Author Archive

Diversity on UMSL’s Campus

By: Kyle Barton and Chris Copithorne

UMSL Business met with campus minority and diversity leaders to discuss diversity on UMSL’s campus, specifically covering the organizations available for black students to foster diversity. Deborah Burris, Chief Diversity Officer; Ashlee Roberts, Assistant Director of Student Involvement; Dr. Malaika Horne, Director of Executive Leadership Consortium; and Annie Mbale, International Business Student at UMSL, all gathered to discuss the topic with UMSL Business.

Q1. UMSL has already been recognized for having one of the most diverse student body’s in the nation. What is the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion doing to widen our spectrum even further?

Deborah Burris: We are interested in constantly re-evaluating what we do by collecting data. We feel it’s important to connect with our community to plan what efforts are in place to be more strategic.

Q2. Is there any sort of liaison between your office and organizations like the Associated Black Collegians (ABC) or the Black Business Student Association (BBSA)? How important are these organizations to UMSL diversity?

Deborah Burris: Yes, we make a conscious effort to connect with these organizations by attending their events and co-sponsoring them. We are present to show that we are not only saying we support them, but we show up and spread information about their activities throughout the campus community. Specifically, we work with the Black Faculty Association, who also support these students. Organizations are important because they help students connect with others from similar cultural backgrounds.

Q3. Why is it important that students join organizations like Associated Black Collegians, the Black Business Student Association, or the Pan African Association?

Ashlee Roberts: It’s important for students at large to get involved, because they find a sense of belonging. People find a sense of culture, especially in these minority organizations, which leads to a shared experience. That’s why we have these different offshoots. Pan African Association is important because it brings in even more experiences and it includes international students. This creates even greater diversity, compared to domestic African American organizations. These groups have worked closely over the years and collaborated to create a sense of home. We want them to get involved. We talk about the social services, and the leadership development that these organizations provide. We want them to have fun, but we’re also here to encourage them to pursue opportunities.

Q4. What are the benefits you have seen from involvement in student organizations like this? What are the members doing for our campus?

Ashley Roberts: Seeing students continue to stay on campus is the most critical. There’s a lot of overlap with low income and first-generation students, who are not familiar with navigating the university. It can really help them get plugged in, which helps retain them. We watch these students develop from “I just want to go to the class” to “I want to get involved with leadership.” As an example, ABC works with UMSL Alumni Association to host a dinner with African American alumni and current students from UMSL. ABC doesn’t “horde” the opportunities for themselves, it shared the opportunity with BBSA. ABC thinks it’s important to see their peers getting plugged in, which helps them endure challenges together.  

Q5. What would be the benefit of adding more organizations like ABC and BBSA? Do you think UMSL needs more organizations like this?

Dr. Horne: Yes. The ultimate hope being that students become more attuned with the importance of cultural diversity and encouraging them to embrace it beyond our campus. Whether it’s people of color, different socio-economic statuses, veterans, and on and on. We need to support their success and embrace their cultural diversity.

Q6. What can you tell us about the relationship between these aforementioned cultural organizations and the Executive Leadership Consortium (ELC)?

Dr. Horne: The ELC is a resource for all students, regardless of cultural background. However, these organizations need to connect with groups from different sub-cultures. We need to stress the importance of helping these students succeed in our institution. We need to be warm welcoming and understand the uniqueness and the strength of these organizations at our university. The more we understand that the better.

Q7. Why did you choose UMSL, and what organizations are you involved with?

Annie Mbale: I chose UMSL, because of the International Business program. My decision was made officially on UMSL Day, and I loved the diversity here. After I came to America, I knew UMSL was special. When I was an undergraduate, I was very involved. I was a leader in several business and cultural organizations.

Q8. Why did you decide to join all these organizations?

Annie Mbale: I wanted to network, and I knew I had to join organizations to do that. Even when I was at the junior college, I was very involved. I was President of the student government organizations. I tried my best to be a good student too, and I knew the best way to practice the skills I learned in the classroom is to be involved in organizations. I didn’t want to join the Pan African Association at first, but when it was kicked off the campus due to lack of members, it made me angry and I decided to bring back my own organization.

