vending machines. Vending machines have started to expand to new locations and new products. Appearing now more in malls and airports, vending machines stock make-up, personal hygiene goods, acne medication and even puffer vests. Feminine hygiene products have been readily available in bathroom vending machines for years. When privacy is important, shoppers might be more inclined to make a purchase from a vending machine than to risk being seen in the

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check-out lane. Stores can ensure products are locked up and safe from theft while giving shoppers more control over their shopping experiences. An added element of control is also offered by Kroger’s new “Scan, Bag, Go” process. Through this shopper experience, users can scan and bag products as they shop through the store then go to self-checkout with the items already totaled. While this technology was meant to compete with Amazon Go and other mobile payments, the process gives control back to the shopper, even if it is just about how items get packed in their bags.

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Discovery of what makes for a more private shopping experience has many more avenues to be explored. The Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law Department has established a lab for conducting more physiologically based studies: the Market Innovation Lab and Observatory (MILO). MILO holds computer stations for eye tracking, facial recognition and experimental studies. Additionally, the lab has an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor, galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor, heart rate monitor, electromyogram (EMG) and software to measure participants’ reactions to selected stimuli. A mobile eye tracker and eye tracking goggles allow for researchers to track eye movements in other locations, such as a retail store or hopefully a future retail lab. Through our work and the use of MILO, we are moving toward discerning ways in which privacy impacts the shopper most and how to give control back to the shopper, even when shopping in person.

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Jones, C. L. E., Barney, C. & Farmer, A. (2018). Appreciating Anonymity: An Exploration of Embarrassing Products and the Power of Blending In. Journal of Retailing.

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Jadva, V., Hines, M. & Golombok, S. (2010). Infants’ preferences for toys, colors and shapes: Sex differences and similarities. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(6), 1261-1273.

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Esmark, C. L., & Noble, S. M. (2018). Retail space invaders: when employees’ invasion of customer space increases purchase intentions. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 46(3), 477-496.

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Esmark, C. L., Noble, S. M. & Breazeale, M. J. (2017). I’ll Be Watching You: Shoppers’ Reactions to Perceptions of Being Watched by Employees. Journal of Retailing, 93(3), 336-349.

Carol Esmark Jones Dr. Carol Esmark Jones is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the College’s Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law. She teaches Business Research for the MBA program and International Logistics for undergraduates. She is also currently the faculty advisor for the MSU student chapter of the American Marketing Association. Jones is a PhD graduate from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Her primary areas of research include in-store privacy, embarrassing products, loyalty programs and retailing. She has been studying in-store privacy and embarrassment for seven years. Her work has been published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, the Journal of Retailing, Harvard Business Review, the Journal of Business Research and the Journal of Operations Management. Prior to earning her doctoral degree, Jones worked in business administration for hospitals.

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By Joni W. Seitz

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n 1958, the Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian, Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army, the microchip was patented and Mississippi State College was renamed Mississippi State University.

The program has evolved during the 60 years following Jones’ graduation, but students from around the world still follow Jones’ legacy and passion for succeeding.

One such student is Frida Roeyset of Hareid, Norway, whose MBA journey coincides with the 60th anniversary year of the program. Roeyset’s connection to MSU dates back a generation to Turner Wingo, another true-maroon Bulldog with a philanthropic legacy at MSU. Roeyset’s mother Anne stayed with business alumnus Wingo and his wife Sherry as an exchange student when Anne was in high school. The connection was so special that it continued and grew over the years. Anne calls Wingo her “American Dad.” Roeyset describes him as her grandfather and calls him “T.” When asked why she chose MSU, Roeyset explains that she and her mother liked the idea of her being close to T, who has a home in Starkville. In addition, she says that the students and alumni have a wonderful relationship with their University. “Back home it is just school, a building you go to and then you’re done,” she remarks. “But here it’s almost who you are. For example, when I was growing up, T had MSU newsletters and articles hanging on his office walls, and he went to all the athletic events. He always wore MSU shirts, hats and pants. He even gave me an MSU cheerleading outfit when I was little. I didn’t understand what the Bulldog family was at the time, but I do now – it’s who you are. “Actually, it’s who we are,” Roeyset corrects herself with a smile. “And it is great to be a part of it!”

