Casey McMullin is a senior financial management major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This summer, Casey traveled around the world interning and studying abroad. He visited countries in Africa and Asia. Casey returned to Abilene with a changed perspective, new skills, and many stories.
Q: Where did you go and what did you do in Africa?
A: I went to Arusha, Tanzania. It was two hours from Mt. Kilimanjaro, which was amazing to see every morning when we woke up. We were based at Neema Village, where they house 40 babies and at-risk or abandoned children. I helped start a microfinance program so that local mothers can start businesses for additional income.
Casey with children in Neema Village
Casey with a child in Tanzania.
Q: Did working with microfinance in Tanzania change your perspective on business?
A: I think that the most challenging part was the difference between Tanzanian and American business and legal environments. When we were building the microfinance program, we had to do everything in accordance with American not-for-profit laws and Tanzanian laws so that they could get loans. A better understanding of business law would have helped.
The nature of business was very different in Tanzania. It was very simple. I had to go back to the foundations and teach the locals so that they could understand what we were doing. At the same time, I had to maintain the financial complexities I had learned so as to ensure that the program would function properly and long past our departure.
Q: What was the most impactful interaction you had with a local?
A: I think that the coolest thing that happened to me happened at the very end of our time in Africa. We only did one test run of a business since it took a long time to set up. We were working with a woman who started a chicken business. We helped her get funding for a bigger coop, food, and medicine for the chickens. On our last day, we were saying goodbye and hugging her. She gave us eggs and then ran to chop down her whole sugar cane. We told her not to, but she cut it down regardless and gave it to us as a thank you.
Casey and Lexi Koon, junior, with the woman who started a chicken business.
Casey with the sugar cane that the woman gave in gratitude.
Q: Where did you go and what did you do in China?
A: We were based in Shanghai and also traveled to Beijing and Hong Kong on the weekends. I took a crash course in basic principles of entrepreneurship and Chinese principles of entrepreneurship. We examined
Casey sitting on the Great Wall of China.
the different opportunities to and ways of starting a company in China, visited start-ups, and talked with a number of entrepreneurs, both natives, and expatriates.
Q: What was different about studying business in another country?
A: One thing that struck me was the sheer size of China. The massive populations changed the way they did business in ways I didn’t think about. It was also interesting to see similar priorities between us as well as what each country values more. For example, the Chinese emphasize education starting at a young age and it was interesting to see how that affected business and the way people were.
Q: Did you have a big culture shock moment?
A: Oh yeah. After spending 8 weeks in Africa where there are no Chinese people, we were shocked as soon as we stepped off the plane. There were so many people walking around and they all seemed so busy. There was a class of 30 kids running around and yelling at each other in Chinese and the only thing we could think was “we are in China.”
Nicholas Weirzbach, Steven Yang, Dr. Andrew Little, Casey, and Jack Oduro smile in front of the Forbidden City.
Q: Compared to interning, how was study abroad different when it came to cultural immersion?
A: In Africa, I felt like I needed to immerse myself a lot more. I think that this was because I was there to help other people rather than studying for my own benefit. Being there for others drove me to learn the language and immerse myself more since I was not there for myself.
Q: Overall, what was your biggest takeaway from this summer?
A: Take any risk. This summer, I saw just how much people live with nothing. I think that the fear of losing something can hold people back, but that is a mindset that you just can’t live with. You should be doing what you love. Look for an outcome rather than a consequence.
written by guest blogger Rachael Kroeger and with permission from WorldWide Witness
This summer I served in a WorldWide Witness internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at Business as Mission (BAM). BAM is a network of global partners seeking to share resources to advance Christianity in the business world. The group wants to make business be an integral part of the church by creating companies built upon Christian principles that work to better the communities around them. It is a striving toward a “holistic gospel,” meaning that us as Christians should work to bring the kingdom of God not only spiritually, but also socially, mentally, and physically. My internship mainly consisted of working on the development and execution of their international conference that took place in LA September 15-18. I networked, networked, networked! During my time in Thailand, I sent out around 4,000 LinkedIn invites and conference invites combined, not to mention the research I did on different organizations that BAM plans to reach out to.
