Here is a brief look at some of the recent news stories that featured Neeley students, staff and faculty. For a complete look at Neeley in the News, check out In the News Archives.


EBN
August 1, 2013
Supply Chain Management Gets Some Respect  - 
By Tam Harbert

As global supply chains become more complex and yet more critical to the success of companies, the importance of and demand for supply chain managers is rising. And finding qualified candidates may be like finding a needle in a haystack.

According to the Wall Street Journal, corporations are scrambling to hire supply chain experts and many universities are introducing new programs to meet that demand. These include undergraduate majors and specialized MBA degrees. In addition, universities and other institutions are starting or considering online courses, including MOOCs, to train new talent or further develop mid-level managers.

The trend is raising the profiles, and the salaries, of supply chain managers. Fifteen years ago, the function was perceived simply as logistics. Managers needed technical proficiency in discrete areas like shipping and warehousing, according to an article in Logistics Management magazine

The rise in status is translating into more money. According to a survey published by Logistics Management, 60 percent of logistics and supply chain professionals reported a salary increase last year. The survey found that the average salary for the “supply chain management” job function was $126,000 a year and the median was $110,000. Starting salaries aren’t too shabby, either. According to Arizona State University, students graduating with supply-chain majors last year had average starting salaries of $56,410. Those with supply-chain related MBAs reported starting salaries averaging $97,481, compared with $92,556 for all MBAs.

Here are just a few of the latest university programs:

  • Bryant University’s College of Business has added an undergraduate major and MBA specialization in supply-chain management.
  • SAP AG has a “university alliance” program that offers training in logistics technology. The program has added more than 250 schools in the last 18 months.
  • Rutgers Business School, which launched an MBA concentration in supply-chain management more than 10 years ago, has now added an undergraduate major. It has registered 450 students for the degree.
  • Portland State University’s School of Business Administration is launching an MS in global supply chain management this year.
  • Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business started an MS in supply chain management this year.

 

CBS News
August 12, 2013
Leaders Approve Moving Cowboys HQ & Practice Facility To Frisco Facility Would Be First Entertainment District Centered Around NFL Team - By Jack Fink

It could be Jerry’s World taken to a whole new level.

If you thought AT&T Stadium was a touchdown for Arlington, then a deal to move the Dallas Cowboys corporate headquarters and practice facility from Valley Ranch in Las Colinas to an empty plot of land near Warren Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway, may be an even bigger catch for the city of Frisco.

Sources tell CBS 11 News the Cowboys deal is part of a master planned development district, the first in the nation to be centered around an NFL team. The 91-acre development will include an indoor stadium for the team and Frisco Independent School District students. Concerts and other big events could be held there as well. And don’t forget about the luxury resort-style hotel, restaurants, and shops that are also a part of the plan.

The four entities will spend a total of $115 million for the new corporate headquarters, an indoor stadium for the team and Frisco high school teams, and a parking garage. City officials say property and sales tax rates will not go up as a result of the deal.

The new Cowboys facilities will be adjacent to a 250-acre development called Frisco Station that will house offices and apartments.

Frisco is already home to the FC Dallas soccer team, the RoughRiders baseball farm team for the Texas Rangers, and the practice ice for the Dallas Stars NHL team.

Texas Christian University sports marketing adjunct professor Erin Patton said the deal could be an economic touchdown, not only for businesses big and small in Frisco, but for the Cowboys as well. Patton believes owner Jerry Jones may attract more season ticket holders from the growing and affluent suburbs in Collin and Denton counties.

 

Multiple Logos
August 23, 2013
How to Turn Your Loved Ones Into Your Business Backers  - By Kathryn Tuggle

(New York) - While you may not mind asking mom and dad for tuition funds or begging friends to chip in for gas money, asking loved ones to fund your business is a different story.

Even if you’re a responsible investor and a wise entrepreneur, money can cause serious problems in relationships. Before you ask a friend or family member for business capital, experts say it’s best to go in with a game plan and make sure you treat every investor –  even grandma – with respect.

