Eller Buzz: Experience Eller

In Their Eyes: Crystal Deschinny Delivers Graduate Convocation Address

By Crystal Deschinny

Editor’s Note: Crystal Deschinny provided the 2017 Eller College Graduate Convocation address. She is the Director for the Division of Economic Development at the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation is the largest Indian reservation in the U.S., with just over 300,000 tribal members. In one of the nation’s most challenging economic environments, Crystal is tasked with improving the Nation’s economic climate and job creation. Her work respects the culture, language, and traditions of the Navajo while incorporating mainstream, innovative business concepts and ideas. Before working for the Navajo Nation, Crystal served as CEO at Tolowa Deeni Nation and as the finance and investment manager at Forest County Potawatomi in northern Wisconsin. She has been an active fundraiser for the University of Arizona and the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program, and also runs in marathons to support fundraising efforts. Crystal holds an undergraduate degree in finance and completed both of her master’s degrees at the University of Arizona – including her Eller MBA.

Crystal DeschinnyI am thrilled to stand here today as a two-time University of Arizona alumna and devoted Wildcat. It truly is an honor and privilege to celebrate this wonderful milestone with all of you.

My name is Crystal Deschinny. I am currently the Director for the Division of Economic Development at Navajo Nation. I lead a team of 61, work with 22 Council Delegates, 110 Chapters, report to the President and Vice President, and live a very public life spanning 27,000 square miles. I have chosen to work within Indian Country where I am challenged daily, am inspired by the many people I meet, and am determined to empower my relations as we pursue our sovereignty. However, today is not about me.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to watch my husband take this very same stage and receive his MBA. It was during that time that I observed something different which left a deep impression within me. I noticed the admiration and look of wonder in the eyes of several children positioned at the end of the stage as they anxiously awaited; then I took notice of those in the crowd. 

I then wondered if others saw what I did. I wondered if they saw this in that same context as I did — that this day was truly a beginning of something more. The wonder, admiration, and unsureness in what they were observing drew me away from the words of encouragement to focus on the meaning of their gaze.

Today, take notice that in the eyes of the children and those around you, this day becomes the beginning of your pathway to lead.

In Their Eyes

To the East, my eyes look to the beginning, to the sun, to the freedom found in the dawn. I find growth is inevitable. There is unsureness in what is not known, curiosity over where I may be, and apprehension of not knowing who’s with me, beside me, around me, within me. Growth, excitement, courage, inspired by a promise of security, drive the need to reach forward to outline the rays. Built upon a carefully constructed foundation designed to withstand change and earned with dedication, in my eyes I lead.  

Growth. Quietly. Confidently. Enthusiastically.            

To the South, in his eyes the rays expand to embrace the flurry of activity. There is a need to be the risk-taker, the creator of ideas, and owner of challenges that occurred long before. Strength, conviction, and steadfastness draw in belief of honest abilities and of the possibility of what could have been, should have been, would have been and will be. A test of trueness to him and to her lie at the heart of a clearly planned pathway constricted by conviction that the heavily ingrained tools of success will be the much-needed resilience in troubling times. In his eyes and hers, I lead.    

Expand. Embrace. Truth. Strength.                 

To the West, their eyes look to the peak of the rays to find a message of hope. There is a need for movement, innovative direction, and guidance that will save them from their dormancy. Promise, clarity, and direction are drawing them to see you, to hear you, to be near you as they confide in you to share their weighted shoulder sprinkled with time and challenge. In their eyes, I lead.

Direction. Promise. Challenge. Clarity.

To the North, our eyes fall with the rays as they reach for the earth. There is a need to retreat into our self, to restore our being, and to dig deep to touch the fragments of renewal preserved to reignite long-ago excitement.  Weary, heavy with understanding, therein lies a ray streaked with the promise of the freedom found in the dawn. In our eyes, I will lead.

Retreat. Restore. Transform. Reignite.

