School of Business News http://business.gmu.edu/news Sun, 21 Sep 2014 11:34:17 -0400 MYOB en-gb From Military Police Soldier in Iraq to EMBA Outstanding Student http://business.gmu.edu/news/930-from-military-police-soldier-in-iraq-to-emba-outstanding-student http://business.gmu.edu/news/930-from-military-police-soldier-in-iraq-to-emba-outstanding-student

Alumnus Dennis N. Wagner has much to be proud of. After a successful twenty-year military career filled with service and performance awards, he can now add MBA graduate to his résumé. Wagner graduated just last month with honors from George Mason's Executive MBA Program, and was one of the first few students to receive the Outstanding Student Award for the Executive MBA Online Program, a new program that graduated its first class in 2013.Dennis Wagner

Students are generally named outstanding student because of the quality of their work and class participation. Yvonne Demory, assistant professor of business legal studies said, "Dennis has an exceptional work ethic and always strives for his best performance." He received an A+ in her class.

Since 2008, Wagner has served as a senior analyst at Analytic Services, Inc., a not-for-profit research and analysis institute supporting the federal government. While there, he has supported a number of Department of Defense policy and strategy development projects. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Wagner served as an Army Military Police Soldier retiring as a Master Sergeant.

Wagner gained extensive overseas experience while in the United States Army, spending four years in Germany, 3 years in Korea and 15 months in Iraq. While in Iraq, he assisted in developing the provincial-level Iraqi Police Department's reconstitution, improvement, and training covering 7 district headquarters and 57 local police stations that provide police support to over 1.5 million Iraqis in the province of Diyala. The police department consisted of more than 16,000 officers.

And even with that extensive global experience, for Wagner, the global residency program in Santiago, Chile was the one aspect of the Executive MBA program that he says will have the most lasting effect on him.

"What made the experience so impactful was that was the first opportunity I had to meet and interact with my classmates on a face-to-face basis. The breadth of experiences of my classmates and their commitment to excellence in their chosen professions was clearly evident, and it impressed upon me the caliber of students that the George Mason EMBA program attracts."

Wagner says he was surprised by the intensity of the program and found the capstone project both uniquely challenging and rewarding.

"Seven-week modules with a week off in between proved very rigorous—especially considering the depth of each course. Even the week break really never was one as we used that time to close out the previous courses while preparing for the next. Despite the pace, I especially enjoyed how the professors brought in real-world case studies to show how what we learned applied to the business world.

"In the capstone, however, instead of applying our knowledge and proposed solutions to theoretical or historical situations, we applied the course concepts to a real company with real issues. The idea that the company plans to use some of our recommendations going forward made that project very rewarding."

Wagner's next career move will be a transition away from government-related work. "I have worked for or around the government my entire life and would like to leverage my degree and broaden my horizons."

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General Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:33:07 -0400
Mason School of Business Jumps 10 Spots in Undergrad Rankings http://business.gmu.edu/news/927-mason-school-of-business-jumps-10-spots-in-undergrad-rankings http://business.gmu.edu/news/927-mason-school-of-business-jumps-10-spots-in-undergrad-rankings

The 2015 U.S. News & World Report "Best Undergraduate Business Programs" rankings were released today and this year George Mason's School of Business is ranked #62, up 10 spots from 2014. George Mason is tied in the rankings at 62 with several other notable schools including Baylor University, Northeastern University, Temple University, University of Richmond, and Villanova University.

This ranking places Mason's School of Business above the following Virginia schools: Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University which were both ranked at #113.

The improvement in the rankings is an indication not only of the hard work of the business school's faculty and staff to strengthen its programs to create career-ready graduates but also of the return-on-investment (ROI) that students find at George Mason University. The university has long touted its ROI for students, which was supported by a report published by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) that showed George Mason University's graduates were earning relatively higher incomes than graduates from other Commonwealth of Virginia institutions and also had lower expenditures for students.

