3rd Annual Lerner MBA Student Association Conference

3rd Annual Lerner MBA Student Association Conference

The conference took place on February 14, 2019 at Gore Recital Hall. In the constantly evolving business environment, successful business professionals know how to spot critical trends, respond with agility and manage them actively. The conference hosted industry leaders who talked about how they adapt to the changing business landscape.
MBA’s 3rd Annual Student Conference “ Preparing for the Changing Business Landscape” panel participants where Kevin Bannerton, Partner with Total Bank Solutions, Corporate Strategy & Product Development, Alfred Atanda, Director, Center for Sports Medicine at A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Carrie Leishman, President/CEO at Delaware Restaurant Association and Delaware Restaurant Association Education Foundation and Bob Deutsch, Chairman of the JP Morgan Exchange Traded Funds. Board answer questions about their related fields through moderator Kurt Norder, Assistant Professor of Management at the Lerner College.
Keynote speaker Patrick T. Harker – President & Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia – shared his personal and professional experience and answered multiple questions of attendees during Q&A session.
The speakers and attendees enjoyed networking and building new connections during lunch time. Afterwards the attendees had chance to join workshops of their interest, learn more and engage with questions and comments during the sessions.
UD Alumni Amira Idris invents device to help veteran amputees

UD Alumni Amira Idris invents device to help veteran amputees

Author: James Massaquoi

As an undergraduate student at UD, Amira Idris worked at Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics Inc. in Delaware with the strong ambition to learn more about the complications of prosthetic space and how she could live her lifelong dream to develop artificial limbs and replacement organs for those in need. It was at the clinic where Idris first learned of the phenomenon known as phantom limb pain. She met a patient unable to manage through traditional means the pain he felt in his missing limb. The patient’s mental state had deteriorated over time and was affecting the person’s ability to function from day to day. Phantom limb pain or PLP is define by the Amputee Coalition as ongoing painful sensations that seem to emanate from that part of the limb, which is no longer there. Unfortunately, there are over 2.1 million people in the United States living with limb loss, and 80% of the amputee population suffer from PLP. PLP is as individual as the person affected and often unpredictable. Sleeping or relaxing may also be difficult and traditional medications may or may not be effective. The sensation can last for a few seconds or up to few days making the condition very difficult to manage and live a normal life.

The ongoing negative effects of PLP had a profound impact on Idris when she heard that there was no solution specifically designed to address this issue. As a graduate student, she decided to do something about it. Idris is now a University of Delaware Alumni, with an Honors Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Design, class of 2016, with her Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, class of 2015. At just 24, Idris has invented a therapeutic wearable device that helps alleviate the pain felt by amputees who struggle with PLP.

In 2016, Amira Idris founded TheraV, formerly known as Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel LLC, the only amputee oriented, US based, wearable therapeutic apparel company. After two years of development and testing Amira is now ready to bring her first product to market. Her device, called the ELIX, is a 100% drug-free pain management device that uses vibrating technology to reduce the pain felt by amputees suffering from PLP, and other similar nerve conditions. The advantages of ELIX is that it has no negative side effects, does not require a prescription, is customizable to each user, and it is very affordable. The average PLP sufferer spends up to $8,000 per year to treat their condition. The retail price for the ELIX device at $200.00 on average is a godsend. It is no surprise that over 225 people with positive results have already adopted ELIX.

Right now, Idris is on a mission to help our veterans living with post amputation pain. She is attempting to raise $22,000 to build 100 ELIX devices to be given at no cost to Veterans in the community. Military service men and women make up a significant number of PLP suffers and Iris wants to give back to these great men and women who placed their lives on the line for our freedom and sacrificed a limb in the process.

“Veterans are such a big part of our community, we want to get the devices to them,” Idris said. “We have a device that can help, so it is natural we want to immediately see our device start helping the people who need it.”

Currently Idris and the TheraV team have raised only $4,435 towards their $22,000 goal. If you would like to add your support to this great cause, you can donate through this link: http://bit.ly/2lVVEhD.

There are so many issues to contend with in this day and age, but so few of us attempt to solve them. Amira Idris is a wonderful example of our Blue Hen Alumni & World Changer who continues to Dare to be First.

UDiversity’s Got Talent

UDiversity’s Got Talent

A fantastic effort by the incredible Lerner International Student Association (LISA) led to the success of the first ever UDiversity’s Got Talent! We are especially proud of Erin Chen and Sabah Sarika who put in a lot of effort to make this event a reality.

