Archives For Liz Monahan
College of Charleston School of Business senior Joshua Weston created a product called Green Blox, which aims to address the global crisis of homelessness and waste management. His hard work may be about to pay off in a big way.
Weston is one of 25 finalists in the running to win $100,000 at the University of St. Thomas’ e-Fest, the largest undergraduate business plan competition in the country. The finalists — including students from Johns Hopkins University, NC State University and Drexel University — were among a group of 147 applicants, each vying for the title of best business.
A business administration major with a minor in entrepreneurship, Weston initially created Green Blox for an ecopreneurship assignment from associate professor David Hansen. Hansen challenged his students to research, plan and execute a business that could be both financially successful and socially responsible.
Enter Green Blox — a brick-sized, Lego-like block made from upcycled (or reused) plastic that provides consumers with the opportunity to build a beautiful patio in their back yard, while simultaneously working to eliminate plastic waste.
Modeled in the same vein as TOMS or Warby Parker, for every Green Blox sold to build a patio, the company will donate one brick to a nonprofit that works to build homes for the world’s homeless.
Weston was inspired to combat homelessness after traveling the globe as a member of the United States Air Force, where he saw thousands of people living in poverty. “It was through those experiences that I realized I wanted to make a difference and do whatever I needed to do to make that happen,” said Weston.
His decision to make the building block using upcycled plastic came to fruition after reading alarming data about plastic waste. According to an article by The Atlantic, Americans alone generate 10.5 million tons of plastic each year, but less than two percent of that plastic is recycled.
Recycling centers, which operate like any other business, make a profit when they are able to sell their plastics. If they are unable to sell the plastic they take the waste to a landfill, where Weston says they usually have to pay anywhere from $10 to $100 to drop it off.
“Instead of letting the leftover plastic rot in a landfill for the next 1,000 years, we take it off of the recycling companies’ hands for free and turn it into something everyone can use,” says Weston.
The bricks, which are made using 3-D printers, provide key advantages to consumers as well, he says. “They’re extremely lightweight and attractive, and our interlocking design provides a seamless transition for constructing a patio on solid, level ground.”
But Weston wasn’t always an expert on building patios. It took months of researching the brick, block and paver industry, customizing the look and feel of the product and working with local recycling companies before Green Blox was finalized.
Weston also worked closely with School of Business entrepreneurship professors David Hansen, Stuart Williams, David Wyman and Kelly Shaver to get the product in pitch-perfect condition. In fact, Shaver first encouraged Weston to apply to enter the e-Fest competition for the chance to win the money and grow his business.
A win for Weston is also a win for the School. In addition to the top prize of $100,000, the E-Fest gives the winner’s university $10,000 in grants to support entrepreneurship programs and initiatives — the likes of which inspire young entrepreneurs like Weston to make a profit while making a difference.
David J. Hansen, associate professor of entrepreneurship at the School of Business, has been selected to become a Sustainability Literacy Fellow for the College of Charleston’s emerging Sustainability Literacy Institute (SLI).
The institute, which will begin operating on July 1, is envisioned to be the physical, pedagogical, virtual and institutional hub for sustainability literacy efforts at the College. The purpose of SLI is to foster positive social, economic and environmental change by way of a sustainably literate campus community.
As a Sustainability Literacy Fellow, Hansen will encourage more efficient and synergistic activities on campus related to sustainability literacy. For example, he will train other faculty to develop courses that qualify as sustainability-focused or sustainability-related. He is one of four fellows, selected by Quality Enhancement Plan Director Todd LeVasseur.
Hansen primarily teaches innovation courses at the business school including New Venture Modeling, Ecopreneurship (a course he created) and Social Entrepreneurship. In addition, Hansen regularly works with undergrad and graduate students on thesis projects related to sustainable business and/or entrepreneurship.
A group of School of Business students have forgone the classic spring break destinations of Cancun and Punta Cana to spend a week in the remote village of El Jute, Honduras, to help locals address the issues facing their community and its businesses.
