Hanna Roberts's Archive

Professional Development Events for Students

by   |  10.18.18  |  COBA Events, Careers In..., Current Students, Internships, Uncategorized

Students speak with Jeff Campbell of Southwest Airlines.

You may have heard it said before, but ACU’s College of Business Administration is not your typical business and technology school. Our mission is to educate business and technology students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. We do this by providing exceptional academics, fostering spiritual growth, and providing students with unique opportunities to interact with professionals during their time here. We work hard to give students exposure to a variety of different businesses that lead to internships and entry0lvel career opportunities.

In October, ten different companies came to campus to speak in classes and lunches, participate in networking events and career fairs, and host on-campus interviews for jobs and internships. Southwest Airlines, Brazen Animation, USAA, Faithlife, KPMG, and PWC are just a few of the companies that come to network and recruit our students through these events. Anna ter Kuile, a senior computer science major from Nashville, Tennessee attended a networking lunch with USAA in the fall of 2017. She had the

David Mitchell from Faithlife Corporation speaks to a class.

opportunity to meet and connect with employees at USAA and ended up receiving an internship as a software developer and integrator in the summer of 2018. ter Kuilereceived another internship offer from USAA at the end of the summer and plans to work for them again in 2019. “The personal connections I made at the information lunch on campus were invaluable in the hiring and application process,” said ter Kuile. “It gave me an edge over other applicants and I was able to really see the culture of USAA through that event, which made me want to work there even more. Attending that event opened doors for me that I did not know were there and helped me build a foundation for my future career.”

 

Employees from USAA speak with students at a networking luncheon.

 

Attending events like these has a wide variety of benefits for students. The most obvious benefit is the potential of internships and jobs that influence careers. These opportunities allow ACU students to get a foot in the door with companies that have competitive hiring. Another benefit is developing the discipline and networking skills necessary in the professional world. Students can practice professional development by not only signing up for the events, where they will network and learn about the professional world, but by being committed, disciplined, and following through by showing up to that event.  They can also practice conversation skills and make meaningful contacts with companies.

Employees from Brazen Animation speak in a class.

In order to take advantage of these incredible opportunities and events, we advise that students take the time to read their newsletter. Once a week, COBA & SITC send out a newsletter through email that contains everything the student needs to know – special announcements, event promotions, chapel information, giveaways, and more – for the following week. In less than a minute, students can scroll through and see what is going on in the college and sign up for anything they might be interested in. We also promote events on our blog and social media, and monitoring those also helps students to take advantage of special opportunities in our college.

 

As a student at ACU’s College of Business Administration, we hope you will take advantage of the many professional development resources that are available to you. Be sure to read your newsletter and follow us on social media to stay up to date with the latest in COBA.

Excellence in Everything: Distinguished Speaker Series with Horst Schulze

by   |  10.12.18  |  COBA Events, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Lytle Center, Special Speakers, Uncategorized

Last week, COBA partnered with the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership to host our annual Distinguished Speaker Series. We were honored to have Horst Schulze as our guest this year.  Schulze was born in a small German village and knew he wanted to work in hotels at age 11. He left home at 14 to be a busboy and the rest, as they say, is history. Schulze spent nine years with Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming a founding member and president of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After resigning from The Ritz-Carlton, Schulze is now the chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group, an ultra-luxury hotel chain. 

Schulze spent his time in Abilene connecting with students, faculty and staff, and community and university leaders conversing about exceptional customer service and what it means to be a leader striving for excellence. He shared stories from his years in the hotel industry and the absolute importance of having a vision and a purpose. Schulze advised that the steps to success are vision, commitment, and initiation. You must have a dream, a vision, to guide what you do and define what you are working toward. The dream becomes more than just a dream when you commit to it and decide to carry it out. Carrying it out entails taking the first step, initiating, and persevering to make the dream and vision a reality. Especially as a leader, the vision is very important and gives meaning and information to everything you do. According to Schulze, being a leader implies that you have something in your mind that you are bringing people to. People respond not to rules and orders, but to objectives and motives. Schulze shared that he thought it was immoral to hire people to fulfill functions; you hire people to join the vision and become a part of the dream.

