Wheel Life Wisdom

MBS alumnus, business consultant, author and Maine native Tim Bishop ’79 and his wife Debbie have published a book about the life lessons they learned during 10,000 miles of bicycle touring across America.

In “Wheels of Wisdom: Life Lessons for the Restless Spirit,” the Bishops chronicle the inspirational encounters they experienced during three tours across the U.S. Whether traveling on isolated back roads or weaving through traffic, the couple reflect on adopting the right mindset, overcoming obstacles and relishing life.

A lost shoe, for example, prompts reflections on placing too much value on possessions, and gripping the handlebar for an extended period of time results in lessons on letting go, according to a Publishers Weekly review. The book incorporates faith and includes sections of questions for personal reflection.

The Bishops dedicated their third tour to TheHopeLine, a nonprofit that reaches out to teens and young adults in need. As volunteer coaches with the crisis service, the couple raised more than $22,000 during the tour.

Avid cyclists, the Bishops married in 2010 at the age of 52. They wrote about their first long-distance tour in “Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast.” They also have written two e-books, “Bicycle Touring How-To: What We Learned” and “Metaphors in Motion: Wisdom from the Open Road.”

While “Wheels of Wisdom” includes lessons from all three tours, Tim Bishop says the most recent book is different from “Two Are Better” because they have “given readers more to ponder and encouraged them to apply the book’s principles to their own life.”

Calling TheHopeLine Tour, which was more than 4,300 miles, “long, challenging and intense,” Tim Bishop says the couple’s mission to raise awareness and money prompted them to connect with many people via social media every day.

“In addition to handling the usual logistics that come with a self-supported bicycle tour, we were also contacting media in upcoming cities along the way. I think the intensity of the tour — and the prayers of friends and strangers alike — resulted in some special, if not unusual, experiences. We landed home with some stories that we had to tell,” he says.

Published by Open Road Press, a company started by the Bishops, the book has been lauded by Publishers Weekly.

The Bishops live in Tennessee where Tim, a native of Houlton, Maine, spends most of his time on the publishing company while staying open to other consulting opportunities. One project on his to-do list is converting to print a 2014 e-book he wrote called “Hedging Commodity Price Risk: A Small Business Perspective.” Debbie Bishop is an elementary school reading teacher.

With their most grueling tour behind them, the Bishops have no intention of easing up on their long-distance cycling.

“Cycling helps to keep us fit — physically and mentally,” Bishop says. “Although some may argue we’re a bit off our old-age rockers.”

“Wheels of Wisdom” can be purchased in the online Open Road Press store or in e-book format on Amazon. For more information, visit openroadpress.com.

Cassidy: ‘Work harder than everybody else’

Last semester, the successful MBS alumnus who provided the gift that allowed the creation of the Gerard S. Cassidy ’80 Capital Markets Training Laboratory in the D.P. Corbett Business Building, met with SPIFFY, the school’s student investment club.

“Equity research is a great career with many opportunities, but you have to be passionate, work harder than everybody else, and go above and beyond your job description,” Gerard Cassidy told students. “That’s what will set you apart.”

Cassidy is managing director and head of U.S. Bank Equity Strategy at the Portland, Maine, office of RBC Capital Markets, a premier global investment bank. Since 1988, he has provided banking and regional economic research to corporations, institutional investors, asset managers and governments around the world.

Cassidy shared stories about his career path and time at MBS, while also offering advice to students.

“Score well on your GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and get great grades, but it’s your work ethic people are looking for,” he advised. “If you find a job with an investment company, you’ll be working shoulder to shoulder in tight quarters — so the ability to get along with all kinds of people also is critical.”

A native of Long Island, New York, Cassidy came to UMaine to play football. He earned a dual degree in finance and accounting from MBS, which he credits with guiding him into the business world, opening up doors and giving him the educational foundation and confidence to apply for — and get — jobs.

“I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today without my business degree,” he said.

Cassidy is well-known for developing the Texas ratio, a straightforward formula to evaluate the health of banks that is widely used by analysts and regulators. He is a frequent commentator on bank stocks and economic issues for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, CNN and NPR. He also is president of BancAnalysts Association of Boston, Inc.

Investment research wasn’t Cassidy’s initial career choice, he told students. His decision to become involved in the investment world came unexpectedly when he discovered as a senior that he didn’t have enough credits to graduate. He then took a summer course on the commercial banking system and discovered his passion.

“I loved it,” he said. “It really got me excited about the investment business and commercial banking.”

