Students and Alumni
IQBAL U. AHMED | MARKETING
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Iqbal Ahmed is the founder-president of Austin Business Consulting. His firm specializes in marketing research, branding issues and Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) strategies. He has previously served as a Marketing Manager for OSS-Cube Inc., a Houston-based vendor of digital transformation solutions to start-ups. He has also served as a licensed Broker for Fidelity Investments and Wells Fargo, offering financial solutions to their high-net-worth clients.
Iqbal holds a BS in Biology (Honors Thesis) from the UT-Arlington, and an MS in Microbiology from UT - Tyler. His master’s thesis was funded by the American Heart Association. He returned to UT- Arlington to earn his MBA (Finance). with a specialization in Finance. Iqbal’s research interests focus on how consumers interact with AI devices. Specifically, he is examining how social robots may be used to address the interactional needs of consumers who experience loneliness due to social exclusion or self-imposed selectivity reflecting interactional preferences.
AKWASI AMPOFO Ph.D. '21 | ACCOUNTING & INFORMATION SYSTEMS
COHORT 2 | CHAIR: REZA BARKHI
Akwasi Ampofo is VP of Financial Reporting and Accounting Policy at Prudential Financial Inc. He advises senior management and coordinates with external auditors on technical accounting matters in complex transactions and interacts with domestic and international regulators in setting accounting standards and implementing new rules. He has represented Prudential at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), and the Big 4 Insurance Accounting Forums. Previously, Akwasi was an AVP at MassMutual, and project manager at the FASB. As an Adjunct Professor at the U. Connecticut, School of Business Akwasi has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting and Finance for over 15 years.
A member of the Insurance Experts Panel of the AICPA, Akwasi holds a BS in Business Accounting from Lincoln University, UK, a MBA in Finance from the U. of Baltimore, and a DBA in Accounting from Nova Southeastern. He is a licensed CPA, Fellow Chartered Certified Accountant (FCCA), and holds an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the MIT Sloan School. His research interests include financial statement analysis, value relevance of financial accounting standards and firms’ capital structure decisions. He has presented his work at the AAA annual conferences and published in the Accounting Forum, and the Journal of Business & Economic Research. His doctoral research focuses on the interaction of ethical corporate citizenship and CEO power on firm outcomes.
QUENTIN BALDWIN | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 5 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT
Quentin Baldwin joined Virginia Tech in 2018 as Senior Project Manager, Office of the VP. In this role, Quentin has conceptualized, built and managed Reimagining diVersiTy with a focus on strategic direction and institutional collaboration. Reimagining diVersiTy is a transdisciplinary university-wide research effort to collate diversity, inclusion and human-centered technology solutions at Virginia Tech using data on underrepresented minority recruitment and retention gaps. He started as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua where he embraced relationship-building skills that have enabled him to navigate variable corporate cultures.
With global lived-experiences across Central and South America, and the Caribbean, Quentin served as a Management Consultant for small and medium-sized enterprises, establishing a project management infrastructure that spanned 15 Caribbean islands, and provided opportunity to engage with diplomats in North-and South America and Europe. Upon his return to the US. Quentin’s doctoral research interests focus on diversity and institutional logics. He holds a B.A. from Howard University and a MA in Latin America Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
PETER (PETE) BANKS | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 2 | CHAIR: DR. ALAN ABRAHAMS
Peter Banks is a senior logistician supporting the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program. Previously he was a managing partner for Sloth Acres, a sustainable, organic farm outside of Tulsa, OK, that provided the highest quality organic food for customers throughout Northeast Oklahoma. Previously, Peter was a production manager for CPKelco, the world’s premier hydrocolloid manufacturer, at their Okmulgee, OK plant, with responsibilities for training employees and ensuring compliance with production and safety standards throughout this large pharmaceutical plant.
Peter is also a 12-year army veteran, with three deployments to the Middle East. During his military career Peter served as an Air Defense Officer and a Civil Affairs Team Leader. His professional military education includes advanced linguistics studies in Modern Standard Arabic and advanced Middle Eastern cultural training. Peter holds a BA degree in History from Virginia Tech, and an MBA (Entrepreneurship concentration) from Oklahoma State. His doctoral research interests focus on innovation, crowdsourcing, and natural language processing.
CELESTE BELL | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT but works with DR. BILL BECKER
Celeste Bell currently serves as Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Deutsch NY, a full service creative agency based in New York City, where she leads all HR activities and drives structural and strategic change management initiatives. Celeste has a wealth of experience in building equitable policies, procedures and practices that deliver and positively impact diverse groups of talent. Most of Celeste’s career experience was with Major League Baseball, where she was instrumental in the digital evolution of the organization. A crucial focus at MLB was on recruitment efforts around technology, engineering, and media, creating employee programs for the purpose of development, engagement and retention and establishing partnerships with forward-thinking organizations like All Star Code, Girls Who Code and ScriptEd/CodeNation to build diverse pipelines. Prior to joining Deutsch, she handled talent acquisition at Publicis Media.
Celeste holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Development from New York University as well as a Certificate in HR Analytics from Cornell. She’s interested in pursuing research in the areas of future of work, diversity and inclusion and leadership.
BEATRIZ LOPEZ BONETTI | MARKETING
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. MARIO PANDELAERE
Beatriz L. Bonetti is currently a Busch School Scholar-Practitioner Fellow at The Catholic University of America where she teaches mainstream courses in marketing. She is also a Media Fellow for The Institute for Human Ecology. She joined Catholic University in 2011 as the program director the M.A. degree in Integral Economic Development sand has served as Director of Public Relations for the Busch School. She started her career in logistics, managing production and export sales within the Mills and Cardboard Division of Smurfit-Kappa Venezuela. Beatriz is also experienced in conducting marketing and consumer research for companies like Nielsen Media Research and startups in the pro-social space.
Beatriz holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the Universidad Tecnológica del Centro in Venezuela and a M.S. (Marketing) from Johns Hopkins. Her dissertation research examines whether incidental sensory stimuli, paired with a product, influence product evaluations. For her dissertation, she also developed an Ordinary Beauty Attentiveness Scale which specifically measures the degree to which a person sees the beauty of simple, ordinary, everyday things and people.
DAVID W. CHINN
David W. Chinn is pursuing his PhD at Virginia Tech, where he also serves as the Director of Finance and Planning in Student Affairs. In this role he is responsible for managing budgets in excess of $200 million across the Division of Student Affairs including the nationally recognized Dining Services, Housing and Residence Life, Dean of Students, Cranwell International Center, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Conduct, Student Engagement and Campus Life and others. He is responsible for the oversight of the Student Affairs Capital Design and Construction efforts which currently include three major renovations and one new construction project with a combined budget of $194 million.
Previous roles in his sixteen years working for Virginia Tech include oversight and management of a team of 120 housekeepers, maintenance technicians and renovation staff and their $5 million budget as well as capital construction project management where his projects were recognized at the local, state and national level for excellence such as the Beamer-Lawson Indoor Practice Facility. Numerous other projects received recognition from Engineering New Record, American Institute of Architects as well as LEED certification through the US Green Building Council. Prior to Virginia Tech, David worked for multiple General Contractors and Architect & Engineering firms in Virginia. David earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Civil and Environmental Engineering and later returned to Virginia Tech earning a Master of Business Administration. He is licensed Professional Engineer (PE), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C) and Design-Build Institute of America Professional (DBIA). He has previously taught in the Pamplin College of Business and is a regular guest lecturer at Virginia Western Community College. He loves meeting with and working with students to hear first-hand how he and his team can improve the student experience. David is a husband and father to two fantastic daughters who he routinely challenges to try something new, especially new foods.
