Archive for April, 2012

Beta Gamma Sigma inducts newest members

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The Tulane chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing business excellence, welcomed its newest members at a ceremony in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II on April 23, 2012.

Beta Gamma Sigman Inductees

Beta Gamma Sigma inductees included, left to right, Wendi Zeng (MFIN ’12), Jordan Lambert (PMBA ’12), Guanqi Li (MFIN ’12), Josh Rupert (MBA ’12) and Xuanhao Huang (MFIN ’12).

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 675,000 members from 507 collegiate chapters and 24 alumni chapters. Members currently reside in all 50 states and more than 160 countries throughout the world. The Tulane chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma was established in 1924.

This semester’s inductees, including students from the BSM, MACCT, MBA, MFIN, MNRG and PMBA programs, are as follows:

  • Dylan Blackford
  • Haley Burke
  • Sam Capone
  • Stephen Denis
  • Richard Diamond
  • Michael Dupin
  • Maggie Ehrenreich
  • Andrew Goltzer
  • Lyndsey Grubb
  • Seth Hamstead
  • Xuanhao Huang
  • Yuanze Huang
  • Andrew Ip Ping Wah
  • Jordan Lambert
  • Stephen Lee
  • Guanqi Li
  • Weikang Li
  • Jiazhang Liu
  • Seth Lowinger
  • Ronald MacWillie
  • Daniel Rice
  • Courtney Robinson
  • Brittany Rosen
  • Joshua Rupert
  • Caitlin Ryan
  • Savanna Speciale
  • Hayley Tilton
  • Charles Wilder
  • Alexander Wolf
  • Wendi Zeng

Freeman hosts 16th Finance Case Competition

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Student teams from Tulane University and six other schools put their valuation and financial analysis skills to the test at the 16th annual Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition. The competition, an annual presentation of Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business, took place on Friday (April 20) in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II.

Finance Case Competition

Berdon and Rolanette Lawrence, left, and Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon, right, present this year’s first-place award to the team from Rice University.

In addition to Tulane, this year’s event featured teams from Emory, Rice, University of South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis and University of Texas at Dallas.

When all was said and done, Rice University took home first-place honors and the grand prize of $7,000 at the competition, Washington University won second place and a prize of $5,000, and Tulane earned third place and $3,000.

“With five hours to work on something like this, I thought all the teams did a fantastic job,” said competition judge Casey Herman, assurance partner and U.S. assurance leader for the Utilities & Power Generation Sector at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The analyses and slide materials they put together in such a short time frame were just terrific. Really, the difference between the first-place team and the rest of the field wasn’t that great, so the level of analysis was very impressive.”

In addition to Herman, this year’s panel of judges included Chris Conoscenti, an executive director in the Oil & Gas Investment Banking Group with J.P. Morgan Securities, and Claire Liu, assistant treasurer for corporate finance at LyondellBasell Industries. Bill Reese, professor of practice in finance, served as faculty coordinator.

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 the founder of Hollywood Marine and former chairman of Kirby Corp., a Houston-based operator of inland tank barges. Kirby purchased Hollywood Marine in 1999. Lawrence is also a member of the Business School Council and a former member of the Board of Tulane.

Finance Case Competition

The Freeman School’s team took home third place and a $3,000 prize at this year’s case competition.

“Over the years I found that having a finance degree from Tulane was critical to my understanding of how to grow my company,” Lawrence said at Friday evening’s awards ceremony. “That finance education allowed me to build the company, and if I hadn’t had it, I don’t think I could have done it, so this is a way for me to show appreciation and give something back to my alma mater.”

Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon, who presided over the ceremony, praised Lawrence and the entire Lawrence family for their long association with Tulane University.

“We like to recognize individuals who have longstanding connections to our institution, and in that sense the Lawrence family is an exemplar,” Solomon said. “While Berdon’s connection doesn’t go back quite as far as the school’s founding, the Lawrence family has been connected to the Freeman School for a remarkable 50 years, with multiple generations attending educational programs here. That’s really something to celebrate, so we’re delighted to have their names attached to this wonderful educational program.”