Now in its fifth year, the mission trip is part of a three-credit international social enterprise and development course taught by Marvin Gonzalez, associate professor of supply chain management and Rene Mueller, professor of marketing and director of the International Business Program at the College.
The travel component of the class — an opportunity to put lectures and lesson plans into practice — is organized by Su Frost, director of international admissions, in partnership with Global Brigades, an international nonprofit that provides third-world communities with assistance through academic and professional programming, or “brigades.”
As part of the nonprofit’s Microfinance Brigade, the business students will conduct home visits to identify community issues such as inconsistent earnings, lack of educational opportunities for women and children as well as resource shortages that affect villagers’ ability to create and run sustainable micro enterprises.
In addition to their home visits, the Brigade brings resources. Over the past five years, CofC business students have contributed over $100,000 — in money and supplies raised through fundraising — toward the creation of new micro enterprises in five rural mountain villages throughout Central America.
Two students who participated in last year’s trip to El Jute helped spearhead the fundraising efforts for this semester.
Seniors Alexis O’Toole and Dain Silvestri may both hail from New Jersey and study business (supply chain and information management and business administration, respectively), but it wasn’t until the Microfinance Brigade trip to El Jute in 2016 that they first met.
The chance to use their skills to help an underserved community and the opportunity to travel abroad first attracted the seniors to the program, but it was the people of El Jute that would bring them back to the small village for a second year.
“Words can’t really express how much my experience with Global Brigades has changed my life,” O’Toole says. “I became so invested in the community and the people of El Jute that it was really important we raise enough money to make an impact when we returned this year.”
The young women did just that. Through various fundraising efforts, including a late-night bake sale and a “support El Jute” bracelet campaign, O’Toole and Silvestri were able to collect over $4,500.
The pair say, regardless of how the money gets distributed within the community, they are looking forward to returning to the rolling hills of El Jute and reuniting with the families they have grown to love and miss.
The Charleston Regional Business Journal recently recognized School of Business alum Melissa Barbour in their “Forty Under 40” list, which honors local business professionals for their commitment to community service.
A native of Virginia, Barbour graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2005 and received her master’s degree in accounting from the College of Charleston School of Business in 2007. She is currently a tax manager at WebsterRogers in downtown Charleston, where she specializes in tax compliance consulting.
With nearly a decade of public accounting and tax industry experience under her belt, including almost five years with WebsterRogers, Barbour is also active in the local accounting community. She serves on the Emerging Leadership Cabinet of the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the James Island chapter of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
An event celebrating all “Forty Under 40” nominees is planned for late May.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and Ted Birkhahn — partner and president of New York-based marketing and PR agency Peppercomm — wholeheartedly agrees. In fact, he has seen firsthand how comedy can not only improve morale and confidence in one’s personal life, but also in one’s professional endeavors and workplace performance.
Birkhahn, who requires his employees take standup comedy classes and perform in a standup showcase each year, will discuss the benefits of bringing humor to the office during the School of Business’ Think Differently Forum on March 30.
This free event, which will be begin at 5 p.m. in the Stern Ballroom of the Stern Student Center, is meant to inspire new ways of thinking and encourage debates among the Charleston community.
During the Forum, Birkhahn will highlight how comedy not only creates a bond between coworkers, but also helps his employees incorporate storytelling and humor into their work.
After his presentation, the Peppercomm president will open the floor up to questions from the audience. The 2017 Think Differently Scholars — seniors: Alexandra Clough, Berkeley Fisher, Kelsey Foster, Anna Lefitz and Wanda Willis — will facilitate the Q&A with assistance from Forum advisor and assistant professor of management, Elise Perrault.
Stephen Pond, chairman and CEO of The Education Center and member of the School’s Board of Governors, is sponsoring the hour-long event.
When the School of Business Center for Public Choice and Market Process began planning a series of events to raise awareness of and explore important topics in economics it was only fitting that the week be named after the most influential figure in the field: Adam Smith. Born in 1723, Smith’s theories on how nations build wealth are still taught in classrooms around the world today.
