New course honors Burkenroad Reports patron

February 25th, 2015

“Aaron was one of the greatest, smartest investors I ever met,” says Peter Ricchiuti. “He was the consummate value investor, always looking for things that were out of favor. I learned so much from him.”

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Instructor Myke Yest says the Selber Course delves into an important yet often neglected area of finance. (Photos by Mahesh Rajan.)

Ricchiuti, founder and director of Burkenroad Reports, is talking about businessman and private investor Aaron Selber Jr. (BBA ’50), who died in August 2013 following a long illness. A member of the Burkenroad family by his marriage to the former Peggy Burkenroad, Selber played a major role in the family’s decision to endow Ricchiuti’s program in honor of his late father-in-law, New Orleans coffee magnate William B. Burkenroad Jr. (’23), and he remained one of its biggest champions until his death.

This semester, the Freeman School introduced a new course to pay tribute to Selber’s lifelong commitment to Tulane University. The Aaron Selber Jr. Course in Alternative Investments is a finance elective dedicated to the wide-ranging category that encompasses everything from real estate to hedge funds. While future offerings may explore other areas, this semester’s class focuses exclusively on one alternative investment: distressed debt, the highly complex investing space that Selber enjoyed most.

According to course instructor Myke Yest, the class delves into an important yet often neglected area of finance.

“Investors spend far more time talking about the equity of a company than they do the debt side, but the reality is that the value of the bond market is far greater than the equity markets,” says Yest, a professor of practice in finance. “Distressed debt was an area that Mr. Selber was truly passionate about, so what better way to honor him than to make an entire course about distressed debt?”

The course combines lectures and case studies on non-investment-grade bonds with talks from an all-star lineup of guest speakers, including James Duplessie (MBA ’84), head of Distressed Debt Strategies at Napier Park Global Capital, and Howard Marks, co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management and one of the nation’s leading experts on distressed securities.

Selber's friend and business partner Dewey Corley spoke about distressed debt at the first meeting of the class.

Investor Dewey Corley spoke about his friend Aaron Selber and his approach to distressed debt as the course’s first guest lecturer.

Kicking off the guest lecture series on Jan. 15 was Dewey W. Corley (L ’70), Selber’s longtime friend and business partner. Corley worked with Selber’s son-in-law Robert H. Autenreith (E ’74, MBA ’78) and all the members of the family to help raise $1.2 million to name the course in Selber’s honor.

“Aaron was an inspirational guy,” says Corley, who met Selber in the early 1970s and became his investing partner in 1998. “He cared deeply about education, about Tulane University and about investing, so I think he’d be delighted to know that this course had been established in his honor.”

While students in the course will gain the technical skills necessary to analyze and value distressed debt, the class also features an experiential learning component in the spirit of Selber’s beloved Burkenroad Reports. Yest plans to have his students write analysis reports on distressed companies detailing why the company is in distress, what piece of its debt they’d recommend purchasing, and what the most likely return for investors is. In a crowded job market, Yest says the reports can help students gain a critical edge.

“We can have a curriculum that is technically very strong, but if we’re not giving students relevant, applicable experience, we’re not doing our job,” Yest says. “The Selber Course gives students not only some unique technical skills, but also a deliverable to show potential employers what they did at Tulane, and that goes a long way toward helping them to stand apart from the competition.”

Ricchiuti, whose program has been helping students stand apart from the crowd for almost 25 years, echoes that thought.

“Aaron was always interested in creating things at Tulane that weren’t available anywhere else,” Ricchiuti says. “Burkenroad Reports was one of those things, and now I think the Selber Course is as well. When students come out of it, they’ll have a set of skills that nobody else has, and that’s something I think Aaron would be very proud of.”

 

 


CFO.com: Persuasion by CFOs Could Spur Faulty Audits

February 19th, 2015

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An article on CFO.com highlights new research by the Freeman School’s Kris Hoang on auditor reactions to persuasive tactics. For the study, Hoang and co-author Sanaz Aghazadeh looked at how 85 auditors from large international accounting firms react to persuasive language  from clients and pressure to accommodate their wishes.