NPR: U.S. Has A Natural Gas Problem: Too Much Of It

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

From NPR’s Morning Edition, April 17, 2012:

NPR’s John Ydstie spoke with Peter Ricchiuti, professor of practice and research director of Burkenroad Reports, about the the boom in natural gas production.

Peter Ricchiuti, a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans and an expert on oil and gas production, says the normal supply-and-demand laws of economics aren’t working as they used to in the industry.

“Historically, this has always been kind of a self-governing mechanism,” Ricchiuti says. “When natural gas prices got too low, you’d start to see the industry lay down rigs until prices went back up again, and it was very effective. It was sometimes jokingly referred to as the ‘Redneck OPEC.’ ”

To listen to the entire segment, visit


Plan to turn algae into oil wins prize at business plan competition

Monday, April 16th, 2012

A Freeman School-based venture with a plan to turn algae into crude oil was one of the big winners at Friday’s Tulane Business Plan Competition.


ReactWell’s Brandon Iglesias (MBA ’11, MFIN ’11) and Taylor Gilbert (MBA ’12), center, receive the grand prize in this year’s Domain Companies New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge from company co-founders Chris Papamichael (BSM ’96), left, and Matt Schwartz (BSM ’99), right.

ReactWell, developer of a patent-pending technology that uses underground geothermal reactors to convert biomass into synthetic crude oil, earned the top prize at the second annual Domain Companies New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge.

The challenge, sponsored by real estate development firm the Domain Cos. and presented in conjunction with the Tulane Business Plan Competition, awards $20,000 in seed capital each year to a high-impact early-stage venture based in New Orleans.

ReactWell founder Brandon Iglesias (MBA ’11, MFIN ’11), who started the company while he was a student at the Freeman School, says the company could generate up to 100 jobs at each of its algae farms if it’s successful in moving forward.

“And those are not short-term jobs,” Iglesias adds. “They’re long term.”

For the judges, that combination of a potentially disruptive technology in the fast-growing alternative fuels market was too good to ignore.

“We were really looking for the business that had the potential to have the greatest impact in New Orleans,” says Matt Schwartz (BSM ’99), co-founder and principal of the Domain Cos., who served as a judge in the competition. “At the end of the day, we felt the biggest impact would come from ReactWell.”

In the Tulane Business Plan Competition, Calcula, a company based at Stanford University, earned the grand prize of $50,000 with its plan for a medical device that enables doctors to remove small kidney stones in an office setting without the use of general anesthesia. Therapies have long been available for patients with kidney stones larger than 10 millimeters, but for patients with small kidney stones, the only recourse has been to pass the stone naturally, which can be extremely painful.

Calcula, a medical device company based at Stanford University, was the grand prize winner in this year's $50,000 Tulane Business Plan Competition. From left to right, Buzz Bonneau, David Gal, Dan Azagury and Kate Garrett.

“I think what’s great about our device is it not only saves the patient from pain by removing kidney stones when they wouldn’t otherwise get them removed, but if you look at the saved ER visits, narcotics and employer payers—because these patients miss so many days of work with these recurring episodes of renal colic—we really save the system money as well,” says Calcula’s Buzz Bonneau, who helped present the team’s plan. “It works for everybody.”

Competition judge E. Pierce Marshall Jr. (BSM ’90) says the device’s wide range of benefits to stakeholders was appealing.

“There’s clearly a significant unmet need among a very large portion of the population with kidney stones,” Marshall says. “Calcula demonstrated that their device would be attractive to doctors, patients, insurers and, ultimately, if they can achieve the margin figures they’re talking about, shareholders as well.”

Of the six finalists in this year’s competitions, two originated at Tulane: ReactWell and Tulane Business Plan Competition finalist SODI-CAN, which pitched its plan to manufacture a storage can for distribution in developing countries that disinfects water using solar energy.

“I think what impressed me more that simply having two finalists from Tulane in the competitions was that both the Tulane finalists embody ideas we’re striving to instill in students,” says Ira Solomon, business school dean. “Whether the ventures are based at the business school, the medical school or elsewhere, we’re seeing more and more students applying business principles to tackle some of society’s most vexing problems, and that’s a good thing for everyone.”


JPMorgan Chase chief optimistic about banking, business and the future of America

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Big banks have gotten a lot of criticism in recent years—some of it deserved, says Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank. But in an appearance at Tulane University on Monday, Dimon said he draws the line when critics try to paint all banks as part of the problem.

