ACU Chapter of AMA Hosts First Virtual Networking Event

The ACU chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) hit the ground running as they began their second year back on campus. One of the goals of the AMA chapter is to equip students through professional development and provide real-world experiences. With this goal in mind, the chapter officers and advisors have set a goal to have an annual spring trip to the DFW area where they engage with alumni to visit their workplaces and show students what the life of a marketing professional in different fields looks like. 

Even though this year’s trip had to be canceled due to the current pandemic situation, the officers and advisors didn’t want members to miss out on such an opportunity.  As the team joined to brainstorm ideas to provide a similar experience to students, they used technology to their advantage and decided to plan the first AMA virtual event. There were a few challenges to take into consideration as the event was being planned, “I think there was a lot of uncertainty about the event during the beginning. Questions like, would students attend something like this? How long should the event be? Would it be weird to do it via zoom? How do we make it personal?” Lindsay Palmer commented. The faculty and staff advisors, Dr. Jennifer Golden and Lindsay Palmer, partnered with ACU alumni who could tell students about their marketing experience and personal branding, from the comfort of their homes.  After reaching out to professionals from various industries and marketing areas, four alumni joined with ACU AMA to tell students their stories. The panel included Jay Swinney from Indeed, Katherine Hall from Schaefer Advertising, Rachel Gilliam from Lev, and Reagan Morgan from PFSweb

Alumni Panel: Jay Swinney (’09), Katherine Hall (’13), Rachel Gilliam (’13) and Reagan Morgan (’08)

On June 8th, ACU AMA members and students from the College of Business Administration joined these alumni on Zoom for the virtual event, “What Now? Five Ways to Brand Yourself During a Crisis”. The event was kicked off by Dr. Jennifer Golden, who shared five ways for students to continue working on their personal brand during COVID-19 and stand out amongst job applicants. ACU AMA also partnered with COBA’s Professional Development office to offer additional opportunities and resources for students. Then, the alumni panel was introduced and each professional shared about their roles in their respective companies. From data analysts to account directors, each of the alumni had a different experience and perspective to share that was valuable for the wide range of interests of the students attending the virtual event. To provide a personal networking experience, students entered into break-out virtual rooms of 5 as one of the alumni guest speakers conducted a Q&A session.  

Besides learning practical ways to grow their network and develop their personal brand, students were able to connect with alumni and peers on LinkedIn with the information provided by the ACU AMA advisors. Social distancing did not limit the ability to connect with marketing professionals and learn insightful skills for the future. The alumni who willingly shared their time and experience with the students, once again, showed how ACU’s community is still valuable long after graduation. “We have such awesome alumni at ACU and in COBA specifically. They were all so willing to give up some of their time to advise and pour into current students. Overall, the event was a huge success in my opinion. It was cool to see how engaging the students and alumni were with each other. I think this event also helped bring a new opportunities to our students. I can’t wait to see what else AMA does.” Lindsay added.

Students joined by ACU Alumni for the virtual event via Zoom

The ACU AMA chapter is looking forward to another year of professional growth and events that empower students to fulfill their career goals. As the year was kicked off with an incredible event, the new officers and advisors hope to provide similar opportunities to all members throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Click here to check out the landing page created for the event with the bios of participating alumni. Follow ACU AMA on Instagram @ama_acu to hear about our next event. If you have any questions about membership, please email ACU AMA advisor, Lindsay Palmer.

COBA Professors and ACU Alum Team Up For Research

Have you ever struggled to make a decision when given too many options? Choice overload, or overchoice, is a cognitive process where people have difficulty making a decision due to a variety of options. Why does this happen?

As part of the lifelong relationship vision of the College of Business Administration, Associate Professor of Marketing, Dr. Ryan Jessup,  and SITC Director and Professor of Computer Science, Dr. John Homer, partnered with ACU alum, Levi Ritchie (’15), to research the choice overload effect. Their paper,  “Hurry up and decide: Empirical tests of the choice overload effect using cognitive process models”, was featured in the American Psychology Association’s April issue on decision. According to Scimago Journal & Country Rank, this journal is in the top 10% in psychology, neuropsychology and physical psychology subfield.

