Growing up in Detroit, Dr. Terry Esper never really thought much about Arkansas or where it was on a map. In fact, he could have stayed in the Motor City after high school graduation, but a committed guidance counselor felt he needed to experience the Natural State. Continue reading EPIC Spotlight: Dr. Terry Esper
“Getting involved right away at Walton College is key.”
After touring the University of Arkansas, it was the Walton College that helped me decide to enroll here. Seeing the Walton College campus and hearing about its programs and all it does for students, from Leadership Walton to the Research Institutes, made me feel at home. Even though I was at the last orientation, one week before school started, they worked with me to make sure I started out on the right foot and have kept me on that path ever since.
I knew that I wanted to do international business. Ever since my family adopted three of my siblings from South Korea, the world has interested me more and more every day. Walking into orientation, I was 100 percent sure that international business was for me, but I was not sure what to concentrate in.
Then we bumped into Renee Clay, a remarkable woman who helped me decide to pick Supply Chain Management. After my parents and I talked with her, we realized that International Supply Chain fit everything that I wanted, a global career that will always be exciting.
Getting involved right away at Walton College is key. I applied and was accepted into Leadership Walton of which I am a proud member to this day. They have provided me with many resources to success and knowledge into the ever-changing world of business.
I also joined the Transportation and Logistics Association, which helps students learn more about supply chain past, present and beyond. The Supply Chain Management Research Center and the department have been absolutely amazing, and I have learned so much through each of them. The research center encouraged me to apply to many of their programs, and through it I received a mentor from Kellogg’s who has helped show me the real life of supply chain. The center also sent me to Denver to participate in a team case study competition, which gave our team great skills and knowledge. Getting involved is the best thing you can do for your major.
On the international business side, I realized something – there was no organization! Through the Global Engagement Office and the Economics Department, we worked tirelessly in the year 2011 to bring about one of Walton’s newest clubs, the International Business Club, which celebrated its inaugural year during the 2012-2013 academic year.
We worked with the new Walton College exchange students and gave insight to U of A students who chose this degree. We’ve grown so much to around 200 members, and I cannot wait for this next year.
Walton College helped me to study abroad as well. The Global Engagement
Office made sure I knew what to do and when to do it and made sure everything was correct and in order. Through them and the Study Abroad Office, I was able to spend the summer of 2012 in Besancon, France, speaking French 24/7, staying with an great host family and gaining insight into the culture of France and its people.
The University of Arkansas has given me so much. I will now be a three-year resident assistant and am going to Maple Hill South this year. I will be working with the TLA and IBC as their president and working to bring Walton College students everything they need to take part in these two amazing organizations.
Because of all these things, I received an internship at the Hershey Company office in Bentonville. I enjoyed my time with them this summer and on into the school year as well.
Thank you, Walton College and the U of A. Go Hogs!
Jack Lim had never been to the United States, let alone Arkansas. But he remembers the exact time and day – 10 p.m., Dec. 31, 1998 – when he got off the plane at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and was greeted by a student organization, which drove him to Fayetteville as he began a new chapter in his life.
This was not a visit. He had never laid eyes on Old Main. He had never called the Hogs. But when he learned that his college credits from his home country of Malaysia would transfer easier than to the other universities he applied. The University of Arkansas was the obvious choice, he says. Fayetteville was now home.
He enrolled at the Sam M. Walton College of Business where he majored in business management – a field where his father excelled, Jack says. He then became acquainted with the college’s professors, who impressed him. He lived off campus, sharing space with Malaysian and non-Malaysian students as he got used to college life in Arkansas. And the language. He knew English, but Southern colloquialisms, like “y’all” for “you all,” were confusing at first, he says. “It took me three months to get familiar with the English here,” Jack says.
As he focused his studies on small business and entrepreneurship management, Jack received an internship with Chartwells, a division of Compass Group, a food service company that serves the world, including the University of Arkansas. He spent two years there as an undergraduate, where he was trained in management, cost control, scheduling and production. He says interning on campus with a globally recognized company connected him to the outside world without his ever having to step foot off university grounds.
When he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2002, Chartwells offered him a full-time position. The employees there treated him like family, inviting him to special events, such as the American tradition known as Thanksgiving. “I’ve made a lot of long-term friends,” he says.
