School of Business News http://business.gmu.edu/news Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:57:13 -0400 MYOB en-gb Alumnus, Business Owner Stays Close to Mason in Heart of Old Town http://business.gmu.edu/news/1362-alumnus-business-owner-stays-close-to-mason-in-heart-of-old-town http://business.gmu.edu/news/1362-alumnus-business-owner-stays-close-to-mason-in-heart-of-old-town

HainsworthSince completing his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1980, Dave Hainsworth made sure he didn’t stray too far from George Mason University. The School of Business alumnus opened his own accounting firm in Old Town Fairfax, and is engaged on-campus, whether it’s cheering for the Patriots at basketball games or encouraging students to pursue an accounting career.

Hainsworth first started attending Mason when it was still a commuter school, allowing him to save money and live at home in Prince William County for two years. Later he was amongst the first students to live in Mason housing. He believed a business degree leading to becoming a CPA would lead to multiple possibilities for his future.

“The reason for majoring in business administration was because I knew a CPA that owned a variety of businesses and I could see that accounting was the language of business,” he said. “I wanted to master that to have choices in my career.”

After graduation, Hainsworth worked with a small local firm before starting his own firm. He opened David N. Hainsworth, C.P.A., P.C. in Fairfax City in 1984, and is now located on University Drive. At his firm, he had the flexibility to create his own culture and interact with clients to “guide their financial futures and be a part of each one’s success.”

Hainsworth said the challenges of owning your own firm include tax law changes and the annual tax season. As far as responsibilities, he oversees everything.

There is no typical day for Hainsworth, but he starts by determining his priorities and laying out what needs to be done for the day. He allocates resources to clients, and reviews and delivers their final tax return or financial statement. His team of CPAs is made up of fellow Mason alumni, one includes a School of Business graduate.

In addition to working so close to campus with fellow alumni, Hainsworth likes to stay connected with the university and current students. He can be found at men’s basketball games on-campus, and even traveled to Indianapolis in 2006 for the Final Four during their busy tax season. “We made it work, not sure how,” he said.

Hainsworth is also enthusiastic about sharing career advice with School of Business students.

“Encouraging any person to become a CPA is high on my list. If they become a CPA, I know they can achieve much in their career and have choices.”

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General Mon, 18 Sep 2017 08:16:50 -0400
Study Says Failure Should Always be an Option http://business.gmu.edu/news/1360-study-says-failure-should-always-be-an-option http://business.gmu.edu/news/1360-study-says-failure-should-always-be-an-option

If Matt Cronin, associate professor of management at George Mason University's School of Business, could giveCronin.mug CEOs a piece of advice, he would tell them that, sometimes, failure is good.

There is no success, he would say, without failure.

“Failure is the first attempt in learning,” Cronin said. “A project or product that is very influential is sometimes decades in the making with a lot of mess-ups.”

In short, he said, people should have permission to fail.

That is the conclusion of a study called “Cultivating the Confidence Cycle.” Cronin was part of the research team for the project, which was presented at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The two-year study, in which workers from companies in the United States, Brazil and South Africa were tracked, was developed and run by a team that included Cronin and Georgetown University professors Catherine Tinsley and Jason Schloetzer. It was funded and executed by a large multinational company.

It found that when an organization’s culture shifted workers’ beliefs about failure—making it OK to fail—employees, on average, were 30 percent more confident and made similar gains in performance.

Confident workers also are optimistic about the future, more likely to be innovative at work, and more likely to overcome workplace challenges, the study said.

That confidence comes from feeling that an organization will let its employees fail and learn, Cronin said. Such learning leads to innovation and can create new practices that outperform the current best practices.

“Best practices assumes we already know the best way to do something, and it leaves no room to try and fail,” he said. “Anytime you think about getting beyond where you can get by just following the rules, you are likely to be wrong. You either say, ‘I was wrong, I failed, the end,’ or ‘What did I do incorrectly there? What should I change?’”

That positive thinking must start at the top, Cronin said.

