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Sam and Irene Black School of Business

IMPACT Stories of success from our students and graduates

Message from the Director Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan

Sam and Irene Black School of Business

Inspiring minds and transforming lives

I am delighted and honored to lead the Sam and Irene Black School of Business at an exciting time in its history. In recognition of our outstanding faculty who are pivotal to the success of our graduates, our programs are accredited by AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and listed among the best by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. To build on this exceptional record, we have the responsibility to continuously innovate to enhance learning and inspire minds. As we embark on this journey, it is important to reflect on the phenomenal technological developments that are shaping exciting opportunities and challenges for businesses. These developments have significant impact on business strategy, growth, and sustainability. Fifty years ago, the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 firm was seventy-five years; today, it is fifteen years. Preparing successful business

leaders of today and tomorrow in such a dynamic business environment requires faculty members and graduates who have a deep understanding of the complex environment in which businesses operate today and the capabilities that can transform or reinvent those businesses. At the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, we recognize this imperative and focus on developing minds through immersive learning experiences in which students learn the complexities of business by doing—through faculty-guided industry projects, internships, interdisciplinary capstone projects, managing an investment fund, and soon, developing ideas for launching new ventures. Our graduates are well prepared to critically analyze the status quo, reinvent business models, work with interdisciplinary teams to design and build new products, and develop strategies to create new markets. They learn the importance

of doing it the right way—with the highest levels of integrity and consideration for the social impact of their business decisions. Our success in preparing the leaders of tomorrow is evident by the positions our graduates are being offered with companies like Apple, Amazon, Erie Insurance, FMC Technologies, GE Transportation, LORD Corporation, and U.S. Steel, just to name a few. The best way to understand the impact of a business education at the Sam and Irene Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend is to hear from our students and graduates in their own words. I hope you will enjoy reading their stories of success.

ON THE COVER: Dr. Hunter Holzhauer, standing, assistant professor of finance, works with students in the financial trading lab at the Sam and Irene Black School of Business. The Sam and Irene Black School of Business magazine is published and provided free to alumni and friends of Penn State Behrend by the Office of Marketing Communication. Director: William V. Gonda, Editor: Heather Cass, Designer: Chris Sigmund. Copyright 2014 Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. This publication is available in alternative media upon request. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. U.Ed. EBO 14-65.


February 2014

Faculty-student interaction Making one-on-one connections with faculty members is rare for many college students,

but at the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, it’s an integral part of the learning model.

Learning with a personal touch

“Without the help of those great mentors, I wouldn’t have had the skills or the selfconfidence to apply for the management training program at Saks.”

Chelsea Filley ’12 Saks Fifth Avenue

Dr. Mary Beth Pinto, left, professor of marketing, talks with Justin Simpson, a marketing major, and Courtney Walsh, a business economics major. Chelsea Filley ’12 bought her first pair of Jimmy Choo shoes last year. She credits the Sam and Irene Black School of Business with helping her step into them. Filley, who is in the executive development program at Saks Fifth Avenue, says she never thought she’d own a pair of the famous designer shoes, but it comes with the territory when you’re working in the fashion industry near New York City. Filley’s journey to the Big Apple began in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, where she learned the fundamentals of retail marketing and management information systems and formed mentor relationships. Two faculty members, Dr. Mary Beth Pinto, Samuel A. and Elizabeth B. Breene professor of marketing, and Dr. Kathleen Noce, senior lecturer in MIS, helped Filley make her professional aspirations and big-city dreams come true. “Any time I needed any sort of help, Dr. Noce and Dr. Pinto made time for me,” Filley said. “Without the help of those great mentors, I wouldn’t have had the skills or the self-confidence to apply for the management training program at Saks.” Filley was recently promoted to selling and service supervisor at Saks OFF 5th Avenue’s flagship store in Central Valley, N.Y., where she is now mentoring a new

