Should company culture be a primary or secondary concern in the business world?

Day 2 of the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop focused on the importance of business culture in creating a sustainable business. Tom Brennan ’86, CEO of Goshido, ran the students through a series of group exercises to get them thinking about whether or not a company’s leadership team should make company culture a primary or secondary priority.

The students engaged in two debates: the first debate was focused on the question of whether company culture should be primary or secondary. However, it was the secondary debate that really got the students going! This debate was based on a Harvard Business School case study about a crisis on Northwest Airlines where customers were stranded on a grounded plane for 8+ hours due to inclimate weather. There were three teams: the customers, the CEOs and the Board of Directors.

Their challenge? The three groups had to try to appease one another – the customers wanted a settlement, the CEOs wanted to keep their jobs and the Board was worried about publicity.

Tom Brennan’s goal was to get the students thinking about the challenges that emerge in companies, particularly between different groups of constituencies, and to understand how communications need to go in order for a company to be sustainable. Tom was pretty clear that in his opinion company culture had to be a primary focus. However, after getting all riled up in the debate, I’m not sure all of the students were complete sure that they agreed.

Today’s topic: Business Ethics. The students are currently mid-discussion of whether or not it’s ok to take a pen home from work. Is that stealing? Or, is it ok…after all, it’s just a pen? Check back tomorrow to see how ethical this group really is!

Ideas for new apps created on Day 1 of the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop!

Yesterday kicked off the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop and one of the things the students definitely learned was that working a full day (they started at 8:30 am and were busy until 7 pm) is challenging!

Peter George ’81 started off the week talking about how to start and build a business. He was accompanied by Geoff Oblak and Gary Kramer. The students’ challenge for the day: work with their teams to come up with an educational app and then pitch it to the day’s three executive teachers who were acting as Venture Capitalists.

While all the teams came up with interesting ideas, two teams were ultimately rewarded funding: Michael Biggins ’16, Claudia Bechtold ’15, Maggie MacMullin ’16 and Michael Tucker ’14 came up with the idea for BookChat, an online database for professors to post excerpts of readings and where students can engage in online discussions. Nolan Kiernan ’15, Matt Devine ’15, Brendan McGill ’14 and Sophie Haggerty ’16 came up with the idea for SyncroNote, an online note taking software with an audio recording technology. I’m not going to include too many details, in case any of these teams decide to really run with the idea, but the judges were all impressed.

Stay posted for updates on the rest of this week’s workshop. Today’s topic is “Using Culture and Values to Build a Sustainable Business”. Currently the students are split up in groups prepping for a debate on whether culture should be a primary or secondary concern in companies. We’ll see who comes up with the most persuasive argument…

Alumni in the Real Estate Industry Discuss Market Statistics and the Importance of Thank You Notes

Last night a group of 10 Holy Cross alumni joined a group of students in Hogan to discuss what real estate really is, the various career paths available within the industry and how students interested in real estate can get a foot in the door.  The alumni present were: Colin Blair ’00 of Cushman & Wakefield, Justin Blair ’03 of The Monomoy Group, Brendan Cohn ’03 of Jones Lang LaSalle, Paul Formichelli ’96 of Jones Lang LaSalle, Jim Grady ’91 of Synergy Investments, Matt Harvey ’02 of Cresa Partners, Chuck O’Connor ’78 of Cassidy Turley, Bryan Sparkes ’03 of Jones Lang LaSalle and Kyle Trodden ’05 of Hudson Advisors.  They hold a variety of roles within the industry including commercial broker, residential broker, corporate services, construction management but during the conversation it was clear that all of the jobs had some key similarities like how no two days are ever the same and the importance of being able to effectively manage relationships.

Not surprisingly a big topic of conversation at this panel was the value of a Holy Cross education and the Holy Cross alumni network. The panelists talked about how competitive the business and how they are constantly fielding phone calls from young professionals who are looking for a job. Several of them said that, for a Holy Cross student, they can always make time but otherwise, there aren’t enough hours in the day to meet with all the interested candidates.

