The Tulane 34 Award is among the most coveted university-wide honors bestowed upon graduating students. Named for the year Tulane University was founded, the award recognizes 34 students from across the university who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate lives by demonstrating exemplary leadership, service and academic excellence.
This year, seven graduates of the A. B. Freeman School of Business were honored with the award. The Freeman School is proud to recognize the following Tulane 34 Award recipients.
Briggs Barrios(BSM ’14), a native of Metairie, La., is a member of the Tulane varsity baseball team and was twice named Tulane Male Scholar Athlete of the Year for maintaining the highest grade point average among all male student athletes. Barrios’ academic performance led to his being selected to participate in the invitation-only Darwin Fenner Student Managed Fund honors seminar. Outside the classroom, Barrios organized the Tulane baseball team’s Vs. Cancer events, which raised more than $10,000 for childhood cancer treatment. For his activities, Barrios was awarded a 2014 Tulane Athletics Torch Award for excellence in service to Tulane Athletics, Tulane University and the entire New Orleans community.
Erynn Bell(MBA ’14), from Jacksonville, Fla., served as 2013-14 president of the Graduate Business Council, the Freeman School’s graduate student government organization, and was named the 2014 MBA class representative to the Freeman 50, an organization of recent MBA graduates that works to support the school in the areas of career management, development and alumni relations. Bell participated in the Renewable Energy Case Competition and in the IDEAcorps Challenge, which brought teams of students from top MBA programs around the country to New Orleans to work with startups. Following her wedding, Bell will join Tidewater Inc. in New Orleans as manager of corporate applications.
Amber Bennett(BSM ’14), a native of West Columbia, S.C., is a member of Tulane’s volleyball team and was elected as Tulane’s female representative to the Conference USA Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Among her many service activities, Bennett chaired the “Let’s SAAC Hunger!” food drive, helped organize Conference USA fundraising efforts for paralyzed Tulane football player Devon Walker, and served as a volunteer with Court Watch NOLA and the NCAA Samaritan’s Feet program. In recognition of her activities, Bennett received the Conference USA Spirit of Service Award. Academically, Bennett earned honors including Dean’s List, 3.5 Club and the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Adam Griego(BSM ’14), a native of Metairie, La., served in multiple campus leadership positions during his academic career, including serving as president of the Green Wave Ambassadors in 2012, president of the Inter-fraternity Council in 2013, homecoming king in 2013, and Orientation team leader for the classes of 2015 and 2016. In addition, Griego was an active member of Zeta Psi fraternity and served as past philanthropy chair and social chair with the organization. An honors student, Griego also served as a research equity analyst for the Freeman School’s Burkenroad Reports program in 2013-14.
Zachary Hoyt (BSM ’14), a native of Delran, N.J., graduated with a BSM in finance, a minor in Legal Studies and specializations in entrepreneurship and energy. He also earned a BA in Latin American studies. Hoyt served as a Burkenroad Reports analyst, was vice president of membership for business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, and was finance chair of Tulane’s Latin American Studies Organization. He also presented his research at a number of Latin American Studies conferences. A Public Service Fellow, Hoyt worked with 10 education-based community partners dedicated to engaging youth in the community and represented the Tulane delegation to the Model Organization of American States.
Tommy Milburn (MFIN ’14), from Warwick, N.Y., created, managed and was a frequent contributor to the Tulane Master of Finance blog and served as an MFIN Student Ambassador, helping prospective students learn more about Tulane through campus tours, emails and phone calls. Milburn was a member of the Freeman Consulting Group, the Tulane Black MBA Association and the Tulane Energy Club. Outside the classroom, Milburn volunteered at Joseph A. Craig Elementary School, helping to teach children about the vital role they and their families play in the local economy. Milburn will soon join the Deutsche Bank’s Emerging Markets Immersion Program as an investment banking analyst in Mumbai, India.
Klara Vyskocilova (BSM ’14), a native of Klatovy, Czech Republic, excelled as a scholar athlete on the Tulane tennis team. Vyskocilova was Louisiana Player of the Year in 2013 and played in the All-American Tournament twice. She was named Conference USA Player of the Week on two occasions and was a member of the 2013 Conference USA Honor Roll and the 2014 Conference USA Women’s Tennis All-Academic Team. Vyskocilova also worked on the Greening Yulman project, which aimed to help Tulane build a more environmentally friendly football stadium.
