NIU Business magazine 2020

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NIU Business 2020 edition

Cross boundaries to new perspectives

Diamond Williams Senior business major reflects on 2020


Cross boundaries to new perspectives Greetings from the Dean In the eye of a hurricane, there is calm. There is balance. The major disruptions of 2020 challenge our community to continually achieve both conditions. From what many of you have shared with me, we have succeeded far more than not. Indeed, I am humbled by the ability of all NIU Business members — internal and external — to rebound and adapt so quickly, never losing sight of our primary focus: our students. We pivoted on a dime to offer online delivery, virtual workshops and remote alumni panel discussions. We experimented, reached out and engaged in new yet still meaningful ways. We displayed the truth to each other: that we genuinely care. Throughout the global pandemic and mounting social injustices, we learned firsthand that the best way to navigate upheaval is with caring, intention, focus and commitment. Doing so centers momentum, orients the mind to a purpose and path, and offers precious balance — even as the world turns completely upside down. Doing so also brings into sharp relief the importance of resiliency, empathy, discovery and transformation. This edition of NIU Business shares stories around each of these attributes — stories that in a snapshot in time capture what it means to be an NIU Huskie for the long haul. The bulk of the stories were written prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. Still, the global pandemic propelled these attributes to the fore, where they should be all along and where they have been on full display. To our NIU Business community, I stand in awe as it is my great honor to witness each of you rising with the challenge of an exceedingly difficult year. If, during the hurricane-like conditions of 2020, you haven’t yet found a moment to reflect upon your inner power and balance, it’s my genuine honor to bring your attention to this fact: You are truly amazing. Warm Regards,

Balaji Rajagopalan, Ph.D. Dean Northern Illinois University College of Business


Contents

Features

Resiliency: In Wonderland

Discovery: Connecting the Dots

Empathy: Connecting with Others

2 6 8 12

Transformation: Reinventing the EMBA

Culture of Innovation

Sealing the Deal with AI

15 16 17

Wednesday Night Wisdom

Photo by Danielle Guerra.

On the year 2020 “During this pandemic and all the social justice movements, I’ve learned that it is my responsibility to be the change I want to see in the world. It seems far-fetched for one person to set a goal of changing the world, but it is more realistic when you think of it in terms of each of us making a difference in our individual communities. If I make it my responsibility to help those in need within my communities and educate others about the current social and racial climate, they are likely then to help someone or educate someone I didn’t reach. It is insane for me to want change, unity, justice, positivity and peace if I am not doing anything to create the space for it. My goal this year has been to create ‘the space’ for myself and others.”

Virtual Commencement

Engagement

Faculty Research

18 19 20 22 29

Awards

Indoor pep rally

Launches

Instagram message

In Every Issue

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Inspired Peers

To our passionate supporters The NIU College of Business sincerely appreciates every investment made by alumni, colleagues and friends. We thank each of you for your support.

— Diamond Williams, NIU College of Business senior and Inspired Peer Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

NIU Business

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Features

by Michelle De Jean, NIU College of Business Two NIU College of Business students probably thought they had fallen down a rabbit hole soon into their first university class. They also might have thought they heard this riddle spoken out loud: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” But the syllabus didn’t include an examination of the Cheshire Cat in the Lewis Carroll novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Instead, the fabled cat’s wisdom wove itself through an entrylevel business course created for undergraduates like Chloe Chadwick and Isabella Quiroz, who

“If you were to ask me a year ago what the word resiliency meant to me, I would have answered with a textbook definition. Today, it’s one of the most complex words you could ask me to explain. To be resilient is adapting to situations no one ever expected, advancing even when it seems impossible and thriving after what seemed to be the lowest points. One of the biggest differences is that now, to me, the most resilient individual is not the one who gets back up the fastest but who comes back the strongest. They focus on what can be changed instead of what can’t. Yet, pretending to be happy when everything is going wrong is also not the answer. Instead, recognize the struggle and acknowledge the lessons learned through adversity.” — Isabella Quiroz, NIU College of Business sophomore and Inspired Peer

Photo by Grania O’Flaherty.

On resiliency

Resilien 2

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were freshmen when they took the class. “I felt conflicted about this class initially because I didn’t know what would happen,” Quiroz, now a sophomore, admits. This was her first university course — a course she took only one year beyond its launch. “I knew I would grow a lot from the experience, so I made myself enroll. I’m very glad I did because I really did learn a lot. In high school, students listen to a teacher. Here, the lecture was only once a week. The rest of the time we focused on a project.” The class — Business in Action — is an immersive learning experience available to all

Photo by Sara Chadwick.

On resiliency “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the word resilience had a slightly different meaning to me. At first, I saw it as remaining strong during times of turmoil and overcoming challenges while keeping your head held high. After being in quarantine and watching the rest of the world navigate through these unprecedented times, I now have a greater understanding of resilience. It is more than just withstanding what life throws at you. To be resilient means you can adapt and find creative solutions that allow you to thrive rather than just survive. Resilience is using challenging times to learn more about yourself and your abilities, and how you can apply those to lift others up. I have truly been inspired by those who have shared home videos of recipes, workouts and even doodles to bring people together and put a smile on their faces. Businesses have found creative ways to support their communities and clients remotely so no one feels like they are alone during these difficult times. It takes strong character to triumph in the face of adversity, but it takes real resilience to learn from that triumph and utilize it to help those around you.”

ncy

— Chloe Chadwick, NIU College of Business junior and Inspired Peer

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

in Wonderland NIU Business

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Features | Resiliency in Wonderland

Photo by Grania O’Flaherty.

NIU freshmen. Regardless of their home college or major, students are challenged to dive into the deep end of running a business, and they do so by way of a semester-long, real-world project for a start-up or existing company. “Our client was a Burger King franchise,” Quiroz continues. “My team evaluated their employee turnover and studied their operations and human resource processes. Then, we recommended actions they could take to reduce their churn rate.” Chadwick, now a junior, had signed up for the pilot offering the year before Quiroz.

Isabella Quiroz.

