The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College hosted its inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 7, with 16 teams of Allegheny students presenting personal financial budgets and investing plans. The winning teams, which together will receive $5,000 in prizes and trophies, were:
First Place (three-way tie)
• Pass/Go, Collect 200 Dollars (Sharlyne Cabral, Nicolas Marrero, Rachael Hensel and Hailey Shull)
• Just Throw it in the Bag (Daniella Clarke)
• JLZ-Fund (Jerfenson Cerda Mejia, Liam Wilby and Zachary Zoll)
Second Place (tie)
• Risky Business (Samantha Medaglia, Jacob Simmons, Bree Garcia and Ariana Villavicencio)
• The Smart Savers (Kayla McCandless, Rebecca Montgomery and Kamryn Randall)
Third Place (tie)
• Forward Thinking (Adam Cook and Devin Ho)
• Sustainable Development Goals (Maura McCampbell)
The students shared their plans with a panel of six judges, each with extensive experience in the financial industry. The judges evaluated the plans according to the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) criteria for excellence in financial planning and provided feedback to students on how they could refine and improve their plans. The judges for this year’s competition were:
Donald M. Belt, a 1993 Allegheny graduate and president at Hefren-Tillotson, Inc.
Toni Frisina, senior vice president and regional manager at Northwest Advisors (Northwest Bank)
Devone McLeod, a 2013 Allegheny graduate and certified financial planner at Reby Advisors
Janine Sickafuse, retired Allegheny accounting/economics professor
Sean Ward, a 1989 Allegheny graduate and partner at Blue Point Capital Partners, a global private equity firm
Susan Wycoff, a 1974 Allegheny graduate and retired vice president and relationship strategist at PNC Wealth Management
The prizes for the Financial Literacy Challenge were provided through a gift from an anonymous longtime supporter of the Center for Business and Economics.
First-place winners of the inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge, from left: Nicolas Marrero, Sharlyne Cabral, Hailey Shull, Daniella Clarke, Liam Wilby and Jerfenson Cerda Mejia. Not pictured: Rachael Hensel and Zachary Zoll.
Forty-six Allegheny College students will participate in the college’s inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 7, presenting a personal financial budget and investing plan appropriate for a recent college graduate. The event, which will award $5,000 in trophies and prizes, is sponsored by the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny.
The students, representing 20 teams, will share their plans with a panel of six judges, each with extensive experience in the financial industry. The judges will evaluate the plans according to the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) criteria for excellence in financial planning and will offer feedback to students on how they can refine and improve their plans. The competition’s awards ceremony is open to the public and will take place at 2 p.m. in Henderson Auditorium in Quigley Hall on the Allegheny campus.
Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the Economics Department, said the Financial Literacy Challenge supports a strategic goal of the Center for Business and Economics: to provide extracurricular activities to help students prepare for life beyond Allegheny. The competition also addresses a growing need to educate students about making sound financial decisions, Allison said.
“There has been a lot of media coverage recently about the importance of financial management for recent college graduates,” said Allison, who is coordinating the competition with Sarah Holt from the Economics Department. “It’s an urgent national need, and from the outset, we had a high level of student interest in the Financial Literacy Challenge.”
The Financial Literacy Challenge has attracted Allegheny students with majors in a variety of fields, including economics, English, environmental science, history, international studies, psychology and studio art. Approximately half of the participants are enrolled this semester in a financial literacy course taught by Allison, and the other participants entered the competition as an extracurricular activity.
Allison said the student teams each spent upwards of 20 hours developing their plans for the competition. In their plans, teams outline their financial goals and the steps to achieve them, including:
A monthly budget
A brief discussion of the impact of the current state of the economy
An investment strategy that shows an understanding of the return characteristics of different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds
An asset allocation, which is the mix of stocks and bonds that fits the student’s age as well as investment objectives
Allison said he emphasizes the importance of recent graduates investing at least 10 percent of their take-home pay from the beginning of their careers.
“It’s really immaterial what they invest in, just as long as they start,” he said. “We place a pretty big emphasis on index funds, which provide the widest level of diversification. You can’t beat the market so just buy the market.”
Allison added that the Financial Literacy Challenge also benefits students by providing them with exposure to successful Allegheny alumni who are serving as its judges. The competition also presents students with an opportunity to prepare for the CFA Institute Research Challenge in Pittsburgh in February 2020, Allison said.
The prizes for the Financial Literacy Challenge were provided through a gift from an anonymous longtime supporter of the Center for Business and Economics.