George Mason is the nation's #6 university to watch on the list of "Up-and-Coming Schools" and the School of Business is also currently ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the following:

  • Mason's MBA program is ranked #68 on the "Best Part-time MBA" list
  • Mason's Online EMBA program is #75 on the "Best Online Graduate Business Program" list

To put these rankings in perspective, there are more than 13,000 schools worldwide that offer business programs. U.S. News & World Report considers nearly 500 AACSB-accredited business schools in the U.S. for these rankings.

View the full list of rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

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General Tue, 09 Sep 2014 09:10:02 -0400
Top Finance Grad Learns By Teaching http://business.gmu.edu/news/923-top-finance-grad-learns-by-teaching http://business.gmu.edu/news/923-top-finance-grad-learns-by-teaching

Prior to students' first classes, it is recommended many times at orientation that students make the most of their time in their degree program: participate in clubs, excel in their studies, enhance their learning through internships, attend school sponsored events, make use of the career and academic advisors available to them, and so on.

Lindskog Max 2014Rarely do students really heed this advice. Maximilian Lindskog, the 2014 Outstanding Finance Major and a mathematics minor who graduated summa cum laude in May 2014 not only listened but followed through on this advice, and walked away from Mason with many achievements and experiences to guide him along his career.

"We had a lot of extremely strong graduates this past May, but Max's name was consistently brought up by the finance faculty as our strongest," says Steve Pilloff, assistant professor of finance at Mason's School of Business.

Being named Outstanding Finance Major was only one of Lindskog's many accomplishments while at Mason. Outstanding Major awards are given to one graduating student who has excelled in their major and stood out from their peers. He was also elected to Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society for business students and the highest recognition a business student can received from an AACSB-accredited program. Lindskog was a member of the George Mason Investment Club, was named the finance area spring 2014 scholar and was a semi-finalist in the SOM 498 case competition, a competition among all undergraduate School of Business students where they use the skills learned in the program to analyze a business case and prepare an oral presentation identifying the key issues and providing recommendations for improving the company's competitive position. Students are judged by a panel of community business professionals.

"I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed and learned from participating in the SOM 498 case competition," Lindskog says. "It gives you a glimpse of what it will be like working on project teams in the real world, and was both fun and rewarding."

But his dedication to his studies wasn't his only success. Lindskog was also an undergraduate finance teaching assistant.

"I would say being a teacher's assistant for Dr. Pilloff's Finance 301 course had a lasting effect on me," says Lindskog. "It was interesting to see class from a teacher's perspective. It also reinforced my own learning of the material having to explain concepts to fellow students. Through this experience I felt like I was contributing to the Mason community."

Lindskog was such a popular teaching assistant that he had a loyal following of about a dozen or so students who would visit him during office hours. Pilloff says they had to get him a conference room to handle all the demand, as the small table in the finance suite wasn't big enough for everyone who wanted his help.

While at Mason, Lindskog also interned at Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, where he conducted research on return and risk outlooks for currencies and commodities and at Metropolitan Capital Strategies, where he tracked fund and client performance.

Lindskog recently started his new job as a research assistant in the Stress Testing section of the Banking Supervision and Regulation Division at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System but is already looking towards the future. He says, "One day I hope to pursue a research or portfolio management position within the asset management industry."

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General Tue, 26 Aug 2014 07:52:34 -0400
Prestigious Wolf Trap Internship Propels Mason Patriot to Success http://business.gmu.edu/news/921-prestigious-wolf-trap-internship-propels-mason-patriot-to-success http://business.gmu.edu/news/921-prestigious-wolf-trap-internship-propels-mason-patriot-to-success

Wolf TrapIan Mostrom was right where he wanted to be this summer—taking photographs of celebrities at the famed Wolf Trap venue.

George Mason University had two interns at Wolf Trap, who competed with 1,000 people for the 33 coveted slots that Princeton Review named as one of America's top 100 internships. Mostrom and fellow Patriot Alex Interlandi did different jobs at the venue but both came away with hands-on experience that they can take into the workforce.

