October has been a busy and productive month in the Hull College, and this issue of Inside Hull captures the key events that make a Hull business education memorable! We kicked off the month with one of our signature events, the Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecture Series in Ethics with guest speaker, Denise Weiss of Deloitte Insights. While our students learn much about business ethics in the classroom, speakers such as Mrs. Weiss bring an industry perspective to our students, faculty, and business community. In addition, the series gives us the opportunity to honor Mr. Blanchard, a great, ethical businessman in Augusta banking.
We are always focused on the career and professional development of our students, and one way we demonstrate that is through our Business Showcase series, where we bring local companies to Hull to tell our students about themselves and present internship and career opportunities. In this issue, you will read about visits from T-Mobile and RBW Logistics, whose representatives did a great job on offering insightful information on their companies and opportunities.
As always, Inside Hull focuses on our great people. This month, you will meet Hannah Bourquardez, one of our creative student assistants, and Gary Dennis, an alum who is doing great entrepreneurial work in our community.
One last thing…If you or anyone you know is interested in pursuing a Hull MBA, the application deadline for the spring semester, which starts in January, is November 15.
Thanks for your support, and Go Jags!
Richard (Rick) M. Franza, Ph.D.
Denise Weiss from Deloitte Insights explains digital empathy and user experiences
during the annual Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecture Series in Ethics.
Denise L. Weiss, UX Strategy and Digital Operations Leader for Deloitte Insights, presented “The Ethical Case for Digital Empathy in User Experience” to a crowd of about 100 in the Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom on the Summerville Campus on Mon., Oct. 4, as the Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecture Series in Ethics returned to an in-person event.
“Trust is foundational to user experience,” Weiss explained. “There is a growing distrust in the marketplace today.”
Difficulty canceling subscriptions, constantly receiving spam emails, shopping habits being tracked, and clickbait social media posts are among the most common complaints against digital marketing, she said.
Weiss discussed the importance of companies researching their users and their needs before rolling out products, including digital ones.
Weiss said she encounters people who have difficulty using apps or navigating web portals, and places the blame on the companies, not the users. “It’s not you, it’s the system. They did not do the user research needed to understand.”
Understanding the behavior of the users can really impact a design, she said.
“We’re using empathy to think about developing products – so compassion, cognition, and emotion – pouring that into user experience and strategy,” she explained.
The annual lecture on business ethics is meant to inspire students, faculty, and community leaders in their ethical decision-making.
“These events when we’re able to bring together our students, our faculty, and our local business community are always the best events,” said Hull College Dean Richard Franza, Ph.D.
The Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecture Series in Ethics is made possible through the Georgia Bank and Trust Endowment established within the Augusta University Foundation honoring the legacy of Blanchard, former CEO of Georgia Bank and Trust.
David Hudson, attorney with Hull Barrett and close friend of the late Blanchard, told the audience that his friend treated everyone with courtesy and fairness.
“During Mr. Russell’s lifetime, he interacted with thousands of customers and employees at the bank and countless members of the churches and community boards on which he served. No one that I have ever encountered has ever said that Mr. Blanchard treated anyone unkindly, unfairly, and certainly never unethically,” Hudson said.
Blanchard was an alumnus and was the first recipient of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was a two-time recipient of the university’s highest honor, the President’s Award, as well as one of only two individuals ever to receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University. He also was a member of the Augusta University Foundation, which he helped create in 1963.
T-Mobile representatives spoke to Hull College students about career opportunities during its Business Showcase.
Representatives from T-Mobile’s Augusta facility dialed up images of careers filled with advancement opportunities during the first Business Showcase Series event of the semester on Wed., Sept. 29.
Candice Mitchell, Center Senior Manager, Customer Experience, said she started her career with the company while in her 20s. T-Mobile opened its customer experience center in Augusta in 2007. Mitchell arrived as its manager three years ago.
“Most of the people at T-Mobile have very long tenure,” she said. “We start early, and we are normally there for a very long time. I tell you why… it is the career goals aspirations that we have there.”
Mitchell explained her journey into management, beginning 13 years ago as a young mother also attending college in South Carolina. From a front-line representative on the phone, she advanced to a senior representative to sales coach and then sales manager.
