School of Business Announces Strategic Partnership with GM Advisory Group, Barron’s in Education Program

The College of Charleston School of Business has entered a two-year partnership with GM Advisory Group (GMAG), a New York-based independent wealth management firm, and Barron’s Group, a financial news publisher owned by Dow Jones & Company, to provide students and faculty with a suite of resources to supplement their studies and professional development.

As part of the program, students and faculty at the School of Business will receive digital access to Barron’s online content, weekly newsletters and webinars. Representatives of GMAG will also make campus visits to speak about financial planning, investment management and other topics related to students’ courses of study and interests.

“In today’s fast-paced economic environment, it’s important to stay current with the latest trends and developments in wealth management such as estate and tax planning, asset and risk management, financial planning, and accounting,” said Frank Marzano, managing principal of GM Advisory Group. “We’re excited to be collaborating with Barron’s to enrich the educational experience at the School of Business with news and insights from our team of experienced professionals.”

Over the next two years, select groups of students will be invited to visit the New York headquarters of Dow Jones for tours of the Barron’s and Wall Street Journal newsrooms and to participate in workshop sessions. The dean of the School of Business will also nominate three students to serve as program ambassadors — a distinction that carries additional mentorship benefits.

Additionally, GMAG will engage with the School of Business’s career services team to communicate about internship and job opportunities.

“We are excited to team up with GM Advisory Group and the Barron’s in Education Program for this opportunity to enhance the student experience,” said Alan T. Shao, dean of the College of Charleston’s School of Business. “This partnership will not only reinforce our mission to prepare students to effectively and responsibly address business challenges, but it will also be valuable for our dedicated faculty.”

The Barron’s in Education program engages with business schools nationally, with programs at other universities  — such as Penn State, the University of Chicago, Duke, NYU and the University of Virginia — having taken part in recent years.

“We are so pleased to bring the Barron’s in Education Program to the College of Charleston School of Business with support from GM Advisory Group,” said Joe Lanza, director of Financial Education at Barron’s Group. “All business school students and faculty will have access to Barron’s digital content along with experiential learning elements designed to help promote financial proficiency for the next generation of business leaders.”

“For us, supporting a school based in Charleston was a natural choice,” Marzano said. “Charleston has become a second home to us over the years: we serve a number of clients in the area, and we’re looking forward to spending more time there in the coming months to deepen our relationship with the community.”

MBA Candidate and Published Author Spreads Love Through Storytelling

According to College of Charleston School of Business communications director, Liz Wolfe, marketing is a form of storytelling. 

“It’s about making authentic connections through shared experiences, fears and desires to help people take action or feel a particular emotion,” says Wolfe. 

That desire for connection and understanding is what inspired MBA candidate and future marketer, Lexi Gravino20 to write a book on diversity and inclusion at just 19 years old. 

My brother has down syndrome, and he’s always been one of my biggest role models,” says Gravino. “I was inspired by how loving and kind he is. He’s so genuine and sees everyone for who they are, not for [their] differences.” 

Gravino wrote and illustrated the children’s book Spread the Love to highlight the importance of embracing what makes us unique and being kind to everyone — no matter their differences. “I think there’s always so much that we can learn from people around us,” says Gravino. 

Wolfe believes authors like Gravino are talented marketers-in-the-making. “Both require similar skills sets: strong communication, an understanding of the human condition and a desire to make an impact.”

Gravino published her children’s book, which is available on Amazon, in the hopes of increasing the compassion people have for one another. She continues to channel that positivity into her work with Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization and global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-on-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Although Gravino, who is interested in pursuing a job as a marketing consultant after graduation, isn’t sure if she will be writing any more books, her ability to tell stories continues as an MBA student with a focus in marketing. 

“Oral and written communication skills in marketing go hand-in-hand and are essential for success,” says Gravino. “As a marketing consultant you are constantly stimulated with new projects and different companies. It’s important to have storytelling and communication skills to persuade or influence your audience.”  

Suffice it to say, her career is one narrative we’re going to want to follow.

College of Charleston School of Business to Host Women’s Summit Featuring Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley - Women for Women Summit presented by College of Charleston School of Business

Women for Women Summit presented by the College of Charleston School of Business

The College of Charleston School of Business is doubling down on its commitment to diversity and inclusion by hosting the 2020 Women for Women Summit, a day-long conference where attendees will celebrate, elevate, share and connect with the women of South Carolina.

Nikki Haley - Women for Women Summit presented by College of Charleston School of Business


The inaugural event, presented by the College of Charleston School of Business, will take place on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 at Sterling Hall of Hyatt House Charleston/Historic District and feature specials guests including former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley. Haley, a woman who put the state of South Carolina on the national and international stage, will receive the 2020 Woman of Courage Award during the event and will give the afternoon keynote address.

“The School of Business is honored to host the Women for Women Summit and celebrate the accomplishments that Nikki Haley has made in her remarkable career,” says Alan T. Shao, Ph.D., dean of the College of Charleston School of Business and a Women for Women speaker. “Given our close ties to the business community, it is important that we remain dedicated to supporting and encouraging the next generation of women in South Carolina to become leaders in their respective industries.”

