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Taking Flight – November 2021

Message from the Dean

Kurt Lewin, who is often recognized as the founder of social psychology, is reported to have said, “there is nothing quite so practical as a good theory.” Over my many years as a business scholar, teacher, and consultant, I’ve found this to be true, as I’ve found the quote itself to be thought-provoking and insightful. I’m writing about it now though because I had the pleasure of observing recently just how meaningful and enjoyable it can be when good theory and practice come together.

Here’s the backstory; Mr. Philip Solomons, representing one of our major donors, the Solomons family, hosted a luncheon recently that included two faculty who are supported by the family’s gift, Chris Brunt, Ph.D., holder of the Solomons Chair in Economics, and Jeff Schiman, Ph.D., recipient of the Solomons Research Fellowship in Economics. Brunt and Schiman are well-trained and accomplished economists. Mr. Solomons is an accomplished businessman and leader in the Savannah business community. Professionally, they live in very different worlds. Academia is sometimes ridiculed as an ivory tower, where aloof professors ponder deep thoughts and pursue niche questions, with little interest in or care for the “real world.” Meanwhile, business is sometimes caricatured as greedy and acquisitive, focused on profits and power, to the detriment of long-term value and society at large. Both views are inaccurate and belie their own biases and misunderstandings, as evidenced by our conversation at lunch. For most of the time, I sat like I was munching popcorn, spellbound by a great movie, while I listened to these three individuals talk shop. They discussed education policy and the many tradeoffs surrounding school funding, incentive pay, competitive markets, and the unintended consequences of regulations. They talked about healthcare and the challenges of making broader policy for fragmented markets and distributed providers. They discussed reimbursement policies and their effects on professional behavior as well as market controls and the implications for large bureaucracies, charged with implementing and managing a vast network of independent actors. They even talked about research methodology, the challenges of finding cause and effect in cross-sectional data and the progressive nature of scientific inquiry. To say it was fascinating would be an understatement. Their conversation was sophisticated, informed, nuanced, and yet, altogether practical and applicable. And it was that conversation that got me thinking about Lewin and the value proposition of the Parker College. 

(l-r): Jeff Schiman, Ph.D., Chris Brunt, Ph.D., Philip Solomons and Allen Amason, Ph.D.

Put simply, we want to do research that matters. We want to hire the brightest faculty, to encourage them to apply the best science, in the interests of producing answers that can improve the way business is done, thereby changing the world for the better. We’re not interested in dumbing down our research nor are we interested in topics of no applicability or relevance. We want to focus the considerable talent of our faculty, together with the resources of our institution, on the issues that will best prepare our students and best engage the business leaders of our community, state, and region. Some say it’s naïve to think that good science can be practical and relevant and that profitable businesses will invest the time and interest to support and nurture good science. My recent experience at lunch proves otherwise, while also demonstrating yet again, that Lewin was right.  

Alumni Spotlight: Hannah Steed

Hannah Steed (MGMT, 2012) began her career at Milliken & Company’s Longleaf Fabric Finishing Plant in Sylvania as a project manager in February 2013. Since then, she has advanced and, currently, serves as the plant’s improvement leader responsible for quality, costing, new product development, process reliability, focused improvement projects, green belt education, and determining the best capital expense projects for the plant. Since Longleaf currently produces around 1.7 million yards of fabric every four weeks and can produce up to 2.6 million yards of fabric in that timeframe, Hannah’s financial responsibilities are significant as she is responsible for multimillion dollar forecasts and delivering on those forecasts each year.

Using the guidance on networking and interpersonal skills and team building along with the training in in leadership, entrepreneurship, sales, supply chain management, and lean manufacturing her Parker College professors provided has helped Hannah navigate a very male-dominated manufacturing environment. From her first day on the job, Hannah’s focus has been to learn everything she can, to never stop learning, and to strive to be the best at everything she does. As a result of this focus, Hannah has been able to outshine the competition and to advance and grow her career. With problem solving the most rewarding part of her career, Hannah has applied what she learned in her classes—especially, sales and entrepreneurship (her two favorites)—to train people to work together, design new best practices in manufacturing, and develop new products. Hannah financed her education by working fulltime, which prevented her from enjoying most of the extracurricular activities most students take for granted. She did not waste her work experience, however, as she took advantage of every chance to meet a variety of people and network with local business owners. These opportunities ultimately opened the door to her chosen career. In that career, Hannah says her proudest accomplishment to date is bringing Carhartt Duck fabric to her plant. This action allowed Longleaf to outpace the competition by producing a superior product and allowed the plant to become Carhartt’s preferred supplier.