Mostrom, who graduated this spring from George Mason, interned as the house photographer for Wolf Trap's Communications and Marketing Department in Vienna, Va. He spent the summer photographing the performances of Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Cee-Lo Green and others.

"I've never had the clearance to shoot big-name performances," says Mostrom, who has a bachelor's degree in fine arts with a concentration in photography. "It was a great experience for me."

Wolf Trap performanceHe was able to rent a high-quality telephoto lens from Wolf Trap to shoot the performances, giving him that professional edge. "They gave me the full opportunity to get the photos they needed and what I can use for my portfolio," Mostrom says.

But it wasn't all about the stars. As an intern, Mostrom says he was charged with capturing the Patron Experience. "It's a laid-back, fun experience," Mostrom says of patron visits to Wolf Trap. "You bring your own chair, you bring your own drink; it's what you make it."

Mostrom, a Springfield native, plans to return to Mason for the new Master of Science in Management program. He says he hopes the degree will help him manage the business aspect of being a photographer.

This article originally appeared in a longer format in the George Mason Univeristy News. Photos courtesy of Ian Mostrom.

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General Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:44:36 -0400
Affirmative Action Policies Can Increase Scrutiny for New Hires http://business.gmu.edu/news/920-affirmative-action-policies-can-increase-scrutiny-for-new-hires http://business.gmu.edu/news/920-affirmative-action-policies-can-increase-scrutiny-for-new-hires

Affirmative action policies in the workforce have increased diversity, while often stigmatizing the very workers the policies are designed to help, according to a George Mason University researcher.

david kravitzNew research, conducted by George Mason School of Business professor David Kravitz and colleagues from two other universities, finds that a deeper understanding of what triggers feelings such as resentment, stigmatization and "stereotype threat" can help companies prevent these negative reactions and make diversity efforts more successful.

The study, "The Stigma of Affirmative Action: A Stereotyping-Based Theory and Meta-Analytic Test of the Consequences for Performance," is scheduled for publication in the Academy of Management Journal this month. The Wall Street Journal reported on the research this week.

Kravitz and management professors Lisa Leslie of New York University and David Mayer of the University of Michigan built on previous studies that found that affirmative action recipients were viewed as less competent, which creates feelings of self-doubt for recipients.

The new research—based on a meta-analysis of 45 studies on the subject that includes 6,432 individuals—found additional drivers of the stigma that affirmative action program recipients face. For example, they are also viewed as competitors for company resources and therefore seen as less likeable by their colleagues, which can lead to negative assessments of their performance.

To counteract this effect, organizations should emphasize the qualifications of new hires, the researchers said, and allow the staff to know them as a person—their interests, hobbies, and such. Companies also should reinforce the message that a stronger, more diverse team helps the whole organization succeed.

"When a person is a member of a group targeted by an affirmative action plan, anyone who believes affirmative action involves preferences may not know why they were hired," Kravitz says. "Maybe they were hired because they're great. Or maybe the corporation wants to hit a target. To eliminate stigmatization, make sure everyone knows that the affirmative action program does not involve preferences and highlight the competence and credentials of the new hires."

Those hired through affirmative action programs also need to be reminded that they were selected for their qualifications and that others know of their qualifications.

None of the drawbacks made Kravitz and his colleagues conclude that companies should abolish affirmative action programs. Instead, they conclude that such programs should be implemented more effectively and also that positive outcomes, such as having high-level minority role models in business organizations, should be studied.

"One reaction might be we ought to eliminate affirmative action," Kravitz says. "But in-group bias is alive and well, and whoever the 'in' group is tends to favor others like themselves. It's a human characteristic, and affirmative action is needed to give members of underrepresented groups a real chance. It has had a positive impact."

This article was written by Preston Williams and originally appeared on the Mason News Desk.

