Archive for April, 2011 Conscious Capitalism: Tulane MBAs In Argentina

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

From, April 27, 2011:

Tulane University has built a national reputation for public service in recent years. Now, that reputation is going global. Adding to the university’s list of international service projects, a group of MBA students in the A. B. Freeman School of Business pitched in with recent volunteer work in Argentina.

To read the entire article, visit

McDonald’s exec describes chain’s revitalization

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t remember McDonald’s short-lived experiment with 55-cent Big Macs, but to Neil Golden, chief marketing officer of McDonald’s USA, the ill-fated 1997 promotion is a bitter reminder of everything that had gone wrong at the Golden Arches.

Neil Golden

Neil Golden, chief marketing officer of McDonald's USA, discussed the company's recent revitalization as this year's R. W. Freeman Distinguished Lecturer.

The campaign started with a simple premise—to drive sales with 55-cent hamburgers and cheeseburgers—but two weeks before its launch, executives on the financial side of the company changed the offer, adding the Big Mac to the promotion but with the stipulation that customers had to buy fries and a drink to get the special price. Customers were confused by the complicated purchase requirements, and franchisees were frustrated by the promotion’s dismal sales. The campaign was scrapped after less than two months, and the company’s stock began a long slide, eventually bottoming out at around $12 a share.

“What could have been an enduring, long-term brand- and business-building idea turned into a period of chaos,” said Golden, a 21-year veteran of the company. “It was a dark time, but this type of a brand crisis allowed us to make some radical changes.”

Golden discussed those changes and how they helped to revitalize the McDonald’s brand as this year’s R.W. Freeman Distinguished Lecturer. His presentation, titled “Building Brand Trust,” took place at the Freeman School on April 4.

One of McDonald’s key principles had always been staying focused on consumers, Golden said, but in the ’90s the company began to stray from that principle in favor of an aggressive expansion strategy.

“We were determined to grow bigger by adding more restaurants as opposed to satisfying customers’ needs,” said Golden. “At the end of the day, customers’ tastes were changing and we weren’t. We weren’t paying attention.”

In 2003, McDonald’s unveiled “Plan to Win,” a new business strategy that put the company’s focus squarely back on consumers. As part of that strategy, the company remodeled restaurants, expanded operating hours, improved the ordering process and introduced of a wide range of new and health-conscious menu items including premium salads, gourmet coffees, wraps, smoothies and oatmeal.

“We made a conscious statement that we’re going to grow the business by being better, not just by being bigger,” Golden said. “We quickly got back on track with how customers’ tastes have evolved, and we started to satisfy them in significantly different ways than what we had been doing.”

Neil Golden

Golden talks with MBA students Skip Wilson, left, and Richie Gray at the reception following his lecture.

Since implementing Plan to Win, company revenues have grown by $7.9 billion, same store sales have increased for eight straight years and the company’s stock price has jumped more than 450 percent. According to Interbrand, the global branding consultancy, McDonald’s is now the sixth-most-valuable brand in the world.

Despite that success, the company still has many detractors. McDonald’s is a frequent target of health advocates who blame the restaurant for contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic, but Golden—who stands 5 feet 11 inches, weighs 200 pounds and eats at McDonald’s 10 times a week—flatly denies that accusation.

“Number one, portion sizes have changed dramatically, and I believe exercise is a huge factor,” Golden said. “If anybody wants to suggest that McDonald’s is causing obesity, I will proudly say absolutely no way. Now people have to make good choices, and we provide incredible choices.”

Freeman 50 hosts reception honoring Class of 2011

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

On April 25, the Freeman 50, the business school’s young MBA alumni advisory board, hosted a champagne reception in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II in honor of the MBA class of 2011.

The Freeman 50 was founded in 2009 to help improve the Freeman School’s national stature and rankings by partnering with the school’s career management, development and alumni relations areas on various initiatives. At the reception, Freeman 50 members Wade Tornyos (MBA ’07) and Amy Brumfield (MBA ’10) discussed the history of the group and outlined its goals, which include keeping alumni involved with the university, encouraging alumni to support the school financially, providing mentorship for students and helping to connect graduates with employment opportunities.

