Monday, March 28, 2016

600+ participate in KeyBank Global Leaders Forum, presented by UT COBI

More than 600 business professionals from throughout the region participated in the 2016 KeyBank Global Leaders Forum on March 17 to explore how to develop and enhance Real Leadership in the 21st Century.
The event was presented by The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation (COBI) and was held in Savage Arena on the main campus of The University of Toledo.

“The KeyBank Global Leaders Forum provided a wonderful opportunity for our regional business owners and leaders to hear from difference-making leaders such as Jim Haudan, Marc Lautenbach, Dr. Longenecker and President Gaber,” said Jim Hoffman, President, KeyBank.  “It is part of our vision at KeyBank to help our community, and our businesses, thrive.”

The keynote speaker was global engagement authority Jim Haudan, CEO of Root, Inc., which is located in Sylvania, Ohio and has been recognized nationally as a Great Place to Work, who discussed “The Power of Engagement.” Haudan is also the author of the bestselling book, The Art of Engagement: Bridging the Gap Between People and Possibilities.

Also presenting at the event were Hoffman; Dr. Sharon Gaber, President, The University of Toledo; Dr. Clint Longenecker, UT Distinguished University Professor; and Marc Lautenbach, President and CEO, Pitney Bowes, Inc.

(L to R) Marc Lautenbach, Dr. Sharon Gaber, Jimm Hoffman

Jim Haudan, Root, Inc.

Jim Hoffman, KeyBank 

UT COBI Dean Gary Insch

Dr. Clint Longenecker

Power networking
Longenecker made the opening presentation, defining leadership as:
- Someone who influences others toward the achievement of goals and desired outcomes
- An individual who causes others to do things they might not otherwise do
- A person who demonstrates prowess, talent and skill in a given endeavor
- Someone who makes things happen and gets results with and through people at the right time and in the right way

”A key point is that achieving performance improvement and delivering outstanding results requires strong and effective leadership,” Longenecker said.

He also presented the power of S.T.O.P.:
- Sit. The act of regularly slowing down, being still and finding a quiet, isolated place to sit where you will not be disturbed and that will allow you the opportunity to think clearly.
- Think. The critically important process of refocusing your thoughts from the urgent pressing issues of the day to devote real and critical thought to the important results and activities that drive your cumulative effectiveness.
- Optimize. The act of planning for, prioritizing and organizing the specific actions that must be implemented on an ongoing basis to achieve desired incomes and high levels of performance.
- Perform. The act of implementing and executing a well thought out plan of action that addresses the key issues that lead to the outcomes/results you desire.

Longenecker said, “As leaders are attempting to deal with the challenges of this turbulent economic environment, this event is a great way to discover new ideas for becoming a better leader and creating competitive advantage with people.

The Global Leadership Forum was created to provide an environment for regional business leaders to talk about contemporary issues, discuss cutting-edge leadership practices and explore trends. KeyBank and COBI presented the first Global Leaders Forum in 2008, which featured former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department John Snow, and the second event in 2013.

Recent COBI grad building his career while active with COBI Alumni Affiliate

Persistence, focus and recognizing the value of giving back are valuable traits positively impacting the growth and future of Daniel Miller, who graduated from COBI last spring and is now steadily building his own financial services business.

Dan Miller
When the Ashland, Ohio native first came to The University of Toledo, his intended major was pre-physical therapy, which he later changed to biomedical engineering. As a sophomore, he changed again, this time to finance with a minor in professional sales. He was now in the same college of business from which his father graduated.

“I really valued some of the opportunities given to me that were unique to COBI,” Miller said, “primarily the chance to manage a $1.5 million fund in the Student Managed Portfolio class, and a monthly luncheon with COBI Dean Gary Insch where he listened and brainstormed ideas with select student leaders. I also loved that the college was big enough to offer diversity, but small enough so you could build connections and relationships with staff and other students.”