The professors conclude that client-services pressure – the kind that may occur when a senior audit partner tells auditors that the client will be completing a satisfaction survey at the end of the audit – changes how the auditor interprets a client’s expression of confidence in the numbers. Auditors under such pressure “perceive client confidence as a cue to a persuasion attempt, rather than as an innocuous message,” according to the study.

But such skepticism about the client’s motives doesn’t spur auditors to fact-check the corporation’s numbers by consulting its vendors or customers. Auditors “only seek more powerful evidence when they encounter persuasive language under weaker client service pressure,” the researchers find.

“Thus, even though stronger client service pressure sensitizes auditors to persuasion, it simultaneously deters auditors from pursuing evidence from a more objective source,” they add.

To read the article in its entirety, visit CFO.com:

http://ww2.cfo.com/auditing/2015/02/unfriendly-persuasion-cfos-spur-faulty-audits/


Think you need luck? Think again

February 13th, 2015

If Friday the 13th finds you being a little more careful than usual, you’re likely one of the millions of Americans who consider themselves to be at least a little superstitious.

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The Freeman School’s Eric Hamerman says people are more likely to turn to superstition to help achieve performance goals as opposed to learning goals.

A. B. Freeman School of Business researcher Eric Hamerman studies the impact of superstition on decision-making and his latest paper sheds light on the situations in which individuals use superstitions most.

People are more likely to turn to superstition when they’re interested in achieving a performance goal as opposed to a learning goal, he said.

“Performance goals involve somebody else giving me approval whereas learning goals involve an internal sense of competence and mastery,” said Hamerman, an assistant professor of marketing at the Freeman School. “Only when looking for outside approval do we bring in outside sources, such as luck, to try to help ourselves.”

An example of a performance goal would be a musician who practices in order to receive applause. If the musician were to practice solely for the satisfaction of mastering the piece of music, that would be a learning goal. Similarly, a student who studies to get an A has a performance goal whereas a student who studies to learn the material has a learning goal.

While Hamerman’s research doesn’t address whether belief in superstition affects one’s performance, he said focusing on performance goals tends to make people feel less in control while focusing on learning goals tends to make people challenge and stretch themselves.

“The lesson here is that we should really try to reframe those performance goals as learning goals,” Hamerman said. “If we focus on the process rather than the outcome … we’ll tend to focus on more rational solutions to become better achievers.”

Hamerman’s paper “Reliance on Luck: Identifying Which Achievement Goals Elicit Superstitious Behavior,” co-authored with Carey Morewedge, appears in the March 2015 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.


Oldham named one of most influential I/O psychologists

February 12th, 2015

In a new ranking by Human Resources MBA, the Freeman School’s Greg Oldham is named as one of the nation’s most influential living I/O psychologists.

Greg Oldham

Greg Oldham

Oldham, J. F. Jr. and Jesse Lee Seinsheimer Chair of Business and professor of management, is ranked 14th on the website’s list of The 30 Most Influential Industrial and Organizational Psychologists Alive Today. Human Resources MBA bases the ranking on a combination of publications, impact on industrial and organizational practices, influence on future research directions, and awards and recognition.

Oldham was singled out for his co-development of the Job Characteristics Theory, which suggests that challenging tasks serve as motivation while monotonous or boring tasks suppress motivation and lead to employee dissatisfaction. The theory, which provides a set of principles for enriching jobs,  is widely used by organizations.

Oldham joined the Freeman School in 2009 after serving as the C. Clinton Spivey Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and professor of labor and industrial relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the contextual and personal conditions that prompt the creativity of individuals and teams in organizations. He has also conducted numerous studies on the effects of the design of work and work environments on employees’ effectiveness and psychological well-being. His research has appeared in many of the leading journals in the fields, including  Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior Human Decision Processes, Administrative Science Quarterly and Journal of Management.

Human Resources MBA is an online education guide with resources to help aspiring HR professionals explore and choose the best human resources degree programs.


NOLA.Com: Mardi Gras contributed $465 million to economy

February 11th, 2015

nola.com

From NOLA.com, Feb. 9, 2014:

A new study on the economic value of the 2014 Mardi Gras season showed a total contribution to the New Orleans economy of $465 million, with a total of $17.5 million in tax revenues going to local government entities. The study, conducted by Tulane economics professor Toni Weiss with help from the Freeman Consulting Group, determined that the direct expenditures during the 2014 Mardi Gras season — accounting for things like hotels, food and alcohol, and krewe memberships — came to $164 million.