MARIAH DAR | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT but works with DR. A.K. WARD
Mariah Dar is an Associate Professor of Accounting at John Tyler Community College, which falls under the umbrella of Virginia Community College Systems (VCCS). She has extensive experience in higher education, teaching a variety of accounting classes, course development using Blackboard and Canvas LMS systems and standardizing classes to ensure easier transfer to 4-year schools. She’s currently involved with the Transfer VA initiative, which allows for transparency and access throughout the college transfer process. In addition to that, she assists with the on-line MBA program at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) assisting faculty in their respective management and accounting classes. Previously, she worked in the capacity of a Business Manager at TAMUCC, where she was involved in budget development, scheduling, program funding, AACSB accreditation and day-to-day operations of the business school. Mariah has also assisted the co-author (and former Dean of the College of Business), Dr. John Gamble with updating of cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy and Essentials of Strategic Management textbook. Some companies researched in the process were Costco, Southwest Airlines, Xerox and TOMs.
Mariah holds a Bachelors of Commerce – Accounting degree from Ryerson University and Masters of Accountancy (MAcc) from Texas A&M University. Her research interests include issues/discoveries that have arisen from the pandemic more specifically employer-employee relationship and communication. Organizational identity and culture are also some areas of interest as we move from or towards work-from-home/Hybrid/in person settings in light of employee productivity.
PAULA DARLING | MARKETING
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. MARIO PANDELAERE
Paula Darling is the CEO of Applied Performance Analytics Corp. Her company focuses on the financial services, higher education, compliance, and portfolio management sectors. She has 25+ years of experience working with enterprise-level corporations and institutions performing process analysis, developing software platforms to aggregate and analyze data, and creating visualizations for presentations and decision-support. Her business research experience spans contexts such as corporate performance assessments, credit and lending operations, and corporate acquisitions. She has also served as VP, Risk Management and Acquisitions at GE Capital, and COO and Portfolio Manager for EduCap, an education finance lender.
Paula holds a bachelor's degree from Auburn University, an MBA from Averett College, and has taken post-graduate courses at Cornell University for a certificate in strategic financial reporting. She has been an instructor in business and analytics for 18 years and has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at Columbia University, University of Maryland and Marymount University. Her research interests lie in consumer financial decision-making, factors underlying choice of debt-mitigation strategies, and institutional risk and credit policy.
GODWIN DIKE | MARKETING
COHORT 6 | CHAIR: N/A
Godwin Dike is currently the Lead Contract Price/Cost Analyst at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA’s GSFC). He began his career as an Analytical Chemist for Praxair Electronics in the semi-conductor industry. He also served as an Analytical Chemist and as a Quality Assurance Auditor for Pharmanet Development Group, Inc. Prior to joining NASA, Godwin was a Civilian employee of the United States Air Force (USAF). He served with several USAF divisions as a Contract Specialist and as a Contract Price/Cost Analyst where he was involved in major acquisitions of aircrafts, aircraft simulators, aircraft training, weapons, weapon systems and weapon software.
Godwin earned a BS in Chemistry from The City College of the City University of New York (CCNY-CUNY) and an MBA from The University of Toledo. Godwin is also a graduate of Air University’s Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) and holds advanced professional certifications in defense acquisitions. His research interests include incomplete contracts, consumer behavior regarding renewable energy, consumer financial decision making, and the environmental impact of marketing strategies.
ABDOULAYE DIOMANDE | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. CHRIS ZOBEL
Abdoulaye Diomande is an Acquisition Specialist at Naval Medical Logistics Command. He previously served at DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) and at DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency) as Contract Specialist and Contract Administrator. He is currently certified DAWIA (Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act) level II. He had intensive years of experience working in Côte d’Ivoire in construction and land development sector as Business Engineer and Sale Representative.
Abdoulaye Diomande holds a Bachelor and a Master in Marketing and Sale from Université de Cocody in Côte d’Ivoire. He also holds an Executive MBA from Jack Welch Management Institute/Strayer University (Suitland, MD), a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA), and a Graduate Certificate in Government Contracting from Webster University (Washington, DC).
Abdoulaye Diomande’s research interests focus on Operations Management specifically in Service Design, Quality Management, and Project Management.
Deanna Doan is enabling partner and co-founder of Eleccion LLC. She has more than 20 years of corporate leadership and consulting experience, with expertise in emerging organizational practices, tools, and methodologies. Prior to founding Eleccion, she was vice president at Allegheny Science & Technology, managing a diverse portfolio of programs across the Intelligence and DoD markets. Deanna served in a number of management and advisory roles at Northrop Grumman and TASC (now SAIC), including advising senior intelligence community leaders on strategic planning, process improvement & communication initiatives.
Deanna is a member of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) Technology & Innovation Council. In addition, she serves on the board of directors for Sliding Doors STEM and Dyslexia and Fairfax Futures, where she chairs the Development committee. Previously, she served 5 years as Chair the Title I Parent Advisory Committee Executive Board for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Deanna holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Operations Research from George Mason University. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Lean Six Sigma green belt.
RICHARD ESSIG Ph.D. '21 | MARKETING
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: MARIO PANDELAERE
Richard Essig currently serves as the Head of Advice Offer Strategy at The Vanguard Group with responsibility for the go-to-market strategy for Vanguard's first Fintech SaaS business. Prior to joining Vanguard, Richard was the founder and CEO of Hubble Financial, an information technology company that provides business intelligence to the financial services and insurance industry. Previously, Richard held a variety of commercial leadership roles in corporate strategy, marketing, and sales in the financial services and healthcare industries.
Richard holds a B.S. in Microbiology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, a M.S. in Finance from the University of Delaware, and an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Richard serves as an adjunct marketing faculty member at his alma mater, West Chester University and is an executive mentor at The University of Delaware. In his spare time, Richard enjoys being outdoors, chess, photography and supporting Philadelphia sports team. Richard is a Marketing major focusing on consumer behavior. His research explores topics including, product ratings, persuasion and firm size.
JESS MISNER GEORGE
Jess Misner George is the Co-Founder and CEO of zestt organics. She has led the textile brand through its ecommerce growth, wholesale distribution expansion and partnership strategy, including programs with National retailers Nordstrom and Crate and Barrel. She also manages the company’s social and sustainability efforts and GOTS certification. Prior to starting zestt organics, Jess was the Founder and Principal of Knovex, an eLearning consulting firm that served mid-market and government agency clients. She sold the company to AFMS, Inc. in 2014.
In addition to her entrepreneurial pursuits, Jess has served as the Leadership Coordinator for Lehigh University’s student leadership development program and as an adjunct professor in Marketing, Leadership and Project Management for Central Penn College and the American Universities in Asia program, hosted by Tsinghua University. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from James Madison University, a master’s degree in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania and a Professional Certificate in Project Management from Lehigh University. Her research interests include entrepreneurial mindset, social entrepreneurship, and behavioral models of entrepreneurial persistence.
MAHBLEETA GRANT | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT but works with DR. A.K. WARD
Mahbleeta Grant is the Director of IT Professional Services at Howard University, Washington, DC. She is responsible for setting strategic direction for a number of IT departments for the university, including Academic Computing, Desktop Support, and Help Desk Services. In this role, she works closely with the deans and administrators of the thirteen schools and colleges of Howard U. She also manages the University’s strategic partnership with Xerox, an initiative that optimizes the University’s print services. An experienced IT Project Manager, Mahbleeta has established and managed a Project Management Office (PMO), renovated IT (labs) spaces, and upgraded nearly 200 of the academic classrooms into smart classrooms. Currently, she is also the Academic Lead for all IT matters regarding faculty.