Want to hear and see more from these distinguished leaders? Please watch the full video here:

Inspiration and Lessons Learned from the 2018 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference

By: Weber Shandwick St. Louis

Despite the dreariness of last week’s weather, some brightness shone as marketing students, industry professionals and marketing and communications leaders gathered for the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference in downtown St. Louis. Weber Shandwick’s Digital Account & Engagement Lead Obele Brown-West led an engaging discussion on how brands and organizations are leveraging AI on social media to create compelling new content that drives commerce.

Reflecting on Obele’s presentation, I wondered how much have I purchased through social media? How did these ads even target me as a consumer? This world of social commerce isn’t necessarily new, but it’s fascinating how easily it has crept into our daily lives and how rapidly it evolves. Obele mentioned that “this presentation will probably be antiquated by the time we leave this room.” As quickly as things change in the social commerce landscape, that’s definitely a possibility.

Combining the right tools and technology with social media means transforming the way we shop in our daily lives, and transforming how we convert consumers in our professional lives. Social platforms shake up the consumer experience and directly correlate to bottom of the funnel marketing objectives.

While my bias may tell me that my colleague’s presentation was the best of them all, there was still a lot to learn from many other experts attending the conference. From crisis management, to visual storytelling, read some of my colleagues’ thoughts and takeaways from the conference below!

– Rodney Pruitt, Associate, Client Experience Digital

Social Media Crisis Management Panel

Reputation takes years to build and minutes to dissolve in the wake of a crisis. Social media managers need to have the tools and know-how at the ready to manage an issue quickly and effectively, even if they are not crisis communications experts. While most PR professionals know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to managing a crisis, there’s still a lot to learn, much of which can only come from experience. A panel of local crisis powerhouses shared their insights on how to prepare before a crisis or issue, based on their many years in the trenches. Here’s what they said:


—Read More at the Weber Shandwick Blog—


New Up and Coming Social Media Platforms

By: Andrea Siecinski

Social media is a relatively new concept, but it has quickly become a way of life in this century. It is hard to break through the noise of the big platforms that are present in today’s society. Many venture in creating the greatest, new social media platform but do not make it due to the competition. There are some social media platforms that are making a splash and turning heads lately, though. is an app that started in 2014 and is a platform that is popular with today’s teenagers. is a site that allows its users to lip sync or dance to a song for 15 seconds and post it. According to Adweek, it is starting to rival other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Even Katy Perry is using it to promote her music.


Vero, which means truth, is the most recent social media platform to get a big break. It has become very popular and has got a lot of hype as of late. Vero is a place to share all sorts of media and ideas. Its feed is chronological, which has been lost on other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Vero is also ad-free at the moment which is hard to find on other platforms.


Hive is a platform that allows its users to connect and follow people with similar interests. Users create a profile based on their interests, and Hive connects them to people nearby with similar interests. It is being marketed as a way to connect people and to create new friendships. It will also be a spot to get advice on those topics of interest. It has recently been promoted by football player Terrell Owens, and Peter Kraus of the Bachelor.

These platforms are making some headway in the social media world. Who knows if they will thrive as much as Facebook and Instagram have, but they are finding success despite how hard it is to make it. The platforms are unique in their own way which has brought them some success.


UMSL Tutoring and Lab Services For Business Students  

By: Chris Copithorne

The University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) offers business students different types of resources to ensure student success. One of the best features they offer is tutoring programs and labs for students from all business-related majors. Specifically, these majors include: Accounting, Finance, Supply Chain and Analytics, and Information Systems. There is also a Writing Center and a Math Academic Center available, both located in 222 SSB.

Math and Writing Centers are probably the most well-known by students, but many other fields are just as valuable and should be taken advantage of by business students. For instance, the Finance Lab for Bloomberg Terminal Use is something every student should get themselves familiar with. It is a new feature offered to business students on the first floor of the new business building – Anheuser Bush Hall. Bloomberg Terminal is a software which helps monitor financial data in real-time. This resource offers the opportunity for real-world experience, especially for those who plan to pursue a career in finance.