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General Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:19:01 -0400
From the Eastern Block to the Western Front http://business.gmu.edu/news/919-from-the-eastern-block-to-the-western-front http://business.gmu.edu/news/919-from-the-eastern-block-to-the-western-front

An EMBA real-world immersion into history, culture, business and friendship

By Mike Hoke, EMBA '15, Assistant Vice President, First American Education Finance

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey." These powerful words by American author Pat Conroy aptly describe the significance of the late summer international residency for the Mason EMBA class of 2015.

Undoubtedly, no single experience from our graduate program will have a more lasting impact on us than our 10-day journey abroad with classmates. There's something profound that happens in the human mind when we travel into the unknown while sharing time and space with people who are still relatively unfamiliar to us. It creates a unique bonding experience.

We probably won't remember every fact from our textbooks or every lesson from our case studies, but I'm certain that we will remember even small details from our time in eastern and western Europe. As Conroy poetically offers, our minds truly will never break off from our journey.

From the very moment we arrived at Dulles airport, many of us had the opportunity to connect with people from class whom we don't normally get a chance to interact with. It's amazing how fast you can get to know someone over a beer in an airport bar. With the anticipation of the trip ahead and the long overnight flight upon us, we took this opportunity to begin cultivating new relationships with one another.

Warsaw

Poland isn't typically a place on everyone's travel list. Among our class, this was the first time any of us had ever stepped foot in Poland and into a former communist country. Although Poland is considered to be the most advanced of all eastern European countries, I still had my own preconceived notions about what I might expect. I pictured very old, out-of-date infrastructure and a general lack of the modern amenities I've come accustomed to here in the United States. I also anticipated challenges with the language barrier.

To my surprise, many parts or Warsaw reminded me of a U.S. city—tall, modern buildings, a clean and functioning transit system and many American brands that we're familiar with. At one point, we made our way through an indoor shopping area in downtown Warsaw and it felt like a modern mall in America. Additionally, we found that most Poles spoke some English, making communication less problematic than expected. Clearly some of my earlier assumptions were wrong.

Warsaw is a great mix of new, modern development and the old Warsaw that existed before WWII. By now, classmates were really bonding as friends. Nothing promotes camaraderie better than covering several miles on foot in a foreign city over a period of several hours!

emba-2015europe1emba-2015europe2

The real heart and soul of the city can be found in "Old Warsaw." Unlike the old towns here in the United States that might be a few hundred years old, some of Old Warsaw dates from the 13th century. For many of us, it was the first time we had seen this type of history. The old architecture, the cobblestone streets and the quaint cafes tucked into every back corner almost felt more like a movie set.

We met with some great companies in Warsaw and just like everything else we experienced, we were all very impressed with how modern and successful of these companies were. It was a real eye-opener to see first-hand the type of opportunity available in a country like Poland. From the American Chamber of Commerce (below left), to Orange Polska (cellular company), to Opel (GM in Poland) (below right), we were able to gain a thorough understanding of the current state of the Polish economy, including why certain types of businesses are so successful and what opportunities exist for the future.

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London

Unlike Poland, about half of our class had spent time in London on previous trips. This built-in knowledge made the transition to London much easier, as those with experience were able to provide advice on where to visit and what to avoid.

Most of our group opted to take a bus tour of the city. It was very reasonable, passed by all of the top sites in London and even included a river cruise. I chose to tour the city by bike. London has a very convenient bike share infrastructure in place. You simply swipe your credit card, pull your bike out of the rack and off you go. I enjoyed the freedom of being on a bike, touring at my own pace, and being able to get into areas that you can't get into with a vehicle. It was great to meet up with the rest of the group later and compare our two experiences. From Big Ben and the Tower of London, to the old pubs that have been around since the 1500s, London had something for everyone.

emba-2015europe5emba-2015europe6 

Similar to our visits in Poland, we were able to meet with high level executives from a very diverse group of companies. From the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (below left), to a small digital marketing company (Profusion) to StubHub, an American Company trying to make headway in Europe with their main office in London, we were able to get some great insight into doing business in the UK and Europe.