Consider the field experiment in which groups of salespeople from a large company were shown a video, ostensibly from their company, with a positive, reinforcing message.

“Setbacks, bumps and failures are a normal part of everyone’s journey,” the message said. “In fact, these obstacles are future successes in disguise. Failures are a launching pad, which inspires us to think creatively and positively.”

Those who received the message had, on average, 22 percent higher sales, than those who did not, said the report, which attributed the gains to what the video reinforced about the organization’s culture.

“It’s absolutely about the culture of a company,” Cronin said. “You can’t just have a good manager, and it can’t be just lip service. It has to be something you believe to give people freedom.”

Which brings us back to that message Cronin would like to deliver to those CEOs.

“People need to feel their effort is appreciated while it’s in progress, not just after it happens,” Cronin said. “It has to be baked into the culture.”

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General Thu, 14 Sep 2017 09:05:38 -0400
Scholarship Recipient: Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy http://business.gmu.edu/news/1359-scholarship-recipient-nothing-worth-having-comes-easy http://business.gmu.edu/news/1359-scholarship-recipient-nothing-worth-having-comes-easy

ArandiaKaren Arandia has worked hard and fought to get to where she is, not only in her education, but in life. Arandia, a junior majoring in information systems and operations management (ISOM), is a first generation college student. She also overcame a serious illness, which required her to put her education on hold.

“In December 2010, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I took a break from school, following my doctor’s orders to focus on my health. Once I was done with chemotherapy treatment and surgeries, I returned back to work and school with full force,” she said.

Recognizing the need to maintain a full-time job for health coverage, Arandia returned to school part-time. She worked with Arlington County for nine years. The last position she held was as a business tax specialist for the Commissioner of Revenue helping business owners learn about their rights and tax responsibilities.

Arandia reached her five-year remission mark in April 2016, and gave birth to a baby boy in June of that year. Receiving the GOV Services, INC. Scholarship, has allowed her to remain a full-time student for fall 2017.

“I had to make a choice, and the choice I made was to finish what I had started and continue pursuing my goals,” she said, adding that the scholarship is helping her get to the finish line.

She promised herself that if she beat cancer, she would live with no regrets. “I have been persistent with my education and believe that nothing worth having comes easy,” Arandia said. “Sometimes I would work all day and go to school at night. Sometimes I would make it home to change out of my work clothes, and some days I could not. There were cold winter nights I would leave my home for a class when it was easier to stay at home.”

She is also determined to complete her undergraduate education to set the bar for her son. “I want to set it as high as I can so that he can surpass it,” she said.

Arandia will graduate in fall 2018. She plans on pursuing professional IT certifications to help advance her career in technology.

“With the changing technology, a career path in information systems will provide new challenges and constant learning opportunities,” she said. “I would like to pursue a career in information security. I hope to complete a master’s degree in the future, and I would like to become a published author someday.”

Contribute to student scholarships

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General Mon, 11 Sep 2017 08:26:20 -0400
Management Professor Awarded $50K for Studying Multidisciplinary Research Initiatives http://business.gmu.edu/news/1358-management-professor-awarded-50k-for-studying-multidisciplinary-research-initiatives http://business.gmu.edu/news/1358-management-professor-awarded-50k-for-studying-multidisciplinary-research-initiatives

richard klimoskiGeorge Mason University has committed itself to multidisciplinary research and the School of Business faculty is on board.

Richard Klimoski, director of faculty research and professor and area chair of management at the School of Business, together with Steve Zaccaro, professor of psychology, and Aurali Dade, associate vice president of research development, integrity, and assurance at Mason, recently received a $50,000 grant issued from funds provided by the U.S. Government’s Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Research and Integrity to research multidisciplinary science initiatives.

According to Klimoski, multidisciplinary research is the future of research. “By bringing people from different specialties together around a research question or a problem in society – it’s where good things can happen,” says Klimoski.

Klimoski, Zaccaro, and Dade are pursuing an emerging perspective when it comes to multidisciplinary research. Their studies will focus on “multidisciplinary teams of teams” taking research on science teams to a whole new level.