Now in its sixth year, Adam Smith Week invites leading scholars from around the country to share their insights on political economy, entrepreneurship, the role of government and other hot-button issues with business school students, faculty and the Charleston community.
This year’s participants include individuals from the University of Virginia, George Mason University, Chapman University, the Citadel, and the Independent Institute.
The weeklong series — held March 20-25, 2017 — will feature lectures, panels and a video screening on topics such as morality and the free market, the implications of religious and racial immigration bans and community revival in the wake of economic disaster.
For a complete list of event details, click here.
School of Business: Hi Michael, thank you for joining us today! Let’s start off with a little background. Tell us about yourself.
Michael Faikes: No problem, thanks for having me. My name is Michael Faikes and I am a senior at the College of Charleston with a double major in economics and computer science. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Irmo, South Carolina.
I am the acting SGA president for the 2016-2017 academic year and have previously held positions as vice president, treasurer and senator. In addition to being president, I’m also a member of the Honors College, Schottland Scholars and Jewish Student Union.
SB: You mentioned that you’re an economics major. What interests you about the subject?
MF: AP Economics was one of my favorite classes in high school. When I got to the College, Roxane DeLaurell (an associate professor of legal studies and the director of the Honors Program at the School of Business) advised me to major in a subject that I found interesting and make it my own.
Economics is the most exciting business topic because it’s so much more than numbers — it’s also about public opinion, what drives those opinions and how those opinions influence actions. Ultimately, a drive to understand people is what draws me to business and, more specifically, economics.
SB: Why did you choose to add student government to your plate?
MF: Frankly, school just wouldn’t seem like school if I didn’t feel represented. I was on the student council in high school and really enjoyed it. There’s so much more responsibility to take on and impact to be made by participating at the collegiate level.
Prior to running, I spoke with a good friend about the SGA’s untapped potential. Eventually it became obvious that if I wanted to see change, I had to make it myself.
SB: How does being a business student influence the way you operate as president?
MF: The Schottland Scholars revolutionized the way I operate as president. I would recommend any School of Business senior apply for the program. Through Schottland Scholars, I have had the opportunity to tour various companies and meet with their executives.
Getting to see the mindset that successful people have and how they manage their employees is so cool. That experience gave me confidence and encouraged me to approach problem solving in a different way. It also gave me a more globalized view of the business world.
SB: What work is the student government currently undertaking?
MF: We’re working in tandem with our campus diversity liaison to encourage more departments to craft curriculum that would allow the College to expand its selection of general education history courses.
We’re also reevaluating the campus’ sexual assault and academic forgiveness policies and attempting to turn all bathrooms at the College into zero-waste zones.
SB: What would you tell other business students who are considering running for student government?
Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. When you take on any leadership role, understand what you want to accomplish and why, set realistic goals and work hard to make sure those goals are met. There’s nothing worse than committing yourself to something you’re not willing to work hard for or are not passionate about.
SB: What are your post-graduation goals?
MF: I’m determined to become the general manager of a professional sports team one day. I’m a life-long New York Mets fan and general sports enthusiast. I love sports for the obvious reasons — they’re fun to watch and are a great cultural unifier. But I’m even more excited by what goes on behind the scenes. I find sports-related business operations fascinating. Understanding the science behind what makes the people who run the show tick and why they make certain decisions is a total thrill.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Professor Rene Mueller, director of the International Business Program at the College of Charleston School of Business, is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to teach marketing and international business at the Management Center Innsbruck (MCI), University of Applied Sciences in Innsbruck, Austria.
Mueller was nominated by Fulbright Austria and selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board — a 12-member committee appointed by the president of the United States — to become a visiting professor at MCI.
“The Fulbright Scholar Program seeks to expand international understanding by sharing knowledge and culture among scholars, and this goal is consistent with the School of Business’ global vision,” said Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business. “I am delighted that Dr. Mueller has joined some of her colleagues — Drs. John Crotts, Steve Litvin and Mark Witte — as a global scholar to share her expertise in international business.”
