Thursday, February 27, 2014

Professor’s phone call provided pivotal moment for KU student

As a junior at the University of Kansas, an unexpected phone call from a professor put Bill Plybon back on track to major in accounting. More than three decades later, Plybon and his wife, Suzanne, have made a $100,000 gift to create the Allen Ford Tax Fellow fund at KU in honor of Allen Ford, the Larry D. Horner/KPMG Peat Marwick Teaching Professor of Professional Accounting.
Bill Plybon with Allen Ford

The Plybons live in Atlanta, Ga., where Bill is vice president, secretary and deputy general counsel for Coca-Cola Enterprises. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from KU in 1982, and a law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1986.

Plybon changed his major from accounting to general business after working through Ford’s difficult intermediate accounting course. He planned to apply to law school and knew he needed a high undergraduate GPA. When Ford learned of Plybon’s change in majors, he tracked him down at his fraternity house. “He said, ‘I heard you dropped out of accounting, and I wanted to tell you that’s a mistake. I think you should stay in accounting, you can do it, and it will be good for your career,’” said Plybon.

At Ford’s urging, Plybon returned to his original major and to his longtime plan of following not only in his father’s footsteps, but also his grandfather’s — his father was an accountant; his grandfather an attorney. Plybon believed the combination of both degrees would provide unique career opportunities.

Since 2004, Plybon has worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises, where in 2010, he was part of the team that negotiated the $14 billion sale of its North American bottling territories to the Coca-Cola Company. Before joining Coca-Cola Enterprises, he was a partner in the Trial and Appellate Practice Group at the law firm of Alston & Bird in Atlanta, where he helped lead the investigation of  Enron Corporation.

“So much of what I’ve done in my career, I can trace back to that moment when Allen Ford called me, and I decided to go back to accounting,” said Plybon. “It was completely pivotal.”

Allen Ford said, “I am overwhelmed by Bill and Suzanne’s generosity and flattered that Bill gives credit to me for contributing to his success. A phone call to a good student seems like a rather insignificant event, although there is a message for all professors that we have the opportunity to make significant contributions — in and out of the classroom. The intangible income generated for the professor is both awesome and non-taxable.”

Plybon credits his KU professors for the knowledge they instilled in him. “That’s how knowledge comes to you, through the professors,” said Plybon. “They teach the literal accounting — the debits and credits — but they also teach about becoming a professional — and that makes all the difference.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Supply chain continues growth spurt

In the six years since the supply chain management major was created, enrollment has increased from seven to 96 students while the program has maintained the highest job placement rate among undergraduate business programs.

Supply chain students participate in study abroad in Panama
Though supply chain is one of the smallest degree programs at the School of Business, it is one of the most sought-after skills in the job force. Roger Woody, executive lecturer and director of supply chain management external development, said the program always has more internships and jobs available than students to fill them.

“A student sat here not an hour ago, and said, ‘It was so exciting at the career fair.  When I mentioned I was a supply chain major, the recruiters’ eyes lit up and they pounced. They wanted to talk more,’” Woody said.

Supply chain at its core is about getting product to the consumer as quickly and efficiently as possible. Woody said many students either have no sense of what supply chain is, or they think it only involves transportation.

“My definition starts at research and development and ends with a satisfied focus on a satisfied customer,” Woody said.

Kayleigh Sellens, president of the Supply Chain Management Club, said she believes supply chain management is essential in every area of business.

“You have to think about the product that you’re hoping to develop and where you’ll get the resources to manufacture it from,” Sellens said. “How will you transport these resources? How will you manufacture the product? How will you distribute the product? Where are you going to keep your inventory? If you don’t answer all of these questions then you won’t have a product for marketing to advertise and sell, and then your company won’t make any money.”

Knowledge of supply chain can also help managers find inefficiencies and make improvements in their companies. Chen Zhao, an accounting major enrolled in the supply chain management concentration, said she believes the concentration will complement her accounting degree because she is interested in audit.

“We can find issues or somewhere to improve in a business, and supply chain is the method to actually put that into practice,” Zhao said.

The supply chain management program also has a variety of opportunities to engage students outside the classroom, including study abroad programs, trips and clubs. Zhao applied for a supply chain internship in Germany for the summer of 2014. The program also provides a study abroad trip to Panama, and last year students visited UPS in Louisville, Kentucky.

by Allison Kite

Monday, February 24, 2014

B-school hopes to see more women get an MBA

MBA programs throughout the nation are dominated by men 3:1.

Though this remains true for KU, the MBA program is working hard to create a better balance. KU MBA advocates for having more women in the MBA program because it wants more women leaders in top business organizations. When more women are in MBA programs, it levels the playing field in the workforce.
Members of Women's MBA Association and MBA staff
members attend the Lawrence Go Red for Women luncheon.
Dee Steinle, administrative director of masters programs, doesn't want women to shy away from an MBA for fear of entering a male-dominated career.

“We are undersubscribed with women,” Steinle said. “I would just like for women to actually look at this program and realize that an MBA, no matter what your passion is, it’s going to make you better at it and give you the edge.”

The MBA program encourages women to pursue their passions in business. No matter what the business is, an MBA provides a management education that is going to give women an advantage over competitors.

Women currently in the program have found great success by taking advantage of the resources it has to offer, such as the Women’s MBA Association.  Christy Imel, a first-year MBA student and president of KU’s Women’s MBA Association, recognizes that when it comes to creating a 1:1 ratio in the workforce, we still have a ways to go. She’d like to see more women utilize their MBA.