Mitchell said she led the first inbound proactive retention department for the company, knowing from behavior that a customer was in danger of leaving T-Mobile, which would route a call to her team that could talk about the value of T-Mobile to retain that customer.
That success prompted her to seek the promotion that landed her the Augusta center position.
“It was risky to leave Charleston, S.C. T-Mobile instilled in me the importance of education. They improved my business acumen,” she said.
For more than a year, the showcases had been virtual events. They returned to 90-minute, on-campus presentations this semester.
Dean Richard Franza, Ph.D., said one of the purposes of the showcases is to complement concepts learned in the classroom. They feature companies that are actively recruiting who are interested in speaking about their job openings, culture, and history.
“It’s nice to do these face-to-face again,” Franza told the students. “It lets us bring back our networking, which I think is a pro for both the students and the company representatives.”
T-Mobile representatives explained benefits and salary information to the students in attendance and later met them during networking time. Customer service positions aren’t the only openings at the company, they explained, citing management, engineering, legal, and human resources roles.
“I never felt pressured that I had to sacrifice my career (to have a family life). T-Mobile is one of those places that truly allows you to grow at your own pace and choose your story,” said Melodie Hall, recruiter for the Augusta center.
Hall said core philosophies at the company include being a mentor and seeking out a mentor; being a leader, not a boss; and using emotional intelligence.
With the national news focused on supply chain issues, RBW Logistics was a timely Business Showcase for Hull College of Business students on Wed., Oct. 20.
The second in-person showcase of the fall semester was standing room only in the Allgood Hall classroom.
“Logistics is moving a product from one place to another. In our case, we hope that they come through our warehouses,” said Patrick Randolph, Director of Operations.
RBW Logistics is a four-generation Augusta business, specializing in warehousing, distribution, and transportation. The company does business with Textron in Augusta, Kimberly-Clark in Beech Island, and Huffy in Savannah, to name a few.
“If you watch the news, you know that the ports in the U.S. are congested. There are these gigantic cargo ships at sea that are not getting in right now,” Randolph said. “The appetite for goods is so extreme, we can’t get things through fast enough.”
Warehousing is a growing industry, he said, but there still isn’t enough cubic footage for current demand.
RBW recently expanded to Valdosta, GA, and is looking for more expansion opportunities outside of Georgia and South Carolina.
“Success is never final. We’re always trying to take the next step,” said Eddie Griffith, Financial Controller.
Griffith stressed the importance of networking, telling the students that they should have the mindset that they are always interviewing for a new job every time they meet someone and add them to their network; those connections could turn into job opportunities later. It was a connection in his network that led him to RBW.
“If you invest in your employees, they will stay with you, especially if you invest in them in the right way,” Griffith said.
Recent graduate Guanyu Li (Accounting, ’21), obtained a full-time job at RBW following an internship there. She provided advice to the students in attendance.
Li now works as an accountant for the firm. Her advice: pay attention to the Microsoft Excel training in class, since the program is a prevalent tool in the real world.
Li said it was about a month into her internship with RBW that she decided she wanted to take a full-time job there after getting her degree.
Randolph said he used internships in college to have experiences in many job fields in order to discover what he wanted to do with his career, which landed him in logistics.
Hannah Bourquardez, student worker in the CAP Center.
Hannah Bourquardez, one of the student workers for the Career & Academic Planning (CAP) Center, offers a spark of creativity to the Hull College of Business.
She is a junior majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in digital marketing, on track to graduate in May 2023.
Bourquardez, 20, from Marietta, GA, has her eye on opening her own store. But immediately after graduation, she’s interested in pursuing a job in hospitality or marketing.
“I want to own a bakery-coffee shop mix. I’m working toward that dream,” she said since baking is one of her hobbies, and she’s worked as a coffee barista seasonally for a couple of years.
Business was her first choice as a major, and the quality of the business school made Augusta University her choice of higher education.
“It has a great community and culture within the school,” she explained. She was also impressed with the success rate of students getting a job after graduation, based on the internship requirement to graduate.
“It’s close knit, and there’s always something to do. I’m not [just] a number here,” she said.