Even though Hannah aspires to become either a plant manager at Longleaf or an account manager at the corporate level, she is not only a working professional. Hannah also enjoys several hobbies including painting and bowling.

Lt. Gen. Smith named Carter Chair of Leadership

from the University Newsroom

Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, a distinguished Georgia Southern University alumnus, will serve as the W.E. Carter Chair of Leadership in the University’s Parker College of Business after finishing a 38-year Army career.

Smith recently completed his tenure as the 66th Inspector General of the Army. Smith began his service as The Inspector General (TIG) in February 2018. Before that, he served as Deputy, The Inspector General (DTIG) from April 2015 until becoming TIG.

“Gen. Smith is a world-renowned leader who has invested much of his career in the development of others,” said Dean of Georgia Southern’s Parker College of Business Allen Amason, Ph.D. “We are incredibly fortunate he will be lending his experience and expertise to our college, our students and our community.”

Smith will hold the W.E. Carter Chair in Leadership and Business Administration, which was established in 1999 in honor of the late W.E. Carter Sr. and the late W.E. Carter Jr. The endowed position was created to support a faculty member of extraordinary accomplishment and ability, and with a strong commitment to teaching, lifelong learning, regional and economic development, and to positively impact the region served by Georgia Southern University.

“Georgia Southern provided that ‘special sauce’ that helped me become the leader I am today,” Smith said. “The University provided me the opportunity to meet my wife Vanedra, to become a commissioned officer and to join Kappa Alpha Psi. Without a doubt the blessings of attending Georgia Southern will continue for years to come.”

As the Carter Chair, Smith will focus on leadership development and education for students in the Parker College and at Georgia Southern, as well as for civic leaders across the state and region. He will serve as an ambassador for the College and for leadership education and development, while working with faculty and staff across the University to launch a sustainable leadership program that will accelerate the positive impact of the Parker College and the University. He will begin immediately.

“Gen. Smith has served this University with great distinction as one of the most involved and influential graduates of Georgia Southern,” said Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero. “This position is a natural next step for a leader of his caliber, and I look forward to working with him more frequently as we continue our mission of preparing the next generation to think, lead, teach and serve.”

During his career, Smith served in various command and staff positions. Of note, he served as a joint staff non-proliferation planner, and he commanded the 83d Chemical Battalion and the 3d Chemical Brigade. He deployed to the Middle East for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As a general officer, Smith served as the Chief of the Chemical Branch and the Commandant of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School. He subsequently served as the Commanding General of the 20th Support Command – Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives; and later as the Commanding General of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri — the first Chemical Corps officer in either command position.

Additionally, he was the first Chemical Corps officer to serve as The Inspector General of the Army. He holds a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University, a Master of Arts in national security strategy from the National Defense University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Georgia Southern University.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 138 different degree programs serving almost 27,000 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities.

Investing in the SIA

On November 11, students of the Southern Investment Association (SIA) handed a $2,500 check to Craig Brown, CFO of the Georgia Southern University Foundation. The money was raised over several semesters by the students, and the money will go into the Praevolo Fund. The fund, which follows a long value investment strategy, was made possible due to the generosity of several donors and has a significant amount of assets under management and is managed by the students of the SIA. “The students wanted to demonstrate to the foundation and potential donors that they have a ‘skin’ in the game,” stated Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., who serves as one of the advisors of the group. The SIA, which was founded in 2014, is a select group of Georgia Southern Students. The Praevolo Fund allows them to apply the investment skills they learn in the classroom to actively manage a Value Investment Fund. 

On Saturday November 13, the students of the Southern Investment Association (SIA) met for their Semester Stock Pitch Saturday. After more than eight hours of presentations and discussions, the students decided to invest into 27 stocks. The investments were executed on November 15 via the newly established Praevolo Fund. This first time use of the Praevolo Fund signifies a historical milestone for SIA members, who have worked toward this goal throughout the last few years. The student-managed investment fund allows the members of the SIA to obtain real world investment and portfolio management experience while in college and prepares the students for successful careers in the field of asset management.

(l-r): Nathan Ashcroft and Walker Dollar

Walker Dollar received the Fall 2021 Ashcroft Scholarship for his extraordinary dedication to the Southern Investment Association (SIA). He joined the group in Fall 2020 and currently serves as vice president. The scholarship, which has already supported five SIA students, is made possible by the generous contribution of Chelsea and Nathan Ashcroft, both of whom are Georgia Southern Alumni. Nathan holds a CPA and a CMA certification, is an alumnus of the SIA, and works in the auditing department of Hancock & Askew’s Savannah office. Chelsea holds a CPA and works as an accountant at Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon, LLP in Savannah. Nathan Ashcroft presented the scholarship in person on November 13 during the SIA’s Saturday Stock Pitch. Thank you, Chelsea and Nathan, for your generous support to the SIA and congratulations, Walker!