Rachael Kroeger, Senior Business Management major with a minor in Sociology was a BAM Intern and LA 2016 Conference Speaker.
Because I worked so much on the conference, the lead man of the project, Mark Plummer, asked that I would come facilitate the student sector of the event, as well as lead worship on Sunday morning and speak at one of the breakout sessions. My session was titled “Training, Consulting, and On Ramp Opportunities,” and it was a session I shared among three other speakers. I specifically spoke on my experiences in Thailand, what the program looks like, and what led me to take part in such an awesome project in the first place. It was incredible being a part of the conference (and BAM itself) because I was able to work with several diverse business men and women with hearts for God, and I was able to connect with different businesses and entrepreneurs from all around the world.
There were many contributing factors that prepared me to constructively participate in BAM. WorldWide Witness prepared me through my missions course with Larry Henderson and Gary Green. In it, I studied what it looked like to go abroad with one worldview and work with those from a completely different background and environment. COBA also prepared me by equipping me with adequate business knowledge and skills that was then put to use while working for BAM in Thailand. Through this internship experience, it was solidified in my mind and heart that we as Christians much approach business with a mission-minded viewpoint. I believe that mission in itself should encompass everything; in all that we do, we should be portraying Christ and His love. That being said, I believe as a society, we need to work to come out of our negative take on business. We see business as a necessary evil, where the Bible says that clearly isn’t the case. As business men and women, we must rid the world of the mindset that business is set apart outside of the church and reinstate what it means to be a Godly steward through business. I hope to be an example of this in the future through my own career path.
We’re excited to welcome several new professors and staff members to COBA this fall and are continuing our COBA blog spotlight articles to introduce them to you. We’re glad they’re part of our team!
Dr. Sarah Easter
What is your educational background?
PhD in International Management and Organization (University of Victoria, 2016)
MBA, emphasis in International Business and Marketing (Rollins College, 2008)
BBA, Management and Marketing (ACU, 2006)
Celebrating her PhD!
What is your work background?
After completing my undergraduate degree at ACU, I went on to complete an MBA designed for students with limited work experiences in Orlando, FL (where I am from) at Rollins. While I was in the program I starting interning at Correct Craft (Anyone into wakeboarding or water skiing? They produce the Nautique brand of boats.) in the marketing department. That internship turned into a full time job upon graduation as a Marketing Specialist, in which case I handled branding and marketing communications for the Nautique brand. After working at Correct Craft for a few years, even though I enjoyed my job, I was itching to move abroad and also to apply my skill sets within a socially focused organization. So, I ended up moving to Vietnam in 2010 through Volunteer Services Overseas to work with a social enterprise as a Business Development and Marketing Advisor for a one-year assignment. While in that position I had the opportunity to teach a business course to the staff (And loved it!) and also started asking a lot of questions about how these types of organizations balance social and financial tensions, etc. Collectively, these experiences in Vietnam led me to consider returning to school to obtain my PhD. When I returned from Vietnam, while I was considering PhD programs, I returned to Correct Craft as a Senior Strategy Analyst working with the senior leadership team and then moved to Canada to pursue my PhD about a year and a half later. I am living proof that God’s plans are far greater than anything we can ask or imagine – I would never have pictured myself coming back to ACU 10 years after I completed my undergraduate to work as a faculty member, but I am so glad that He has led me here!
At graduation brunch with my parents, sister and brother-in-law.
What do you teach at ACU?
This semester I am teaching the strategy capstone course. I am excited about the opportunity to work with students as they develop and hone their strategic thinking skills for today’s increasingly complex, ambiguous and dynamic environment – regardless of whether they desire to work in a for-profit, nonprofit or public organization. And, to do so, in a very discussion oriented and applied manner.
What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?
