Archive for March, 2014

18th annual Finance Case Competition is test for judges

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Christopher Conoscenti (MBA/JD ’01) has served as a judge for the Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition for the past five years, but he says the 2014 contest, which took place at the A. B. Freeman School of Business on Friday (March 28), was without a doubt the toughest yet.

From left to right, Finance Case Competition judges Chris Conoscenti, Chuck Tilis, Claire Liu and Joe Agular.

From left, Finance Case Competition judges Christopher Conoscenti, Chuck Tilis, Claire Liu and Joe Agular. Conoscenti said this year’s competition was the closest in the five years he’s served as a judge.

“This was the hardest year to judge out of any of the years that I’ve judged it,” said Conoscenti, managing director of Energy Investment Banking at JP Morgan Securities. “It was shades of gray in terms of differences between who we picked for number one versus two, three, four and five. It was just really tight.”

In the end, Conoscenti and his fellow judges — Joe Agular (A&S ’81, MBA ’88), investment manager at Johnson Rice & Co.; Claire Liu, assistant treasurer at LyondellBasell Industries; and Chuck Tilis (A&S ’77, MBA ’78) , partner, Assurance Leadership Team, at PricewaterhouseCoopers — decided that Ryan Bendinelli, Yifan Xu, Aaron Gaddie and Paul Whitmire, a team of MBAs from Vanderbilt University, had edged out the competition enough to win first place and this year’s grand prize of $7,000.

A team from the University of North Carolina — Joseph Quinn, Michael Baccich, Jimmy Colavita and Newton Sears — earned second-place honors and a prize of $5,000, while a team from the University of Texas at Dallas — Adriana Pizana, Samir Patel, Brit Sundberg and Mohammed Bourji — took home the third-place prize of $3,000.

“I’ve done this six, seven times at least, and it’s a real privilege to do it,” Agular (A&S ’81, MBA ’88) told the student teams. “I really thank you for having me again because I enjoy finance, first of all, but I also enjoy seeing how bright the future is for all of you, because you’re very talented. You all had great presentations, and it was tough to judge.”

In addition to the top three finishers, this year’s competition also featured MBA teams from Rice University, Washington University, University of South Carolina and Tulane University.

Dean Ira Solomon, left, and Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence, center, awarded this year's grand prize of $7,000 to a team from Vanderbilt University.

Dean Ira Solomon, far left, and competition sponsors Berdon and Rolanette Lawrence, center, awarded this year’s grand prize of $7,000 to a team from Vanderbilt University.

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., an operator of inland tank barges headquartered in Houston. Kirby purchased Hollywood Marine in 1999. Lawrence is also a former member of the Business School Council and a former member of the Board of Tulane.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years, but it’s been fun for me,” Lawrence said before announcing this year’s winners. “My MBA from Tulane was really helpful in my being able to build a company, so this is a nice way for me to tell Tulane that I appreciate what they did for me with my education.”

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


Three finalists announced for 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Judges of the Tulane Business Model Competition’s semifinals round emerged from an upstairs room in New Orleans’ historic Gallier Hall on Tuesday (March 25) with three named finalists: Tympanogen offers a new treatment to replace surgery for chronic tympanic membrane perforations or holes in the eardrum; InVision Biomedical offers a device designed to help alleviate common tracheostomy complications; and Million Dollar Scholar hopes to help educate high school students on how to fund their college educations.

 Tulane Business Model Competition finalist Ras Asan, chief operating officer of Million Dollar Scholar, presents to the judging panel at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. (Photo by Maggy Baccinelli)

Tulane Business Model Competition finalist Ras Asan, COO of Million Dollar Scholar, presents to judges at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. (Photo by Maggy Baccinelli)

These businesses were chosen from a diverse group of eight startups, including a latke cart and catering service, a sugar cane juice drink and a volunteer management service, all of which presented at the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week event.

Finalists won an additional $2,000 each and the chance to win $25,000 more at the closing event on April 11.

Of the winners, competition judge and president of Medline Industries Andy Mills said, “There is a great understanding that products that improve health care, either by lowering costs or eliminating pain through a less invasive procedure, will inherently succeed.”

He added, “There is also a great need for Million Dollar Scholar, which was a well established, buttoned-up group. They are selling a book, they’ve won awards, and they have a good web presence.”

Ras Asan, chief operating officer of Million Dollar Scholar, appreciated the judges’ support. “We’ve received a lot of good feedback on the services we provide, but having such an esteemed group of entrepreneurs validate what we are doing was really rewarding,” Asan said.

The judging panel included eight professional entrepreneurs representing a wide range of industries, and all are proud Tulane alumni.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to see what the students are doing,” Mills said. “It made me feel good about the future and all that is happening at Tulane.”

–Maggy Baccinelli

CityBusiness: Tulane energy research calls for downstream focus

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014


From New Orleans CityBusiness, March 25, 2014:

The report, authored by Tulane Energy Institute president Eric Smith and sponsored by Chevron, posits that relying on one technology, industry or energy feedstock such as natural gas is economically risky. Therefore the creation of “downstream value added opportunities” will be the key to extending the energy and manufacturing boom beyond the immediate commodity conversion stage.