The Freeman School congratulates each of its 2014 Tulane 34 Award winners.
The following student awards were announced in conjunction with the Freeman School’s undergraduate and graduate-level diploma ceremonies, which took place on Saturday, May 17, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome following the unified commencement ceremony.
BSM Scholastic Achievement Award Established in 1997, the BSM Scholastic Achievement Award recognizes excellence in academics and is presented to the graduate of the BSM program with the highest cumulative grade-point average. This year, three students tied for the award.
• Hannah Hausman
• Courtney M. Kulchin
• Rachel M. Spirer
Marta and Peter Bordeaux Scholastic Achievement Award
Established in 1987 by Marta and Peter Bordeaux to recognize excellence in academics, this award is presented to the graduate of the Master of Business Administration program with the highest cumulative grade point average.
• David Scott Bode
Roger L. Cornelius Award Established in 1967 by the Tulane Graduate School of Business in honor of Roger L. Cornelius, a 1961 West Point graduate and a 1965 Master of Business Administration alumnus who died shortly after graduation, this award commemorates Mr. Cornelius’ dedication to the highest standards of business scholarship and leadership. The award is based on a vote by MBA students, and it is presented to the graduating student in the MBA program who best exemplifies these qualities.
• Erynn Melissa Bell
Evelyn and William Burkenroad Award Established in 1982, the Evelyn and William Burkenroad Award recognizes the one graduating student in the Bachelor of Science in Management program who has an outstanding record of scholarship and personal integrity and whose activities have contributed to the professional, social and/or academic quality of the business program. The recipient is chosen by the senior class. This year, two students tied for the Burkenroad Award.
• Evan James Golden
• Stephan J. Lee
Dean’s Service Award Established in 1991, this award recognizes those graduating students who, in the opinion of the administrative staff and the dean, have added dimension to the school through outstanding contributions of time and effort.
• Benjamin Briggs Barrios (BSM)
• Emilia Bates Anderson (MBA)
• Erynn Melissa Bell (MBA)
• James Edwin Dunn III (MBA)
• Tyler Andrew Hardin (MBA)
• George Denegre Hopkins III (MBA)
• Wanyue Jiang (MFIN)
• Kathryn Leithead Mick (MBA)
• Sturgis Martin Sobin II (MME)
Tulane Association of Business Alumni Award Established to recognize outstanding graduates of the school’s degree programs, this award is presented to students who rank in the top 10 percent of their classes and, in the opinion of the dean, the administrative staff and the officers of the Tulane Association of Business Alumni, have displayed exceptional intellectual ability, leadership, self-motivation and a sense of responsibility to peers, the school and the community.
• Annie Morgan Bindler (BSM)
• Megan Elizabeth Baumgartner (MACCT)
• Leigh Ann Rodriguez Benesch (Houston Executive MBA)
• Timothy Kyle Johnston (Houston Professional MBA)
• Joseph Anthony Laine (New Orleans Professional MBA)
• Ezequiel Massaglia (New Orleans Executive MBA)
• Kathryn Leithead Mick (MBA)
• Lynda Ruth Clemmons (Houston MFIN)
• Paul Michael Gibson (Houston MFIN)
• Mudassir Nazir (MFIN)
• Bryce Armonde Robertson (MME)
TABA Community Service Award Established in 1993 by the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship and conducted in partnership with the Tulane Association of Business Alumni, this award recognizes those graduates who, under the auspices of the institute and mentored by TABA members, have completed at least 25 hours of pro bono service with a disadvantaged business or a not-for-profit organization in the New Orleans area.