You live your life with the respect to the Four Directions and the need to find balance within yourself to begin again. Today, you leave with excitement but you will find you will be weighted by the challenges, the obstacles, and those who will shake your ability to lead. You will become the risk-taker, the challenger, the pleaser, the innovator of ideas. You will be praised, rewarded, and celebrated by others who will lay down the foundation, provide encouragement, and who will follow your lead. 

And in your quiet moments, remember, you are never alone. You will lead with the strength of those whose gaze begins in the East.     

Congratulations to the 2017 Eller College of Management Graduates!

Stand true to you and Bear Down!

Header photo of Crystal Deschinny by Thomas Veneklasen.

Serra Crawford: My Eller Experience: Dont' Be Afraid to Rethink

By Serra Crawford, Eller MBA ’17

What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s a question I think no one can truly answer.

Those who choose a career field start working to check all of the right resume-building boxes to land their dream job. Degree? Check. Volunteer experience? Check. Server job to pay the bills? Check.

Sometimes, though, an opportunity presents itself, causing you to rethink your carefully constructed career path.

Even early on, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare. Growing up, I learned French and met people from West Africa, instilling a personal passion to impact care on a global scale. I earned my undergraduate degree in international studies and global health, and also fulfilled my pre-medical requirements. After graduation, I worked in Togo and Equatorial Guinea with various organizations to improve clinical operations, devise educational training programs, and establish clinical supply networks.

I learned what it takes to work in resource-poor areas, navigating cultural barriers and political conflicts of interest. Most interestingly, I got to see medicine at its roots. Away from the tangled web of payer and provider networks and value-based service models, I got to see healthcare as one provider, one patient, and one treatment. The problems faced by these professionals are not unique to the developing world, and I realized I needed to expand my skills to make a more substantial and sustainable impact.

I decided to pursue my MBA with a concentration in healthcare management at the Eller College of Management. My initial goal was to transfer my newly acquired business foundation, including project and resource management skills, back to the global health world.

However, as I took classes, attended networking events, and pushed myself at case competitions, I discovered a never-ending labyrinth of doors to new opportunities. I went to every professional development event I could attend, and was constantly on the phone speaking to professionals in every niche of the healthcare world. Suddenly, there were so many possible paths in front of me – which was both exhilarating and terrifying.

Without the education and professional growth opportunities I had at Eller, I would not be who I am now. Having a safe space to explore and fail gave me the freedom to reconstruct my original life plan into something I am now even more excited about.

If I can give one piece of advice to those who go through the program behind me, it would be to talk to everyone, take advantage of every opportunity, and don’t be afraid to rethink.

I chose an incredibly exciting position in healthcare IT, and I cannot wait to start after graduation this month.

My dream is still to positively impact the quality and accessibility of healthcare in the developing world, but I now realize there are so many paths left to explore before I finally say, “I am what I want to be when I grow up.”

Top photo of Serra Crawford by Eller College of Management.

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert, UA 2017 Executive of the Year, Presents Her Five Truths of Leadership

By Sue Kern-Fleischer

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert was recognized last month as the 2017 University of Arizona Executive of the Year. Nearly 500 people attended the award luncheon in Tucson.

Engelbert is the first female CEO of Deloitte and is responsible for leading nearly 80,000 professionals who provide audit, tax, consulting and advisory services to more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Eller College dean Paulo Goes and Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert

Eller College Dean Paulo Goes presents an original sculpture to UA 2017 Executive of the Year, Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert.
Photo by Thomas Veneklasen.

“Cathy Engelbert’s career trajectory has been remarkable,” said Eller College Dean Paulo Goes. “Not only did she become the first female CEO of one of the big four accounting and consulting firms, she also changed Deloitte’s corporate culture to emphasize the importance of mentorship, inclusion and work-life balance.”

In her keynote address, Engelbert likened leadership to a team sport and reviewed her five truths of leadership. She began by emphasizing the first and easiest truth to accomplish: the need to “get the small things right and the big things will come easier.”

