John Mahon named 2017 Distinguished Maine Professor
University of Maine Professor of Management John Mahon, the John M. Murphy Chair of International Business Policy and Strategy in the Maine Business School, is known for the depth and breadth of his state, national and global business experience that informs his teaching and mentoring, and is reflected in his scholarship.
The Distinguished Maine Professor Award, sponsored by UMaine’s classes of 1942 and 2002, annually honors a professor who exemplifies the highest qualities of teaching, research and public service.
The award will be presented at the UMaine Alumni Association’s Dining with Distinction event April 20. Mahon also will be honored as part of the President’s Faculty Recognition Luncheon on May 13.
Undergraduate and graduate students know Mahon as a talented, memorable teacher across a spectrum of UMaine courses — from first-year introductory classes to specialized MBA consulting courses and eight travel-study classes to five countries. He also connects students in capstone projects and internships with state and international companies. Mahon is a leader in curricular innovation and helped redesign UMaine’s MBA program.
Mahon was a finalist for the 2014 Faculty Pioneer Award of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program for his leadership in helping establish and co-teach an innovative interdisciplinary course on climate change, business and public policy. He also was the founding director of UMaine’s School of Policy and International Affairs.
In the Maine Business School, Mahon received the 2014 Outstanding Teaching Award, and the 2013 and 2015 Graduate Student Mentor Award.
Mahon’s research interests focus on how organizations and public interest groups shape and influence public policy and regulations, how reputations of those organizations either hinder or advance their positions, how organizations plan and execute strategies, and how both public interest groups and organizations respond to crises.
He has received 12 national awards for his research and writing in peer-reviewed journals, cases and books. His scholarship has been cited by other researchers more than 5,200 times and he is the author of four of the 50 most cited articles in Business & Society.
For his scholarship, Mahon received UMaine’s 2011 Presidential Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement Award.
As a sought-after executive educator and consultant, Mahon has made presentations in countries worldwide, speaking to Fortune 500 firms, government agencies, public organizations and trade associations. He is affiliated with the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs in Australia, the European Centre for Public Affairs in England and the International Center for Corporate Public Affairs at the University of Chester, England.
Among his global distinctions, Mahon was one of the first three elected Fellows of the International Association for Business and Society.
Prior to joining the UMaine community in 2001, Mahon was a professor and chair of the Strategy and Policy Department at the School of Management at Boston University. He received a DBA from Boston University.
The Alumni Association’s news release about the award is online.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
This news article was previously posted to UMaine News. The original article can be found here.
MBA student Nastasya (Stacy) Tsultsumova ’18 joined the Maine Business School last fall fresh from the annual G(irls) 20 Summit in Beijing where she represented her native Russia.
“For me, it was a life changing experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet amazing and accomplished women from around the world who are part of a female championship environment,” says Tsultsumova, who is earning who is earning a dual master’s degree in information systems and business administration (MBA).
She was among 23 young women from 20 countries who served as delegates to the G(irls) 20 Summit, a Canadian-based organization that aims to cultivate a new generation of female leaders. Delegates were tasked with developing a list of recommendations about the roles girls and women can play in building strong economies. The proposals were presented to international leaders during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September.
“It was our message on what should be done to empower women and girls; it was a great honor to have my voice heard,” says Tsultsumova who was among more than 2,000 young women who competed to be a delegate.
“It was nine days of intense, creative and inspiring work,” she says. “We listened to speakers and attended workshops that helped us with our strategizing, networking, leadership, and communication skills. At the end, we felt well prepared to create organizations and opportunities for women in our respective countries.”
Born and raised in Elista, capital of the Republic of Kalmykia in southwest Russia, Tsultsumova has been participating in international educational experiences since she spent her junior year in high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I wanted to see the U.S., have the opportunity to advance my English speaking skills and make myself more competitive for college,” she says.
After finishing high school in Russia, she returned to the U.S. to study at the College of Saint Elizabeth in New Jersey where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business and global studies. She made the most of her undergraduate years, taking classes at the United Nations, studying German in Berlin and serving as a legislative intern in Virginia. She was selected as a delegate to a highly-competitive Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations at Harvard University where she met executives and venture capitalists from across Asia. After graduating, she worked for a year as a senior executive assistant in the corporate sector of JPMorgan Chase, a leading global financial services firm in New York City.