Mahbleeta holds a B.A. in Communications and an MBA from Howard University. She is also a certified project management professional. As a two-time graduate of Howard University, Mahbleeta transitioned from her previous consultant role to becoming a full-time employee of Howard University in 2013 and was responsible for the automation of mission critical financial business processes. Her primary research interests lie in Management, specifically employee socialization and entrepreneurship and assessing the impact of mentorship in diverse organizations.
PHILIP GREEN | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT but works with DR. DAN BEAL
Philip David Green is currently the Head of Finance for YouTube TV which is the leading virtual live streaming television service in America. He has over 14 years of finance experience spanning across multiple industries. He first joined Google in 2017 as a finance lead for Google’s real estate and workplace services organization where he was responsible for managing California real estate acquisitions. He is an active member of both the Black Googler Network and Blacks@YouTube employee resource groups and has a passion for increasing the pipeline of diverse professionals at Google. Prior to joining Google, Philip held a variety of finance roles in the oil & gas industry.
Philip has both a B.S. in Business Administration and MBA from Florida A&M University (FAMU). Outside of work he enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife and three kids.
HOWARD HAINES | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. DAVID TOWNSEND
Howard Haines is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Virginia Tech's Management Department. Previously, he was Associate Director of Virginia Tech's Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, overseeing new venture development cross-campus, and helping support Virginia Tech’s Top 25 national ranking in Entrepreneurship. He assists with project-based and experiential curriculum development across campus, reflecting a passion for supporting experiential learning and entrepreneurship that addresses societal problems sustainably and profitably. Earlier, he played similar roles on the Univ. of S. Dakota faculty. He has advised many start-ups, started several of his own, and helped develop multiple accelerator programs both in the private and academic sectors.
Howard holds a B.A. in Human Resource Mgmt. from the Utah State and an MBA from Brigham Young. He also earned an Education Specialist degree in Learning Sciences and Instructional Technology from Utah State with research on how novice entrepreneurs learn to be successful as well as how to scale online experiential entrepreneurship education. Howard’s primary research interests are in nascent entrepreneurship. His dissertation examines how entrepreneurs make sense of ambiguous information in order to develop business ideas. His other projects include cognitive task analysis with experienced entrepreneurs to unpack the decision process for starting new ventures.
STEPHEN (STEVE) HOOD Ph.D. '21 | MARKETING
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Steve Hood has over fifteen years of experience as an intelligence officer for the United States Army, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). He is currently a Research Fellow at the Ann Caracristi Institute for Intelligence Research at National Intelligence University under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. His work there focuses on risk and how to improve integration of Artificial Intelligence agents in an expert analytic workforce.
Stephen received his B.A. in English from the University of Southern California in 2003. He holds a M.A. in Theology and Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2006, and an MBA from Virginia Tech in 2017. Steve’s research focuses on consumer bidding behavior in auctions is influenced by assessments of own and competitor expertise and how contingent wins and losses influence product valuations. Starting in 2018, Steve has presented his research at multiple INFORMS Marketing Science Conferences.
JAMES (JIM) JEWETT | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 2 | CHAIR: DR. PAUL LOWRY
Jim Jewett is an adept Agile Coach for the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT), a global member-owned cooperative that provides secure financial messaging solutions for over 11,000 financial institutions in 200+ countries. His role involves teaching and helping high-performing software development teams to use agile development principles to deliver value-added, customer-focused products. Currently, he is also engaged in an innovation project involving the application of different machine learning models. Jim is also a co-owner and manager of a grain farm in central Virginia for which he supervises daily operations as well as strategy and risk mitigation planning.
Jim holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems from the Univ. of Mary Washington, and a Masters in IT from VT. Jim's research interests are in business information technology. His dissertation addresses the impact of information technology workarounds in the context of massive system disruptions.
STEPHEN JUMA Ph.D. '21 | MARKETING
COHORT 2 | CHAIR: MARIO PANDELAERE
Stephen Juma is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Southern Arkansas University, Rankin College of Business. Stephen received a B.A. in Philosophy and International studies from Loyola University, Chicago, and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of Memphis. He earned his doctoral degree in Marketing from Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business. Stephen is passionate about start-up businesses and nonprofit organizations. He founded the Mercy Feeding Program outside of Kisumu, Kenya. The project provides lunch and clean water for students in the rural villages of Kenya. The community project model are set to be self-sustainable within one year. Stephen’s cooperate experience includes Southwest as an Analyst, FedEx as an auditor, and Cummins as a Marketing Analyst. Stephen’s research addresses shift in consumer mental states (specifically the causes and consequences of hope, curiosity, scarcity, and mindfulness) and how such shifts affect consumption decision-making both in the short and long term.
Shalaka Khot is a seasoned business expert with an impressive 15+ years of comprehensive experience within the IT industry. As a cornerstone in the foundation of TechnoMile, a leading software company, she gained multifaceted business experience and honed her entrepreneurial skills. Having steered the ship through the trials of establishing and nurturing a start-up, Shalaka possesses a profound understanding of the inherent challenges of entrepreneurship. Moreover, her leadership prowess enabled her to mentor and guide various teams throughout numerous projects.
Prior to her journey with TechnoMile, Shalaka amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience from multiple organizations within the sector. She holds a Master of Science from George Mason University and a Master of Business Administration from Nagpur University, both of which bolstered her capabilities in her pursuit of a PhD. Her multidisciplinary MS program, a collaborative endeavor by the Volgenau School of Engineering and the Schar School of Public Policy and Government, was perfectly aligned with her ambitious career aspirations.
Shalaka's MBA studies laid a robust foundation for comprehending intricate business management concepts, thereby shaping her professional trajectory. Further enriching her academic portfolio, she completed courses in Digital Marketing from Harvard University, and Advanced Web Page Design from Northern Virginia Community College.
Shalaka is recognized for her impeccable presentation skills, strategic acumen, and innovative ideation. She has a proven track record of deftly handling analytics and is experienced in utilizing analytical tools such as SPSS. She is equipped with proficiency in an array of software skills like SQL, Salesforce, ARIS, Hootsuite, and more. Currently, Shalaka is elevating her business management prowess at Virginia
Tech’s Executive PhD program, where she combines her dedication to research and study to further amplify her professional credentials.
GEORGE KOO | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 2 | CHAIR: DR. ALAN ABRAHAMS
George Koo is founder, CEO and CIO of Clearmark Partners, a SEC-registered investment advisory and management firm. Previously, he has served as CFO and Director of Investment Banking at Dahlman-Rose (now part of Cowen & Co., a NYC-based global investment banking and securities firm), as an investment banker with Burnham Securities and as a securities analyst at Oppenheimer. George started his career at Chase Manhattan (now JP Morgan-Chase) as a portfolio manager overseeing one of Chase’s largest mortgage securities portfolios. He has served as an instructor at Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch conducting courses in accounting, finance, and portfolio management and as an advisor to several public company boards and the US Treasury.
George holds a Master’s in International Relations from Harvard, as well as an MBA (Finance) and a BS (Accounting) from St. John's Univ. He has also received graduate certificates from NYU’s Stern Business School and the Harvard Business School. George also holds the CPA, CFA, and CGMA designations. George's research interests focus on Information Technology and Finance. He is developing his methodological research in artificial intelligence, deep learning, natural language processing, and expert systems.
RAJA KRISHNAN | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 5 | CHAIR: N/A
Raja Krishnan is Commercialization Manager for the Univ. of Kentucky (UK) Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). His responsibilities include assessment, marketing and licensing of IP focused on life sciences inventions from the Colleges of Pharmacy & Medicine. Previously, Raja was an IP manager at the IIT, Chicago OTC, and also spent 15+ years in pharmaceutical product development, leading the development through launch of several products. He has trained as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, holds a Regulatory and Quality Compliance Graduate Certificate from Purdue, and has the RAPS Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC). Raja has advised several startups, coached teams for, and judged business plan competitions. He is a graduate of Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad Program for Life Sciences and is a member of UK’s venture accelerator program review board.