“I know that COBI provided a solid intellectual background in my field, grew my analytical and problem solving skills, and gave me lots of opportunities to exercise my people and other skills, all which have helped tremendously in my career,” Miller observed.

His career is in the financial services industry where he is an advisor with Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc. (TFA), where he started while still a junior in COBI.

“I was drawn to the financial services industry by the opportunity it offered me to serve people and change their lives for the better. Our firm takes the approach of education; we teach clients what they need, we educate them on different solutions to meet their needs, then we help them make the best decision for their specific situation,” Miller said. “We're an independent firm, so we have no incentive to do anything other than give our clients the best service and solutions the industry can offer.”

He added that TFA now has offices in Maumee, Perrysburg and three other cities, and that he is also launching an office in his hometown of Ashland.

“One of my COBI professors told me to read the book, You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, and that philosophy is how I approach education,” Miller said. “I'm a believer in experience-based learning, and there are things you can't replicate in a classroom.”

Another thing which Miller is passionate about is the impact of the College of Business and Innovation Alumni Affiliate.

“I received the COBI affiliate scholarship, and it was a tremendous blessing,” Miller said. “It not only helped me make it through my last year of school financially, but it was an affirmation that I was doing the right things in school and people were taking notice of that. Really, it confirmed to me to keep following the path I was on.”

Miller regularly attends planning meetings of the COBI Alumni Affiliate and participates in such events as the annual COBIAA Golf Outing.

“It's important for me to be active with the COBI Alumni Affiliate for a number of reasons. First, I think it's a great way to stay connected to UT at an incredibly formative stage of my life. I grew a lot in college, and that was because a lot of people did a lot of things for me that I never saw or got to say 'thank you' for. Second, it's a great way to network with other alumni. Every person that I meet through COBIAA has a common background as I do, and people like people who they can relate to.”

“Additionally,” Miller said, “I want to remain available to students as a mentor, contact, and resource. I spoke to lots of different alumni throughout my four years at COBI, many of whom made a massive impact on my life by giving me 30-60 minutes of their time. It would be very selfish of me not to remain available for others who need guidance, perspectives, and opinions.”

Beyond building his business and his commitment to the COBI Alumni Affiliate, Miller is very involved in the Christian ministry YoungLife. He also admits to being “really big into anything outdoors, so I like to hike, camp, kayak, canoe, or go on trail runs. I plan to hike all 53 fourteeners in Colorado (mountain peaks with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet), as well as Everest at some point in my life. I also hope to have an office in all 50 states.”

Miller said he realizes that “there's more to life than work and making money. Take time to enjoy what's around you: nature, family, relationships, and most importantly, the day you have been given. Being fully present in every moment makes for a higher quality of life.”

Dan can be contacted at

COBI grad student wins statewide accounting manuscript competition

UT COBI graduate student Laura Zielinski authored the winning paper - -   “The Impact of Supply Chain Enhancements on Financial Performance:  The Time Factor”  - - in the 2016 American Accounting Association’s (AAA) Ohio Region Student Manuscript Competition in the graduate category.

Zielinski will be recognized during the annual regional meeting of the American Accounting Association in April and will be presented with a check for $500.

Laura Zielinski

“I had originally written an article about ‘Supply Chain as a Cost Management Tool’ for Dr. Amal Said’s Advanced Managerial class in the Fall of 2015, and I intended to conduct further research in that area and submit a new paper,” she said. “My professor, Dr. Hassan HassabElnaby (Chair of the COBI Department of Accounting and faculty sponsor for the paper), said the American Accounting Association would want to see more data, so I searched Compustat for variables such as cost of goods sold, ending inventory and gross profit, calculated industry averages and I rewrote the entire article due to the better data available and refined idea.”

In the winning paper, Zielinski examines the time required for a company to begin experiencing the effects of a supply chain enhancement on its financial statements.