A basketball player in college and a big fan of the sport today, her second truth of leadership is to “shoot when you are open,” adding that the key is to know when to take the shot.

“Be your best, even in your darkest moments,” she said of the third truth, adding that it is also important to be your best during ordinary moments.

Engelbert’s fourth truth of leadership is to prioritize tasks over people. “Find good people and develop them to be your successors,” she said.

Citing the exponential pace of change and volume of data in the new world, Engelbert concluded with her fifth truth to “never graduate,” emphasizing the importance of becoming lifelong learners.

“You need to be unrelenting,” she said. “Go for your goals and believe you can get there.”

Engelbert shared that more than 150 Eller College graduates work for Deloitte. Several were in the audience.

She then took questions from the audience and shared that her two favorite books are The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman.

For some 70 Eller students, the event also featured private up-close sessions, where both undergraduate and master’s students could meet Engelbert, hear her career advice, and ask her questions.

Megan Shulby is a dual MBA/MIS student in the Full-Time MBA program who is concentrating in marketing, business intelligence and cybersecurity.

“The Executive of the Year Luncheon was an awakening experience for me,” Shulby said. “I say this because I had never participated in an event that focused on the exemplified accomplishments of a female CEO in a Fortune 100 company. The luncheon enabled me to realize the impact that a single woman can have on an entire industry and empower other aspiring CEOs to do the same,” Shulby said.

Shulby, who will graduate in December 2017, was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the up-close session with the accomplished CEO.

“It was marvelous to get an ‘up close and personal’ experience with her. She was very approachable and authentic  — and answered questions from students in a concise matter through storytelling,” she said. “It was a very valuable experience to me. I was reminded of what a young woman and a young professional can do to make an impact in the working world. Sometimes we have to be reminded of the simple things that we can do to grow and evolve, including believing in yourself, not fearing failure and accepting the challenges around us.”

Jon Ferng, a Full-Time MBA student, also found the experience to be valuable.

“I learned how she has won the hearts of her employees by prioritizing people over tasks. Like her, I share the belief that mental and physical well-being are both paramount to an individual’s productivity and ability to make an impact,” he said.

Ferng, who will graduate in May 2017, said he was struck by Engelbert’s integrity.

“Seeing such an accomplished individual speak to us with enthusiasm and without the slightest hint of arrogance was a truly humbling experience,” he said. “My favorite quote from her is, ‘In order to be your best in your darkest moments, you must be your best in your ordinary moments.’ To me, this is a reminder to always be truthful, compassionate and tolerant, no matter the circumstances.”

Ferng also participated in the roundtable discussion and was grateful that Engelbert made time to meet with the students.

“Two qualities she looks for in potential hires are the ability to think on your feet and the ability to be a good storyteller; Eller does an outstanding job of teaching both,” he said.

Before the keynote address, Dean Goes welcomed the guests, telling them that Cathy Engelbert did not aspire to be a CEO, but rather she wanted to be a strong leader. He then presented her with an original sculpture by Deborah Copenhaver-Fellows donated by Warren Rustand, CEO of Tycon, Inc. and emeritus member of Eller’s National Board of Advisors.

“This sculpture honors Cathy and her own trailblazing spirit,” Goes said.

View Cathy Engelbert’s keynote address:

Header photo of Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert delivering her keynote address as UA’s 2017 Executive of the Year by Thomas Veneklasen.

Tamar Kugler, Associate Professor of Management & Organizations

Six Questions with Tamar Kugler
Associate Professor of Management & Organizations
Department of Management & Organizations

Ph.D. in Experimental and Social Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


“Human decision making is not only interesting, but also quite non-intuitive. I therefore spend less time talking in class, and more time engaging the student in decision tasks that demonstrate their own tendencies for decision biases.”

What brought you to the Eller College?

The main attraction was research excellence in decision making, both within Eller, the Management and Organizations (then Management and Policy) department, and across many units on campus. On top of that, Eller had terrific infrastructure for the type of research I do, including two state-of-the-art laboratories for investigating human behavior.