Raja holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell, a MS in Pharmaceutics from Long Island U., a MS in Law from Northwestern, and an MBA from Notre Dame. Raja’s research interests focus on how the success of early-stage biopharma ventures depend on the prestige of the University from which the firm licenses technology. He is also interested in such companies search and source new innovations.
VARADARAJAN (VARADA) KRISHNASWAMY | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. CHRIS ZOBEL
Varadarajan Krishnaswamy has 20+ years of professional experience delivering business and technology solutions across various industries. He started his career implementing supply chain technology solutions in Hindustan Lever, India. As a technology engineer in the supply chain reengineering team, he was involved from concept to design, and contributed to change management, and to institutionalizing the ‘daily replenishment’ capability. These contributions drove his selection as advisor to senior leadership, CIOs, and the Board on critical programs. Varada’s expertise and interests span engineering, programming and large-scale software development, database management, applied innovation and product development, technology strategy, and human-computer interaction. His domain experience spans Financial Services, Education, Non-Profit, Consulting, eCommerce, Supply Chain, and Logistics.
Varada holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Communication from the University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering, India, Graduate Systems Management & Software Technology from NIIT in India, and an MBA from Virginia Tech. HIs doctoral research interests focus on business information technology applications to behavioral operations, assessing the financial impact of technology operations, and technical debt.
VANISHREE (VANI) LANCASTER | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 6 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT and works with DR. KAREN SCHNATTERLY
Ms. Vani Lancaster’s professional career spans over 21 years supporting the United States Government. As a Federal civilian, she is currently serving as a Senior Advisor within Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA) Enterprise Operations Center (DEOC), Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD(P&R)). As Chief, Enterprise Operations, she is responsible for strategic / business operations planning and enterprise integration of DEOC strategy, plans, shared programs and business services and associated strategic communications to the DHRA enterprise. She leads focused research and studies across DEOC to determine service delivery related process improvements and opportunities via Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) to effect mission performance improvement. Prior to this, she served as a Senior Advisor for Customer Assurance Services and Executive Officer to the Director of DEOC from October 2018 to May 2019. From April – September 2018, she served as the OUSD(P&R) and DHRA Component Records Officer and implemented a compliant records management program and resolved chronic records management issues.
Preceding her federal career, Ms. Lancaster founded WAY Technologies, LLC., in July 2005 and served as its Chief Executive Officer until April 2018. As an Independent Consultant, she concurrently delivered value added transformational services to the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of the Interior and other federal agencies during that timeframe. Her leadership and expertise in support of OUSD(P&R) in an Office of the Secretary of Defense / Chief Management Officer (OSD/CMO; formerly Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO))-led CPI study led to the DoD and VA Secretaries’ decision to create a Joint DoD/VA Electronic Health Record. She also contributed toward several key Deputy’s Management Action Group (DMAG) reform initiatives including the Defense Commissary and Military Exchanges Review via Defense Resale Business Optimization Board and Business Process and Systems Reviews for OUSD(P&R), DHRA and Department of Defense Education Activity resulting in effectiveness and efficiency of defense business operations. Ms. Lancaster earned her Master of Science in 1997 and Master of Science in Business Administration in 2000 from Mississippi State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science (Horticulture) degree in 1994 from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India. She lives in the City of Falls Church, VA with her husband and young daughter.
AARON LYVERS | MARKETING
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Aaron Lyvers has over 18 years of experience in higher education administration and finance. For the past 12 years Aaron worked in higher education at Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar and most recently at George Mason University Korea. At George Mason University-Korea, he served as the Chief Financial Officer and Controller and was responsible for Finance, Human Resources, Student Accounts and Institutional Planning.
Aaron received his B.B.A. from James Madison University and holds a Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management with Distinguished Honors. Aaron’s research interests lie in the areas of managerial and consumer judgement and decision making in marketing contexts. As part of his dissertation research, he is examining factors that drive managerial and consumer use of decision support algorithms.
STEPHANIE MARVIN | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. TABITHA JAMES
Stephanie Marvin is a Senior Consultant at Cognizant where she uses her decade of experience in customer facing roles and product management education to design effective digital business solutions for a variety of clients. She graduated from Simon Business School with her MBA in May of 2022, focusing on Strategy Consulting, Product Management, Pricing, and Analytics. Stephanie is also a co-founder of Guild Me, a website focused on matching gamers together through a behavior algorithm with the overall purpose of reducing toxicity in the gaming culture.
Stephanie holds a B.A. in English; Creative Writing from Wells College in upstate New York. Her research interests include examining the effects of particular software features on the culture of its users, as well as understanding the specific behaviors and policies in video games that lead to toxicity. In her spare time, she plays video and board game or works on her never-ending pile of books to read.
DWAYNE MCGRAW | MARKETING
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: DR. DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Dwayne McGraw is Executive Vice President and Chief Actuary at Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company, Abilene, Texas. He has over twenty years of actuarial experience in the insurance industry and as an actuarial consultant to insurance companies. In his current role, Dwayne provides actuarial leadership for pricing, product development, implementation, in-force management and compliance accountabilities related all insurance products for Funeral Directors Life.
Dwayne is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and is member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Virginia Tech, an M.S. in Mathematics from Northeastern University and returned to the Pamplin School for his MBA. Dwayne's research uses behavioral economics principles to examine consumer purchases of insurance products. His dissertation focuses on the influence of mortality salience, and financial vulnerability on insurance purchases and how age moderates these behaviors. Another study examines how grief states moderate expenditure decisions on funeral services for loved ones.
JAMES MEERSMAN | ACCOUNTING & INFORMATION SYSTEMS
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. ANDREW ACITO & DR. ROB DAVIDSON
James Meersman is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA and teaches taxation and not-for-profit accounting courses. His educational research interests include self-regulated learning strategies for financial accounting students, case study implementation for upper-level accounting courses, and curriculum development for quantitative business analysis. Previously, he spent three years in public accounting, starting his career in Business Tax Services for KPMG in Houston providing business tax services involving both compliance and consulting. His consulting focused on R&D tax-credit studies and tax savings through domestic production activities for a client base that included multinational corporations and partnerships in various industries. James is also an instructor at KPMG’s Tax Business School, where he delivers an updated taxation curriculum to a range of KPMG professionals.
James holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a M.S. in Accounting from Texas A&M University. His research interests focus on corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. In addition, he is also interested in taxation and its role in both corporations and not-for-profit entities.
Susan Millward is the Chief Executive Officer of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Washington DC. Susan completed her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health in 1989 at the University of Wales, UK and her Master of Business Administration in 1992 at Cardiff University, UK. Susan started her career administering environmental legislation for local governments in the UK, progressing to work for the US Navy overseeing its compliance with UK environmental legislation at installations throughout the UK.
Susan moved to the United States in 1997 and became an environmental consultant in the private sector, working for engineering consulting firms, a university, and a marketing company. In 2003 she transitioned to the not-for-profit sector. For the past 20 years she has worked for AWI, starting as a research associate, then a program director, and progressing to executive director in 2008. In January 2023 Susan became the AWI executive director and CEO. With a staff of 26 and numerous consultants, AWI works to reduce the suffering of animals caused by people. Through engagement with policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public, AWI seeks to improve the lives of animals in farms, in the wild, in laboratories, in commerce and in homes. Susan also serves on the board of two additional not-for-profit organizations: Monitor Caribbean, which works to preserve the biodiversity of the Wider Caribbean region; and the Species Survival Network, which works to strengthen wildlife protections established through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Susan’s doctoral research focuses on analyzing the significant issues central to progressing the mandate of multi-lateral environmental agreements in a post-COVID-19 world.