Frida Roeyset Photos by Logan Kirkland

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The first to graduate from the program was Roland Jones, a true-maroon Bulldog who also completed his doctorate at MSU and eventually became the head of the Marketing Department in the College.

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That was also the year Russia launched Sputnik 3 into space, resulting in a national call for expanded graduate education in a broad range of fields. One way in which the newly renamed university answered the call was by establishing a Master of Business Administration degree program in what was then known as the College of Business and Industry.

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The MSU MBA: A Diamond Anniversary

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Roeyset consults with Angelia Knight.

Along with wanting to be part of the Bulldog family, Roeyset chose an MBA to differentiate herself from others when she returns to Norway. “Attaining an MBA, especially in a different country, in a different language from my first language, will give me a competitive edge,” she explains. Securing her place in the MBA program brought out Roeyset’s competitive edge, as well as her creativity. As part of the selection process, candidates are required to make a five-minute presentation on a topic of their choice. The purpose is to judge their presentation skills while getting a glimpse of their personalities. Roeyset’s presentation centered on an activity she loves, one her grandmother taught her when she was five – knitting. “I love knitting because it connects me to my grandmother, and it is challenging,” she explained at the time. “Everything I knit is different and requires focus on what I’m doing in that moment.” Angelia Knight, Director of MBA programs in the Graduate Studies in Business Department, calls her knitting presentation exceptional. “Frida’s presentation stood out because she was able to enthusiastically illustrate how to knit a beautiful sweater made with a traditional Norwegian pattern,” Knight explains. “She was able to connect with us as she described the story of her grandmother sharing her talent and skills. She inspired everyone on the panel to want to learn more, which is the hallmark of a great presentation and a characteristic of the future leaders we want in this program.”

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“The program has been tough but well worth it,” she says. “This is a safe place to learn and make mistakes because everyone involved in the program is welcoming and obviously wants us to succeed.” Roeyset enjoys the enthusiasm her professors show in the classroom. “They all want us to do well,” she states. “From the first day of classes, professors encouraged us to call or text or come to their offices if we need help. They are truly sincere and very committed to helping us do the best we can.” Roeyset also likes to be in classes in which professors have real-world experiences to share, making the material come to life. “One day I want to teach at the high school or college level,” she says. “I think it is important for me to work outside education first in order to bring hands-on applications to my future students. I don’t know what field I want to work in, yet. Right now, I’m considering all my options. I have time to make that decision while I focus on the work that’s in front of me at the moment.” It’s a lesson she learned while knitting with her grandmother.

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Roeyset has made the most of her acceptance into MSU’s nationally ranked MBA program, which focuses on developing the strengths of emerging leaders, helping them extend their capabilities.

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Going the Distance for 20 Years By Joni W. Seitz he year 1998 was a pivotal one in the development of the digital realm. The dot-com bubble was at its peak. The release of Microsoft’s Windows 98 operating system, Apple’s iMac and search engines like Google made the World Wide Web more accessible than ever. The U.S. Census Bureau shows that 42.1 percent of American households owned a computer, and 26.2 percent had access to the Internet by the end of the year.

With these late-night sessions, the College of Business’ Distance MBA program was officially established.