To read the article in its entirety, visit

Harvard prof addresses leadership in changing business environment

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Lynn S. Paine, the John G. McLean Professor and senior associate dean for faculty development at Harvard Business School, discussed the changing global environment and what it means for the next generation of business leaders in a special presentation at the A. B. Freeman School of Business on Thursday, March 20. Paine’s talk, “Leadership and the Future of Capitalism: Getting Serious about Sustainability,” was part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

“Lynn’s insights into what business leaders must do to address emerging political and economic challenges was both timely and fascinating,” said Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School. “It was truly a pleasure to give our students the chance to interact with a scholar of Lynn’s stature.”

Harvard Professor Lynn Paine, right, spoke to students about leadership as part of the Dean's Lecture Series.

Lynn Paine, right, with Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon, discussed leadership in the current business environment as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Paine is a member and former chair of the General Management unit at Harvard and co-founded the school’s required course on Leadership and Corporate Accountability. She currently co-chairs the Senior Executive Program for China. Her research focuses on the leadership and governance of companies that meld high ethical standards with outstanding financial results. Her publications, including more than 200 case studies, have appeared in a variety of books, periodicals and scholarly journals. Paine is most recently co-author of Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business with HBS colleagues Joe Bower and Dutch Leonard.

Paine’s other books include Value Shift: Why Companies Must Merge Social and Financial Imperatives to Achieve Superior Performance (McGraw-Hill 2003) and Leadership, Ethics, and Organizational Integrity (McGraw-Hill 1998). Her most recent articles include A Global Leader’s Guide to Managing Business Conduct (with Rohit Deshpandé and Joshua Margolis), Global Capitalism at Risk: What Are You Doing About It? (with Joe Bower and Dutch Leonard), and The China Rules: A Practical Guide for CEOs Managing Multinational Corporations in the People’s Republic—all published in the Harvard Business Review.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa and a summa cum laude graduate of Smith College, Paine holds a doctorate in moral philosophy from Oxford University and a law degree from the Harvard Law School. Before joining the Harvard faculty in 1990, she taught at Georgetown University Business School and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business as well as National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan.


Business Model Competition semifinalists to pitch at NOEW

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Eight semifinalists will be pitching live in the completely revamped Tulane Business Model Competition during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), the sixth annual premier showcase event for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The pitches will take place in Gallier Hall Ballroom 3A on Tuesday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and registration is available at the door for attendees who arrive at 1 p.m.

The Tulane Business Model Competition will award $25,000 to a venture demonstrating a customer-tested business model.

The 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition will award $25,000 to the early-stage venture demonstrating the best customer-tested business model.

The top three pitches will be awarded $2,000 and granted access to the final round pitches on April 11th at Tulane University and a chance to win $25,000 and enter the International Business Model Competition as a semifinalist.

Semifinalists include: ComeFail, CCC, Fleur de Latkes, InVision Biomedical, Million Dollar Scholar, Threadix, Tympanogen, and US Fresh Cane.

The competition was completely redesigned to better reward the practical aspects of what make startups successful – the ability to rapidly adapt to customers’ needs. Judges will be examining each company and how they have been able to prove customer validation and adapt to the process of creating a business model.

Judges include: Charles Allen (UC ’92), President/Managing Director, Riptide Investments; Wally Boston (MBA ’78), President and CEO of American Public University System (APUS); Larry Connelly (MBA ’82), Former CEO, Connolly LLC; Pierce Marshall (BSM ’90), President and CEO, Élevage Capital Management, LLC; Ti Martin (MBA ’84), co-proprietor of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, co-founder and board chairman of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute; Andy Mills (BSM ’83) – President, Medline Industries; and Matt Schwartz (BSM ’99), Principal and Founder, The Domain Companies.

Drew Mouton (BS ’94, MBA ’12) former CEO of Carrollton Group, Founder/Managing Director of Caerus Management will be the Master of Ceremony.

Tulane Entrepreneurs Association (TEA) President Adrian Mendez said the organization is excited to have so many students involved in NOEW. “We excited to have such access to and participation in the nationally recognized entrepreneur week. We’re eager to continue building upon the entrepreneurial movement across the region.”

Through the competition, the Tulane IDEAcorps team and many attendees having ties to Tulane, the university has become an integral part of NOEW. “We are thrilled that Tulane is hosting one of their major Entrepreneurship events during NOEW 2014. We have a long-standing partnership with the University and are excited to see Tulane driving Entrepreneurship initiatives, both on campus, and throughout broader New Orleans community,” said managing director of The Idea Village Emily Madero.

“The competition has always been a flagship event that supports local–now regional– entrepreneurs and programs,” Mendez continued. “As the program grows, we hope to continue to motivate and inspire students to be on the forefront of entrepreneurial activity with the resources we provide.”

Follow along with the Business Model Competition on Facebook at and on Twitter at TEA can be found at More information is available at

Social network for B-school alums debuts

Friday, March 21st, 2014

With more than 250 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is the world’s leading business networking website, but up until now it’s been difficult for Freeman alumni to use LinkedIn to connect and communicate with fellow alumni.