Last May, she travelled to Copenhagen after being selected to represent Russia in the Women Deliver Global Conference, the world’s largest global conference on the health, rights and well-being of girls and women.
What was the application process to be a delegate to the G(irls) 20 Summit?
We had to write 10 essays on a variety of topics including the challenges that women face in our respective countries. I also created a video in which I spoke about why I wanted to be a delegate.
What were some of the recommendations by delegates?
Our goal was to offer ways to realize the G20 leaders’ 2014 commitment to reducing the gender gap and bringing 100 million women into the labor force by 2025. We suggested mandating that five percent of government procurement be given to female-owned or led companies; that financial subsidies and tax exemptions be given to the private sector as incentives to reach at least 30% female representation on boards and in senior management; that private companies promote pay transparency; and that government remove factors that deter women from holding office.
What are some of the challenges women face in your country?
Many Russians still have traditional attitudes, so women leaders are rare in my country and there are few opportunities for women in business, politics or media. Things are slowly improving, but many men think, ‘why should a woman look for a job when she is going to get married?’
Why did you choose MBS?
I knew I wanted a college in New England and I had heard that Maine was beautiful. When I learned that the University of Maine had a dual graduate program in which I could earn my MBA and a master’s degree in information systems at the same time, I knew MBS was for me.
Last spring, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Richard Borgman, then director of the MBA program, while he was in New York City as part of the annual SPIFFY trip. He was accompanied by other faculty members as well as students and alumni. It was great to able to meet everyone in advance of starting my MBA program.
Where did you learn to speak English?
Since Russian schools are required to teach English, I became familiar with the language at an early age. I also took English speaking classes at a local university during high school. During the first three months with my host family in Tulsa I spoke British English, but by Christmas I had become comfortable using American English. I always say I learned to speak like an American by watching “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”
Real World Context
MBS student Jesse MacDonald ’18 put his business training to good use last summer during an internship with Mechanics Savings Bank in Auburn.
Using what he learned from his management information systems (MIS) classes and his marketing classes, he assisted the bank with a variety of projects.
“The internship helped me put what I learned in school within the context of the real world,” says the marketing major who grew up in Gray, Maine.
Thanks to MIS professor Matt Graham’s classes, MacDonald was able to conduct data research and use competitive benchmarking tools to compare the bank’s interest rates and services to those of other community banks. And, because his MIS classes had included discussions about cyber security and disaster recovery, he understood the technology infrastructure at the bank and was able to participate in conversations about the policies and procedures used to keep personal and financial information secure.
Using skills he learned in executive in residence Shawn McKenna’s marketing class, MacDonald helped create public awareness about the bank. He participated in a social media initiative in which he posted news on Facebook about the bank partnering with local organizations and businesses to sponsor community events.
“From my marketing class I know how important public perception is for a business,” MacDonald says. “When people see on Facebook that Mechanics is involved in community outreach, it can make a big difference in how they view the bank.”
An amateur photographer who recently started his own business, JM Photography (facebook.com/JMphoto207), MacDonald also used his marketing skills to create a branding campaign with photos he shot of historic and picturesque bridges in the bank’s four locations, Lewiston, Auburn, Brunswick and Windham. The photos have appeared in one community publication and likely will be used in other written material.
“Mechanics wanted to tie its brand with something its four locations had in common,” he says. “After doing some research we found that each region had a bridge, so we built off that.”
He also started a Meet your Banker campaign in which he took photos of employees which will be posted on Facebook along with information about each person.
“Community banks take pride in getting to know their customers; we thought it was just as important for customers to get to know us as well.”
MBS senior Sierra Santomango ’17 was able to get a leg up on a prospective career in finance thanks to an investment research internship at Guidance Point Retirement Services in Bangor.
During her year-long internship which began in March 2015 when she was a first-year MBS student, Santomango had a number of duties including monitoring funds in retirement plans, performing market research and analysis, and updating quarterly balances for clients. She was frequently involved in projects including one that required her to create a master scoring system to help rank each investment fund.
“The internship was a great opportunity for me to get exposed to areas of study that intrigue me and to help me prepare for my career,” says Santomango, a finance major from Greene, Maine, who plans to earn an MBA at the Maine Business School and pursue a career as CFO of a Fortune 500 company.
She was the youngest intern to be hired at Guidance Point, a registered investment advisory firm where chief investment officer Ben Smith (CFA) and MBS alumnus (’03, ’04 MBA), regularly hires MBS students as interns to mentor them and provide real world job experience.