“The financial areas considered in this paper are costs of goods sold, gross profit and inventory,” Zielinski said. “The results of the analysis indicate that companies generally experience positive effects from the enhancement three to five years after the enhancement is announced.”

“I was really proud of winning the competition,” she said, “and it was a big deal for UT, showing off the work we can do.”

Dr. HassabElnaby, who was Zielinski’s faculty advisor for this paper said, “Laura did tremendous work on this project and it is wonderful to see the American Accounting Association recognize her with the first place award.”

Zielinksi said she studied accounting in high school and was always interested in finance. She had previously entered a regional essay writing competition in high school, winning third place.

“I entered the AAA contest in February and in March I received an email from Dr. HassabElnaby who forwarded an email to me that ‘Your student won.’  I was so happy, because I put so much work into this.  To have my college paper work recognized as high quality makes this award so much better.”

Zielinski, who is from Toledo, said she chose to attend The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation because “I liked UT after visiting here, plus I knew it had a good accounting department. I liked the faculty, the campus and the facilities.”

She has done two tax internships while at COBI, will graduate in May of this year, and plans to take the CPA exam this summer. She is also a graduate assistant for the accounting department and a tutor in the COBI Alan Barry Accounting Lab, saying “I like helping people as much as I can. As an accountant, we do things to help people have the information to make good decisions. As a tutor, we can help students understand accounting so they can make good business decisions in the future.”

Beyond accounting, Zielinski likes to paint, knit, run road races, visit zoos and is classified as a distinguished expert marksman in .22 long rifle at 50 feet.

She was also an invited participant in the COBI-sponsored Advanced Leadership Academy, which she said was “a great experience, very interesting. We need to see other possibilities in life.”

Harvard Business Review article discusses COBI marketing professor’s research

A research paper co-written by UT College of Business and Innovation marketing professor Dr. Xi Zhang was the subject of a two-page feature in the March issue of the Harvard Business Review, widely considered to be the world’s most influential management magazine.

“Winning Back Lost Customers: How to target and appeal to the most likely returnees” is an article under the Idea Watch section of the Harvard Business Review. The article analyzes Dr. Zhang’s research article, “Regaining ‘Lost’ Customers: the Predictive Power of First – Lifetime Behavior, the Reason for Defection and the Nature of the Win-Back Offer” (co-authored by V. Kumar, Yashoda Bhagwat and Dr. Zhang)  which first appeared in the July, 2015 issue of Journal of Marketing.

Dr. Xi Zhang
Dr. Zhang started teaching at COBI in fall, 2015. He conducted the research which is the basis for the article while a Ph.D. student at Georgia State University.

“Businesses everywhere are interested in the subject of winning back customers,” Dr. Zhang said, “so we approached different companies and obtained cooperation from a telecommunications company to conduct randomized field experiments. Using the company’s data, we analyzed the consumption patterns of its customers, built advanced statistical models, and developed actionable and generalizable intelligence.”    

“It’s a long process, but this project was very meaningful as we helped an industry solve its real problems.   It is a great example of how to utilize analytics on a company’s marketing problems, and why a company should rely on data as they manage their customer relationships.”

“I see the potential bridge between data analysis and real business problems,” Dr. Zhang continued. “The process should start from problem recognition, followed by the use of techniques in problem solving and knowledge generation.”

Dr. Zhang said, “The article first appeared in the July, 2015 Journal of Marketing, then other media started to take notice of it.  We were asked to write an article for an academic blog by a Research Center of Arizona State University. It was then re-blogged on, which serves more than 80,000 visitors per month from 200 countries.   The post drew a lot of attention, including a comment from Dr. Michael Lowenstein, one of the two authors of a best-selling book on customer win-back. So we knew we had good content.”

“As early as one week after the HBR article, we could track that more people were reading our original, complete research article.” Dr. Zhang said.

“This article is drawing attention not just from academia, but also from people in industry as they gain insights and apply them to what they are doing,” he said. “It is a good thing. We don’t want our work to be buried.”