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Month: April 2016

Ciao Venice!

Ciao Venice!

Art - Venice

Art went to Venice! After touring the Piazza San Marco and the basilica, he decided to see the view across the lagoon. Pictured in the background is the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Designed by Andrea Palladio, this Renaissance building can be seen gleaming across the water. Art planned on crossing the lagoon via gondola to visit the church until it started raining, so he settled for a coffee in a cafe instead!

Caption/Photo: Charlie Sigur ‘18, University of Dallas Career Development Student Assistant

Art Student Presents Paper on Roy Lichtenstein at Symposium

Art Student Presents Paper on Roy Lichtenstein at Symposium

Caitlin Clay’s chief goal in attending the University of Texas at Tyler’s Undergraduate Art History Symposium (April 16, 2016) was to deliver her paper on artist Roy Lichtenstein. But what she really gained was confidence in her presentation skills and her ability to network with other art history professionals. “The symposium was such a great learning experience for me,” she said. “Speaking to a large group as an undergraduate and learning how to prepare for small things like how to wear a mic will help me a lot in in graduate school.” Clay received a UD Experience Award to offset the cost of attending the symposium.

Caitlyn Clay
Caitlin Clay

Clay said that the laid-back atmosphere of the symposium encouraged networking among the participants. “Because I received the UDE Award, I was able to spend the night before the conference networking with other speakers and meeting art history students from other schools,” she said. One fellow participant later emailed Clay articles to help with her thesis. She also met a student from TCU where she will be attending graduate school in the fall. “It was a great opportunity to meet art historians from other universities—peers in my field,” she said. She has been accepted into TCU’s Master of Arts program in Art History and was granted a full tuition waiver.
The UD Experience (UDE) awards encourage students to engage in activities in which they will present themselves professionally in pursuit of their vocational goals. Speak with your advisor and consult the UD website ( for specific details about the application process.

4 Ways to Launch Your Great Idea

4 Ways to Launch Your Great Idea

So you’ve got a great idea for a product, business or app. Social media marketing guru Ali Mirza (MBA ‘12) says that the old way of launching–build, launch, market–doesn’t properly leverage the power of social media to bring ideas to fruition. According to Mirza, entrepreneurs must first test their ideas using a variety of offline and social media channels to validate that needs exist–and that their ideas can fulfil those needs. “Before you build a product, you have to know what people want,” he said. “You have to identify their pain points so that you can properly address them.”

How do you go about validating your idea? Mirza says that the first thing you must do is build an MVP–a minimum viable product. If your idea is for a website or app, build a landing page that includes a logo and briefly describes the product. Then use that landing page to capture the email addresses of interested users. Once you have an MVP, the real work begins. Mirza details five ways to drive users to your landing page, which–if your idea is a good one–will create buzz for your product and build your list of customers.

Offline Hustle
Mirza says that Meetups (, local affinity groups focused around hundreds of different hobbies and interests, are a great way to meet like-minded people. “You could find a Meetup for foodies, for yoga, for just about anything,” he said. And look for other events that align with your idea, like workshops or vendor fairs. Make sure to bring your business cards with your landing page address, because networking with potential users in person can start the buzz and help you identify whether your product will take off.

Startup and Pitch Competitions
Mirza, whose FiveOH restaurant and food app won Google’s Startup Weekend competition, says that these types of competitions are about more than winning–they can validate your idea and help you find partners, like designers or programmers. “My app is designed to help college students find cheap food,” he said. “So I knew that I could talk to a lot of college students at the competition. I didn’t expect to win.” Check out startup for more information.

Startup Communities
Researching what others are doing is another way to analyze your market. Mirza suggests browsing startup communities like Hacker News ( and Betalist (, which give makers an outlet to showcase their ideas and get early feedback. A Q&A website like Quora can also help you look for questions and answers associated with your idea.

Social Media
“The people who will use your product are on social media,” Mirza says. “If you want to connect with people, you have to commit to having a social media presence.” In the initial idea-building phase, Mirza suggests using social media as a tool to drive people to your landing page. “Choose one or two social media platforms and post consistently,” he says.