Dr. Ryan Jessup

While in graduate school at Indiana University, Dr. Ryan Jessup collected data to study a theory of decision making that prompted him to conduct this research as a follow-up from that work. As the lead author, Dr. Jessup generated the research idea and designed the experiment which was programmed by Dr. Homer. Levi Ritchie helped program part of the experiment in Python, recruited participants, and collected data before analyzing the data along with Dr. Jessup. The team combined their expertise in their respective fields to compile and edit the paper that was then published in the APA Journal. Dr. Jessup described the goal of their research as, “We wanted to test between multiple competing hypotheses that I had proposed in an earlier paper for the choice overload aka too much choice effect. The effect is that people purchase more when they have fewer options to choose from, violating basic economic principles.” 

Levi Ritchie (’15)

The science of cognitive psychology is broad and contains a variety of potential research studies; however, Levi Ritchie described the importance of studying the choice overload effect as essential to the business field, “From a business perspective, understanding the elements that moderate the effect is crucial to marketing. Even when your selection of alternatives is plentiful, it may be beneficial to only present the strongest subset.” Similarly, Dr. Jessup commented on how important the understanding of this effect is when selling or promoting a product, as well as for personal decision making. 

“An interesting thing about conducting quality research is that it makes us better at teaching. In my case, it is particularly true because I tend to teach courses on how to conduct or analyze research. But, even if I were teaching a different type of course it would still improve my teaching for several reasons. First, when teaching on a relevant topic, I would be far more aware of the pioneering research – in some cases because I would have been the one to do it; in other cases, it would be because I had to examine all possible theories and explanations when conducting my research, simultaneously giving far more breadth and depth than I would have gotten had I just read about it in the textbook or merely just read a few things about it. In essence, researchers know more about these findings because they are the ones making them – we are not merely reading about them. It is the ultimate in experiential learning”, Jessup said. 

The conclusion of this research was explained in-depth in their publication, but Jessup summarized by saying, “We found that one of our proposed explanations well predicted the data whereas another one – the one that is commonly espoused as causing the effect – did not appear to play a role. A specific conclusion was time pressure appears to really drive the effect; so, if you are trying to sell things to people who are often hurried – think drive-thru’s or situations where people often have little children with them – you are better off giving them a very small set of options.”

Levi Ritchie is currently pursuing a career in Data Science, while Dr. Jessup continues to work on research on an improved theory of decision making that combines choice with learning. He is currently working on another project that involves the choices of married individuals and economic games with professors Katie Wick, John Homer and, recently graduated marketing major, Luke Stevens (’20).

Alumnus Christian Guerra brings Avanzar Interior Technologies to Campus

Christian Guerra speaks to students at a Lunch and Learn event.

ACU’s Career Center, Department of Engineering and Physics, and College of Business Administration worked together to host ACU alumnus Christian Guerra (’06) on January 28th. Christian serves as the Vice President and General Manager Operations for Avanzar Interior Technologies and returned to campus to address engineering, physics, and business students about the career opportunities available in automotive manufacturing. Christian was joined by other Avanzar team members including C.D. Rodriguez, who serves as the Human Resources Manager. Avanzar, an award winning manufacturer located in San Antonio, Texas, is a Toyota Motors production partner who manufacturers the seats for the Toyota Tundra.  

The Toyota automotive manufacturing production standards are truly world class and give Avanzar employees the tremendous opportunity to learn best practices and work to produce top of the line products. Christian gave students insights into the internship and career opportunities available with their company as well as the company culture. Guerra was a student worker for former COBA Dean Dr. Rick Lytle when he was at ACU. He shared with students that Dr. Lytle impressed on him the need to be “Christ in the workplace”. Christian said that he puts this lesson into practice every day as he works to lead this family owned business with 1,100 associates in San Antonio and 200 associates in Mexico. He also reflected on his time in LYNAY and Dr. Gary McCaleb’s encouragement to go back to your community and help where you can. Christian took this advice, returned home, and is helping Avanzar provide an excellent work opportunity for employees in his hometown of San Antonio. This same work ethic is exemplified throughout the Avanzar organization. Berto Guerra, founder of Avanzar and ACU Board of Trustee, was honored by EY as the 2015 Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year.