“Ben helped shape me into the young professional I am today,” says Santomango who will graduate before she is 21.
“He taught me a lot about the business world and the experiences that helped him become a successful business professional. Thanks to him, I had the real life experience with much of the material that I’m learning now. My internship taught me that in any business, particularly the finance industry, you have to know how to market your service to stand out and target the right customers.”
An MBS student ambassador and vice president of the UMaine chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars where she finds opportunities for members to help the greater Orono community, Santomango serves as sector head in SPIFFY (Student Portfolio Investment Fund), providing weekly reports on the portfolio.
Some of her most memorable experiences at MBS include a class project based on the TV show “Shark Tank” where students had to come up with a new company and product, create a business plan and pitch the idea to a panel of professors.
“I learned more about the basics of business than I ever thought I would,” Santomango says.
Another highlight was attending the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (GAME) Forum in New York with other SPIFFY members.
“I learned about the monetary and fiscal policies that influence the power and wealth structures associated with a global economy,” she says. “We met with successful people in the world of finance and discussed the role that strategy and allocation of resources play in creating long-term stability in mission-driven companies.”
MBS has been a good fit.
“The DPC Business Building is welcoming and the classes are the perfect size — large enough so you can interact with your peers, but small enough so that the professors get to know you on a first name basis.”
Faculty encourage students “to explore life outside our comfort zone,” Santomango says. “They know there are some things that you can’t learn in a classroom and that outside interests build character — something that is just as important as a good GPA when it comes to standing out in a pool of job applicants.”
Santomango has found faculty to be attentive and accessible, always willing to sit down and discuss coursework and provide career-building advice.
Finance professor Richard Borgman, finance and accounting lecturer Matt Skaves and lecturer in management Scott Spolan, all have had a “tremendous impact” on her education, she says.
“Each has been a mentor, helping me excel in the classroom and providing career advice and insight based on their own professional experiences.”
MBS student Steve Doman stayed busy with activities, projects and learning experiences right up until he graduated in December ’16 with a degree in marketing with a concentration in international business and an undergraduate certification in Innovation Engineering.
The Portland, Maine native spent the fall 2015 semester in Torino, Italy participating in an internship in which he helped create digital platforms for a global multi-million-euro family owned business that manufactures automobile parts.
Back on campus during the spring 2016 semester, he co-directed and organized UMaine’s second TEDx put on by the Maine Journal and ASAP Media Services, a student-operated New Media research and development organization.
Last summer, he completed his Innovations Engineering coursework and earned an undergraduate certification in the groundbreaking program that provides a systematic approach to innovation using tools and methods for creating, communicating, and commercializing meaningfully unique ideas.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” says Doman, who was a member of Kappa Sigma and of the Maine Business School’s chapter of the American Marketing Association.
“I’m a big believer that you get out what you put in. I graduated with a ton of valuable experience thanks to the Maine Business School.”
What were your duties during the internship in Italy?
I focused my attention on building the company’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages and updating the website. We used a website template generator that allows non-coding experts to easily manage their website content. Now our clients can adjust their website as needed. With globalization on the rise, they have a chance for exponential growth in the next few years.
Thanks to this business project I learned how to interact with older business professionals from another culture and about dealing with that culture’s slower pace. It was an excellent opportunity to develop patience and hone my communication skills.
I also volunteered to teach English to Italian college business students. I had a great time. I love talking to people, especially those with stories different from mine.
What was your role in the TEDxUMaine 2016 talks?
I co-directed and organized the talks which were live presentations given by UMaine students about their experiences, passions and hobbies. I created marketing strategies to find students who wanted to participate, enlisted faculty to judge the presentations, contracted with vendors for catering, assisted group discussions involving the direction of the event and prepared budgets.
The theme for the talks was interconnectedness, or the worldview in which we see relationships and find connections among different groups. We had seven awesome speakers. Their talks can be found on YouTube at the official TEDx Channel. We wanted to have an intimate event so we choose a 100-person venue in the Barrows Hall auditorium. After the presentations, the audience discussed the ideas, experiences and research that the students shared.
Why did you want a certificate in Innovation Engineering?
The IE classes at the Foster Center for Student Innovation complemented my marketing major. Many of the topics and theories we covered were discussed in my business classes. I now have the skills that will help me lead the commercialization of new products, services and technologies.