member of the executive development program. She’s confident in her abilities to do so. After all, as Filley says, she learned from the best at the Sam and Irene Black School of Business. James Biebel ’12, a dual marketing and management major, credits the personal interest that Dr. Pinto and Dr. Pelin Bicen, assistant professor of marketing, took in his job search with helping him land a position at his first-choice employer, Apple. Biebel worked on undergraduate research projects with both marketing professors and had served as a research assistant for Dr. Pinto; because of those experiences, it felt natural to seek their counsel during his job search, he said. “It was nice to have them on my side in terms of all the feedback I got. I remember Dr. Pinto going through twenty versions of my resume,” he said. "Having direct access to Dr. Bicen and Dr. Pinto to collaborate on undergraduate research projects was invaluable. They really helped me to understand concepts and learn beyond the classroom,” Biebel said. Filley has some words of advice for current students: “Utilize the professors’ experience and contacts,” she said. “They are more than willing to offer guidance, and they can help you get wherever it is you want to go.”

“Having direct access to Dr. Bicen and Dr. Pinto to collaborate on undergraduate research projects was invaluable.”

James Biebel ’12 Apple Inc. 2

Interdisciplinary thinking The ability to think across disciplines is vital to success in today’s highly competitive

business environment. At the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, programs and curricula are designed to help students do just that.

Bridging the business-technical gap As businesses evolve and become more complex, breaking down barriers to communication and solving complicated problems require the integration of knowledge from across disciplines. The faculty of the Sam and Irene Black School of Business challenge students to develop holistic perspectives through real-world learning experiences in programs such as Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies (IBE) and Project and Supply Chain Management.

“The success of the program is a direct result of collaboration between our schools of business and engineering.” — Dr. Diane Parente






IBE meets growing need The Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies major was conceived to meet an increasingly relevant need in today’s business world, according to Dr. Diane Parente, Samuel A. and Elizabeth B. Breene professor of management and chair of interdisciplinary programs for the Black School of Business. “When we did a market study, we found there was a real need for graduates who could work on the business side of a technical company,” Parente said. Both enrollment (IBE is the fastest growing major in the school of business) and a near 100 percent graduate placement rate support those findings. “The success of the program is a direct result of the collaboration between our schools of business and engineering,” Parente said. “There are only about six


February 2014

universities nationwide that have programs similar to IBE. Collaboration across disciplines is critical to building successful programs like this, and it’s something we do very well here at Behrend.” Why are IBE graduates in demand? “It’s because they can understand the technical aspects of a product and communicate with people who are non-technical,” Parente said. “The classic disconnect within a technical company is between production and sales. The person who can bridge the understanding between these two disparate points of view is very valuable to the corporation. Having a salesperson who can understand the technical requirements for their customer as well as the economics of production is a huge asset to a firm.”

Keeping projects on track

“IBE allowed me to merge my engineering background with business skills in finance, accounting, marketing, and management. It really broadened my field of knowledge.” — Matt Olsen ’11

Matt Olsen ’11 planned to major in Mechanical Engineering Technology, but as his coursework became more focused and technical, he became less enthusiastic. He realized that while he had the mechanical mindset and ability to be an engineer, he would be happier if he worked more with people. It was about this time that Olsen learned that CMI Energy, an Erie-based company that engineers, designs, and supplies Heat Recovery Steam Generators for the power industry around the world, had endowed a Trustee Scholarship for students enrolled in the IBE program at the Sam and Irene Black School of Business. “I figured that if a company was so interested in IBE graduates that they were willing to start a scholarship, it must be a highly-valued major,” Olsen said.

“It was the missing piece I’d been looking for,” he added. “I could merge my engineering background with business skills in finance, accounting, marketing, and management. It really allowed me to broaden my field of knowledge.” Olsen interned at CMI while at Behrend and accepted a position with the company after his graduation. He is a project scheduler at CMI’s Knowledge Park office. He said his training in cross-disciplinary thinking helps him manage complex projects. “I use my engineering knowledge and management skills every single day,” he said. “It’s a very versatile and useful degree that opens a lot of doors.”