I have always been a bit of a school nerd and really enjoy and appreciate continuous learning, so the idea of having the opportunity to shape future generations of students and have focused time to continually learn through research and interacting with students is very attractive. However, I never really saw myself in a teaching role. It wasn’t until I lived in Vietnam and had the opportunity to teach a business class to the employees at the social enterprise I worked with that I began to see that as more of a possibility. It was a very challenging experience trying to take business knowledge I had learned in the US environment and contextualize it for Vietnam while also making it relevant and enjoyable for them. Yet, I really enjoyed the experience and it was such a joy getting to see them embrace and understand the material (after a bit of resistance at the beginning).
What’s the best part of working with students?
College is such a formative (and hopefully transformational) experience in a young person’s life not only academically but socially and spiritually as well. It is also such an exciting yet scary time of exploring the large multitude of possibilities as to where God would lead each student both professionally and personally in the future. I love getting to play a small role in students’ development to that end and I am very excited to be at a university that values education as a holistic experience which encompasses academic, social and spiritual components.
Have you ever given up any big opportunities to keep working with students?
When I decided to go back to school to pursue my PhD, I walked away from a lucrative career path. I moved to Western Canada (to a city that is the second most expensive city to live in across Canada) and received a stipend as opposed to the market salary I was used to – which was certainly an adjustment. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and while it was hard at times, I don’t regret it at all.
Some of my dearest friends from ACU.
Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?
In addition to teaching, I am very passionate about my research that focuses on how people work across cultural differences in support of addressing major societal challenges such as homelessness. Outside of my profession, I enjoy spending time with family and friends – and I am excited to be much closer, geographically speaking, to many of those I hold dear (in comparison to when I was living on an island in Western Canada). I also love to read, try new and different restaurants (I’m a bit of a foodie) and travel (I always have many different places on my list!). As well, I love to go on new ‘mini’ adventures and to try new things – next up on my list is learning to play a musical instrument. I am also contemplating purchasing a motor scooter at some point – I rode one the year I lived in Vietnam and loved it!
What is a good, early story about your teaching?
While I was working on my doctoral degree, I taught a few sections of Leading People and Organizations (also known as Organizational Behavior). Students at this particular institution tended to view this course as a “fluffy” one without a lot of practical value. It was really rewarding for me to see students in that course (even the more reluctant ones) embrace the material, reflect on how the concepts applied to their own situations and to actually have fun in the process of learning.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Since it is so recent and was such a significant and all-encompassing undertaking, I would have to say my dissertation. I conducted a 16-month ethnographic study of a coalition to end homelessness in Western Canada. I was really interested in how a diverse body of organizations and individuals from public, private and non profit sectors come together to address a significant societal issue over time, in this case homelessness. It was fascinating for me to hear all of the different perspectives and vantage points of the involved organizations and to develop a deep understanding as to how the coalition evolved over time in the presence of many and very different ways of working (e.g., different values, norms, goals). It was also very rewarding to work closely with the coalition and to be able to provide feedback and recommendations to them based on the study. I love conducting research that also has strong practical implications and look forward to developing more similar partnerships in the future as I progress with my research.
Do you do any charity or non-profit work?
While I lived in Canada I was very involved in my church. I taught and mentored middle school girls for a number of years and my life group (also known as small group) volunteered regularly at a youth homeless drop in center. I am looking forward to getting involved in similar types of activities in Abilene as I get settled here.
On a bear tour on Vancouver Island with my parents and sister this summer.
Who is your role model, and why?
My parents – they are such amazing examples of living out the Christian faith in their lives. They invest in the people and spaces to which God has called them (which have varied greatly over the years) and truly try to fully grow and develop in each and every season. I have learned so much about hard work and perseverance as well as the importance of laughter and appreciating the journey from watching them over the years.
With my dissertation supervisor.
Who was your most inspirational professor and why?