More than 50 people attended this fledgling event on Friday, November 3rd at 5pm at the Lerner Hall Atrium where diverse performers sang, danced, played instruments and did standup comedy. The cheering audience included the Senior Assistant Dean and other faculty members with the Dean popping in briefly to enjoy the show. The audience had a great time voting for their favorites and in the end Brandon Farzad (UD MBA and standup comic) was the people’s choice, taking home the grand prize!

Congratulations to everyone who participated and congratulations Brandon Farzad!

L.I.S.A’s UDash Campus Challenge 2017

L.I.S.A’s UDash Campus Challenge 2017

Excitement filled the air on September 8th as new international students event “UDash”-literarily jogged across campus to learn about University of Delaware resources that are readily available to help and guide students in their academic and personal ventures.
A special thanks goes out to the Lerner International Student Association (L.I.S.A), who organized the event, as well as the Office of Graduate & Professional Education, Division of Student Life and Institute for Global Studies, each of whom generously co-sponsored the event in cooperation with the Office of International Students and Scholars. The first fifteen teams who finished the 3 hour challenge took home prizes worth $1500!

Please find UDash 2017’s winning teams and the UDash online album here: https://goo.gl/rhYQRu

Special thanks go out to the Lerner International Student Association (L.I.S.A) Faculty Advisor Professor, Jinwei Cao, L.I.S.A student leaders, OISS student leaders and all our enthusiastic Volunteers. Because of the amazing efforts by each and every person involved, the U-DASH-ed event was a bigger success than any of us could have imaged.

The event itself was organized and manned by volunteers spread across critical “pit stops” on campus where new fall admits who participated in the race would stop and learn helpful information about the offices and places along the route. Many student support and academic offices participated by providing information take-away information pamphlets, marketing brochures and provided questions we could pose to the participants that would pique the new students curiosity about what the various university offices did for business students like them. This process provided a revolutionary and engaging way to market the amazing resources we have available to us on campus.

Twenty-one University Offices came together to make UDash Campus Challenge 2017 an awesome success!

“I believe this is just the beginning of a new annual tradition at UD in highlighting its efforts to welcome new students in a novel way while promoting the critical role each office/resource on campus plays in the students’ life here at UD” .Allan Paulose.

Allan Paulose, also the President of L.I.S.A, remarked that he was grateful for the opportunity to bring this idea to life.

Next year, the Lerner International Students Association hopes to open the challenge to all new students admitted for the Fall 2018 term with the support of additional UD offices also engaged in augmenting student life at US. The expectation is that with opportunities for more sponsors to participate, the challenge will be able to expand the “DASH” and include the Laird Campus, the Delaware Technology Park, and a number of extended locations at the Central, East and South Campuses at UD.

WilmInvest – Building Homes and Building Futures

WilmInvest – Building Homes and Building Futures

Author: Jemarc Axinto

I believe that one of the most defining qualities any one person may have is pride. Pride can be useful as in Pride in yourself, pride in your work, and – even more so – pride in where you call home. For the residents of Wilmington, Delaware, this sustaining pride is often tested as a variety of news sources have called our home, “Murdertown”, USA” (Abigail Jones, Newsweek 2014) and in turn, look down upon whatever the city has to offer.

The City of Wilmington comprises two completely polarized ends of the economic spectrum. On one end are businesses representing 65% of the US’s Fortune 500 companies, on the other, are an endless series of vacant lots and homes, homelessness, and little opportunity to break through the economic glass ceiling. Despite the money coming into the city from these large corporations, there are still wide ranges of vacant homes being left to rot and actual residents of the city are without means or at least lacking in comparable economic benefits granted to big businesses. However, not all hope is lost. Thanks to three budding entrepreneurs, CEO Joel Amin Jr, COO Bryce Fender, and CFO Demetrius Thorn, significant efforts have been put forth to invest in the city of Wilmington, and in turn, invest in the city’s people.

Amin, Fender, and Thorn have united to form WilmInvest, a company they have described as a, “Social impact, real estate investment company.” WilmInvest is start-up company formed for the sole purpose of taking vacant, forgotten homes in Wilmington, renovating them, and renting them out at affordable and attainable prices for Wilmington residents. They accomplish this miracle in three stages. They first buy the homes, renovate them, and eventually rent them out. To succeed they have been willing to engage with government officials and assert that what they are doing is important, and needed for the betterment of Wilmington and its community.