My preconceived notion was that commerce in the UK, or in Western Europe in general, would be very similar to how we do business here in the United States. I soon found out that things do work very differently. At StubHub (below right), for example, they're dealing with cultural resistance to the idea of remarketing tickets for sporting events. In some countries such as Germany, it's frowned upon to resell tickets. At Profusion, where they use complex data to provide clients with information that can be applied real-time to various marketing campaigns, they only operate in English-speaking countries. Trying to translate complex sets of data into other languages is very difficult.

All of the companies we met with talked about the importance of personal relationships in doing business in the UK and in Europe.

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Returning Home & Final Thoughts

It's funny, as amazing as our trip was, there's nothing like traveling abroad to make you realize how much you appreciate living in the United States and how much you miss the things you're used to. By the end of our trip and after eating fish and chips a few too many times, most of us were ready to get back to our families, go watch a baseball game, eat a hot dog and drive around in a big SUV.

Additionally, it's hard to understand the value of a trip like that until you've had time to come back home, readjust and let everything sink in. Since our early August return, I find myself thinking about some aspect of the trip almost every day.

I certainly have a new perspective on the parts of the world that we traveled to and, more importantly, on how those people live, how the cultures function and how business operates there. If faced with an international business opportunity or challenge in my current job or at a future job, I can say with certainty that I feel much more confident now in my ability to tackle those challenges than I did before the trip.

Given how brief the trip was in the larger context of international business, I know that might sound somewhat shortsighted or even naive, but you've got to start somewhere, right? If nothing else, this trip has sparked my curiosity in future international travel, both for business and for pleasure.

New and Lasting Friendships

At the end of the day, everything we do in business and in our jobs is about people and our ability to form relationships with people. All of the great companies we were able to visit would not have been as interesting if we had not been able to share those experiences with our classmates. The EMBA residency has helped us develop a unique class culture and, for that reason, the EMBA global residency is invaluable.

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General Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:47:42 -0400
Consumer Electronics Show Becomes Live Case Study http://business.gmu.edu/news/913-consumer-electronics-show-becomes-live-case-study http://business.gmu.edu/news/913-consumer-electronics-show-becomes-live-case-study

Students to Learn First-Hand about Emerging Technologies and Business Models

Imagine starting your graduate program with an immersion into a range of emerging technologies exhibited in 2 million square feet of space, hosted by more than 3,600 global companies, and including approximately 20,000 new product announcements. This is how the incoming Masters in Technology Management cohort will begin the 16-month journey through their graduate program!

CES article1Their first "classroom" experience will include the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in Las Vegas as a live, case study environment for the HiTech Business Models course. The students will spend three days at CES exploring the exhibits for technologies big and small, evaluating their likely impact, considering alternative innovative use of these technologies, and examining their business context. They will meet face-to-face with the exhibitors who are leading technology innovators and learn about the emerging technologies and innovations in key market segments such as automotive electronics, computing, telecommunications and infrastructure, robotics, sensors, wearables, and 3D printing.

"CES is the most influential technology event of the year," says J.P. Auffret, director of Executive Degree Programs. "It provides invaluable exposure to cutting-edge product launch demonstrations and keynote addresses by CEOs from major technology companies."

The long list of products first announced at CES includes: the VCR, CD player, HDTV, Microsoft Xbox, digital satellite systems, driverless car technology, and IP TV. Increasingly, CES also has a focus on industry verticals such as technology in cars and technology in healthcare.

The goal is to use this residency course as a vehicle to learn about:

  • Emerging technologies, technology evolution and innovation
  • Potential applications of these technologies
  • The impact of emerging technologies on business models
  • The role of platforms and standards in technology product strategy
  • Marketing and branding strategies
  • Technology's impact on consumers, industry and society

"I can't think of a better way to introduce the students to our program, which couples business skills with technology knowledge," says Kumar Mehta, academic director of the Master's in Technology Management program, who will be leading the course. "We expect this initial technology immersion to provide a rich foundation for the entire 16-month program, which is not just about legacy and traditional IT but also about how emerging technologies will create challenges and opportunities for different organization's IT leaders."

