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Month: October 2016

UD Students and Alumni Discuss Social Entrepreneurship and Responsibility

UD Students and Alumni Discuss Social Entrepreneurship and Responsibility

Although many business leaders focus solely on the bottom line, those who understand and embrace the social implications of starting and growing an ethical company often have the greatest impact on their communities while still creating jobs and realizing profits. A group of local entrepreneurs with ties to the University of Dallas participated in an Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility panel event on October 6 to discuss these issues. The event was co-sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Society and Market Share Marketing Club and moderated by Dr. Laura Munoz.

Rachel Sullivan, President UD Entrepreneurship Society   Photo by Anthony Garnier
Rachel Sullivan, President UD Entrepreneurship Society
Photo by Anthony Garnier

In making the connection between business and social responsibility, Michael Hasson (Politics ‘08), a digital campaign strategist and executive at Red Metrics LLC, said that entrepreneurs have responsibilities to various constituent groups. “First, you owe your funders integrity and responsibility,” he said. “You also owe your customers your focus, you owe your employees your loyalty, and you owe society the value of creating jobs.”

Simone Meskelis, a student in UD’s Doctor of Business Administration program and Regional Sales Analyst at Essilor, shared a personal story from her native Brazil about the important role entrepreneurs play in the community. “My father traveled the country trying to find a city where he could start a business,” she said. “And our entire family lived and breathed that business. But in 1995 when the Brazilian economy collapsed and he lost his job, his biggest concern was having to let 50 people go. Those 50 families depended on my father’s business.”

(L to R) Michael Hasson, Simone Meskelis, Kyle Callahan Photo by Anthony Garnier
(L to R) Michael Hasson, Simone Meskelis, Kyle Callahan
Photo by Anthony Garnier

Kyle Callahan (Economics ‘10), Client Success Executive for Care Continuity, pointed out the challenging relationship between social responsibility and business profitability. “In our business, 30% of our clients are complex cases because they don’t have health insurance,” he said. “And our caseworkers sometimes spend a disproportionate amount of time coordinating their care. But they still need our help.”

Beyond the mechanics of business itself, the panelists also discussed how companies can publicly demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. “Spending all day with your employees doing something like building a house–think about the lessons that can teach,” Hassan said. “And it can make a real difference in the company as well. You want employees to grow and you hope that they eventually outgrow you.”

Photo by Anthony Garnier
Photo by Anthony Garnier

Meskelis explained that increasing employee engagement can result in a win-win for both the company and the employee. “When employees receive meaning from what they do, it helps them connect their work to making the world a better place,” she said. “Work becomes more than just a paycheck.”

Callahan added that simply treating everyone well and with respect also makes employees feel connected to the company. “Understanding things like family emergencies is important,” he said.

The panel also discussed how a company might market or promote their commitment to social responsibility. “Unfortunately, hacks take what sounds best at the moment,” said Hassan. “But obligations to society have been around forever. Trying to just look social responsible doesn’t work.”

Meskelis agreed. “Social media is every liar’s worst nightmare,” she said. “If you’re not going to do the right thing in your core business, it will come out sooner or later. It doesn’t matter what foundation you serve or which cause you support.”

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.

Sustainable Business Network: Christus Health

Sustainable Business Network: Christus Health

How does an organization not only stay relevant but also flourish through 150 years of technological and societal changes? By staying committed to its mission. Christus Health, a Catholic faith-based healthcare company, has done just that. Established by a group of sisters in France in 1866, Christus Health has grown become a $6.2 billion global organization with 42,000 associates still dedicated to the original mission: to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to everyone who comes through their doors. “There’s a reason we call our employees associates,” said Ernie Sadau, Christus Health CEO. “We’re a team.” Sadau and other Christus executives spoke on September 30 to a meeting of the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network about how Christus Health is meeting the challenges of managing and growing a complex global organization through building trust among its leaders and associates.

SBN Meeting at Christus Health
SBN Meeting at Christus Health

With locations in the southern United States as well as Mexico, Chile and Colombia, developing leaders in a meaningful and consistent way has become an integral part of Christus Health’s plan for success. And one of the key components of developing leaders is through coaching. “In the past, coaching at Christus had the reputation of being used only when something needed to be fixed,” said Lisa Reynolds, Vice President of Talent Management. “We had to change that perception because we know that coaching is essential to stable and effective leadership and and an engaged workforce.”