Bachelor of Science in Management:
• Elizabeth Cherrick
• Max Cron
• Laura Fromm
• Xuran Nie
• Laura Stokes
• Benjamin Warshaw
• Becky Wong
Master of Accounting:
• Lijun Chen
• Crystal Marie Tice
Master of Business Administration:
• Selma Abdelmoniem Alamin
• James O’Keith Allen
• Ahmed Ossama Abdelwahed Almassry
• Thomas James Altman
• Emilia Bates Anderson
• Erynn Melissa Bell
• Garrett Charles Bludau
• David Scott Bode
• Kevin Alonzo Bratcher
• Olga Lucia Bustamante
• Christopher James Cobb
• Frank Williamson Darden
• Jordan Gregory Dorenfeld
• Paul Wolfram Fischer
• Vanessa Michel Gerard
• Varun Kumar Gurusamy Dorairaj
• Cortney Cole Hall
• Parker Earl Koerner
• Adrian Mendez
• Vinay Mohan
• Samra Nawaz
• Lydia Ruth Adamma Onimo
• Katherine Victoria Sharp
• Sarah Catherine Turner
Master of Global Management
• Andrew Clay Mouton
Tulane 34 The Tulane 34 Award is presented to 34 graduates who have distinguished themselves throught their collegiate life. Students are recognized for their exemplary leadership, service and academic excellence. Named for the year the university was founded, 1834, Tulane 34 is among the most coveted university-wide honors bestowed upon students. In recognition of Scott Cowen’s service to and leadership of Tulane University, 35 students were honored in 2014. Of the 35 students honored, seven were graduates of the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
• Briggs Barrios (BSM)
• Amber Bennett (BSM)
• Adam Griego (BSM)
• Zachary Hoyt (BSM)
• Klara Vyskocilova (BSM)
• Erynn Melissa Bell (MBA)
• Henry Thomas Milburn III (MFIN)
Allen R. Vorholt Memorial Award
Established in 1988 by the Executive Master of Business Administration graduating class and the Freeman School faculty and administration to honor Allen R. Vorholt, this award recognizes Mr. Vorholt’s outstanding executive qualities as exemplified in his leadership, his scholarship, his ability to balance priorities and his strong sense of civic obligation. Selection is based on student vote and the award is presented to a classmate who epitomizes these qualities.
One night last spring, Albin Soares (MBA ’13) was working at his computer when he got a text message from one of his colleagues on the Graduate Business Council, the Freeman School’s student government organization.
“Hey, you need to calm down for the day,” the message read.
Outgoing GBC President Albin Soares (MBA ’13) earned a reputation as one of the most active presidents in the organization’s history.
Soares puzzled over the message for a second before realizing what it was about.
“I looked and I had sent out 74 emails that day,” laughs Soares, the outgoing president of the GBC. “So I was like, ‘Okay.’”
Days like that weren’t unusual for Soares, who earned a reputation among faculty and staff as one of the most active, involved presidents in recent GBC history. From working with faculty to revamp the MBA program to making sure that the television in the GW2 lounge stayed tuned to CNBC, no issue was too big or too small for Soares, who brought boundless enthusiasm and unrelenting tenacity to the job.
“Over the last year, I think I spoke with Albin more than I did with my associate deans — or my wife for that matter,” quips Dean Ira Solomon. “While I can’t say that I agreed with every idea Albin brought to me, there’s no question his extraordinary drive and determination made Freeman a better school. One just needs to look at his record of accomplishment to see the profound impact he had on the Freeman School.”
Over the course of the year, Soares’ achievements included establishing a discussion lounge for graduate students, bringing in a host of guest speakers, and lobbying successfully for the creation of an experimental “offboarding” program to provide graduating students with a formal send off. When he found out that alumni participation in giving was one of the criteria used in ranking surveys, he succeeded in getting not just a pledge but a check from almost every member of the 2013 graduating classes.
Perhaps most prominently, Soares co-chaired with Dean Solomon the task force dedicated to rewriting the Freeman School’s mission statement and core values during the recent strategic planning process. In that respect, he played a substantive role in defining the Freeman School’s direction for the next five years.
“There’s not one big, bright, shiny thing I accomplished as GBC president, but I can say we chipped away at a lot of things that needed to be done,” Soares says of his tenure as president. “I think that’s what I’m most proud of.”
A native of Southern California, Soares worked a variety of jobs — including stints in the entertainment industry, as a Mercedes-Benz salesman and as a legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany — before deciding that he needed an MBA to pull everything together and give him the skills to get to the next level. Since graduating in May, Soares has relocated with his family — his wife, Elizabeth, and 11-month-old son Bennett — to the San Diego area, where he hopes to launch a business idea he developed at the Freeman School, but as an alumnus and a new member of the Freeman 50, the Freeman School’s young MBA advisory board, he plans to remain involved with the Freeman School for many years to come.
“We’ve had some really stellar professors, some who have been life changing,” Soares says. “That’s probably the thing I liked best and it’s probably the thing we all liked best about the Freeman School. Having a small class, everyone knew each other’s names. We’ve gone on three international trips together, we’ve worked on projects, done team building. I hope that that bond continues as we all move on with our careers.”