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General Mon, 11 Aug 2014 07:17:16 -0400
Meeting Changing Needs: Executive MBA Program Offers Critical Infrastructure Track http://business.gmu.edu/news/912-meeting-changing-needs-executive-mba-program-offers-critical-infrastructure-track http://business.gmu.edu/news/912-meeting-changing-needs-executive-mba-program-offers-critical-infrastructure-track

To meet an urgent need to prepare leaders to safeguard industries vital to U.S. national security, George Mason University in spring 2015 will offer a Critical Infrastructure Protection and Management track as part of its Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program.

This innovative new track is not found at any other accredited university in the country. Offered in partnership with Mason's Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, the curriculum answers an impassioned call to develop knowledgeable and visionary executives who can lead the effort to protect our vital resources.infrastructure-powerplant

A 2013 Presidential Policy Directive made clear the pressing need to strengthen and maintain secure and resilient critical infrastructure within 16 high-risk sectors, including communications, energy, health care, transportation and critical manufacturing.

"Increasingly, we are getting wake-up calls about threats to crucial infrastructure," says J. P. Auffret, director of executive degree programs in the School of Business. "A recent example occurred in California when snipers opened fire on electric grid components of a power station, almost causing a blackout. Much of our physical infrastructure—electric power grids, water supplies, bridges and tunnels—remains unprotected. In addition, computer-based attacks pose significant danger because more and more of our control systems are connected to the Internet."

The new offering will cover risk analysis and management, systems analysis and cyber security. It is tailored to furthering the education of private-sector professionals, as well as government leaders and military professionals, tens of thousands of whom live and work in the Washington, D.C., area.

In the Mason program, National Capital region professionals on both sides of the public-private divide will be able to interact on critical infrastructure protection issues. Students will take part in domestic residencies in which they will meet for four days with government policy makers, government executives and private industry leaders to study contemporary infrastructure business issues and develop solutions to better secure the nation's critical infrastructure.

Cooperation and communication are fundamental to effective national security; no single level or department of government has total jurisdiction over infrastructure protection and its complexities. The Critical Infrastructure Protection and Management track in the EMBA program will cultivate skills that emphasize business efficiency through interagency coordination. The courses are oriented to strategy, policy and leadership for those who will lead critical infrastructure security efforts.

"Our goal is to fully prepare the individuals who will lead our country's efforts to secure assets, systems and networks that underpin American society," Auffret says.

The new track, which complements the existing global and national defense tracks in the EMBA program, will consist of five courses integrated into the standard 18-month, 51-credit curriculum. Courses are offered in class or online.

This article was written by Preston Williams and originally appeared on the Mason News Desk.

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General Wed, 06 Aug 2014 08:03:38 -0400
From Idea to Marketplace: Students Unveil Products http://business.gmu.edu/news/910-from-idea-to-marketplace-students-unveil-products http://business.gmu.edu/news/910-from-idea-to-marketplace-students-unveil-products

The first budding entrepreneurs to emerge from the Mason Innovation Lab presented their new products and services at Patriot Demo Day 1.0 on Friday, August 1, in Enterprise Hall, Room 278.

The event, which also featured as panelists George Mason University alumni who now operate their own successful businesses, ran from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The ventures of the lab's students ran the gamut: gourmet tea, mobile device accessories, computer equipment to assist children with autism, a valet parking service on college campuses, a social media marketing firm and others.

"It's undergrad, it's graduate students, it's alumni, it's people with full-time jobs, part-time jobs―it's a lot of what we hoped for and hypothesized might happen," says David J. Miller, the lab's director. "We're happy. We've seen some good things. We've seen success from students in liberal arts, humanities and social sciences, and engineering students as well as business students."

The lab, which opened this summer in the School of Business, helps current and former George Mason students pursue their ideas by providing work space, mentorship and stipends to support projects from the idea stage through the operational stage.