There was also quite a bit of discussion about professional degree programs – where the best ones were, what different programs entailed and whether they are worth it.  While there were varied opinions on these programs the general consensus was that, in the real estate industry, you should graduate college and work first, then think about a graduate degree later.  The alumni all seemed to agree that much of the training that takes place in real estate is really learned as you go by watching folks who’ve been in the job longer than you have.

What were some key takeaways?

1.  If you want to be in real estate, especially brokerage, you have to be willing to work hard.  You are constantly selling – you start with selling yourself to try to get a job and, from there, you are constantly selling as you try to generate business.

2.  Show up to interviews prepared.  It’s not enough to say, “I will work hard and am a good kid.”  If you’re going to a real estate interview – even if it’s an “informational interview” – know something about real estate.

3.  Proofread your emails.  Keep the exclamation points minimal.  No smiley faces.

4.  Write thank you notes.  There was some debate about email thank yous versus handwritten thank yous.  As some who is partial to handwritten thank you notes, I’ll say that the alum advocating for them noted that he gets hundreds of emails daily.  Thank you emails get deleted.  Handwritten notes stay on your desk for weeks.  Could come in handy if a few weeks after you meet a position unexpectedly opens up….

Thanks to the alumni for taking the time to come talk to us and we look forward to having them come back to campus again soon.

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

“The Ethics Guy” Welcomes Students Back to Campus!

Just two days in to the Spring 2013 semester, Bruce Weinstein, “The Ethics Guy”, joined Holy Cross students here on campus to run a workshop focused on ethical intelligence.  Dr. Weinstein’s visit was co-sponsored by the COES Entrepreneurial Studies Program, the Economics department and the McFarland Center & Barrett Programming.

The workshop focused on an “Ethics Quiz” that he has created to help people gauge their ethical intelligence.  Dr. Weinstein really got the room going as he asked questions out loud like, “If you saw someone cheating on an exam, and no one else did, what would you do?” or “If you’re riding in a car and the driver starts texting, do you tell them to stop?  Say nothing?  Or demand to get out of the vehicle?”  Students were talking at their tables and then vocalizing a range of opinions on all the different questions, which created a lively conversation.

However, my favorite part was when Dr. Weinstein asked if anyone in the room feels under-appreciated.  He said part of being ethically intelligent means thinking about our actions and “if they are caring”.  Three students in the room admitted to feeling under-appreciated so Dr. Weinstein called them to the front of the room and had all the attendees give them a 1-minute standing ovation for being awesome!

Overall, it was a great workshop – lots of discussion and lots of active engagement.  Hopefully a lot of what we talked about will come in to play later this winter when the Business Ethics Symposium gets underway here on campus.

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

The Atlantic on the Importance of Liberal Arts Colleges

In case you weren’t convinced, here’s a link to the Atlantic story that talks about the importance of colleges having an entrepreneur program:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/how-liberal-arts-colleges-are-failing-america/262711/
Thank you for supporting the Entrepreneurial Studies program here at Holy Cross!
Not involved yet? REGISTER TODAY!

Cassie Gevry
Program Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Studies

This is Summer Business Program: Grand Finale

Sorry for the delay!  Here is the final installment of Frank DeLeo’s ’14 guest blogger series.  We are so excited to here how it all ended!

Game day: Friday, June 22. The big day had finally arrived. Four weeks of preparation and hard work has lead up to a mere 30 minute presentation. We practiced for hours upon hours. Execution was the final step, and my team was determined to knock ‘em dead.

That morning I woke up at 6:30 to meet Mr. Corria and the team at 7 before the first presentation started. Although our presentation wasn’t until 10, Mr. Correia couldn’t speak with us once the competition began at 8. We ran through our presentation once more, and Mr. Correia gave us a pregame speech that calmed our nerves (for the time being). He told us that we knew the information, and how he was more than confident in our ability.