Ali Mirza is the founder of iSocialYou, a business dedicated to helping businesses create engaging social brands and generate leads. He spoke on April 20 to a meeting of the University of Dallas’ Entrepreneurship Society.

The Business of Green Buildings

The Business of Green Buildings

There is no doubt that the jewel of the University of Dallas campus is SB Hall, home of the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business. The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the facility is in process and, once obtained, will support the university’s commitment to energy efficiency and green architecture. A representative from Perkins+Will, the architectural firm that designed SB Hall, along with green building experts from the City of Dallas and Peloton Commercial Real Estate, spoke to a meeting of the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network on April 15, 2014, about the impact of sustainable construction and operational practices on both an organization and the community as a whole.

According to Mary Dickinson, Regional Sustainable Design Leader for Perkins+Will, designing and building a green building is a lot like a trip to the grocery store. “I have a lot of choices when I go to the store,” she said. “Should I buy my usual Jif or should I buy organic peanut butter? I’ve heard organic doesn’t have all those artificial ingredients, but I’m on a budget and doesn’t organic cost a lot more?” In Dickinson’s experience, these questions are similar to the ones an organization will often ask at the beginning of a green building project. “We sit down with them and talk with them about what they’ve heard about the green building process and specifically, LEED certification,” she said. Dickinson’s goal is to find out why the organization is asking about sustainable design, so that the firm can understand the organization’s motivations. “And their answers often sound like they’ve been playing a game of telephone,” she said.

This game of “telephone”—along with its jumble of good and bad information—can result in an organization, or even a whole business sector, holding serious misconceptions about the cost and benefits of sustainable construction. “A perfect example of this is the healthcare sector,” Dickinson said. “Everyone said that you can’t build green hospitals.”

To address this perception, Perkins+Will did a cost premium study that included 15 different LEED certified hospitals and the design firms and contractors associated with the projects. What they found was surprising. “There was actually no cost premium for LEED Silver or below,” she said. “And only a 5% premium for certification above that.” Dickinson also noted that the industry rule of thumb is an 18-month return on the cost premium for building a LEED-certified, sustainable building. “Operational systems like HVAC and lighting give them the most bang for their buck,” she said. “But it all adds up.”

Zaida Basora, Assistant Director of Facility Architecture and Engineering for the City of Dallas, has a unique perspective on the impact of not only green construction, but also of the costs and benefits of retrofitting existing buildings to meet so called “green” building codes. “The City of Dallas has a huge portfolio of buildings,” she said. “We have to balance costs and manage them efficiently.”

According to Basora, owners fall into one of three levels of commitment to a green building project. First-level goals, what she referred to as green, involve the implementation of passive systems such as HVAC along with energy, water and waste reduction. “At the next level–bright green–owners will take a holistic approach and consider sustainable features during the building’s overall design process,” she said. At the highest level–intelligent green–owners install sensors that monitor various systems throughout the building, then collect and analyze the data they produce. “This helps them manage and maintain the facility in the most efficient way possible,” Basora said.

Bill Moebius, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Peloton Commercial Real Estate, discussed Dallas 2030 District, a private-public initiative to create a ground-breaking high-performance building district in downtown Dallas. According to its website, the goal of the organization is to cost-effectively and collaboratively reduce the environmental impact of building construction and operation. The volunteer group consists of property owners and managers, community members and professionals. “We’re using their expertise in different areas like HVAC and landscaping,” Moebius said. “And our target is to reduce water and energy consumption within the district by 50% by 2030.”

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.

From Political Philosophy to Human Resources: Sabre VP Doug Johnson

From Political Philosophy to Human Resources: Sabre VP Doug Johnson

The human resources department may not be the most glamorous segment of the business world, but according to Doug Johnson (BA ’94), Vice President of Human Resources for Sabre Airline Solutions, managing it effectively is essential to a company’s bottom line. “If a company is like a machine,” he said, “then HR is the steward that keeps the machine running.” Johnson spoke recently to Dr. Greg Bell’s Business Foundations class as part of UD’s Executives on Campus program.