As part of a fellowship at the Innovation Center, I did market analysis, data research and web development for Lobiloo, an online florist, and Freeport Metrics, which designs and builds business intelligence software and analytic solutions.
How has MBS changed your perspective on life?
I’ve had a lot of great professors here at MBS, but one of my favorites was then executive in residence Paul Myer. His personal selling class introduced me to the concept that we’re all in sales, whether we’re selling products and services or our time and effort.
Kristin Orr ’11 is using her MBS accounting degree to detect, deter and fight financial crimes as a Corporate Security Investigator at TD Bank in Glastonbury, Conn.
“I am passionate about helping those who have been victimized and about bringing fraudsters to justice,” says Orr who earned a master’s degree in forensic accounting after graduating from MBS.
As a senior investigator in the global security investigations-U.S. group, Orr is responsible for investigating various types of fraud. She reviews security footage, conducts internal investigations and interviews, works with law enforcement agencies, and attends meetings of the International Association of Finance Crimes Investigators and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners to share and gather intelligence on recent fraud strings.
“I enjoy the opportunity to use my accounting background in a nontraditional way,” she says.
After graduating from MBS, Orr, a native of West Bath, Maine, worked as a cost accountant at TD Bank in South Portland, Maine. Three and a half years later she changed roles and took a job as an accountant for New Market and Low Income Housing tax credit portfolios.
In 2016 she earned an MBA in forensic accounting from Southern New Hampshire University.
“I decided on forensic accounting because I could pursue numerous avenues including becoming a certified fraud examiner, an investigator, or an expert witness,” she says. “The forensic accounting specialty is growing in popularity as financial problems become more complex and white-collar crimes are increasingly in the public eye.”
Orr gained a deeper awareness and appreciation of crimes and threats to national security when she participated in the FBI Citizen’s Academy at the FBI field office in Boston during spring 2016. A mentor at TD Bank nominated her for the community outreach program which is taught by special agents and other FBI experts and aims to give individuals an up close and personal look at how the bureau operates.
After graduating from the Citizen’s Academy, she was able to join the FBI Citizen’s Academy Alumni Association which offers additional classes and behind-the-scenes tour. Last August she visited Quantico and FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. For her, the highlights of the trip were meeting the FBI director and listening to a behavior analyst discuss criminal profiling.
Orr now has set her sights on earning her Certified Fraud Examiner credential, which denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. Trained to identify the warning signs of fraud and fraud risk, CFEs must pass exams in fraud prevention and deterrence, financial transactions and fraud schemes, investigation and law.
MBS gave her a great foundation to jumpstart her career, she says. “I learned there is not one right way to apply a degree and that I can be creative with my career goals. Also thanks to MBS I came to understand the importance of networking.
I made it a point to meet with individuals in a variety of positions and industries to figure out exactly which areas interested me. I have found that there are very few people who are not willing to offer advice or provide help.
“I consider myself fortunate to have found my passion so early in my career.”
Ten years after earning a marketing degree from MBS, Jess Foss Elsner ’06 is running her own business in Portland, Maine. She is co-owner of Foss Fitness ME where she is fulfilling a long-held dream to make a positive impact on the world by helping people become healthy and fit.
“Health and fitness is fundamental to happiness, and working with people to help them live happier, and change their lives for the better, is immensely gratifying,” says Elsner, who opened Foss Fitness ME with her sister Amy Gamboa in January 2015.
Foss Fitness ME, which uses movement therapy to help clients meet their goals, offers personal, group and online training; fitness and nutrition assessments; as well as guidance for weight loss, pain management, functional movement post-injury and more.
“As we guide clients through the health and weight loss programs we design, it is amazing to watch them improve the quality of their lives and the way they see or value themselves,” Elsner says.
Elsner is a certified personal trainer, nutrition specialist and writer, whose article about the importance of an individualized approach to exercise recently was featured in Essential Living Maine magazine. She lives in South Portland where she grew up.
What do you like about owning and managing a business?
I love being my own boss and having the freedom that comes with that. I don’t need approval from anyone about implementing a new marketing campaign or a new business strategy. Every day is a learning experience and a way for me to challenge myself to be a better thinker, personal trainer and businesswoman.
What are the rewards and challenges?