Bourquardez is helping to re-start the college’s Project Management Club in the spring semester with the club’s faculty advisor Roger Duke, lecturer of project management.
It is common for Duke to have a semester service project for his project management class. Bourquardez is involved in this semester’s Thanksgiving project, gathering boxes for the canned food drive, as well as handling the marketing for the volunteer work.
She formerly belonged to the Jaguar Production Crew, commonly known on campus as The Crew, but was too busy between work and Hull College activities to continue.
Bourquardez is a member of Club Creativity, the student art association at the University. She enjoys sculpture and ceramics and wants to take the ceramics class for non-art majors as an elective.
Gary Dennis, Executive Director of the Jessye Norman School of the Arts
Graduation Year: 2010
Hull: What are you doing now?
Gary: Executive Director of the Jessye Norman School of the Arts
Hull: How did your time at AU prepare you for where you are today?
Gary: It taught me that it is unreasonable to expect outcomes for which you haven’t aligned your incentives to support.
Hull: What do you know now that you wish you'd known while an undergrad?
Gary: That being present and positive makes hard work a lot easier.
Hull: What person or course most influenced you while at AU? How?
Gary: Virtually every professor in the Hull College of Business influenced me in some way. Dalton Brannen was tough, forgiving, and encouraging. Peter Basciano is whip smart and practical. Jim Grayson is an operational and analytical genius. James Mayes is common sense and a loyal friend. Pamela Jackson effortlessly sorted through to the things that really matter both professionally and personally. Cathy Slade is fearless, and Nabil Ibrahim’s mind for understanding and sharing his understanding of statistics was awe inspiring. Simon Medcalfe may have inadvertently influenced me most. He didn’t accept mediocrity and certainly didn’t reward it. I think he, more than anyone else, really reinforced the idea that incentives drive behavior. It’s been a core part of how I operate in my job and in the community at large.
Hull: What advice do you have for students interested in your field?
Gary: It’s the same advice I give myself, but don’t always take. Be present, be positive, and do things for the right reasons. The rest will work itself out.
Hull: What do you miss most about AU?
Gary: The Hull College of Business has some of the area’s best and brightest staff and students. It’s a great crowd.
Hull: What are one or two of your proudest professional and/or personal accomplishments that you’ve experienced after graduating?
Gary: My oldest daughter graduated from nursing school a few years ago, and my youngest daughter joined the U.S. Coast Guard. On a professional level, I’m proud that we’ve transformed our corner in Augusta to a bright and vibrant place for community and creativity, and that our students come back every year to be a part of our teaching and development staff. It’s great to see the impact on our kids over time.
The Hull MBA provides the skills, experience, and professional network needed to advance in today’s highly competitive, dynamic work environment.
The Hull Online MBA, a consortium member of The Georgia WebMBA®, is an online degree program designed for professionals who want to earn their degree without the restrictions of set class times and locations.
To see the admissions requirements and apply, visit www.augusta.edu/gradschool/mba-adm-reqs.php
Questions? Email HULLMBA@augusta.edu.
Dr. Simon Medcalfe, professor of finance at the Hull College of Business, will present a local and regional economic forecast at Hull College’s 2021 Economic Forecast Breakfast on Dec. 9.
Dinesh Hasija, Ph.D., assistant professor of strategic management, and Michael Dugan, Ph.D., professor and Peter S. Knox III Distinguished Chair of Accounting, and other co-authors had a paper, “The Impact of Risk, R&D Intensity, Liquidity, and Inventory on Firm Performance during COVID-19: Evidence from US Manufacturing Industry,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Risk and Financial Management.
Richard Franza, Ph.D., dean of the college, contributed to The Augusta Chronicle with business section columns, “Honor Legacy of Russell A. Blanchard by Leading Ethically” printed on Sept. 27 and “Winning Sports Weekend Offers Shrewd Business Lessons” printed on Oct. 11. He also contributed to the Augusta Business Daily with “Mondays with Rick: Augusta Job Crunch” on Oct. 4, “Mondays with Rick: Amazon’s Force Multiplier” on Oct. 11, and “Mondays with Rick: Business Showcase is a great recruiting tool” on Oct. 18.