Archive for November, 2010

Green jobs training program wins top honors at PitchNOLA

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Disposing of used cooking oil is an unpleasant cost of doing business for most restaurants, but one local group is turning that task into green—green fuel, green jobs and green cash.

PitchNOLA 2010

Hamilton Simons-Jones, left, of the Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, shakes hands with Joel Tilton of New Orleans Panthers FC as master of ceremonies Chris Reade, center, looks on. Simons-Jones won first place and Tilton won the audience favorite prize at this year's PitchNOLA competition. (Photo by Erica Stavis)

The Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, which trains inner-city youths to convert used cooking oil into biodiesel fuel, took home first place and a cash prize of $5,000 at the 2010 PitchNOLA competition, an elevator pitch competition for local social entrepreneurship ventures. The event took place Wednesday (Nov. 17) in the Woldenberg Art Center’s Freeman Auditorium on Tulane’s uptown campus.

The competition—a joint presentation of Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans (SENO), Tulane University’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives, the A. B. Freeman School of Business, the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association and the Young Leadership Council—gave 10 social entrepreneurs three minutes each to pitch their ventures before a panel of judges and a live audience of more than 150 people. The judges evaluated the ventures, which ranged from a fleet of eco-friendly taxi cabs to swimming lessons for urban kids, and provided the entrepreneurs with feedback on their ideas and presentations.

The Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project collects used cooking oil from restaurants, which earn a tax deduction for their donations, and sells the clean-burning biodiesel fuel it makes to fleets and distributors, but the project’s true focus is its social mission. The group provides technical training and job skills to out-of-work young people between the ages of 14 and 25, many of them high school dropouts with few alternatives. In addition to gaining valuable skills for the emerging green economy, all graduates of the program earn a certificate from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), which qualifies them for a variety of well-paying jobs.

Judging this year's competition were, left to right, John Elstrott, Robin Keegan and Roy Glapion. (Photo by Erica Stavis)

“They’re reaching an audience that can really use the help, they have a sustainable plan and they’re building on things that are already in the market,” said John Elstrott, executive director of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship and one of this year’s judges. “It was a nice program, and we wanted to give them help.”

Hamilton Simons-Jones, chief development officer at Operation Reach Inc., which runs the Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, said the cash prize will help the group scale up its training program, but he added that one of the biggest benefits of the competition was the chance to network with other social entrepreneurs.

“There were a couple of people who were finalists that I made sure to get cards from,” said Simons-Jones. “We depend on community support and understanding of our work, so to have such a diverse audience like this is awesome.”

In addition to the Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, New Orleans Panthers FC, which operates a soccer club for Central City youths funded in part by a community garden that supplies produce to local restaurants, won a prize of $500 for being voted as favorite pitch by audience members.

Ann Davis of Swim 4 Success, which provides free-of-charge swimming lessons to local kids, gets feedback from the judges after delivering her pitch. (Photo by Erica Stavis)

“We don’t plan on soliciting grants all that much, but if something comes up again, this experience will definitely be a benefit,” said Joel Tilton of New Orleans Panthers FC. “I made some connections and met some interesting people. It’s been a good experience.”

PitchNOLA received nearly 100 entries this year, twice the number it received in 2009. According to Andrea Chen, chair of SENO, that increase speaks to the growth of social entrepreneurship in New Orleans.

“Every year more and more people have ideas, and they’re starting to take action on them because they see all the great examples of people who were just like them,” said Chen. “These are community members who said here’s a problem, I can step up to the plate and solve it and make an impact in my community.”

Funding for this year’s program was provided by Penny Hart, a Tulane parent and member of the Tulane Parents Council.

“I’m an entrepreneur myself and I’ve lived the American Dream, so I love the concept of supporting entrepreneurship,” Hart said. “At the same time, I have three children and I am very concerned about the environment and the future of our earth, so the combination of the two is a really wonderful thing to support.”

Freeman jumps in latest Bloomberg Businessweek ranking

Monday, November 15th, 2010

In its latest biennial ranking of full-time MBA programs, Bloomberg Businessweek has ranked Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business 35th in the U.S. The ranking, which appears in the magazine’s Nov. 15 issue, represents a jump of at least 10 spots for the Freeman School.

Bloomberg Businessweek cover“While we still have much work to do, this significant improvement together with our strong showing in the most recent Financial Times ranking suggests that our efforts of the last several years are starting to yield results,” said Angelo DeNisi, dean of the Freeman School. “It is particularly gratifying that this rise in the Businessweek ranking was driven by an exceptionally high rating by corporate recruiters, who judged our graduates to be among the very best in the market.”

Bloomberg Businessweek bases its ranking on surveys of alumni and recruiters as well as the research output of faculty. Of the 75 schools ranked in this year’s survey, recruiters placed Freeman at 12th for quality of graduates, a higher ranking than five of the top 15 programs on this year’s list.

In addition, Freeman’s executive MBA program also fared well in the survey. Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the Freeman School’s EMBA program in the second tier of executive MBA programs, placing it among the top 50 programs in the nation.