The Center for Business & Economics welcomes Dr. Rosemary Isoto on Monday, December 9 to present her paper entitled, “Agricultural Technology, Bio-fortification and Child Nutrition in Uganda.”
Despite big strides in economic growth, a general decline in poverty levels and an improvement in life expectancy at birth, Uganda continues to lag in terms of reducing child mortality and malnutrition. The immediate causes of malnutrition among children in Uganda and elsewhere continue to be the high disease burden as well as inadequate dietary intake. However, many other factors contribute to nutritional outcomes, among them, the performance of the agricultural sector.
Recent compelling study reviews reveal a number of key pathways that connect improvements in agriculture to improved nutritional outcomes. They include higher agricultural incomes, lower food prices, more nutritious on-farm production and consumption, and synergies between agriculture and nutrition and health arising from women’s empowerment. This study investigates the linkages between modern agricultural technology and child nutrition with a specific focus on production of bio-fortified food crops.
Dr. Rosemary Isoto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics (DANRE) at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Before joining DANRE, she was a Post-doctoral fellow at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston. She received her PhD from The Ohio State University in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.
Dr. Isoto’s main research focuses on interlinkages between agriculture and nutritional intake among rural households, financing and marketing matters, issues of financing among youth, provision of extension services in a decentralized setting, gender and productivity, landfills and environmental issues among others.
She has wide knowledge on different models of credit provision in Uganda based on her own research and teaching of agricultural and agribusiness finance. She has also published extensively in journals such as Finance Review, Food Security, and Development Studies among others.
Faculty Seminars are organized to provide a platform for Allegheny and visiting faculty to give presentations based on their research agenda. Students, faculty and staff attend to learn more about cutting edge research in the field of business and economics.
On Thursday, November 21, Gene Natali ’01 will speak on the important consequences of financial choices, particularly those made by students and young professionals.
How can we make wise financial decisions?
Join the Center for Business and Economics for lunch as Mr. Natali provides guidance on how to make better financial decisions and discover the rewards of financial freedom.
Mr. Natali is the CEO and Founder of Troutwood, a financial technology company focusing on financial empowerment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Allegheny College and an MBA with a concentration in finance from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, board member of CFA Society Pittsburgh and part-time lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh.
In 2012 Mr. Natali co-authored an award-winning investment guide titled “The Missing Semester.” This guide provides practical financial advice to high school and college students and has been used in classrooms across the country. The book received the 2013 EIFLE (Excellence in Financial Literacy Education) Book of the Year award by the Institute for Financial Literacy. Mr. Natali regularly speaks in High School and College classrooms, has presented and key-noted various investment and education conferences, and has helped design and has led teacher and trustee training.
The Lunchtime Learning Speaker Series provides students with opportunities to gain valuable information on topics and industries related to internships and careers in business and economics.
Gaia Rancati, an assistant professor of marketing and neuromarketing who hails from Italy, attended her first-ever American-style football game at Allegheny College in September 2019 and was intrigued by the amount of strategy and hierarchical organization she saw playing out on the field.
“I was surprised by the number of players and assistant coaches, and I thought to myself, the head coach must have to be a good manager just like in a successful business,” she said. “I could also see that there was a lot of strategic planning going into the game.”
A week later, Rancati called Allegheny Head Football Coach Rich Nagy to see if he was interested in sharing his expertise with her Introduction to Managerial Economics class.
Nagy, in his first year as head coach of the Gators, was more than happy to oblige and agreed to speak to Rancati’s Economics 240 students about his decision-making processes as they pertain to recruitment, on-field strategy and personnel management.
“Football really functions as a business model. A head football coach’s job is to run the organization,” said Nagy. “And when you think of it, recruiting players is all about sales and marketing. When we talked about it, it was amazing how much crossover there is” between competitive athletics and overseeing a business, he said.
“In football, we are in the people business,” said Nagy. “There is a chain of command, just like in any successful company. There are different managerial styles, and there’s a sales model for recruitment. The product side comes out on the field.”
Said Rancati: “In class, we discuss how companies recruit people, about their competitive strategies, and about how they motivate employees. It’s basically the same model. In business, we call it employer branding.”
That especially applies to Allegheny’s recruitment strategy since the College has a quality brand for student-athletes, Nagy said. “I talked to the class about recruiting athletes. We’re looking for talented people who will fit in at Allegheny, people we think we can develop as students and as athletes,” he said.
In the business world, recruitment is known as the “war of talents,” where companies try to lure the best and brightest critical thinkers and industrious workers to join them, Rancati said.
