Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Millennial interest drives KU entrepreneurship programs

In the last decade, as the Kansas City startup scene flourished, KU built a program to prepare students for careers in entrepreneurship.

Wally Meyer
The KU School of Business created its entrepreneurship program in 2007.  Only six years later, nearly 300 KU students are enrolled in ENTR classes each semester, making entrepreneurship the largest concentration offered at the business school.  Wally Meyer, director of entrepreneurship programs, believes that the millennial generation is geared toward entrepreneurship, partially because of its popular role models.

“Some of this generation’s heroes are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and LeBron James — who is not only an extraordinary athlete, he’s an extraordinary entrepreneur,” Meyer said.  “And you see these guys and you say, ‘Why not me?’ which is a great attitude.”

Meyer has seen an exponential growth in students’ interest in the past few years.  Because of KU’s proximity to Kansas City, students watched as the startup bug infected the city.  However, Meyer said he believes it takes tenacity to be a great entrepreneur.

“They have to love what they do because this is hard work and they’re surrounded by nay-sayers,” he said.  “They’re surrounded by people who say, ‘You can’t do that.  That’s not going to be successful.’”

Students at KU can get involved in entrepreneurship and learn more about the startup scene through the Entrepreneurship Club, Enactus or entrepreneurship opportunities in Kansas City, like Kansas City Startup Weekend.

Students like Caleb Christianson have taken their education beyond the classroom with Kansas City Startup Weekend.  Christianson, a senior in the entrepreneurship certificate program, got involved last spring with the event, which places entrepreneurs in teams and challenges them to start a company over the course of a weekend.

“It’s very short and very condensed because it’s only over the course of 54 hours,” Christianson said.  “So these teams can go through the whole motions of starting a company and then they don’t get very deep into it because they’re only doing it for a weekend.  But they can go through and see what it takes to market a company.”

 One Million Cups, a Kansas City and Lawrence initiative, is another opportunity that allows entrepreneurs to present their ideas in front of a crowd and receive input.

“The Kauffman Foundation has been putting on these events called the One Million Cups every Wednesday morning where two entrepreneurs get up and talk about their ideas,” said George Bittlingmayer, finance professor.  “This is heavily attended and very popular.  Recently, Lawrence got its own One Million Cups.”

To learn more about entrepreneurship at KU, contact George Bittlingmayer, Wally Meyer or business school student organizations.

by Allison Kite

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alumna receives inaugural supply chain management award

Keiko Arai graduated from the KU School of Business with a supply chain management (SCM) degree 2.5 years ago and is already turning heads.
Keiko Arai

In August, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) announced that Arai is one of three recipients of the Young Professionals Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes up-and-coming supply chain management and logistics professionals 30 years old and younger who contribute beyond what is required of them and have the potential to impact the profession in the future.

Arai works at Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth, Texas, a job she landed after attending a business school career fair. She also participated in Textron’s two-year-long leadership development program in integrated supply chain management.

CSCMP will highlight her achievement at its annual global conference Oct. 20-23 in Denver, giving Arai exposure to professionals around the world. In addition to the recognition at the conference, she will be featured in CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly magazine and invited to participate as a speaker or a panelist in a young professionals session at the conference. This is the awards first year and Arai said that makes the accomplishment a little more special.

“When it came to the selection of the recipients, there was no one to whom we could be compared,” she said. “Therefore, we were chosen to set the bar for future recipients.”

Arai plans to go back to school and hopes this award will help her get into a great MBA program. While at KU, she was a member of the Supply Chain Management Club. She credits the business school for giving her the opportunity to help the club grow.

“We received a great amount of support from the faculty members,” Arai said. “The KU School of Business sponsored a majority of our major events, making it possible for many students to attend.”

Roger Woody, SCM external development director at KU, nominated her for the award.

“She is certainly one of the most energetic of any student I’ve known,” Woody said, “and she has continued to exhibit that energy in her young career.”

Arai is from Overland Park, Kan., and is currently a project lead in the Mexico strategic transitions group in global outsourcing/procurement.

by Dan Dutcher

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

KU grad, British knight talks perceptions of America abroad

Students in Angela Murray’s marketing class Monday morning were treated to a lecture titled “The Image of America Abroad” from Sir Robert Worcester.