Rather than focus on the multidisciplinary team, which generally consists of a group of people from different disciplines, multidisciplinary teams of teams would involve a team from one discipline working together with teams from other disciplines in the pursuit of collaborative research.

“Imagine a team of engineers working with a team from public policy. Both might be multidisciplinary, but now they’re both working together. This will be a new way of thinking within leadership and management than what is currently being done,” says Klimoski.

Pursuing scientific investigations while working within what Klimoski and colleagues call multi-team systems comes with a new set of challenges. “It’s difficult to manage people of different disciplines often in the same building. Now think also of the challenges of working across academic units, across universities, with commercial partners or even (and often) working virtually. Many teams involved in big science initiatives are in different locations or in different countries. Our theory/model of the challenges assumes all of this; senior scientists leading teams of teams, across disciplines, across time zones, across countries, maybe across cultures.”

The grant, which was awarded in August, will run for the year allowing them to investigate how these science collaborations come about, what agreements are put in place at the outset and, most importantly, how scientists as leaders address potential challenges and pitfalls in order to accomplish project goals. As part of this grant Klimoski and his colleagues will conduct a workshop, bringing together scientists who have led multidisciplinary teams before, to establish a set of industry best practices.

A special focus of their grant will be on learning more about how scientists as leaders might go about ensuring the integrity of the research that is to take place in the context of such complex arrangements. As examples, threats to integrity might be associated with issues of proper data management, accurate budget record keeping, appropriate credit for discovery, or even to claims to intellectual property ownership rights.

“When you’re working with people from different backgrounds, there is room for disagreement, especially when it comes to different moral, ethical or legal issues,” says Klimoski. “We hope our research grant and its findings will provide new knowledge regarding how those responsible for achieving research goals come to anticipate, detect or to otherwise effectively deal with such threats should they arise.”

Learn more

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General Tue, 05 Sep 2017 13:44:56 -0400
Graduate Student Honored to Earn $10K Real Estate EagleBank Scholarship http://business.gmu.edu/news/1354-graduate-student-honored-to-earn-real-estate-eaglebank-scholarship http://business.gmu.edu/news/1354-graduate-student-honored-to-earn-real-estate-eaglebank-scholarship

GerbenLisa Gerben carefully weighed the pros and cons before deciding to pursue the MS in Real Estate Development at George Mason University's School of Business. Gerben would be financing the degree out of pocket, while also working at the company she founded.

Gerben, who earned her undergraduate degree in interior design from Virginia Commonwealth University, decided “the benefits outweighed the risks since I must obtain this degree in order to gain the knowledge and expertise to realize my goals.”

She’s proud to be an EagleBank Scholarship recipient this year. The $10,000 scholarship will allow her to go from a part-time to full-time student.

“This scholarship represents relief and freedom to think long term and outside the box. It will allow me to enroll full time and give me the opportunity to immerse myself in my education, and to take full advantage of all that is offered at Mason,” she said.

Gerben chose Mason because of the emphasis on real world experience and networking. “My experience has been exceptional. The professors and advisors work with each student individually to select a curriculum tailored to our specific career goals and interests,” she said.

Since starting the program, Gerben has maintained a 4.0 GPA, while balancing work and staying involved with program events and professional organizations, including the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), Urban Land Institute (ULI), and a mentorship program created by seasoned industry professionals. She was selected by her professors to compete in the NAIOP Capital Challenge, a regional real estate competition between rival universities.

Outside of class, Gerben works full-time for the company she founded, The Avant Network. She’s responsible for identifying and cultivating business opportunities in emerging markets.

Upon completion of the program, Gerben plans to focus on “land acquisition and master planning of smart growth, sustainable developments in emerging markets.” Her goal is to form a real estate investment fund that focuses on smart growth urban development in African countries.