The interactive video classroom delivery system set up for the Marines served as a model for the growth of the Distance MBA across the state through the Mississippi Interactive Video Network (MIVN). Both military personnel and civilians took advantage of this opportunity to earn MBAs without having to travel to campus. By 2005, the advancement of technology and the nationwide upward trend of online education precipitated the decision to discontinue delivery through the MIVN and provide the program entirely online, as it is today. This decision permitted students anywhere in the world to take advantage of the flexibility of online learning while getting the same high-quality education as MSU’s on-campus students. This included 2016 Distance MBA graduate Kevin Daniels. Daniels grew up a Bulldog in Starkville. Both parents were professors at MSU for more than 30 years, and he completed his Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering on campus in 2008. When Daniels began pursuing his MBA a few years later, distance education did not seem like a fit for him because he lived and worked in Starkville, and the campus was practically in his backyard. Then a call came from Yokohoma Tire Manufacturing asking him to join their start-up team as they built a new tire plant in nearby West Point, MS. If not for the Distance MBA program, accepting the job would have meant postponing his MBA because the company required a training period of over two months in the Philippines. “I knew the Distance MBA program delivered the same quality education I was used to from MSU,” Daniels says. “It allowed me to pursue my MBA and, at the same time, take advantage of the opportunity Yokohoma was offering. It was great to not have to make a choice because I wanted and needed to do both.” The flexibility offered by the Distance MBA program fit Starkville resident Kevin Daniels’ needs. Photo by Logan Kirkland

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Because time in Japan is 14 hours ahead of Starkville, faculty utilized McCool Hall’s interactive video classrooms well past midnight several times during the semester to teach the interactive classes to Marines in remote classrooms in Japan.

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The web offered boundless possibilities, and that year Mississippi State saw an opportunity to serve those who serve this country in a new way. Members of the U.S. Marines Corps in Japan were seeking remote access to a quality Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, which appeared to be an impossibility until MSU presented them with a viable plan for delivering course material through interactive video classrooms.

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82 Daniels found the same high-quality MSU education in the Philippines as he did on campus. Photo by Kevin Daniels

Daniels accepted the offer and set off for the Philippines, where he scheduled his studies around his job training. If a conflict between job training and classwork arose, he had the flexibility to rearrange his studies to accommodate the situation. “I liked the flexibility of online learning, but I certainly had to be on top of my time management abilities,” he remarks. “It forced me to stay organized and to compartmentalize my tasks in order to accomplish all I had to get done in a day.” He says that learning online is not very different from learning in a traditional classroom setting. “I’m an auditory learner, which I think is good for online learning,” he explains. “If I can hear someone say it, I can absorb it, so the online videos and voiceovers on PowerPoint presentations made it easy to learn.” When asked why earning an MBA was important to him, Daniels describes his desire to continue to move ahead in his career. “I’ve worked in manufacturing since I received my undergraduate degree in industrial engineering,” he explains. “As an engineer, you may know how to execute a project from an engineering standpoint, but you have to be able to secure the money for the project, which means speaking the language of business. You must communicate in the world of operations – ROIs, net present values and savings, just to name a few things.” Daniels completed his Distance MBA and is now a manufacturing engineer for external assembly at PACCAR, which designs and manufactures diesel engines for Peterbilt, Kenworth and DAF. At PACCAR Daniels is tasked with, among other things, developing and implementing process improvements. “My MBA helps me see things from a business, big-picture perspective,” Daniels says. “I have more confidence in my job because of the knowledge I have now. I wouldn’t have that if not for the distance option of the MBA program.”

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COB Alumnus of the Year

College of Business Executive Advisory Board member R.L. Qualls was selected as MSU’s 2018 National Alumnus of the Year. A Little Rock, AR, resident, Qualls is the retired President and CEO of Baldor Electric Company. He presently serves as Co-chairman of Taylor Companies of Washington, DC, and recently retired as Presiding Independent Director of Bank of the Ozarks Inc. Qualls was a cabinet member in Bill Clinton’s first gubernatorial administration. He has also served as a faculty member or research fellow at Rutgers University, Louisiana State University, Southern Methodist University and Vanderbilt University. Qualls holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from MSU and a doctorate from LSU. He has published a number of books and articles.