As a business owner offering a truly life-changing service, I am experiencing personal growth, a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of purpose. Of course, there are challenges too: I have to make sure we stay profitable, figure out the right marketing techniques, and bear the burden of risk that falls on all business owners. It can be a little scary — but I’ve realized that pushing through the fear enables you to meet your challenges and gives you a sense of empowerment and strength.
One of the best things about running my own fitness studio is that every day is different. Each day we offer different classes and training sessions, see different clients, and work on different administrative or business-related tasks, whether creating a marketing campaign, networking with other fitness professionals, or researching business models so we can continue to provide our clients with the best services possible. Keeping up with the latest fitness principles is also an important part of our agenda. Having complete control of my own schedule gives me the freedom to fit in all these daily tasks.
For me, the biggest challenge is marketing — nailing down my target market and the message I hope will reach it. Marketing has become a bigger challenge than I anticipated because I need to rely so heavily on technology. In 2006 when I graduated, social media was not used for marketing and Instagram didn’t exist.
How are you using your MBS education in your daily work?
I use my MBS education every day as I manage all aspects of my business. I constantly apply the critical thinking, analyzing and technical business writing skills that were ingrained in us as students. These allow me to live and work to my fullest potential. And, while I frequently rely on my marketing training, I also appreciate the knowledge I got in my business law, international business, operations management, and management information systems classes, since running a company means knowing about all aspects of business.
What was your career path after graduation?
I always planned to live and work in Maine, but after graduating I moved to Boston to expose myself to a new state and opportunities that would set me apart when I eventually returned. I worked for four years as an analyst at Partners HealthCare, a not-for-profit health care system where I became an expert in information systems.
I did a great job and received a lot of praise — but it wasn’t my passion. I was still missing a sense of fulfillment and had a calling to be my own boss. I would often think, ‘If I can do well at something I don’t love, imagine what I could accomplish in a job that I actually want.’
In 2010, my sister Amy, who graduated from nursing school, told me about a health science class that changed her life by helping her permanently establish healthy eating habits. She was eager to help other people change their lives, too. During our conversation, the idea to open a fitness studio together was born. I believe my MBS schooling and training led me to that moment when I could create and seize an opportunity.
Today, I love what I do and I love the direction my life has taken.
How did MBS prepare you for your career and life after graduation?
MBS prepared me for the real world by shaping me into a confident young professional. My business classes were fun, interesting and diverse, as well as challenging and sometimes stressful. The challenges were what made me so successful after graduation and allowed me to thrive at my job in information systems.
For example, the fall semester of my senior year was incredibly difficult. The classes needed to complete my concentration were the hardest yet; the stakes were high and the pressure was on. During one stress-filled week, in addition to completing projects, I had to deliver presentations in front of my classmates and local business professionals. I can’t tell you many times I wished for that week to be over.
But now I am thankful for the experience because it enabled me to become comfortable with the public speaking that was required in my previous job. Although I had co-workers who disliked getting up in front of large groups of people, I always felt confident, because no presentations ever came close to being as nerve-wracking as the ones I gave in December 2005.
How else have you continued your education since graduation?
I’ve continued my education both for fun and for professional growth. While working in the nonprofit sector, I completed an intensive nonprofit management certificate course at Duke University. I earned my personal training certification from the World Instructor Training School in 2014. And, for the last year and a half I have been studying Universal Movement, a form of martial arts. I currently serve as a volunteer classroom assistant for children’s martial arts.
What are your fondest memories of MBS?
I am grateful for the many wonderful friendships I made that still continue today. I also have great memories of movie nights at DPC; fond feelings about a building in which I spent so much time.
Learn more at fossfitnessme.com.
Collaborative CoVort: Entrepreneurship professor opens co-working space in Bangor
MBS Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Jason Harkins has established Bangor’s newest co-working space: CoVort.
CoVort (covort.org) is an open, 2,000-square-foot office environment at 49 Main Street in Bangor that provides all the amenities of an office to members by the day, week or month.
Members can access the space 24/7 to leverage the open, flexible work space as well as the printer, fax machine, scanner, video and teleconferencing equipment, mailboxes, high speed internet, conference room, collaboration center, phone booths for private conversations, and even a kitchenette.
“We have set up a co-working community space where you have everything you need to get your job done,” says Harkins, who co-founded CoVort with serial entrepreneur and UMaine alumna Lisa Liberatore ’03, ’05.