How long have you been at Eller?

It’s hard to believe, but this coming July, it will be 13 years. We first arrived to Tucson in July 2004, and I remember stepping off the plane and thinking that I fell into a furnace.

What is your current research, and what most excites you about that area of focus?

My research focuses on interactive decisions. Interactive decisions are decisions whose outcomes depend not only on the choices of the focal decision maker, but also on decisions that are made by other agents within the same environment. Specifically, I focus on decisions made by groups, the interplay between emotions/perceptions and decision making (fear, anger, happiness, greed) and trust-related decisions.

What are you currently teaching, and what do you most enjoy about teaching?

I teach managerial decision making (undergraduates) as well as statistics and research methods (Ph.D.-level seminars). My undergraduate class is a particularly fun one. Human decision making is not only interesting, but also quite non-intuitive. I therefore spend less time talking in class, and more time engaging the student in decision tasks that demonstrate their own tendencies for decision biases, such as overconfidence, escalation of commitment, misperceptions of probabilities, and more. Teaching Ph.D. students is very different – here the emphasis is on giving them the skills and knowledge to become successful researchers. Watching them grow from curious individuals to competent and effective researchers over the course of our five-year program is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job as a teacher.

How do you bring your research into your teaching?

Like all faculty, I love to talk about what I do. I therefore use my own studies as examples for the material I teach. There is a big difference between teaching analytical techniques using abstract, hypothetical examples, and showing my students how I used the techniques to answer my own research questions.

Beyond research and teaching, what are your passions?

As a mother of four children, ages one to 11 years old, I have very little time for non-work passions. When I can, I enjoy cooking and baking, traveling with my family, and spending time outdoors. My husband (who is also on the Eller faculty) and I try to engage the family in as many activities as we can to create well-rounded children – we take them camping, hiking, skiing; we run races with them; and we try our best to bring up educated, independent, and compassionate human beings.

Photo of Tamar Kugler and management doctoral students by Eller College of Management.

High School Ethics Forum 2017

By Macy Forteza, Marketing ’18

The 11th Annual Eller High School Ethics Forum took place on Friday, April 7, 2017 at the UA Stadium Club. The purpose of the event was to provide high school students with hands-on experience in addressing personal and professional ethical dilemmas. The forum was held by the Eller College Center for Leadership Ethics, and sponsored by Vantage West Credit Union.

Sixty high school students from seven schools in Tucson (Salpointe Catholic High School, Nogales High School, San Miguel High School, Arcadia High School, and Westwood High School) were challenged with multiple ethical dilemmas and taught how to work through them. The students were given ethics cases created by Paul Melendez, Professor of Practice in Management and Organizations and Founder of the Center for Leadership Ethics.

Dr. Paul Melendez, Professor of Practice in Management and Operations and Founder of the Center for Leadership Ethics.
Photo by Eller College of Management.

Dr. Melendez’s case, “Child Labor: Little Hands, Big Profits,” discusses child labor in Bangladesh, which does not in fact violate the law in Bangladesh, though it is against the law in the United States. The purpose of this case is to make people think about ethics in the context of culture. The case puts a different perspective on ethical dilemmas; the issue of child labor is accepted in various cultures because it’s a norm. Melendez got students to rustle with the question of Which ethics to do you follow? and Do your actions follow with what you grew up with or what businesses do?

Students from the Center for Leadership Ethics and the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi led discussions while participating high school students evaluated and discussed their ethical explanations for each case.

The forum tested the students, challenging their ethical thinking and interpretations, raising awareness of the importance of corporate social responsibility, and providing a networking opportunity.

Mitch Pisik, Chairman, Board of Directors, Vantage West Credit Union.
Photo courtesy Mitch Pisik.

“The High School Ethics Forum is an outstanding opportunity to expose some of the best and brightest Arizona high school students to the essential concepts and consequences of business and personal ethics,” said Mitch Pisik, Chairman of the Vantage West Credit Union’s Board of Directors.