To accommodate its growing size, the A. B. Freeman School of Business moved its diploma ceremony to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this year, where it immediately followed the university’s spectacular unified commencement ceremony. For business graduates and their guests, the move enabled them to witness what was surely one of the most memorable graduation ceremonies in Tulane history. The Dalai Lama delivered Tulane’s commencement address this year to a rapturous response, and the ceremony also featured special musical performances from honorary degree recipients Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize winner and 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, was also on hand to receive an honorary degree.
Elizabeth A. Freudmann was one of 108 MBA degree recipients who received their diplomas on Saturday at the Superdome. Photo by Cheryl Gerber.
With that exhilarating introduction, the Freeman School took to the stage and got down to business, with Dean Ira Solomon awarding 717 diplomas to new graduates of the A. B. Freeman School of Business. That number includes 82 Master of Accounting degrees, 108 Master of Business Administration degrees, 137 Master of Finance degrees, 14 Master of Global Management degrees, 39 Master of Management degrees, 29 Master of Management in Energy degrees, and one Doctor of Philosophy degree. The number also includes 307 Bachelor of Science in Management degrees conferred as part of the Tulane-Newcomb College undergraduate diploma ceremony.
Aaron P. Coulon (BSM ’13) received the BSM Scholastic Achievement Award, which recognizes the undergraduate student with the highest cumulative GPA, and Clifford T. Harlan (MBA ’13) received the Marta and Peter Bordeaux Scholastic Achievement Award, which recognizes the MBA graduate with the highest cumulative GPA. In addition, business graduates Nicole M. Munsey (MBA ’13), Lauren A. Nelson (MBA ’13) and Albin J. Soares (MBA ’13) received the Tulane 34 Award, which recognizes students from across the university for their academic achievements, student leadership and community service.
David A. Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, spoke to graduates at the Freeman School’s diploma ceremony. Photo by Cheryl Gerber.
David A. Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, delivered the charge to graduates for the Freeman School. Wilson, a member of the Business School Council, encouraged graduates to use their earnings to make the world a better place, to maintain their sense of humor and to value the unique contributions of everyone they come in contact with. He closed with a reference to the oath young Athenians were asked to take more than 2,500 years ago – “We will transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”
“Your Tulane degree will open doors that you did not even know where there for you,” Wilson said. “Take the talent, the education and the opportunity that you have been given and make this world greater, better and more beautiful than it is today.”
For almost 30 years, the Periwinkle Foundation has offered children with cancer one of the most powerful healing therapies in existence: Fun.
The Periwinkle Foundation hosts a summer camp and other programs for children with cancer. Last semester, a Houston-based class of PMBA students partnered with the foundation to develop strategies to improve marketing, development and community engagement.
The Houston-based foundation hosts an annual summer camp for children undergoing cancer treatment that enables the pint-sized patients to enjoy a week filled with all the traditional camp activities, from horseback riding and archery to fishing, swimming and even ziplining. Periwinkle also hosts weekend camps for teens and families and monthly programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Hematology Center, all dedicated to meeting the social and emotional needs of children living with cancer.
On an annual basis, the foundation touches the lives of more 4,000 children, teens and family members, but like a lot of nonprofits, Periwinkle doesn’t always have the time or resources to devote to strategic marketing.
That’s where a Houston-based class of Freeman School PMBA students comes in.
Last fall, Yiorgos Bakamitsos, professor of practice and assistant dean for executive education, reached out to Periwinkle and offered the consulting services of students in his Topics in Marketing class. Over the course of the six-week module, the students met with representatives from Periwinkle and developed a host of recommendations to meet the organization’s wide-ranging needs.
“They wanted to, for example, grow their donor base,” says Giovanni Edwards (MBA ’13), one of the students in the class. “They wanted to make better use of technology. They wanted to improve their direct mail campaign. They wanted to increase volunteer support and turnout. It was a really nice consulting project.”
Bakamitsos has put his students to work on experiential learning projects with nonprofits for more than a decade, but he says the Periwinkle project stands out both for the commitment of the students to the organization’s mission and the quality of their recommendations.
“The recommendations were really excellent,” Bakamitsos says. “One of Periwinkle’s board members who came to see the presentations does marketing for HP, and her comment to me was that their work was very professional and that she sometimes wished she would get that kind of work from the people who work for her, which was a very nice compliment for the students.”
Working in teams of five, the students came up with ideas that ranged from simple and straightforward to surprisingly sophisticated given the project’s short timeline.
