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Full-time UST MBA Profile: Joelle Purvis-Allen Profile

img_purvis-allen-joelleAs an entrepreneur, a seasoned marketing professional and a mother, Joelle Purvis-Allen has her plate full as a first-year Full-time UST MBA student. Participating in the National Black MBA Competition as the lone first-year, she has jumped right in since the beginning of the program. In the thick of final projects, papers and final exam preparations, she took a break over lunch to share her background and aspirations.

Purvis-Allen was a marketing manager for Nolan Company—now part of WinWholesale Company—and helped changed the company’s focus from wholesale to retail, hosting trade shows and other events to increase consumer engagement and sales of higher end, luxury items. Her love of event planning began there, and eventually she started her own business, Allen Events, providing event services for weddings, corporations and group travel. It is through working an event for one of her clients that she learned about the Full-time UST MBA program and its Outreach Scholarships.

“I love events,” Purvis-Allen says with a smile. With leadership lessons learned from her professional mentors Ken King (former VP of marketing at Noland) and Mark Smith (VP and regional manager at Noland), she led a successful business and hopes to continue after she finishes her MBA. “I really want to break into the global events scene and reinvent the event planning business,” she adds, “and I thought getting an MBA at St. Thomas would help me to look at this business from multiple perspectives.”

Though she has a passion for the corporate event marketing and planning world, it is not her ultimate goal. She wants to start a nonprofit event planning organization that takes at-risk youth and teaches them the event planning business. She believes there is a lot that the event planning process can teach them and it can reinforce and incorporate what they learn at school—from simple math skills to problem solving skills to interpersonal skills. The nonprofit would provide the kids with event planning jobs and the profits would go to supporting their education, given they maintain certain academic standing. When asked about the reasons behind this plan, she stated simply—“I just combined my passion for service with my passion for event planning. I want to leave a legacy.”

EveningMBA, FTMBA, Newsroom

Evening MBA: I Feel Good About Pursuing This MBA

Not sure about what you’ve gotten yourself into with this MBA thing? You’re not alone. KJ Brooke is a veteran of the southern California hospitality business and is in her last year of an MBA program. People she talks to are often skeptical about her pursuit of an MBA, she says in an excellent essay for The Billfold, giving her looks “of bewilderment and awe, with a little bit of pity thrown in.”

But Brooke feels she’s made the right choice, which she defends with intelligence and wit in the article. Sure, she has little time for a social life, is buried with homework and puts up with resentment from her current co-workers; but when she’s done, she says, she’ll have a big bundle of new advantages, including increased self-confidence, comfort with numbers and  better earnings potential. And  if nothing else, she’s confident that she’ll never be caught flat-footed “by any ridiculous question thrown my way from a witty student or cocky boss.”

Read the full essay.

EveningMBA, leadership, Newsroom

Business Advice from Best Buy Founder Richard Schulze

This post is by Lindsey Buhrmann, student in the Evening UST MBA program.

It isn’t every day that a captain of industry offers his business advice, so when the St. Thomas alumni office hosted Richard Schulze, chairman and founder of Best Buy, for the First Friday speaker series, I jumped at the chance to attend. After all, how often does one have the opportunity to learn from the founder of a major corporation with more than 1,100 stores across the U.S. and even more opening around the world?

Speaking on “Learning from Challenge & Change: The Best Buy Journey,” Schulze shared the “Top 10” lessons in business that he’s learned throughout the years:

  1. Listen to your customers: “Nothing is more important than listening and responding to the needs of our customers,” Schulze said, adding that needs change over time so it’s critical to be agile and responsive.
  2. Know your competitors: “Know your competitors nearly as well as you know yourself,” he said. It’s essential to rise to the challenge to differentiate your company and deliver value.
  3. Perseverance pays: There will always be setbacks, uncertainty and disappointments, yet it’s important to believe in your mission and understand that the course may change. Don’t give up.
  4. You must have a mentor: “Find a mentor. Allow them to act as your guide, as well as your sounding board,” he said, adding that when facing a tough issue, a mentor can help you think outside of the box.
  5. Hire strong people: Successful people know they need to have access to the very best people, he said. It’s important to hire people who think differently than you to complement your style.
  6. Learn from mistakes: “If we aren’t making mistakes, we’ aren’t trying, and we aren’t changing and we aren’t innovating,” Schulze said, noting that it’s critical to learn from these experiences. “We often learn more from failure than we do from success.”
  7. Leverage your strengths: Use your assets to your advantage, both in business and by serving the community. Hire innovative people. “Our people are our single greatest asset. Period.”
  8. Be a good listener: “It’s a skill that takes practice and a high level of self-awareness,” he said, adding that listening cannot hurt you, but refusing to listen will.
  9. Create partnerships: We all need partners to help us win, and it’s necessary to understand each other and how each party can contribute to the solution. “Win-win is extremely important.”
  10. Innovate continuously: “We need innovation in order to grow in order to compete,” Schulze said. “Leaders have got to demonstrate an ‘innovation mindset.’”