Mueller, who shares Shao’s enthusiasm for the opportunity, credits the Fulbright grant for enabling her to extend her service, teaching and research overseas. “I am honored to be chosen to represent the School of Business as a visiting marketing and international business professor with MCI and look forward to further exploring cross-cultural marketing, global commerce and other business-related topics in the heart of Europe,” she said.
With numerous accomplishments and accolades under her belt — including two publications in the Journal of International Business Studies; five research awards as well as the 2015 Howard F. Rudd Jr. Distinguished Faculty Award for Service Leadership; nine U.S. Department of Education International Education grants; appointments to the District Export Council, the Brookings Institute Metro Export Initiative Steering Committee and the Chamber of Commerce Foreign Direct Investment Steering Committee; and the creation of multiple bi-lateral exchange and dual-degree programs at the School — Mueller is poised to find success and make an impact in the beautiful city of Innsbruck.
The event, which will be held Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017 at 8:15 a.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium of the Beatty Center, is an opportunity for Gulyas to meet with students, faculty and members of the Charleston community and discuss the insights she’s gleaned from her 36 years leading one of the world’s largest chemical corporations.
Gulyas plans to highlight the importance of intrapreneurs, or individuals within a company that are willing to take risks to solve problems, and debunk the myth that only start-up companies value both intra- and entrepreneurship. In her experience, big corporations want and need more innovative thinkers.
A firm believer in the power of personal brand, Gulyas will also speak to why job seekers should invest in themselves. “It is important for entrepreneurs to develop their brand identity because employers are investing in the person as much as they are investing in his or her skills and ideas,” she says.
The presentation will conclude with tips for having a fulfilling career. Gulyas’ secret to success: finding joy in her work.
Prior to retiring from DuPont in April 2014, Gulyas was responsible for guiding and expanding the growth and profitability of the global organization by providing customers, particularly in the automotive, packaging, construction and consumer durables markets, with high-performance polymer, resin and film materials. She served various executive and managerial roles within the company prior to her station as president.
Gulyas is now a full-time professional board director.
The College of Charleston School of Business, School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, Career Center and German department have partnered to host the first-ever German-American Business Summit on Feb. 2. And, the timing could not be better.
According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, German corporations have invested more than $4.1 billion in South Carolina from 2011 to 2015 and are now responsible for 27,000 jobs in the state. With German industry focusing many of its efforts in Charleston, local jobseekers would be wise to start thinking Deutsche — and the German-American Business Summit is the perfect opportunity to do so.
“It’s been a secret for far too long here in the Lowcountry that proficiency in German and knowledge of German culture are extremely lucrative assets for those pursuing careers, and advancement, with industry in the state and globally,” says Morgan Koerner, Ph.D. chair of German studies department.
Made possible with help from the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States, the summit connects executives from Charleston’s leading German corporations with students, alumni and job seekers in the CofC community.
Attendees can look forward to a job and internship expo, where big names such as Mercedes-Benz Vans, BMW, Bosch, IFA Rotorion, KION, Hubner, Continental Tire, Zeltwanger LP and Kuehne + Nagel and Stoebich Fire Protection will be in attendance.
The summit also boasts an impressive lineup of speakers including Antonio Tills, Ph.D., dean of the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs; Alan Shao, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business; Robin Mishra, Ph.D., minister counselor from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany; and Sam Moses, Esq., of Parker Poe Attorneys and Counselors at Law.
Moses, whose firm represents many of Charleston’s foreign manufacturing operations, sees a tremendous opportunity for public-private partnerships with German industries in Charleston. “With its exceptional German program, high-ranking globally-oriented School of Business, and strong liberal arts mission, the College of Charleston is the ideal place for a further expansion of those productive relationships,” he says.
The event, which lasts from noon until 5 p.m. in the Stern Center Ballroom, concludes with a panel session on workforce needs in South Carolina, followed by a networking reception for select attendees.
For more information about the event, click here.