MARK MONDRY | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT
Mark Mondry is Associate Director of Virginia Tech’s LAUNCH, The Center for New Ventures in the Office of the VP for Research & Innovation. He focuses on commercializing technology emerging from Virginia Tech research, directs a Proof-of-Concept early stage innovation fund, and mentors several faculty-led startups. Previously, he was a Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, and served as an Associate Teaching Professor and Director, Engineering & Technology Management Program at the Colorado School of Mines. Prior to joining academe, Mark focused on technology innovation and new ventures. He is a registered patent attorney and was a Partner in a Silicon Valley IP law and strategy firm. As an entrepreneur, Mark has founded several startups including one he helped guide to an IPO on NASDAQ. He has also been a senior executive and in-house counsel in the medical device, digital health, and electronics companies.
Mark earned his J.D. from the University of Maryland, his M.A.S. degree from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. from Miami University in Ohio. His research interests blend entrepreneurship, innovation, and strategy. His dissertation examines entrepreneurship across the macro, meso and micro levels and examines factors that drive entrepreneurial behavior in large U.S. public land grant research universities (including formal versus informal governance mechanisms). He has presented his research at the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference and the Blockchain Technology and Organizations Research Symposium.
BRIAN MORRIS | ACCOUNTING & INFORMATION SYSTEMS
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: DR. REZA BARKHI
Brian Morris is CFO, a member of the board of directors, and the executive committee for Tricon Energy (Tricon). Tricon has offices in 23 countries and is the world’s 3rd largest chemicals distribution company. Brian’s global team at Tricon exceeds 250+ people with all administrative functions reporting to him. This includes treasury, accounting, risk management, information systems, and tax. Brian joined Tricon in 2007 and prior to his current CFO role, served Tricon as Global Controller and Head of Finance. Previously, Brian worked in various finance and accounting functions in Big Four and Fortune 500 companies.
Brian is an active CPA in Texas, has a BBA in Finance and a MSA in Accounting from Grand Valley State. His research focuses on blockchain technology and its adoption in the financial services sector (specifically auditing). Integrating his research and practice, Brian recently led a team at Tricon that worked with large global banks and a large Indian company to complete the first trade finance blockchain transaction using an electronic BL. The transaction was highlighted in the Financial Times for its innovative features.
KENNETH (KEN) MUSIAL | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 5 | CHAIR: N/A
Kenneth “Ken” Musial is an Information Technology Portfolio and Financial Manager with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in Arlington, Virginia. He also manages financial audit readiness efforts for DSCA systems. Ken recently retired from the US Marine Corps after 25 years of service in operations manager and program manager roles with Infantry, Intelligence and Special Operations units. In recent years, he had managed defense acquisition programs and budgets for the Marine Corps, Special Operations Command and the DoD.
Ken holds a B.S in Telecommunications from the University of Florida and a MBA from East Carolina University. He holds certifications in Project Management and Financial Management. Ken’s research interests are IT Program and Portfolio planning, management and governance. He is also interested in measuring public sector efforts to migrate computing services and applications from on-premises data centers to cloud computing locations. His long-term goal is to contribute research that helps deliver Information Technology and Information System value to DoD and U.S. Government customers and stakeholders.
April Newcomer graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration from Radford University while working full-time and raising a son. At Radford, she also earned her Master of Science in Counseling and Human Development with dual concentrations in College Counseling and Student Affairs Administration. She was named the Outstanding Graduate for each concentration, one chosen by the faculty and the other by her peers. While completing her master's degree, she served as the Assistant to the Dean and the Communications Officer for Radford University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts, where she oversaw the rebranding of the college and constituent departments, modernized seven college websites implementing the new branding in terms of content, user experience, and navigation architecture; and devised a new comprehensive marketing strategy for the college. Her time in charge of the college’s entire online presence saw a significant increase in student recruitment, ticket sales, and performance attendance.
After graduating with her M.S., she worked as the Assistant Director of Advising in Radford University’s Pre-Major Advising Center, serving the largest population of incoming students on campus annually. She was an early pioneer of the flipped academic advising model that is used ubiquitously today. She currently serves as the Academic Advising and Enrollment Manager for Virginia Tech’s Department of Geosciences (GEOS) where she works with all GEOS students through their entire student life cycle, from undergraduate recruitment to PhD career launch. She has designed and instituted a new research-based advising model, served on multiple critical department committees, and strategically implemented principles of culture change within the department. Her time in GEOS coincided with increased student engagement, participation in co-curricular activities (e.g., undergraduate research and the GEOS Semester Abroad), and student retention. These changes have ultimately led to increased enrollment and decreased time to degree. She was named the 2021-2022 Outstanding Professional Academic Advisor in the College of Science for her groundbreaking work on integrated advising and enrollment management systems. She has been an active member of NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising since 2014. She is recognized in professional academic advising circles locally and nationwide for her expertise in academic advising technology. In addition to being tapped to serve on Virginia Tech’s Academic Advising Technology Strategic Planning Committee, she has also had several presentations selected for multiple sponsorships by NACADA's STEM Advising Community and Advising Technology Community at the organization's regional, national, and international annual conferences.
ROBERT (BOB) NUGENT | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT
Bob Nugent is a member of the Strategy, Management and Operations faculty of the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. He has spent 22 years as a U.S. naval officer in intelligence, operations, diplomatic and acquisition assignments, including duty as a Foreign Area Officer and Assistant Naval Attache in Moscow, and billets in Japan, Korea, the U.K. and Hawaii. He served in operational aviation and amphibious squadrons and on the staff of the Navy Acquisition Executive in the Pentagon. He continues to consult on strategy, competitive and management topics with major aerospace and defense companies.
Bob received a M.B.A with honors from Marymount University (Arlington, VA) and was the 2003 President’s Honor Graduate at U.S. Naval War College. He attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute, and received undergraduate degrees in Finance, Economics and Philosophy from New Mexico State University. Bob’s doctoral dissertation/research interests focus on digital platform organizational structures and business models. He is also interested in the Defense Industrial Base and innovative technologies.
Michelle Pannone is an Assistant Professor in the Reap College of Professional Studies at Marywood University teaching in both the School of Architecture and the School of Business and Global Innovation. In the context of community engaged design thinking methodologies her expertise is in innovative methods of communication, including graphic representation, virtual reality, full-scale mock-ups, and workshops as a means to convey design ideas, opening the conversation to engage a broader audience in the design process. She has worked extensively in the international realm with business executives delivering a variety of design thinking workshops and courses.
Michelle earned her Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech and her Master of Urbanism Studies from KTH Royal Institute of Technology. She also holds certificates in Advanced Design Thinking (IDEO), Business Innovation (IDEO), and the Charrette System (National Charrette Institute). She serves as a board member for City Space Architecture and University Hall of Innovation. Michelle is particularly passionate about developing participation mechanisms that foster engagement in the co-design process as an integral step towards an empowered community. She is driven by the power of the design thinking methodology to address design through a comprehensive approach that is both user-centered and interdisciplinary. In 2018 she founded the Community Design Build program at Marywood through facilitating collaborations and industry partnerships to support full-scale build workshops. Her current research focuses on innovative participation methodologies to create a stronger connection between students and their local communities. These projects explore the complex relationship between design and technology as a mechanism to communicate with a diverse audience.