In addition to its annual summer camp, above, the Periwinkle Foundation also hosts weekend camps for teens and families and monthly programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
One team highlighted the importance of color branding, and encouraged the foundation to be more consistent in its use of periwinkle blue—the foundation’s official color—in its logos and marketing materials. Another team used census data to generate a heat map showing areas in Houston with high concentrations of charitable donors. The team then showed the foundation how to use that information improve its direct mail campaigns.
One of the best received ideas was Edwards’ proposal for the creation of Periwinkle Fellows, a new program to expand and enhance volunteer support. The fellows program would enable young professionals in Houston to gain experience and build their resumes by leading volunteer projects for the foundation. Periwinkle in turn would receive valuable professional services while at the same time building name recognition in the local business community.
Doug Suggitt, executive director of the foundation, says the fellows program was just one of many ideas suggested by the class that Periwinkle hopes to implement in the near future.
“We were tremendously satisfied with the project,” Suggitt says. “I would say the vast majority of the recommendations that came from the students will be utilized by the foundation. We’re truly a more dynamic organization thanks to Tulane University.”
While the students say they enjoyed the chance to put their skills to work for a real-world client, the fact that the client was an organization like Periwinkle made this project that much more special.
“We would have worked just as hard if the client had been Exxon or Apple, but I think our connection to the organization and our satisfaction from the impact was very different,” Edwards says. “It felt better because it meant something.”
“There are definitely projects within the MBA program that are kind of draining and exhausting, but this was one that I wish we could have had more time to work on,” adds Kelli Stilley (MBA ’13). “We felt like we actually made a difference in the organization, so it was a lot of fun.”
The Tulane University chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing business excellence, welcomed its newest members on April 18, 2013, at a ceremony hosted by the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
Bachelor of Science in Management students Michelle Germain, Samantha Oppenheim and Walter Kissling, left to right, were among this semester’s inductees into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society.
Celebrating its centennial year in 2013, 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, Beta Gamma Sigma has inducted more than 700,000 members from over 520 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.
The inductees, including students from the BSM, MACCT, MBA, MFIN and MNRG programs, are as follows:
Benjamin Briggs Barrios
John Philip Stuart
In addition, Linna Zhang, who was inducted as an undergraduate, also received second recognition at the graduate level.
Alexis Vrotsos of Aspen, Colo., a graduate student in the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, has been selected to serve as a Department of Energy Student Ambassador for the 2012-13 academic year.
As an Energy Student Ambassador, Alexis Vrotsos conducts presentations and workshops at Tulane and collaborates with career services representatives and faculty members. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)
Vrotsos, who is pursuing a master of business administration and master of management in energy, serves as an on-campus resource for DOE job and internship information, providing “insider” tips on where to find and how to land DOE positions. Vrotsos is hard at work, conducting presentations and workshops at Tulane and collaborating with career services representatives and faculty members.
The Energy Student Ambassadors program is part of the Department of Energy’s efforts to expand its presence on U.S. college and university campuses and connect student job seekers with DOE job and internship opportunities. This year, seven students representing schools nationwide were selected from a competitive group of applicants.
The DOE is looking to fill jobs in a wide range of mission-critical occupations including engineers, mathematicians, statisticians, economists, accountants, physical scientists and analysts.
Despite the array of opportunities, many federal agencies have trouble attracting students because of a lack of knowledge about job opportunities and how to apply for them.
“The Energy Student Ambassadors program is a win-win for DOE and student job seekers looking to make a difference,” said Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach at the Partnership for Public Service.
To be eligible for the program, students must complete an internship at DOE or in an energy-related field. This year’s ambassadors interned at the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, among others.
The Energy Student Ambassadors program is conducted in collaboration with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. It is part of the Federal Student Ambassadors program within the Partnership for Public Service.
A team of eight Freeman School MBA students that studied the current landscape of MBA education and made recommendations to the Freeman School’s MBA Task Force took home top honors and a $500 prize at the inaugural FCG Consulting Showcase.
The Freeman Consulting Group organized the event to highlight the nine projects that FCG teams worked on during the fall 2012 semester. Each team delivered a 10-minute overview of its project and recommendations and answered questions from a panel of guest judges, who were charged with picking the top project based on the team’s understanding of the client’s needs, its development of a strategic plan of action and the client’s satisfaction.