Throughout his career, Cassidy has been an equity research associate with Prescott, Ball and Turben; a merger and acquisitions analyst with Gulf + Western Industries; and a bank research analyst with Union Mutual, now UnumProvident Corp. In 1988, he became a bank equity analyst with Tucker Anthony Inc., which was acquired by RBC in 2001.

Cassidy advised students to be persistent when applying for jobs and not to become disillusioned when plans don’t work out.

“I received 100 rejection letters before I landed my first job,” he said. “I stapled them in the bathroom as wallpaper in college, and later showed them to my kids. Rejection happens to all of us. You learn and you move forward.”

He recommended students take any opportunity to get into a good company, even if the job isn’t ideal.

“You may have to make copies or bring someone coffee. Meanwhile, you’ll learn and you’ll build up your work experience,” he said, adding that having access to internal job postings could be beneficial when looking to move somewhere else.

“Technology is changing the industry dramatically and, more and more, trading is being done electronically,” he said, observing that SPIFFY students soon would be taking their annual trip to the New York Stock Exchange. “In the ’80s there would be thousands of people trading stocks. Now, the floor of the exchange is much less populated.”

Noting that Boston and New York are the investment hubs of the country, he said students in Maine are fortunate they don’t have to travel far to get valuable work experience.

“Work for four or five years in Boston or New York, but, if you love the lifestyle in Maine, think about returning,” said Cassidy whose job in Portland was supposed to be temporary.

I’ve been in Portland since 1988 doing a job that normally would be done in New York City,” he said. “When I talk to my peers who understand what Maine is all about, they ask me to please call them when I decide to quit because they want my job. They recognize Maine as a great way of life.”

Going with the Flowfold

University of Maine alumnus James Morin ’10 has been named COO and president of sales of Flowfold, a startup retail company founded by UMaine classmates, Charley Friedman ’10 and Devin McNeill ’10.

Based out of Portland, Maine, Flowfold builds minimalist gear for everyday adventurers using some of the world’s strongest and lightest fabrics.

“We are thrilled to have James on board,” says McNeill, Flowfold CEO and a MBS alumnus who majored in accounting and finance.

McNeill started the company in 2011 with Friedman, Flowfold president and chief innovation officer, who earned a civil engineering degree from UMaine.

“Maine is such a big part of Flowfold’s foundation, so it is a bonus to have the opportunity to work with another UMaine classmate,” McNeill says.

Morin, who joined the company in July 2016, will focus on driving sales growth, developing the wholesale business line, and increasing operation efficiency.

“It’s hard not to want to be a part of the Flowfold story,” says Morin, who graduated from UMaine with a degree in biology and worked for more than three years as manager of commercial operations and analysis at Putney, Inc., a pet pharmaceutical company in Portland. When the firm was sold, he was ready for a new challenge.

“I wanted to work at a startup where I could have the biggest impact,” he says. “For me, Flowfold is a great fit and the right opportunity. I am incredibly grateful to be joining Devin and Charley at Flowfold. Like many UMaine graduates, they are committed to giving back to the university and to the state of Maine. I feel fortunate to have met them at the University of Maine.”

Flowfold started with one product from one sewing machine and now has more than 20 product lines, produces about 40,000 units a year, and averages 100 percent year-over-year growth, all with seven employees. Flowfold products are sold throughout the U.S. in retail stores, as well as around the world online.

In fall 2016, the entrepreneurs took Flowfold to a new level, establishing partnerships with L.L.Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports.

L.L.Bean, which has been carrying Flowfold wallets in their stores since summer 2016, has expanded its line to include exclusive olive green wallets, totes and duffels. The line is only available at L.L.Bean’s website and its flagship store in Freeport, Maine.

Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) has brought in Flowfold products that can be found at EMS stores in Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as online.

“Landing partnerships with both L.L.Bean and EMS is a significant milestone for Flowfold,” Morin says. “They are both large regional chains which carry a variety of products targeting customers who embrace the values on which we have built our products. We appreciate their experience and their mission to get people outdoors.”

Morin has long been interested in helping Maine entrepreneurs. In 2011, he partnered with three of his classmates, the Maine Business School and UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation to create an annual student business competition called the UMaine Business Challenge. The goal was to give back to the university, contribute to the long-term growth of the Maine economy, and help student entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

He is happy to continue his passion for entrepreneurship at Flowfold.

“For me, success will be cultivating a culture where people want to work and contribute to an awesome team,” he says. “There is a lot of excitement around the Flowfold brand, and I am so proud that UMaine and Maine are part of our culture here.”