“Words cannot express how thankful I am to the donors and everyone for believing in our students. Having the Praevolo Fund and real assets under management will make a real difference for these students as it will give an edge in preparing for their professional careers,” said Axel Grossmann, Ph.D., SIA advisor.

Three WMBA Teams Score in Top Ten Percent in Marketplace Simulations

After completion of the Marketplace Advanced Strategic Marketing Simulation, Jackie Eastman, Ph.D., professor of marketing, was notified that three teams in her WMBA 6050: Strategic Marketing course scored in the top ten percent of Marketplace Simulations worldwide for the Advanced Strategies Marketing–Bikes simulation. Marketplace is an educational game that provides students with a simulated business environment in which they apply the theory from business courses in practical business situations to develop business acumen and critical workplace skills.

In the game situation, each team starts and manages its own business division or company, builds product portfolios, conducts advertising campaigns, and formulates distribution channels to provide product access to direct target customers using analytics data. Tens of thousands of students play Marketplace simulations worldwide. Placing in the top ten percent of all teams is an achievement that reflects an extraordinary level of business acumen and work ethic. Ernie Cadotte, author and founder of Marketplace Simulations stated that members of Silver Speed Bikes, Hyeseung Kang, David Cauble, Zachary Joslyn, and Benjamin Warner; Carbon Custom Cycles, Marco Manzoni, Kristopher Orr, Robert Allen, Heather Simmons, and Doubea Pierre; and Supreme Cycles, John Simpson, Ryan Bewighouse, James Bowen, John Galloway, and Sara Herinckx, “have demonstrated perseverance, agility, problem-solving skills, analytical reasoning, and a sound understanding of key business concepts.” He went on to say, “I wish to congratulate you [Eastman] and your teams for such successful work. Clearly, your [Eastman’s] coaching is superb.”

Congratulations to these WMBA students!

For more information on Marketplace Simulations, go to To learn more about the WMBA program, email

INFORMS Members Attend Technology Workshop

by Carol L. Waller

The Parker College student chapter of INFORMS recently held a technology workshop organized by Janet Moss, MBA, principal lecturer and INFORMS chapter advisor, and presented by Jun Liu, Ph.D., associate professor, both from the Department of Enterprise Systems & Analytics. The workshop covered the programming language R, a free, easily accessible software used for data analysis and visualization by many industries and applications including research, Fintech, retail, social media analytics, and healthcare. 

Holding the workshop in one of our computer labs allowed attendees to perform many of the commands as they learned them. Exposure to R in this hour-long workshop helped our students become career ready since companies such as Ford, Amazon, Flipkart, and Google, as well as some government agencies, utilize R to help analyze massive amounts of data.

Although this was our INFORMS chapter’s first technology workshop, others are planned for spring semester. Mason Woods, INFORMS chapter president, commented, “Dr. Liu’s R programming language workshop was a great representation of the types of events that our INFORMS chapter is planning to host this year. We believe that these workshops are the best way for our members to prepare themselves for their future in the analytics field.”

“Having technology workshops … [is] a top priority activity for the chapter. About 20 members attended the workshop…solely because of their interest in R. They did not receive any extra credit or points for attending,” added Moss.

For more information about Parker College’s INFORMS chapter, contact Janet Moss, chapter advisor, at To learn more about the largest international organization for analytics, information systems, and ops research, go to

DAB Member/Alumnus Addresses MAcc Students

Thomas (Tommy) W. Jones (ACCT, 1973), vice chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board and trustee of the Georgia Southern Foundation, spoke to MAcc students in Charles Harter’s, Ph.D., business valuation class. Harter, interim director of the School of Accountancy, said “the opportunity to review and discuss an actual valuation report and see how the valuation helped to reduce a client’s estate tax liability to zero brings realism and demonstrates the importance of the complex subject of business valuation. The students and I benefitted greatly from the excellent presentation.” 