Even in the pilot launch, Chadwick’s team tackled an equally impressive challenge. “We had two scientists as our client. They co-founded a makeup and cosmetic start-up called Mysteria. They had great expertise with creating high-quality, chemical-free products, but they didn’t have any business background. My team helped them identify their target market. We also designed an overall marketing strategy. We emphasized digital marketing since our research suggested that millennials were their core customer base,” Chadwick explains. Much like Quiroz, Chadwick gained a tremendous amount from the experience, and yet she admits 4

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to feeling “uncomfortable all of the time.” “It was a bit nerve-wracking as a first-semester freshman to be on a team by the second week of class, especially a team where no one knew each other. It was all very organic and unlike anything I had done before. But having come through it all, I’m so glad for the experience. We had to learn about each other quickly. We had to make our own structure as a team and then identify and address some important challenges for our client.” The bold approach to this freshman-level business course came about as a result of conversations in the college’s Strategic Planning Council (SPC). Now in its 24th year as a formal advisory body to the dean, SPC membership includes NIU College of Business Dean Balaji Rajagopalan, students, faculty, staff, alumni, business executives and community partners. “One of our college priorities is to continue to create learning experiences that push all of us out of our comfort zones. The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution gives us fertile ground for exciting SPC conversations on how we might go about doing so,” Rajagopalan says. “Rapid technological innovation and external developments will fundamentally change the way we work and live. Not only must we create a foundational understanding of business, but it’s equally important — perhaps even more important — to help students develop and strengthen their mental agility and resiliency.” A driving principle behind the Business in Action course is to help students begin to help themselves as they pursue solutions to complex problems. Toward that end and along the way, they tap into a wide range of resources and tools. “Students have access to a continually updated learning repository,” says Business in Action instructor Jacie Collum, who also directs the college-level Business Passport co-curricular program, another initiative that originated in the SPC. “The repository contains the work product of previous teams and all current teams. It’s a gold mine of information, including lessons learned, false-starts and the ways the teams overcame NIU College of Business


Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

them identify which questions to ask in order to keep their effort moving forward.” As it turns out, that type of approach resonates. Beyond the project at hand, Collum’s coaching gave Chadwick and Quiroz a glimpse into the larger world of mentoring, a glimpse that compelled them to learn more. So much so that even after they completed the course, they took it upon themselves to view nearly every encounter through a different lens. Now, for every interaction, they seek out and evaluate mentoring opportunities — those where they remain the mentee or those

Photo by Sara Chadwick.

roadblocks. Students also tap into external resources and best practices for addressing specific functional areas. They receive face-toface assistance, too. Subject matter experts guest lecture and run a mentoring type session in class to advise the teams on business issues that may play an important role in their project.” The teams also benefit from ongoing one-on-one interaction with Collum, who guides them toward fulfilling four milestones before the students reach their last deliverable: a team presentation with final recommendations to the client. Indeed, as freshmen, Quiroz, Chadwick and their classmates are among a rarefied group to have made business recommendations in their very first semester to a real-world business client. On top of this, Quiroz and Chadwick had the additional honor, at the invitation of Dean Rajagopalan, to make a presentation to the dean’s Board of Executive Advisors (BOEA). “That was so incredible,” Chadwick says, her smile widening as Quiroz nods her head enthusiastically. “Never would either of us ever have ever imagined that we would give a presentation to the dean with all of those executives on his advisory board.” “That was so cool and such an amazing opportunity,” Quiroz agrees excitedly. During their BOEA presentation, C-suite executives were in attendance, along with the full roster of College of Business deans, academic chairs, and directors. All told, more than 30 attendees listened with rapt attention as Chadwick and Quiroz — just barely out of high school at the time — described their first collegiate experience...a real-world company-specific semester-long project. “Our students are amazing,” Collum says. “When you believe in them and give them opportunities, they take advantage. They bring creative ideas and unique perspectives that clients really respond to. They tackle challenges head-on and adjust quickly when they stumble.” Collum immediately adds that her role isn’t to provide answers. “I intentionally serve more as their coach. My goal is to help

Chloe Chadwick.

where they might even provide the mentoring. In fact, Quiroz took on both perspectives during the class itself. “The way the projects work is that there is a client, either a start-up or an existing company. For each client, there are about three to four different business problems. Two student teams focus on the same business issue, so the client receives two viewpoints for each business issue. My team took advantage of the learning repository and the work of the previous classes. Then we decided to talk to the other teams in our class. Instead of viewing them as competitors, See Resiliency on page 27. NIU Business

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Features

Discovery: Connecting the dots What does failing fast look like? How would you draw it? Furkan Gur, assistant professor in the Department of Management, compels his students to embrace the idea of a new venture in just this way: on a blank slate. He teaches two courses in the entrepreneurship area of study. One is Business Model Design and the other is Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In both classes, he leads his students on a different path toward venture creation. They travel light, without a traditional business plan. “All business ideas are basically best guesses about the value they offer. Business plans can be incredibly useful,” On discovery Gur acknowledges “With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all experiencing before adding a caveat. life-changing disruptions. Adapting to fast and “But there’s a great ever-changing circumstances like these is the main deal of internalization premise of the lean startup framework I utilize in my classes. While these disruptions are stressful, they can that occurs in order be sources of great advantages to entrepreneuriallyto write one. Usually minded individuals who are trained to see by the time the plan opportunities when everyone else sees chaos.” is fully articulated, the — Furkan Gur, Assistant Professor of Management environment has changed, 6

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NIU College of Business

Photo by Serap Gur.

by Michelle De Jean, NIU College of Business


often drastically, taking with it the need for the idea in the first place.” Everything about Gur is quick, including the first-day walk-through of his syllabus for the Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship course. Contrast this with his Business Model Design course where the syllabus takes a back seat to a class activity. In both classes, Gur’s students represent a range of NIU colleges and disciplines: business, engineering, political science, computer science, art, music. But no matter their major, on the first day they face an immediate challenge: to form a team and identify a new venture, then begin to articulate underlying assumptions about its value-add and prepare to take action by adhering to an extensive process of discovery. If that weren’t enough, they have until the end of class to envision the opportunity and its merits before they spend the rest of the semester refining their ideas. Business Model Design students operate on an even shorter timeline. On the very first day after identifying their business idea, they also create a direct sales website complete with a promotional video clip. Beyond that, Business Model Design students have just one month to launch and run the enterprise. This entails developing the business idea; developing a brand; establishing the supply chain; building a comprehensive website; producing, packaging and designing a graphic brand; marketing, distributing and selling their product; then ensuring after-sales services and financial accounting. Additional resources students tap into include tools to develop video clips for upload to the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. It’s an intense beginning that out of necessity moves forward with ongoing marketplace scrutiny. Necessary because lean startup methodology, a discovery process Gur utilizes, places customer feedback at the core of any value-add discussion. In fact, the voice of the customer is the most valuable of all. Throughout the semester, Gur reviews the students’ work as do several guest speakers and a Shark Tank-inspired panel of accomplished entrepreneurs, most of whom are NIU alumni; all of whom possess impressive track records for Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

