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Costa Rica Provides Plenty for Field Period™

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.

Brittany Gleason

Like many people, Keuka College junior Brittany Gleason has a bucket list. And like many people, traveling is among the items on the list.

Thanks to receiving the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, Gleason had the opportunity to cross ‘traveling’ off of her list during her January Field Period™. The mathematics major and Carthage resident traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, where she took classes at Centro Cultural de Idiomas (CCI), a cultural language center.

“To me, traveling means learning and experiencing new cultures and broadening my horizons,” said Gleason. “It also means meeting new people and forming lifelong friendships. I was excited to push myself and get as much out of the experience as possible.”

But she was not the only Keuka student who traveled to Costa Rica for her January Field Period™. Sophomore Kathryn Zawisa, another recipient of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, went too, intent on learning more about how Costa Rican small businesses are run.

Gleason, Zawisa, a marketing and management major from Amsterdam—and four other Keukonians—participated in Finger Lakes Community College’s (FLCC) study abroad program. During the Field Period™ each conducted, Gleason and Zawisa had the opportunity to improve their Spanish language proficiency, and develop an understanding and appreciation of Costa Rica’s culture. They also had the opportunity to tour sites of interest and be housed with a host family.

Kathryn Zawsia

“It’s been my dream to travel to a Spanish-speaking country where I could use what I have learned,” said Zawisa. “Taking Spanish classes since sixth grade has transformed into a minor at Keuka. Not only have I enjoyed learning the language, but I’ve also found myself yearning to learn more about the culture. Costa Rica gave me the opportunity to understand the Spanish culture and feed my interest.”

It was also a chance to practice community service.

“I have been involved in my community from an early age, so when I heard we were going to work with young girls, I jumped at the chance to help,” said Gleason.

She worked at a social services organization which provides room, board, and schooling to adolescent girls who have been removed from their homes due to domestic violence, neglect, and or abuse.

Gleason enlisted the help of her fellow Enactus teammates to ask the College community for donations for the girls. Together they collected pens, pencils, erasers, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, stickers, ponytail holders, headbands, and barrettes, among others. Zawisa also intended to donate part of her award money to a Costa Rican charity.

“I believe I am a driven and passionate student, which is shown through my interaction with others,” said Zawisa. “I hope I displayed this passion while in Costa Rica.”

Part of that passion was the desire to compare how a small Costa Rican business is run versus an American one.

“My family owns two small businesses in New York state so I already know much about how to run one,” said Zawisa. “But seeing what differs in Costa Rican businesses, instead of reading it online, was an unforgettable opportunity.”

And she was not just interested in how the businesses are run.

“I wanted to learn the differences of communication in a Spanish-speaking country such as nonverbal cues, inter-gender communication, and more,” said Zawisa. “Learning these skills could put me one step ahead of other Spanish minors because I’d not only know the language, but I’d also know how to approach, and speak to, a native Spanish speaker.”

Added Gleason: “Being at Keuka has given me the confidence and knowledge I need to be a productive member of society. I believe traveling to Costa Rica was a life-changing experience, especially because I learned more about the world while helping others in need.”

A Tale of Two Field Periods

According to two Keuka College juniors, the Field Period internships they conducted in the human resource divisions of different global corporations were the best of times.

While she went to a Boston bio-tech company of 5,000, he went to the U.S. headquarters (Pittsburgh) of a global chemical corporation that employs 17,500 people. Both are juniors, both worked May – August 2013, and both were paid – an uncommon occurrence in the arena of collegiate internships.

She is Sini Ngobese, a business and organizational communication major from Durban, South Africa. He is Devon Locher, a business major from Baden, Pa. Both students are pursuing human resources (HR) concentrations in their business majors, while Locher’s second concentration is in marketing. While Ngobese conducted her Field Period at Biogen Idec, Locher conducted his at Lanxess, a corporation focused on development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber and specialty chemicals. While she researched best-practice policies for redrafting an internal human resources (HR) manual, he worked on internal surveys covering employee and international intern integration into the city and company culture.

Locher said he was able to visit a production site in Ohio once which allowed him to see some of the manufacturing side of the company – with its setting and safety protocols – as well as the corporate side. The Pittsburgh workplace was positive and upbeat, he said, and while Locher already conducted two HR-related field periods, confirming that HR is the field he wants to work in, his two prior internships were at much smaller corporations.