The team decided to take an hour to go back to Carlin, get dressed, and get in the zone. We met up at 9:15 outside the Science Library. Dressed to impress, the team decided to run through the presentation one final time. As 10 a.m. kept getting closer and closer, nerves surfaced. At any moment we would be called in…

Personally, I believe that our presentation went off without a major hitch. We all remembered our transitions; however, each of us fumbled over a couple lines, but recovered nicely. We were all nervous, but then again who wasn’t? I think we got our point across and articulated ourselves clearly. The professionalism that a corporate presentation should have was unmatched by any team. Business cards, transitions, dress, and mannerisms were all perfectly executed. I couldn’t have been happier with our performance.

After the presentations, it felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Walking back to Carlin, I couldn’t believe four weeks flew by that quickly. I got changed into casual clothes for lunch and sat in the AC of the science building until it was time to hear the results.

Unfortunately, my team didn’t come away with a win in either the elevator pitch or the Home Depot presentation. Despite this fact, Mr. Correia told us how proud he was of us during his reflection on working with us as a team. Hearing him talk so highly of us was uplifting and motivating.  Although we all wanted the win, the SBP was about the experience.

The Summer Business Program was a phenomenal opportunity that taught me so much about the world of business. After participating in the ELW, the in depth business exposure I was looking for was fulfilled, especially in marketing and advertising. There were so many aspects of business I had no clue about. From finance to global expansion and everything in-between, I have pages of notes on every subject.

One of the greatest aspects of the program, in my opinion, was meeting distinguished Holy Cross alumni. Every person that spoke volunteered to educate the next generation of crusaders. Through numerous conversations, the business world isn’t as mysterious as I once thought. I am optimistic about becoming successful in the business world despite being a psychology major. Through my time in the program, I have gained a newfound interest in pursuing a career in business (if law doesn’t work out). Interning is definitely my next step.

Aside from the speakers, the mentors deserve a special thanks and separate category as a reason someone should do the SBP. The six mentors took 4 or 5 individuals under their wing to guide them through the project and teach them everything they could about business.

For my team, Mr. Correia was always excited about working and educating us with his expertise. He was constantly there for help and to ask questions because of the immense amount of information we needed to absorb. In addition, my team learned about professionalism and presentation skills, not only business. One quote that will never leave me is, “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”

Overall, the SBP yielded valuable information and honed my presentation and leadership skills. Much of what I learned is applicable now and in the future: making ethical decisions, public speaking, organizing a presentation, and networking just to name a few.

When I signed up for the SBP I thought I’d never like business because it was only about numbers. Through the program, I came to the realization that the business field is so much more than finance. I now have an open-mind to a potential career in business down the road.

After graduating from the Summer Business Program, I’m ready. Are you?

Thanks, Frank!

Teams 3 & 4 took home the prizes, but all of our students deserve a huge congratulations for their hard work and dedication.  SBP was a huge success and COES can’t wait until next year! Check our our facebook page for pictures and updates on SBP!

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Kaithlyn

Kaithlyn Kayer
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

David Chu
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-business Advisor

This is Summer Business Program: Part 4

Here’s another one from Frank DeLeo ’14!

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Week four began our quest to obtain a victory on Friday after all the trials and tribulations of the Summer Business Program. The stress and anxiety set in early when trying to perfect our presentation. Every bullet, every sentence, and every movement had to be rehearsed and scripted. The PowerPoint needed to be clear and concise to get our ideas across. Most importantly we needed to look and sound our best in order to be the epitome of a real business presentation: professional.

The week began with a session on career planning. Taught by Pam Ahearn and Amy Murphy, we learned the nuisances of navigating the Holy Cross website and LinkedIn to find alumni not only for internships and jobs, but also for informational interviews.

The Holy Cross network is a phenomenal resource that I will continue to tap into during my last two years at HC, and even after graduation. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life after college, but I have a strategy to piece together my varying interests. By taking advantage of everything Holy Cross has to offer: the academic internship program, study abroad, ELW, SBP, etc, I can gain a better understanding of my likes and dislikes.