For more information about the methodology and to see the rankings in their entirety, visit

Beta Gamma Sigma inducts newest members

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The Tulane chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing business excellence, welcomed its newest members at an induction ceremony in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II on Oct. 26, 2010.

The inductees, including students from the BSM, MACCT, MBA, MGM, MRISK and PMBA programs, were as follows:

Left to right, Beta Gamma Sigma inductees Sofia Zarate (MBA ’11), Alexandra Thurber (MBA ’11), Hakima Taoufiq (MBA ’11) and Yueyue Fu (MBA ’11).

  • Luis Aguilar
  • Chukwudubem Arah
  • James Arogeti
  • Juan Pablo Arriagada
  • Jonathan Atkinson
  • Gerardo Barroso-Villa
  • Yves Bouillet
  • Laura Demmitt
  • Anthony Elia
  • Stephen Feazell
  • Yueyue Fu
  • Sarah Gaddis
  • Federico Galvez
  • Scott Gerdes
  • James Hance
  • Arda Karaaslan
  • Jonathan Kartus
  • Catherine LaCorte
  • Anne Teague Landis
  • Hui Li
  • Thomas Malatesta

    Inductees Jennifer Urrego (MBA ’11), left, and Elizabeth McCoy (BSM/MACCT ’11).

  • Amber McCalla
  • Elizabeth McCoy
  • Mari-Kate McEntee
  • Manuel Melendez Maycotte
  • Ivan Montoya Moreno
  • Ryan Mylrea
  • Ravi Prakash
  • Juan Pablo Ravelo
  • Antonio Rodriguez Pena
  • Carlos Roman
  • John Rotonti
  • Paul Santarelli
  • Andrew Scharf
  • Hakima Taoufiq
  • Alexandra Thurber
  • Jennifer Urrego
  • Diana Valencia
  • Sofia Zarate

In addition, three undergraduate Beta Gamma Sigma inductees also received second recognition at the graduate level:

  • Laura Demmitt
  • Jonathan Kartus
  • Amber McCalla

Beta Gamma Sigma is recognized by the educational and corporate communities as the highest recognition a business student can receive in a program accredited by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Since its founding in 1913, Beta Gamma Sigma has inducted more than 625,000 members from 486 collegiate chapters and 21 alumni chapters. Members currently reside in all 50 states and more than 160 countries throughout the world. Tulane’s chapter was established in 1924.

Students’ hopes riding on recycling in national marketing competition

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The hopes of three Freeman School students are riding on recycling in a national marketing competition.

Freeman School students Amanda Diamond, Carly O’Meara and Beckie Warren, left to right, are traveling to locations across the South to promote recycling as part of a social media campaign to generate buzz for Honda’s new CR-Z sport hybrid coupe.

A team featuring Freeman students Amanda Diamond, Carly O’Meara and Beckie Warren is one of 10 finalists in the Honda CR-Z Media Challenge, a national marketing competition that asked students to devise social media campaigns to generate buzz for Honda’s sporty new hybrid car. As one of the 10 teams in the finals, the Freeman students received a CR-Z to use for six weeks, a $150 gift card to help with implementation expenses, and a Flip Video camcorder to document their campaign.

Since receiving the CR-Z on Oct. 11, Diamond, O’Meara and Warren have logged hundreds of miles traveling to locations across the South in the sporty hybrid to hold recycling drives that double as promotional events for the environmentally friendly car. The trio visited LSU and Auburn in October and plan to visit the University of Memphis in November. The students hope to use cash generated from the recycled goods to pay for their gas, enabling them to return the gift card to Honda without using any of the $150.

“Our motto is, ‘We’re riding on recycling,’” says O’Meara. “When people come to give us their plastic bottles and aluminum cans, we’re able to show them the Honda CR-Z as well.”

The campaign—which they’ve dubbed “Honda CR-Z Road Trip 2010”—concludes on Nov. 20 with a “Recycling Block Party” in Pocket Park on Tulane’s campus that will feature live music and displays from local green businesses.

After reviewing reports on the campaigns from each of the 10 finalists, Honda will select three teams to visit its headquarters in Torrance, Calif.,  and present a recap of their campaigns to a panel of executives, PR industry leaders and journalists. Those three teams will also become “virtual interns” for Honda, participating in brainstorming sessions, drafting and editing PR materials, and attending promotional events to support the launch of the CR-Z. In addition, the team chosen by Honda for executing the best overall campaign will be invited to the CR-Z’s official launch in Washington D.C. in April 2011.

While the trips to California and Washington D.C. are nice rewards, O’Meara says the ultimate prize is the chance to demonstrate their marketing skills and social media savvy for potential employers.

“Who’d think we’d have the chance to do our own marketing campaign for one of the world’s biggest car companies?” O’Meara says. “This is just a great opportunity.”

To see photos and videos from their recycling trips, visit Honda CR-Z Road Trip 2010 Facebook page.

(And when you’re finished, click the “like” button to give the students a better shot at winning the challenge!)

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