The programming of the Summit will allow attendees to broaden their networks, learn new skills and be inspired to advance in their professional and personal lives through panel discussions, workshops, a luncheon and an award presentation. Additionally, there will be a marketplace featuring local women-owned-and-operated businesses.

Joanna Lau, founder and CEO of executive consulting and investment company Lau Technologies, member of the School of Business Board of Governors and visionary of the event, says the idea of the Women for Women Summit was inspired by her daughter.

“Having been a woman in business for the past three decades, as well a mother to a young professional woman, I am humbled to promote the advancement of women in the workplace and the economy with our first-ever Women for Women Summit,” says Lau. “Studies have shown one of the greatest predictors of success and happiness is social connection. It is my hope that the Summit fosters personal and professional success for attendees through a shared sense of community.”

In addition to Haley, Shao and Lau, other featured speakers include Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America and the Most Powerful Woman in Banking according to American Banker; Gloria Larson, former president of Bentley University; and Stephanie Sonnabend, co-founder of 2020 Women on Boards — a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by 2020.

Tickets are now on sale. To learn more about the event or purchase tickets, visit the Women for Women Summit site at

MBA Cohort Travels to India as International Consultants

Each year, students in the One-Year MBA Program travel to a global business capital to learn about its culture and industries. In April 2019, our MBAs visited Mumbai, India for their international immersion! Below, MBA candidate Kelly Nelson shared her five favorite experiences from this trip.

  1. Tour of Reliance Industries

To start off the trip, our class had the privilege of visiting Reliance Industries, India’s largest publicly traded company. With major subsidiaries in polymers, petroleum, retail and telecommunications, Reliance has played a key role in shaping the Indian economy. The company was founded as a textile business in 1960 by a schoolteacher’s son with an unwavering entrepreneurial spirit — a rags-to-riches story in which the company’s leadership takes great pride.

Photo by Dr. Troy Hall

After seeing the concrete jungle and cramped conditions that make up most of Mumbai, it surprised me that Reliance Industries’ headquarters mirrored a campus like you might see in Silicon Valley, with many modern buildings spread across acres of green lawns. We visited the showroom of the company’s telecommunications subsidiary, Jio, where we saw demonstrations of their mobile phone and smart home products. We learned that Jio had launched in 2016 and gained 16 million subscribers in India in its first month — the fastest ramp-up by a mobile network operator anywhere in the world. It was clear that through brands like Jio, Reliance makes a huge impact on Indians’ way of life.

During our sightseeing tour earlier in the day, we got a glimpse of the home of Reliance Industries’ current chairman, the founder’s son Mukesh Ambani. Known as Antilia, it is the world’s most valuable private residence, valued at $2 billion. The 27-story home includes three helipads, a ballroom, movie theater, a gym, and a floor with man-made snow for beating the oppressive Mumbai heat! Towering over the other buildings in its neighborhood with its staggered stories, the house was a reminder of the incredible wealth disparity that can be found in Mumbai.

  1. Visit to Santacruz Market

After one of our daytime tours, I piled into an auto rickshaw (a small three-wheeled vehicle that served as a taxi) with three of my classmates in search of street vendors. We found them in the suburb of Santacruz, selling jewelry, flowers, bells, fabric, produce and more. As Americans, we drew plenty of attention from the merchants as we trekked through the aisles of clothes, food and knickknacks.

Photo by James Alderman ’19

We learned early on that prices of nearly everything in Mumbai were negotiable —especially anything purchased in an outdoor market. Fortunately, I was accompanied by my classmate Osheen, who is from India. I wasn’t confident in my bartering skills, but Osheen was happy to negotiate on my behalf to help me get the best price on my treasures. I left with a jewelry set for myself and a richly embellished green dress for a friend back home. Visiting the market and seeing the colorful and varied items for sale was an exciting adventure!

  1. Consulting Project for I was a Sari

Since the beginning of the semester, my classmates and I had been working on consulting projects for real businesses in Mumbai to help them find solutions to their most pressing challenges. My group had been assigned to the business I was a Sari, a small clothing manufacturer that recycled Indian saris into clothing and accessories for western markets. I was a Sari’s managers were interested in learning more about the United States market for their products, so they requested that we analyze the U.S. sustainable fashion market and develop an entry strategy for their brand into the states.

My group was eager to share our recommendations with the staff of I was a Sari. However, we had to make some last-minute adjustments, because we learned the day before our presentation that we would be presenting in I was a Sari’s small factory room and would not be able to use our prepared slide deck! We rapidly changed course and created handouts instead, which we printed in the hotel’s business center. This was reflective of many of our experiences in India — circumstances were unpredictable, and a sense of adaptability served us well.

Photo by James Alderman ’19

Visiting I was a Sari’s office and factory was enlightening. As we presented, women were milling through bags of saris recently purchased at the secondhand market, searching for fabric of the best quality and patterns to turn into robes, headbands, necklaces and more. We laid our materials out on the fabric cutting table and had a productive discussion with the marketing manager of I was a Sari, who took genuine interest in our ideas for selling in the U.S. This was a great opportunity for us to get to know actual businesspeople in Mumbai and to understand their challenges and priorities.