“Friends and family are typically the first place people look when they are starting a business, because those are the people who already have faith in you and your abilities,” says David Barbash, managing partner at Boston law firm Posternak Blankstein & Lund.

People who have confidence in you will be more likely to contribute to your business, but Barbash cautions that they still need to see a business plan and understand your corporate vision. In other words, treat them like you would any other investor.

“Don’t approach them any differently than you would an average investor who you are meeting for the purpose of asking them to invest,” he says. “Even though they already believe in you, boost their confidence even more by telling them how you’re going to generate revenue, how you plan to grow the business and what your strategies will be. They’ll walk away even more excited to help you.”

It’s great to go into as many corporate details as possible, but avoid discussing exit strategies or plans to sell the business, says Rohit Arora, co-founder of Biz2Credit, a small-business lending service. “Don’t talk about escape routes if your business doesn’t work,” Arora says. “Don’t talk about what you’ll do if you have to sell the business. Talk about what your business will look like in a few years, and what you will do when you become successful.”

One thing many entrepreneurs fail to discuss when asking for funding is how much of themselves they are devoting to the business, Arora explains. Investors need to know how much of your life savings, how much time and how much energy you’re devoting. When they see how committed you are, they’ll be more likely to give you what you’re asking for.

When it comes to getting what you need, Arora says to be careful how you start the conversation -- and who you start it with. “If you open by saying, ‘I need money,’ people are going to feel alarmed or defensive,” he says. “Make people interested instead, even ask for their input. ‘What do you think about my idea?’ is a great way to get them engaged.”

Before you start any conversation, take a hard look at who is sitting across the table from you, Arora says. Ask yourself if they are financially comfortable, and if they’re likely to be in two to three years.

“Don’t approach someone who is just trying to make ends meet, or someone who is going to have a kid in college in the next couple of years,” he says. “These are people who may want their money back before your business becomes viable. You can’t have investors who will need money in a year’s time if your business is still growing.”

Also, Arora cautions against accepting too many offers for funding, even though it sounds like it might be a good problem to have.

“If you talk to 50 people and each of them gives you $500 or $1,000, that’s going to be very difficult to keep up with.”

No matter how many investors you take on, Arora says you’ll need official documentation for each of the investments -- even for mom and dad. “You will need contracts for every single investor that are black and white. They need to know what they are getting into, because there don’t need to be any surprises down the line,” he says.

Contracts will help make investors more confident in you and your business plan, he says. You’ll seem well prepared, and your friends and family will see that you’re treating their money with respect.

If your company is a corporation, Barbash recommends issuing stock certificates.

“Demonstrate to them that even if they are related to you or your best friend from college, you are taking their investment seriously and documenting it appropriately,” Barbash says.

No matter what kind of company you’re starting, Michael Sherrod, professor of entrepreneurship at the Neeley School of Business in Fort Worth, Texas, says to come prepared to any investor meetings with an exact figure of how much money you need. Although you might love to get $500,000 from a wealthy aunt, you’ve got to be realistic.

“At a minimum you must know how much you are asking for and how the money will be used,” Sherrod says. “Negotiation will definitely be required, and it is important you have a clear notion of what you will accept or decline. It’s much better to decline than to get stuck in a deal that won’t work for you -- and kills your relationship.”

No matter how the negotiations develop, Sherrod says to keep in mind that your family and friends come first. Nothing -- not even your business -- is worth ruining lifelong relationships.

“Never stop caring about your family and friends -- no matter how things turn out,” Sherrod says. “The single most important thing in life is relationships.”

DMN
August 31, 2013
Ackman’s big money led to a train wreck at Penney - By Mitchell Schnurman

Maybe having skin in the game is overrated.