It would be impossible for me to name the many, many individuals who have played an important role in my many, many years of higher education over the years. But, two, in particular, stand out as they both significantly influenced my development as a teacher and scholar:
- My international marketing professor during my MBA program who helped to ignite my passion for using business for social good….which eventually resulted in my working with a social enterprise in Vietnam and then to my pursuing a PhD.
- My dissertation supervisor for her patience and support throughout my PhD journey. She helped me to fully understand and embrace an interdisciplinary approach to capturing today’s complex organizational phenomenal.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I think it would be neat to teleport– that would make it much easier for me to travel different places quickly and on the cheap.
What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?
I used to play lacrosse in high school (although I haven’t played in years). I played defense and was actually pretty aggressive. I was named MVP of defense and played in an all-state game my senior year.
What would you really want students and alums to know about you?
I believe very strongly in the mission and focus of ACU (it was such a formative part of my own development as an undergraduate) and I’m happy to be back as a professor
COBA seeks to provide opportunities for the students and community to hear from Christian leaders in the business world through our COBA Distinguished Speaker Series. In the past few years, we’ve featured Bob McDonald, Mike Duke, and Matt Rose. This October, we’re excited to host Lisa Rose, founder and president of the 501(c)(3) projectHandUp, as COBA’s fall 2015 Distinguished Speaker.
Lisa’s mission is to provide venues where people can find their purpose and learn to fulfill it. After growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas, and receiving a degree in Marketing from Texas Tech University, her time in corporate life was in fast-food marketing. She has spent the last 20 years in church women’s ministry leading and equipping women through classes, studies and events. She has served on GRACE’s Advisory Council and at the Dallas County Jail. Lisa currently serves as board member for the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Performing Arts Fort Worth, United Way Homelessness Allocations Committee and was the 2015 Golden Deeds Outstanding Citizen of the Year. She founded First Friday, an event for women, in 2008, and is now committed to the lifelong project of establishing The Gatehouse as a community where women and children in crisis participate in a place and program for permanent change.
Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Gatehouse
Lisa Rose is also the founder and Board President of The Gatehouse at Grapevine. The Gatehouse is a $28 million, 61-acre supportive living community designed for women in crisis and their children. The Gatehouse website explains that the community will house up to 96 families and includes a community/conference center, in-neighborhood counseling centers, Keeps Boutique, Hope Chapel, general store, walking trails and commercial space.
This community, which allows members to stay up to 2½ years depending on their individually tailored program, provides safe refuge and creates the environment for women and children in crisis to walk the path toward permanent change.
The Gatehouse community
The idea for The Gatehouse sprung up in part from the First Friday initiative which began in 2008, when Lisa and a group of women began a free, once-a-month experience to give women a practical hand up for life’s challenges. The First Friday experience transformed into the nonprofit projectHandUp, through which the founding leaders could create a way to offer women a hand up that would lead to permanent, positive change: a place where women could be healed and restored as they end needless cycles of poverty, abuse and repetitive prison terms.
At that same time, Deborah Lyons, Executive Director at The Gatehouse in Grapevine, had envisioned a fully integrated, non-government funded supportive community for women in crisis. God brought the two women together, and Deborah joined the journey with projectHandUp. Deborah also is the author of the faith-based Independent Life Program used at The Gatehouse.
In August 2012, projectHandUp purchased 61 acres outside DFW Airport with unanimous Grapevine City Council approval, and the stepping stones were laid for The Gatehouse, a supportive living community where women and their children in crisis can discover a new path for permanent change. The Gatehouse opened in March of 2015.
Join us on October 29th for the Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon beginning at 11:45 am in the Hunter Welcome Center. COBA is providing the opportunity for 100 ACU students to attend the event for free by registering here. General Admission tickets are $20 and may be purchased at this link. If you have questions about the event, please email M.C. Jennings at email@example.com.
Read more about The Gatehouse at this link from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
View the grand opening of The Gatehouse by clicking here.
*Information about The Gatehouse provided in this blog comes directly from The Gatehouse website. Visit their website by clicking this link.