The lab hosted 11 teams for its inaugural session this summer. The students that presented on Friday had the opportunity to demonstrate their products for business professionals in attendance and also receive feedback from three former Mason students who created their own companies.

Raymond Rahbar, BS Finance '04, is the founder and CEO of UberOffices, a company that leases co-working office space around the Washington, D.C., area. Carla Valdes, BA Communication '10, is the founder of Handpressions, a digital gift and keepsake business. Brandon Labman is the CEO of Responsible Outgoing College Students (ROCS), a staffing and recruiting services company that he co-founded when he was a Mason freshman.

"They're all meant to be role models," Miller says. "Here are all these people under 35 who have done pretty good things in a short period of time."

This article appeared in a similar version on the Mason News Desk.

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General Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:05:20 -0400
Launch of Company Leads Undergraduate Down Bridal Path http://business.gmu.edu/news/903-launch-of-company-leads-undergraduate-down-bridal-path http://business.gmu.edu/news/903-launch-of-company-leads-undergraduate-down-bridal-path

As a management major, George Mason University senior Steven Gaudaen knows plenty about mergers―particularly partnerships that involve an exchange of vows as well as assets.

Gaudaen co-founded Pop! Wed Co., a business that performs "pop-up" weddings, marriage ceremonies that fall somewhere between a traditional wedding and an elopement.

PopUpWedding1With a semester left as an undergraduate, Gaudaen, 24, already is helping to run an enterprise that has been featured in the Washington Post and on NPR. Like many of his lovestruck clients, he has been swept off his feet by a force he could not see coming.

"We knew people would be excited when they heard about the company, we just didn't think they would start hearing about it as quickly," says Gaudaen, who is engaged to his business partner, Maggie Winters. "It's going to be pretty crazy with school starting back up."

Here's how a pop-up wedding works: The couple shows up at a pre-determined location in Washington, D.C., either alone or accompanied by their guests. Gaudaen, as a registered human celebrant, performs a legal wedding ceremony. The couple signs some paperwork, Winters photographs them around the site and an hour later, it's over.

The idea is that for $1,900, the couple and their guests have a pleasant wedding experience—in a memorable location that requires no booking or venue fees—and avoids all of the stressful trappings that can derail larger traditional ceremonies. Days later, Winters provides a photo album and the electronic photo files.

Gaudaen and Winters are accustomed to shaking rice out of their hair. They have photographed wedding ceremonies since they were in high school in Arlington, Va., including some elopement events in courthouses and other visually blah locations.

There had to be a way, they thought, to package a customized ceremony at a cool site in a visually appealing major city that they both know so well.

"We noticed an opportunity for us to do things to make it a little more special for the couples," says Gaudaen, who found a home at George Mason after first attending two other colleges, including Northern Virginia Community College. "We wanted to offer them something to make it a special day for everyone.

"You can still keep everyone involved and have a smaller wedding like this. It's not about getting lost at a giant party where you can't really see all your friends and family. This is more intimate."

PopUpWedding2Winters works full time as a designer at a digital agency in Washington, D.C., and Gaudaen is a full-time student in the School of Business, so they try to schedule two or three ceremonies on the same day to make running the company more manageable. The July dates booked fast and to meet demand they have added second dates for both August and September.

The pair have performed eight weddings and two vow renewals in Washington, D.C., since March, and Gaudaen recently completed the legal process to become a registered officiant in Virginia. He says he will not perform weddings in the commonwealth until the state changes its marriage equality laws.

To further take advantage of their Washington expertise, Gaudaen and Winters are considering expanding their business to arrange fun weekends for out-of-town couples who want to leave all the logistics and planning to someone else.

This whole Pop! Wed Co. experience should help Gaudaen in at least one class this fall. He is signed up to take Management 451. That's New Venture Creation—a course designed to explain the process of conceptualizing and starting a business.

This article was written by Preston Williams and originally appeared on the Mason News Desk.

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General Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:31:32 -0400