Each entrepreneur bring their own unique backgrounds and skills to the table. Amin went to a four-year trade school and spent his days growing up working with this father who still runs a family plumbing and contracting business, Joel Amin Plumbing LLC. Fender. Amin is a former Eagle Scout and retains a belief in active and continual learning by attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar. From the Leadership conference, he united with WilmInvest’s current CFO, Demetrius Thorn to start the Red Clay Interscholastic Student Government, a sanctioned student group uniting seven different school bodies that regularly combine to plan and host a variety of talent shows and school events. In the past, I learned that Thorn has impressive financing experience working with companies worth billions. One of the WilmInvest most defining strengths is the diversity within their core team. According to Amin, “The only way that it [WilmInvest] would even be possible is because we’re all so different [and] have these unique backgrounds.” Nonetheless, having diverse backgrounds means little if you are not willing to take action; something that the three entrepreneurs were not shy to share.

“We weren’t just waiting to send emails, we just barged into the doors of these government officials and said ‘hey, I’m a young person, I want to revitalize and address…one of the biggest issues in Delaware right now’” – Amin.

The trio were fortunately able to sit down with people with sympathetic ears like a board director of the Wilmington Land Bank who also happens to be the CEO of Habitat for Humanity. They have found success by engaging with people sitting at the top of the economic spectrum, such as billion dollar organizations like DuPont Company, and Sallie Mae (SLM Corp) to name two, and community at-risk organizations working with people dealing with tough issues like recovery from substance abuse. By working with both ends of the spectrum, they are not only able to engage with the people who have the funding to support their cause, but the people who will ultimately benefit most from their goals.

Job Negotiation Advice

Job Negotiation Advice

Author: Dr. Dustin J. Sleesman

Lerner students represent a diverse array of backgrounds, skillsets, and interests – but one thing you all have in common is the need to negotiate effectively in the workplace. Examples include discussing the terms of a purchasing agreement with a customer, resolving a disagreement about a project decision with your teammates, and of course – negotiating your first job offer as a newly minted MBA.

I’d like to offer some advice to help you think through and execute your next job offer negotiation. I’ll organize my thoughts around the acronym UDEL, in true “Blue Hen” fashion.

Understand yourself and the other side.
That may seem obvious, but too many people jump into a job offer negotiation without enough preparation. Understand your value to the company relative to other candidates in the market. Be able to articulate your desirability, but don’t be arrogant. Likeability can go a long way, especially if the person with whom you are negotiating may have the power to pull some strings to get you a better deal. Speaking of the person on the other side of the table, recognize that they may have legitimate constraints holding them back from sweetening the offer as much as you (and they) would like.

The company’s performance may be stagnant and budgets are tight, or perhaps they are concerned about the salaries of new recruits being higher than existing employees. Regardless, check to see if their job offer is on par with what similar companies are offering for comparable positions (our Career Services Center and numerous salary comparison websites are great for this). Remember to consider your alternatives: Think rationally about how this job offer compares to others you already have or may get in the near future. Accepting an offer is a big decision. If you do not feel comfortable signing that contract, the best solution may be to keep looking.

Don’t lose sight of the entire offer.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using salary as a measure of your success or even your self-worth. Yes, it’s important, but remember that you are negotiating a job offer, not just a salary. Compared to other companies, how attractive are the benefits being offered – such as health insurance, a retirement plan, vacation time, etc.? Do they offer bonuses or stock options? Human resource strategies vary widely in their investment in employee salaries versus benefits, both of which are very expensive for them.

A salary may seem low at first glance, but it should be evaluated in the context of the entire offer. Thinking even more broadly, consider who your future coworkers will be, the extent to which the job will give you professional growth opportunities, and a meaningful path to promotion down the road. It’s prudent to consider both the tangibles and intangibles of the offer.

Emphasize interests more than positions.
In negotiation lingo, a position refers to what you want on a given issue, whereas an interest is the reason underlying that position. Suppose you have a particular salary in mind as your response to the company’s initial offer. Try to dig deeper and focus on why you want that amount. This is important because, like it or not, sometimes the company will not be able to meet your request. However, there may still be creative ways of satiating your interest. Suppose your real concern is being able to live comfortably given the high cost of living near the company. So, how about this possibility: If they are willing to give you a flexible work schedule, you could move to a less expensive area and tolerate a longer commute if it’s only a few days a week. By emphasizing your underlying interests, you’ll avoid becoming locked into specific positions and be more open to creative possibilities like this.