To read the article in its entirety, visit NOLA.com.

http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2015/02/2014_mardi_gras_season_contrib.html


Freeman unveils new four-year MD/MBA

February 10th, 2015

Recognizing the growing need for physicians with business training, the A. B. Freeman School of Business and Tulane University School of Medicine have created a new four-year accelerated program for medical students to earn a master of business administration with their medical degrees.

MDMBA-release

This summer, the Freeman School and Tulane School of Medicine will begin offering a new program that enables students to earn a medical degree and an MBA in just four years.

The joint-degree program, which begins this summer, is one of only a very few four-year MD/MBA programs across the country.

“Future leaders in medicine must excel as clinicians as well as managers in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare market,” said Dr. Lee Hamm, senior vice president and dean of Tulane University School of Medicine. “This joint degree program is designed to prepare physicians who may later run their own practices, become biomedical entrepreneurs or pursue future careers in health care administration or pharmaceutical development.”

“Whether their goal is to become a practicing physician, medical director of a hospital or manager of a medical group, physicians who understand the tools, concepts and language of business will have a critical advantage in bridging the clinical and business sides of health care,” said Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School.

The four-year program is for newly admitted medical students who will take courses at Freeman during the summers before and after their first year of medical school. Students then complete their business education throughout the remainder of their time at the school of medicine.

The new program will be offered in addition to Tulane’s existing five-year MD/MBA degree, which began in 2004. The five-year degree includes a required global leadership component, which provides real-world learning experiences through international travel. Both combined programs allow students to save time and money over earning the two degrees separately. Each require 48 credit hours compared to the usual 60 hours of a traditional two-year MBA program.

For more information, visit: http://tulane.edu/som/admissions/programs/combined-degrees.cfm


The Advocate: Entrepreneur puts muscle behind startups

February 9th, 2015

theAdvocateLogo

From The Advocate, Feb. 8, 2015:

Business writer Kathy Finn profiled John Elstrott, chairman of Whole Foods Market and former executive director of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, in Sunday’s Advocate newspaper.

He has guided scores of young business students toward careers in business innovation, sometimes becoming an investor and board member in their startups.

That’s how Elstrott came to be involved in Dinner Lab, a member-based catering and events business that has quickly spread into 24 cities, where teams of highly trained chefs and wait staffs serve hundreds of guests at pop-up dinner parties hosted in unusual settings. Dinner Lab plans to enter the Baton Rouge market within the next few weeks.

Four of the company’s five founders were students of Elstrott at Tulane. “We approached John early on, and he joined our board and made the very first investment,” co-founder and CEO Brian Bordainick said.

To read the article in its entirety, visit TheAdvocate.com:

http://theadvocate.com/news/11523822-123/veteran-entrepreneur-puts-muscle-behind

 

 


PitchNOLA winner comes full circle

February 3rd, 2015

When entrepreneur Larry Irvin Jr. took the Freeman Auditorium stage at last year’s PitchNOLA startup competition, it did not go well.

PitchNOLA, an annual social entrepreneurship elevator pitch compeition, took place Jan. 28 on Tulane's uptown campus. (Photo by Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo)

PitchNOLA, an annual social entrepreneurship elevator pitch compeition, took place Jan. 28 on Tulane’s uptown campus. (Photo by Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo)

He froze up a minute into his pitch, rushing out of the auditorium as a stunned audience watched his business partner Kristyna Jones dash up to finish the presentation.

Unbowed, the two came back for a second shot last week for PitchNOLA 2015: Community Solutions and more than redeemed themselves. Their venture, Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T), won the top $5,000 prize in the annual elevator pitch contest for social entrepreneurs seeking to solve community challenges in New Orleans.

BE2T recruits African-American college students to work as teaching assistants and mentors in area public schools. The goal is to close the achievement gap for at-risk students by inspiring and incentivizing men of color to become teachers.

“We’ve hit another milestone,” Jones said. “Winning means that stipends will be covered this fall for two of our 15 (classroom) participants.”