Another degree that requires interdisciplinary thinking and offers a myriad of opportunities is the Project and Supply Chain Management major. Students in this program learn to manage complex assignments across business functions, understand the critical components of supply chains, and apply business analytic methods to fully integrate supply chain practices throughout an organization. These skills may be used to develop new products and services, schedule and coordinate resources, monitor and control projects, and coordinate procurement and project delivery systems. Graduates are in demand by world-class corporations, government, public sector organizations, construction companies, third-party logistics providers, and goods and services distribution operations.

Dr. Jeffrey Pinto, professor of management, discusses the Project and Supply Chain Management major with student Taylor Wittman. For information about the IBE or Project and Supply Chain Management majors, visit business or call 814-898-6107.


Immersive learning The Sam and Irene Black School of Business offers diverse opportunities for students to get hands-on learning experiences in their fields of study.

Everybody wins Management 301 students raise money for charity while learning valuable business skills How better to teach students about the pressures and problems in the real world of business than to immerse them in that world? In MGMT 301: Basic Management Concepts, students are tasked with working in teams of five to plan, design, organize, and implement fundraising campaigns for nonprofit organizations. “At the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, we believe in the value of integrating service with learning,” said Dr. Ryan Vogel, assistant professor of management. “This assignment not only meets that requirement, but it also gives students “At the Sam and practical experience working in Irene Black School teams with real clients on of Business, we projects that have social impact.” believe in the value In the spring semester, of integrating students raised more than service with $17,000 for local and national learning,” charities, including the Erie City Mission, Neighborhood Art – Dr. Ryan Vogel House, Barber National Institute, and American Heart Association. Students worked independently, outside of class. “They only came to me when they had problems,” Vogel said. Problems are to be expected. You might even say that Vogel hopes for them. “They learn a lot about teamwork, leadership, and conflict resolution,” he said. “For instance, it can be frustrating if one student is not pulling his or her weight. The team has to figure out how to motivate that person and accomplish its goal with or without that person, just like in the real world.”


February 2014

Photos by Becky Goldsmith

Strikes against cancer Ian Connell, a junior marketing major, was a member of the top fundraising team from the spring semester. He and his teammates, Corey Jarouse, Nathan Billman, Ben Bidwell, and Joseph Price, raised $1,400 for the Regional Cancer Center in Erie by hosting a bowl-a-thon. “We chose the center because cancer has touched most people’s lives in one way or another,” Connell said. “Two of the guys on the team had bowled in a league, so we had some knowledge of bowling, and we thought it would be a good fundraiser.” It was also a good way to apply and test the concepts and theories that the students had been learning in MGMT 301. “We definitely learned about time management, group communication, and the importance of individual responsibility,” Connell said. “We were able to test some of the things we learned in class and say, ‘Okay, this

Intrieri Family studentmanaged fund posts profit in first year!

Jamming for a good cause For their team’s fundraising ce campaign, Tara Sitter, a junior finan her and r, and accounting majo teammates, Becky Goldsmith, Josh Copley, and Pete Jacquel, organized, planned, promoted, and hosted a concert, coined Fusion Jam, at Basement Transmissions, an Erie all-ages club and record label. The event featured nine local bands and charged a $5 admission fee.

Sitter said the group’s feature act, a at well-known Erie band, fell through e, danc atten ting affec te, minu the last the but not enthusiasm. After expenses, . Erie Arts for group raised $400 “Donating money to a cause that is close to your heart, like the arts, is a ct ‘feel good’ experience, but this proje the p gras to us ed help also really lessons we were learning in class,” Sitter said.