At J.C. Penney, that was the primary reason activist investor William Ackman was invited to join the board in early 2011 and steer the company in an all-new direction. And it was cited as a super-motivator for Ron Johnson, who was recruited from Apple to become CEO.

Ackman’s firm invested close to a billion dollars in Penney and became its biggest shareholder. Johnson put up $50 million for warrants to buy Penney shares, and Ackman said it was the largest investment he’d seen by a CEO.

Unfortunately, those weren’t qualifications for reinventing a retailer.

They were simply part of an investor-led ethos that took root at Penney in the last three years, to disastrous effect. The new drive emphasized speed and urgency, and a bold vision that rejected coupons, sales and other traditions.

Penney’s history hardly counted. Ackman had so little use for how Penney worked in the past that he called it “a culture of complacency.” He publicly criticized the number of assistants and managers. And he told investors that 20 percent of bandwidth at corporate headquarters was being used for Netflix.

When Penney’s stock price soared on Johnson’s hiring, Ackman took that as confirmation: “You could call him the $1 billion man,” the investor said.

What do we call him and Ackman now?

Since Ackman’s investment was made public in October 2010, Penney’s market value has declined by almost $5 billion. Penney has lost a third of sales, and at least 19,000 people lost their jobs.

Last week, the Ackman experiment officially ended as he sold his 17.7 percent stake in the Plano-based retailer for about half what he paid three years ago. Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, lost almost half a billion dollars.

“Clearly, retail has not been our strong suit, and this is duly noted,” Ackman wrote to investors last month, citing Penney and earlier money-losing stakes in Borders Group and Target.

With that, and a few parting shots at the Penney board, Ackman wiped his hands of the mess and left it to others to pick up the pieces. Although he can point to several companies that benefited from his activist investing, Penney stands as an example of what can happen when money men take control.

Last year, he told an investment conference that the moves at Penney would deliver a 2014 stock price of $77 a share in the mid-case, and $125 on the upside. Ackman reportedly sold his shares for $12.90 apiece.

In hindsight, Penney needed evolution, not revolution, and leaders who were stewards, not agents of change. There was much of value to protect at Penney, and people lost sight of that.

Ackman’s approach took hold for a couple of reasons. He joined with real estate investor Steve Roth, and together they controlled more than a quarter of the outstanding shares. That stake got the two to the table, and Penney directors chose to embrace them rather than resist.

A third board seat went to Johnson, one of the rising stars of retailing. Johnson had learned from Apple’s Steve Jobs, and his ideas for transforming the department store were truly inspiring.

The company had been losing market share for years and was hungry for a hero.

“In our capitalistic society, we celebrate the visionary, the guy who bucks convention and doesn’t listen to anyone else,” said Dan Short, a professor and former business school dean at Texas Christian University.

Usually, that’s an entrepreneur who invests a few hundred thousand dollars. Successes are put on a pedestal, and no one notices the failures. With Penney, the stakes were so much higher that the Penney reinvention became a bet-the-company gamble.

“Ackman was playing that visionary game with other people’s lives and money,” Short said. “You have to be more cautious when the community is bearing that risk, not a single individual.”

In the early stages, some suggested that Penney go slower and test-market Johnson’s concepts. But Johnson and the board steamed ahead, figuring that delays would only slow the transformation.

Many longtime customers abandoned Penney, and same-store sales fell sharply. They dropped almost 32 percent for the all-important holiday quarter last year.

Johnson was gone in April; Myron “Mike” Ullman, his predecessor at Penney, returned as interim CEO and started the long work of stabilizing the company.

Ackman lashed out at the board last month, saying it was taking too long to replace Ullman. He called for the ouster of chairman Tom Engibous, questioned the inventory buildup and drew attention to the company’s private jets. He released a letter to the media.

“Sometimes being ‘disruptive’ is exactly what a company and board needs at a critical time,” Ackman wrote.

The Penney board said it was working on rejuvenating the business and was conducting the CEO search at an appropriate pace.

Its response could have been briefer: been there, done that.