Held annually at Tulane University since 2009, PitchNOLA allows 10 semi-finalists to go before a panel of judges and a live audience to pitch their ideas to take on pressing, local issues in workforce development, children and families, social justice and the environment. The contest is co-hosted by the A. B. Freeman School of Business,  Tulane Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching and Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation.

“I’ve judged this event since it’s started, and these entrepreneurs had the best pitches I’ve seen, across the board,” said judge Leslie Jacobs.

UnCommon Construction won $3,000 as the second place winner and $640 as the audience favorite. The nonprofit builds houses with high school apprentices and uses the proceeds to provide them with expanded college and career opportunities.

Gator & Crane placed third, winning $2,000. The company seeks to build an environmentally sustainable grocery store that offers healthy foods while reducing packaging waste.

 


Going the distance to fight cancer

January 28th, 2015

Liz Cowle grew up with cancer.

Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few weeks before Liz was born. She died a month after Liz’s fourth birthday, leaving her grieving father to care for her and her two young sisters.

Liz Cowle will run from San Francisco to Baltimore this summer to promote cancer awareness.

Liz Cowle (BSM/MACCT ’15) will take part in a cross-country run this summer to promote cancer awareness.

“All the pictures that I have of my mom, she’s very withered away,” says Cowle, a fifth-year Master of Accounting student at the Freeman School. “It got to the point that she wasn’t even able to pick me up anymore. My dad had to carry her from the bed to the bathtub. She left us videos and you can see as I grew up, she gets worse.”

Losing her mother to cancer at such a young age was traumatic, but Cowle says the experience taught her to be independent, to give back when she can, and most of all to appreciate her good health and physical fitness.

This summer, she plans to do all three of those things when she embarks on a cross-country run to fight cancer. As a participant in the Ulman Cancer Fund’s 4K for Cancer, Cowle will run from San Francisco to Baltimore to raise funds and promote cancer awareness. Along the way, she’ll also visit hospitals and cancer centers to award scholarships and hand out care packages to patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Liz with her mother, ??? Cowle, who died in 1992.

Liz and her mother, Denise Cowle, who died from cancer in 1996.

“I’ve participated in 5Ks that benefit different cancer charities, but I always wanted to do something bigger,” says Cowle, who will join the New Orleans office of Deloitte & Touche in September as an auditor. “When I saw this and learned that we would actually go across the country and meet with patients, I thought it would be the best way I could spend my summer before I begin my job.”

Cowle is one of 60 runners and 100 cyclists selected to participate in the annual cross-country trek, which last year raised over $1 million to support programs for young adults affected by cancer. As a member of this year’s 4k for Cancer team, Cowle expects to run about 60 miles per week over the course of the seven-week journey. To prepare for that task, she’s been adding mileage to her daily runs in Audubon Park as well as working with a personal trainer on resistance exercise including weight lifting and suspension training. She also practices Bikram yoga three times per week.

“I know the 4K will be emotionally and physically exhausting, but l also know the journey will be incredibly rewarding,” she says. “Cancer doesn’t stop, so why should I? People keep telling me I’m crazy for wanting to run across the country, but as Steve Jobs used to say, ‘The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.’ I can’t change what has happened to me and my family, but maybe I can change what happens to others.”

To learn more about 4K for Cancer or make a pledge to support Cowle’s run, visit 4kforcancer.org/profiles/liz-cowle.

 

 


Research Notes: Eric Hamerman

January 28th, 2015

Hamerman125Eric Hamerman’s paper “Reliance on Luck: Identifying Which Achievement Goals Elicit Superstitious Behavior,” co-authored with Carey Morewedge, associate professor of marketing at Boston University School of Management, has been accepted for publication in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. In the paper, the authors find that people are more likely to turn to superstitions to achieve performance goals as opposed to learning goals. Performance goals are when people try to be judged as successful by others. They tend to be extrinsically motivated and are perceived to be susceptible to influence from outside forces. Learning goals, by contrast, are often judged internally, and due to their intrinsic motivation, there is a perception that they are internally controlled and less likely to be impacted by outside forces. Hamerman is an assistant professor of marketing at the Freeman School.



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