  1. Tour of Bollywood Film Studio

Before my visit to Mumbai, I had heard of Bollywood, but I had no idea how prolific its movie studios were, or how much Indian people love these movies! Bollywood produces more than 350 films per year and has an annual economic impact of more than $2 billion (USD) on the Indian economy. Our class toured SJ Studios to learn more about this fascinating segment of the film industry.

Bollywood movies are different than other films because they mix elements of action, comedy, drama and romance and also include elaborate musical numbers, often filmed in picturesque locations. The movies feature glamorous, larger-than-life scenes and stories. They may seem a bit cheesy compared to the films we are accustomed to, but they are extremely popular with the Indian population. In fact, more movie tickets are sold in India every year than in any other country.

Photo by James Alderman ’19

We started our experience with a demonstration of Bollywood dancing followed by a choreography lesson of our own. We then proceeded to visit the sound dubbing studio, the costume gallery, and a theater where we watched a demo of the studio’s CGI and special effects. Finally, we toured premade sets that were built to look like a jail, a courthouse, a hospital and other common settings in Bollywood films. Filmmakers rent these sets and use lighting and props to customize them for each film. We even saw a scene being filmed for an upcoming movie!

  1. Dharavi Slum Tour

When I first learned that we would be touring a slum, I admit that I felt uncomfortable with our class of American graduate students, privileged to be able to travel the world, gawking at a community of people living in extreme poverty. However, I changed my mind when I discovered that our tour company, Reality Tours and Travel, led this tour to show visitors that Dharavi is a thriving community where people live, work, play and raise families. Furthermore, the tour guides themselves live in Dharavi, and the company donates profits from its tours back to education centers there.

The tour took us through narrow alleyways surrounded by makeshift buildings made of corrugated metal sheets and plastic tarps. We peered into the one-room homes and businesses of Dharavi’s residents. Despite the destitute outward appearance of the shacks, the interiors often included colorful décor and were organized to accommodate a family’s daily activities. Many Dharavi inhabitants work in the community’s thriving informal economy, valued at $665 million (USD). The industries found there include leather tanning, recycling, pottery making, embroidery and baking.

Photo by Alyssa Stano ’19

While on the tour, we came across a wedding celebration and were invited to join in the dancing! The bride applied turmeric, a symbol of blessing and radiance in Indian wedding festivities, to the faces and hands of the students in our group. This was a really special experience to witness, and it drove home an important point: joy, laughter and happiness are a common experience for all of us, regardless of where and how we live.

Have MBA Will Travel: CofC Grad Lands International Dream Job with Amazon

Starting a job in a new city can be intimidating. There is a lot to learn and quite a bit of mystery around what to expect. But when College of Charleston MBA alumna Ashley Marshall ’16 was given the opportunity to move halfway across the globe for her career, she was ready for the challenge — not to mention, über excited.

After graduating from the MBA program with a focus in marketing, Marshall landed a job as a consultant for project management firm [bu:st], LLC. Her first client: a major automotive equipment manufacturer in Munich, Germany. Marshall was responsible for aiding the company in a future product launch, which led to the opportunity for her to be onsite, so she packed her bags for Deutschland.

Marshall says she always dreamed of a career that enabled her to travel the world and relied on her past experiences living and studying abroad to ease the transition from South Carolina to Germany. Little did she know, this was more than a relocation, it was the beginning of an exciting international career.

After nearly three years, Marshall left [bu:st], remaining in Munich to work as a brand specialist for e-commerce giant Amazon. She describes Amazon EU as an innovative, top-brand company that has provided her with life-changing professional opportunities.

She also praises the company for its culture. “The international environment is amazing,” Marshall says. “I have the ability to work with people from around the world with an array of backgrounds and knowledge. Amazon has a unique culture of bringing people together, and it is a truly cool force to be a part of.”

Just as Amazon is a multi-faceted enterprise, Marshall’s job is no exception. In her day-to-day function as brand specialist, she uses the marketing, finance and supply chain skills she honed in the MBA program to grow the brands she works with.

In addition to her academic background, Marshall attributes her success to taking risks and lacking fear. She says it’s important to, “use your knowledge, confidence and, most importantly, ability to connect with others to get to where you want to be.”

Suffice it to say, “nein” is not in her vocabulary.

The School of Business Welcomes President-elect Andrew T. Hsu to Campus

Faculty, staff and students at the College of Charleston School of Business welcomed the College’s new president, Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D., to campus on March 1, 2019.

The Board of Trustees named Hsu the 23rd president on Nov. 28, 2018.

President Hsu was born in China and completed his undergraduate degree at Tsinghua University, a major research university in Beijing. After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech, he worked in the private sector at Sverdrup Technology (a NASA contractor) and Rolls-Royce North America in Indianapolis. He then entered academia as a director of the aerospace program at the University of Miami.

As he continued his work in higher education, President Hsu held positions at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University, Wright State University and San Jose State University. Prior to becoming the College’s president, he served as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Toledo.

Check out our video welcome below!