FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT
THE FOSSIL TRAIL
Sidebar: New center lands big grant
WOMEN OF SCIENCE
SCIENTIST Q & A
Cover: UM paleontologist George Stanley holds a rhinoceros jaw fossil in the storage room of the University’s paleontology research collection. Found in Montana, the fossil is from the Miocene epoch, which extended from 23 million to 5.3 million years before the present.
Vision is published annually by University Relations and the UM Office of the Vice President for Research and Development. It is printed by UM Printing & Graphic Services.
PUBLISHER: Daniel J. Dwyer. MANAGING EDITOR AND GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Cary Shimek. PHOTOGRAPHER: Todd Goodrich. CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Brianne Burrowes, Alex Strickland, Judy Fredenberg, Erik Leithe, Rita Munzenrider and Patia Stephens. WEB DESIGN: Patia Stephens. EDITORIAL OFFICE: University Relations, Brantly Hall 330, Missoula, MT 59812, 406-243-5914. MANAGEMENT: Judy Fredenberg, Office of the Vice President for Research and Development, 116 Main Hall, Missoula, MT 59812, 406-243-6670.
School bustles with innovative, economy-boosting programs
By Vince Devlin
Patrick Byrne, president and CEO of Overstock.com, likes to tell people he got on an elevator on the ground floor of UM’s Gallagher Business Building with Nicole Hagerman one day, and by the time they’d reached the second floor he knew he wanted her working for him.
The truth, Hagerman says, is somewhere south of that. Hagerman, a 2000 graduate of the School of Business Administration, was working for the Montana World Trade Center on the UM campus at the time and coordinating the appearance of several guest speakers in Missoula.
The center wanted Byrne, and it was only through Hagerman’s persistence that the Overstock.com executive agreed to come.
Hagerman was assigned to shepherd Byrne around town during his time in Missoula. Yes, that elevator ride was a part of his trip, but Byrne, who was impressed at how hard Hagerman had worked to secure his services as a speaker, had more than a few seconds to decide he wanted to offer the UM graduate a job after meeting her.
Today, at age 27, Hagerman is director of global sourcing for the billion-dollar company, working with agents in India, Taiwan, Shanghai, Bangkok and Europe to locate high-quality retail products at liquidation prices.
“It was just a case of being in the right place at the right time,” says Arnold Sherman, executive director of the Montana World Trade Center. “She had no experience, except what she had from The University of Montana.”
In one innovative program after another, UM is giving its students — and in Hagerman’s case, alumni — similar opportunities to meet, interact with and learn from business people who have made it in the real world.
“The School of Business Administration.” The name has a stuffy, white-shirt-and-tie ring to it that belies what is actually happening inside the walls of its state-of-the-art facility, the Gallagher Business Building.
There, students learn directly from music industry leaders and produce live concerts. They serve internships at the only World Trade Center licensed to a university on the planet — and there are 300 such trade centers in 80 nations.
American Indians learn skills that will promote tribal economic self-sufficiency from a culturally relevant perspective. Successful entrepreneurs give an insider’s look at how to get a business venture off the ground, and students compete for thousands of dollars in prize money in an annual business plan competition.
The School of Business Administration’s mission statement is just six words long — “commitment to excellence in innovative learning” – but throughout the school, the words are transformed into action.
Larry Gianchetta has been with SOBA for more than 30 years — 20 as dean — and has overseen many changes in how business is taught. Some follow national trends, but many are unique to UM.
“I consider myself an educational entrepreneur, if there is such a thing,” Gianchetta says. “Sometimes my faculty accuses me of being too creative.”
And, he adds with a laugh, “We’re only talking about the innovations that have worked.
“Nationally, only 1.5 out of 10 business start-ups succeed, but we have done better than that,” Gianchetta says. “We’ve had about a 50-50 success rate.”
When they do work, however, the new programs and ideas tend to work with spectacular success, although Gianchetta declines to take credit for them.
“That’s my job,” he says. “I don’t know how much credit you can take for just doing your job.”
But when the 2007 Princeton Review of the best value colleges in America came out, only one college in the state — UM — was listed. The three academic programs at UM the guide singled out as exceptional were English literature, wildlife biology and … business administration.
Let’s take a look at some of the business school’s success stories.
Entertainment Management Program
you want to learn the business of managing artists, tours or venues, there
are only five cities in the country that offer the opportunity.
“We are unique in that our curriculum is developed, and the content delivered, by senior leaders in the industry,” says Scott Douglas, who directs the program and, as the instructor of record, grades the students.
UM, it turns out, has graduated several people who have gone on to successful behind-the-scenes careers in the music industry: Ron Baird, of Creative Artists Association, is the agent for stars such as Shania Twain, Martina McBride and Olivia Newton-John. Brian Knaff is president and co-founder of Talent Buyers Network, the largest outsource of casino showroom entertainment in the nation. Mike McGinley is president and founder of SRO Consultants, which provides a wide range of business and management services to the entertainment industry and handles tour accounting for more than 100 clients, including Sting, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow and the Rolling Stones.