For more information about Flowfold visit flowfold.com.

Career Matchmaker: Internship Coordinator Amanda Plourde

Internship coordinator helps students get a leg up on competition

MBS students are getting a head start on their careers thanks to the business school’s internship coordinator Amanda Plourde.

Plourde, who joined MBS in fall 2015, collaborates with businesses to establish internship programs and helps students find and prepare for the valuable experiential learning opportunities that can lead to full-time jobs after graduation. Building an internship program from the ground up, she is busy compiling data about each placement, including a brief description and the number of students who have participated.

“Internships provide an opportunity for students to work in a real business environment, add skills to their resume, apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom, and build their professional network,” she says.

A Madawaska, Maine native who earned a bachelor’s degree from UMaine’s College of Education in 2011, Plourde has been busy over the last year contacting businesses and organizations in Maine and beyond in search of potential partnerships.

“Networking is a big part of what I do,” says Plourde, who attends events including the UMaine Career Fair and the Bangor Business Expo to let businesses know that the school is seeking internship opportunities.

Today, MBS has relationships with more than 70 companies and organizations across Maine, including the town of Orono; MMG Insurance in Presque Isle; Stone Coast Funds Services in Portland; Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce in Dover-Foxcroft; and Guidance Point Retirement Services, Mynt Investments and Enterprise Rent-a-Car, all in Bangor.

Internships, which can last a month, semester, summer, year, or even for a student’s entire tenure at MBS, typically are aimed at juniors and seniors who have taken core requirements and are immersed in the courses that pertain to their major.

“I am constantly getting information about internships that are valuable to students in all our MBS majors,” says Plourde, who has helped place a management information systems intern at the Orono Police Department, a marketing intern at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, and a finance intern at Means Wealth Management in Bangor.

“When a business notifies me that there is an internship opportunity available, I send the information to students in the specific major at which it is targeted,” she says. “But students also come to me to ask if I know about any internships.”

In addition to her duties as internship coordinator, Plourde holds career preparation sessions to provide information about writing resumes and cover letters, applying for an internship or job, making a good impression at an interview, and other career-readiness skills. She also serves as an academic adviser, offering guidance and information regarding career research, options, decision-making and goal setting.

“The most important thing we do here at MBS is prepare students to graduate career ready, and internships are the best way to do that because they enable students to differentiate themselves in this competitive work environment.”

Amanda Plourde, MBS Internship Coordinator

Serving as internship coordinator at MBS has been both challenging and fulfilling, Plourde says.

“I love talking with our students about their career interests, about the skills they want to develop and about their learning objectives and goals. I also like knowing that I am helping them plan for life after graduation. I feel particularly gratified when they tell me that I was instrumental in helping them obtain an internship,” she says, adding she also enjoys collaborating with businesses and organizations in the community.

Plourde says she strives to ensure the internship will be a valuable experience for both the employer and student. She determines what each business is looking for in a student intern, how the internship program will be structured, and what the educational takeaway will be.

“My goal is to have the majority of MBS students participate in an internship experience by the time they graduate,” she says. “But we emphasize to our students that while I can let them know what positions are available, in the end, they are the ones who have to take the initiative and put themselves out there.”  

Written By Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Writer for the Maine Business School.

Student Jet-setter: Kristin Hall MBA ’17

MBA student Kristin Hall ’17 is a world traveler and certified tour director who looks forward to using her graduate business degree to capitalize on her international experiences.

“An MBA will help me understand how to do business abroad and gain exposure to career options involving tourism and travel,” says the Longwood, Florida, native who also is earning a master’s degree in global policy from the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs.

As an undergraduate, she attended University of Central Florida, where she earned a degree in business and minor in international business. At UCF, she spent a semester at the ICN Business School in Nancy, France. When she returned, she co-founded GlobaLink, a student organization that aims to help UCF’s international students integrate into the community.

After graduating in 2011, she continued to indulge her love of travel, visiting more than 20 countries, including Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Norway, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands.

“I have had amazing adventures and made friends from all over the world,” she says. “In Spain, I hiked the Camino De Santiago, a 500-mile walking trail; and in Mexico, I summited Pico de Orizaba — the third tallest peak in North America at 18,500 feet.

“During my travels, I found couch-surfing a great way to meet people. I stayed with a couple in Rijeka, Croatia, who took me to places you’ll never read about in a guide book. I was treated to incredible views from nearby peaks and to an evening in an underground Cuban bar where we danced salsa. They invited their friends over, and we spent the evening making dinner and sharing stories.”   