And like major companies, football coaches try to bring to the team players with sound character, added Nagy. “I’ve learned you can recruit your own problems,” he said. For instance, he carefully watches family interactions when he’s on recruiting visits, Nagy said. “If they’re showing disrespect for their mother or father, they’re probably going to be doing the same thing to me,” he said.
Added Rancati: “In football and in business, recruiters are trying to match the values of the person to the values of the school or the company.”
It’s also true that in football and the business world, managers and coaches have to groom front-line players, Rancati said. “You have stars in football and you have stars in business, and every year, you lose some of them, so you are continually developing talent,” she said.
Trust also is crucial on the playing field and in corporate offices, Rancati said. “Trust is the keyword,” she said. “You can’t play well in a game if you don’t have trust in the coaches and other players. The same applies to co-workers in the business world.”
Team captain and economics student Zachary Wilson, a senior from Mars, Pennsylvania, talked about the insight he has gained from the class: “I never really made a connection with football and business strategy until Dr. Rancati showed me that they basically have the same ideology. Looking at the bigger picture of business and football, it is important to understand that every level of the business needs to do their part in order for the firm to be successful. This relates directly to football because each person out of the 11 on the field needs to do their individual job for the desired outcome.”
Rancati said 11 of her 25 students in Economics 240 are student-athletes, including four football players and two students who work as a trainer and an equipment manager for the football team. “I was able to see these students from a different perspective,” Rancati said. “It’s important that teachers see students in their athletic roles and for coaches to see students in their academic settings — the message being that we care about you as a person.”
“I tell my coaches that if you’re going to be involved, you have to be all in,” said Nagy. “I know I have to be involved in academics. It’s important for coaches to attend student presentations on campus. I tell the players, you are going to Allegheny College for a reason, and it’s not just football.”
Two weeks after the coach addressed the economics class, Rancati took the group to the Gators practice field to observe and participate in football drills, even running some plays as a unit on both sides of the ball. “Business and economics are more than book learning. You have to experience it in your daily interactions,” said Rancati, who has been named an honorary “faculty captain” for the 2019 season.
Rancati and Nagy said they plan to continue the collaboration for future classes.
“Using football as a teaching metaphor works. The game of football and the marketing and business arenas have a lot in common,” said Rancati. “It’s important to look outside of the box to gain that competitive advantage.”
Students of all majors are invited to attend a special Lunchtime Learning event where Professor Chris Allison ’83, Entrepreneur in Residence, will illuminate the many opportunities available for students with interests in business and economics. “Your professional life will throw a lot of surprises at you, so planning is essential to respond to those setbacks quickly and effectively,” says Professor Allison. “So, failing to plan your educational journey is really planning to fail.”
Professor Allison will guide students in considering the many professional opportunities after graduation and offer suggestions on how to secure internships and achieve career preparedness by taking advantage of the multiple experiential learning activities offered through the Center for Business & Economics and the Allegheny Gateway.
Students in attendance will receive a copy of A Roadmap for Business & Economics, career guide along with along with an internship directory providing a brief overview of the internship opportunities most appreciated by Allegheny students with interests in business and economics. Students will find information to set goals, learn how to get the most of their studies, prepare for jobs and internships as well as evaluate the many career and graduate school opportunities available to them as Allegheny College students. Included in the Roadmap is a form for students to plan their courses and a career & co-curricular planning document – both forms will assist students with resume writing and setting goals for their journey after graduation.
We encourage students to attend this event prior to registering for spring classes.
The Roadmap for Business and Economics
Thursday November 14, 12:15 pm, Quigley Auditorium
Lunch will be provided
Chris Allison ’83 Allegheny Trustee, Entrepreneur in Residence and Co-Director for the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics
Professor Allison is the former Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Tollgrade Communications Inc. He is both the Entrepreneur in Residence and the Co-Director of the Center for Business & Economics. A published author of two books and multiple articles in the Pittsburgh media, his teaching and research interests include Managerial Economics, Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Investing Theory, Writing and Public Speaking. He is the host of the Financial Literacy Challenge and the annual Big Idea Competition where he shares his valuable executive experience to provide guidance and support to Allegheny’s next generation of business leaders.
A summer research project led by Dr. Stephen Onyeiwu, Professor of Economics, conducted with students Gillian Greene ’20 and Matthew Massucci ’20 entitled, “Trends in the Tooling and Machining Industry of Crawford County, PA”* investigated the state of the industry through a comprehensive survey of 28 Crawford County manufacturers involved in the Tooling & Machining (T&M) industry. Due to the unique history of the tool & die industry in the Meadville area**, Dr. Onyeiwu originally embarked upon this longitudinal study soon after arriving at Allegheny College in 2002.