Jack says that after working eight years at Chartwells, he decided to take on new challenges. He quit his job and returned to Walton College, this time to pursue an MBA with a career track in supply chain management while interning at the Kellogg Co. in Rogers. Internships have worked out well for him, he says. Jack was recently hired to work full time as a senior finance analyst where he manages budgets for the Kellogg sales office in Northwest Arkansas, which does business exclusively with Walmart, the world largest retailer. The latter part of this semester for Jack has meant going to class followed by long days at work, which will continue until he graduates in May. Yet, he says he can’t think of a better place than Walton College to get his business training and networking opportunities. “It’s a life-time experience,” he says.
During all of this, Jack got married. He and his wife, Julina Yu, are expecting their first child in August. He also became a United States citizen. Though his days are spent working a full-time job while going to graduate school and preparing for a little one on the way, Jack shrugs off any notions that life may be a little crazy at the moment.
“It’s a happy price to pay,” he says. “I love the challenge.”
When Dr. Anníbal Camara Sodero learned the University of Arkansas had created a Department of Supply Chain Management, he was eager to get on board. He knows how exciting it is to be part of something that has just started, and he realized a dream when he joined the department at the Sam M. Walton College of Business in January 2013.
It was a no brainer: an excellent job, at a wonderful institution, in the perfect location!
It was an achievement that tops all the other major accomplishments in his career, he says.
Sodero already knows success. In his late teens, he used knowledge gained from his bachelor’s degree in computer sciences at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais to start a business in a small studio in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. If something needed to be done, he and his partner would roll up their sleeves and take care of it themselves. “At the beginning, we were washing toilets,” he says.
Eventually, Ad Hoc Informática took off and became the market leader in software and consulting services for third-party logistics providers. “The industry was underserved, so we saw this niche,” he says.
In 2005, Sodero sold the company to Brazil’s giant GlobalWeb Data Services Corp. By then, his life had changed considerably. He followed his wife, Dr. Anna Goussevskaia (who recently began teaching at the Walton College as well), to England where she was working toward a Ph.D. in management at Warwick University. While there, he earned a master’s degree in supply chain management. He says he felt a need to grasp the underlying theories he encountered during his more than 10 years at Ad Hoc.
After a brief return to Brazil, Goussevskaia persuaded Sodero, a son of educators himself, to follow his vocation. He enrolled in the Ph.D. program in supply chain management at Arizona State University. The couple moved to Tempe, and his wife became a faculty member at the university’s management department.
Before graduation, Sodero learned of an assistant professorship opening at the University of Arkansas’ supply chain management department. It became his top choice. For starters, many of the faculty’s research streams were aligned with his interests, which are centered on multichannel retailing and the use of social media in supply chains. The collegiate atmosphere of the new department at the Walton College offered unique opportunities of collaboration and cooperation with experts in the discipline. Also, Sodero says he valued that both supply chain management and RFID research centers bridge the relationship between academia and practice.
When he was invited for a campus visit, he says he immediately fell in love with the Northwest Arkansas people and the Ozarks. So, when he received a job offer, he did not hesitate to accept it. “It was a no brainer: an excellent job, at a wonderful institution, in the perfect location!” he says.
Sodero says he is glad to have an opportunity to teach and conduct research at the Walton College. “You can see the passion and vision to create and deliver programs in which you can give back to the community at large,” he says. “I love my students, I love my job, and it is great to give back to the local community.”
In his spare time, Sodero likes to cook. His specialty is chicken tikka massala, a dish he learned to prepare while living in England. He says he and Goussevskaia are eager to explore the outdoors and attend concerts at the Walton Arts Center.
And he wants to start a new hobby. “I know how big fishing is in the region,” Sodero says. “I just want to become a fisherman like many locals.”
That little container of yogurt on the supermarkets’ refrigerated shelves has more of a story than one would think. In fact, it’s a story that Christian Hofer, associate professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, likes to share for those needing a little initiation to how the supply chain works – and one many take for granted when they’re shopping for groceries.