Jamie Dimon

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, spoke to students, faculty and invited guests at Tulane in an appearance sponsored by the Freeman School. (Photos by Sabree Hill)

“There were a lot of banks who, through thick and thin, stood tall and did the right thing,” Dimon said. “We lent $2 billion to California when no one would. A billion and a half to Illinois when no one would. There are hospitals, schools, cities and states that are here because JPMorgan did it.”

The outspoken executive, called “America’s least-hated banker” by The New York Times, discussed the role of banks, the role of corporate America and the nation’s economic future before an audience of students, faculty and invited guests in the Lavin-Bernick Center’s Kendall Cram Lecture Hall.

If there was a fundamental theme in Dimon’s remarks, it was the unstoppable spirit of American business. Citing a raft of economic figures and fundamental advantages, Dimon articulated an unabashedly optimistic outlook on the nation’s future.

“If you look at America, there have been 10-year periods that have been terrible, but there have been no 20-year periods like that,” Dimon said. “I guarantee you the next 50 years are going to be the same. I guarantee it. This economy, that business engine, ain’t going away, folks.”

Dimon concluded with a bit of unsolicited advice for politicians and government officials.

John Hilton

Freeman student John Hilton (BSM ’13) asks a question following Dimon’s talk. Dimon fielded audience questions ranging from the future of finance as a career to the effects of Dodd-Frank to the importance of emotional intelligence in business and life.

“This is an unbelievable country,” he said. “Talk it up a little bit. Don’t be embarrassed. If you’re wrong, talk it up again. You should be really proud of this country. It’s going to come back again, and when it does it’ll blow your socks off.”

Dimon’s talk was a joint presentation of Tulane University and the A. B. Freeman School of Business, and Dimon, whose wife, Judy (N ’78), is a Tulane graduate, made a point of acknowledging the students in attendance and encouraging them to ask tough questions following his presentation.

Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon, who along with Tulane President Scott Cowen met privately with Dimon prior to the talk, said the executive’s message was especially relevant for students.

“Jamie has a breadth of experience and a breadth and depth of knowledge that is unusual even for the CEO of an organization like JPMorgan Chase,” Solomon said. “We were honored and privileged to have him on campus. He enlightened all, and his optimism was infectious.”

Business plan finalist has bright idea for cleaner drinking water

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Jerrycans — 20-liter plastic containers ubiquitous in third-world countries — are a favorite for relief organizations because they’re so versatile for storing water or fuel and easily transportable. What if they could be adapted to work double-duty as a cheap disinfection device in areas with scant access to clean water? A medical student and a graduate student at Tulane University have a novel idea.

Medical student Olivia Chang and engineering grad student Alex Girau, founders of SODI-CAN, will compete for a $50,000 prize in Friday’s Tulane Business Plan Competition. (Photo by Theodore Pei)

It’s an idea that third-year medical student Olivia Chang came up with while working for a relief agency in Tanzania in east Africa. Since then, she’s teamed up with Alex Girau in the School of Science and Engineering to develop SODI-CAN, a plastic container that uses solar energy to disinfect water. The venture won $5,000 last year in the Tulane School of Medicine’s inaugural Medical Science Innovation Challenge and it is one of three finalists competing for $50,000 in Friday’s Tulane Business Plan Competition.

SODI-CAN uses a proprietary coating inside the container to enhance the sun’s ability to heat up water to kill germs and bacteria. Depending on the time and season, it can take anywhere from a few minutes or hours in the sun to work, Chang said.

“At 135 degrees Fahrenheit, most pathogens can be killed within minutes,” Chang says. “The longer the exposure and the higher the temperature eliminate even more bacteria and viruses.”

Chang and Girau are planning to use any prize money to develop prototypes to test the product in New Orleans. The venture is also a finalist in the Jumo Welcome to the Good Challenge. Online voting for the contest runs through April 15. Ultimately, Chang has very high goals for SODI-CAN, hoping that one day they will replace jerrycans across the globe.

The Tulane Business Plan Competition takes place from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Friday (April 13) in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II on the uptown campus. Other finalists include medical device firm Calcula from Stanford University and pharmaceutical venture EpiQi Sciences from Brigham Young University.