A University of Kansas graduate, Worcester now lives abroad in England, where he founded MORI, Market and Opinion Research International, in London. As a former president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research who was knighted by the Queen of England, Worcester shared some of his vast marketing and opinion research knowledge with students.

Sir Worcester and Angela Murray
Through his presentation, Worcester led students through the progression of the public opinion of America abroad since 2008, also including advice and experiences from his career in public opinion research.

“You have to ask the right questions of the right sample and add up the results correctly,” Worcester said of his field, which is easier said than done, he added.

Working across language and cultural boundaries, effective international market research has to adapt to its sample, he explained. Changing one word in the translation of a question can completely reverse a survey’s results.

Worcester told students that market research is not only an important and interesting career, but it also creates an opportunity to work with an impressive list of clients.

From presidents to prime ministers, major religions to the biggest of businesses, he’s worked for them all, Worcester said.

by Annie Montemayor

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meet the Professor: Diane O’Byrne

Diane O’Byrne joins the MBA team here at the School of Business as coordinator of the Kansas Impact Program, a year-long initiative that provides MBA students with team-based consulting experience by taking on some of the state's thorniest management issues.

Why did you decide to join the Kansas Impact Project (KIP)?

After meeting Dean Neeli and understanding her passion and vision for the project, I knew I wanted to be involved. Meeting MBA director Catherine Shenoy sealed the deal!

What is your philosophy on higher education and how does that tie into KIP?

My philosophy is that higher education should help students find their passions and paths in life.  It’s an opportunity to help students develop a sense of how they may impact the world with their intellects.   KIP is the ideal project for everyone involved!  It's a tremendous opportunity for the University of Kansas School of Business to give back to our community.  Our non-profit partners benefit from the bright and dedicated minds of our incoming MBA students who assist them in solving a challenge they are facing.  And what an opportunity it is for our students!  They are taking all the tremendous knowledge they are learning in their academic coursework and actually applying it to solve a significant issue.

What are your goals for KIP? 

My goals are simple: 1. To add depth to the skills and knowledge of our MBA students. 2.  To have a significant impact on the non-profits we serve in the state of Kansas.  3. To face head-on Chancellor Gray-Little's challenge of finding ways to serve our entire state.

What most uniquely qualifies you to run KIP?

My greatest passions are education, business and non-profit missions.  KIP combines the three perfectly.  I have been on the KU campus for more than 20 years, so my heart is in higher education.  I have been fortunate to sit on many non-profit boards through the years and continue to see the day-to-day challenges they face.  As an entrepreneur who has owned a business for over 20 years, I see the business applications to help our partners.

What do you think students value most about KIP?

I hope they value the immediate opportunities to immerse themselves in a challenge presented by a non-profit and have an impact on our Kansas community. Additionally, I hope they understand sound business solutions are applicable to the non-profit world.

What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments during your time at KU?

I am most proud of my students and the success they continue to find, whether it’s personal or professional.  I often receive a note, LinkedIn message, Facebook message or email from my former students and I love hearing about where they are now and the impact they are having helping others.  I ran into a student who is now a recruiter for a company attending our business career fair, who graduated in 2002.  When she saw me, she repeated a concept she had learned in my class all those years ago!  She said she regularly quotes me when helping others find the right career paths.  It just doesn't get any better than that; to know that my students truly learned and are still applying the knowledge and skills I taught them to help others.

What strengths and expertise will carry over from the journalism school and contribute to the business school?

I taught in the strategic communications track for the journalism school and those are skills I hope to bring to our business students.  No matter what your position is in the business world, the more effective you are at communicating, the more success you will enjoy.

What do you love most about being at KU?

For me, there is simply no greater reward than watching that light bulb go off in someone’s head.  The look on their face when a concept or idea we've discussed clicks in and they immediately see the application.

Even though I have taught at KU, I am still a "newbie" in the business school and I love how welcoming the MBA team has been as well as the other faculty members.

by Mackenzie Leander