The next First Friday luncheon is March 2 and will feature Lee Anderson, chairman, APi Group.

Career Services, Ethics, Media, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Resolve to be “flawsome” in 2012

Today is January 2, and hopefully most of you have not given up on your resolutions for the new year already.  One of the mistakes that many people make is that they look at resolutions as an “all-or-nothing” proposition.  The thought process goes something like this:  “Well, I said I’d be on time for work every day this year, and I got to work 10 minutes late today, so I’m just going to give up on my resolution for the rest of the year.”  Making one mistake doesn’t mean that all is lost.  Admitting your mistake and vowing to do better in the future is a much better course of action.

A recent article in Forbes looked at this from a corporate marketing/public relations perspective.  Domino’s Pizza endured some terrible PR a couple of years ago.  Rather than trying to cover up or talk away the severity of the issue, the company decided to face it head-on–and won quite a bit of respect in the process.  As the article notes, “Despite the best intentions in presentation, no brand, company or representative is perfect. How imperfect moments are handled can make the difference between a small situation or reputation capital vaporized in short order.”

So as you make decisions that affect your company as well as your personal “brand” in 2012, do your best to avoid pitfalls and scandals.  But when the inevitable misstep occurs, remember to be “flawsome”–be authentic, admit your mistake, and chart a course to remedy the situation.  That’s a New Year’s resolution we all have a chance of keeping!

Ethics, EveningMBA, FTMBA, Media, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Are business schools failing at teaching business ethics?

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article featured two guest columnists debating whether or not business schools are doing a good job teaching MBA students about business ethics.  Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster, the David and Barbara Koch Endowed Chair in Business Ethics at the Opus College of Business, wrote a response to this article.  It was published online by Businessweek a few days ago; you can read his entire response below, as well as in the comments section of the original article linked above.

Kenneth Goodpaster, Ph.D.

Kenneth Goodpaster, Ph.D.

Michael Beer’s observation that management education, analogous to legal and medical education, has “for the most part” not delivered on its historical promise to prepare business executives as professionals is a limited generalization, but does have some merit, and is documented with insight and historical scholarship by Harvard Business School Professor Rakesh Khurana in his book From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession.

In a forthcoming book from Cambridge University Press, Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience, I have worked with a team of scholars to offer a portrait of more than two centuries of business thought and practice in the U.S.   The second of those two centuries has witnessed the emergence of B-schools in universities. 

To level a charge of unfulfilled promises against business education during this time is not unwarranted, even if it must be carefully qualified in view of the fact that many schools do explicitly or implicitly embrace what Beer calls “higher-ambition principles.” (I’m relieved to say that one such place is the school I work for, the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, where business students are imbued with the idea that profit is not the goal of business. Rather, it is the deserved reward for a business that offers products and services that fully meet customers’ needs, provides a safe and respectful work environment at a fair and equitable wage, and respects and protects the physical and societal environments in which it operates.)  Continue Reading

Centers, FTMBA, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

MBA alum, former Peace Corps volunteer to Uganda team up for business-related book drive for Burundi university

This article was written by Jackie Milbrandt, Research Associate at the Family Business Center.  It was originally published in the UST daily bulletin for students, staff and faculty.
Guillaume Ndayizigiye, an alum of the Full-time UST MBA program, sent an email wondering if we could help develop a Family Business Center at Great Lakes University in Burundi where he is working. Guillaume recently returned to his home country of Burundi, and those of you who had the pleasure of knowing Guillaume during his studies at St. Thomas can attest to his passion for working with small business owners in Burundi. 

As a co-worker, Guillaume and I had lively conversations about emerging market economies in East Africa. I had the pleasure of working with him as he conducted research on family businesses in Burundi. I was impressed by his dedication to developing business skills in family businesses in emerging markets.

Guillaume Ndayizigiye (center), a native of Burundi, conversed with Gerald (Gerry) Rauenhorst and his son, Mark (right), at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Family Business Center, held in September 2010. The center is located on the university's Minneapolis campus. Ndayizigiye, an alum of St. Thomas' MBA program, is helping to develop a Family Business Center at Great Lakes University in Burundi. / Photo by Mark Jensen, UST Photo Services.

Guillaume Ndayizigiye (center), a native of Burundi, conversed with Gerald (Gerry) Rauenhorst and his son, Mark (right), at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Family Business Center, held in September 2010. The center is located on the university's Minneapolis campus. Ndayizigiye, an alum of St. Thomas' MBA program, is helping to develop a Family Business Center at Great Lakes University in Burundi. / Photo by Mark Jensen, UST Photo Services.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer serving in Uganda, I conducted a similar project in the education sector by creating a resource library for teachers. No words can describe the gratitude and joy the community expressed when given access to learning and teaching resources. I can only image the same impact will be felt in Guillaume’s community.

Guillaume’s passion for teaching others and sharing his experiences are driving his current undertaking as an ambassador of the Family Business Center in Burundi. Guillaume has called upon his friends in the UST community to support his center through donated books. We are looking for books that pertain to entrepreneurship, family business, finance and organizational leadership.   