The wide range of entrepreneurs serving as guest speakers include: Mike DeGiorgio (B.S. marketing ’10) and Erek Benz (B.S. marketing ’08) of CREXi, an online marketplace for commercial real estate founded by DeGiorgio that most recently acquired $30 million in investment financing; Erwin Cruz, head of Innovation and Intellectual Property Strategy at W.W. Grainger and a doctoral candidate at NIU in the study of intellectual capital and emergent cognitive technologies, who over the course of his 31-year tenure with Grainger, repeatedly retooled his academic credentials (with multiple degrees from multiple universities), professional experiences, and skills sets in order to assume higher levels of leadership; Dina Weiss, an NIU alumna with a bachelor of fine arts, who worked around the world in different businesses, trained to become a certified holistic nutritional consultant, currently owns a financial investment company and is an author and public speaker, and; Don Hatton (B.S. operations management and information systems ’98), retired Navy Seal Special Forces, formerly a professional musician and corporate executive, who later founded three successful startups with his most recent startup DeAytch Solutions focused on lean consulting services.

innovation, both personally and professionally. Among the participating NIU alumni are: two young entrepreneurs who recently landed $30 million in investment financing; a senior level executive who rebranded his professional credentials and expertise multiple times in a career that spans 31 years with the same global corporation; a former corporate America globetrotting executive who worked for established firms around the world then subsequently founded her own company and trained to become a certified holistic nutritional consultant and; a retired member of the Navy Seal Special Forces who turned corporate executive before See Discovery on Page 27.

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“During this extraordinary time in history, where we are facing a global pandemic, a reckoning with ongoing social injustice around the world, and continued environmental decline, empathy is going to play a critical role in how we understand and address these challenges.” — Christine Mooney, Barsema Professor of Social Entrepreneurship 8

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Photo by Annie Mooney.

On empathy

NIU College NIU College of Business of Business


Empathy: Connecting with others by Michelle De Jean, NIU College of Business “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King Jr. Christine Mooney, the Barsema Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, earned her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2005. Her diverse research interests include executive succession, innovation, social enterprise and impact investing. Mooney’s research has been published in the Journal of Management, Academy of Management Learning and Education and Organization Dynamics. She teaches in the entrepreneurship program in the Department of Management. Her courses have included social venture consulting, social enterprise development, and creativity and innovation. She also develops and delivers workshops in creativity and innovation, as well as business model development. NIU Business sat down with Mooney for a conversation about empathy and how it impacts business, particularly in the current environment, as organizations face unprecedented challenges and where agile thinking, radical creativity and disruptive innovation are essential for organizational viability. Q. Perhaps we should begin with a definition and a bit of background. What is empathy? CM: The concept of empathy is a bit elusive. In general, empathy entails the ability to see from another person’s perspective and understand how that person feels. The diversity in

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

conceptualizations is a result of the abundance of research focused on empathy across disciplines. While empathy research first appeared within the field of psychology, we’re seeing more and more of it across many research domains, including business. There is a growing area within social entrepreneurship, for example, that focuses on empathy and compassion. So, I would say it is an emerging yet important concept in terms of being formally utilized within business organizations. Q. As the Barsema Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, you’ve been involved in the social impact space for a decade or more. You’re one of the key players who developed the college’s social entrepreneurship focus into a major area of study. How do you explore and teach empathy in your classes? CM: One of the ways is by utilizing design thinking methodology, which begins with empathy. I start by using the book Dare to Lead as the text to guide the empathy dialogues. It’s written by Brene Brown — she’s the Huffington Foundation Research Professor at the University of Houston. She studies leadership, courage, vulnerability and empathy. She’s a leading authority in the field. You may have seen her TED Talk video, “The Power of Vulnerability.” It’s one of the top five TED Talk segments around the world. Q. I did, yes, along with many millions. It has an extraordinary number of views. She gives a great and informative talk. CM: She does. And you probably recall that she starts by saying, “Connection is why we’re here.” That connection is what gives purpose and meaning to life. It’s an important truth, and one of NIU Business

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Features | Empathy: Connecting with others

the ways connection occurs is through empathy. Of course, good entrepreneurs understand this. Empathy is critical to connecting with customers, to learn what they value, what their needs are, what problems they need solved. She has also recently launched a new podcast, “Unlocking Us,” and just the other day she reminded us that, “Empathy is the foundation of love and justice.” It is an “other-focused” emotion that allows us to connect, to love and to seek justice. In the current, ever-changing environment, entrepreneurs, and particularly social entrepreneurs, would be wise to consider the role and importance of empathy in realizing their entrepreneurial pursuits. Q. That makes sense. I hadn’t thought about empathy in that way before. CM: This empathetic approach is also emphasized in the lean methodology, which includes a co-creation process between the entrepreneur and her customers. Together and through several iterations, they explore and refine the value proposition of a business idea or product. Doing so requires entrepreneurs to move their own egos and beliefs to the side in order to truly listen and understand the views and needs of those in the marketplace. In my social entrepreneurship course, I use the book, The Lean Impact, which is lean methodology modified for the social space. Q. How does this play itself out in your class? CM: My course is a general education class, so my students are typically sophomore through senior level and from a variety of colleges across the university. In order to learn and understand the entrepreneurial process, or at least the initial part of the process, they do go through the steps of both design thinking and lean methodology — from empathizing with the beneficiaries, identifying the right problem, ideation of potential solutions, to business model development. While most may not go on to test and/or pursue their ideas, they have a general understanding of, and experience with, the process to get to that point. 10

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Q. With all that information, is reflection an important consideration? It seems like it should be. Life moves so fast...how do we go about processing everything? CM: It is. Empathy and reflection go hand in hand. We explore this in my class. I use four interconnected modules to frame the structure of the class: the practice of experimentation, the practice of play, the practice of creation and the practice of empathy. Reflection is at the center of the modules and is required for learning and development in each area. I love that the modules are described as “the practice of,” by the way. This indicates very clearly that these areas need to be addressed continually. It’s a great deal like building muscle memory. A body builder never stops training. The work is never finished. Q. What are some of the practice activities your students take on? CM: I include a week of empathy workshops in my classes. The activities focus on developing both personal and professional empathy. They’re designed to help students learn how to dive deep into questions. They learn how to listen actively. They learn how to suspend their assumptions, get curious and ask more questions. It requires that they be nimble and more open with their thinking and emotional intelligence. Afterward, they use what they learn from this in the following weeks by structuring and conducting problem interviews with prospective stakeholders or those who are somehow involved in the social problems the students are researching. Starting with empathy changes, and improves, relationships. It helps support healthy working relationships and brings key stakeholders into the design and development process early on, which is more likely to lead to product success — or a product that your customers are going to find valuable. This co-creation approach is also beneficial as it helps stakeholders, including beneficiaries and customers, feel a sense of ownership for the product. NIU College of Business


Q. Is there a downside to not being empathetic in business? CM: I think so, particularly now with all the changes and uncertainty we’re facing. Entrepreneurs will often think they know what the problem is to be solved, but it isn’t until they talk with their customers, or beneficiaries, and truly listen, that they learn whether their assumptions were correct. The reality is that often they’re not. But when they’re empathetic, they uncover much more details about the problem, or they discover an entirely new problem that the customer needs solved. Empathy is also important in understanding the general environment and where the market may be going, as it aids the entrepreneur in developing the appropriate innovation that will effectively address the problems. Q: How fair is it to view the concept of empathy as a new business fundamental, a new skill for the tech age? CM: I think it is fair to say that it is definitely possible, but more research is needed. Research does suggest that the skills of utmost importance for the age of tech include critical thinking, creativity, communications and collaboration. Empathy is at the core of all these skills. Additionally, research suggests that empathy is related to ethical decision-making. Particularly in our current environment, this is a fundamental skill as well.