“There is an enormous opportunity to take the lessons learned from urban development in the U.S. and apply them in other countries that are just now creating modern urban environments,” she said. “I would like to be part of the solution and work towards the creation of well-tempered cities, not just replicate dysfunctional cities where the everyday person struggles to have basic needs met.”

Learn how you can contribute to student scholarships.

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General Thu, 31 Aug 2017 08:25:20 -0400
Finance Alumnus, Entrepreneur: Sky’s the Limit http://business.gmu.edu/news/1353-finance-alumnus-entrepreneur-sky-s-the-limit http://business.gmu.edu/news/1353-finance-alumnus-entrepreneur-sky-s-the-limit

Tim KeoughDeciding to attend Mason was the right choice at the right time for Tim Keough. His older brother had attended Mason, he could continue rowing as part of the Crew Club, and he was offered an academic scholarship from the University Scholars program.

“Mason’s programs for business were up and coming, and certainly the roster of faculty was interesting to me. I always had an affinity towards business and finance. I felt like Mason was a good fit for me. With all of those factors, it seemed like the right choice. I haven’t regretted it,” Keough said.

After graduating with his finance degree in 1995, Keough started with Anderson Consulting, now Accenture. He worked in the telecommunications and finance group, which is where he first became interested in technology and development. He stayed a few years with Anderson Consulting, but quickly figured out that a big organization wasn’t for him.

He moved on to doing web development for an insurance startup, staying a year before deciding he was ready to forge his own path. “Right or wrong, smart or dumb, I decided that I could do this startup thing. That’s when I got into entrepreneurship for myself, and started up my first company back in the late 90s and was off and running,” Keough said.

Since making his initial decision to become an entrepreneur 20 years ago, he has started, built, and sold four technology companies. For Keough, the most appealing thing about entrepreneurship is that loves when he can do something and affect a change immediately.

“I also loved the fact that the sky’s the limit. It’s a clean slate and you can do whatever you want,” he said. “There was the opportunity to create something new and build it up, and have a good time being creative and innovative in a market and having a decent career out of it as well.”

Unlike resources and communities of like-minded people available to entrepreneurs today, Keough said it was a challenge not having a support group when he started out.

“There wasn’t as much of a community of entrepreneurs or other people to connect with and chat with. I kind of forged my own path and made some mistakes along the way, that I’m quite certain had I been more engaged with other folks that had been there and done that, I wouldn’t have made those mistakes. I learned the hard way,” he said.

However, he said entrepreneurs face new challenges today, like getting the right people, creating a team, getting contracts, or people interested in using your product. Keough said entrepreneurs can use their creativity to solve these problems.

Most recently, Keough started his newest venture WythMe in January 2016. WythMe is a reverse auction platform that gets restaurants and bars to bid on customers, with offers and discounts. He said the idea came to him a few years ago when organizing a happy hour for colleagues and friends. It was a lot of legwork and he thought there’s got to be a better way.

Today they have more than 3,000 restaurant and food service locations, from fine dining to ice cream and coffee shops, participating across the U.S. serving tens of thousands of end users.

Keough is largely responsible for the company’s strategic initiatives, whereas he used to be more hands on with his companies. He focuses on building partnerships and the company’s team, identifying the right executive leadership, and looking for opportunities to build the business rapidly and efficiently.

Currently he serves on the School of Business Alumni Chapter as a director-at-large. Keough is also very involved with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, working with student entrepreneurs and serving as a judge in the Annual Business Competition. He was recognized as a School of Business 20 Prominent Patriot in 2014.

“I want people going to Mason to have access to people that may be able to give them insight into their career or if they move into entrepreneurship,” Keough said.

“You have many more opportunities now as an entrepreneur and innovator than you ever had when I graduated. It was a lot harder, just because there was less of a community. Now it’s relatively easy to start up something new, try it, and innovate to disrupt an industry,” he said. “I think Mason’s promoting that, and supporting innovation and supporting the community of entrepreneurs. It’s a very powerful message, and the direction that we want as Mason alumni.”