Paul Karre was named the 2018 Alumnus of the Year for the College of Business. Karre is the former Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Communications for International Paper (IP). The 1974 alumnus began his 41-year career as an Industrial Relations Specialist at IP’s Georgetown, SC, mill. Karre served in a variety of business and corporate roles and in 2000 was appointed an officer of IP. In 2009, he was elected to the Senior Vice President position, which he held until retirement in 2015. Karre is a member and past President of the COB Executive Advisory Board, a Top 100 COB Alumnus, the 2012 COB Alumni Fellow and an MSU Foundation board member. He and wife Mary Jo have graciously endowed both a faculty fellowship and a professorship in the College of Business.

COB Alumni Fellow Thomas G. “Tom” Hixon, Sr. was selected as the 2018 Alumni Fellow for the College of Business. Hixon, a 1967 accounting graduate, is chairman of Phoenix Development Company LLC. After college, he worked for the U.S. Army and Air Force Exchange Service, dealing with retail stores and distribution in the annex of the Pentagon. He later became CFO and Director of Operations for Valley Food Service. Next, he held several roles for Forestry Suppliers Inc., among them co-owner, CFO, President and General Manager. Following his time there, Hixon helped found Gulf South Medical Supply, achieving success before the company merged with First Choice Medical Supply, for which he was founder, co-owner and Chairman. The Ridgeland, MS, resident serves on the boards of the MSU Foundation and the Bulldog Club.

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MSU National Alumnus of the Year

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news briefs New Faculty and Staff Welcome 2018 new College of Business Faculty and Staff!

Jana Berkery

Haylee Crouch

Emily Hunt, PhD

Joshua Hunt, PhD

Assistant Director, Development

Academic Records Assistant

Assistant Professor, Adkerson School of Accountancy

Assistant Professor, Adkerson School of Accountancy

Kendall Kennedy, PhD

Kimberly McLeod

Michele Medina, PhD

Renata Roberts

Assistant Professor, Finance & Economics

Academic Coordinator

Assistant Professor, Management & Information Systems

Instructor, Management & Information Systems

Adam Scott

David Sikolia, PhD

Laura Walton, PhD

Matthew Whitledge, PhD

Head Golf Professional, MSU Golf Course

Assistant Clinical Professor, Management & Information Systems

Instructor, Marketing, Quantitative Analysis & Business Law

Assistant Clinical Professor, Finance & Economics

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The Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy’s graduate and undergraduate programs rank in the top 10 for universities with 16 or fewer full-time accounting faculty. The 2018 Commerce Clearing House Public Accounting Report’s Annual Professors Survey lists MSU at sixth among undergraduate programs and seventh among master’s programs. The survey also ranks both programs among the best in the South, regardless of faculty size. The Distance MBA program remains one of the best in the country at No. 22 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Program rankings, again making MSU’s online MBA program the highest ranked in Mississippi. This marks the fourth consecutive year the program has made the top 25. Additionally, SR Education Group’s 2018 Best Online Colleges rankings list the Distance MBA program as second in the country and the Online MBA Project Management program as third. The COB’s Risk Management and Insurance program was recognized as one of the Top 20 RMI programs in the country for 2018 by Best’s Review.

COB Students Named Spirit of State Winners In April, 14 students were honored as 2018 MSU Spirit of State Award recipients. Four of them were from the College of Business: senior accounting major Nicholas Cobb, MSU-Meridian senior business administration major Mariam Khmaladze, senior marketing major Chasten McCrary and senior marketing major Jailand Williams. The Spirit of State Award is the premier student recognition for exceptional contributions to campus life.

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COB Programs Earn Top Rankings

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Author and 1977 accounting graduate John Grisham offered the keynote address at Mississippi State’s Fall 2018 Convocation. Grisham, the author of best-selling novels such as The Firm and A Time to Kill, has sold more than 300 million books in his 30-year career. His novel Calico Joe is this year’s selection for Maroon Edition, MSU’s common reading program for new students. Approximately 5,000 copies of the book were given to this fall’s freshmen and transfer students. Grisham’s A Painted House was the first ever Maroon Edition selection when the program started in 2009.