Pisik has been actively involved in business strategy and ethics forums. He has also given presentations for corporations, been involved with MBA classes, and now works with high school students.

“The responses, discussions, and thought processes of these teenagers were within striking distance of their older brethren. A very impressive group,” said Pisik.

Pisik knows the students left the forum with “an expanded, broader, and deeper appreciation for the complexities of the world overall, and in business specifically.” He was particularly impressed with the quality and quantity of questions they asked him and Melendez.

He left the students with an inspirational statement: “It all starts with ethics. If you have ethics, then you have trust. If you have trust, then you can be a leader. If you are a leader, then you have multiple opportunities. If you have opportunities, then you can succeed in life. And when you succeed, life is sweet. It all starts with ethics.”

Header photo courtesy Paul Melendez.

By Eller College of Management

The Eller MBA program has seen its U.S. News & World Report rankings climb over the last several months.

Students looking for the highest income return from their tuition investment should consider the University of Arizona’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, according to rankings released by U.S. News in November. The authority on best grad schools has ranked the Eller MBA program sixth in the nation for return on investment.

The average salary and signing bonus for Eller MBA students within three months of graduation was $100,850 in 2015. The average student in the Eller MBA program graduated with just over $32,000 in debt. That’s a 3.1 to 1 salary to debt ratio, and places the Eller MBA at the top for ROI.

And this March, the U.S. News & World Report 2018 Best Graduate Schools edition ranked Eller’s Management Information Systems (MIS) No. 2 among public programs in the United States. The MIS program advanced up a notch to No. 4 overall, behind MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Texas – Austin.

“Today’s top companies demand graduates who have a thorough understanding and real-world experience in big-data analytics, cybersecurity and IT development. Eller’s MIS faculty have done an outstanding job preparing students for these careers, and to learn that our MIS program is ranked as the second best among public programs is a true testament to their teaching skills and dedication,” said Eller College Dean Paulo Goes, who previously served as Salter Professor and the department head of MIS.

In addition to the MIS top ranking, the Full-Time Eller MBA program jumped from No. 60 to No. 49 overall, and ranked No. 24 among public programs. Other notable rankings include Eller’s Evening MBA, which tied with six other universities to rank as No. 46 overall and ranked as No. 30 among public programs.

In addition, the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program is No. 5 among public programs for the fourth year running. The program ranked No. 15 overall.

Eller MBA Associate Dean Hope Schau said the benefits of earning an Eller MBA have long-lasting effects.

“The Eller Experience extends far beyond graduation,” Schau said. “We have a very strong alumni networking group that fosters recruitment and professional development of our graduate students. We’re also very proud that U.S. News & World Report ranked the Eller MBA sixth in return on investment last November.”

The U.S. News graduate rankings take into consideration a variety of factors including peer and recruiter reputation, average GMAT, average starting salary, percentage of employed students upon graduation, and more. Complete methodology details are available online at www.usnews.com/gradmeth.

The Eller College currently offers four ways to earn an MBA: the Full-Time MBA program at the Tucson campus; a part-time Evening MBA program at both Tucson and Phoenix campuses; an Executive MBA at the Phoenix campus, which is designed for seasoned executives and managers with seven-plus years of experience; and the Online MBA, with six starts per year.

For more details, contact 520.621.4008 or visit ellermba.arizona.edu.


Header graphic by Yvette Anchondo-Leyva.

McGuire New Venture a Finalist in Two Business Plan Competitions with $1.6M in Prizes

By Sarah Mauet

A McGuire Entrepreneurship Program new venture team that is pioneering a new breed of smart sensor technology for self-driving cars was selected as a finalist for two business plan competitions that offered more than $1.6 million in prizes. Nunami Labs was a finalist in the Rice Business Plan Competition and the ASU Innovation Open, both in April. The team won second place and $700 in the Challenge Rounds at the Rice competition.