Freeman Connect is a social network that enables business alumni to use their LinkedIn accounts to connect and communicate with fellow alumni.

That changed in March with the introduction of Freeman Connect. The new site, developed in partnership with Graduway, a London-based provider of alumni networking platforms, enables alumni to sync their LinkedIn accounts with their alumni profiles to create a social network exclusively for the Freeman community. Users can post photos, search for classmates and send messages to fellow alumni regardless of their LinkedIn connections. Users can also view jobs posted by other users.

“The beauty of Freeman Connect is that it leverages the power of LinkedIn, a platform that virtually all of our alumni use on a daily basis,” says Leonard Williams, director of the Freeman School’s Career Management Center. “The challenge in the past was getting alumni to update and maintain their profiles. With Freeman Connect, all that information is already up-to-date through LinkedIn, so when an alumnus signs in, he or she has immediate access to a large, incredibly diverse network of Freeman alumni.”

Beginning in April, Freeman Connect will be open to current Freeman students as well, providing students with a powerful tool to build their professional networks and alumni with the opportunity to mentor students and help them break into the career of their choice.

Freeman Connect is a sister site of sorts to Tulane Connect, which the Tulane Alumni Association recently launched as a social network for all university alumni. Freeman alumni are welcome to join both networks, but Tulane Connect members who are not graduates of the business school cannot access Freeman Connect.

For more information about Freeman Connect, contact Williams at or 504-862-8492  or Rhonda Brown at or 504-862-8470.


Ti Martin, Dana and Stan Day to be honored as Entrepreneurs of the Year

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business will honor restaurateur Ti Martin (MBA ’84) as Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year and philanthropists Dana (N ’80, L ’84) and Stanley (BSM ’80) Day as Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs of the Year at the 2014 Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Award Gala. The ceremony will take place on Friday, April 11, at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place.

Ti Martin

Ti Martin

The Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship presents the awards each year to highlight outstanding entrepreneurs in the community. The Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of Year Award honors individuals who combine entrepreneurial success with philanthropic generosity and service to the community. The Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes individuals dedicated to solving social problems and improving the community through the use of entrepreneurial principles. Tulane President Scott Cowen and Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon will present the awards.

Martin is co-proprietor of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, which includes Commander’s Palace, Café Adelaide and SoBou in New Orleans and Brennan’s of Houston. Martin is also co-founder and board chairman of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute, which is currently developing a culinary and hospitality school in partnership with Tulane, Delgado and the University of New Orleans. In February, NOCHI was selected to redevelop the former Louisiana Artworks building, which will serve as the institute’s home. A longtime champion of business and civic causes in New Orleans, Martin has served on the boards of GNO Inc., the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Idea Village, the Young Leadership Council, the New Orleans Hospitality Strategic Task Force and the New Orleans Business Council. Martin was also a co-founder of the New Orleans “Proud to Call it Home” campaign.


Stan Day

Dana Day

Dana Day

Dana and Stan Day began supporting Tulane University personally after Katrina and expanded their role when their NewDay Foundation began supporting social entrepreneurship initiatives at Tulane in 2009. Through the foundation, the Days have sponsored programs including the NewDay Social Venture Challenge, the NewDay Social Entrepreneurship Distinguished Speakers Series and the NewDay Professor of Social Entrepreneurship. Dana Day is a member of the Board of Tulane and Stan Day serves on the President’s Council.

“The name Ti Martin is synonymous with the hospitality industry in New Orleans, and Dana and Stan Day are among the very biggest supporters of social entrepreneurship and innovation at Tulane University,” said Dean Ira Solomon. “We’re delighted to be able to recognize Ti and Dana and Stan as our 2014 Entrepreneurs of the Year.”

For more information about the Entrepreneurs of the Year and the Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala, contact Lina Alfieri Stern at 504-865-5455 or PCAOB’s ‘Audit Failure’ Rate Is Highly Suspect

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014


Ira Solomon, dean and Debra and Rick Rees Professor of Business, recently co-authored an opinion piece for criticizing the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) for misleading statements regarding the quality of public company audits.

Solomon and co-author Mark Peecher, professor of accountancy at the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, take issue with the PCAOB for its use of the term “audit failure” — which has traditionally referred to the joint occurrence of an unqualified audit opinion and materially misleading financial statements — to describe audits in which the auditor simply failed to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence to support its opinion on the financial statements, regardless of the fairness of the financial statements in question. The authors go on to say that PCAOB criticisms of auditors’ evidential bases are themselves open to criticism.

One reason is that PCAOB inspections usually occur after fieldwork, so hindsight bias can surface, especially when inspectors try to assess audit work on management’s estimates, which often are predicated on future economic events. That is, inspectors form retrospective judgments about auditors’ judgments regarding the reasonableness of management’s judgments. The management judgments in question concern things like the reasonableness of complex financial-statement estimates or the sufficiency of internal controls. It is hard to manufacture precision at the end of this judgment chain when it starts with so much ambiguity and uncertainty.

To read the article in its entirety, visit


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