The Class of 2011

The MBA Class of 2011 was honored with a Champagne reception on April 25 hosted by the Freeman 50, the business school's young alumni advisory board.

Each year, the board selects five graduating MBA students to become new members of the group. This year’s inductees were Yves Bouillet, Ian Jones, John Rotonti, Jennifer Urrego and Chris Williams. Williams was also elected president of the group for 2011-2012.

To see photos from the reception, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.


Family Business Center hosts 10th Wealth Management Seminar

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

The 10th annual Tulane Family Business Center Wealth Management Seminar will be held on Wednesday, April 27, from 1 – 6 p.m., at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Orleans. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

The seminar offers information on asset management and strategies for perpetuating family business growth. Seasoned professionals and novices alike will benefit from the expert financial advice offered by participating sponsors including J. P. Morgan Chase, Jones Walker, LaPorte Sehrt Romig Hand and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Buddy Roemer

Robert A. Weiss

St. Denis J. Villere & Co.









This year’s keynote speakers are Buddy Roemer, president of Business First Bank and former governor of Louisiana, and Robert A. Weiss, managing director with J. P. Morgan’s Advice Lab. The event will also feature the presentation of the 2011 Outstanding Family Enterprise Award to St. Denis J. Villere & Co.

The program begins at 1 p.m. with registration at 12:30 p.m., and CPE credits will be offered.

All presentations will take place in the Intercontinental Hotel’s LaSalle Ballroom – 1st Floor.

1:00 – 1:15 p.m.
Introduction by John Elstrott, clinical professor of entrepreneurship at Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business and director of the Tulane Family Business Center

1:15 – 2 p.m.
“Uncovering Opportunities: Pre-transaction Planning Using Wealth Allocation,” presented by Robert A. Weiss, J. P. Morgan Chase Advise Lab

2:15 – 3 p.m.
“Doing Well By Doing Good: Corporate Giving and the Bottom Line,” presented by Albert Reusga, Greater New Orleans Foundation

3 – 4 p.m.
“Financial Goals and the Value of Your Business,” presented by Michele Avery, LaPorte Sehrt Romig Hand

“Estate and Gift Taxes in 2011 and Beyond: Something Old and Something New,” presented by Trevor Wilson, Jones Walker

4:15 – 4:45 p.m.
“Looking at Our Economic Future and Key Legislative Issues for Businesses,” presented by Buddy Roemer, Business First Bank

4:45 p.m.
Presentation of 2011 Outstanding Family Enterprise Award to St. Denis J. Villere and Co.

5 p.m.
Cocktail Reception

For more information about the seminar or to RSVP, please contact Rosalind Butler at or 504-862-8482.

Beta Gamma Sigma inducts new members

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Beta Gama Sigma induction

The Tulane chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing business excellence, welcomed its newest members on April 7, 2011. The inductees, including students from the MACCT, MBA, MFIN and PMBA programs, are as follows:

  • Rachel Baesler
  • Thomas Berres
  • Qi Cai
  • Jairo Andres Giraldo Galvis
  • William Johnson
  • Ruochen Lu
  • Hao Lu
  • Juan Molina
  • Matthew Mulhearn
  • Chia Neoh
  • Qiyuan Peng
  • Pawaritr Purivetkunakorn
  • Jie Shao
  • Benjamin Smith
  • Kristin Wallace
  • Di Wang
  • Jiadi Xue

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.

Burkenroad conference attracts biggest crowd in history

Monday, April 18th, 2011

It might not be obvious from the standing-room-only crowds, but investment professionals still regard the Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference, which took place on April 15 at the downtown Sheraton, as one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.

Peter Ricchiuti

Peter Ricchiuti, center, with James Harp, left, and Todd Hornbeck of Hornbeck Offshore Services, says this year's conference attracted more retail investors than in recent years.

“It’s not as visited yet by a lot of institutional investors or analysts, so you have the opportunity to get a lot of face time with the company executives,” says Richard Tullis (MBA ’97), senior analyst, energy exploration and production, with Capital One Southcoast. “You’re not really in competition with a ton of other investors, so you have a little bit of an advantage.”