Tommy Jones, a certified public accountant, certified valuation analyst, personal financial specialist, certified financial planner, and holder of an accreditation in business valuation from the American Institute of CPAs, has more than 30 years of experience specializing in individual and corporate income tax, estate, gift and trust taxation, valuation, and estate planning. He spoke to the class about business valuation and estate taxes and the relationship between the two using an actual evaluation report and estate tax return (with personal details omitted) to demonstrate how it is possible to legally limit an inheritor’s tax liability. During his talk, Tommy revealed that, although his firm, Jones, Jones, Davis, & Associates, CPA, P.C., hires from universities in many parts of the country, all of the firm’s partners are Georgia Southern alumni.

Allen Amason, dean of the Parker College of Business, Robert Grant, director of the Office of Development & Alumni Relations, and Brian Dowis, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting, also attended the lecture. After his presentation, Tommy answered insightful questions posed by the students about getting started in his field, his job responsibilities, and strategies for preparing business valuations. After class Tommy engaged in a lively discussion with Dowis about estate planning.

For more information about Parker College’s Master of Accountancy program, contact Stephanie Hairston, Ph.D., coordinator for Graduate Accounting Programs, at To learn more about Jones, Jones, Davis, & Associates, CPA, P.C., go to

Finance Association Hosts Third Guest Speaker of the Semester

Kevin Kelly of Legacy Capital Advisors joined the Georgia Southern University Finance Association as its third guest speaker of the semester on Wednesday, October 27. Mr. Kelly completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut and holds an MBA from Mercer University. Prior to his career in financial advisory services, Kelly was a member of the ROTC and served for nearly a decade with the U.S. Army. In addition, Kelly holds the Series 7 and 66 licenses as well as a variety of insurance licenses.

Kelly kicked off the evening’s presentation by discussing his career path, stating that he always knew he wanted to be a financial advisor; however, he first joined the ROTC program with a friend and served for nearly ten years in the Army. After resigning as a captain, Kelly decided to pursue his other passion:  investing and financial advisory. He spoke about his experience at his former advisory firm as well as the leap to co-founding Legacy Capital Advisors in 2013. In addition, Kelly talked about the different types of financial advisors in the industry, their structures, and their fee/income structures. In particular, Kelly noted that financial advisory is a career with great upside potential because your individual earning potential is not capped if you are successful. He did caution that going into that field would put students “behind their peers” initially. It takes time to become licensed; it takes time and practice to learn how to talk to (potential) clients as well as build a client-base, Kelly explained. He iterated several times that financial advisory “is a people business”. Further, he noted that, regardless of which career path students take, some days will be difficult, but they should not give up and to keep trying. Specifically, Kelly said, “hit it every day; work hard.” 

Kelly introduced the group to a product called Auto Callable Stock Yield Notes, a very interesting product that he and his team use with a variety of clients as part of their investment portfolios. He explained the product structure to the students in attendance, specifically, described these somewhat illiquid products that produce monthly income that is fairly stable and how many retired clients, as well as HENRYs (High Earners, Not Rich Yet), find them to be an appealing portfolio add-on. 

Toward the end, Kelly answered many excellent questions asked by the students in attendance. He finished his presentation by talking about the advantages of Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs), which the firm uses to cover the equity side of its business, and by discussing the services his company provides for its clients. 

Legacy Capital Advisors was founded in 2013 by Kevin Kelly and Chris Kirkland. A comprehensive financial planning services firm based in Atlanta, it grown rapidly in recent years. For more information about Legacy Capital Advisors, go to

Twelve from Georgia Southern University Recognized as RNMKRS Rising Stars

RNMKRS is set to recognize twelve students from the Parker College of Business as Rising Stars on Thursday, 10/28 at an exclusive, virtual event.

To be recognized as a Rising Star, students must be in the top 5% of all students within the RNMKRS competition. During this invitation-only event, Rising Star invitees will be recognized for their achievement, while having the opportunity to network with RNMKRS corporate partners and mentors.

The Fall 2021 RNMKRS Rising Stars from the Parker College of Business, Center for Sales Excellence include

  • Teslynn Albrecht
  • Michael Bland
  • Carson Crowe
  • Ansley Deering
  • Christina Harris
  • Hadyn Hoff
  • Christopher Longazel
  • Kasey Perks
  • Lisandra Vidal-Velez
  • Courtney Simon
  • Julie Thigpen
  • De’Andre Williams

RNMKRS, a virtual sales competition launched in 2018, empowers students to communicate and influence decisions using bias-free interactive technology. More than 2,000 college students complete over 60,000 role-plays, honing their selling skills by speaking with Alex, an artificially intelligent customer bot that listens, adapts, and responds while scoring students and giving them feedback. Students improve their selling skills and refine their communication and empathy skills along the way. All of this activity takes place on their mobile phones.