During my journey, I know that the network is always there for me to ask questions. The most important take away from the session was that alumni want to help, so I should never hesitate to contact them. After Monday, my two primary summer priorities became networking and setting up my LinkedIn profile.

As the week went on we were taught how to use Microsoft Office tools such as PowerPoint and Excel. Wednesday’s session on PowerPoint and presentation skills with Jessica Blau’08 and Roger Lobo ‘04 provided pertinent information to incorporate into the pitch.

During the session, we learned about tips and tricks for PowerPoint, verbal delivery, and slide content. My team took this new knowledge and touched up our presentation before we asked Ms. Blau to film our first dry run. I always hate watching myself on film, but the team and I discovered a lot from watching ourselves. We were able to see areas in which we could improve and mistakes that needed to be corrected by Friday. Thursday was the day to make those corrections.

When Mr. Correia told us that Thursday meant perfection, he wasn’t kidding. The team had no idea what to expect at 10 a.m. for the start of our meeting in Smith 155. We began with sharing all of the new information we had learned in our sessions, in addition to our perfected PowerPoint. From there, we jumped right into the dry runs. Every movement and sentence was scrutinized. People forgot lines, swayed in place, stepped forward wrong etc. Each time we made a mistake Mr. Correia would say, “Do it again.”

After a few tries, we got the hang of it. All that remained was being able to control our nerves the next morning and remember the transitions. We were confident in the content of our presentation and our ability to pitch the information. We simply needed to execute.

At 2 p.m., Mr. Correia had to go talk to the parents at Gateways. His wife couldn’t make it, so he needed someone from the team to go with him. I volunteered to talk to the parents with the mentality that I’d be sitting on a panel answering questions. Oh how wrong I was. It turned out that I had to speak in front of an almost full ballroom of parents with no preparation. I was terrified, but it was a great public speaking experience. I told my story and explained how the parents should let their children grow up, but still be involved in their lives for support and advice.

After my near heart attack, the team reconvened and decided to go practice separately for tomorrow. We had rehearsed so much that we needed a break to get our heads on straight. Mr. Correia left us to work by our own accord, and trusted us to be ready for game time, 10 a.m. Friday morning.

We were as ready as we’d ever be.

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I can’t wait to find out how they did!  Thanks again, Frank!

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Kaithlyn

Kaithlyn Kayer
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

David Chu
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-business Advisor

This is Summer Business Program: Part 3

Frank DeLeo ’14 is on a role! Here is a recap of week 3.

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The end of week three meant that there is only one week of the program to go. With the team project looming, I was in desperate need of an energy boost to get motivated. My prayers were answered when Tom Patton ’86 and Carolyn Rizzoli ’86 led Thursday’s session. Personally, it was the most exciting day of the program, hands down. When 4 o’clock rolled around I didn’t want it to end.

During the session, we learned about marketing and business ethics. In the morning, we played the marketing game. We weren’t given any rules other than what type of product we were selling. Our objective was to make the most profit during the allotted time by selling exclusively to or in combination with the three types of stores: a high end boutique, a department store, or a big retail chain.

Chaos and role-playing ensued with time being of the essence. My team, Karma, ended up winning with over 12,000 dollars in profit in 3 hours. The game taught me how to manage time, think about possible curveballs, and communicate with the different parts of a supply chain: the banks, the customers, and the manufacturers.

After lunch, we resumed on the topic of business ethics. Mr. Patton role-played as we worked through different, difficult ethical dilemmas. The answers were not black and white due to the varying circumstances and legal consequences. Through acting out the scenarios, he turned a provocative subject into a good time. The best part was that all of the situations were real life examples, and we learned how he personally dealt with them.

What I took away from our discussion was that we need to make many moral decisions during our lifetime; we have to take a step back, think rationally and logically, and rely on our values to make the right decision.

The project being a week away meant buckling down on the presentation over the weekend. On Friday and Saturday, my team structured and created the first draft of our PowerPoint. Since we had a meeting with Mr. Correia at his house on Sunday, we needed to bring something to get feedback on.