Purchase tickets to the event by clicking on this link.
Sixteen ACU students had the opportunity to study Social Entrepreneurship at City Square in Dallas during a January short course. The class was taught by COBA professor, Dr. Laura Phillips. In the short one-week time period, the class covered a wide range of topics related to starting and running a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit that has a social mission at its core). Speakers who currently run these types of enterprises, as well as those who consult and advise these organizations, came to share with the class about their own unique experiences. In addition, the class included student presentations on various topics and case study discussions. Students were also taken on a tour of City Square, hearing about how the business operates and ways they are trying to expand.
Many of the speakers were ACU alums, including Robyn Wise, Scott Orr, and Don Crisp. Scott Orr, an ACU and COBA grad, has served in many roles for nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies. He is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs for Fidelity Investments.
Scott’s Mantra: Using strengths to accomplish greatness.
Jerita’s Mantra: Bloom where you are planted.
Jerita Howard, an Abilene resident, also came to speak to the class. Jerita is the owner of One Smart Cookie, an online gourmet cookie and brownie gift package company. Like Scott, Jerita has also served in various roles throughout her professional career. Both of these entrepreneurs provided valuable insights on business operations and social enterprises.
Dr. Laura Phillips loved the broad mix of majors that were represented in the class this year. She says, “The class succeeds because of the knowledge, experience, and honesty of the 14 guest speakers. While not all of the students who took the class plan to start a social enterprise, I think all of the students benefited from the class.” After taking the class, she hopes students feel equipped to work with social ventures in the way that fits their life and career goals.
Emily Adkins, a sophomore Pre-Physical Therapy major from Irving, TX, enjoyed taking the class at City Square. She feels like she has learned the basics of social enterprises and that she could comfortably work in this type of environment now. “This class really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way! I love social enterprises and I can see myself working for one some day. Listening to these speakers opened my eyes to how these organizations help people in an effective way.”
Group at the Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua.
At the end of the the summer, 18 students along with Dr. Andy Little and Dr. Jim Litton, traveled south to study abroad in Central America. Students had the opportunity to earn credit in Global Entrepreneurship as well as MGMT 440, including special topics: Business Practicum in Central America. COBA also co-taught an Honors College colloquium on social entrepreneurship in developing countries. The group spent the first two days in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, stayed at Mission Lazarus for nine days, and ended the trip in Leon, Nicaragua.
The trip challenged the students to evaluate how they want to conduct business in the future. They were able to use their business skills in social entrepreneurship, learning how to apply these skills in a missional context. Because the group was surrounded by widespread poverty, this study abroad trip was unlike other COBA programs. Working in Central America gave students and professors a chance to see the complexity and difficulties of globalization and economic development in third world countries.
Throughout the trip, students were able to tour local businesses, go behind the scenes with ACU alum Jarrod Brown at Mission Lazarus, visit a local Honduran co-operative coffee company, and speak to several different business leaders in Honduras. Unlike the local co-op, Mission Lazarus had a much smaller profit margin; because of their commitment to operating the business in a godly manner, they strive to treat employees fairly and with dignity.
Stephanie Day, a senior accounting major from Oklahoma City, was highly encouraged by the trip. She believes in the power of the business principles she learned this summer, even if in the future she does not work in social entrepreneurship. Stephanie encourages students to get plugged in and study abroad at some point in their college career. She says, “There are so many incredible things we can learn in a classroom setting, but there’s something about seeing those principles applied firsthand in other countries that makes the learning experience so much more valuable.”
The encounters students get to experience while studying abroad are truly one of a kind. In Central America, students were able to see firsthand how businesses function in developing countries. COBA is intentional with providing students unique opportunities to integrate learning key business principles with developing students to reach their potential and find their missional calling.
“Because each culture is so different, God is able to manifest himself in different ways; studying abroad is so remarkable because not only does it expose you to a new way of learning, but it also gives students the opportunity to see God in an entirely new light,” says Stephanie Day, a senior accounting major.