Schulze also spoke about a seeming contradiction: what it means to be the best in the world but to live a life as Christian where we are called to not be of the world. In scripture, we are consistently reminded that our citizenship is in heaven, how we should not conform to the world, and how it is likely that the world will hate us because we are not of it. This leaves many questioning how can we be in the world, but not of the world. Schulze shared how he struggled with working in the luxury hotel business and wanting to create the very best hotel in the world, but not being sure how that connected with his calling as a Christian. He then realized that this was an opportunity to be an example and show the kingdom to the world. It all connects back to Schulze’s personal vision for his life: to be excellent in every role he fills. Excellence in how he treats and grows his employees, excellence in serving customers and shareholders, excellence in every aspect of his hotels points back to Christ. Creating the best hotel in the world sets his hotels apart and creates an example for others. Schulze believes that if we are not living with a mission to be excellent and not using our God-given gifts and abilities, then we are not fully living in every way we can for Christ. Being an example of excellence while living for Christ allows others to see Him through you and points people back to Him. Scripture also reminds us that being holy implies being different and unique. By being excellent, you are set apart like we are called to be. 

Schulze’s messages were eloquent, inspiring, and convicting. Below are some of the testimonies that students shared after listening to him:

“This was the best part of my entire semester.  I heard him in the morning and at the luncheon and wish I could have had him in all of my classes.  I have a renewed commitment to living out my calling with Christ.”

“Horst made me grateful to be at ACU.  I never realized how special this place was until I heard this accomplished man come to us and tell us that we bring him hope by what we do and how we aren’t ashamed of Christ.”

“The way he stayed consistent with his vision over his entire career is so impactful – I just want to live better after hearing him.”

“How often do you hear about someone who worked their way up from washing dishes and busing tables to running the #1 hotel brand in the world?  This means we have to start being our best right now, where we are.”

It was our pleasure to have hosted Horst Schulze this year. To view pictures from the DSS luncheon, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Trent Warren

by   |  10.01.18  |  Academics, Internships, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights

Trent Warren at Schriever Air Force Base.

Trent Warren is a senior business management major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This summer, Trent was an intern for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. Trent worked as a systems engineer in the Experimentation Lab (X-Lab) at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Specifically, Trent worked in control account management, space system engineering, and also participated in the Lockheed Martin summer intern project.

Trent was able to grow professionally this summer because of the variety of projects he worked on and what he learned from his coworkers. He gained experience in finance, programming, and engineering because he was not limited to one type of project. He also knows that working with the brilliant people in the X-lab was key to his growth this summer. Throughout his internship, they guided Trent and challenged him to accomplish difficult but rewarding tasks.

Trent’s favorite part of his internship was working in the X-Lab. He got to work on and solve new and exciting problems. Even though he was there for a short time, Trent feels as if the work he did helped those around him and, more importantly, fulfilled the mission and values of the MDA. Trent’s experience will help launch him into a promising career in systems engineering. He discovered a lot about what it means to be an engineer and how to overcome obstacles in the job. Trent plans to take the lessons he learned this summer with him for the rest of his life.

Reflecting on his internship, Trent has three pieces of advice for future interns:

1. Push through your blockers. Whenever you get stuck on something, or whenever a task just seems too difficult to accomplish, keep attacking it from every conceivable angle. There are plenty of people that can do most of the work on a job. What makes you stand out is if you can use your resources to finish a job that no one else can figure out.

2. Write. Down. Everything. Every business has their acronyms and lingo. If you do not understand what something means in a meeting or in a conversation, write it down and ask someone later. Knowledge is power, and the first step to knowledge is writing down what you don’t know (which is usually almost everything at first). 

3. Work hard for the right reason. In every business, there are people who are just working for the next promotion. Personally, I work for the people around me, for the mission of the organization, and for my God. Pick what you work for because that philosophy affects every decision you make.

Business Wholeness

by   |  09.11.18  |  Uncategorized

What does it look like to be a Christian businessperson?