“I was thrilled to be selected as a finalist,” said Nunami Labs team member Kory Chinn. “Being recognized as a finalist in these competitions validates all the hard work we’re putting in, and is a fantastic opportunity. We are competing against teams from schools like MIT and Stanford, known for producing prominent startups, so being selected for the finals really speaks to the quality and caliber of the McGuire Program.”

The tech startup is being developed by Chinn (MIS and Entrepreneurship ’17), Ryan Leeper (MIS and Entrepreneurship ’17), and Scott Marshall (Electrical and Computer Engineering, ’17). The three students have been working together since fall of 2016 to develop Nunami Labs in the top-ranked McGuire Program, a competitive-entry program in which University of Arizona students spend a year developing an innovation from early-stage idea to launch-ready business plan.

Using innovative technology and manufacturing techniques, the high-performance smart sensors Nunami Labs is commercializing will grant future autonomous vehicles the ability to react to the environment, creating safer roads by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error, said Leeper.

There were 750 applicants for the Rice Business Plan Competition, and Nunami Labs was chosen as one of the 42 finalists to compete April 6-8. The selective competition – known as the world’s richest and largest student startup competition – offered $1.5 million in prizes.

Nunami Labs also was one of nearly three dozen teams that pitched and fielded tough questions from a panel of evaluators in the first round of the ASU Innovation Open, a new intercollegiate innovation competition designed to fuel multidisciplinary teams of collegiate founders. One of four startups selected to compete in the finals on April 2, Nunami Labs received a $5,000 award from Zero Mass Water to prepare for the ASU Innovation Open Demo Day, which had a $100,000 top prize.

While the prizes were a draw, the team is also looking forward to honing its pitching skills and networking with entrepreneurial leaders, potential partners, and investors at the competitions.

“We applied for business plan competitions because they contain a wealth of resources for student startups,” Leeper said. “The feedback from judges will help refine our business plan, there are numerous networking opportunities and chances to meet leaders in the community, and – if we win – the prize money will be huge in our early development.”

An offering of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the UA’s Eller College of Management, the McGuire Program is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all fields of study. In fact, McGuire Program students often benefit from collaborating with peers in other fields of study, and Nunami Labs is a great example of the strength of a cross-disciplinary new venture development team, said McGuire Program Director Joseph Broschak, Ph.D. 

“As an engineering student, I wanted to break out of my mold and expand my horizons, and I’ve always been fascinated by the world of business and new ventures,” said Marshall. “The McGuire Program allowed me to branch out into business while allowing me to leverage my engineering abilities.”

In addition to bringing together their multidisciplinary team, the McGuire Program also has been fundamental in facilitating the cross-campus collaborations required to make Nunami Labs possible, said Leeper. The team got the idea for the business at an Engineering Roundtable the McGuire Program hosted early in the Fall semester. When Hao Xin, Ph.D, a UA Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, talked about the sensor technology he invented, the trio jumped at the opportunity to commercialize it.

“The team at Nunami Labs is a great example of how hard work and understanding the principles of entrepreneurship can transport university research from a lab into an emerging growth company,” said McGuire Program Mentor in Residence Dan Janes. “Their ability to bring together leading researchers from Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tech Launch Arizona, and industry experts demonstrates how companies are built by collaboration and community.”

Janes, an experienced and successful tech entrepreneur, has been meeting with Nunami Labs weekly since the group began the program. That extra hands-on guidance and the chance to work on their venture for a year while still in school is giving their business an advantageous head start, said Chinn.

“The McGuire Program offers a tremendous amount of support, as well as guidance from our mentors,” he said. “As successful investors and startup founders themselves, they’ve been in our shoes and can guide us through the uncertainty that comes with venturing into something new and uncharted. Since we are at the early stages of our venture, this mentorship has been especially invaluable.”

Leeper is grateful for the support the McGuire Program has provided in empowering him to create his dream job.