Ernest Penland is the Director of Advancement and Marketing Applications at Virginia Tech. He is a seasoned professional with a rich background in business operations, systems management, software development, and IT consulting. With over two decades of experience, he has continually demonstrated his expertise in various leadership roles across different sectors. Ernest began his career in quality control within the automotive manufacturing industry before transitioning to the dynamic world of information technology in 1998 where he has worked in the skills management, financial management, identity, fundraising, and general higher education domains. Ernest received his M.B.A. from Virginia Tech and his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
Since joining VT in 2009, Ernest's contributions have been instrumental to driving outcomes like the university's record-breaking alumni engagement and fundraising accomplishments. He currently oversees critical university systems such as customer relationship management, content management, and email marketing platforms. By leveraging his deep understanding of technology and its alignment with business objectives, Ernest regularly advises senior and executive leadership on the value, risks, and application of IT to achieve improved outcomes. Beyond this strategic guidance, he also successfully manages multiple teams of software developers and business analysts while fostering partnership, collaboration, and innovation to achieve exceptional results. Ernest is currently enrolled in the Pamplin College of Business Executive Ph.D. program. His passion for technology and its transformative potential to drive organizational growth is evident in his research interests where he is exploring the nexus between human capital, intelligent automation, and business outcomes.
SAMUEL (SAM) PROFFITT | MARKETING
COHORT 5 | CHAIR: DR. DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Samuel Proffitt is President, PR Medical Resource Corporation, a veteran-owned small business providing strategic supply chain management and distribution in healthcare. He is also a paramedic/firefighter in Wilmington, NC. He started with DePuy/Johnson & Johnson as a sales representative for medical devices and orthopedic implants. Since 2002, Sam has continued in medical device sales, working for several start-ups and as an entrepreneur. He started his public safety career while a junior at UNC-Wilmington, working for the local fire department and the EMS agency. He has remained committed to the fire service and currently leads several state and federal special operations teams, specializing in wilderness search and rescue.
Sam holds a B.S in Business Marketing from the UNC–Wilmington and a Master’s in Public Health & Homeland Security from the Pennsylvania State University’s Hershey School of Medicine, and an MBA in International Business from UNC-Chapel Hill. His research interests focus on marketing and consumer behavior as it relates to public safety, homeland security and disaster preparedness, and in assessing the economic impacts of such events.
BRYCE PYLE | FINANCE
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. RAMAN KUMAR
Bryce Pyle is a Senior VP at AlixPartners in the Turnaround and Restructuring practice in Washington, DC. He has experience developing and implementing operational and financial turnaround strategies for public and private sector clients in distress (e.g., JCPenney, Pacific Gas & Electric, Westinghouse, and Puerto Rico Electric & Power Authority. His experience in financial modelling, business segment rationalization, and restructuring plan scenario analysis and implementation spans multiple industries including energy, retail and healthcare. Previously, he worked for Alvarez & Marsal, helping clients with operational and financial challenges. He started as a business and planning analyst at M&T Bank.
Bryce has a B.A. in economics from Yale and an MBA with concentrations in finance and operations management from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is also a Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor.
His primary research interests are in corporate restructuring and reorganization. His dissertation research is focused on reviewing management’s decision to use in-court or out-of-court options as mechanisms for restructuring for firms with high levels of distress and the impact of creditors in the decision-making process.
ZOHAIL (ZO) QAZI
Zohaib (Zo) Qazi is a Program Director – IT Transformation at Virginia Tech. In this role Zo is responsible for overseeing large-scale projects and driving IT initiatives that have a transformative impact on the university. Zohaib (Zo) Qazi is an accomplished professional with a strong background in Program and Project management, ERP Systems implementation and HRIS.
Zo holds a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from University of Sindh, Pakistan, and a master’s in computer science from California State University Fullerton, Zo has further expanded his expertise through professional development courses in Digital and Cloud Transformation.
With a passion for transforming business processes and implementing new strategies, Zo excels at developing products and delivering projects in a timely manner. His exceptional leadership skills have been instrumental in successfully leading cross- functional teams, fostering collaboration, and driving organizational growth. Zo have accomplished a variety of projects in both the private and public sectors, particularly within IT and HRIS domains, consistently exceeding expectations.
With a proven track record of effective leadership, strategic vision, engagement with cross-functional teams, and expertise in developing metrics, Zo is poised to make a lasting impact in the field of IT and beyond.
FRANK RABENA | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. CHRIS ZOBEL
Frank Rabena is currently the Vice President and COO of the Virginia Pilot Association. He started his maritime piloting career in 1999. Prior to 1999, he worked as a Marine Engineer aboard commercial maritime ships and as a Marine Operations Manager for a major containership company. Presently, he serves on the Virginia Port Authority’s Stakeholder Committee as Chairman. He serves as an Advisory Council Member for Old Dominion University’s Maritime Institute. He also serves as a Commissioner on the City of Virginia Beach’s Bayfront Advisory Board.
Frank holds a B.S. in Marine Engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, and a M.B.A. with a focus in finance from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy as a Lieutenant in 2006. He is presently a CFA candidate. His dissertation research examines how proper timing of investment in specific technology and infrastructure affects all stakeholders in the supply chain, with a major focus on Maritime Shipping, Port, and Intermodal logistics.
Raji Raman is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Business Information Technology. She has Masters degrees both in business analytics and computer science. She has over two decades of experience in various leadership and technical roles in the IT and telecommunications industry. Her expertise includes network security, data integrity, customer/business relationship management, analytics, project management, people management and service delivery.
HARIBABU (HARI) RAVELLA Ph.D. '21 | MARKETING
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Hari Ravella currently leads a professional services group at Amazon Webservices (AWS) driving cloud adoption and innovations. His prior assignments include leading global business operations for IBM Commerce Client Success Group and worldwide professional services for three product lines in the IBM Software Group. He joined Curam Global Services in 2006, moving to India to build and lead a 70+ member group providing professional services to a global client base. Returning to the US in early 2010, he led Curam’s services practice, business development and delivery until its acquisition by IBM in 2012.
Hari holds an M. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and an MBA (2012) from SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan, Italy. Hari’s research focuses on how technology impacts consumer decision making in various contexts. His dissertation examines how AI-based smart agents may be used to support physician-patient interactions, and the processes underlying patient responses in such interactions. Hari has presented his research at multiple INFORMS Marketing Science conferences as well as at a special session at ACR 2020.
IVON RODRIGUEZ | MARKETING
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. MARIO PANDELAERE
Ivon Rodriguez is Chief Marketing Officer at Linqto, a leading digital trading platform for private market securities. Until recently she served as CMO of The 360 Group, a marketing firm focused on entertainment and innovation. Ivon has been instrumental in the startup phase of numerous TV stations including the Telemundo stations in Boston, Hartford and Providence, as well as the Caracol Television Miami station. She has also served as VP, Marketing for the private, non-profit Smithsonian affiliate, HistoryMiami Museum and as Managing Director for IE University programs in the Southern US and Caribbean.
Ivon graduated from Brown University with a double major in International Relations and Hispanic Studies and holds a joint Executive MBA from Brown University and the IE Business School. With experience in business development, general management, and marketing, Ivon's diverse background stems from her love of entrepreneurship, business innovation, and concept creation. Her primary research interests lie in consumer behavior and the role of social media at the intersection of social networks, consumption rituals and brand relationships.
ERIC SCHMIDT | FINANCE
COHORT 6 | CHAIR: DR. RAMAN KUMAR
Eric Schmidt is currently a Process Engineer at Kettering Health in Dayton, Ohio. In his role, he manages inpatient and outpatient performance improvement initiatives, conducts statistical process control and multivariate data analyses, provides clinical and financial decision-support counsel to leadership, and teaches classes on Lean Six Sigma improvement techniques.