RNMKRS is utilized in sales classes taught at Georgia Southern University as a means to provide students with an ample amount of sales role-play experience. The virtual role-play is coached by the Center for Sales Excellence faculty, which includes Lindsay Levine, Ph.D., Linda Mullen, Ph.D., and Travis Brickey, MBA.

MaLinda Williams Receives Joe F. Head Professional Development Award

from the University Newsroom

MaLinda Williams, data integrity specialist in the Office of the Registrar, has received the 2021-22 Joe F. Head Professional Development Award from the Georgia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (GACRAO). MaLinda is an MBA student graduating this spring.

Created in 2010, this award is presented in recognition of individuals who have demonstrated exceptional efforts in fostering professional development and made outstanding accomplishments in the field of professional development. 

“Dr. Marrero has noted that we should grow ourselves to grow others, and I have taken this professional challenge very seriously,” Williams said. “I have grown so much personally and professionally, and as I ride on this momentous moment in my life, I am so proud to serve under Dr. Marrero’s leadership.”

Williams is a member at large on the executive board of the GACROA and serves as vice president of public relations for the Savannah Chapter of Toastmasters International. She is also a member of Georgia Southern’s Staff Council, and serves on the Graduate Student Organization Council Officers Board for the Armstrong Campus as the treasurer and social media chair.

“I would like to share my award with my campus community and thank the Enrollment Management Team for implanting a professional development structure that allows individuals to expand their knowledge and become strong campus contributors by participating in workshops and conferences, seminars, reading, networking, and by giving service to the campus and to the local community,” she added.

Finance Association Hosts Final Guest Speaker for 2021

The Finance Association wrapped up its Fall 2021 Guest Speaker Series on Wednesday, November 10 with  Bryan Stave. Bryan helped co-found Investii and serves as its chief growth officer. He holds a BBA in finance and accounting from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Bryan started his presentation by briefly talking about his personal background and career. Then he continued talking about the rise of Fintech and how it has let him and his partner launch their own company: Investii. Investii is a start-up fintech company focused on financial empowerment and incentivizing positive financial behavior. Bryan walked the students in attendance through the Investii dashboard, which is a one-of-a-kind platform providing individuals an aggregate view of all of their financial accounts. In addition, Investii collects data about clients’ financial behavior and helps execute a savings plan. Bryan noted that the goal of the platform is to help and reward users for saving more…and regardless of where they save. Further, users can easily set up recurring or one-time transfers to any account linked through the platform. Investii incorporates a rewards program based on saving and investing habits instead of spending as most rewards programs require. Bryan continued by explaining to students what goes into a regular credit score and pointed out some of the issues with them. He noted that Investii is developing the “Investii Savings Score” as an alternative or addition to traditional credit scores. Investii’s score shows that savings behavior is positively correlated to repayment. Bryan and his partner hope to move into working with users and other lenders to partially guarantee loans. In this way, they can help reduce loan costs, build credit, and further prove that strong savers make trustworthy borrowers. Their unique platform will align incentives and empower borrowers. Finally, Bryan answered a variety of questions from students in attendance about Investii’s revenue generation, fees, and future plans.

Investii launched in 2020 and is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more information, visit

Congratulations to Georgia Southern’s Golf Team Members

The Georgia Southern Women’s Golf Team recently finished 2nd in the Buccaneer Classic and the Men’s Golf Team finished at 4th place in the Bank of Tennessee’s collegiate tournament. Congratulations to Parker Business GS Women’s and Men’s Golf Team members Abby Newton (MGMT), Sarunchana Rattansin (MGMT), Karelee Vardas (MGMT), Ben Carr (MGMT), Lindsay Cordell (FIN), Ian Glanton (GEN BUS), and Mason Williams (MGMT)!

Faculty/Staff News

“Measuring the Bandwagon Effect: Development of a Generalized Bandwagon Effect Scale,” co-authored by Jacqueline Eastman, Ph.D., professor of marketing and honors coordinator, Rajesh Iyer (Bradley University), and Kevin Eastman, Ph.D., professor of finance, has been accepted as a competitive paper for the American Marketing Association’s 2022 Winter Academic Conference. Congratulations, Jackie and Kevin!

The Columbia Law School has invited Rongrong Zhang, Ph.D., professor of finance, Duong (Katie) Pham, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance, and Melissa Frye’s (University of Central Florida) paper “Does Uncertainty About Economic Policy Prompt Boards to Change?” to be part of its Blue Sky blog. Way to go Rongrong and Katie!

Last updated: 11/19/2021