Look at the relationship factor.
As demonstrated in my research and many other studies, effective negotiation is not a matter of dominance or which side is the loudest – contrary to what some business leaders or politicians may espouse. It’s often more about your relationship with the other party, and this is especially the case when negotiating a job offer. Stick up for yourself and be firm as a negotiator, but also remember that you’re laying the groundwork for a (hopefully) cooperative relationship that is mutually beneficial. In other words, relax! Frame the negotiation as a collaborative problem-solving exercise to reach an outcome that is valuable and fair to both sides.

Dustin J. Sleesman, PhD. From Michigan State University is an Assistant Professor of Management at the Alfred Lerner college of Business.

Cristina’s Chubb Chronicles

Cristina’s Chubb Chronicles

Author: Cristina Boyle

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Chubb in Old City, Philadelphia. Chubb is a global company, specializing in all types of insurance. I performed work in their global treasury department. I had never interned at a corporate company before, so I was looking forward to the experience.

During the week, I had quite the early commute. Every morning, I took a 6:33 train from Yardley, Pennsylvania to Jefferson Station in Philadelphia, and then walked 15 minutes to Chubb. My hours were 8 to 4:30 every day except for Thursdays, which were 8:30-5. The first day, I experienced an onboarding session, where I learned the basics about Chubb in terms of their culture, values, rules, clubs, etc.

During the discussion, one of the organizations that stood out to me was the Chubb Philadelphia Toastmasters. It is a club designed to improve your public speaking skills as well as build leadership skills. I decided to attend, and have participated every week in terms of the Table Topics sessions. Table Topics is an improv part of the meeting, where you pick a topic to discuss from a series of questions. For example, during my first meeting, I had to answer the question: would you rather cook classic dishes or create your own? I talked about why I’d like to cook classic dishes and put my own twist on them.

Every time I have talked during Table Topics, I improve a little bit in terms of saying less filler words (um, you know, like). During my last week at Chubb, I gave a 5 minute icebreaker speech to the group, which is where I talked about who I am, and what are my favorite hobbies. It was a wonderful way to end my time at Chubb.

I worked on two separate projects during my summer at Chubb. The first one was a SharePoint project. SharePoint is a site where the treasury department keeps all their documents. They had many old files from 2012 or earlier, so I helped the team clean up the site so they only had the documentation that they cared about. The second one was a treasury system project. The global treasury department uses various cash management systems, and I got to learn three of them: Tracker, Quantum and IntelliMatch. Tracker is their escheatment system, Quantum handles financial matters such as cash flows, and IntelliMatch tracks the delivery and completion of reconciliation processes.

Shivani, my manager, was a Vice President, and had quite the busy schedule. Therefore, I reported to Hong, one of the people on her team, who trained me to use the treasury systems and worked on the SharePoint project with me.

Overall, I had a rewarding experience at Chubb, and I look forward to continuing work with them. During the fall, I will be working with them part-time from my apartment on Main Street. I will also come back to the Philadelphia office during the winter break on a full-time basis. I hope to secure a full-time position with Chubb once I graduate from University of Delaware next May.

The Art of Evaluation

The Art of Evaluation

Author: Daniel McCaffery

Since the University of Delaware Toastmasters club had its demonstration meeting six months ago, we have had the privilege to see several students in Lerner give their very first Toastmasters speeches. In many Toastmasters clubs, an icebreaker speech is a rare treat, but in this club, we have had several meetings each with two or three of them. However, there is more to being a Toastmaster than just giving speeches. Another important part is evaluating other Toastmasters. Last month, I had the privilege to hold a seminar entitled “The Art of Evaluation,” to help our new Toastmasters to start focusing more on giving constructive criticism to each other.

Feedback is important for learning and developing our skills. Today, there is a wealth of information available today for free, yet we still pay tuition to take class in college. The core reason is not just that the lectures are better than what we can find online. Rather, it is that, in classes, we demonstrate what we learn, through tests, papers, and presentations, and someone else puts in the time and effort to analyze them, determine our strengths and weaknesses, and make us aware of them. That awareness enables us to know where to focus our efforts for improvement. Even basic grades allow us to have an idea of how well we are learning the material. Also, the knowledge beforehand that we will be judged by someone else’s standards can motivate us to work harder than we would just by self-study.