MGMT 301 students raised $400 for ArtsErie. Shown, from left, Amanda Brown Sissem, ArtsErie executive director, student Becky Goldsmith, Dr. Randy Brown, lecturer in finance and management, and students Tara Sitter and Pete Jacquel.

approach worked, but this didn’t work so well in this situation.’” Nine teams participated in the April bowl-a-thon, each paying a $100 registration fee. The students sought corporate sponsorship dollars, too. When all expenses were paid, Ian’s team was able to donate $1,400. All of the team members received A’s on the bowl-athon. Vogel also raised the bar for future teams. “We increased the goal to $1,000, and we’re going to come up with some sort of prize to motivate the teams,” he said. “We’ve discovered that students perform best when we put them in a competitive situation and, frankly, it is good practice for the real world.” It’s also good for the nonprofit organizations that will benefit from the brainpower, energy, and enthusiasm of the students in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business. Ian Connell

After a year of trading, the Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund at Penn State Behrend has posted a $27,000 profit. The fund outperformed the S&P 500 over the same time. The fund is managed by students in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business under the guidance of faculty member Dr. Hunter Holzhauer. “I’m impressed,” said Holzhauer, assistant professor of finance and a member of the fund’s advisory board. “The students have controlled their emotions. They’re basing their investments not on hunches, but on the numbers.” Holzhauer runs the fund through his Portfolio Management and Analysis class. Students choose approximately fifty stocks, balancing companies in the health care, utility, energy, and consumer staples sectors. They adjust the allocation regularly. The fund began with a gift from Vincent Intrieri, a 1984 graduate of the college. He is the senior managing director of Icahn Capital Management. Intrieri put up $100,000. Any profit would be reinvested, he said. Money that was lost would be gone forever. Using real money raised the stakes, Intrieri said. “When you’re working with a mock portfolio and you mess up, there’s no damage done,” he said. “But when it’s real money, with real consequences, you focus. You can’t explain it away, saying, ‘Oh, well. My model didn’t work so well.’” The first-year profit brought the fund’s student managers Wall Street’s version of extra credit: Several faculty members, alumni, and friends of the college – including Intrieri – added another $33,200 to the account.

In the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, students don’t just learn about operating Bloomberg terminals or managing investment portfolios, they actually do it in the school’s state-of-theart financial trading lab. 6

Progressive learning technologies Penn State is at the forefront of using digital technologies to deliver outstanding learning that also provides flexibility for students.

Online graduate programs enhance learning and flexibility Hybrid and fully online programs like those offered through the Sam and Irene Black School of Business leverage the best of digital technologies to present subject matter that is rated by our alumni as some of the best in the country. Patrick Vernon, 29, of Atlanta, knew that earning a Master of Business Administration degree would help him climb the corporate ladder quickly. But quitting his job to go back to school seemed counterproductive. Enter the iMBA, Penn State’s online Intercollege MBA program. The iMBA, a Penn State World Campus program, is a collaboration of four Penn State campuses that contribute faculty members and resources. The Sam and Irene Black School of Business is the lead campus, serving as the academic and administrative home of the iMBA program, which is ranked as one of the top 20 online graduate business programs by U.S. News & World Report.


Site seeing: Online courses are easy to navigate and can be completed from anywhere in the world.

February 2014

All classes in the iMBA are conducted online, though students are required to complete two week-long residencies, one at University Park and one in an organization. The residency experience provides a unique opportunity for students to integrate their knowledge across areas and apply it to a real business environment. “The iMBA program was perfect when I was traveling 75 percent of the time for work,” said Vernon, now a business and integration analyst with Landis+Gyr in Atlanta. “It simply wouldn’t have been feasible for me to attend a traditional MBA program.” While Vernon didn’t have time to attend classes in person, he had plenty of time to complete his coursework online while traveling. “I spent a lot of time in airports and hotels,” he said. That’s right — the iMBA allows students to earn a Penn State MBA anywhere in the world, even while waiting for their next flight. “The flexibility of the program was the deciding factor for me,” he said. Advances in digital technology, combined with the willingness of world-class Penn State faculty members to embrace those new technologies to enhance and improve educational offerings, have been key to making the iMBA a top-ranked program.