Take the plastic used to make the yogurt container, for example. Or the aluminum that was mined and processed to make its seal. And the sugar and fruit needed for flavoring. Somewhere, on a dairy farm, cows are providing the milk to make the yogurt. All can come from different parts of the globe before they converge at a factory, where the elements are combined, packaged and then shipped to distribution centers and, ultimately, grocery stores. “So, collectively, all these ingredients may travel thousands of miles,” Hofer says.
“And amazingly, when you want to buy the yogurt, it’s actually there, waiting for you on the shelf,” he says.
But if there is just one mishap in the entire supply chain, chances are the item will never make it to the kitchen table. “And if the supply chain didn’t function so smoothly and efficiently, the yogurt cup wouldn’t cost 40 cents, it might cost four dollars,” he says.
When Hofer sees electronic or textile products while shopping, he says he cannot help but think about how the costs of getting them there may well be higher than the products’ material value.
Hence, supply chain management is not only a critical business activity, but something that also affects consumers in their everyday lives. It’s a world that continues to fascinate Hofer. His research interests include topics such as lean inventory management. He says while many may think that holding inventory is something bad, having too little inventory can be equally as bad. Hofer and his co-author Cuneyt Eroglu, a former University of Arkansas professor, developed the Empirical Leanness Indicator, which enables firms to assess how lean they are compared to their competitors of comparable size within a given industry. Their paper, “Lean, Leaner, Too Lean? The Inventory-Performance Link Revisited,” was a finalist for the 2011 Journal of Operations Management Best Paper award.
Hofer brings this and other related concepts into the Executive MBA classes he teaches. The students in these classes are working professionals. Many of those students have successfully implemented for their companies what they learned in class. “This not only creates immediate value for our students and their employers,” Hofer says, “but it also enhances the reputation of the Walton College and the University of Arkansas.”
Hofer, a native of Germany, says he is also fascinated by the “behind the scenes” competition that takes place in the corporate world, something consumers seldom see.
“We typically think of firms competing in terms of product features and prices,” Hofer says. “But firms also compete by innovating and imitating other firms’ supply chain practices in areas such as sourcing and manufacturing.”
Hofer has studied these competitive dynamics and co-authored a paper on the subject, “The Competitive Determinants of a Firm’s Environmental Management Activities: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing Industries,” which was published in the Journal of Operations Management.
When he gets a new research idea, he has a team of colleagues to brainstorm and collaborate with at the Walton College. “I think of it as our happy little bubble,” he says.
One of those people in his bubble is his wife, Adriana Rossiter Hofer, an assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management.
“We’re so lucky to work here,” Hofer says. “It sounds cheesy, but I really enjoy working and spending time with every one of my colleagues.”
“I have been learning so much, and I wouldn’t trade the amazing experiences that I have had throughout the MBA program for anything.”
For Bethany Haefner, life really is like a box of chocolates – especially around Valentines Day when she, along with her coworkers at The Hershey Co., explore which ones will be in the highest demand for the romantic holiday.
Sometimes her job confuses people, she says.
“I’ve actually gotten some funny comments about it,” she says. “People often ask me if I actually help make the chocolate!”
Not quite. Bethany is a category consultant at Hershey’s Bentonville office, where she works on the Walmart account, selling chocolate chips, Hershey’s syrup, baking cocoa and other products, including Hershey’s Valentine’s Day candies. She
monitors real-time business activities, interprets data and creates immediate action plans to address issues as well as take advantage of opportunities. Since January, she has worked there full time while pursuing an MBA with emphases in entrepreneurship and supply chain, which she’ll earn in May at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Twice a week, Bethany takes a break from her job and drives more than 20 miles each way to the University of Arkansas to attend class.
Bethany is a familiar face at Walton College. It’s where she earned her bachelor’s degree with a major in marketing and a minor in accounting. She’s also no stranger to the Walton name. Having grown up in Bentonville, where Sam Walton called home, she already knew the Walmart founder’s significance, she says. Many of her classmates were children of Walmart employees who worked at the world’s largest retailer’s home office. Walmart is referenced in many of her college business classes, she says.
But proximity wasn’t the main reason why she chose to attend Walton College.
“I ended up going to the University of Arkansas because of the great business school and everything associated it with,” she says. “I also felt like it was beneficial to stay with University of Arkansas’ MBA program because I knew that I wanted to stay in retailing.”