Addressing work challenges through effective teamwork is critical at Avanzar.  In their visit to the Engineering Department, the Avanzar representatives had a chance to observe current students working in teams to determine objectives and alternative solutions all while

Engineering, physics and business students were invited to learn about careers and internships with Avanzar.

operating with constraints during their engineering classes. The opportunity to work with ACU engineering, physics and business students aligns with the needs of the manufacturer both with regard to their work ethic and with their Christ-centered focus in the workplace. HR representative C.D. Rodriguez was impressed with the Engineering and Science facilities and enjoyed meeting the professors and students, stating that they will be back later this spring to conduct interviews. COBA looks forward to creating more opportunities for our students as we continue to collaborate with our partners in the ACU Career Center and across campus. To learn more about the ACU Career Center and job and internship opportunities, click here.

Throwback Thursday with Kent Akers

As an Associate Director of Advising and as advisor to Financial Management majors, Kent Akers spends a lot of time talking with students while helping them plan their academic career at ACU. With counseling degrees in psychology (B.S. ’09) and Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT ’11), Kent also helps students with issues like pre-martial counseling, career aptitude, and more. Kent shared a few of his favorite memories with us on this Throwback Thursday.

 

 

 

What was your best memory from college?

My best memory from college was either being at the football game where ACU beat WTAMU 93-68 or playing baseball for Coach Britt Bonneau.

 

 

 

What is your best advice for college students?

My best advice would be to keep your dorm room door open as much as you can. My best friendships in college came from people who would walk through my open door and from the open doors I chose to walk through.

 

 

 

What do you wish you could tell your college self today?

I wish I could tell my college self that doing too many things is not a good thing. Choose a couple of things to be really involved in and do them well. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Throwback Thursday with Dr. Sarah Easter

Assistant Professor of Management, Dr. Sarah Easter (’06) may be in front of the classroom teaching today, but not too long ago she was a student at ACU. In fact, she was a very involved student, participating in Beta Gamma Sigma, SHRM, Leadership Summit, Phi Eta Sigma, Spring Break campaigns, Alpha Kai Omega, Wildcat Week, and was named to Who’s Who and as a University Scholar. She’s got great advice for current students as she reflects on her time at ACU.

 

What was your best memory from college?

I had a wonderful group of friends as a student at ACU and I have so many fond memories from these years in Abilene – from movie nights complete with a jumbo Tron and stadium style seating in friends’ living rooms to themed parties to playing ultimate Frisbee followed by ice cream club. This was a fun and joyous time and my college friends and I still reflect fondly on our fun memories together.

 

What is your best advice for college students?

Enjoy the present journey. It passes by all too quickly!

 

What do you wish you could tell your college self today?

This relates to my advice for college students today above – I tend to be a planner (which can also correspond with being a worrier). I wish I would have learned to be more content in the present and enjoy right where God had placed me in Abilene as a college student rather than continually thinking about what was next after college.

 

Alumni Spotlight on Kelly Lytle

Kelly Lytle

Kelly Jeanne Lytle (’12) is flying high these days. Graduating with a B.B.A. degree in marketing from ACU and a M.B.A. from the University of North Texas, Kelly is using her marketing talents and customer service experience to bring extraordinary customer service at the next level at her position with American Airlines as a Senior Analyst for their Premium Guest Services.  Customer service runs in the family. Kelly is the daughter of former Dean and Professor of Marketing, Dr. Rick Lytle and his wife, Jeanne. Dr. Lytle is known for his expertise in the area.

After graduating from ACU, Kelly worked as a Wilberforce Intern with Grace Nelson in Washington, D.C., as an Associate Marketing Manager at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, and then as a Business Development and Loyalty Program Account Manager at American Airlines in DFW. All of these experiences have helped shape her work ethic, her ideas, and her faith.