Master of project management

In addition to the iMBA, the Sam and Irene Black School of Business offers a

“Instructors utilize a variety of technology when teaching online, including podcasts ... chat rooms ... Skype ... and video”

— Dr. Ashutosh Deshmukh

highly successful Master of Project Management (MPM) degree through World Campus. The MPM curriculum is interdisciplinary, using problem-based learning to provide a deep understanding of all aspects of project management theory and practice, and can be completed in two years from virtually anywhere. “Our students are in all corners of the world, including Kenya, Laos, and Tunisia, and at military bases in Japan, Afghanistan, and Iraq,” said Dr. Jeffrey Pinto, the Andrew Morrow and Elizabeth Lee Black Chair in Management Technology and professor of management at Penn State Behrend.

“You will be more than satisfied with the experiences, knowledge ... you’ll gain through the iMBA program.”

— Patrick Vernon ’12

Many tools in the box

Online courses have been offered at Penn State for more than a decade. “Penn State was certainly ahead of the curve on online education,” said Dr. Ashutosh Deshmukh, professor of accounting and management information systems at Penn State Behrend and iMBA program chair. “Instructors use a variety of technologies when teaching online, including podcasts, audio recording of lectures, Adobe Connect sessions, chat rooms, Skype, discussion boards, and video,” Deshmukh said.

(continued on page 9)

More online offerings

The iMBA and Master of Project Management are just two of several online programs and hybrid courses that the Sam and Irene Black School of Business offers. Others include: Cranberry

The Pittsburgh MBA A part-time, hybrid (75 percent online, 25 percent in-class instruction) program offered at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry. This is the same curriculum offered at Penn State Behrend with added flexibility for active professionals.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Certificate with SAP This online certificate program, exclusive to Penn State, offers students training in SAP, the world’s largest enterprise application software company.

Financial Planning Certificate This online program is registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, indicating completion of the educational coursework of the Certified Financial Planner® certification program.

Hybrid courses The Sam and Irene Black School of Business offers several core classes in finance, accounting, management and marketing in a hybrid format. A portion of the work in these courses is done independently online.

For more information about any of the online or hybrid courses offered, visit or call 814-898-6107.


Noteworthy business News about the Sam and Irene Black School of Business and its students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

One of the best

MBA students rank in top 3 percent in nation!

Once again, the Sam and Irene Black School of Business was recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s most outstanding business schools. The education services company features the school in the 2014 edition of its book The Best 295 Business Schools. The results are based on feedback from business school students about their school’s academics, student body, and campus life, as well as about themselves and their career plans. The Black School of Business also continues to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the country’s best graduate schools for its MBA program.

Students in the Master of Business Administration program at the Sam and Irene Black School of Business scored in the top 3 percent on the most recent ETS Major Field Test, a national assessment of university programs. Their performance puts the school in the 97th percentile when ranked against students from 260 other institutions that administer the exam.

“We are proud of this achievement and the recognition it bestows on the program,” said Dr. William H.A. Johnson, MBA director and associate professor of management at Penn State Behrend. “These scores demonstrate our students’ ability to think critically about business issues, to go beyond pure recitation of facts and figures.”

Let’s work together You’ve read about some of the ways the Sam and Irene Black School of Business works with businesses and organizations on collaborative projects, and we’d like to invite you to partner with us. It’s a win-win. Students gain hands-on experience and you get innovative ideas and help with research and development projects. Call the Black School of Business at 814-898-6107 or email

Top MBA graduates include, from left: Paul Brown, Patrick St. Andrews, Brandon Smith, Lindsay Geibel, Ross Silvis, Chris Holmes, and Joe Johnson.

(continued from page 8) “If there’s a digital technology you aren’t familiar with, believe me when I say that you will become very familiar with it,” Vernon quipped. Students in online education programs are encouraged and, in some cases required, to interact with one other via chat rooms and discussion boards, offering unique learning opportunities. “If I know I have a student with years of experience in an area, I will draw them into the lesson and ask them to share their expertise for the benefit of the entire class,” Deshmukh said. “It can lead to some very interesting conversations.” “You’re exposed to so many people with different professional backgrounds that it significantly enhances the experience you have in the program,” Vernon said. 9 BEHREND.PSU.EDU/BUSINESS

February 2014

Vernon offers glowing reviews of the iMBA program. “The coursework I completed and the experiences I had in the program gave me the confidence to back up what was on my resume and allowed me to land not just one but two new jobs as a result of the program,” he said. “From the time I started the iMBA program to now, I have had a 70 percent increase in pay.” Vernon is not alone. “Eighty percent of our iMBA graduates report that they have gotten promoted or changed jobs for better pay,” Deshmukh said. Now that’s an impressive rate of return on investment.