It is not always clear how to live out our faith. As Christians, we are called to put God first and live out His purpose for life by being disciples, but it is sometimes hard to ascertain what that purpose is and what being a disciple looks like when it comes to our daily lives, families and friends, and careers, especially in business. Some aspects of business seem lacking in character and integrity; we often associate business with underhanded competition, being greedy and profit-driven, and doing whatever it takes to climb the corporate ladder. It can seem like a dark and unnavigable place to live as a disciple on mission for Christ. However, it is possible to work in business while being on mission for God.

The discord happens when we are not living our faith intentionally across our lives. When it comes to our profession, we often first consider our path from a career perspective and then try to fit that career with how we are called to live by Christ. This can result in us compartmentalizing these aspects of our life because the fit is unclear, we fear causing discomfort among our colleagues, and, simply put, it is hard. It is much easier to go to church on Sunday and then be an accountant on Monday. It is far more difficult to be a disciple who is also an accountant and to live out your faith through your attitude, practices, and conversations at work. But we must take time to consider what it looks like for us to be a Christian businessperson.

Even before entering the professional environment, we struggle with what it looks like to be a Christian professional. Students spend four years studying, training, and preparing to enter their chosen field, yet many students struggle to see how they can take what they have learned academically and merge that with what they have learned spiritually during their time in college. Balancing our calling as a discipleship with a professional career is difficult, especially as students begin to enter life after graduation and must discern what job is right for them, organizing their priorities, and focusing on hearing God’s voice.

This year at Summit, the Business Wholeness Pathway will be examining what it looks like to merge these callings of discipleship and profession. We will hear from several speakers about how they used their training and careers in business to work fully committed to Christ. We invite you to attend the sessions on Tuesday, September 18th in Hart Auditorium. You can read more about the Pathway and each of the speakers here: http://blogs.acu.edu/summit/business-wholeness/

 

Intern Spotlight: Zach Fetter

by   |  07.23.18  |  Faith Infusion, Internships, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights

Zach Fetter (’19)

Zach Fetter is a senior with majors in finance and youth ministry from Charlotte, North Carolina. This summer, Zach is an operations intern at Hill Country Bible Church in Austin. As the fiscal year starts on September 1st, leaders across the church have been building budgets for their respective ministries. Zach has met with more than fifty leaders to work through and approve their budgets in preparation for the new fiscal year. He is helping build a projection for the church’s giving numbers for the next year and will present those to the executive pastors and elders. Zach is also in charge of implementing new goal software for the staff that will lead to the improved alignment of the church’s goals from top to bottom.

Through these projects, Zach has been able to learn a lot about how the church operates and its responsibility to be faithful stewards of the money that congregants give for ministry. He has also made strong connections with those around him. Zach’s favorite part of his internship so far has been meeting with the leaders for budget reviews. “Sitting down and talking one-on-one with each leader has given me so much experience in learning how the church stewards money,” says Zach “I hope that this knowledge will help me to confidently and strategically lead a church towards fiscal responsibility one day.”

Zach has also had the opportunity to receive feedback in a job that has helped guide how he approaches his day-to-day. Every week, Zach has a one-on-one with his boss, one of the church’s executive pastors. These one-on-one meetings have grown him the most this summer, both spiritually and professionally. In those meetings, Zach is commended for what he has done well but is also guided through areas in which he can improve. Zach has taken the advice very seriously and applies it to his job and life, as he knows this feedback will help him become a better leader of a church someday.

One thing that has struck Zach in his time at Hill Country Bible Church is the wholehearted submission to God that is evident in every staff member and in the church overall. “The one thing that has been crucial to everything I have done in my internship has been a reliance on God,” says Zach. “The way that the leadership of the church relies on faith and prayer is evident.” Zach has learned that the church could not conduct their business as effectively as they do if they did not consistently give up control and wait to see what God will do through their organization. This is a principle that he believes goes beyond Hill Country Bible Church and his internship and is something that he will remember and apply when he returns to Abilene and for the rest of his life.