We ask that you take time to look through your book stacks and donate books that you think would be useful for this cause. We will collect donations in a book-drop cart located on the Minneapolis campus at Room 435, Schulze Hall, and at the Minneaolis campus Bookstore during buyback week. Books that faculty or staff would like to donate in St. Paul can be dropped off at the St. Paul campus Bookstore. Our collection will go through Tuesday, Dec. 20.

If you have questions, please contact me, Jackie Milbrandt, (651) 962-4188.

If you do not have books to donate there is still a need that you can fill! We will be collecting financial donations for the shipping costs. Any monetary donation will be given a charitable donation receipt to use for tax exemption. If you would like to make a financial donation, please make out a check to UST with the Family Business Book Drive written on the memo line. Mail or bring your donation to me at the Family Business Center, Room 435, Schulze Hall. 

Thank you in advance for your time and energy on this. We hope that our efforts will make a positive impact in providing the resources necessary to develop skills and knowledge around family business and economic growth in Burundi.

Admissions, FTMBA, Newsroom

Could you be the first Opus Scholar?

The Full-time UST MBA program recently announced an exciting new scholarship initiative for fall 2012 applicants.  Twelve full-tuition scholarships will be awarded to top candidates, and several additional half-tuition scholarships will also be awarded. 

Candidates for the Opus Scholars program are asked to submit their applications by February 1.  Competitive applicants will have several years of professional work experience, strong academic potential (as evidenced by their undergraduate GPA and GMAT scores), demonstrated leadership abilities, and effective written and oral communication skills.  Finalists for the Opus Scholars program will be invited to campus in March for a full day of interviews and activities with faculty, students, and staff from the admissions, student life, and career services offices.

img350_ftmba-viewbookFall 2012 will mark the 10th entering class for the Full-time UST MBA, and it will undoubtedly be one of the best incoming classes we’ve enrolled.  If you’d like to be considered for the Opus Scholars program, please contact the Full-time UST MBA admissions team at or 651-962-8800. 

If you’d like to refer a friend, colleague, or relative you think would be a great candidate for Opus Scholars consideration, let us know here!

Admissions, FTMBA, Newsroom

Finding the Fit

We in admissions enjoy sifting through our applications, noting why each applicant has interest in an MBA, how they foresee themselves utilizing it, and what specifically brought them to apply to the University of St. Thomas.  To be honest, one of my favorite parts of my job is reading the essays submitted, where these reasons and explanations are addressed.  Each person’s path is unique and interesting, and seeing into this window of sorts is a privilege.  “How they’re coming at it” is what interests me most—once we know this, it’s an enjoyable journey with every applicant.    

A recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to finding the right school and the importance of “fit” to an MBA program.  We at the University of St. Thomas could not agree more when it comes to fit and finding a niche in a school.  Many times culture of the program isn’t necessarily given much weight by an applicant when initially applying.  It deserves weight and consideration.  As the article points out, finding a culture that one feels passionate about is key.  Rod Garcia, senior director of admissions at MIT Sloan School of Management noted it this way: “One’s happiness and how well the school’s offerings match an applicant’s needs should take precedence.”     Continue Reading

Admissions, EveningMBA, FTMBA, Newsroom

QS World MBA Tour visits Minneapolis on Friday

For more than a decade, the QS World MBA Tour has organized MBA fairs in major cities on every inhabited continent in the world.  While New York, London, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires have long been part of the tour, this is the first year that the World MBA Tour has come to Minneapolis.

On Friday, October 28, prospective MBA students are invited to meet with top MBA programs from around the world at the Hyatt Regency on Nicollet Mall.  Representatives from the Full-time UST MBA and Evening UST MBA programs will be available to answer your questions, and all participants will have the opportunity to attend panels and information sessions about the MBA application process.

Click here to learn more about the event and register online.  We hope to see you at the fair on Friday night!

QS World MBA Tour


Career Services, EveningMBA, FTMBA, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

Internships and networking go hand-in-hand

The Financial Times recently reported on the results of a Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) survey, which showed that MBA graduates who completed an internship during their studies were significantly more likely to find a job than their classmates who did not have an internship.  The study also noted that in some industries, such as consulting, about 70 percent of interns were hired on for full-time positions after graduation.

The Graduate Business Career Services team at UST assists current MBA students and alumni with job and internship searches.  The team not only provides one-on-one career coaching but also organizes a variety of workshops and networking events that help you make professional connections.  These connections can be critical as you search for your next internship or full-time position. 

Ready to start focusing on your career search?  Come to tonight’s career skills session, which helps you understand how to explain the significance of your UST MBA experience to employers.  Put your networking skills to use tomorrow morning at the Master’s Connection, part of a regular series of breakfast networking events sponsored by Graduate Business Career Services.

Students and alumni looking for internships or jobs should remember to check Career Link on a regular basis, as postings are updated daily.  Log in to ensure that your profile and resume are up-to-date so that you’ll be ready to apply for new opportunities!