Tutoring outlets and resources meet the dynamic needs of business students studying in a variety of fields at the undergraduate and graduate level. For instance, an undergraduate business student working on pre-requisite courses in Economics could take advantage of the Economics Resource Center (ERC) located in 452 SSB. Moreover, students can improve their understanding in other technical disciplines like: Mathematics/Writing (222 SSB), Accounting (006 ABH), Management Information Systems (200 ESH), and Supply Chain (002 ABH) in their respective tutoring Centers. All of these tutoring services function on a walk-in basis, but the writing center does require an appointment to receive assistance. This is due to the ambiguous time requirements which is necessary to accurately review, evaluate, and guide a student on a writing assignment. For additional information concerning hours of operation for Tutoring services in Business, please click here.   

Conversely, if you have the ability to help others in these subjects, you can become a tutor. Oftentimes these boast a high degree of flexibility regarding the tutor’s class schedule. These coveted positions are usually given to students who have demonstrated the highest level of proficiency in the courses that they tutor. Prospective business students who need help from a tutor should feel assured in knowing that they are working with the best and brightest in the UMSL Community. Tutors are usually hand-picked by department heads and leaders who look for patient and intelligent students to fill these roles.

Clearly, the tutoring program at UMSL is something that provides huge benefits to all parties involved. It is the hope of the College of Business that students and tutors will cultivate long-lasting relationships through common career interests in the field of business. These relationships often lead to additional networking opportunities through business clubs and organizations within the UMSL community. Tutoring services are meant to serve the needs of business students and augment current efforts in their respective courses. To make the most out of tutoring services, students should come prepared with specific questions on practice problems or assignments. The overall difference tutoring services can make is profound, as students exceed and achieve their academic goals.


Learn From the Best in the Industry at #MDMC18

By Kyle Barton

The following is an interview from the student-run podcast, ‘In Your Business: With UMSL Business

Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC18) is the largest digital marketing conference in the region, which is going to take place on March 27th and 28th at St. Louis Union Station. The conference provides an unprecedented opportunity to network with digital marketers, and refresh the understanding of the greatest trends affecting the industry.

The real value of MDMC18 is the accessibility that it provides. The speakers embody professionals working as Content Practitioners, Brand Strategists, and CEOs. Participants represent firms of all sizes, but all recognize the growing importance of the Digital Marketing field.

Here is the interview with Dr. Perry Drake, the Founder of the conference, who is also Assistant Teaching Professor and  Director of Business Collaboration at UMSL’s College of Business Administration, and Brianna Smith, the Executive Director of the Conference.

Q1. Could you please tell us how this conference got started?

Perry Drake: I’ve been at UMSL since 2013, prior to that I was at New York University for about fourteen years. When I came back to UMSL, I started a Digital Marketing program, and I really didn’t have a conference on my mind. In terms of building that out, it just kind of happened. I had asked a couple of my colleagues in my work, who work at Google, BuzzFeed, and Pinterest, if they would be interested in coming in on a Google Hangout and talking to my students in my Digital Strategies class, and a couple of them said they would be happy to fly out for me and meet the students face-to-face. It was a half day conference, which was free and it was the start of the conference that just kind of evolved from there. That is also the first time I had met Brianna, and she was actually an attendee at that conference. She can fill you in more.

Brianna Smith: Perry and I met at the conference, because I was technically in Twitter Jail. There was such great content at the conference, and I was on my computer. I have a very large following of digital marketers. I was trying to tweet all the takeaways, and I was tweeting too fast and too much, and they thought I was spamming. So Twitter locked me out, and a bunch of people were tweeting out: “Let Brianna out of Twitter Jail!” So, Perry and I met then.

Perry Drake: So now Brianna is the Executive Director of MDMC, we are the two that get this thing to happen, which is just a massive monster at this point.

Q2.What makes MDMC different from other digital marketing conferences? And why should people attend?