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

Grisham Keynotes Fall Convocation

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news briefs Grimes Inducted into MCEE Hall of Fame

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Dr. Paul Grimes, Professor Emeritus and former Head of the Department of Finance & Economics and former Associate Dean of the College of Business, was selected by the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (MCEE) for induction into the 2018 MCEE U.S. Senator Thad Cochran Hall of Fame. This selection was based on his extensive work to launch the state’s first Center for Economic Education at MSU, the creation of the Master Teacher of Economics program and the impact these achievements had on creating the foundation from which MCEE was built. Grimes retired from MSU in 2011 to become Dean of the College of Business at his alma mater, Pittsburg State in Kansas. Shown here are Dean Sharon Oswald, Associate Dean Kevin Rogers, Director of MSU’s Extension Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy Becky Smith, Grimes and Finance and Economics Department Head Kathleen Thomas.

Dean Oswald Honored by Vet School Reuben Moore, Interim Associate Vice President for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, recently presented COB Dean Sharon Oswald the Vice President’s Pegasus Award for her contribution to veterinary medicine in Mississippi. She was recognized at an October ceremony at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Oswald endowed a private client waiting room in the MSU Animal Health Center (AHC) in memory of her late Shih Tzu, Quinn, who was loved and cared for by members of the College. The Quinn Oswald Client Consultation Room offers clients and clinicians a comfortable, private space to discuss veterinary care. Today, every client room in the AHC has been named by generous alumni and friends following the Dean’s lead.

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COB Students Elected to Homecoming Court Four College of Business students were elected to MSU’s 2018 Homecoming Court. Homecoming Queen Emily Turner is a senior accounting major from Madison, MS. Junior Maid Riley Vergara-Cruz is a marketing/international business and French double major from Franklin, TN, and Sophomore Maid Ashley McLemore is a Business Administration and Fashion Design & Merchandising double major from Starkville. Shelby Baldwin, a senior marketing major from Ridgeland, MS, is 2018’s Miss MSU. All were presented formally during halftime of the MSU v. La Tech football game on November 3.

Retirements

Tim Barnett, PhD Professor of Management

Michael Goree Instructor of Marketing

John Thomas Rigsby, Jr., DBA Associate Professor of Accountancy

Three of our College of Business faculty members retired this year. The College extends a heartfelt “thank you” for the positive impact they have made on students and colleagues alike during their years of service. Best wishes for a long and happy retirement!

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has exercised Mississippi State’s Boots to Business Revenue Readiness Program’s Option Year One cooperative agreement contract for $824,099. The University will continue providing “Boots to Business Revenue Readiness – Business Model to Business Plan” entrepreneurship training to U.S. military service members, military spouses and veterans within the United States and overseas.

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Mississippi State Professor of Economics Kathleen Thomas is now leading the University’s Department of Finance and Economics. Thomas joined the Department as an Assistant Professor in 2002. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Birmingham-Southern College, a master’s degree from the University of Alabama and a doctorate from Georgia State University. A distinguished researcher in economics, Thomas has been involved with over $750,000 in funded research grants, contracts and awards. She specializes in public finance and education policy. She enjoys merging her teaching and research in a way that keeps students up to date on current trends and policies.

Boots to Business SBA Grant

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

Kathleen Thomas Named Finance & Economics Department Head

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news briefs

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Starkville’s First Lemonade Day Children set up more than 60 lemonade stands on August 18 for Starkville’s Lemonade Day. Sponsored locally by the MSU College of Business, the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship & Outreach, Castle Properties and Cadence Bank, Lemonade Day is a nationwide program that teaches children how to start, own and operate a business. Winners of Cadence Bank’s Best Business Contest were “Rally Lemons” for greatest profits and “Keep Calm and Lemonade On” for best slogan. “EZ PZ Lemon Squeezy” won a bike in the participant raffle. Shown here are the winners from Rally Lemons, EZ PZ Lemon Squeezy and Keep Calm and Lemonade On with (back) Lemmy, COB Director of Outreach Jeffrey Rupp, COB Dean Sharon Oswald, Cadence Bank’s Jimmy Abraham and Castle Properties’ Mark Castleberry.