Q. How might empathy look in a for-profit or even a mid-sized or global firm? CM: In for-profit and nonprofit workplaces, alike, it could translate into giving someone the benefit of the doubt if performance goals aren’t met. It requires being vulnerable as a leader and as a direct report. It means being brave and having difficult conversations about what the human issues are that might have played into the performance gap, while also holding individuals accountable and setting appropriate boundaries. Instead of having those conversations, leaders often will just give the person room. They might also overload them with projects, and instead of checking in with them to see how it’s going or what, if any, issues need to be resolved so the work can get done, they might leave them on their own, believing that distance or silence helps when it might not. Q. Empathy seems associated with high emotional intelligence. Is it associated mainly with leadership? Put another way, what box does empathy belong in on an org chart? CM: Many view empathy as a component of emotional intelligence. It is also suggested to be a key trait of good leadership. That said, empathy belongs in all the boxes of an org chart. And outside of all of them as well. There are empathetic leaders and there are empathetic followers. Everyone has the capacity for empathy. We also all start at different places with it. But no matter where we are with it, it needs to be a foundational piece throughout an organization and in life. ■

“They learn how to listen actively. They learn how to suspend their assumptions, get curious and ask more questions. It requires that they be nimble and more open with their thinking and emotional intelligence.” — Christine Mooney

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

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Features On transformation “The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge in just about all aspects of life. For businesses, a powerful way to overcome this challenge is through meaningful transformation or the creation of a new relevance that is arrived at through reinvention. Blue Ocean Strategy does just that. Blue Ocean Strategy is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost for purposes of opening up a new market space and creating new demand — otherwise known as ‘value innovation.’ Our newly re-designed Executive MBA program embraces Blue Ocean Strategy in the curriculum.” — Daewoo Park, Associate Dean NIU College of Business

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Transformation: Reinventing the Executive MBA Global businesses need new business paradigms to enhance their efficiency, effectiveness and strategic positioning. In this context, there are excellent resources and publications from academicians and practitioners. They include: Competing for the Future (Adaptability and Alignment), Coopetition (Cooperation and Competition), Judo Strategy (Agility), Good to Great (Strategic Leadership), Blue Ocean Strategy (Innovation and Entrepreneurship), and Blue Ocean Shift (Transformation Leadership). In this third industrial revolution, changes in the business world have affected business schools’ curriculum redesign, repositioning and innovation at both the course and program levels. Business schools are faced with this critical question: How should we arm our graduates with the knowledge, competencies and skills of agile leadership, sustainable innovation, entrepreneurial perseverance, strategic transformation, renewal and ethical stewardship so that they can succeed? Business schools also face unprecedented challenges stemming from the rapidly evolving digital disruption and transformation of business output (“the fourth industrial revolution”). Some schools have developed new academic programs and/or redesigned their curriculum to maintain their competitiveness. Curricular changes should lead to appropriate learned skills that will be essential as firms continue to adapt to a radically changing world. Three distinct domains are identified as critical areas for success in today’s business world and directly impact curriculum redesign, repositioning

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

and innovation: 1) Digital technology literacy, 2) Data analytics literacy, and 3) Transformational leadership literacy. To master skills in these three realms, a change in mindset is needed. Mindset, popularized by Carol Dweck, is defined as the set of attitudes, skills and behaviors that executives need to successfully manage their challenges. Two critical elements for mastering the transformational leadership literacy in the Executive MBA curriculum are a new digital mindset and transformation management skills. These are also necessary for our students to successfully manage their current and future business roles and challenges. In 2019, NIU College of Business faculty, staff, students and alumni worked together to reposition our Executive MBA (EMBA) curriculum. We benchmarked other programs and brainstormed over several sessions to build a compelling value proposition. The program’s new vision aims at cultivating “T-shaped” graduates with both depth and breadth of knowledge, competences and skills that prepare them for a rapidly changing business

Photo by Scot Walstrom.

Photo by Connie Weaver.

by Daewoo Park, Associate Dean, NIU College of Business

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Features | Transformation: Reinventing the Executive MBA world. In specific terms, the new EMBA vision is to prepare students to: 1) Be strategic change leaders, 2) Manage organizational effectiveness, 3) Develop into socially aware leaders, and 4) Manage and integrate key functional areas. We then developed the design principles for the new EMBA. Those design principles focused on: 1) Integrated delivery, 2) Enhanced social architecture, 3)Self-development, 4) Global (content/intent), and 5) Action and application infused throughout. Based on our vision and design principles, we developed a model that contains four necessary mindsets as central to the repositioned EMBA. They are: an entrepreneurial mindset, an agile mindset, a global mindset, and a transformational mindset. Entrepreneurial mindset: An entrepreneurial mindset includes initiative and self-direction, risktaking, flexibility and ambidexterity, creativity and innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Other definitions include the ability to identify opportunities, leverage resources and create value. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is a critically valuable 21st century skill. To this end, we created a new course — UBUS 611 Integrated Business Foundations — to offer cross-disciplinary learning and AI-based simulation learning for students. Agile mindset: A requisite for business growth is an agile mindset. The agile mindset is characterized by continuous improvement, experimentation, change and growth, adaptability, and especially network and relationship building and learning. The agile mindset embraces four principles to achieve business growth and success: iteration, collaboration, change and learning from failures. Of paramount importance are skills in “coopetition” (cooperation and competition) and sensing anomalies and paradoxes. We created and aligned our new global supply chain management course with the marketing management course in order to enable the creation of skills sets that will result in an agile mindset. We also aligned the financial analysis course (investment and financing for growth 14