Consortium meeting attracts top scholars in Latin America

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

More than 50 deans, administrators and scholars from business schools across Latin America converged on the Freeman School in March for the 13th meeting of the Latin American Research Consortium (LARC).

This year’s meeting of the Latin American Research Consortium attracted more than 50 deans, administrators and scholars from across Latin America.

The Freeman School founded the consortium in 1995 to promote scholarly research on Latin American markets and business institutions. In 2007, Freeman added a dean’s workshop to the program to enable senior administrators from member institutions to share information on program development and strategic planning.

According to John Trapani, executive director of the Goldring Institute of International Business, which organized the meeting, the consortium grew out of the Freeman School’s Latin American Faculty Development PhD Program, which was created in 1994 to enable working faculty members at top Latin American business schools to earn their doctoral degrees while maintaining full-time employment. To date, more than 65 business professors at institutions throughout Latin America have earned their PhDs from the Freeman School through the program.

“The consortium was originally conceived as a way to enable our graduates to showcase their research and network with other scholars interested in research on Latin American markets,” Trapani explains. “Since then, it’s grown to encompass almost all the leading business schools in Latin America.”

Jaynee Rivas, a professor at IESA in Venezuela, delivers a paper on international franchise systems during the consortium meeting’s management research workshop.

This year’s meeting took place on March 22 and 23 and featured participation from a dozen top universities, including Centrum Catolica (Peru), EAFIT (Colombia), ESPAE-ESPOL (Ecuador), ICESI (Colombia), IESA (Venezuela), INSPER (Brazil), ITESM Monterrey (Mexico), ITAM (Mexico), UniAndes (Colombia), University of Chile, Universidad Francisco Marroquin (Guatemala) and University of Puerto Rico.

“We’ve worked with business schools in Latin America for 20 years to develop their faculties and academic programs, and many of those schools are now accredited by AACSB, which is the goal for all business schools,” Trapani says. “For us, the consortium meeting is a way to recognize the tremendous progress all the schools are making and also show our continued commitment to the deans, the schools and the region.”

For more information about the Latin American Research Consortium, visit


Elstrott honored with dedication of elementary school in India

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

John Elstrott’s name has been synonymous with entrepreneurship education at the Freeman School for more than 25 years. Now, thanks to a California-based company, Elstrott’s name is synonymous with education in rural India as well.

Dr. John B. Elstrott Elementary School

John Elstrott, top right, with students at the school named in his honor in Rajasthan, India.

In December, Traditional Medicinals honored Elstrott with the dedication of the Dr. John B. Elstrott Elementary School in Dayakaur, Rajasthan, India. The school, located approximately 120 miles from Jodhpur in the Thar Desert, is one of three built in India by the company, a maker of herbal medicinal teas and dietary supplements. Elstrott has been a board member and partner in the company for more than 30 years.

As part of its Revive! Project, Traditional Medicinals is investing $1 million in six Rajasthan farming villages critical to the company’s herbal supply chain. The project includes training for villagers in a variety of areas, including agricultural and conservation best practices, community organization and leadership, and, for women in the villages, health, hygiene and empowerment. In exchange for the investments in their communities, parents agree to send their children, including girls, to school.

“Education is the key to a better life for the people and their children, particularly for the women in these tribes,” says Elstrott, professor of practice and executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, who traveled to India for the dedication ceremony. “I could see in a very substantive way how these schools are changing the culture of the villages, empowering the next generation and making stronger, more prosperous communities.”

Elstrott is a longtime champion of the business philosophy known as conscious capitalism, which emphasizes the importance for organizations to consider the interests of all stakeholders as well as the environment. Throughout his long association with Traditional Medicinals, Elstrott has worked closely with company co-founder and Chairman Drake Sadler, a fellow conscious capitalist, to incorporate those principles into the company’s activities.

“For us, it’s obviously a win-win strategy,” says Elstrott. “If we strengthen these communities and strengthen their ties to us, they produce a better quality herb for us and they’re a more dependable source because there’s always going to be another generation of farmers. It’s very important to our long-term growth and profitability for all our stakeholders that we reinvest in all the communities of farmers and gatherers around the world where these herbs come from.”

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