USDA Grant for Entrepreneurship Makerspace In August, Mississippi’s Senate delegation and officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $100,000 grant for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach to create a “makerspace” in downtown Starkville. The facility will house equipment to help entrepreneurs produce prototypes needed to get customer feedback and reach the marketplace. USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett (second from right) and (from left) Sen. Roger Wicker and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith joined Dean Sharon Oswald and MSU President Mark Keenum, who shared more about MSU’s efforts to bolster an entrepreneurial culture on campus and throughout Mississippi.

In Memoriam – Alan Crockett We are saddened by the loss of COB Executive Advisory Board member Alan Clayton Crockett. He was a former Executive Vice President at Fred’s, Inc. He also taught accounting and finance at Northwest Mississippi Community College part-time for a number of years and served as finance chair for Tate County’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The Mississippi State alumnus earned his Bachelor’s in Professional Accountancy degree in 1990.

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n Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Frank Adams, Contract Grant Specialist Schanna Beckham and marketing doctoral candidate Christian Barney were honored for excellence in research and creative endeavors during MSU’s Annual Research Awards luncheon in April.

n Alumnus Tim Basel was named Professional of the Year by the Gulf States PGA. He is the Head Golf Professional at Reunion Golf and Country Club in Madison, MS.

n Alumna Kelly Brewer, who serves as Director of Engineering for the Portland, ME-based Tilson, was named a Top Young Professional in New England by Engineering News-Record. n Alumnus Greg Bufkin and his wife Andrea founded El Roi Ministries to help the families of individuals in treatment for addiction. n Alumna and COB Executive Advisory Board member Mary Childs was elected Chairwoman of the Mississippi Bankers Association for 20182019. She is President and CEO of The Peoples Bank in Ripley, MS.

n Timothy Duncan – alumnus, founding member of the Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board and Talos Energy President and CEO – rang the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange on May 30, 2018. n Alumnus Kevin Enroth was appointed as Director of MSU’s Office of Sponsored Projects. n Alumnus Aaron Feld was named Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the University of Oregon’s football program. n Alumnus William P. “Bill” Gardner was named a Forbes Coaching Council Contributor. He owns a leadership coaching and development business in Austin, TX. n Alumnus Bob Glover was elected President of Mississippi Young Bankers. He is Vice President, Investment and Security Officer at The Peoples Bank of Ripley, MS. n Alumna Janna Hadden was named Deputy Director for the Mississippi Department of Transportation Budget Division. n Trustmark promoted alumnus Adam Hargett to First Vice President at the bank’s corporate headquarters in Jackson. n Associate Professor of Management Dr. Daniel T. Holt and former Assistant Professor of Management Dr. Kincy Madison were awarded the 2018 Family Business Review’s Best Article award along with co-author Dr. Franz Kellermanns from UNC-Charlotte. n Alumnus Larkin Kennedy was named President and CEO of Rush Health Systems in Meridian, MS, having served there for 10 years in other leadership roles. n Alumnus Kellon Lawrence, CFA, joined Morgan Stanley in Jackson as a Financial Advisor.