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focus) with the strategic management course for the same purpose. In addition, an AI-based simulation has been added to the curriculum. Global mindset: A global mindset is also critical for the sustainable, profitable growth of business. Today’s business world is increasingly interconnected and demands executives possess a global mindset. Our international residency classes were enhanced by aligning this course with the management leadership class with a focus on global strategic leadership. Transformational mindset: Implementing organization changes effectively, particularly digital transformation, is a matter of mindset. To a large extent, effective leadership in change management involves ensuring that individuals at all levels of the organization adopt an appropriate mindset for success. We added a change management course and a digital transformation strategy course to the EMBA curriculum. Additionally, we redesigned the capstone class — Strategic Business Transformation Project — to also reflect this transformational mindset. Daewoo Park was named associate dean for the NIU College of Business in summer 2019. Previously, Park served as academic chair of Xavier University’s management and entrepreneurship department and at Hawaii Pacific University’s business department, respectively. While at Xavier, he also served as director of the Sedler Family Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In the classroom, Park intentionally adopts a crossdisciplinary teaching methodology in order to surface different perspectives. He blends best practices in military leadership and strategic communications, and emphasizes the importance of risk-taking and learning from failures. Park holds a Ph.D. in strategic management from Texas A&M. His achievements range from setting records with fundraising and scholarship acquisition, securing research and teaching grants to creating entrepreneurship and innovation competitions. His research has been published in top journals, and he has been invited to speak at several national conferences. ■ NIU College of Business


Culture of Innovation

Sealing the deal with AI Shortly after the onset of the novel coronavirus, 75 NIU sales students from the Department of Marketing took to their Wi-Fi networks to compete in a Dell Technology Virtual Sales Competition, spearheaded by RNMKRS, a sales industry coalition. Bryant University hosted the event, drawing 1,600 students from more than 40 universities from states in New England to Florida, Illinois, Texas and California. “The students had direct exposure to virtual selling and to thinking on their feet,” said Rob Peterson, the NIU College of Business Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Sales. “They were forced to adapt on the spot to engage in problem solving with artificial intelligence.” This first-ever virtual mobile selling skills competition was developed by the RNMKRS Faculty Alliance of leading educators, Dell Technologies training executives and developers from three countries. RNMKRS, an industry group dedicated to leveraging technology to improve sales and communications, originally launched the event in Fall 2019. “Our students did great. Four placed in the top 25,” Peterson adds. Sean Duffy placed 4th; Paulina Ramirez, 15th; Jorie Pelafas, 23rd, and Christoph Koeninger, 25th. All four students were in the process of earning their sales certificate from the NIU Professional Sales Center. “The RNMKR sales competition platform is an outstanding outlet to develop and test your sales skills,” Duffy said. “Each competitor is instructed to study the Dell Rugged laptop line and uncover the specific features that the customer is looking for. The customer, in this case, is a sophisticated set of code...this competition really emphasizes your ability to listen, respond, and empathize.” They used their phone’s voice technology to engage in fully contextual conversations Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

with the customer bot. They tried to win his trust and educate him on their product line of laptop computers. The customer bot listened, adapted and responded as the students progressed through each step of the sales call. “RNMKRS came through with an exciting and challenging experience that I’m glad I was part of, especially during this difficult time,” Ramirez added. “Participating in the professional selling program has helped me develop muchneeded sales skills and the mentality to make this an experience I could learn from.” The overall goal of the Virtual Sales Competition is to help students learn how to communicate more effectively – particularly in the face of the unknown. RNMKRS founders believe effective See AI on page 28.

Photo (pre-COVID-19) by Rob Peterson.

by Michelle De Jean, NIU College of Business

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Wednesday Night Wisdom Created in June 2020, “Wednesday Night Wisdom” is a bimonthly webcast series intended to engage students with highly accomplished alumni and faculty. The webcast series has proven so popular that participation has since included all interested parties: students, alumni, faculty, staff, community and beyond. A brief overview of summer 2020 webcast guests (in order of appearance) follows. Suzanne El-Moursi (OMIS ’00): Managing Your Professional Network in Times of Change. Suzanne El-Moursi is an accomplished business leader with 20 years’ experience specializing in digital transformations, brand strategy, growth marketing, entrepreneurship and startup operations. Following 13 successful years working for major corporate brands (IBM, HSBC, GE Healthcare, SapientNitro) to lead innovation and growth strategies, El-Moursi’s passion for entrepreneurship caused her to pivot her career to build startup businesses, which she’s done since 2012. Matt Thompson (MKTG): Leadership Lessons. As executive vice president of worldwide field operations at Adobe, Matt Thompson is responsible for the strategy and direction of Adobe’s global sales organization and customerfacing functions. Thompson is relentlessly focused on understanding Adobe’s customers. He leads the field team by example, steeped in integrity and unwavering 16

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commitment to the open exchange of ideas. Jim Johnson, Ph.D., retired Department of Finance faculty member: Retire a Millionaire. James Johnson is an NIU Distinguished Teaching Professor, a designation that recognizes his excellence in teaching and extraordinary commitment to students. Johnson (otherwise known by countless NIU students as “Dr. J”) spent nearly 45 years teaching finance. In his free time, he wrote a book — “Retire a Millionaire Investing $2 a day” — which details his seven-step plan on how to retire with millions without it becoming a big financial burden. Erek Benz (MKTG ’08): Behind the Startup. When Erek Benz was a College of Business student athlete, he collaborated with other business students as well as College of Engineering students to create innovative football cleats that allowed for smoother pivot motion. From that idea, Benz founded the company PositionTech (while still in school) and soon after grew it into a highly successful business with clients including the NFL and NCAA. Over the last 10 years, Benz launched multiple new ventures, including co-founding a first-ever online real estate business for non-residential properties and growing it into a multimillion-dollar venture. If you’d like to be considered for a future webcast, email abuhrow@niu.edu. ■ NIU College of Business


Photo by Scott Walstrom.

Culture of Innovation

Virtual Commencement — Class of 2020 “What lies inside every Huskie is the grit to overcome the greatest of challenges, limitless compassion to help others, and soaring optimism for the future. This is why I know we will get through this together with our resolve stronger, dreams bigger, and hopes brighter.” — Dean Balaji Rajagopalan

Barsema, NIU President Lisa Freeman, NIU College of Business Dean Balaji Rajagopalan, along with the university as a whole, all colleges, faculty, and staff are privileged to have the great honor to celebrate anew the amazing students in the ever-resilient Class of 2020.

On the heels of spring break and the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, students in the Class of 2020 were forced to reclaim their balance in a radically shifting environment as they completed their last semesters, which they did with extraordinary grace. In June 2020, the college celebrated the Class of 2020 with a virtual commencement ceremony broadcast as a YouTube livestream event. This December, Board of Trustee Chair Dennis Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

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Engagement

Faculty Research

Soon after Illinois sheltered in place in spring 2020, several NIU Business faculty pivoted their research to focus on the impact of COVID-19 on various areas of business. A partial list of planned, ongoing and completed research studies follows.

Accountancy

Professor Martin Ndicu, whose research focuses on change readiness, worked on a proposal to study how organizational crisis management influences individuals’ learning agility and adaptive performance (from faculty and student perspectives) to achieve desired outcomes. Because COVID-19 is a global phenomenon, the project will be a comparative study undertaken through collaboration with College of Business international partners.