“It’s rewarding and naturally motivating to work for a cause you believe in and have a hand in creating, and the McGuire Program helps make it all possible,” he said. “Everything from resources for prototypes and travel, one-on-one mentorship with business leaders, technology to expand our ideas, event organization, and networking opportunities, the McGuire Program is the perfect mix of tools and people to enable our success.”

For more information about the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, visit mcguire.eller.arizona.edu.

Top image — Ryan Leeper (left) and Kory Chinn presenting their pitch for Nunami Labs during the ASU Innovation Open semifinals — by Pete Zrioka, courtesy Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.


Eller Women Scholars Explore Floor Trading and More at Capital Markets Day

By Eller Professional Development Center

On March 31, about 20 Eller women scholars traveled to the Edward Jones operations center in Tempe, Arizona to learn more about the possibility of careers in capital markets and at Edward Jones.

Eller finance and business economics alum and current corporate bond trader Kelly Chaves hosted the event.

Prior to visiting, some students described their idea of the trading floor as being male-dominated and chaotic as it often appears in the media, but the student job shadows on the trading floor helped break down those stereotypes.

Students took a bus from Tucson to Tempe, where the day began with a welcome address from one of the firm’s general partners. After a brief overview of the company and its culture, students broke into small groups and shadowed each of the unit investment trusts, corporate bonds, and equity desks. Students also had lunch to network with leaders and associates at the firm, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

“I would have to say my favorite part of the day was the networking lunch,” said finance major Alex Andrino. “Although the floor rotation was incredibly informative, I really enjoyed getting to converse with a variety of employees from areas other than the trading floor. It really showed me that the collaborative and friendly culture extends to all departments, not just the trading floor.”

“The most important and arguably the most surprising thing I learned from this experience was that sales and trading is not always as chaotic as people say,” she said. “Through talking with a variety of traders, we really got to see how the culture of Edward Jones differs from the stereotype I constantly hear in the media.” 

Header photo courtesy Eller Professional Development Center.

Alumni Spotlight: Erik Huberman

Shaking Up the Digital Marketing World
Erik Huberman, BSBA in Business Management ’08
Founder and CEO, Hawke Media

By Sue Kern-Fleischer


Erik Huberman has always been an entrepreneur. His first recollection of making income was at age six, when he sold some of his parent’s collectibles to neighbors. By age nine, he figured out how to make thousands of dollars during the Beanie Babies craze.

Fast forward just two short decades, where Huberman’s career has catapulted to tremendous success. The Eller graduate is founder and CEO of Hawke Media, a digital marketing firm that built its reputation as a full-service outsourced CMO by avoiding long-term contracts.

Huberman was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 entrepreneurs and Inc.’s Top 25 Marketing Influencers in 2016. Last year, Hawke Media was also recognized as Built in Los Angeles’ Top 50 Startups in L.A. and Happy City’s Top Happiest Places to Work.

Frustrated with how traditional and digital agencies operated, Huberman started Hawke Media three years ago. Today, the Santa Monica-based firm has 80 employees.

“Hawke Media is more about people than most businesses,” Huberman said. “Most companies provide a product or a service. In our case, our people are also our product, so our culture is always our most important focus.”

Much of the firm’s success has been a result of Huberman’s ability to recognize weaknesses in the traditional agency model and provide a more efficient, cost-effective alternative.

“Everything we do for clients is on a month-to-month basis, meaning no long contracts, which is rare for the better agencies,” Huberman explained. Clients choose from a menu of services that are all a la carte. 

“From social media ads to email and influencer marketing to web design, we can spin up expertise that the company needs,” he said. “The biggest differentiator for us, though, is the outsourced CMO component. Every company we work with gets a high-level marketing strategist who acts as both a strategy consultant and a project manager. This allows us to really drive the marketing function of a company, and keep on top of everything both internal to the company as well as new marketing opportunities that arise.”

Huberman credits his accelerated career track to watching his father when he was growing up in Ojai, California.

“My dad was an entrepreneur, so I grew up with the mindset that if I were to get a job, it was just to learn something so that I could eventually start my own business. I just assumed that’s what people did at a young age,” he said.