Reynolds described for the group the many ways in which Christus uses both internal and external coaches to develop current and potential leaders, from the C-suite to front line associates. “We have an standardized Executive Assimilation Program that uses coaches to introduce new executives to the culture and processes of the organization,” Reynolds said, adding that the program has helped Christus reduce executive turnover by 46%. “In addition, we use coaches to help high potential leaders improve target behaviors. This helps them to develop into effective leaders.”

The Christus coaching philosophy doesn’t only apply to corporate-level managers. All leaders within the organization manage with a coaching approach. “It’s really about trust,” said Scott Hopkins, Director of Leadership Development. “In order to build relationships, we have to have trust. Patients trust associates and associates trust their leaders.” To build this level of trust, Hopkins said that much of Christus’ leadership training focuses on how to have conversations. “Sometimes it’s tough conversations,” he said. “And other times it’s checking in.” To facilitate “checking in,” leaders have regular conversations with associates, asking questions like, “How are you doing?”; “What’s going on in your life outside of work?”; “Do you have any suggestions that could improve our processes or employee safety?”; and “What kinds of tools or equipment could help you do your job?” According to Hopkins, having discussions that focus on the positive creates trust and takes away the stigma of coaching as negative process.

Another key element of building trust among associates and leaders at Christus Health is through recognition. Hopkins said that studies show 65% of people say they received no recognition whatsoever for their work in the past year. “So we developed a Facebook-style forum where leaders can recognize associates,” Hopkins said. “And not only do associates receive organization-wide exposure through this system, but leaders can also award incentive points that associates can use to purchase items on the system website.” Peers can also recognize one another through the forum.

Hopkins added that leaders are encouraged to write handwritten notes to personally recognize outstanding associates. “Imagine the impact of a handwritten note from your boss posted up of the refrigerator for your whole family to see,” he said. “It really engages your heart.”

Hopkins and Reynolds agreed that learning to build trust starts on a leader’s first day. “By creating the expectation of transparency, you build relationships and you develop consistency,” said Reynolds. “Basically,” Hopkins added. “Do what you say you’re going to do.”

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. For more information, visit http://www.udallas.edu/cob/sbn.

Executives on Campus: Todd Strosnider, Associa

Executives on Campus: Todd Strosnider, Associa

The Human Resources Department is an important part of every organization, whether it serves a small business or a large corporation. And because an effective HR team can have a great impact on the bottom line, human resources professionals with a proven track record of success can leverage their skills across a variety of industries. Todd Strosnider (MBA ’12) has worked in the retail, financial, and medical industries and has been serving as Vice President of Leadership O&D for Associa since 2012. Strosnider spoke on September 23 to Heather Kissack’s Human Resources Skills class at the University of Dallas.

Todd Strosnider
Todd Strosnider

Strosnider explained to students that Associa is America’s largest homeowners association management company. Because the company has grown over the years through acquisitions, Associa was faced with corralling a complex network of branch offices across the country. In 2012, Strosnider worked with management to develop a Vision 2020 plan, part of which focused on streamlining human resources and making it consistent across the Associa’s locations.

Strosnider said that the foundation of Associa’s human resources plan is employee morale. “It’s been said before, but happy employees make happy clients,” he said. “That means that happy employees are fully engaged with clients, which increases client retention, client growth, and ultimately our profitability.”

One way Associa strives to maintain good employee morale is by providing best-in-class training and development. To do that Strosnider and the Associa HR team developed Associa University, an umbrella for all of the company’s training and development. “Depending on the particular job in the company, an employee will go through a series of training modules based on what skills they need,” Strosnider said. Associa utilizes the website Degreed to coordinate employee training. “We use what we call “Pathways,” he said, “Which are curated lists of courses and articles that pertain to different areas of training, like management or leadership.” The website keeps a record of an employee’s training, allowing them to take a log of their learning with them if they leave the company.

Associa has other programs designed to develop effective leaders. “Employees don’t leave a job, they leave a manager,” Strosnider said. “And turnover is expensive. It can cost as much as half the salary of that particular position to train someone new and get them up and running.” To develop effective leaders, Associa creates “success profiles” that identify the core competencies necessary for success at various positions. Then they develop training around those competencies.