Brianna Smith: The main thing comes from how it was started, and where it comes from. It was started at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. So our whole basis is on education, high quality content, breakout sessions, value and its inclusivity. No matter if you’re a student, or you just started your career, or you’re interested in starting a digital marketing career, or your a CEO of a company, you can attend the conference, because it’s so affordable. I myself am a Digital Marketer in my day-to-day job, and that’s a difficult thing when going to conferences, or when trying to convince your boss to send you, because they’re usually so expensive!  We also focus really hard on bringing in a wide range of topics, because it’s all so connected nowadays. It’s more of a focus on education and content quality for all the attendees.

Q3. Why the ticket prices are so low? You have the same speakers as other higher cost events such as Inbound, or Social Media Marketing World, or Search Engine Expo. So what’s the deal?

Perry Drake: I think it’s like what Brianna said, our goal is to keep ticket prices affordable. As an academic at UMSL, we want to make the event inclusive and equitable for everybody. So if someone is underemployed, unemployed, or a CEO, they can all come to the conference to gain knowledge. Some events are a thousand dollars plus, even though we have the same quality of speakers. We would never charge that much, that’s just not what we stand for.

Brianna Smith: We have many speakers that have spoken at these conferences, they speak all the time for a lot of companies, or small businesses too. A thousand dollars for a ticket, a hotel, travel, is tough for a small company. But with us you can take your whole team, which is something I love about MDMC. We see a lot of companies send six, eight, ten people, so that everybody gets to grow in their career. Its inclusive, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what your job is, you can learn from the best in the industry.

Q4. How are your students involved? What do they contribute?

Brianna Smith: Although it was founded by and is produced by UMSL, this isn’t a student conference. Our philosophy is the students in the marketing world need to learn what the professionals are learning, because it changes so fast. They really need that hands on experience before they go into the workforce. This is created for those in the industry, but the students are very involved with it as they volunteer by helping with the podcasts, the social media marketing, and the email marketing. All the students are helping promote this conference. They’re the ones that are spreading the word and making it grow so quickly, which makes it a truly great industry conference.

Perry Drake: Also, all of the proceeds do go back to the students, either in the form of scholarships, or programming,  or purchasing the equipment that we’ve got attached to this table. So that’s another great thing that this conference affords.  

Q5. Since the conference is produced by a public university, do sponsors get a tax benefit?

Perry Drake: Yeah, so that’s another great benefit of this, a lot of sponsors and donors don’t realize that donating $5,000 and becoming a sponsor can be written off at a rate of 75% or more! This is because we are a non-profit.

Learn more about MDMC18 and purchase the tickets at

Follow MDMC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Why Internships Are Important: A Look Inside an Internship at Frito-Lay

By: Megan Rothermich

Kevia Jett-Ricketts is 30 years old and a returning learner, who works full time at E-Trailer while she is in school. Kevia is a student at UMSL’s College of Business Administration and is also part of the Pierre Laclede Honors College. She is a dear friend of mine and a great inspiration to many. Her unwavering work-ethic is what sets her apart from others and has gotten her to where she is today.

After a successful internship experience at Frito Lay, Kevia was offered a full-time position at the company, which she will start after her graduation in May 2018.

Q: How did you hear about the internship at Frito Lay?

A: I saw their table at the Career and Internship Fair at UMSL in the spring. The HR representative was sitting with free chips (who doesn’t love free chips!) and I approached the table, wondering why no one else had stopped by. Intrigued, I asked the HR representative why she hadn’t seen much traffic, and her response was, “I have free chips, I’m really not sure why people aren’t stopping by!”

We ended up sparking a conversation that I believed went well. The HR representative called me a week later to set up an interview.  

The day of the interview, I stopped to fill up my gas tank and ended up spilling some gasoline on my foot, which made me smell like gasoline for the rest of the day. I thought the interview went terrible, so feeling like I missed out on an amazing opportunity, I broke down and shed a few tears. I was certain I failed the interview. But 2 hours later I got an email from the HR representative. I remember the date, October 7th, because it was a big day for me. The email was asking me to go to Kansas City, MO for the second round of interviews!

Q: How did the interviews take place?