Johnson began his career in human resources with a summer job recruiting doctors and dentists to staff a military base. He tried teaching after graduation, but eventually returned to the recruiting field and, through a series of jobs with increasing responsibilities, landed at Sabre as VP of Human Resources for two of the company’s three divisions. During his tenure there, global employee turnover has been reduced by nearly 50 percent.

Johnson’s experience with Sabre reflects not only his success as an HR professional, but also his business acumen. The company, whose reservation systems run some of the world’s largest airlines, has over 10,000 employees. “Sabre’s IPO ranks in the top 10% of all IPOs in the last 2 years,” he said. “And I firmly believe that our HR practices played a role in that success.” Johnson believes that the purpose of a human resources department is to make money for the company, just like any other business unit. In other words, HR for HR’s sake isn’t an option for an organization that has to answer to a board of directors and shareholders. And one of the most important functions of a bottom-line-focused HR department is talent acquisition. “Sabre is relentless about recruiting the best talent in the global market,” Johnson said.

Another important role for an HR department is change management. “When Sabre shifted its focus from being an airline company operating in the software space to a software company operating in the airline space, we had to work hard to make sure everyone in the company understood this new way of thinking,” he said. Johnson accomplished this through building and buying. “Building is training the people you have and buying is recruiting new people to the organization,” he said.

Part of change management in an organization often involves what Johnson called “executive team alignment”—making sure that the company’s leadership is working well together. “The culture of an organization is the result of leadership behavior,” he said. “And when people quit, they are quitting their bosses, not the company. So leadership matters.”
Johnson advised students to leverage their liberal arts degrees by demonstrating to potential employers that they have the ability to communicate well. “Look, I never pictured myself in HR,” he said. “I have a degree in political philosophy. But most companies are willing to teach those who can and are willing to learn.”

And how exactly does a candidate catch Johnson’s eye? “I’m looking for people who are promotable and who are humble,” he said. “And people who have learned how to learn.” That’s where a liberal arts education from the University of Dallas comes in. “Having a strong liberal arts background plus business acumen will set you apart from everyone else,” he said.

For more information on University of Dallas’ Office of Personal Career Development, visit our website at

Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Grable’11 – Working in Sports and Technology

Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Grable’11 – Working in Sports and Technology

Jenna Grable presents to students about her experience in the sports and technology industries. Image by: Marquel Plavan

There are lots of rumors out there that companies within the tech industry are great places to work. But is that really true? It is according to Jenna Grable, BA ’11, an Elite Account Executive at Yelp in San Francisco. Grable spoke to students recently about her experience in both the tech and sports marketing fields.

After graduating from UD in 2014, Grable left Dallas for San Francisco to try something new. “I contacted recruiters from different job sites and set up interviews during a two week visit, which stretched to three weeks,” she said. She soon received an offer from LoopNet, a real estate company, and relocated to San Francisco.

After some time with LoopNet, Grable decided that she would indulge her real passion, baseball, and took a job with the Omaha Storm Chasers, the KC Royals’ AAA club and the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Giants’ AA club. “You have to know what you’re getting into with sports marketing,” she said. “I love baseball and I loved being around the game every day. But it’s long hours and a lot of work with not so much pay.”

So although she loved the baseball life, Grable realized that her future lay in the tech industry back in San Francisco.

Grable began working for Yelp two and a half years ago and recently achieved the company’s President’s Club award for outstanding sales. She attributes her success to Yelp’s culture. “We have an excellent, 60-day training program known throughout the industry,” she said. “And we’re constantly learning new things through ongoing professional development.” Grable said the team atmosphere at Yelp is such that they cheer everyone’s successes. “If you work hard, you get to play hard,” she said. Grable added that company-paid health insurance and even free food are a few of the many benefits that make Yelp a great company to work for.

Grable, a theology and business double-major, advised students that most tech companies will hire sales people regardless of their majors or backgrounds, as long as they meet some simple criteria. “Most companies want sales people who are competitive, persistent, coachable and, in the case of Yelp, passionate about small business,” she said.