Speakers share insights Students in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business regularly have the opportunity to learn from guest speakers who share their critical insights and hard-earned business sense. Successful leaders who spoke this semester included:

Ross Zambanini ’07, global strategy and business development manager for LORD Corporation; Chelsea Filley ’12, selling and service manager for Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th; Brittany Greer ’12, merchandise analyst for Dick’s Sporting Goods; Chris Shearer ’02, senior finance manager for Mars Inc.; Briana Cunningham Williams ’06, M.B.A. ’07, senior optimization analyst for Nordstrom Direct; Glenn “Bo” Nobel, a federal mediator appointed to the Southern District of the New York Bankruptcy Court and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; R. Travis Upton, chief investment officer of The Joseph Group, a Columbus-based advisory firm; and Kyle Abbott ’12, senior operations analyst for Capital One.

nini ’07

Ross Zamba

Chelsea Fill

R. Tra

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vis Up


reer ’12

Students ready for CFA challenge

Five students will represent the Sam and Irene Black School of Business at the 2014 Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge this spring. They will produce a detailed financial report and valuation of PPG Industries to present to a panel of financial analysts selected from the membership of the CFA Society of Pittsburgh. “Team members will conduct research, develop an equity

ms ’06

ngham Willia

Brittany G

Briana Cunni

valuation report, and present their findings in a framework equivalent to an equity analyst,” said team adviser Dr. Greg Filbeck, the Samuel P. Black III Chair in Finance and Risk Management and professor of finance. “In the process, they will develop a portfolio showcase that enhances their marketability and access to job opportunities with top security analyst and investment banking firms.”

Team members are, from left, Chris Dall, Kyle VanDusen, John Fetchko, Adrian Pinto, Ashley Siber (backup), and Jainik Mody. 10

Fall career fair draws record numbers Penn State Behrend’s fall career and internship fair was the largest yet, with more than 160 companies and 1,000 students attending. Among the companies recruiting students of the Sam and Irene Black School of Business were: AT&T, AXA Advisors, Bayer MaterialScience, Coca-Cola, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of Audits, Ecolab, Erie Insurance, FMC Technologies, Honda, LORD Corporation, Norfolk Southern, PPG Industries, Target, and U.S. Steel.

Sam and Irene Black School of Business 281 Burke Center 5101 Jordan Rd. Erie, PA 16563-1400

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


Erie, PA Permit No. 282

Paying it forward for #AJO Students at Partnership Erie, a nonprofit outreach extension of the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, are paying it forward by developing an eCommerce website and social media strategy for the AJO Forever Foundation. Alyssa J. O’Neill, 18, was a first-year student at Penn State Behrend when she died after suffering a grand mal seizure at home. The day before her death, O’Neill had texted her mother, saying they should meet at Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte. After her funeral, her parents, Jason and Sarah O’Neill, bought ten of the drinks for strangers. The barista marked the cups with #AJO, using purple, a color associated with epilepsy awareness. That spurred a far broader pay-itforward campaign. People paid for strangers’ meals, gas, groceries, and layaway purchases. They sent #AJO photos from London, Iraq, and the Canary Islands. It’s still going. The #AJO Forever In Our Hearts Facebook page has more than 42,000 likes.

Students working on the #AJO Forever Foundation website through Partnership Erie include, from left, Anthony Cremonese, Melissa Lichtinger, and Antoine Holman as well as Kelsie Noce and Michael Thompson, not pictured. Partnership Erie will host and support the site on an ongoing basis.

Alyssa J. O’Neill

Business News - 2014  

News from the Sam and Irene Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend.

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