Strosnider said in order to create a healthy, sustainable organization that continues to grow, Associa wants to be known as a “Best Place to Work.” But what makes makes a company a great place to work is different for everybody. “Is it benefits, healthcare, salary, time off, or recognition? Our job is to try to prioritize based on what’s important to our team,” he said.

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.

Intern Spotlight: Nicole Adams

Intern Spotlight: Nicole Adams

University of Dallas junior Nicole Adams hasn’t always wanted to be a physician. In fact, her childhood phobia of doctors was so severe that she had to be chased down the hall to get a routine vaccination. “I tried so many different things,” she said. “But I finally realized that being a doctor was the best way I could make an impact and try to keep other kids from having the fears I had.”

Nicole Adams
Nicole Adams

To that end, Adams applied and was accepted to the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at Duke University. The privately funded program has locations nationwide, allowing prospective students to apply to individual universities. Those universities are then free to choose program participants from their pool of applicants. “Duke’s program is among the top 5 in the U.S.,” Adams said. “And they have only a 10% acceptance rate, so I was very honored to be selected.”

According to Adams, the goal of SMDEP is to let undergraduates considering going on to medical school get a realistic view of what is in store for them. And to do that the SMDEP organizers kept Adams and the other participants busy–very busy. “I took Physics and Organic Chemistry in the mornings,” she said. “In the afternoons, we learned about different aspects of patient care. Actors would come in as patients so we could learn how doctors connect on a personal level with real people.” In the evenings Adams shadowed surgeons and medical students in the ER, the Neonatal ICU and other areas of the hospital. Even the interns lunch hours were filled hearing prominent physicians and guest lecturers from around the country.

To help students adjust to the sometimes overwhelming work load and high expectations of the program, Adams said that participants met in small groups with psychologists whose goal was to help them reach the best of their abilities. “It was a tough program, and you could see that some of the group was getting competitive toward the end,” she said. But as long as Adams keeps up her grades, her successful participation in the SMDEP program guarantees her an interview with Duke Medical School upon graduation from UD. And while at Duke, she was able to meet members of the admissions committee and hear tips on navigating the application process from current medical school students.

Adams said that her experience with the program validated her choice to become a doctor–specifically a surgeon. “I feel like the SMDEP program taught me the importance of fostering an emotional connection with patients. I learned that as a med student, you have to ask yourself, ‘What kind of doctor am I going to be?’ And I’ve decided that I’m going to be a surgeon who recognizes my own mortality. And because of that, I’m going to be the best surgeon I can be.”

For more information on internships or to make an appointment with in OPCD adviser, click here.

 

Intern Spotlight: Michael Dinh

Intern Spotlight: Michael Dinh

Not all interns get assigned projects that can impact an entire company, especially if that company is one of the world’s oldest and most respected in the field of technology. But that’s exactly the kind of project University of Dallas senior Michael Dinh was assigned as a summer Business Data Analyst Intern for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. “HPE didn’t have an accurate picture of their employees, so I worked with a team that developed a way to see what the workforce looks like around the world,” he said.

Michael Dinh
Michael Dinh

Dinh’s supervisor tasked him with taking employee information, including demographic and skills-related data, from twenty different work streams consisting of 44,000 employees across 110 countries to create a platform which could provide HPE management with a footprint of the workforce in every country. “I knew my work was important because executives would be using this information to make decisions about each business division,” he said.

Dinh found the internship on the HPE website and applied online. He said the most valuable part of the experience was learning how successful managers think. “I learned that they have to cut out the extraneous details,” he said. “And that they solve problems by putting the bigger picture into perspective.”

Although Dinh was surprised that he didn’t have a great deal of oversight from his managers during his project, he said that the experience taught him to take initiative instead of always waiting for explicit instructions. For example, he realized that working globally meant taking middle-of-the night calls from business groups in other time zones. “I knew that if I didn’t get the information I needed, I couldn’t be effective the next day,” he said.

Before the HPE internship, Dinh had been interested in a career as an actuary. But his summer experience pointed him in the direction of data analytics. “I love the tech world and the quantitative way of looking at things through the lens of technology.”

For more information on finding or applying for internship or to make an appointment with an OPCD adviser, click here.