This summer’s survey, published in August 2019, revealed that technological change and automation enabled northwest Pennsylvania manufacturers in Crawford County to experience growth for the past five years. Local manufacturers see the industry as being stable for the next 10 years, though they see increasing opportunities in the medical equipment and device industry.
“Based on our previous surveys, we were pleasantly surprised to find the industry in such robust health,” commented Dr. Onyeiwu. He continued, “We were equally pleased to learn that recent tariffs have not been detrimental to local shops, and that foreign competition is no longer considered the same formidable threat that it has been in the past.”
Why are Crawford County Tool Shops Doing so Well?
The research suggests there are seven important reasons:
Rising Costs– The cost differences between area tool shops and foreign competitors like China have narrowed, mainly due to rising costs in the foreign countries.
Quick Turn Around – Most tool shops said that turnaround time is critical for competitiveness, and have specialized to meet customer demand.
Quality Advantage – Crawford County shops have continued to maintain their reputation for high quality standards.
Product and Market Diversification – Crawford County shops have diversified their customer base in terms of the number of customers, as well as the range of products manufactured.
Cluster Effects – Tool shops in Crawford County operate in a cluster, the largest of which is located in the Meadville area. The benefits of clusters come by way of an agglomeration of traditional economies including access to skills, materials, services, markets, capital and economic development agencies within a geographic area.
Training Centers for Toolmakers – Although Crawford County is still facing skill shortages, it has training centers for toolmakers, including the Precision Machining Institute (PMI) and the Crawford County Career and Technical Center.
Weakening of Foreign Competition – while the survey did not produce a consensus of opinion, quality and delivery stood out as the reasons, particularly in specialized markets. Foreign competitors have also seen increases in their production costs, partly as a result of rising wages.
The Future Workforce, Competition and Regulation Remain a Challenge
Moving forward, area manufacturers will continue to invest in new technology, consider new training models for younger workers and have a greater focus on soft skills. While foreign competition is not as onerous as it once was, domestic competition is much stronger than in the past. Tool shops believe that OSHA should play a more constructive role and help educate firms on how to keep employees safe.
Despite the challenges, 85% of the shops expressed optimism about the future of the industry – that’s good news for Crawford County.
According to the City of Meadville, “the Talon Corporation, headquartered in Meadville, played a major role in the market development and manufacture of the zipper… In the 1980’s, the Great Lakes region saw a major decline in heavy industry. This blow to the local economy was softened by a subsequent surge in light industry, mainly tool and die machine shops, earning Meadville the nickname Tool City, USA. Today, the Meadville area remains a leader in tooling, machining and advance manufacturing and the city serves as the region’s center for banking, education and social services.”
Dr. Onyeiwu is the Andrew Wells Robertson Professor of Economics at Allegheny College teaching courses in Managerial Economics, Advanced Managerial Economics, Management of Innovation and Technological Change, Introduction to Microeconomics, and African Economic Development. His research interests include the Technological Strategies of Firms, Small Business Development, Industrial Organization, and Global Economic Issues.
Gillian Greene ’20 is a double major in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Middle East and North Africa Studies. Matthew Massucci ’20 is an Economics major with a minor in Mathematics.
Faculty Mentored Research
This research project is supported through the URSCA program for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities. Learn more at Allegheny College Research
The surprising connection between business strategy and football
Inspiring students to learn more today and in the future requires imagination and collaboration.
When Dr. Gaia Rancati, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Neuromarketing considered methods of teaching business strategy in her Business & Managerial Economics class, she reached out to Allegheny football coach Richard Nagy to brainstorm ideas on how to drive home the meaning and significance of strategy in every area of life. Why football? Dr. Rancati shared her idea, “I believe that the connection with a professor and a coach can help to engage more students. There is no sport like football with the ability to put business strategy into practice.”
According to Coach Nagy, “I was amazed at how our model of running a football program fit what Dr. Rancati was teaching,” he continued, “She has really made me think and examine some of the things that we do. She is a great resource for me moving forward. I also really appreciate her enthusiasm and passion and how she teaches and inspires her students.”
The student reaction has been very positive. Football team captain and economics student Zach Wilson had this to say about the surprising connection between business strategy and football, “I never really made a connection with football and business strategy until Dr. Rancati showed me that they basically have the same ideology. Looking at the bigger picture of business and football, it is important to understand that every level of the business needs to do their part in order for the firm to be successful. This relates directly to football because each person out of the 11 on the field needs to do their individual job for the desired outcome.”