At a prior Field Period, Locher learned he didn’t enjoy accounting work, but at Lanxess, no two days were ever the same,” he said. “There was always something different going on, even if some of the tasks were the same. That’s what I liked about it.”

In addition to developing what turned out to be a 30-page PowerPoint for managers to review, Locher also researched other company plans to ensure affirmative action laws and other HR standards comply with a wide variety of state and federal guidelines.

Locher with VP of HR Ludovico Martin, of Lanxess

“I learned a lot through research,” Locher said. “I think that’s why Keuka does the Field Period, because you can only do so much in the classroom and then you have to get out out there and work and see how it applies.”

According to Ngobese, Biogen Idec is the second largest bio-tech company in the world, manufacturing drugs for those suffering from autoimmune diseases.  Ngobese was stationed in its Weston branch office, although the company has locations “all over the globe,” she said.

Ngobese said her duties focused on the capture and synchronization of all U.S., European, and Canadian HR policies, to be shared on a new self-service portal for employees.

“It was, by far, the greatest career experience I’ve had thus far and truly fulfilled what the Field Period mission and vision strives to achieve,” said Ngobese. In addition to confirming her career aspirations and the type of company culture she hopes to find, Ngobese said her Field Period also helped her find a professional role model: Elizabeth Abbott, her supervisor.

“All of us were “wowed” by Sini’s professionalism, communication, work ethic and work product,” said Abbott. “Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communications is what really stands out to me. I was proud to have her represent my department and proud to call her a member of my team. She will be a strong contributor, I believe, wherever she goes.”

Thanks to Abbott, Ngobese said she now knows exactly what kind of female leader she wants to be, and has a clear sense what future purpose she can have within the HR field. She befriended other HR interns and was able to benchmark herself against those coming from bigger schools and gain confidence that she could still hold her own with them. The experience was so fulfilling, Ngobese may be invited to return to intern a second time, and if so, that would be in the company’s Cambridge, Mass., offices where the HR department will be moved.

Ngobese with fellow Biogen Idec interns at a Red Sox game in Boston, one of several company-provided treats for interns.

“It was intrinsically rewarding in that it truly helped me see that this is what I want to do as a career for the rest of my life,” she said. “I woke up thrilled to go to work and that really was an amazing experience for me.”

Snapshot of a Graduate: Jose Cervantes

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the seventh in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.

jose, degree, 2013, benefit, value, graduateJose Cervantes ’13 was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco-Mexico, but grew up in Horseheads. With aspirations of working for Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in its Madrid, Spain branch office, Cervantes earned a degree in business management with a marketing concentration and will pursue a second degree through Keuka: a master’s of management with a concentration in international business.

Cervantes played midfield on Keuka’s men’s soccer team in his junior and senior years after transferring in from Corning Community College, where he played as a sophomore. He’ll compete one more year for Keuka while grad school is underway. Indeed, sports have played a major role in the internship experiences Cervantes pursued through Keuka’s Field Period program. His senior year internship was conducted at Watkins Glen International Speedway.

“I benefited the most from the Field Periods,” Cervantes said of Keuka. “Having [job] experience before graduation is a great plus in the ‘real world.’”

While grad school is underway, Cervantes will branch out in his new role as restaurant chain supervisor at Garcia’s Mexican restaurant (his family’s business), where he will also oversee marketing.

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.

Math and Munitions, the Business of the Military

How does a Keuka degree fit into daily military life?

Maddox '07, right, is sworn in as a USAF Captain.

Just ask U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Maddox ’07, who graduated with a B.A. in math and a B.S. in business management, and now serves as operations officer for the U.S. Air Force 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, which includes four officers and 461 enlisted airmen at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. Maddox is second-in-command to the squadron commander.

“I handle operations and she handles the personnel—the pats on the back and the kicks in the butt, so to speak,” he said. “We provide munitions support and we do maintenance. Let’s say after flying, a part gets damaged and needs repair. We repair it through metal fabrication.”

In addition, the squadron handles what Maddox calls “deep tissue maintenance,” such that after every 400 flight hours logged by a particular plane, it will spend from 7-20 days in the base hangar getting stripped down for  more intensive analysis or repairs.

Maddox supervises logistics, storage, supply chain management and more for Air Force munitions, like this bomb, at his base in Germany.

“As far as business is concerned, maintenance and munitions is pretty much like any other business. We have a product, a process, customers, logistics, and a supply chain. I market my product to my customers – other squadrons – so they get what they want and I’m able to supply it. It’s almost a direct correlation [to business].” (more…)

SIFE Out, Enactus In

SIFE, a familiar acronym on the Keuka College campus since the advent of the 21st century, no longer exists.