Grable added that although some graduates might think they don’t like sales, it’s worth taking a sales job to get in the door of a tech firm. “There are so many tech start-ups” she said. “And the easiest way to get in is through the sales door. Once you get your first job, you can demonstrate that you are coachable. That shows your own and future employers your potential.”

Grable encouraged anyone interested in working for Yelp or in the sports marketing field to contact her through LinkedIn.

Interested in learning more? Stop by the Career Development Office in downstairs Augustine Hall to make an appointment with one of our advisors who can lend you the advice you need to help with all steps of the job search! Or shoot us an email at

Home Sweet Rome!

Home Sweet Rome!

Art Villa Farnesina

It’s already getting warmer in Rome and Art decided to spend some time inside the Villa Farnesina! Located in the beautiful Trastevere district of Rome, this Renaissance Villa was built in the 16th Century for a banker named Agostino Chigi. The house is filled with frescos done by Raphael, Il Sodomo, and several other famous artists. Art’s favorite room was the Hall of the Perspective Views which was designed by Baldassarre Peruzzi in 1519.

Caption/Photo: Charlie Sigur ‘18, University of Dallas Career Development Student Assistant

Executives on Campus: Eddie Caldwell, Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual

Executives on Campus: Eddie Caldwell, Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual

Sometimes taking the wrong path can lead to the right career. That’s what happened to Eddie Caldwell, Managing Director of Northwestern Mutual in Addison. “It took me three years of working as an engineer in Corporate America to realize that it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I learned that I wanted to work with people, not with computers and spreadsheets.” Caldwell spoke on April 5 to Dr. Greg Bell’s Business Foundations class as part of the University of Dallas’ Executives on Campus program.

Caldwell also credits UD’s MBA program with showing him that there were other avenues for him to find a more satisfying career. “I found the financial side of things really interesting,” he said. “And because the program at UD is practical and full of professors and students with real-world advice that I could apply in my own career, I felt I could make the change” he said. Caldwell left the large technology firm he was working for to start a financial services practice, a career that’s based on building trust and confidence. “I can’t believe I get paid to do what I do,” he said. “I get to meet with people I like and talk to them about their dreams and aspirations for themselves and their families. And then I get to help make those dreams happen.”

The way Caldwell builds trust with his clients is through listening. “I sit down with them to find out just what it is they want to accomplish. I found out how well they can tolerate risk, and what they hope to do during their retirement years,” he said. “And then I design a plan that will help them reach their goals. But the key is listening.”

Listening also plays an important role in Caldwell’s other responsibility at Northwestern Mutual, that of a manager whose goal is to recruit new financial advisors who are just as passionate about serving clients. “I love what I do,” he said. “And I want to recruit people who are motivated to be the best they can be. The only way I’ll find out what motivates them is to ask and listen.”

Caldwell added that he has grown into his role as an effective leader through trial and error. “I made some mistakes along the way,” he said. “And the biggest was confusing management and leadership.” A manager, Caldwell said, will make sure that his or her team is functioning on a day to day basis. “But leaders are different,” he said. “Leaders look to the future and ask, ‘Where are we going?’”

According to Caldwell, another key characteristic of good leaders is that they learn what motivates their team members. To that end, Caldwell takes time out of every week—undisturbed “think time”—to thoughtfully consider each of his team members: what motivates them, what excites them, what they really care about. “Good leaders help their team members achieve at their highest capacity,” he said. “The number one test of leadership is to look behind the leader to see if anyone is following.”

Caldwell recommended that students look for just such leaders when they begin their careers. “Look for the leaders you want to follow in an organization,” he said. “Affiliate yourself with them and they will help you.” In the meantime, Caldwell advised students to build a strong foundation while in school by learning as much as they can about as many things as they can. “You’re laying the groundwork now for what the rest of your life is going to look like,” he said. “You may not be able to plan every step but you can build the foundation that everything else will rest on.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information click here.

Fighting Ebola in Africa

Fighting Ebola in Africa

Although most of us are familiar with Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, some would be surprised to learn that there are actually seven uniformed services that are part of the federal government. Dr. Chris Poulson spoke on April 4, 2016, at UD about one of these—the U.S. Public Health Service—and his deployment experience during the Ebola outbreak of 2014.