There were 3 30-minute round interviews. The first 30-minute interview was a 1-person interview, the next one was a 2-person interview, and lastly, another 1-person interview. All together 4 people interviewed me that day. I felt super pumped about this opportunity after the interviews, and I appreciated the amount of time and effort they put into interviewing people for internships.

The week after my second round of interviews, I opened my email and saw that I had received the official offer for the internship.

Q: Fast forward to your first day at the internship, what was that like?

A: For our first day, we were back in Kansas City for 3 days. We learned what our projects for the summer would be and learned how to use the tablets. After that we went and toured the plant in Topeka to see how chips are made. This is standard for all Frito Lay employees, as they want their employees to really understand the process.

Q: After you returned from Kansas City, what were your responsibilities during your internship?

A: Overall my project was to make sure that 16 stores we were assigned were tagged appropriately and stripped correctly. Basically, making sure every chip was in its correct spot.  I happened to be doing small format stores, which is mostly convenient stores, such as Casey’s.

Q: How did you close out the summer?

A: At the end, we got to go to Las Vegas and present what we did in front of Pepsi executives. The awesome part of the presentation in Vegas is that your presentation wouldn’t decipher whether you would get the job or not. You were evaluated by the people that worked close with you all summer so that there wasn’t too much pressure on the presentation. I ended up getting a verbal confirmation that I would get a full-time job offer before going to Vegas.  “You have a position with us” was all that my boss said, and I was ecstatic.

About a week after I returned from Vegas, I received a call from the HR representative with the actual verbal job offer and the starting salary.

Q: What are the takeaways from your internship at Frito Lay and what do you want other students to know about taking an internship?

A: My takeaway is that Frito Lay really cares about who they hire, and they care about making sure not only you are right for the company, but that the company is right for you. Internships are what you make of it. You should make the best of your experience. I was lucky enough to have a great mentor and she showed me what I would have to deal with daily if I decided to work for Frito-Lay. I also learned that time management is essential because the job is quite autonomous. Be proactive in your internships and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Lastly, I want to thank Lisa Fikki, the Internship Coordinator at UMSL, because without her I would have never known about the career fair and the amazing opportunities that came with it. It is important to take a chance with your internships even though you might not know what to expect, you can end up having a job lined up for you when you graduate. Take advantage of the things you have available to you at UMSL, you won’t regret it.


Wanted: A viable all-water route from Asia to the U.S. Midwest

The following is an excerpt from a guest editorial on Supply Chain Quarterly, with research contributions by UMSL. 

By: Masao Nishi

Member of the Supply Chain Management and Analytic Advisory Board since 2016 & Principal of M. Nishi Strategic Advisory 

In the central United States, there is a magnificent stretch of waterway that is ready and available to be put to greater use: the Mississippi River between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Louis, Missouri. This unique segment of open river has no locks or dams, and it is ice-free all year round.

This presents opportunities to move ocean containers from Asia to the U.S. Midwest entirely by water. From ports in Asia, containers could travel through the Panama Canal to the Port of New Orleans, and then via river vessels up the Mississippi to the St. Louis region for further distribution into the Midwest (Figure 1).

North of St. Louis, the river—like most other waterways in the U.S.—is full of locks and dams, which restricts the size of the tows and vessels and complicates transit time and the predictability of shipment deliveries. For these reasons, the New Orleans-to-St. Louis segment is ideal for getting container activity started on the waterways.

This route offers easy access to a large consumer market as well as an opportunity to lower costs, diversify and manage risk, and build a supply chain network that matches, and takes advantage of, the actual supply chain requirements of their products. It’s also greener than other modes of transportation. The New Orleans-to-St. Louis portion of the river is already a major traffic lane for bulk commodities carried by barge. Much of that volume consists of agricultural products; in fact, the St. Louis region is often referred to as the “Agricultural Coast” of America.

Yet shippers of containerized cargo are not taking advantage of this option. Given all its advantages, why are shippers reluctant to make use of this tremendously underutilized resource? And what will it take to make the New Orleans-to-St. Louis stretch of the river a more attractive and viable route for both shippers and carriers of containerized cargo?