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General Mon, 28 Aug 2017 10:12:17 -0400
Entrepreneurship is Thriving at Mason http://business.gmu.edu/news/1349-entrepreneurship-is-thriving-at-mason http://business.gmu.edu/news/1349-entrepreneurship-is-thriving-at-mason

david millerIdeas are like seeds. You need to plant them, then give them the right attention so they can have the opportunity to germinate and grow tall and strong.

At Mason, opportunities to nurture each idea seedling are available through a range of programs and services, and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship within the School of Business has led the way. The center has served as a hub of entrepreneurship at Mason offering something for everyone including mentorship, funding, student groups, an incubator, and academic courses.

In short, George Mason’s School of Business is dedicated to entrepreneurship.

And it starts with the dedication of faculty. At the front of the pack you’ll find David Miller. Miller has his hands in all things entrepreneurship at Mason. His official titles include executive director for the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE), director of the Mason Innovation Lab, director of campus entrepreneurship and also assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Mason’s School of Business.

Miller’s dedication comes from a love of entrepreneurship and many years in the field.

He has been part of multiple new ventures throughout the past 15 years, most recently serving as the founder and CEO of FamilyFantasySports.com, an online platform for family-friendly fantasy football. He also co-founded the Creative Class Group (CCG), which develops new product service creation and strategy. As the COO of CCG, he oversaw the development and implementation of the Creative Cities Leadership Project, educating and leading more than 200 social innovators and 30 social ventures in various U.S. and world cities.

An entrepreneur at heart, Miller also loves to help other entrepreneurs. He has been a full-time faculty member at the School of Business for the past three and a half years but has been at Mason even longer. He first came to Mason as a PhD student in entrepreneurship. At the time (and still today), his focus was on high growth startups created by students at U.S. universities, exploring the campus entrepreneurial ecosystem and how it impacts the creation of student founded firms such as Facebook, Under Armour, Teach for America, Google, Lyft, and many more.

His time at Mason has led him to one important conclusion: Mason students make great entrepreneurs.Miller CIAE

“Our students—their willingness to work hard, take on challenges, and create their own paths to success really sets them apart,” said Miller. “I have had thousands of experiences in my years at Mason that have impacted me. Almost all of them include students and recent alumni and their willingness to learn and take action.”

The entrepreneurship ecosystem that Miller has developed at Mason has had impressive results in a short time.

· Two Mason Innovation Lab teams have performed well in national innovation and business competitions.

· OnYou, a magnetic smartphone case designed for active people went to the semifinals of the Cupid's Cup.

· Iron Goat Tech, which created a self-fueled harvester that produces agricultural products, won the MIT Clean Energy Prize in 2016. Iron Goat has also received funding from the Department of Energy and GE Ventures.

Mason students haven’t just taken advantage of the resources available to them like entrepreneurship courses and programs Miller has created. They’ve also helped build the innovative culture at Mason by launching student groups such as Mason Changemakers and running the university-wide makerspace—MIX@InnovationHall.

“We've had students win scholarships to study entrepreneurship and others get great jobs. Very importantly, we've seen people actually build impactful businesses,” said Miller.

Local innovators and entrepreneurs have taken notice as well.

Miller explained, “We've been fortunate to work with amazing regional leaders that mentor us and support our programs. Also, the openness of regional institutions such as 1776, Make Offices, Under Armour and others have been incredibly generous with their talent, spaces and more.”

At the end of the day, Miller says it’s all about the students and helping them realize their vision of the future.

Learn more about Entrepreneurship at Mason.

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General Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:13:34 -0400
Business Student Serves as Summer Congressional Intern http://business.gmu.edu/news/1348-business-student-serves-as-summer-congressional-intern http://business.gmu.edu/news/1348-business-student-serves-as-summer-congressional-intern

ThaparShivani Thapar, an information systems and operations management junior, was interested in expanding her network and gaining a new skill set when searching for a summer internship. After talking with friends who held various internships on Capitol Hill, she applied for a congressional internship.