Designed for entrepreneurs and those who work remotely such as work-at-home professionals, independent contractors and freelancers, co-working spaces offer an alternative to working from a coffee shop or café, and may alleviate the feelings of isolation experienced by many who work at home.
Some studies show that the number of co-working spaces across the country have doubled since 2006.
“Co-working is the intersection of working alone and working together,” says Harkins. “You can put on your headphones and become immersed in your computer, then take a coffee break, meet new people and find shared interests or potential collaborations for new businesses, projects and ventures.”
CoVort officially opened on Nov. 28, 2016, with five members consisting of entrepreneurs, employees of national companies and a freelancer.
“We spent several months assessing the demand and trying to find the perfect space in downtown Bangor,” Harkins says.
This is the first business venture for Harkins, who has done business consulting and is involved in a number of entrepreneurial initiatives including Scratchpad Business Accelerator and the UMaine Business Challenge.
Teaching classes in small business management and entrepreneurship, Harkins says CoVort has provided him with fodder for countless lessons.
“I can talk about what I learned from doing something I’ve never done before.”
For more information call 207.907.2120 or email email@example.com.
Returning for More
As director of marketing and development at the Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln, Maine, MBS alumna Kristie Libby is working to help meet the growing challenges in healthcare.
“In healthcare today, there has been a shift from treating the patient following an illness to preventing the illness altogether,” she says. “Facilities are seeing fewer patients needing overnight care and now are providing more outpatient services that use lab work and imaging to help diagnose an illness. To this end, we at PVH are partnering with organizations to help prevent major healthcare issues like obesity and substance abuse. Also, we recently unveiled a new mission, vision and tag line, ‘Your partner in health.’ Our staff is communicating with patients, taking an active role in their healthcare and going above and beyond every day to improve their health and well-being.”
A native of Lincoln, Maine, where she still lives, Libby earned a degree in marketing from MBS in 2004 and now is participating in the school’s online MBA program. She had been thinking about continuing her education, and after reading about the new online MBA in a recent MBS Connects, was inspired.
“I was impressed by the flexibility offered by the new MBA program,” she says. “Anyone’s work/life schedule can be accommodated since courses can be entirely online, entirely on-site, or a combination.”
Her days fly by as she serves as hospital spokesperson and primary media contact and as community liaison, informing residents about changes that the hospital has put in place to enhance the patient experience. She is responsible for writing a variety of material including the hospital’s annual benefit report, news releases for the local paper, and articles for the monthly hospital newsletter.
“I particularly enjoy the writing aspect of my job since I am often asked to facilitate communication between hospital departments as I gather knowledge from our clinical staff,” Libby says. “This allows me to learn and inform the community on innovative changes to enhance the patient experience.”
For example, a recent article for the hospital newsletter required her to work with the hospital’s pharmacist, case manager, and primary care practice about the importance of taking prescribed medications.
“Research shows that 40% of patients report not filling a medication or splitting doses to limit their drug expense,” she says. “In my article I pointed out that our pharmacist can recommend more affordable alternate medications, our case manager can refer patients to resources that can help them pay for their medication, and our primary care practitioners can oversee the entire process to improve the patient’s health.”
Libby received high accolades in 2014 when her work on the 2014 PVH Community Benefit Report earned the hospital an Award of Excellence from the New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo).
Always cognizant that the annual community benefit report reminds residents that the hospital is committed to the region and aims to serve as a resource in growth and development, she created a new format with a strong graphic design, condensed the previously 11-page report into a six-sheet portfolio, and made sure the language and presentation was simple and straightforward since it would be mailed to nearly 7,000 households.
The report won NESHCo’s Creative Design & Photography Division for printed piece design in the esteemed Lamplighter Awards. Other winners in the category were MIT Medical and Harvard Medical School.
“This was the first year PVH joined the professional group, New England Society for Healthcare Communications, which provided the hospital staff with training and networking opportunities,” says Libby. “We were thrilled to be recognized in a category with other respected institutions. It was also an impactful piece for our community.”
Libby enjoys living and working in the same close-knit community in which she was raised. As head of the Lincoln Economic Development Committee’s marketing subcommittee, she recently spearheaded the creation of a new promotional video (lincolnmaine.org) to encourage those looking to start or relocate a business to consider Lincoln. The video garnered 2,000 views on YouTube and connected with 15,000 people on Facebook within the first few weeks.