Management

Professor Mahesh Subramony will investigate the experience of remote workers during the pandemic. The research will test a comprehensive model of remote work that explores the job demands and resources that affect worker well-being. Professor Tim Michaelis will review how entrepreneurs can respond to COVID-19. The review covers rapid responses to exogenous shocks (i.e., business planning, frugality and emotional support). Michaelis expects the article to be published in the fall in a peer-reviewed journal. Assistant Professor Bethany Cockburn co-authored a study with lead author Assistant Professor Erik Gonzalez-MulĂŠ from Indiana University on mental health. Their work finds that mental health and mortality have a strong correlation with the amount of job-related autonomy, workload and job demands, and cognitive ability to deal

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with those demands. Their findings are also relevant in the age of essential employment and remote working caused by COVID-19.

Marketing

Professor Yihui (Elina) Tang and Lei Wang of SPM Marketing and Communications, a Chicagoarea-based marketing and communications firm, published a March 16 Adweek article on for-profit and nonprofit brand response during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tang plans to conduct an empirical study on crisis management for brands, including during the pandemic. Professor Ursula Sullivan will investigate how direct sellers are managing their supply and demand with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research will examine how companies are managing global relationships within their supply and value chains with the shock of closures and rationing of both raw materials and finished product.

Marketing and Public Health

Professors Yihui (Elina) Tang (Department of Marketing) and M. Courtney Hughes (Department of Public Health) will conduct an interdisciplinary survey-based study exploring the perspectives of recent academic authors in the disciplines of marketing and public health on the topic of COVID-19, including their views on the pandemic’s impact on research, higher education and their respective fields.

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Engagement

Awards

NIU team made data-driven tactical decisions with the overall goal to increase return on investment. The team adopted a lean strategy, which allowed them to adapt to changing market conditions. Congratulations to NIU APICS members: Bharath Nanduri (captain), Arjun Soni, Anirudh Thota and Jonathan Sovsky.

Brad Cripe, second from left, 2020 NIU Presidential Teaching Professor.

▲ 2020 NIU Presidential Teaching

Professor recipient: Brad Cripe, the Gaylen and Joanne Larson Professor of Accountancy and assistant chair of the Department of Accountancy. This prestigious university honor was given to Professor Cripe for his commitment to students, as demonstrated through significant service. Cripe has led student organizations and coordinated volunteer programs. Over the years, he has advised countless students and mentored them one-on-one through independents studies. In addition to serving as assistant chair of the Department of Accountancy, Cripe has also served as the chair of the curriculum committee and is currently the assistant chair for graduate programs and assessment of learning, as well as the faculty chair of the graduate curriculum committee. 2020 NIU Outstanding Mentor Award Recipients: Sarah Marsh, then-chair of the Department of Management, and Kathleen McFadden, the board of trustees professor in the College of Business and OM&IS faculty member. This prestigious recognition was given to Professors Marsh and McFadden by the university’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, which recognizes the vital role of university women and their many contributions. APICS student chapter. The NIU APICS student chapter in the Department of OM&IS won the annual APICS-sponsored case competition for the third consecutive year. APICS is an international society for supply chain professionals. The case involved Fresh Connection, a juice manufacturing company, which experienced operational inefficiencies and a negative ROI. The

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

Members of the CFA student team.

▲ CFA student team. The NIU CFA student

team in the Department of Finance won third place in the 2019/2020 Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge, an annual global competition. Overall, more than 6,000 students participated from over 1,000 universities, 99 CFA Local Level challenges, and 140 local hosts in 95 countries and territories. The first stage includes an intense six-month competition which occurs at the local level. For the fourth year in a row, the NIU Finance team placed in the top three at the local level — this year taking third place and once again beating out graduate students from top-tier universities. Congratulations to finance undergraduate- and graduate-level CFA team members: Kashish Meghani, Jenna Morgan and Soumya Shekar. Finance Chair Gina Nicolosi is the faculty advisor, and Ian Long, senior associate at Crowe LLP, volunteered as their CFA industry mentor. LEAD student organization. Alison Kramer and Sahar Baig, two members of Leaders in Ethics and Academic Discipline (LEAD), won second place in their division at the annual Templeton Ethics Case Competition. Kramer and Baig represented NIU’s LEAD organization, the NIU College of Business and the college’s BELIEF program (Building Ethical Leaders using an Integrated Ethics Framework). NIU Business

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Engagement

NIU College of Business In fall 2019, pre-COVID-19, NIU College of Business Dean Balaji Rajagopalan led the college in welcoming NIU students and marketing alumnus and Head football Coach Thomas Hammock to the start of a new semester with NIU’s firstever indoor pep rally. It was a fun event! Special thanks to all involved, especially students in the university’s stellar marching band and Thomas Bough, NIU’s director of athletic bands.

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Engagement

Photos by Mark Mourlas, Director of MBA B2B Marketing.

holds indoor pep rally

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Engagement

Launches

Executive MBA launches in Nanjing, China The two-year, part-time Executive MBA program officially launched in the fall 2019 semester, with classes on China’s Nanjing University’s campus and coursework taught by world-class scholars from Northern Illinois University and other

highly respected institutions, as well as industry experts. The program focuses on developing global leaders and emphasizes team-based, problem-solving, real-world projects, and guest presentations from global business leaders.

MAC Accounting Research Symposium NIU Accountancy hosts MAC Accounting Research Symposium & Accounting Analytics Competition. During spring 2019, faculty representatives from nine Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools attended the Department of Accountancy’s inaugural MAC Accounting Research Symposium, held at NIU Naperville. The MAC university system spans from western New York to Illinois. Activities for the two-day event included research presentations 22

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presentations concerning topics such as conflicts between supervisory monitoring and monetary incentives, and alternatives for reorienting business education. The symposium also included an accounting data analytics case competition. Student teams from schools inside and outside the MAC competed. Schools outside the MAC system included DePaul University, Grand Valley State University, Marquette University and National Chung Cheng University in Taiwan. NIU College of Business


In Every Issue

Inspired Peers NIU Business comes alive because of its wide variety of participants. It’s our great pleasure to focus on just a few of the many stellar NIU students who, even in the midst of an incredibly challenging year, agreed to collaborate with us. Each of these individuals embodies the strong character, high intelligence and adventurous nature of the ever outstanding NIU student. (Photos by Sara Chadwick, Wade Duerkes and Grania O’Flaherty.)