Thapar, originally from Fairfax, VA, wanted to major in information systems and operations management because it was “the perfect balance of technology and operations for almost any line of work.” She also knew that the skills she’d learn in her major “would open many doors,” such as the congressional internship.

From May to June, she served as a congressional intern for Congressman Pete Sessions’ office. Sessions represents the 32nd district of Texas in the House of Representatives.

“Given the new administration and current political climate, I wanted to take a deeper look into the policies which will shape and influence the tech world. I felt that this internship added an extra insight and a new perspective to the skills, which I am gaining through the School of Business,” Thapar said.

As a congressional intern, Thapar was responsible for engaging and responding to constituents via phone, email, and in-person interactions, attending congressional hearings, writing policy briefings, and researching potential policy initiatives, such as cyber security.

Thapar said one of the greatest lessons she learned from her internship was handling “tough situations in a diplomatic manner.”

“At times, I found myself dealing with disgruntled constituents, which is an inevitable challenge in any congressional office. The wonderful staff at the congressman's office taught me how to think in a levelheaded manner and interact with all constituents in a variety of tough situations while maintaining my composure at all times,” she said. “This is certainly a skill I can carry with me throughout my personal and professional life.”

Sessions praised Thapar for a job well done during her internship, going above and beyond expectations.

“Day in and day out, Shivani exhibited a diligent work ethic and energy that was contagious around the office. Shivani’s insatiable desire to learn is one of her greatest attributes,” Sessions said. “Shivani is a dedicated and intelligent person of high moral character and a team player who I know will continue to succeed in any career she chooses.”

Patrick Soleymani, assistant dean of undergraduate programs, also commended Thapar for her service.

“Shivani represents the best of a talented School of Business student body, and I'm proud to see her making a difference in our nation's capital through dedicated public service on Capitol Hill,” said Soleymani.

After graduation, Thapar plans to enter the world of consulting, with a focus on IT consulting. “My recent internship has piqued my interest in cyber security and I hope to see myself eventually playing a role in this field,” she said.

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General Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:43:19 -0400
Real Estate Program Establishes New Scholarship for Grad Students http://business.gmu.edu/news/1347-real-estate-program-establishes-new-scholarship-for-grad-students http://business.gmu.edu/news/1347-real-estate-program-establishes-new-scholarship-for-grad-students

MRED studentsIncoming students in Mason’s MS in Real Estate Development program now have the opportunity to apply for the new Peterson Family Scholarship, which will award $5,000 to one incoming student each fall.

The new scholarship was established by Jon Peterson, principal of real estate development firm Peterson Companies. Peterson is a member of both the Mason Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and the George Mason University Board of Visitors.

Kat Grimsley, director of the MS in Real Estate Development program and associate director of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at Mason said, “This scholarship allows us to recognize and reward talented new students by financially supporting their professional development through the pursuit of a Master’s of Science in Real Estate Development.”

The Peterson Family Scholarship will be awarded each fall to recognize one incoming MS in Real Estate Development student who reflects the Peterson Companies’ dedication to developing thriving communities that offer a sense of place. Preference will be given to Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland residents with at least two years of professional work experience in some sector of the commercial real estate development industry.

Peterson Companies is dedicated to developing communities in the Washington, D.C., area that offer a sense of place. Whether enhancing existing neighborhoods, or developing from the ground up, Peterson Companies’ track record of creativity, problem solving and resilience is reflected in a portfolio bustling with life – and thriving.

Designed for professionals in real estate, Mason’s Masters in Real Estate Development is a cross-disciplinary masters degree in real estate development drawing on the expertise of faculty members within the School of Business, Schar School of Policy and Government, and Volgenau School of Engineering. The MS in Real Estate Development program provides students with the developer’s perspective on relevant issues, including civil engineering, finance, and public policy and prepares you to take a leading role.