When we arrived at the Correia household, we had a phenomenal Father’s Day bbq. Mr. Correia having us over on a day set aside for relaxation and spending time with family was an incredibly nice gesture. I took advantage of the opportunity because I was in dire need of solid food. Rice and take out just wasn’t cutting it. After dinner, we got down to business. The PowerPoint definitely needed touching up; in particular, the content and word choice. I had already cut down majority of our wordy slides; however, it was simply not enough. In the end, we had a productive evening, which resulted in plenty of work that needs to be completed as we move forward.

As the weekend comes to a close, the start of week four is upon us. Week four is crunch time. The Excel and PowerPoint sessions this week will provide pertinent information to add to our presentation. A lot of long days are ahead. Between practicing, preparing, and touching up our presentation in order to get it just right, my team has the mentality of knowing our facts cold. Every word, sentence, and gesture will be scrutinized to uncover its relevance to the overall message we want to convey. We don’t care how much work it takes. We want to be number one.

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Thanks, Frank!  Two more posts to go for SBP… will Frank’s team take home the win?  Keep reading to find out!

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Kaithlyn

Kaithlyn Kayer
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

David Chu
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-business Advisor

This is Summer Business Program : Part 2

Here’s the latest post from guest blogger Frank DeLeo!  Enjoy!

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With the conclusion to week two of the SBP, new challenges awaited me at the beginning of week three. The amount of valuable information kept flowing, causing me to fill page after page of legal pad with important notes. After another phenomenal week in the program, I could only hope that week three would top the prior two weeks to kick my adrenaline up another notch.

Before I got there, a lot of work needed to be accomplished on the team project over the weekend. Our team meeting was on Sunday, so Saturday I spent most of the day continuing research and gaining as much knowledge about Home Depot and their customers as possible. On Sunday, I spent the morning and afternoon in Hopkinton, MA by the pool with my best friends from Holy Cross. We had a tiny celebration because, conveniently, it was my two year anniversary with my girlfriend. It was nice to get off campus and have solid food due to my meal scavenging tactics and lack luster cooking ability. The event was a just the change of pace I needed to recharge my batteries to press on with the program after still being burnt out from the academic rigor of the past semester.

From my relaxing afternoon by the pool, I was dropped off in Milford, MA at my executives home (Al Correia ’78). There we had a nice meal and accomplished a ton of work: the planning of our project, the structure of our project, and the determination of the remaining steps needed to create our presentation. At the meeting, we disclosed all of the information we had obtained from our excursion to Home Depot the past week. We discussed our interactions with customers and our questioning with sales associates as well as what we saw in the ceiling and walling isles. Ultimately, we came to a consensus on customer types, and the particular needs/wants of each group. From there, steps were laid out and responsibilities divvied up in order to proceed through our plan of attack.

The first half of week three has brought new and intriguing topics to the forefront. Personal finance and the management of the Holy Cross endowment definitely sparked my interest. Because I am a very future oriented thinker, personal finance really struck an emotional cord within me. I consider this trait to be a double-edged sword. It is a benefit because I always plan ahead, and am constantly thinking about how I am going to support my family in the years to come. On the other hand, I tend not to live in the present, which causes me to miss out on some of the worry free fun college has to offer. I by no means don’t enjoy the college experience, I just tend to worry about the future more than the average person, which is reasonable considering the current economic climate. Regardless, the session with Professor Anderton on Tuesday taught me about bond and stock mutual funds, compound interest, and general investing strategies just to name a few.

On Wednesday, Tim Jerry ’00 taught us about how Holy Cross invests its endowment. This is a behind the scenes topic that never came to mind. It was definitely much different than personal finance, especially when it came to investment strategy. When dealing with an institutional endowment the standard deviation and return rates played a huge factor. Generally, when creating such a portfolio, the investments need to be more conservative. On the other hand, in personal finance you can take more risks in hope for a higher return. We ultimately created our own endowment portfolio and learned about hedge funds, real assets, fixed income, and equities.