Intern Spotlight: Sloan Polvado

by   |  07.17.18  |  Academics, Careers In..., Internships, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized

Ever since she was a little girl, Sloan Polvado has had an obsession with fashion – specifically, shoes. Sloan has always wanted to work in the fashion industry and this summer has had the opportunity to fulfill that dream.

Sloan, a junior marketing major from Sugar Land, is interning with Steve Madden in New York City in the production department. She aids in preparing the production schedules, helping set up timetables that allocate Steve Madden resources to manufacture and sell their shoes. Sometimes, Sloan will get to try on the new designs and give the design team feedback on them and recommendations for adjustments.

Sloan has loved getting to learn more about the fashion industry. “It has been awesome to see all of the work that goes into creating a shoe – the different materials and styles as well as the numbers and math – and taking it from design to a store,” says Sloan.

The Steve Madden internship program itself has also taught Sloan a lot. “Knowing that I will be contending with talented and driven people like the other interns in this program for a job after graduation has taught me that I have to do everything I can to make myself as competitive as possible,” she noted. Of the thirty summer interns, Sloan is the only one from the south and has found it interesting to compare ACU and her college experience with the other interns. The program has helped Sloan realize how competitive it can be in the professional world and the work that goes into distinguishing yourself when looking for internships and jobs. Outside of gaining practical experience, she has loved connecting with the people around her. She has also had the opportunity to meet Steve Madden himself, who loves getting to know and interacting with his interns. “Steve is a really fun and approachable guy,” according to Sloan. “He will always look at your shoes before making eye contact with you.”

She is excited to return to Abilene with new knowledge and a new motivation to prepare for a job after graduation. “I have learned so much valuable information about the fashion industry, what it is like to work in a major company, and networking connections with those around her – oh, and the free shoes aren’t too bad either.”

Personal Finance Has Never Made More Sense

by   |  05.02.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, College Decisions, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Uncategorized

Personal Financial Planning (FIN 416) is an introduction to the methodology and discipline of personal financial planning. The class focuses on the comprehensive and ongoing planning process that seeks to quantify personal financial objectives. Dr. Kyle Tippens has taught Personal Financial Planning for several years. Tippens was personally motivated to teach this class because it covers a topic that he has always been interested in and researched. He had spent a lot of time talking with his colleagues about real-world financial matters that affected them and is always trying to figure out how to save for the future in the best way possible.

Dr. Kyle Tippens, Professor

In Personal Financial Planning, Tippens begins with what the Bible has to say about money. “We talk a lot about stewardship, giving, and what those mean for those who live a life called to Christ and practical ways to put those in practice,” said Tippens. Students learn how to plan for themselves and about all of the seemingly-daunting financial decisions they will soon start to make. They learn about savings and checking accounts, budgeting, what insurance to buy or not buy, how to save for retirement, estate planning, and much more. Tippens wants students to understand that finances do not have to be overwhelming. Breaking it down into pieces helps to demystify finances and students often realize that it is not as complicated as people make it seem. “Students often describe this class as the learning-how-to-be-an-adult class,” said Tippens. “At the bottom line, it is about how to be out in the real world and not be overwhelmed by all of the choices that will be available to you.”

Many students who have taken Personal Financial Planning have contacted Tippens after graduation and tell him how they have used materials from the class just weeks after graduating and feel more ready and prepared than most of their peers. Aric Wilson, a sophomore management major from The Woodlands, is currently taking Personal Financial Planning. “I was amazed by how many everyday things that I will definitely need to know after graduation that I had no clue about,” noted Wilson. “This class is about life and how to succeed in the future and I feel much more prepared for taking it.” Wilson also appreciated how Tippens teaches the class using personal examples from his life and believes that the reason he gets so much out of the class is the way Tippens works hard to teach it in relatable ways. Even though there are so many practical topics that are thoroughly covered and explained in Personal Financial Planning, Tippens hopes that a student’s biggest takeaway from the class is the importance of generosity, saving, and living beneath their means.