For 15 years, the conference has served a showcase for the regional small- and mid-cap companies followed by Burkenroad Reports, the Freeman School’s acclaimed equities research program, but unlike most investor events, the Burkenroad conference caters equally to investment professionals and retail investors, the individuals who use information gathered at the conference to make decisions about their personal portfolios and retirement accounts. Nearly 600 people attended this year’s conference, making it the biggest in the event’s history, and conference organizer Peter Ricchiuti attributes much of that increase to renewed interest among retail investors.

“We got many more retail investors this year,” says Ricchiuti, research director of Burkenroad Reports. “The stock market has doubled in the last two years and they’ve been reluctant to get in. It seems like they’re finally ready to stick a toe in the water.”

Ricchiuti says some of companies drawing the biggest crowds this year were Cyberonics, Evolution Petroleum, Rollins and Iberia Bank, which has emerged as a major player in Florida by purchasing the assets of banks closed by the FDIC.

“The feds close them on Friday and want a vinyl banner in front on Monday and it can’t say ‘U.S. Government,’” Ricchiuti says. “I guess Iberia is just quick on their feet and knows somebody in the sign business, because they get all the good ones.”

To see photos from the conference, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page at

Freeman School honors Entrepreneurs of the Year

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The Freeman School honored Albert R. Lepage, chairman of Lepage Bakeries Inc., as Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year and Phyllis E. Cassidy, executive director and founder of Good Work Network, as Tulane Social Entrepreneur of the Year at its annual Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala.

Albert Lepage and John Elstrott

Albert Lepage, left, chairman of Lepage Bakeries, received the 2011 Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award from John Elstrott, executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship.

The ceremony, which also included the announcement of winners from the Tulane Business Plan Competition, took place on Friday, April 8, at the Audubon Tea Room.

The Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship presents the awards each year to highlight outstanding entrepreneurs. The Distinguished Entrepreneur of Year Award honors individuals who exemplify true entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropic generosity. The Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes individuals who are dedicated to improving the community through entrepreneurial initiatives. John Elstrott, clinical professor of entrepreneurship and executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute, presented this year’s awards.

Lepage is chairman of Lepage Bakeries Inc., a leading commercial wholesale baking company based in Auburn, Maine, and serving the northeast United States. Founded in 1903, the company produces breads, rolls, English muffins and donuts for retail and institutional customers as well as whole-grain breads and organic specialty baked goods under the Country Kitchen and Barowsky’s brand names. Lepage joined the family-owned business in 1969 as vice president and treasurer. He became president in 1978 and chairman in 1983.

Lepage currently serves as chairman of Quality Bakers of America Cooperative, the national licensor of Sunbeam Bread, and as treasurer of the American Bakers Association, the industry’s leading national organization.

Lepage was chairman of the Sisters of Charity Health Systems, one of Maine’s largest healthcare providers, for six years, and he has served on the boards of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Lewiston-Auburn Arts and Hebron Academy. Lepage has also served on the Maine Arts Commission and the Governor’s Business Council.

Lepage holds an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and a Master of Business Administration from Tulane.

Phyllis Cassidy, founder of Good Work Network, received this year's Tulane Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Phyllis Cassidy is executive director and founder of Good Work Network, a nonprofit micro enterprise development organization serving the greater New Orleans area. Good Work Network provides educational programs, technical assistance, back-office support, capital access assistance and market access services to minority and women-owned community-based businesses in the New Orleans area. Since 2001, the organization has assisted more than 2,000 businesses.

Prior to establishing Good Work Network, Cassidy was president of First Capital Life Insurance Company of LA, a family-owned business. She also taught accounting and information systems at Dillard University and the University of New Orleans. Cassidy received an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a master’s in accounting from the University of New Orleans. She is a licensed CPA.

The Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship (LRI) inspires and trains prospective entrepreneurs through coursework, community service projects and internships. Freeman School students are provided the opportunity to work with experienced faculty members, network with a regional board of entrepreneurs and participate in a student-based entrepreneurial association which provides a training ground for business development. In 2010, the institute’s entrepreneurship program was ranked 13th in the nation by Entrepreneur magazine/The Princeton Review.