Kelly’s faith in the workplace is important to her. She says that she strives to use faith as the lens that she views all of her decisions, interactions, and the words with which she speaks. She says, “It is the hope I cling to and the rock I stand on. I know that sounds cliché, but in this environment with a politically charged climate, I have to remember who has the final say and who I am ultimately accountable to.”

Young alums often acknowledge the stark difference in their working environment vs. the environment at ACU. Kelly’s experience has been no different. “Leaving the world of ‘hugs and smiles’ at ACU is vastly different in the workplace. You begin to transition to handshakes and learning how to work without constant compliments and reassurance. However, you bring that mentality into your interactions in a professional way and learn that at the end of the day everyone has a story and is human. Give grace to those around you because you don’t know what they may be going through.”

Kelly hosts ACU AMA students

We asked her if she felt she had faced any challenges as a young female in the workplace and if so, what advice she has for other young alums who will likely experience many of the same issues. Kelly said that working with other females has been the most challenging. “I would encourage everyone to stay out of workplace drama. If they are talking to you about others, they are talking to others about you. Try to use your words to build others up, use your time at work to get your tasks done with excellence, assume the best of each other, and don’t rely too heavily on affirmation from your boss or other female leaders. Make sure and keep a healthy line between personal and professional conversation until you feel like that relationship welcomes it and is a trusted confidant.”

Kelly’s time at ACU helped shape the person that she is today. “I wouldn’t trade my time at ACU for anything. Business professors like Dr. Lytle, Dr. Pope, Dr. Phillips, Ms. Brister, and many others taught me that the marketplace is our mission field as business professionals. It is easy to think that because you aren’t a missionary, a pastor, a youth minister, etc., that you do not have a direct impact on the kingdom, but that’s wrong! We have the opportunity to be an influence to everyone we come into contact with that may not go to church. In the gospel of Matthew, we can see Jesus teaching in towns, synagogues, houses, grain fields, boats, and temple courts to name a few. All that to say, I realized at ACU that the marketplace is my mission field and to be excited about the work/people that God can touch through me! What a cool thing!”

Some of Kelly’s favorite ACU memories revolve around being a member of Sigma Theta Chi, participating in Homecoming, playing in rivalry intramural games, and pledging. When asked who her favorite ACU professor was, the answer should not surprise anyone that knows her. “I have to say Dr. Lytle was my favorite professor….I am a little biased ! I was very nervous to have my Dad as the Dean and try to impress all his friends (all my business professors), but I am so thankful I did. I want to be like my Dad when I grow up; making the work environment fun, developing strategy for hard to solve problems, being able to craft a vision for the future, and making his personal interactions count. Like my Dad, I want to leave people feeling special after they talk with me, bringing energy into the room, having an easy laughter that’s contagious, and ultimately seeking God in everything – in the good times and bad. Obviously, I could go on and on, but this man has changed me for eternity and I am so blessed to have learned from him at ACU and every day.”

Kelly advises current students to, “Listen to your professors and ask them questions. They literally have dedicated their life to teach you, so they care a lot and want to help! At ACU, it is super unique in the fact that they want to invest in you, so invite them to your intramural games, go eat at their homes, and sit with them in chapel. I would also encourage you to learn more about how to read through legal contracts and write creative briefs; ask your professors about this and they would be happy to help you. Lastly, for interviews, dress business professional and arrive early; set up a practice run with your professors or Tim Johnston or the Career Center for free coaching.”

She advises incoming freshmen to, “Have fun, buckle up, and cling to friends that seek God in public and private (they may be your best friends for life). Be thankful to whoever is paying for your education or has granted you scholarships. Get involved. Get sleep. Dig deep into Jesus Christ and the opportunities in front of you to learn about him (chapel, bible class, World’s Backyard, Meals on Wheels, etc.).”

Kelly also advises students to use at least one summer for a professional internship and one to spend time in something that creates memories, helps you grow, and that you enjoy. “I was able to work at T Bar M Summer Camps for one summer and then PFSweb for the second summer. Also, study abroad and go to Leadership Summit! I dare you. You won’t be disappointed if your heart is in the right place.”

*The comments mentioned in this blog reflect the beliefs of the interviewee and not those of the company.