Another unique aspect of Personal Financial Planning that it has no prerequisites, which is very unusual for a 400-level finance class. “Regardless of your major,” explained Tippens. “If you focus on the class you will do well. There are no incredible math skills necessary.” For this reason, Personal Financial Planning is a popular elective all around campus. Students of all majors have registered for the class to learn more about preparing for their future. Olivia Dahl, a senior biology major from Round Rock, took Personal Financial Planning because she wanted to be prepared to succeed financially, especially as she enters medical school soon. Dahl believes that this class is the most practical one she has taken during her time at ACU and would encourage others to take this class because it is an easy way to be exposed to important information. “Dr. Tippens made it easy and painless to learn,” Dahl said. “It was obvious that he wanted to give us this information so that we could be prepared for the future. I would tell every student that has room in their degree plan to take this course.”

Personal Financial Planning is offered in both the fall and the spring. There are no class prerequisites but, to enroll, a student must have already completed 72 earned hours. The practical nature of the class and the dedicated, Christ-centered instruction from Dr. Tippens make Personal Financial Planning an invaluable class to students from every major at ACU.

Spring Break in Honduras

by   |  04.02.18  |  Academics, Entrepreneurship, Faith Infusion, Griggs Center, Marketing, Poverty and Development, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized

Caleb Casas, junior management and marketing major from Houston, TX.

Over spring break, the Griggs Center and Halbert Institute partnered to send a group of students led by Dodd Roberts with Dr. Sarah Easter to Honduras. The group collaborated with Mission Lazarus to work within the communities on a service trip. Caleb Casas, a junior marketing and management major from Houston, was one of the students who went and served. Part of the trip entailed meeting with small business owners to help them with current endeavors and to develop new business ideas. Led by Dr. Sarah Easter and Erika Teilmann, a junior management major from Houston, the group of students met for several weeks before their departure to learn about the business climate of the communities they would be working amidst in Honduras. They researched the businesses, resource availability, education levels, income levels, and more. The group kept it a priority to remember that they were not the experts and that they need to trust the people that actually live and work with people in those communities, the people that understand the everyday circumstances, to determine the feasibility of an idea. The students were challenged to read Philippians 2:1-8 before going into the communities to prepare a servant heart within themselves and to learn of and how to imitate Christ’s humility.

Caleb and the other students met with locals in Namasigue and Cedeño, villages in Honduras, to help build existing businesses and develop new ideas. The people talked about how they would use their businesses to help out the community: to make it possible for everyone to have a little money to buy from one another, to send kids to school, to give to the church, to employ others, and more. In the Namasigue village, all of the businesses are tied together. If only a few people operate a business, then the rest of the village would be unable to purchase from them and would force business owners to sell to ‘coyotes,’ people from bigger cities who come to purchase products in the villages at an extremely low price. It seemed to Caleb that the people had an excellent grasp of how to operate a business in the village but desired feedback on their ideas. They taught the villagers basic accounting so that they could better run their businesses by keeping accurate records, financial statements, and balancing the cost of the business. Both the students and the villagers were able to learn a lot from each other. For example, they met with a woman who planned to sell pigs and wanted to start off with ten. The group encouraged her to start off with three and to buy three pigs every few months so that she had a cycle of product and a steady stream of income instead of trying to sell all of her pigs at the same time. The group suggested that she purchase a male and female to begin breeding so that she wouldn’t have to buy pigs to resell but the women explained that the time and money it takes to breed with the resources available to her was too great for her to ever make a profit.