Junior, marketing and leadership management double major Hometown: Basingstoke, Hampshire, England

When my family moved here from England, I didn’t know where my education would take me, but I knew I was going to make the most of every opportunity. Ten years on I am still giving 110% to everything I do. I am a proud member of Pi Sigma Epsilon, Beta Gamma Sigma, the Women’s Leadership Institute and the Honors Program. I wouldn’t be where I am without help along the way, and I plan to inspire and help other first-generation students, too. My favorite experience at NIU was actually my first visit as a high schooler. The second I met the College of Business faculty, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. I felt such a strong sense of belonging and so welcomed, and that feeling has never faded. Recently I had the chance to bring my brother, who is a high schooler, to NIU. He, too, immediately had this same sense of belonging and enthusiasm to study business just like me. ■

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

Chloe Chadick NIU Business

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In Every Issue

Senior, business administration major Hometown: Aurora, IL

Kamren Davis

NIU is a family school for me because so many of my family members graduated from here. I feel like I’ve known about NIU since I was a kid. One of the reasons I chose my major was because I wanted to keep my options open. As a business administration major, I’m learning a variety of concepts from all the departments in the College of Business. NIU has so many unique spots and activities that go unnoticed if all you do is go to class. College is the perfect time to learn what you’re passionate about and what you want to do in the future. After I graduate with my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend law school and study corporate law. ■

Sophomore, Marketing and hospitality double major Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois

Isabella Quiroz 24 24

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At NIU, I am currently vice president of membership recruitment for my sorority, Alpha Phi. Additionally, I am part of the college’s Women’s Leadership Institute. The thing that motivates me most is simply the idea of continually learning, educating and bettering myself as well as others. I strive to be educated in every facet; that’s what keeps me passionate and driven toward my goals. One of the most important things I’ve learned here so far is the idea of putting yourself out there. After my first year in NIU Business, almost every professor encouraged students to talk to as many company representatives visiting the college as possible. They didn’t say “be perfect” or “prepare a perfect résumé.” Instead, they said “fail early and learn from those mistakes.” Although it’s such a simple and obvious lesson, it has impacted me in such a powerful way. ■

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Senior, business administration major, business analytics minor Hometown: Streamwood, Illinois

I worked in retail as an assistant manager before I came to NIU to expand my knowledge and skill set so I can run my own business one day. NIU faculty have been very welcoming and are truly invested in their students. Many encouraged me to participate in different activities and organizations. Without their suggestions, I wouldn’t have gained the experience, knowledge or friends that I have from trying out different things. Currently, I am a member of the Business Administration Student Association (BASA) as secretary. I’m also active in the Experiential Learning Center (ELC). BASA has been very valuable because I was introduced to many different students, alumni and guest speakers who gave me insights on what to expect from a variety of careers. The college’s ELC program, with its company-specific projects, gives a first-hand look into what it’s like to work on a cross-functional team and to collaborate with other highly motivated individuals over the course of a semester-long project. ■

In Every Issue

Jason Riveria

Senior, business major Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

I’m involved in many organizations at NIU such as Campus Activities Board, Black Student Union, African American Mentoring Program, Student Association – Cultural Coalition, NAACP and more. I love that our campus has an organization for every hobby or interest that might arise. NIU’ s College of Business is phenomenal, and the opportunities are endless. I’ve been awarded merit scholarships for minority students and women in business. One piece of advice that has stuck with me is to go for everything; don’t exclude yourself because your experiences or qualifications don’t match the job overview. Don’t shy away from anything. ■

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Diamond Williams NIU Business

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Discovery Continued from Page 7.

becoming a serial entrepreneur and launching a succession of ongoing new ventures. NIU alumna and guest lecturer Dina Weiss, who founded a financial investment company after literally working around the world, knows the importance of an open mind. “Dr. Gur is unique in his facilitation and encouragement of teamwork and collaboration across all majors, something that occurs naturally in a real-world setting. He is instrumental, in this way, in showing young entrepreneurs the various challenges and opportunities that exist in learning to communicate creatively from numerous different life perspectives.” To reinforce the importance of new viewpoints, Gur selected The Lean Startup as the course textbook. His class and the book immerse students in lean methodology, which is a co-creation process designed to evaluate a minimally viable product offering. In more simple terms, lean methodology is an iterative process for identifying an idea or hypothesis, creating a prototype, testing it in the marketplace, refining it based on customer feedback and testing it again with prospective customers. Or failing fast, pivoting in another direction and/or using what you learn to begin anew. Lean methodology sometimes includes sketching or storyboarding —literally drawing out a hypothesis on a whiteboard, file folder, napkin (think Pixar movies and Southwest Airlines as specific examples) — and then taking the rough images out into the world for reaction or engagement. Those utilizing this technique could think of themselves along the lines of street artist Banksy, who intentionally connects creativity, entrepreneurship and audience participation. Banksy, around whom a cottage industry developed, long contended that art belongs in the public sphere specifically to be interacted with, even altered by, the consumers of art. Such an analogy is not that far-fetched. Gur has long pondered the impact of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship both during his academic pursuits and his practical ones.

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Case in point, he launched two startups prior to earning his Ph.D. He created the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship course while completing his doctoral studies, and his academic research includes a focus on interorganizational relationships, interstartup relationships and entrepreneurship. “How does one define creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship? What are they in context?” he asks. “They’re not so easy to define in isolation, but together they provide incredible potential for value-add. Ultimately, any business needs to have the three working together at its foundation. It’s all about the value they generate together.” And it’s all about pursing that combination even in college. Some of the ideas that Gur’s students brainstormed (with great detail thanks to lean methodology) have included: Sunbee, envisioned as a solar-powered blanket targeted to the military and campers, with a social mission to donate blankets to the homeless; HeartBeatz, which would use body temperature and heartbeat detecting technology to choose songs to fit the user’s mood; Chipper Zipper, a snack food bag that would be made out of seaweed plastic; Eyepod, a fee-based platform envisioned with templates and filters to transform podcasts into visually appealing videos; BreakWaste, a product intended to break down plastic waste into a biodegradable compound and; any number of apps with a wide variety of objectives (as an example the Study Bees app, brainstormed for purposes of connecting likeminded students based on proximity and major). And while the Shark Tank-like panel review makes no promise of venture capital funding, some of the panelists offered just that to student teams whose business ideas they really liked. “The goal of this class is to help students define and understand the concepts of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in relationship to each other. And to explore that value-add in five areas: personal, careers, team, company and society,” Gur says. It’s an immersive approach as well as an iterative one in exploring, engaging, collaborating, testing, improvising, learning, adjusting and improving. By taking it on, the students gain not only a See Discovery on Page 27.