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General Mon, 07 Aug 2017 08:49:08 -0400
Mason MBA Program is Catalyst for Recent Grad’s New Business Venture http://business.gmu.edu/news/1346-mason-mba-program-is-catalyst-for-recent-grad-s-new-business-venture http://business.gmu.edu/news/1346-mason-mba-program-is-catalyst-for-recent-grad-s-new-business-venture

DiamondWithin a month of earning his diploma, Ben Diamond launched his new business, Big and Strong™, and he largely credits the Mason MBA degree, and specifically the faculty, with this success.

Big and Strong is a new line of modern athletic apparel made with the highest quality, state-of-the-art materials for bigger and stronger men. Sizes XL and up is all they do.

Diamond completed his degree requirements at the end of June 2017, and his new Big and Strong website went up and apparel arrived from overseas a few weeks later. According to Diamond, the initial roll-out consisted of two athletic shorts, one pair of pants, 10 different active wear shirts, and three different baseball caps.

The idea for the company came to Diamond while he was going door-to-door with his landscaping business as an undergraduate student. He noticed bigger guys and wondered about the athletic market for them. “Think of Nike and Under Armour. Great clothes, but they didn’t make clothes to fit bigger guys, only focusing on the athletic market.” He thought, could this be an untapped market?

Fast forward five years, and Diamond found himself in Mason’s MBA program with the itch to start his own business and the idea of larger athletic-wear still floating around his mind.

“My dad and I had been kicking around ideas for years, and this one stuck.” Diamond’s dad, Michael Diamond, is his business partner. “My dad works on the nuts and bolts while I focus on the marketing.”

Diamond said a little less than a year into the MBA program, he started to expand on the idea. “We came up with the name, got a few graphic designs made, and used my marketing class to flush out the brand more. The MBA program got me thinking about business in a different way.”

This is when his MBA and his business became intertwined.

Diamond credits many of his professors for what he’s learned along the way and for the support they gave him. “Starting a business is a very nervous time so it really helped to have the support of the Mason faculty.”

Diamond realized his Mason education was helping with his career goals almost from day one with Professor Kravitz’s organizational behavior course. “I began thinking about strategy and tactics that I would employ if I was the boss, so my mindset began to change from employee to employer after exposure to managerial techniques with Professor Kravitz. “

With each class, his ideas continued to grow. But it was in Professor Jessica Hoppner’s marketing management course thatBig and Strong model he really developed his business idea. “The final was to come up with a business idea and present a marketing plan to the class in ‘Shark Tank’ format. I seized this opportunity to leverage this project to flesh out the Big and Strong brand.”

“Big and Strong went from a rough idea to a thoroughly fleshed-out brand and was extremely well-received in the Shark Tank exercise, boosting my confidence that the brand could really take hold. This project was critical.”

In Professor Jim Wolfe’s entrepreneurship course, Diamond did a feasibility study to determine if his idea could be a profitable business. Wolfe’s verdict was concurrent with Diamond’s analysis that the business had potential to be profitable in this untapped market. “Professor Wolfe validated everything that I'd been developing over the course of the previous 18 months of the MBA program. It was like a stamp of approval, which felt really good.”

Throughout the MBA program, Diamond worked in software sales. He quit his job in November to concentrate on this business full-time. With no prior retail experience, Diamond has had to learn along the way. “We’ve designed this clothing line from the ground up. Professional photo shoots, building a team, thinking of partnerships...It’s been like landing a plane on an aircraft carrier in the dark,” said Diamond.

He used his software sales experience to cold call organizations and try to form partnerships. He made a deal with USA Weightlifting and is also the exclusive vendor of the Strongman Corporation.

“The experience of going through such a rigorous program with my peers will definitely be a lasting experience,” said Diamond. In such a tough life-situation (part-time grad school, working full time) you become so reliant and lean heavily on your peers. Close and lasting relationships develop, both personal and professional.”

For Diamond, both Big and Strong™ and his MBA degree have been two years in the works, and now he hopes the hard work has paid off with both graduation and his business launch. “The Mason MBA program has been a catalyst for this business to go live. And now they’re both happening at the same time.”

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General Thu, 03 Aug 2017 08:39:50 -0400