n Alumnus Jeff McCoy was elected to Mississippi Bankers Association Board of Directors. He is President and CEO of Great Southern Bank in Meridian, MS. n Alumnus Brooks Mosley was elected Chairman of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education’s Board of Directors. He is President of Ballew Wealth Management. n MSU-Meridian students excelled at the DECA International Career Development Conference. Steve Pamplin placed in the top 10 in the Sales Management Meeting event; Steven Miller made the top 10 of the preliminary round of the Retail Management event and Mariam Khmaladze, Steven Miller, Steve Pamplin and Daniel Johnson received Award of Excellence honors. n Angela Pannell, Instructor of Accountancy, was appointed to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Continuing Professional Education Committee for the 2018-2019 year. n MSU’s Pi Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) was honored with awards in Alumni Relations, Chapter Management, Membership Development and Public Relations at the 47th Annual GIS International Conference in Chicago. n Alumnus and Editor and Publisher of the Neshoba Democrat Jim Prince received the J. Oliver Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence, the Mississippi Press Association’s highest editorial writing award. n Accounting alumnus John Scott was elected to the Board of Directors of Horne, LLP. n Louisville, MS-based Taylor Machine Works represented Mississippi at the White House’s Made in America event in Washington, DC. The company is led by alumni William A. “Lex” Taylor, III, CEO, and Robert D. Taylor, President and Chief Operations Officer, and was previously led by alumnus W.A. “Bill” Taylor, Jr. n Chip Templeton, Director of the MSU Small Business Development Center, was appointed by the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Center of Performance Excellence to its 2018 Board of Examiners. n Alumnus and Lucedale, MS, Alderman Louis Valentine was named to the Mississippi Municipal League Hall of Fame. n Alumnus Bobby Waldrop was named Associate Dean of Academics at Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business. n Hagan Walker, former MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach student and co-founder of Glo, is one of Mississippi Business Journal’s Top Entrepreneurs in Mississippi for 2018. n Dr. Merrill Warkentin, James J. Rouse Endowed Professor of Information Systems, was selected as an Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Member. n Alumnus Doug Wert was named PGA Junior League Regional Manager for the Mid-Atlantic, Tri-State and Western New York sections of PGA of America.

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n May 2018 MBA graduate John Cordera won Best Q & A Session in his division during the 2018 SEC MBA Case Competition.

n Alumnus Drew Mattox was named a partner at Colorado accounting firm EKS&H, now joined with Plante Moran.

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n As the author or co-author of seven highly cited papers among 2,140 analyzed by the journal Scientometrics, Dr. James Chrisman is tied for tenth among most cited scientists. The Head of the Department of Management and Information Systems was also named to the 2017 Clarivate Analytics “Highly Cited Researcher List,” and the Journal of Small Business Management ranked him as the sixth leading individual contributor to entrepreneurship research and MSU as the sixth in the world for the impact of its entrepreneurship research.

n Alumnus Stephen Masley of McGinchey Stafford in Jackson was named a Rising Star by Mid-South Super Lawyers.

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

n Alumna Lauren Black made the inaugural Forbes list of “America’s Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors.” She is a certified financial planner at Phillips Financial and Raymond James of Starkville.

n BankFirst Financial Services’ Board of Directors approved new titles for alumni Marcus Mallory, now Executive Vice President, Chief Banking Officer; Jim McAlexander, now Executive Vice President, Chief Retail Officer and Luke Yeatman, now Chief Financial Officer.

ASSETS

n Alumnus and U.S. Coast Guard Commander Thomas Brian Bailey retired from service in Mobile, AL. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1986 before joining ROTC at MSU and ultimately earning an Army commission.

n Alumna Dr. Deborah Lee was named Associate Dean for Public Services in the MSU Library System.

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Mississippi State University College of Business P.O. Box 5288, Mississippi State, MS 39762

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. Questions about equal opportunity programs or compliance should be directed to the Office of Compliance and Integrity, 56 Morgan Avenue, P.O. Box 6044, Mississippi State, MS, (662) 325-5839.

THE IDEA SHOP

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Photo by Eric Hill

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he Starkville community enjoyed the soft opening of The Idea Shop, the College of Business’ new downtown location. The Idea Shop houses the Turner A. Wingo Maker Studio and the new Retail Products Accelerator and is operated in

partnership with the School of Human Sciences. Students, faculty and the public can bring their ideas to life with more than 1,600 square feet of advanced woodworking equipment and 3D printing tools. Entrepreneurs further along will be able to place products in a retail storefront right on East Main Street to get real-world feedback from the marketplace.

Profile for MSU College of Business

Dividends Magazine, 2018 Edition  

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