“We have UM alumni who have reached the uppermost ranks of the entertainment industry,” Douglas says. “They’ve been very successful, but they looked around and did not see a lot of UM graduates following in their footsteps.”
Knaff, who is from Glasgow, came up with the idea of tapping into UM’s alumni and approached Gianchetta with an offer.
“You show us you’re interested in creating a program that focuses on the business of entertainment, and we’ll help by providing expert instructors,” Douglas says Knaff told the dean.
In the five years since, members of that group — plus Montana State University graduate Maria Brunner, president of Insight Management, an entertainment marketing firm — have served as the core set of instructors.
But they’ve brought in dozens of others as well, everyone from Gary Arnold, senior vice president for Best Buy, to Jim Foglesong, a former record company executive who signed George Strait and Reba McEntire to MCA and Garth Brooks, Sawyer Brown and Tanya Tucker to Capitol.
Over the course of six or seven weekends each fall and spring semester, the Entertainment Management Program brings in three to five speakers per weekend to teach the 35 students accepted into the program. The speakers fly in on Fridays and begin teaching that evening. The classes continue from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays.
Interestingly, the program is open to students in any academic discipline on campus, and more than 150 students each semester apply for the spots. Business school students account for about half of those accepted, and while the bulk of the rest typically come from the School of Fine Arts and the journalism school’s radio-television program, Douglas has seen students from virtually every major.
“Pharmacy, forestry — you name it, I’ve had them,” he says. “I’m interested in what they hope to get out of the program and what they hope to bring to it. Everybody has a gift.”
Once in the program, students know they will receive one of three letter grades: A, B or F. The entertainment industry is extremely competitive, Douglas explains.
“If they aren’t above average, they won’t make it in the business,” he says. “We feel it’s better for them to learn that early on.”
The students also produce events, including two Mannheim Steamroller concerts in Billings and Bismarck, N.D., that raised close to $275,000 for the program in 2004.
Most of the events are smaller in nature and have much smaller budgets, but Douglas says, “This is a business and I expect to get money back. The first year we lost a few hundred dollars, but we’ve made a few thousand every year after that.”
One of the students who helped with the Mannheim Steamroller concerts, Josh Talley, is a good example of how the program can help students get a foot in the door.
Brunner, the president of Insight Management, was impressed by Talley’s work on the events and offered him an internship with Insight. That led to a job with the Nashville company, and a year later artist John Prine’s label, Oh Boy Records, hired Talley away.
“I was at a point in my sophomore year where I was searching for something to do with my life when I saw this flier in the business school about the Entertainment Management Program,” Talley says. That day started him down the road to Nashville. He now works in marketing and distribution at the record label, as well as doing bookings for Prine.
And he recently introduced another UM graduate to his boss. Will Pounds now works for Oh Boy Records too, in its online department.
Montana World Trade Center
Arkansas will model its organization after UM’s, which has opened up millions of dollars of overseas business for Montana-made products and services and given the University a unique way to grow the state’s economy. RM International, a Stevensville manufacturer of hot tubs and spas formerly known as Omega II, took the plunge a couple of years ago. Within a year of its first trade mission, the company had doubled its staff and was exporting more than 2,000 hot tubs a year to Europe.
“We help small companies understand the world marketplace,” says Arnold Sherman, the executive director. “Because Montana is the most geographically isolated state and ranks 50th in exports, we have to figure out creative ways of doing things.”
More than 90 percent of Montana’s exports go to Canada and Mexico, and two-thirds of them are commodities such as beef and wheat, Sherman says.
The hot tubs are a good example of how that can change, he says. It’s not that there aren’t hot tub manufacturers in Europe.
“We’re helping sell the Montana brand, the Montana mystique,” Sherman says. “It conveys craftsmanship. It’s no different than buying a watch. Do you want one made in Japan or one made in Switzerland? It’s the same thing in Europe — do you want a hot tub built in Romania or one that was made in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana? That’s what we take advantage of.”
Sherman is quite sure none of the other 300 World Trade Centers could draw a 250-mile-wide ring around itself and come up with only one city — in this case, Spokane — with a population of more than 100,000.
Of course, many World Trade Centers are small cities in themselves. Sherman recently returned from a trade mission to Seoul, South Korea, where the World Trade Center houses two five-star hotels and more than 1 million square feet of retail space.
China is where the action is, Sherman says.
“China has 250 cities with a population of a million or more,” he says. “Compare that to the United States, where we have 10.”
His job is to help his members tap into those markets. Montana World Trade Center members make everything from jerky to pet beds to excavator attachments and offer services that range from public safety solutions to boutique investment banking.