The students also built latrines in the villages as a part of Mission Lazarus’ public health campaigns that aim to engage the community through health promotion and prevention and share essential health teachings with families and communities. The latrines were a tremendous step in both sanitation and privacy for families in the communities. Caleb was struck by how something as small as a latch on a bathroom door gave people basic human dignity. “In America, we don’t have to ever worry about finding a private bathroom to use no matter where we go,” said Caleb. “But the simple act of installing a two-dollar latch allowed these people to go about their business in private and gave them dignity. There was a man who had gone over eighty years without a private bathroom and I was struck by how often I take something like a toilet for granted.” Caleb was also moved by the Hondurans’ gratitude and willingness to work. “They didn’t want us to do the work for them but wanted to work alongside us,” he noted. For the families to even receive a latrine, they had to dig the hole themselves before people would come install the physical latrine. For some people, this meant digging a twelve-foot hole with nothing but a shovel and a chisel. One man chiseled through two feet of solid rock alone. Even though they had done all of this back-breaking work to lay the foundation for the latrines, when the students came to install them, the villagers worked alongside them, helping mix and lay concrete, drilling, and installing the roof. After they had finished installing one of the latrines, a man came and gave them mangoes, which was all he had to give. Caleb was amazed that the people were so grateful that they were willing to give up all that they had to say thank you to the students.

In Honduras, Caleb experienced and was impacted by was God’s purpose and design in bringing us to a specific time and place. Caleb’s grandfather was a pastor in Mexico but came to the US to start a Spanish-speaking congregation within Bammel Church in Houston. Caleb remembered hearing stories about his grandma growing up in Saltillo – no running water, an outhouse that was a mile away, playing soccer with rocks – and realized that, if it had not been for his grandfather saying “yes” to the Lord and leaving his work in Mexico,  Caleb could have been in a similar situation to the people he was serving in Honduras. “I was serving what could have been my grandpa,” Caleb realized. “Maybe in three generations, like my family, those people could be in America or helping grow Honduras. You never know what impact you or God will have on people and their life trajectory.”

Another surreal moment that Caleb experienced in Honduras was meeting Luis, the preacher of the Honduran church the group was working with. Luis was born in Honduras but moved to the US and actually attended Caleb’s Bammel. Bammel Church sponsored Luis to attend the Baxter Institute, a seminary school in Guatemala. Caleb’s grandfather also taught classes at Baxter during Luis’ time there. Once Luis graduated, he had twenty-three churches where he could have served but felt a calling to go to Namasigue. Caleb was amazed at how God brought them together and connected them at this specific time and place where they were both serving together. “There were so many points in our lives where things could have happened differently,” Caleb said. “Nonetheless, God intersected our lives and that made an impact on me.”

Caleb was absolutely impacted during his time in Honduras. The opportunity to serve and work alongside the people in Namasigue and Cedeño showed him how God works in incredible and mind-blowing ways and His plan is always good. Caleb looks forward to the potential to return to Honduras soon and is even talking about going back this summer.

Young Alumni Spotlight: Allison Phillips

by   |  03.02.18  |  Alumni Spotlight, COBA Alumni, Data Analytics, Outcomes, Uncategorized

Allison (left) in Norway with her college roommate.

Allison Phillips graduated from the College of Business in 2015 with a marketing degree. She is currently working for Deloitte Consulting as a Data Scientist for clients and lives in Denver, Colorado. She is also passionate about traveling and her job allows her to pursue that.

 

Q: How have your foundations at ACU and in COBA helped you in life post-graduation?

A: During my time in COBA, I had the chance to lead student organizations, conduct research with faculty, and launch a student-run analytics consultancy through Wildcat Ventures. These experiences gave me the chance to gain experience as a researcher and consultant really early in life, which made my transition from school to work much easier. Professional skills aside, COBA gave me a lengthy list of mentors who guided and supported me as I tried to figure out the career direction I wanted to pursue. Having adults in my life who listened and gave me honest opinions about the decisions I was making has had a huge impact on the way I make decisions in my personal and professional life.

 

Q: Can you describe your work in data analytics and the experiences you’ve had with your company?

A: I’m currently a Data Scientist in Deloitte’s Consulting practice, which allows me to work with different clients to understand what has happened, predict what will happen in the future, and make more effective decisions with that information. I’ve gotten to work with companies as well as federal agencies, and I enjoy the challenge of learning about new industries and continuing to develop my technical skills while solving a wide variety of business challenges. In a given week, I work with teammates from all across the country to write code, conduct statistical analysis, design experiments, build slides, and brief clients. I’ve met some really incredible people at Deloitte, and it’s been fun to work with teammates whose backgrounds are very different than mine.