At each Toastmasters meetings, everyone who speaks even briefly can receive some feedback. The Ah-counter tells us what filler words we use. The Grammarian gives us an idea of how grammatically correct our word usage is. Even the Timer tells anyone with a time constraint whether or not they met it. However, the most important feedback comes from the evaluators. These are the people who are each responsible for critiquing just one person, a speaker. The other members of the evaluation team has relatively narrow responsibilities, so they are expected to focus on them for most of the meeting. The evaluators, on the other hand, each only need to focus on their speaker while they are presenting, but during that time, they must perform an in-depth analysis on all aspects of the presentation then present it to the audience at the same meeting. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give them much time to prepare their own presentations.

It takes practice to give good evaluations in Toastmasters. You need to learn to ask yourself how other members of an audience might react to different parts of a presentation. You also need to consider the speaker’s objectives. While it is tough to guarantee that you’ll catch everything in a speech, there are some strategies on delivering evaluations that experienced Toastmasters have found to get the best reaction that you want out of your speaker. Even long-established clubs periodically remind their members of these strategies.

A common evaluation strategy that is frequently reiterated in Toastmasters is known as the “sandwich method.” You begin and end with something positive, with the criticism in between. However, I recently learned a more detailed structure in the Greater Elkton Toastmasters club.

  • Salutation: The evaluation begins with the salutation, when you first address your audience. It begins like most other speakers’ salutations: “Master General Evaluator, fellow Toastmasters, welcomed guests,…” However, after that, you should then identify your speaker by name, because they are, by far, the most important member of your audience.
  • Strengths: You then explain what you like best about the speech. As with the sandwich method, the goal is to start off positive, so that the speaker feels rewarded for their work and is in a good mood.
  • Improvements: After the strengths, you identify some parts that you feel were not strong and offer your own suggestions for how to improve them. You should limit these to three points, so that the speaker is not overwhelmed with things to remember.
  • Conclusion: You finish the evaluation by summarizing what you have already said. This differs from the sandwich method in that you repeat both the strengths and the suggestions for improvement. However, you still end on a positive note by giving the speaker confidence that they will do even better in future presentations.

Toastmasters are not required to follow this structure and have the freedom to develop their own styles, but it can definitely help, especially those are new to giving evaluations. The ultimate goal for any evaluation is to help the speaker continue developing their skills, which includes motivating them to continue in Toastmasters by making the learning experience enjoyable.

Being a good evaluator can greater benefit yourself, as well. The ability to counsel others is useful in many professions. Most of us who attend Lerner eventually have employees whom we must guide. The same strategies we learn doing evaluations in Toastmasters can enable us to help others to continue developing themselves, both personally and professionally. By helping others to face their weaknesses and still have faith in their strengths, we multiply our abilities to change the world for the better.

Leveraging the power of LinkedIn

Leveraging the power of LinkedIn

Author: Jill Pante

As a career counselor, I saw a clear lesson from the Great Recession 10 years ago: We need to prepare our students and alumni to be “change-ready” for anything that comes along. Whether you are changing or looking for a new job, advancing your career, or simply want to grow professionally, LinkedIn, can effortlessly merge all of the above while allowing you to build your personal brand. Whether you’re a pro or beginner, here are some tips on making the most of your time there:

  • Post a professional photo. A nice picture of just you, professionally dressed, looking at the camera and smiling.
  • Personalize your URL. Make sure you personalize the LinkedIn URL with your name—linkedin.com/in/yourname.
  • Write a good summary. This is your 30-second commercial. What are your skills? Your achievements? Where do you want to go? This doesn’t have to be career-related. Maybe you’re just looking to connect with people.
  • Experience, Education, Leadership. For the most part, this is a simple copy-and-paste from your resume. Make sure the bullet descriptions are results-oriented and data-driven.
  • Interests. Be active when following groups, companies, schools and influencers. Join the conversation or pose a question of your own.
  • Follow the University of Delaware School page. There are more than 110,000 UD alumni on LinkedIn. When you’re on the UD page, click on the Career Insights button, where you can drill down to see where alumni live and work.
  • Don’t hesitate—reach out! I’ve never met a Blue Hen who doesn’t want to help another Blue Hen. Reach out to people by connecting to them and personalize that message so they know why you’re reaching out.

Professional networking in the digital age is far more accessible than it’s ever been. There’s no better time to start than now.

Jill Gugino Pante is the director of the Lerner Career Services Center. Connect to her on LinkedIn.