Eric started his career in healthcare administration, completing a 3-year hospital management residency with AdventHealth in Orlando, Florida. After completing his administrative training, Eric managed inpatient and outpatient radiology departments for AdventHealth. After realizing a passion for data analysis and statistics, Eric transitioned into the industrial engineering and process improvement realm of the healthcare system and worked as a Performance Improvement Specialist for AdventHealth. In 2020, Eric moved to Kettering Health to serve in his current role. Eric specializes in utilizing econometric techniques to diagnose and develop solutions to complex, multi-factorial healthcare problems, including length-of-stay reduction, capacity and utilization optimization, and cost minimization.
Eric holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics from Ohio State University, a Master of Business Administration from Webster University, and a Master of Science in Economics from Purdue University. He received his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB) from the University of Central Florida. Eric is also a Certified Medical Office Manager (CMOM) through the Practice Management Institute. He lives in Ohio with his wife.
GELILA SEBHATU | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 2 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT
Gelila Sebhatu is an Entrepreneur, Career Coach, and Community Leader. She has 15+ years of consulting experience serving US Federal Govt. and Fortune 500 clients such as the DoD, Gartner, DirecTV, BlueCross BlueShield, as well as various political campaigns. She currently is President and Principal Director for GPS Management Consulting, providing strategic advisory services for the private and public sector, supporting major transformational efforts for project management, process improvement, and enterprise architecture. She is also the Owner and Head Coach of GPS Professional Coaching, providing career enhancement services to individuals and non-profits. In these roles, she is visible in both traditional and social media.
Gelila holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Information Systems) from Old Dominion University and an Executive MBA from Virginia Tech. She also holds certifications as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB), and TOGAF® Level 2. Her doctoral dissertation /research focuses on early-stage entrepreneurship, decision-making, and narcissistic behavior. She is also interested in the role of gender and race.
LARRY SMALL | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 7 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT but works with DR. JOE SIMPSON
Larry Small is a Louisiana native and lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his family. As Senior Advisor for Management and Budget in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, Larry assists and advises on four portfolios: Weapons Activities; Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation; Naval Reactors; and Federal Salaries and Expenses. His notable previous assignments include Chief of Staff, Visiting Professor, Brookings Institute Congressional Fellow, and Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security.
Larry is also a retired U.S. Army Chemical Officer with nearly three decades of experiences in national security. His duties included roles in the U.S. Department of Defense; Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Threat Reduction Agency; and Department of Army’s Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Agency.
Larry attained a B.A. in Political Science, Urban Affairs, and Public Policy from Boston University. He completed a Master’s Degree of Military Art and Science focused on strategy at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. His dissertation research examines cross-disciplinary insights into leadership, management, and organizational concepts for efficient, effective, and innovative ways in decision-making, resolving problems, and executing tasks. More broadly, he is interested in developing processes that produce standards and systems to empower people and institutions to influence situations with positive results across geographical, organizational, and functional lines.
BENJAMIN (BENJI) STEPHENS | ACCOUNTING & INFORMATION SYSTEMS
COHORT 5 | CHAIR: N/A
Benji Stephens is a VP at Barclays Investment Bank in New York. In this role, He is involved in implementing operational risk loss forecasting modeling, structured scenario analysis, legal loss projections and various aspects of risk analysis. He is a senior finance and risk management professional with 17+ years of experience in financial services spanning corporate finance, risk management, and audit and has implemented enterprise risk and regulatory risk initiatives for global banks. His expertise spans capital planning and multiple aspects of credit risk assessment. Previously Benji worked with Bank of America as a VP with responsibilities in enterprise risk management and with Wells Fargo in operational risk and model risk management. He started his career with Ecobank Transnational Inc.
Benji holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science- Legon, and a MBA in Finance and Strategy from Univ. of Virginia. He is also a CPA, CTP (Certified Treasury Professional), and Financial Risk Manager (FRM). His research interests focus on the role of accounting information in corporate governance, managerial compensation, debt-contracting and bank regulation.
RICHARD STUEBI | MARKETING
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. DIPANKAR CHAKRAVARTI
Richard Stuebi is founder and President of Future Energy Advisors (FEA), a management consulting practice providing advisory services to corporate clients pursuing innovative growth strategies related to energy. In a 30+ year career, he has pursued commercial opportunities in new energy technologies and innovative business models as an entrepreneur, investor, consultant, advocate, and executive. Richard has served as VP of US Strategy and Group Technology at National Grid, where he led strategy development for US operations and evaluated technology and businesses model innovations for the firm’s US and UK operations. He has extensive experience supporting regional cleantech ecosystems and entrepreneurial startups developing new energy technologies.
Richard earned a MA in Economics at Stanford University and a B.S. in Economics from MIT. He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University. His current professional interests involve the accelerated adoption of renewable energy, energy storage, and microgrids to facilitate adoption of high-resilience zero-carbon electricity supply. His research focuses on consumer behavior related to the adoption of lower-emitting energy-related products and services. He is also interested in marketing issues as they intersect with environmental sustainability.
MARK TAVANI | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 6 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT
Mark Tavani is a high-energy business leader and innovator with extensive experience building and leading high-performance teams in the communications, technology, and professional services industries. He is currently the US SE Head of Partnerships at Amazon Web Services, chartered with accelerating the adoption of AWS services with and thru Consulting and Technology Partners.
Mark started his career with IBM and held positions of increasing responsibility in sales, corporate education, marketing, and general management with P&L responsibility. Mark subsequently served as Vice President of Business Development for C-Bridge Internet Solutions, a Pre-IPO boutique internet consultancy, and held executive positions at Siemens Enterprise Communications and CA Technologies, including Vice President Global Technology Partners and Vice President of Global Go-To-Market.
Mark is adept at leveraging new technology (cloud, mobility, services) and creative business models to accelerate revenue growth. He has been a thought leader regarding the disruptive potential of delivering communications as a service and led the strategy and go-to-market efforts to realize the potential of the cloud at Siemens and CA Technologies.
He holds an MBA from Emory University and a B. S., Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland. He and his wife Sara have four children and reside in Johns Creek, Georgia.
JULIAN E. THRASH | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: DR. BILL BECKER
Julian Thrash is Procurement Director at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Office of Procurement and Acquisition Logistics. He is responsible for enterprise-wide procurement for the Strategic Acquisition Center. A two-time USAF Contracting Commander; he commanded one of the largest contracting squadrons supporting European theatre strategic sourcing. At the DoD, Julian’s has led reviews of contracting cost principles that drove 24 published changes in Federal Acquisition Regulations. As a Contracting Staff Officer, he was action officer for the largest procurement review in USAF history, recouping a $625M+ contractor penalty. His multiple military honors include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Julian earned a BS in Chemistry from East Carolina U., and a MBA from the Univ. of N. Dakota. He is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute’s Advanced Program Management course, Squadron Officer’s School, Air Command & Staff College and Air War College. He also has multiple advanced certifications in contracting. Julian’s dissertation research focuses on the role of strategic communications.in enterprise-wide change. It is sited in the VA’s equipment life cycle management program - an agency-level initiative supporting medical equipment standardization for the nation’s largest network of hospitals.
SARAH TUSKEY Ph.D. '21 | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 1 | CHAIR: BILL BECKER
Sarah Tuskey serves as Dean of Faculty at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. Previously, she was Associate Dean at the Kendall Campus after serving as Department Chair for Business at the Homestead Campus and Kendall campuses. At Miami Dade, she has been active in engaging local industry to develop and launch the Bachelor of Applied Science in Supply Chain Management. Sarah has 15+ years of professional experience in higher education. Prior to her service at Miami Dade, she served on the management team at St. Thomas University Business School, advancing the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, extending marketing reach and building external relationships.