The U.S. Public Health Service was established in 1798 to screen immigrants coming into the United States for possible contagion. “Now our 7,000 commissioned officers respond to emergencies all over the world,” Poulson said. “Some of our deployments have included natural disasters, school shootings, and, of course, 9/11.” As a psychologist, Poulson has been with the Public Health Service since 2012. “My permanent duty station is at a federal prison,” he said. “But I am on call for deployment one month out of every five.”

In October 2014, Poulson received his first deployment—to Liberia in West Africa to combat the largest Ebola outbreak in history. “There is no running water, no sewers, no electricity, and hardly any means of communicating with people” he said. “So when disease hits, it’s devastating.” Ebola ravaged Liberia’s healthcare workers, many of whom contracted the Ebola virus and died. So the U.S. Public Health Service was deployed to set up a hospital to treat healthcare workers. This would hopefully make other countries feel confident enough to send their own healthcare workers to assist in the fight against Ebola.

As a psychologist, Poulson’s assignment within the medical unit was to take care of the caretakers. “I was constantly checking in with the doctors and nurses, asking things like—Are you ok? How are you sleeping? How’s your stress level? What’s your stress plan?” he said. His goal was to be imbedded with the medical team and not to be stuck in an office away from the action. In order to do that, he assisted with donning and doffing—the putting- on and taking-off of the protective suits worn by medical personnel when treating contagious patients. This was the perfect time to connect with his team. “Assessing someone’s mental status in a clinical setting is a little more formal,” he said. “But in this situation, an informal approach worked better.”
Poulson’s four-week deployment was extended another three weeks because of a forced quarantine in Washington, D.C., which included twice-daily temperature checks over a three week period to ensure that he had not contracted Ebola while in Liberia. “The main thing that I was left with from my deployment…the one thing that sticks out to me is to be grateful for what we have and where we live,” he said.

Poulson then described for the group his career path and how he chose to enlist in the Public Health Service. “After graduation, I started work at a managed care company and then worked for a pain management clinic,” he said. “And then I decided to go into private practice.” But private practice has its own set of challenges. “I was working long hours, fighting with insurance companies, and only 85% of my patients would show up,” he said. A friend recommended he consider working for the Bureau of Prisons because of the steady hours, good pay, and good benefits. “Although I wasn’t so sure about working with that type of clientele, I thought I would give it a try,” he said.
After working at a prison for some time, he learned about the U.S. Public Health Service from a coworker. “I kept seeing these guys in blue uniforms, and I found out that they work for the Surgeon General, they serve underserved populations, and they have great opportunities for advancement and promotion,” he said.

And the decision to enlist was a good one. “Working for the prison was better than working in private practice,” he said. “And being a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service is even better than that.” For more information on events sponsored by the University of Dallas Office of Personal Career Development, visit our website.

Alexa Acquista Awarded Travel Grant With Support from Politics Department

Alexa Acquista Awarded Travel Grant With Support from Politics Department

Alexa Acquista
Alexa Acquista

Alexa Acquista is hoping that her experience at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. (March 2-5, 2016) will help will help her bring a new organization to campus. She was chosen by Turning Point USA to attend the conference, and she hopes to bring a Turning Point chapter to the University of Dallas. “Turning Point is a national non-profit with chapters in campuses across the country,” Acquista said. “Their mission is to educate and organize students to promote conservative values.”

At the CPAC meeting, Acquista attended lectures and policy panels on a variety of topics, including crime and foreign policy. “One thing that surprised me was hearing different approaches to the issues,” she said. “Although the panels and speakers represented conservative views, there were many different opinions on how to solve the problems.”

Acquista also attended leadership seminars and connected with representatives from organizations that sponsor similar conferences. “I learned a lot that I can bring back to campus,” she said.

With the endorsement of the Politics Department, Acquista received a University of Dallas Experience Award to offset the costs of attending the CPAC conference. UDE Awards encourage students to engage in activities in which they will present themselves professionally in pursuit of their vocational goals. Speak with your advisor and consult the UD website ( for specific details about the application process.