As for Hershey’s, Bethany interned there as an undergraduate, which led to a graduate assistantship while she worked toward a master’s degree.
“I have always wanted to get my MBA,” she says. “Not only that, but I think that it is an important degree to have, especially to be competitive in today’s industry. That’s what encouraged me to move forward.”
Before Hershey’s, she interned as an undergraduate at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., which enhanced her experiences going into Walton College’s master’s program, she says. In turn, she says her yearlong entrepreneurship class under the direction of Carol Reeves has been extremely beneficial to her career at Hershey. “She helps train us how to look at the world in a different way – from the viewpoint of an entrepreneur,” Bethany says.
In Reeves’ class, Bethany is part of a five-member team that has created a business plan, in partnership with Unilever, that involves a shelf-planning, cloud-based software. The team, SpatiaLink Solutions, has taken the plan to collegiate entrepreneurship competitions, finishing second overall in the graduate team competition and winning the elevator pitch competition at the 2012 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup for Arkansas in April. They also won the “Gone in 60 Seconds” competition in Fort Smith and the top prize at the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge at the University of Louisville.
As a graduate student, she went to India over the Christmas break through the University of Arkansas’ Study Abroad program, where she learned about aspects of the country from its culture to how business works there.
She’s also planning for her wedding in May, to Zac Freeman, who is in the MBA program at John Brown University in Siloam Springs.
While her schedule is a busy one, Bethany says she doesn’t mind. “This has been a very busy semester, but I have been busy with things that I am passionate about,” she says. “I have been learning so much, and I wouldn’t trade the amazing experiences that I have had throughout the MBA program for anything.”
As a child, Adriana Rossiter-Hofer often lectured her siblings and friends when they needed help with their schoolwork. “My younger cousins still blame me for playing the teacher and lecturing them during our family vacations with our grandparents,” she says.
“At school, lots of people had a hard time making good grades in math and physics,” she says. “And, for some reason, those were my favorite subjects.” Though Rossiter-Hofer didn’t realize it at the time, she now says that this set her up for a career in teaching.
That she would teach at the University of Arkansas after growing up in the city of Recife in Brazil was not even a thought, she says. Instead, she spent her formative years in the country’s fifth largest metropolitan area, located in northeast Brazil along the Atlantic coast. With its tourists and growing industry, it continues to be a major port and commercial center. Now, as an assistant professor with the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Rossiter-Hofer takes her students to her home country through the Study Abroad program. During the rest of the year, she teaches international logistics and global supply chain management classes, which cover facets of the supply chain such as transportation, international channels and the commercial aspects of import-export procedures.
With a love for solving problems, Rossiter-Hofer majored in civil engineering at Brazil’s Federal University of Pernambuco in her hometown of Recife. From there, she earned her master’s degree in transportation engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with emphasis on public transportation and, upon graduation, worked at a consulting firm where she designed highways, toll roads and government logistics plans. This allowed her to collaborate with retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers. “It started to open my eyes to something bigger than transportation,” she says.
Soon, Rossiter-Hofer yearned to work internationally. She was accepted in an exchange program for young professionals through Rotary International. She spent time in Seattle where she visited construction companies, engineering firms and others in her field. The experience moved her so much that she decided that living in the United States was the right thing to do. “It was such a dream come true,” she says.
Rossiter-Hofer became a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. While there, she met a student from Germany, Christian Hofer, who is now also a supply chain management professor at the Walton College. Wooed by Hofer’s “beautifully and meticulously crafted” PowerPoint presentation, the two fell in love and got married. Now, she has a message to her students: “Work on your presentation skills because you never know. Your future spouse might be in the audience!”
Rossiter-Hofer and her husband have a 4-year-old son, Daniel. Family time is spent traveling globally and doing activities like bicycle riding and enjoying the area’s parks. She says she also loves to work out in the gym doing Pilates, yoga and cycling.
Rossiter-Hofer says when she and her husband earned their doctorates, they had opportunities to work at other universities. Yet, she says they were impressed by Walton College’s supply chain management program and made the move to Northwest Arkansas.
“The university is perfect,” she says. “This is my dream job.”