 

Allison with friends hiking Machu Picchu in Peru.

Q: What should students who are interested in data analytics be doing while they are in school to prepare for that after graduation?

A: Students interested in analytics should take data mining and programming classes to understand if they enjoy the kind of work they would be doing as a data scientist. Outside of class, students should look for relevant internships, opportunities to conduct research with faculty or job openings at ARG (the analytics piece of Wildcat Ventures). A lot of different paths lead to analytics careers so I would recommend learning some basic technical skills and looking for opportunities to apply those in ways that interest you.

 

Q: Would you share some of your favorite memories or experiences of traveling? How do you balance that with work?

A: I love traveling and definitely take advantage of all my time off! One of my goals is to visit all 59 National Parks, so I spend a lot of weekends hiking and camping with friends. Last year I also hiked to Machu Picchu with a big group of friends, road tripped through Norway with my college roommate (where we tried to break into a house that turned out not to be our AirBnB), and traveled through Southeast Asia with my family, where we ziplined to the tallest treehouses in the world. Learning about different cultures and experiencing ways of life that are different than mine is really important to me, and I’ve been lucky to have colleagues who are supportive of that. Plus it’s super fun!

Dr. Sarah Easter Wins Best Paper

by   |  02.23.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Poverty and Development, Research, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

 

Dr. Sarah Easter is a professor in the College of Business Administration and teaches classes like Strategic Management, Business and Sustainability, and International Business.

Over the summer, Dr. Sarah Easter attended the Academy of Management (AOM) Annual Meeting: a professional association for over 10,000 management and organization scholars whose mission is to build a vibrant and supportive community of scholars by markedly expanding opportunities to connect and explore ideas. The theme of this year’s AOM Annual Meeting was ‘Improving Lives’ and specifically focused on how organizations can contribute to the betterment of society through elevating the health and well-being of those who live in it. In her dissertation research, Dr. Easter conducted a sixteen-month ethnographic study of a coalition to end homelessness in Western Canada. The coalition involved over forty different governmental, business and nonprofit players and she examined how they worked together toward common goals while considering many different perspectives. Dr. Easter presented a paper over one of the key findings of this research and received the Best Paper Award based on a Dissertation from the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division of the Academy of Management.

 

Dr. Sarah Easter was presented with the Best Paper Award for processes of negotiating identity in a cross-sector partnership.

Dr. Easter’s dissertation research centered on the challenge of the coalition: developing a cohesive and unified identity (i.e., its focal purpose and goals) in the face of a variety of different perspectives. Those involved in the coalition had many different viewpoints on what the central issue they were working to address entailed, which was homelessness. Even though all participants talked about the notion that the overall vision to end homelessness was well understood by all involved, the result was that the partnership was often pulled in multiple directions simultaneously. The findings speak to the importance of such collaborative partnerships as being very explicit in terms of the vision they are working to achieve. This involves having ongoing discussions and check-in points to ensure that all players are able to clearly articulate the direction of the partnership, including underlying meanings of terms utilized, particularly as participants are continually cycling in and out. Dr. Easter was fascinated in learning how a diverse body of organizations and individuals from public, private and nonprofit sectors come together to address a significant societal issue over time and was able to develop a deep understanding as to how the coalition evolved over time in the presence of many and very different ways of working.

Dr. Easter took special notice of the pull between both opportunities and challenges that organizations face in carrying out their work while conducting her research. This is something she emphasizes while teaching classes like Strategic Management, Business and Sustainability, and International Business. “I believe strongly that it is important to consider both dimensions in order to develop a more holistic perspective of a given organization’s current situation,” Dr. Easter emphasized. “I bring up this example in my courses: an organization that has incredible potential to make an impact in addressing homelessness in the local region (opportunity). At the same time, though, there are incredible challenges associated with this complex structure.” Dr. Easter continues a passion for studying how people work across cultural and socioeconomic structures especially through addressing major societal challenges and looks for ways to connect with people and organizations as well as share this passion with her students in the classroom.