He continued, “Another surprising connection is the concept of competitive advantage. In the business world, you must have a quality, product, service, etc., that is perceived by the customers as better than the competition. This competitive advantage makes your specific firm more successful in some way, whether that’s total profit, a relevant position for your audience, or in football terms, more wins than other teams. Football strategy and business strategy are primarily the same in many ways and both aim to be better than the competition surrounding them. GO GATORS!”
Dr. Rancati was selected for the coin toss at the Oct. 19th football game where the Gators won a 49-0 victory –demonstrating that a little strategy can go a long way. A native of Italy, Dr. Rancati, when asked about the differences between the European version of football, what Americans call soccer, and American football, she exclaimed, “Italy has its soccer history and the U. S. has great football!”
Gaia Rancati, Ph.D.
Dr. Rancati is the assistant Professor of Marketing and Neuromarketing at Allegheny College, a Visiting Professor – IULM University Milan, a Professor – IED Milan and the Head of Retail – Immersionneuro Los Angeles. She is the winner of the Woman of Excellence 2019 Award for Customer Experience and Retail from the World Economic Forum.
Richard Nagy is a veteran coach with more than 30 years of experience at the Division I and III levels, as its 35th head football coach. Nagy, who served as an assistant coach and eventually held the title of associate head coach for the Gators in the 1990s, returns to Meadville after most recently serving as the defensive coordinator at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
The CBE Fellows invite all Allegheny students for a special event on Gator Day – Allegheny’s day of programming centered on helping students connect their curricular and co-curricular experiences with the next steps they want to take at Allegheny and beyond.
The Fellows have created a new workshop entitled, How to “Excel” at your Internship based on their collective experience as both job applicants and interns in a wide variety of workplace environments. A key requirement for most positions today is a working knowledge of Microsoft Office’s spreadsheet program, Excel® – in fact, employers expect students to be proficient in Excel from their first day on the job.
But what about those soft skills everyone talks about? The Fellows recognized that it’s not simply the technical skills required for Excel, the key to success is understanding how to achieve the kind of results that benefit the organization.
To master both skills, the Fellows have designed this Excel workshop to teach Excel tips, tricks and shortcuts and share real life examples of how these skills can help students to succeed in the workplace. All six Fellows will be on hand to answer questions on Excel and internships as well as discuss how they were able to utilize these skills in their past internships. Participants will receive a handout with Excel shortcuts.
The event will be held on Tuesday, October 29 from 9:30 – 10:30 am in Quigley #220. Students can feel free to bring their laptops or use the computers in the room. A light breakfast will be provided.
Center for Business & Economics Fellows
CBE Fellows are a select group of motivated students that function as a leadership team to support CBE programming and act as student ambassadors. Activities are structured to enable students to include this position on their respective resumes as a valuable work experience. To qualify for this position, students must have a keen interest in both business and economics, maintain a good academic standing, and regularly attend all CBE activities.
The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics attracts Allegheny’s next generation of business innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a host of co-curricular activities that connect with and deepen their classroom experiences.
Author, lawyer and Allegheny College trustee Michael R. Young will visit the college to share experiences from his legal career in a talk titled, “What Were They Thinking? How Honest People Go Bad … A Little at a Time,” from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, October 17, in Quigley Auditorium.
This event is hosted by the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics in partnership with the Law & Policy Program. Lunch will be provided.
Young, who has spent 38 years as a Wall Street attorney investigating corporate wrongdoing, also will visit some economics classes while on campus. His Lunchtime Learning talk will examine how decent, honorable individuals end up breaking the law, often without realizing it.
Young, a 1978 Allegheny graduate, is a litigation partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York City where he chairs the firm’s securities litigation practice. He advises and defends boards of directors, audit committees, accounting firms, public companies, and company officers on issues of corporate governance and financial reporting. He was named by Accounting Today as one of the “Top 100 most influential people in accounting.”
He has served as a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, as chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Financial Reporting Committee, and as counsel to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Center for Audit Quality.
A prolific author on the subjects of financial reporting, audit committee effectiveness and the role and responsibilities of the independent auditor, his books include “The Financial Reporting Handbook” (Wolters Kluwer 2003), “Accounting Irregularities and Financial Fraud” (Harcourt 2000) and, most recently, “Financial Fraud Prevention and Detection: Governance and Effective Practices” (Wiley 2014).
Young is a speaker and commentator on financial reporting issues, and he has been regularly quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, The Washington Post and The National Law Journal. He has also appeared as an invited guest on Fox Business News, CNBC, MSNBC and CNN.
He is also a graduate of the Duke University School of Law, where he was research and managing editor of the Duke Law Journal.