In a move designed to reaffirm its “long-standing commitment to using entrepreneurial action as a catalyst for progress,” the international organization Students in Free Enterprise has changed its name to Enactus.

“We needed a name that captured the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels everything we do,” said Alvin Rohrs, CEO. “We were also eager to create a name that reflected how global this organization has become.”

Some 57,000 students are members of Enactus clubs in 1,600 colleges and universities in 39 countries.

“Entrepreneurial action is not something that is relevant to a single culture or nationality,” said Rohrs. “What we do is just as powerful in Shanghai as it is in Sao Paulo, just as transformative whether we are in San Francisco or Sydney.”

Or in Keuka Park, N.Y., where the Keuka College SIFE  team has enhanced the quality of life in the region while qualifying for nine SIFE national competitions in the past 11 years. (more…)

Meet New Faculty: Robert Dischner

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of profiles of new, full-time faculty members who have joined the Keuka community.

Robert Dischner loves being in the classroom and said it’s always been his dream to be a college professor.

The former director of learning and development for utility companies such as Niagara Mohawk and National Grid, joined the full-time Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) faculty this year and sees many similarities between the corporate night classes he once led for utility company staffers and the ones he now teaches for Keuka management students in cohorts in Corning and Elmira.

Business experience was woven through his professional career, which includes nearly 30 years of human resources and professional development work. Dischner even had a brief stint as a stockbroker, before he landed his first teaching job: instructing company employees of Niagara-Mohawk in finance and accounting.

In addition to developing employees in technical disciplines, his department set up a corporate university that sought to expand the role of a traditional training department.

“We wanted to educate our employees, not train them, and doing that at night was the way the industry was headed. I didn’t realize at the time, but I was practicing, in a classic way, the model that Keuka has,” Dischner said of ASAP’s once-weekly evening classes, small-group cohorts, and modular format. “It’s a great way to do research and learn at the same time.

“I started off working in the field, then in the training department teaching and getting involved with major change initiatives,” added Dischner, who ultimately found himself in charge of technical training in gas and electric utilities, with approximately 80-90 people reporting to him. But the classroom called to him still.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in education, and a Ph.D. in education, all from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). While his dissertation was in education, it included a focus on business development and reinforced a passion for the difference between training and teaching, he said. (more…)

Meet New Faculty: Samuel Bateman

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles of new, full-time faculty who have recently joined the Keuka community.

New to the Keuka faculty this fall in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) is Samuel Bateman, who is teaching classes in managerial accounting, managerial finances and decision-making to students in both the bachelor’s and master’s degree management programs.

The Colorado transplant is completing a transition to full-time academia after spending nearly 30 years in software sales, business development and international sales and marketing. Starting in 2005, Bateman began teaching part-time at North Carolina Wesleyan College and Wake-Forest University. He next taught online and international business courses for Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, as well as some international business classes for the undergraduate program at Walden University, which operates online programs from headquarters in Minnesota.

Bateman, now a Rochester resident, holds two master’s degrees – one in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MBA from North Carolina State University.

“I’ll be able to relate to the ASAP students because I obtained both of my master’s degrees while working full-time,” Bateman said. (more…)

Meet New Faculty: Yang Zhao

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of profiles of new, full-time faculty who have joined the Keuka community.

Back in the fall of 2006, Dr. Yang Zhao served as an academic adviser to four international students attending classes on the home campus in Keuka Park. Today, some 79 international students from 12 countries attend classes here, learning how to compare and contrast America with its global neighbors in background, economy, and leadership development.

This fall, after earning her doctorate and serving several years as an adjunct professor for Keuka, Zhao became part of the full-time faculty, teaching courses in economics and leadership to graduate students in Keuka’s Master of Science in management with a concentration in international business (MSMIB) program.

Her studies in China focused on economics, and she holds a B.S. in economics from Shangdong University of Finance and an M.A. in economics from Dongbei University of Finance and Economics. While teaching in China’s Qiqihar University, Zhao published seven research articles relative to strategic planning, management, marketing, economics and business to help entrepreneurs and companies to better serve their community. In 2003, she won the Outstanding Young Professor award, for the Hei Long Jiang province of China. During that time, she also served as an academic coordinator for the Keuka China Program (KCP) and assistant professor at Qiqihar University.