Serving as judges for the showcase were Rick Conway of JSC Management, Kristi McKinney of Deloitte, Allen Bell of Topside, Axel Freudmann of AIG and Seth Hamstead (MBA ’12) of Cleaver & Co.
The MBA Task Force is currently developing a new strategic plan for Freeman’s MBA program. As part of that effort, the task force reached out to the Freeman Consulting Group and asked a consulting team to help clarify the school’s current market position, its primary competitors in the market and the differentiation strategies being used by other programs to position themselves in the market. The team also developed recommendations and potential short and long-term strategies.
The Tulane MBA Project consulting team included Ahmed Al Massry, Dan Morrell, Timur Ivannikov, Ana Hernandez, Olga Bustamente, Jing Guo, Wei Shen, Yutong Ding and Zhu Jinghong.
In addition to the Tulane MBA project, the judges also recognized two projects as second-place winners: a project for the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy to review and analyze the city’s system for allocating Live Entertainment Tax Credits and a project for alternative drink company Be: Well to develop a channel and marketing strategy for its Iconic drink. A project for nonprofit investigative journalism organization the Lens to develop alternative means of revenue generation earned the third-place prize.
New Orleans Saints starting defensive end Will Smith, standing, and NFL Players Association Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs George Atallah, seated, spoke to students about the business of the NFL in a special Super Bowl week talk. Photo by Cheryl Gerber.
Will Smith, starting defensive end of the New Orleans Saints, and George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFL Players Association, discussed the business side of football in a special Super Bowl week appearance at the A. B. Freeman School of Business on Tuesday (Jan. 29).
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith appointed Atallah to the newly created position of assistant executive director of external affairs in 2009. In that role, Atallah manages NFLPA media relations, strategic partnerships and fan outreach. He also served as the NFLPA’s spokesman on issues including the lockout and the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
Smith, a nine-year NFL veteran, was one of four current and former Saints who had their suspensions in the wake of the bounty scandal overturned by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The interactive talk, organized by Graduate Business Council President Albin Soares (MBA ’13), covered topics including the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, player marketing, the image of the game and what the future may hold for the NFL and its players. To see more photos from the event, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.
It started out modestly, as a way to offer volunteer opportunities to students during one of their international trips, but in the last three years, public service has grown to become a focal point of the annual MBA Global Leadership trip to Argentina.
MBA students spent a day planting vegetable gardens at an orphanage in Buenos Aires as part of this year’s Global Leadership trip to Argentina.
“There’s a real desire on the part of students to give something back and contribute positively to the places they visit,” says Stephen Estrada, director of professional education, who helps coordinate the program. “With the Global Leadership trip to Buenos Aires, we saw an opportunity to take Tulane’s model of public service and expand it internationally.”
The Argentina trip is part of the MBA course Global Leadership III, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Management Eduardo Guzman and focused on the business environment of Latin America. While this year’s trip included a two-day academic program on doing business in Latin America, the highlights of the trip were a day of public service at a local orphanage and a service learning project that matched MBA students with four nongovernmental organizations in Argentina. In keeping with Tulane’s model of service learning, the consulting project was designed to enable students to use knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to help solve real-world problems.
The project kicked off in August when MBA student teams were matched with one of the four organizations: EMA, which works to improve quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis; Fundación Leon, which promotes social justice; Los Naranjos, which mentors and supports at-risk youth by teaching them the craft of pottery; and Fundación Claritas, which offers educational programs for employees and administrators of NGOs.
MBA students with representatives of Fundación Leon, one of four NGOs in Argentina that students worked with as part of this year’s MBA Service Learning Project.
Working with translators, the students met and interacted with the clients through a series of video conferences and developed consulting reports tailored to meet the specific needs of each organization. Some clients sought marketing assistance or advice on a business plan; others were interested in financial analysis or managerial recommendations.
During November’s trip to Argentina, the students presented their reports to the clients in person, highlighting their findings and answering any questions the clients might have had.
“The thing I’ll remember the most is seeing how excited they were about our report and presentation,” says Reid Pennebaker (MBA ’13), whose team developed ideas to generate additional revenues for Fundación Claritas. “That moment when you see your work will impact someone in a positive way is something you can’t recreate.”
While time constraints and language barriers made the project one of the more difficult ones he’s worked on as an MBA student, Pennebaker says it was also one of the more rewarding.
“All of us wished we’d had more time to interact with the clients and hone in even better on our suggestions, but at the end of the day the client was very happy and we were very happy. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.”