At age 16, he started researching business schools, and he was attracted to the University of Arizona, not only because it was close to California, but because the Eller College of Management ranked high among the nation’s best business schools.

Looking back at his time at Eller, he is grateful for professors like Marty Fox, who taught his strategic management capstone course.

“Marty really encouraged me, and I will never forget that towards the end of the year, he told me he wanted to stay in touch because of his expectations of me,” he said. Working with a cohort also was a great experience for him.

“There was one project we did together that was so valuable that I refer back to it time and time again,” Huberman said. “Our cohort consisted of five people from different majors — including finance, accounting, and marketing — and we had to come up with a business plan and pitch it. I still use the business plan we created as a benchmark for analyzing new ones.”

Now at age 30, Huberman has big plans for growth for Hawke Media. “We’ve been able to exceed our goals so far with innovative projects,” he said. “We have helped build an incubator focused on celebrity marketed products, we created a marketing artificial intelligence platform, we opened a retail store for e-commerce brands, and we are diversifying into real estate.”

A contributing writer for online publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc., Huberman is currently working on a book with William Morris Endeavor titled Greedless, which will outline how to be successful without being greedy.

Between work and leisure, Huberman travels on average six times per month. Finding time for fun is just as important as work.

“I love to travel and take advantage of what life has to offer,” he said. “Recently, I went heli-snowboarding with other entrepreneurs. I also love to exercise and play guitar. There’s a guitar behind my desk in my office and one sitting my living room, always ready to go.”

For those looking to start or grow a business, Huberman offers this advice for success:

“Luck and timing help, but it really comes down to one thing – get it done. Execute, check things off, move forward with projects, and see things through. I’ve worked with thousands of CEOs and founders, and the one thing I’ve seen that holds the successful ones together is that they all know how to execute.”

Photo of Erik Huberman courtesy Hawke Media.

Eller Alumnus Steve Erickson

By Lilly Berkley, UANews


As Steve Erickson sat among a group of other University of Arizona students during an information session with a Teach for America representative, who spoke about work within the organization, something was changing within him.

At that point, Erickson, a student in the Eller College of Management, and his friends — fellow 2005 grads Josh Eich, Michael Dougherty, Evan Witte and Joe Young — had launched BTO Auction Technologies, a drafting platform for fantasy sports, focusing specifically on college rivalries. The group built software used for draft picks, eventually winning the McGuire Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

Steve Erickson

Eller alum Steve Erickson said his work at Teach for America “has been an absolute dream. I’m happy and constantly fired up that I get to make a real difference. I deeply believe in our mission and the potential of every child.”
Photo courtesy UANews.

However, learning about the work of Teach for America, a nationwide organization that places recent college and university graduates and professionals in underresourced urban and rural K-12 schools, would change Erickson’s career path completely.

“I was immediately enamored. (The speaker’s) excitement inspired me,” said Erickson, who graduated with degrees in economics and entrepreneurship.

About 48 hours after that session with Teach for America, Erickson decided to dedicate time learning about nationwide equity gaps. Teach for America is driven by a vision that all children deserve a quality education, regardless of their background or access to resources. That resonated with Erickson.

“After that, there was no turning back,” he said. “I had to reflect on my center, what I believed in and what my values were. When I did, those fundamental values led me to join Teach for America, where I thought I could make the biggest impact. I made the difficult decision to walk away from our startup, but knew I was making the right decision.”

After saying goodbye to his business venture, the 22-year-old Erickson began working with “31 eager and energetic fourth-graders” at Quentin Elementary School on the west side of Phoenix.

“They were the most impressive kids, but were far behind academically,” he said. “At 9 years old, they should have been reading chapter books. But some were reading picture books and, on average, were reading just below a second-grade reading level. The same was true for math.”

Not only did he have to teach students to learn, but he had to learn how to teach.

Read the rest of the story on UANews.

Top image courtesy UANews.