“If you’re an entrepreneur in Missoula, on your own, how do you figure out the international marketplace?” Sherman says.
“Trade laws, language barriers, letters of credit — those are all issues we’re here to assist with.”
Montana World Trade Center came to be when two Great Falls men who had
purchased a license — they go for between $200,000 and $300,000
these days — failed to get it up and running, and donated the license
to the University two decades ago.
The center he directs has the added benefit of access to the academic and technical resources at UM. Faculty, in the meantime, can tap the center’s expertise in the global economy, and the center employs 25 business school students each year who help develop conferences, seminars and trade missions.
“It’s a very unique arrangement,” Sherman says. “And it’s a 50-50 deal — we provide a great service to the state and provide real interesting kinds of things for the faculty and students.”
Indian Business Leaders
weren’t a lot of Indians in business or with business degrees,”
says Tina Begay, executive director of American Indian Business Leaders,
often called “Able” for its AIBL acronym. “Tribal leaders
saw a real need to get Indians interested in business.”
With encouragement from Gianchetta and the faculty, Henderson did so. Today, Begay presides over an organization with 62 chapters in 16 states — 26 at tribal colleges, 16 at universities, 14 at high schools and six at elementary and middle schools, as well as two professional chapters. Sixty percent of the chapters create and operate their own business.
The national headquarters are located in the Gallagher Business Building, and AIBL has a regional office in Cloquet, Minn., on the Fond du Lac Reservation.
“We are the only national organization dedicated to empowering Indian business students in the United States,” says Begay, a Navajo who was born and raised on the Flathead Reservation.
AIBL runs a national internship and career development program and holds an annual leadership conference and nationwide recruiting event. It also sponsors an annual national business plan competition, publishes a newsletter and operates a Web site to keep members connected and informed.
Diversity is important on any college campus, Gianchetta says, and in AIBL he saw a way for the School of Business Administration to sow the seeds of interest within Montana’s largest minority.
“We have approximately 60 Indian students in the School of Business Administration,” Begay says. “When we started, there was one. We have the highest number of Indian students outside of general studies on campus.”
Additionally, four American Indians are pursuing master’s degrees in business administration at UM, and two more are in the master’s accounting program. Many transfer from two-year tribal colleges, Begay says. AIBL brings in about five chapters a year to tour the campus.
“We usually do it around a football game, and let them get a real taste of the University,” she says. AIBL also provides advisers who guide prospective students on the courses they should take before transferring to UM.
One of AIBL’s biggest selling points is the internships it has lined up for its members — with companies such as IBM, Sears, Hewlett-Packard, Nike and Safeco.
Those internships have led to post-graduate jobs for many graduates. Trina Finley is a Hewlett-Packard executive, Jerry Lamb is vice president of hospitality at the Coeur d’Alene Casino and Tahnee Beartusk is with IBM.
“But 80 percent go back to their reservations,” Begay says, “either as tribal department heads, to work in economic development or to run nonprofits.”
Many of the others who join businesses off the reservation also will eventually return, Begay says.
“The top ones often get their feet wet and learn the ropes, and then come back to their reservation to help with what they’ve learned,” she says.
For Begay, the most important aspect of AIBL is that it encourages its members to maintain cultural integrity while pursuing educations in the mainstream business world. AIBL’s goal is for members to merge the best from both Native and mainstream cultures to build appropriate businesses.
Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs
That doesn’t make it less important.
Most business schools bring in outside speakers to share their real-world experiences with students. At UM, the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs (MADE) gives the school a formal mechanism for doing so.
“The response from students has been phenomenal,” says Jeff Shay, who directs the program. “They say the opportunity to interact with successful entrepreneurs is one of the best, if not the best, experiences in their education.”
As proof, Shay points to the 5-out-of-5 rating the course recently received from students.
“It’s funny,” Shay says, “because it makes me look good — I’m the instructor of record.”
But it’s people from the real world who are doing the teaching, people like Ken Thuerbach, the CEO of Alpine Log Homes; Bjorn Nabozney, co-founder and partner in Big Sky Brewing Company; and Liz Marchi, president and CEO of Montana West Economic Development. There are more than 20 speakers in all.
“Someone like Bjorn can come in and tell students how you create a niche for your product, how you can use creative means for marketing when you don’t have the money for it, how you can get your name out there and your product in customers’ hands,” Shay says.
Nabozney actually wrote his business plan for Big Sky Brewing while he was a student at UM. When no one would back his company’s planned expansion, Nabozney turned to Montana Business Capital Corp., a boutique investment banking company. President Tom Swenson possessed significant experience with a U.S. Department of Agriculture program geared to rural industry and business that he believed could help.
“The USDA doesn’t give you the loan, but it makes it easier to get by guaranteeing 80 percent of the loan,” Shay says. It got Big Sky Brewing into its own in-house bottling facility.