“It’s a joy to work on this committee with volunteers who are all engaged and have a personal responsibility to see Lincoln succeed,” she says.
MBS alumna Kim Dagher ’86 (MBA) realized a long-held dream in May 2011 when she opened Savour Chocolatier.
Five years later, Dagher has made a name for herself as the only handcrafted artisan chocolate maker in central Maine. Using the finest quality Belgian chocolate as well as naturally and locally sourced ingredients, she sells her unique, preservative-free, Maine-inspired confections in more than 15 shops in Maine. She also provides favor bags for 20–30 events annually, ranging from weddings to meetings, as well as concessions. Customers from across the country buy from her website.
A Wisconsin native who earned an undergraduate business degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dagher worked for many years at the University of Maine Office of Development. After taking time off to raise four children, she had an opportunity to proceed with her dream of owning a small business.
“I brainstormed many ideas, but ultimately, my love of fine chocolate, the lack of a quality product in the Bangor area, and a large potential market led me to pursue an artisan chocolate business,” she says.
Dagher completed professional chocolatier and chocolate business planning programs online through Ecole Chocolat. She then spent several months at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in St. Hyacinthe, Canada, where she completed a chocolatier master’s level program. A summer trip to Italy, France and Lebanon, where exceptional chocolates are abundant, inspired many of her product ideas.
Where do you make your chocolates?
I work out of a 700-square-foot efficiency apartment in the basement of my Veazie home. In addition to a full kitchen, my work space includes many pieces of equipment specific to chocolate and confection making. I make 27 varieties of truffles, brittles, toffees, taffy and other chocolate-covered treats in small batches to create the finest, freshest chocolates possible.
What are the rewards and challenges of running your business?
I truly enjoy every minute of my job. I’ve always enjoyed gourmet cooking, and working with chocolate allows me to be creative and take my cooking skills to the highest level. Most people don’t realize the science behind tempering chocolate and creating confections. It requires specific ingredients and environmental conditions to make high-quality products.
Creating a sought-after product is very rewarding. Working with local vendors has been an amazing experience. Perhaps most of all, I like working with customers to create the perfect chocolate favor for their event.
The long hours can be challenging. For example, the Christmas season is absolutely crazy and 50–60-hour work weeks are the norm. Giving local products is popular and of course, giving chocolates for the holiday has become a tradition. I feel honored that so many people choose my product at this time of year.
What is your best-selling product?
While there are many popular products, my best-selling one is the Dark Chocolate Maine Sea Salt Caramel. When I started the business five years ago, I sold 50 percent dark and 50 percent milk chocolate. Today, about 85 percent of all sales are dark chocolate.
Most of my recipes are from professional cookbooks, as selling products commercially requires they have a shelf life of at least eight weeks. For historic products like Needhams and Bangor Taffy, I use the original recipes, but several other products are made from recipes I created. When developing new products, members of my book club as well as friends and family taste-test for me. Sounds like a tough job, doesn’t it?
How did your MBA education help you start your business?
I used the skills I acquired through my MBA to prepare my business plan. My finance and accounting classes, a small business course, and my work as a graduate assistant came in handy as I figured out my business goals and plans for reaching them.
How do you continue to use your MBA education today?
Each day I use the skills I acquired at MBS in production planning, accounting, customer and vendor relations, inventory planning, finance and computer science.
How did you name your business?
I created several names and logos and presented them to friends and family. Savour Chocolatier, as in savour the difference, seemed to best convey the high-quality, unique product that I was bringing to the central Maine market. One of my daughters was taking a high school graphic design course at the time and helped create my logo.
What did you enjoy most about your time at MBS?
My MBS graduate experience took my undergraduate business education to a new level. I appreciated the personal attention and access to professors. Working as a graduate assistant was an amazing experience.
The MBA program had a wonderful mix of Maine and international students. We were a small group at the time, and I am still close with a number of my fellow students. We had a strong sense of wanting to learn from the varied backgrounds of those in our classes. Faculty were outstanding and accessible and worked hard to help each of us succeed.
Savour Chocolatier products are available in Bangor at Frank’s Bake Shop, Rebecca’s, Bangor Wine and Cheese Company and Eastern Maine Medical Center’s gift shop. They also are available at The Store Ampersand in Orono, Tiller & Rye in Brewer, John Edwards Market in Ellsworth, Winterport Winery in Winterport, several seasonal businesses around the state, and at savourchocolatier.com.