Week three is flying by. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, and the information that is being presented has great practical use now and in the future. I cannot believe there is only 10 days left before I pack up and head back to CT for the summer. I’m making the best of each session, and can only hope that I continue to soak up all of the business knowledge that I’m being exposed to.

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Thank you, Frank! It seems like the teams have some stiff competition this year.  Can’t wait to hear more!

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Kaithlyn

Kaithlyn Kayer
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

David Chu
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-business Advisor

This is Summer Business Program: Part 1

With the unveiling of our new SBP project, we’ve asked one of our SBP students to guest blog about their experience.  Frank wanted to introduce himself, so I’ve left him to it.  Enjoy!

Hi everyone. My name is Frank DeLeo. I am a psychology major and environmental studies concentrator in the class of 2014. The reason I am participating in the Summer Business Program (SBP) this year is because of my profound interest in the field that was sparked by the Executive Leadership Workshop (ELW).

ELW proved to me that my liberal arts education could be applied successfully in the business world. Like many students going into college, I had the mindset that I had to be an economics or accounting major to even consider an occupation or internship in business. However, that is simply not the case. This is a serious misconception that is deterring students from the field. Gaining a background in business, despite being a social science major, can only benefit me, and those of all majors in the long run.

After ELW ended, I felt myself yearning for a more in depth experience. As psychology major, I enjoy understanding how people think and the reasoning behind their actions; therefore, I fell in love with marketing and advertising. ELW touched on both of these topics, but not as in depth as I would have wanted due to time constraints. To gain a better understanding of the many facets of business, not just marketing and advertising, I was driven to sign up for SBP. Now two months after the application process, I am back on campus living in Carlin for the next two weeks.

Two weeks into the SBP, it is safe to say that the program is everything I thought it was going to be…and more.  I am learning about everything I signed up for: starting a business, finance, marketing, sales, etc. Thus far, both Friday sessions have left a lasting impression on me.

Last Friday (June 1) was the session on entrepreneurial strategies with Jerry Snee ’75, president and CEO of Neuronrobotics. The primary take home message from the session was that the consulting vertebrate adds up to create the culture of a company. The various vertebrate (vision, mission, roles, goals, decisions, and rewards) can be slightly off and still produce a successful company; however, if one or more of the vertebrate are misaligned the company cannot function effectively. Prior to the session, the class took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The self awareness that arose from deciphering the results was incredibly valuable. I discovered that I am an ENTJ, and that I have to deal with particular people in certain ways to tailor to their personality type. Who would have thought that talking with an introvert is drastically different than an extrovert.

This past Friday (June 8 ) was the session on advertising with Brian Sheehan ’83. This was the most fun I have had in a session thus far. Between watching ads, learning how to create a marketing campaign, and conducting SWOT and OGSM analyses, every aspect of the session was exactly the in depth advertising experience I was looking for. Not only did it satisfy my business craving, but the information directly pertained to our group project.

The group project couldn’t have been a better fit for my business interests: creating a marketing campaign for a company. This is exactly the opportunity I need to show how my education can aid me in the business world. My group consists of four rising juniors and one rising sophomore. The five of us come from varying academic backgrounds. Not one of us is an econ or accounting major. We are the only team to have no one from either of those majors in the group. This has not deterred our work ethic in the slightest.

On Thursday, we went over to Home Depot to really dive headfirst into the project. We talked with customers, associates, managers, etc to learn everything we can about the customers. The customers are our number one focus. Speaking with them has provided pertinent information on likes and dislikes to current types of renovation and installation options. For the sake of the team, I am not going to get into any details about our strategy for the project. I will say that we are learning a lot and are diligent in doing our research. In addition, we have the guidance and support of our competitive and intelligent executive, Al Correia ’78. He gets us inspired at every meeting. Our fourth meeting is on Sunday and we have plenty of new info to share.

Thanks, Frank!  Looking forward to the next installment.

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Kaithlyn

Kaithlyn Kayer
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

David Chu
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-business Advisor