NIU College of Business


Resiliency Continued from Page 5.

we thought of them as collaborators. The whole class ended up taking this approach. If a team struggled, other teams helped them get unstuck. This sparked a lot of brainstorming between the teams. We started learning a lot together.” “That was such a great idea,” Chadwick says. “I wish my class had thought to do that.” “We all wanted to do the best work we could,” Quiroz explains, “and so we talked with each other to figure out how to get beyond some barriers. In the end, we still gave different recommendations, so all the work was original.” “The client really benefited,” Chadwick replies. “Yes, and all the students did too,” Quiroz agrees. Then out of the blue, Chadwick exclaims, “I’m going to remember this.” Her eyes widen, and the young ladies laugh together in recognition of an aha! moment. “The next time I have a team project and if there are no restrictions, I’m going to try that approach!” And while the idea of cross-team collaboration and the overall class itself may have been surprising, perhaps the most enlightening thing for these ladies is what they learned about themselves. “I never want to waste an opportunity,” Quiroz says. “Even if it’s something that scares me — like this course initially did. But I learned I can manage my fear when I know I’ll grow from trying something new. I also learned how important it is to understand the strengths of others and to tap

Discovery Continued from Page 26.

first-hand view of what failing fast can look like but as importantly how very much they stand to gain in their personal growth — in real time, times of great disruption and for the long haul. Furkan Amil Gur is an assistant professor in the Department of Management at the Northern Illinois University College of Business. He received his Ph.D. in Management from Louisiana State University, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

into their ideas. I ended up co-leading my team with my teammate Alex, who is very analytical. I’m not that way at all. I’m more of a creative type. I learned a lot from him. I’d like to think he would say the same about me. Figuring out how to put everyone’s strengths together on the team really made everything come together.” As for Chadwick, she learned she’s not only a strong follower, she’s also a strong leader. “The personalities on my team were the kind that seem to prefer behind-the-scenes types of roles, myself included. Someone had to step up and lead, so I forced myself to take on the challenge. I paid very close attention to my teammates to learn what they enjoyed doing and where they could shine. I tried to become a hybrid: a leader/follower. I tried to keep an eye on the bigger picture and at the same time give support to my team members. I felt it was important that I give everyone room so they could do their best work. In this class, I proved to myself that I could approach leadership in a different way than I had in high school — even in a situation like this with a great deal of unknowns.” In the end, what’s not surprising is that their parents, their ultimate mentors, are very proud of the road their daughters took and how far each has traveled. Because Chloe Chadwick and Isabella Quiroz now know better than they have in the past where they are going, and yet, they also came full circle when it comes to addressing uncertainty. First, with the course itself and now in the throes of Year 2020, Chloe Chadwick and Isabella Quiroz have seen just how thoughtful, resilient and nimble they truly are. ■ from Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey. Gur had entrepreneurial experiences and worked in the advertising industry prior to his academic career. His research interests center on interorganizational relationships and entrepreneurship. Specifically, he has interests in interfirm competition, cooperation, and coopetition, competitor identification, entrepreneurial communities, and geographic industry clusters. His work has been published in the Journal of Management, Long Range Planning, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Journal of Service Management, and Journal of Management History, among others. ■

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AI Continued from Page 15.

communication requires practice, a contention Peterson wholeheartedly agrees with. Indeed, Peterson was among the original group of advisors to RNMKRS when they first developed the event. His teaching achievements include several awards from a variety of industry associations, among them outstanding teaching awards from the American Marketing Association, the Marketing Management Association and the University Sales Center Alliance to name a few.

The NIU Professional Sales Center in the Department of Marketing in the College of Business continues to earn top accolades on a national level for its activities in and out of the classroom. These include the program’s Sales on Wheels initiative that brings students face to face with C-suite executives in their corporate headquarters, the program’s Sales Advisory Board with membership that includes top sales professionals from several industries and companies around the country, as well as the many conferences and competitions — like the RNMKRS Virtual Sales Competition — where NIU sales professors and students continue to make an impact. Virtually and in reality.

NIU Business NIU College of Business offers students a world-class environment coupled with learning experiences that cross the boundaries of thinking and doing. The many distinctive learning opportunities we provide include a unique set of college-level programs, two degree transcripts (academic and co-curricular), global programs, online degrees, the Bachelor of Science in a variety of majors, the Master of Science degree that includes STEM-designated programs, the Master of Business Administration that has been repositioned for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as a range of minors, certificates, workshops and hands-on learning opportunities. Our entrepreneurial spirit helps us experiment, learn and implement initiatives that have a profound impact on our students. This has resulted in national recognition in several ranking surveys. The longest-standing ranking places NIU College of Business among the nation’s best for 33 consecutive years (since 1987). Initially accredited by AACSB International in 1969, the college is home to renowned faculty, many of whom served as business professionals before earning their doctorates. We are distinguished by our ability to narrow the gap between thinking and achieving. Our prominent alumni include entrepreneurs and leaders in Fortune and global companies.

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Publisher Balaji Rajagopalan, Ph.D., Dean Editor-in-Chief, Creative Director and Lead Writer Michelle De Jean, director of marketing Feature story contributing writers Michelle De Jean, director of marketing Daewoo Park, Ph.D., associate dean Contributing writer Jessica Gibbons-Rauch (Instagram Message) Editorial Michelle De Jean, director of marketing Michael Mackey, NIU EMMC Photography Sara Chadwick, mother to Chloe Chadwick Wade Duerkes, photography manager, NIU EMMC Scott Walstrom, photographer, NIU EMMC Danielle Guerra, photographer, NIU EMMC Serap Gur, wife to Furkan Gur Annie Mooney, daughter to Christine Mooney Mark Mourlas, director of MBA B2B Marketing Grania O’Flaherty, hospitality major and Alpha Phi sorority sister to Isabella Quiroz Rob Peterson, Ph.D., Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Sales Connie Weaver, office manager, Dean’s Office Graphic Design Tony Wedick, NIU EMMC Printing NIU Integrated Media Technologies NIU College of Business

Northern Illinois University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution. Printed by authority of the State of Illinois. niu.edu 53230 12/20

Contact NIU College of Business Office of the Dean 1425 W. Lincoln Highway DeKalb, IL 60115-2828 cob.niu.edu


NIU College of Business Instagram message

Photography The majority of photos in this issue were taken pre-COVID-19. During the pandemic, many other photos were taken by immediate family members or members of the same living quarters. We thank everyone for their wonderful help and great eye.

Cross Boundaries to New Perspectives

The NIU College of Business is among a select list of fewer than 200 business schools worldwide to be accredited by AACSB International for both business and accounting. NIU Business has been ranked for 33 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report since the beginning of its annual ranking of best undergraduate business schools.

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NONPROFIT U.S. POSTAGE PAID NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY College of Business Northern Illinois University 1240 Normal Road DeKalb, Illinois 60115-2828

Cross Global Boundaries to Big Opportunities. Priyanka did. From India to NIU’s MIS program to Google. Priyanka Gollamudi

NIU MIS alumna 2018 Business strategy analyst for Google.