Medical device company earns top prize at Tulane Business Plan Competition

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

For more than 250,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, lumpectomy surgery offers a less disfiguring, less traumatic alternative to mastectomy, but breast-conserving procedures have traditionally been less effective than mastectomies due to the difficulty of precisely excising and analyzing the cancer tissue.

Pathostat, a startup company based at the University of Arizona, hopes to change that with a new medical device technology that makes the analysis of tumors faster and more accurate, and for that innovation, the company earned the grand prize of $50,000 at this year’s Tulane Business Plan Competition.

Xenia Kachur co-presented the winning business plan for Pathostat, which has a patent-pending medical device that improves the analysis of cancer tissue.

In winning the competition, Pathostat edged out Drop the Chalk, a software development company targeting charter school teachers, and OsComp Systems, developer of a patent-pending natural gas compression technology.

The Tulane Business Plan Competition, an annual presentation of the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association, took place on Friday (April 8 ) at the Freeman School with the winner announced at an awards ceremony later that evening at the Audubon Tea Room. The three finalists, which were chosen from more than 70 entries, presented their plans in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II before a live audience and a distinguished panel of  judges.

Pathostat earned high marks from judges for developing a kit that pathologists can use to accurately analyze breast tissue while the patient is still on the operating table. The tissue is suspended in a quick-hardening gel that enables the pathologist to make thin, accurate slices to determine if all the cancer cells were removed or if the surgeon must remove additional tissue. The device has the potential to greatly improve the success rate of lumpectomies, reducing the need for additional surgeries, and the developers say the technology can be expanded for use in other types of cancer surgery as well.

“We felt as though Pathostat was addressing an unmet need in a very large market where there’s a lot of emphasis and a lot of potential for interest from investors down the road,” said competition judge Michael LeBourgeois (MBA ’00), principal with the private equity firm NGP Energy Technology Partners. “They are attacking an important area with a good, practical approach, and there was a lot of passion and drive on the part of the entrepreneurs. I think that resonated with the judges.”

The Tulane Business Plan Competition is the nation’s only competition dedicated to the principles of conscious capitalism, which emphasizes the importance for businesses to positively affect all stakeholders and the communities in which they operate. Pathostat CEO Xenia Kachur said the company didn’t have to look far to find its social purpose.

“We’re doing something that really has the potential to change people’s lives,” Kachur said. “That’s our goal. We’re trying to create a profitable and sustainable company, but our primary purpose is to help people.”

Drop the Chalk presents

Jen Schnidman Medbery, left, and Eric Gallagher (MBA ’12) of Drop the Chalk, which won first place in the inaugural Domain Companies New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge.

Thanks to a gift from real estate development and management firm the Domain Companies, this year’s event included a second competition open solely to New Orleans-based entrepreneurial ventures.

The Domain Companies New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge awarded a prize of $20,000 to the business or business idea judged to have the greatest potential economic impact on New Orleans.

Drop the Chalk, a finalist in the Tulane Business Plan Competition, won first place in the New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge, edging out Rebirth Financial, a microfinance company specializing in peer-to-business lending, and Surround Sound Accompaniment, a media startup that seeks to provide musicians with recorded accompaniment to practice with.

Drop the Chalk is no stranger to the business plan competition circuit. The company won last year’s NewDay Challenge, a business plan competition sponsored by Tulane’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives, and earned second place in the 2010 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition thanks in no small part to the help of Freeman School MBA interns. This year was no exception. Drop the Chalk’s plan was co-presented by Eric Gallagher (MBA ’12), who currently serves as the company’s business development manager.

“For me, having Tulane here has been an indispensable help in really getting the company off the ground,” said Jen Schnidman Medbery, Drop the Chalk’s founder and CEO. “I have had a steady stream of really talented interns from almost day one, and I think having the university as a partner in entrepreneurship in the city creates this really unique pipeline.”

This year’s competition received 76 entries from 50 universities in five countries. A panel of more than 100 judges read the submissions and selected 20 semifinalists and, ultimately, three finalists for both the Tulane Business Plan Competition and the New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge.