“What I would like is to break the cycle of women leaving the workforce and never returning,” Imel said. “I think earning an MBA is a great way to break that cycle. Women who left the workforce to raise a family can come back to KU, full or part time, earn their degree, and get all the help and resources KU has to offer.”

Imel said she feels KU excels at representing women in the program by having many female MBA staff members and a female dean of the School of Business. She said she feels KU makes a concerted effort to make sure everyone in the program feels welcome.

KU’s MBA program wants to break the mold of the stereotypical business leader by encouraging women to get their MBA and assisting them in finding success after they graduate.

“I think that it’s important to know that women can come at this program from wherever they are at and it’s going to give them the business skills to pursue their passion in a way that’s much more strategic,” Steinle said.

by Mackenzie Leander

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting involved could get you the job

Every KU student has heard the advice, “Get involved.”

From orientation assistants talking about getting the most out of college to advisors talking about resumes, the buzz on college campuses is extracurricular activities.  For many students, extracurricular activities are fillers on their resumes, but they can be more.

Extracurricular activities can also mean skill development or a link to future employment.  Michael Luchen, the former president of Information Systems Association of KU or ISAK, secured his position at CremaLab through his role in ISAK.

Through the club, Luchen connected with entrepreneurs in the Kansas City startup community including CremaLab co-founder Daniel Linhart.  Luchen remained in touch with Linhart, and when he connected with Linhart again at Big Kansas City, Linhart told him about the open project coordinator role at CremaLab.

“Involvement is what I attribute to all my successes, and I ended up at what I would call my dream job,” Luchen said. “I wouldn't have been here if it wasn't for getting involved in clubs like ISAK.”

ISAK provides opportunities for students to separate themselves from the competition through job crawls, guest speakers and networking events.  Greg Freix, faculty advisor to ISAK, said by being in an organization, students are able to gain skills they would otherwise lack including leadership and interpersonal skills.

“It’s difficult to be a leader in a classroom,” Freix said.  “You can be a top student, but in terms of working with others — maybe in a group activity — but nothing the same as in an organization.”

Other business school clubs, including Alpha Kappa Psi, focus on professional development among their members.  Krutarth Gohel, president of Alpha Kappa Psi, said the club holds interview workshops, hosts guest speakers and provides leadership opportunities to give its members an opportunity to develop skills outside the classroom.

“The biggest factor that AKP contributes is an experience for the member or the students,” Gohel said. “Whenever you can provide some sort of experience, you can talk about it in an interview or you can talk about it while you’re networking.”

Whether an organization provides direct contact with a future employer, networking and interviewing skills, or leadership experience, it is an essential part of a well-rounded education.

Learn more about clubs at the School of Business here.

by Allison Kite

Monday, February 10, 2014

After you graduate, the B-school still shows you love

Just because you've graduated doesn't mean we've forgotten about you. The KU School of Business loves to keep in touch with its Jayhawks. See what we can do for you even after you have that diploma.

Alumni social/networking events
The School of Business hosts networking and social events for alumni around the state and country. These events are a great opportunity to get to know your fellow Jayhawks, some of whom could help you land your next job.

You can network, meet new friends and keep up with the School of Business all at once. This week, the school is hosting the KC Young Alumni Social for graduates working in the Kansas City area.

After you've been working for a few years, you may decide you need to add a new skill set to your resume. It’s easy to return to your alma mater for a certificate. Whether you’re thinking about a graduate degree or just want to add some new skills, KU offers certificates for a focused area of study.

Career services
The Business Career Services Center offers career preparation and partners with employers to ensure students are exposed to the best companies and opportunities. That resource doesn't
end when you graduate. BCSC is available to help recent graduates, too.

Alumni are also encouraged to join some of the KU Business alumni groups on LinkedIn to see the latest job postings as well as upcoming event information.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Finance board member named CEO of UMB Bank

credit: KCBJ
Last week UMB Financial Corp. named Michael Hagedorn CEO of UMB Bank, after serving as CFO of UMB Financial since March 2005. Hagedorn is a member of the KU School of Business finance advisory board and we congratulate him on this great accomplishment. You can read more about his new role via Kansas City Business Journal.

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 ways to avoid Groundhog Day Syndrome

In honor of Groundhog Day yesterday, the School of Business has provided its students with 5 ways to avoid Groundhog Day Syndrome as they work toward success this semester.

In a study by Ronald Riggio published in “Psychology Today,” Groundhog Day Syndrome is the feeling of living the same thing over and over again or feeling stuck in an everyday routine, which makes it seem like life is passing you by. Try these tactics to break out of your rut.

How to avoid Groundhog Day Syndrome:

1. Mix up your morning.  There is nothing worse than starting your day off the same way every day. Tomorrow morning, take a new route to class or work. A little sight-seeing with the windows down on the way will jump start your day and keep you energized.

2. Take a risk. Today, raise your hand in class and comment or present a new perspective to a topic. Don’t sit idly by; get engaged. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll remember what you did that day when the test comes around.

3. Make a new friend. It’s never a bad idea to meet new people. Go out of your way to sit by someone new on the bus or strike up a conversation with a peer in the office. Even if it doesn't turn into friendship, you’ll feel good about interacting with someone new.

4. Be Creative. It’s easy to get lost in homework and responsibilities at work, but it’s important to have a creative outlet. This week, start a new project or make a list of things you want to accomplish over the next month. Go ahead and start thinking about the future. This will pep you up and make everyday work seem less mundane.

5. Break a Sweat. You've heard it once and you’ll hear it again; exercise does wonders. Making time to work out will not only better your health, attitude and mood, but also give you an outlet for “you time.” Exercise boosts brainpower, leading to a more productive day.

by Mackenzie Leander