And Swenson, it turns out, is another member of MADE.
“He’s kind of a middleman between entrepreneurs and financial resources,” Shay says. “In the seminar, Tom shares the realities of the banking world, explains what type of criteria banks use to evaluate a loan application — it’s the kind of thing you don’t find in textbooks.”
From angel investors to term sheets to intellectual property rights, MADE members lay out the real-world realities for UM students.
“When I first arrived at the University, it was unlike my experiences at other schools,” Shay says. “Students here were thinking a little smaller in terms of business ideas. I figure that we put enough successful people in front of them, we can inspire students to think that it’s quite possible to be very successful if you’re a hard worker and set your mind to it.”
Seven years later, Shay says, he can walk the streets of Missoula and see many examples of UM-educated entrepreneurs who have started successful businesses.
“They’re people I’m very proud of,” Shay says.
John Ruffato Business Plan Competition
the judges this year deadlocked, on an 11-11 vote, on which student business
plan was the best in the annual John Ruffato Business Plan Competition
administered by UM, they didn’t just add the first- and second-place
prize money together and divide it in half.
The Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and Shay assumed responsibility for the John Ruffato Business Plan Competition a couple of years ago.
Open to students at any Montana two- and four-year college, the competition has drawn more than 450 entries over its 17 years. More than 40 have been turned into actual businesses, including one — involving a coal-conversion process — that is a several-hundred-million-dollar-a-year operation.
Shay and his team of entrepreneurs have made it a priority to take the competition to the next level. The prize money has grown, from $3,000 to $10,000 to what was supposed to be a total of $20,000, until the judges themselves ponied up more this year.
Next year, Shay says, the aim is to offer $35,000, with an eventual goal of getting the pot to $50,000.
“The judges are world-class,” Shay says. There are current and former chief financial officers for Microsoft and Apple Computer, the former president of Dial Corp., plus several members of the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.
The competition differs from most others in that it offers immediate feedback to students. After presenting to all the judges, one judge is assigned to coach the person or team for 30 minutes for upcoming rounds.
“To spend time with someone of that caliber — who sits face-to-face with you and tells you what he thinks about your business — is awesome,” Shay says. “The students are nervous as heck, of course, but they’re also on Cloud Nine.”
Of the 15 people and teams invited to the 2006 competition, seven were approached by potential investors afterward, Shay says.
Lewis and Clark Pioneer in Industry Awards
The idea came from Shay, a graduate of Babson College, where the undergraduate entrepreneurship program has been ranked first in the country by U.S. News and World Report for 13 consecutive years.
“We had a Founder’s Day event at Babson, and I still remember the people who spoke and the messages they had,” Shay says. “People like Wally Amos (Famous Amos Cookies) and Henry Block (H&R Block). It was so inspirational as a student, to sit there and be mesmerized by these people.”
Why not something similar at UM?
“We may be off the beaten trail, but people want to come to Montana to visit,” Shay says.
The awards are tailored to honor people who have not only been successful in business, but have given back.
This year the awards went to Thomas Siebel, the billionaire founder of Siebel Systems, who financed the dramatic and effective Montana Meth Project, and the late William M. Allen, a Lolo native, UM alumnus and past president of the Boeing Co., who pushed the airplane manufacturer into the world of jet propulsion and the possibility of commercial jet traffic.
Previous recipients are Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg, the founders of Liz Claiborne Inc., and Missoula entrepreneur Dennis Washington, founder of the Washington Group.
The Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation is dedicated to the survival of wildlife and wildlands and the human communities to which they are linked. The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has helped a wide variety of causes in Western Montana and beyond since its inception in 1988.
“These are all people who, once they became successful, demonstrated a sense of social responsibility and have served their communities,” Shay says. “We didn’t just want people who were successful in business, we wanted role models.”
The School of Business Administration is quite different from the one Larry Gianchetta joined more than 30 years ago.
“The thing I’m proudest of today is our faculty,” Gianchetta says. “Half of our faculty have come here from major universities because we really care about teaching, and so do they.”
UM is the only undergraduate program in the country Gianchetta is aware of that requires three different business-oriented experiential learning exposures — such as the Entertainment Management Program — before a degree will be awarded.
“We did a survey of graduates who have been out there in the business world five to 10 years, and asked them what classes added the most value to their education,” Gianchetta says.
Invariably, the answer came back: internships and programs that connect students to the real world.
SOBA has, for years, ranked at or near the top of colleges in the nation in students who pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountants exam on their first try.
Gianchetta’s goal is to maintain standards like that while adopting the most innovative ways to train students to enter a fast-paced marketplace.
And just how fast-paced is it? If you believe Overstock.com’s Patrick Byrne, UM graduates can see their careers and lives change dramatically just by riding the elevator in Gallagher Business Building.
For more information visit http://www.business.umt.edu.