In addition to LeBourgeois, this year’s final round judges included Dr. Sandra Coufal, founder of the Scientific Advisory Board of Relypsa Inc.; Steven R. Halperin, managing director with Barclays Capital; Eric Hebel, founder of Paper Street Creative; Kathy Laborde, president of the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership; Richard McCline, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Development at Southern University, Chris Papamichael and Matt Schwartz, principals of the Domain Companies; and Magatte Wade, founder and CEO of the Tiossano Tribe.

Freeman team wins 2011 NAWMBA Case Competition

Monday, April 11th, 2011

A team of Freeman School MBAs won first place and a prize of $5,000 at the National Association of Women MBAs Strategy Case Competition. The final round of the contest took place on March 23 in Newark, N.J., at the corporate headquarters of PSEG, which sponsored this year’s competition.

NAWMBA Case Competition

Caroline Dorsa, left, executive vice president and CFO of PSEG, awards the grand prize of $5,000 to Freeman School MBAs Sofia Zarate, Hakima Taoufiq, Dana Omar Mahmoud and Catherine LaCorte.

In winning the national competition, the Freeman School MBAs—Catherine LaCorte, Dana Omar Mahmoud,  Hakima Taoufiq and Sofia Zarate—beat out teams from 16 other business schools, including finalists Boston University, George Washington, Hofstra, Simmons College and Texas A&M.

“I think the most rewarding thing about participating was the opportunity for us to showcase the skills the MBA program has equipped us with in strategy, financial modeling and even communications and presentation skills,” says Taoufiq. “It was also a great opportunity to network with fellow MBAs and PSEG executives.”

The competition is sponsored by a different company each year, and the case is always about a real-world strategy issue faced by the sponsoring company. Company executives also play an active role in hosting the student teams. This year’s competition featured a keynote address by Caroline Dorsa, executive vice president and CFO of PSEG, and Ralph Izzo, the company’s chairman and CEO, attended the luncheon and dined with participants.

“After results were announced, we asked one of the PSEG executives who attended all the presentation what made our proposal stand out,” Taoufiq says. “She said, ‘All six proposals were excellent, but yours felt as if you had been in the industry for 10 years.’ Hearing that from a PSEG executive was to us one more piece of proof that we had made the right choice by selecting the Freeman MBA.”

Freeman team takes top honors in Finance Case Competition

Monday, April 4th, 2011

A team featuring Freeman MBA students Vivek Sharma, Jason Costa, Arnab Dasgupta and Anthony Elia won first place and a grand prize of $5,000 at the 15th annual Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition. This year’s competition took place at the Freeman School on April 1, 2011.

In addition to Tulane, the competition featured teams from Rice, Texas Christian University, University of South Carolina, University of Texas at Dallas, Vanderbilt and Washington University.

Finance Case Competition

Freeman MBA students Jason Costa, Anthony Elia, Vivek Sharma and Arnab Dasgupta, left to right, won first place at this year’s Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition.

Vanderbilt earned second-place honors in the competition and a prize of $3,000, and University of Texas at Dallas won third place and $2,000.

Serving as judges this year were Joe Agular, partner with Johnson Rice & Co.; Chris Conoscenti, executive director of the Oil & Gas Investment Group with JP Morgan Securities; Casey Herman, assurance partner and U.S. assurance leader for the Utilities & Power Generation Sector at PricewaterhouseCoopers; and Curt Karges, managing director of Mid-Corporate Investing Banking with JP Morgan Chase.

“Since I have been at Tulane, our teams have won two competitions and placed in four competitions in the company of great teams from Emory, Rice, Texas and Vanderbilt,” said Rob Hansen, Francis Martin Chair in Business, who teaches the case-based course Valuation and Financing of Business Enterprises along with visiting assistant professor of finance Donald Monk. “Freeman finance students get a healthy exposure to valuation and financing in complex business settings and an emphasis on solving real-world problems as good finance communicators. Jason, Arnab, Anthony and Vivek represented Freeman as good as it can be done.”

The finance case competition began in 1997 and has been sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence since 1998. Berdon Lawrence (BBA ’64, MBA ’65) is chairman of Kirby Corp., a Houston-based operator of inland tank barges. He is a member of the Business School Council and a former member of the Board of Tulane.

To see more photos from the competition, including photos of all the winning teams, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.

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