—Read The Full Story at Supply Chain Quarterly— 

Guest Editorial: May I Have Your Attention, Please?

By: Steve Bauer 

UMSL Marketing Advisory Board Member since 2013 &
Global Lead, FleishmanHillard’s Social & Innovation



Time. It’s our most valuable resource. How we choose to spend it is up to each of us.

But there’s a lot competing for our time… and for our attention. Studies have shown that the average person sees up to 10,000 brand messages a day. And while that frequently-shared factoid claiming that people now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish is certainly debatable, you can bet that as content marketing continues to rise, dealing with information overload will only become more and more challenging for the audiences we’re trying to reach.

For the past few weeks, marketers have been frantically talking about the impact of Facebook announcing they’ll be prioritizing posts from friends and family over content from brands and publishers. But this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. We’ve seen this day coming for years now.

We speculated that organic reach would eventually be zero when Facebook announced it was going public in 2012 and again in 2013 when brands and publishers saw the first big dip in organic reach. In today’s world, paid is no longer just an option for brands on Facebook. And other platforms will soon catch up to speed.

Paid strategies can definitely help ensure your content gets seen by the right audience. But being seen doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is actually paying attention.

So how can you break through the clutter when there’s so much competition for just a few precious moments of people’s time?

—Read Full Article VIA Fleishman Hillard— 

New Business Building Brings Fresh Opportunities To Campus

By Andrea Siecinski

The “In Your Business” Podcast recently interviewed some faculty of UMSL about the past, present and future plans of the Anheuser Busch Hall. The hall opened in August of 2017 and is the first building to be used only for the the College of Business. Brendan Goodwin and Tom Fitzgibbons sat down with Dean Charles Hoffman, who is the Dean of the College of Business Administration; Dr. Thomas Eyssell, the Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Studies; and Stan Freerks, who is one of the donors of the new hall, to discuss the Anheuser Busch building. 

The building has been in the works for many years. Dean Hoffman said, “This dream started in 2004. So, it’s been quite a long time in the planning stage.” When referencing how long it took to raise funds the dean said, “Efforts began in 2009… As soon as we raised ten million dollars we got the state to match that ten million dollars.”

This new building has great technology and features. There is arrangeable seating that can be customizable for each class type. It has electronic equipment that is up-to-date. There is an executive education classroom that is two-stories tall and a trade room for the finance students. The building has the prospect of bringing in new students and increasing enrollment. According to Dean Hoffman, statistics have shown that new buildings bring in more students. The building also brings awareness to the College of BusinessStan Freerks, a donor to the hall, is an UMSL alum. He said, “The success of UMSL and its graduates correlates directly with the future success of our region,” when asked about his donation and thoughts about UMSL. Being a graduate of UMSL, he feels that this building will only emphasize the great assets of the College of Business.

There is second phase in the works for the Anheuser Busch building. The funds are almost where they need them to be and it will take about two years to build. The plan will have an open air atrium, more state of the art classrooms, and faculty offices. The College of Business will all be located in one area because of phase 2.

The Anheuser Busch building has brought a new feeling of inspiration in the College of Business at UMSL. Those involved in the college are excited to see how building will positively affect the college and campus as a whole.


Meet College of Business International MBA student, Kristina Medvedeva!


Kristina Medvedeva was ready for her solo intercontinental move to St. Louis well before booking a plane ticket in 2014.

She had done her homework. A master’s degree in North American studies, fluency in English and an independent spirit – one cultivated after leaving home at the age of 16 to pursue a bachelor’s degree – primed her for the transition.

But even with a resume full of preparatory experiences, the Russian native says no amount of time or research could have fully readied her for life as an international student in America.

“When you are in a different country, you are out of your comfort zone constantly,” Medvedeva said. “All the time – every single moment – you are out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter how comfortable you get, at points there will be situations that will be unusual for you.”

Though by now, the University of Missouri–St. Louis MBA candidate thrives in new and occasionally uncomfortable situations.

— Read More VIA UMSL Daily —