Sarah earned a BBA degree in MIS from the Univ. of Central Florida, and an International MBA degree from Florida International. Sarah's research focuses on identities in the workplace and the implications for organizational change. Her dissertation examines the non-work-related identities that individuals bring into the workplace, and how these influence work-related identities and performance. Sarah has published her research in the Journal of Management, Academy of Management Proceedings and presented at the Academy of Management annual meeting.
STUART URBAN | FINANCE
COHORT 4 | CHAIR: DR. RAMAN KUMAR
Stuart Urban is a Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. He teaches Masters level courses in computational finance, statistics, non-linear econometrics and empirical finance. Stuart started as a Software Engineer at Lockheed Martin, working on the year-2000 US Census and spent 8 years on a passive radar project, in roles such as Software Engineer, Data Analyst, Engineering Program Manager, and R&D Principal Investigator. He has served as a data scientist with the US Mint and the CDC, utilizing machine learning techniques to target scarce CDC resources to high-risk individuals in two disease outbreaks in the US. He also served internal customers such as L-M Aeronautics. He has worked at the Federal Reserve Board as an analyst focusing in high-performance scientific computing and Natural Language Processing.
Stuart holds a BA in Philosophy as well as BS degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science, all from the Univ. of Iowa. He also holds an MS in Computer Science, a MBA and an MA in Applied Economics, all from the Johns Hopkins. Stuart’s research interests focus on black swan/rare events in corporate finance. He is also interested in corporate bankruptcy prediction and effect assessments.
BARRY VANDERWAL | MANAGEMENT
COHORT 6 | CHAIR: DR. RICK HUNT
Barry Vanderwal is currently joining the sixth cohort of students in the Pamplin College’s Ph.D. program in Business with a concentration in Executive Business Research, at Virginia Tech. He is also a Technical Program Manager overseeing multiple software development projects at Disk Enterprise Solutions, Incorporated and he’s an active co-founder of Serenity Place LLC, St. Mary’s County Maryland’s largest private mental health service provider.
Barry joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves in 1995, serving as an Infantryman and Civil Affairs Specialist. In 1999, he began a career as a computer programmer quickly transitioning to IT project management. Barry has directed and executed large, multi-million Dollar strategic IT projects at IBM, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Marriott International. While at Marriott International, he led multiple software development projects, including a cutting-edge multi-year research and development project to rearchitect the Marriott.com web platform. In March 2017, Barry and his wife started Serenity Place LLC, where they’ve grown the practice from one licensed clinical therapist, to now over 20. With over 15 years of project and organizational management experience, Barry has found a passion for organizational management and entrepreneurship, well aligned to his academic studies at Virginia Tech.
Barry holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Science in Technical Management from Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Southern Maryland with his wife and two children.
EDWARD W. WALTERS III
Edward W Walters III is a member of the Senior Executive Service at the US Department of Defense where he serves as the Defense Commissary Agency's Executive Director for Sales, Marketing and Logistics. He has global responsibility which includes the US, Europe, and Pacific with annual sales ≈ $4.5B of over 30,000 SKUs at 236 commissaries (military supermarket/grocery store locations). In his first 8 months at the Commissary, Ed led his team to overcome a 9-year sales decline, growing sales 12% FYTD with an 8.3% increase in transactions despite continued supply chain challenges.
Ed previously was Chief Customer Officer at the US General Services Administration (GSA). Ed also has experience in marketing and Brand Management at Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profits, and start-ups.
Ed earned a BS in environmental engineering from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), an MBA from Northwestern University (Kellogg), and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government). He is also currently a PhD Candidate in executive business research at Virginia Tech (Pamplin).
JEREMY FEI WANG | BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
COHORT 3 | CHAIR: DR. PAUL LOWRY
Jeremy Fei Wang is an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at Flagler College, with 15+ of diverse experience in higher education and IT & management consulting. Prior to his academic career, he was a Senior Consultant with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY), one of the world's largest management and IT consulting firms. As a senior Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP+MCSD+MCAD) and Principal Certified IBM/Lotus Professional (PCLP), he worked with various client companies in this position, including P&G International, GE, Schneider Industry, Standard Register, and Provident Bank.
Jeremy has developed and taught a variety of contemporary information systems courses which featured a combination of lectures, case studies, and hands-on lab sessions. He is also an honorary guest professor at the University of International Relations (UIR) and the E-Commerce School of the Southwestern University of Finance & Economics (SWUFE) in China. Jeremy received his MBA with a concentration in MIS from Ohio University and his B.A. in Economics from Marietta College. Jeremy’s doctoral research interests focus on AI-powered recommendation agents and their affordances. He is also interested in e-commerce, autonomous technologies, social networks and mobile applications.
Brad White, for the last ten years, has worked in private industry as a program or project manager leading cross- functional business and technical teams to support federal clients with their telecommunications and digital transformation efforts. Notable examples include: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)—Completed Wide Area Network (WAN) backbone studies to aid a multi- billion-dollar department-wide information technology modernization effort led by the Chief Information Officer (CIO); performed project management, budgeting, and capital planning for cybersecurity projects approved by the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO); and assisted senior Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) leaders with developing and aligning enterprise and business architecture efforts with White House guidance and industry best practices.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — Assisted the CIO with preparing a voice telecommunications modernization strategy requiring inventorying, analyzing, and offering technology recommendations spanning the department as well as its operational and support components.
In addition to supporting clients, Brad helped corporate executives with business development as well as analyzing markets for new opportunities which included developing a new corporate service offering, Value Management Services. Prior to this, he had spent several years as a management consultant for a large consulting firm partnering with federal leaders to improve acquisition and capital planning practices.
Before moving to private industry, Brad spent about five years in the public sector working first for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and then the Department of Defense (DoD) as a contract specialist managing federal acquisitions through the pre- and post-award phases. Additionally, he served in the United States Air Force (USAF) as a Signals Intelligence Analyst. In recognition of his professional accomplishments, Brad maintains his Project Management Professional (PMP) and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Agilist (SA) certifications. Brad also holds an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and B.S. from Excelsior College.
Hallie Zimmerman is a cybersecurity professional leading the Global Cyber Policy division at Northrop Grumman. With eight years of experience in the defense public sectorand commercial industries, Hallie has gained distinction for her data-centric approaches to identify macro trends, improve information systems, and foster collaboration between technical and non- technical stakeholders across sectors.
Hallie's research on vulnerability resilience, process mining, and CMMC assessments has been highly regarded, with her recent work, CyMMCAA, earning her an invitation to present at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Additionally, she was selected as one of the seven grant recipients of the COVA CCI (Commonwealth of Virginia Cybersecurity Initiative), conducting research on cybersecurity in the maritime industry. The sponsorship of her research has been upwards of US$50K. Hallie serves as a contributing member of ND-ISAC (National Defense Information Sharing and Analysis Center), CMMC Accreditation Body (Cyber AB), Aspen Digital (Aspen Institute), and SWE (Society of Women Engineers).
Hallie's educational background includes a B.S. degree from the University of Florida and an M.S. in Business Analytics from William & Mary. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech, further expanding her breadth and depth within the field.
Hallie's ability to bridge technical complexities with organizational objectives has driven impactful change within the DIB community. Her leadership at Northrop Grumman's Global Cyber Policy division is crucial in sharing best practices within the global policy and supply chain ecosystem while safeguarding sensitive information. With her expertise in quantitative analysis and systematic design thinking, Hallie's mission is to drive digital transformation that connects, and protects, organizations and society.