Here in the U.S., she has added an M.S. in management from Keuka, and just this summer, completed an education doctorate in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College. In addition to her many years of experience in international education, as a full-time and adjunct professor, Zhao has also spent seven years as a local business owner and entrepreneur working in property management. Her connection to the local business and community network, as well as related marketing and financial management skills, help provide what international learners and domestic students are looking for when they study at Keuka, she said.

“As a business leader, you have to understand the entrepreneur’s point of view, to understand how to help students start thinking as a future leader, not just a manager. That will help students to be successful in their career development,” Zhao said.
(more…)

Meet New Faculty: Sam Ferrara

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles of new full-time faculty who have joined the Keuka community.

Nearly 35 years ago, Sam Ferrara left Clyde, a small town in Central New York, to head out to college for a degree and a career in big business. During his 20 years in sales and consulting, he worked in Albany; Charlotte, N.C; San Antonio, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; and Melbourne, Australia. He then made a switch to education and now has another seven years in academia. Before coming to Keuka, Ferrara was an adjunct professor at Skidmore College.

Now making a daily trek from Clyde to Keuka Park, Ferrara instructs undergraduates as an assistant professor of management in the Division of Business and Management. This semester finds him teaching courses in advertising, training and development, and operations and production management. Part of the allure of this job was the opportunity to return to his roots.

“I enjoy working with students from small towns in this area and I’d like to make a contribution back to an area that’s pretty economically depressed right now: upstate New York in general and my hometown specifically,” he said.

Ferrara holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SUNY Brockport, an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College, and is completing his doctorate in organizational studies at University at Albany. His dissertation involves interdisciplinary study of organizations and Ferrara is honing in on the impact of CEO duality on firm performance in a post-financial crisis world.

Duality is the term given when the top executive is both CEO and chairman of the board, and while having one person in a dual role may make it easier to get projects done, questions arise whether that one person has too much power.

“I’m very interested in corporate governance, and who watches out for the shareholders,” Ferrara said, citing the high-risk decisions and outright malfeasance of some in the realms of high finance. “It doesn’t matter what level you’re at — it’s interesting how people with power will use the power in self-interest. Does power do that to a person, or does the person have that power?

My hypothesis is that it’s not the whole, it’s the few.”

Ferrara said his goal as a professor is to engage students in both utilitarian (practical) and intrinsic knowledge, and he hopes to be effective in helping students grow as individuals and professionals.

“I want to prepare them to work in an ethical way and keep community awareness in mind,” he said.

Snapshot of a Graduate: Nick Simpson

Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the sixth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2012.

Nick Simpson ’12 graduated Keuka with a degree in management and has been employed since May with Places.Mobile, a company that provides mobile marketing for businesses, and was certified by Google on May 1 as the upstate New York contractor for Google Business Photos. Thanks to the new Google program, a company such as an auto dealer, coffee shop, restaurant or other retailer, can give prospective customers a 360-degree interactive virtual tour of the inside of their establishment. The virtual tour is directly attached to Google search results, maps or ads and can be embedded into a businesses’ website or Facebook page.

Penn Yan resident Nick Simpson

Simpson is one of three Keuka students working as independent sub-contractors with Jim Hilker, Keuka’s director of educational technology, and owner of Places. Mobile. Simpson, who served as president of the Keuka Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team, connected with Hilker during the spring semester for a training session on how to market enhancements to a business’s Google Places listing so merchants could capitalize on mobile marketing to smartphone users. Now, he is handling panoramic photography, while the two other Keuka students are focused on sales and marketing.

Even before this door opened, Simpson said, “I wanted to get involved with all this stuff because Jim kind of led me into the whole Google universe and the opportunity that existed there. He’s grown with that to find new and better opportunities within that Google sphere.”

According to Hilker, the efforts of the three Keuka students gave Places.Mobile a top three standing for Google in its first month, and for June, was Google’s No. 1 certified independent photo contractor nationwide, based on its number of photo shoots.

“I think it has the potential to turn into a true full-time position,” said Simpson, who has traveled to Rochester, Syracuse and other locales to shoot the panoramic images.

While Simpson said he could not yet make direct correlations between his classes and the responsibilities of this job, he felt what he learned from Keuka goes beyond textbooks.

“The lesson may be getting up in the morning and doing a full day’s work, or advice from professors that you have to be flexible and not limit yourself. You might say, ‘I want to be an advertising consultant in Rochester, N Y,’ but it may not be what you thought it was going to be. You need to run with the opportunities presented to you and make the most of them.”

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.