In 2013, aiming to combine her passion for travel with a full-time job, she became a certified tour director through the International Tour Management Institute in San Francisco, California. Her first job was with the travel firm Collette, where she specialized in tours in France, Cuba, England, California and Washington, D.C.

Now an independent tour director, she spends her university breaks leading excursions for companies including WorldStrides and Trafalgar.   

“I love being a tour director,” she says. “I enjoy meeting new people from all over the world and providing entertaining and informative stories as I share the culture and history of a city or country that I learned about through experience and study. I also like the challenges of having to think on my feet and deal with a range of personalities. In the travel/tourism industry, we call tour directing ‘project management on wheels,’ and I have certainly been able to hone my planning, executing, organizational and communication skills. These abilities will serve me well no matter what career I choose.”

Hall has used her travels to gain valuable skills and work for causes she cares about. During a recent trip to Peru, she worked with SKIP (Supporting Kids in Peru) in a small village outside Trujillo, teaching English to children and helping business owners obtain loans. While visiting Finland a couple years ago, she volunteered with AIESEC, an organization that facilitates student internships with businesses, helping to create entrepreneurial, global-minded leaders.

“MBS offers wonderful opportunities including small classes, flexible online courses and the opportunity to participate in an international trip,” she says. “I love the business school tagline, ‘Expect the World.’ It fits perfectly with my motto to never stop exploring and my goal to see as much of this big, beautiful world as possible.”

Kristin Hall, MBA ’17

She decided to attend MBS after a chance meeting with professor Nory Jones at a Maine Troop Greeters event at Bangor International Airport.

Now in her second year in the MBA program, she serves as a graduate assistant and as president of GBA/NAWMBA (Graduate Business Association/National Association for Women MBAs).

Written By Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Writer for the Maine Business School.

A Study in Business Culture

Students in MBS lecturer Clint Relyea’s Introduction to International Business class spent the spring semester researching how commerce is conducted in other countries and showcased their knowledge at the second annual International Trade Show.

Teams of students were assigned a country and tasked with researching the economy, imports and exports, tax structure, marketing practices and business etiquette, as well as culture, history, demographics and environmental policies. They studied world trade and investments, international economic relationships, and the challenges and opportunities involved with conducting business in worldwide markets.  

Acting as “economic development officers” of many countries around the globe, students displayed exhibits at the New Balance Student Recreation Center in May where they handed out brochures from embassies and consulates, displayed items obtained during visits, served traditional food and drinks, presented slideshows, and demonstrated games.

Students say they enjoyed the hands-on project, as well as the opportunity to learn about a different culture. They were able to sharpen their teamwork, time management, organizational, communication and leadership skills.

Abby Grindle ’17, a double major in marketing and management, says the assignment enabled her to apply the training she has learned at MBS. Working with the business librarian at Fogler Library on her Spain exhibit, Grindle, of Old Town, Maine, researched that country’s economic stability and stock market, and evaluated promising industries, such as solar power.

Sarah McDowell ’17, a marketing major from Maynard, Massachusetts, says the assignment provided a chance to be creative and have fun while connecting with other members of the UMaine community.

“We attended a German club meeting, spoke with professors of German language classes, and questioned staff members at the study abroad office,” she says.

Jeffrey Porter, director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center of Maine; Jeffrey Bennett, senior trade specialist for the Maine International Trade Center; and Lucy Sommo, director of international recruitment at UMaine, evaluated the exhibitions on the relevance and quality of the material, appearance and creativity, and on how well students presented and understood the information.

First place went to Denmark; second place, Sri Lanka; third place, Chile.

“We live in an interconnected world, and it is critical that University of Maine students have an understanding of cultures, customs and business practices across the globe.”

Lucy Sommo, UMaine Director of International Recruitment

“As UMaine becomes a more international campus, it is crucial that all students be culturally competent. This prepares them for the world after graduation. Even for students who stay in Maine, global awareness is critical in a world that is shrinking. From a business perspective, companies that once may have sold their products exclusively in New England now rely on markets thousands of miles away to be successful. Knowledge of those cultures and business customs can make all the difference,” says Sommo.

Porter says the students showed an impressive depth of understanding.

“Thanks to projects like this, young people can see that interesting things are happening everywhere and that all countries have something to offer the grand economy,” he says. “The better we understand the world, the more likely our differences can be resolved peaceably.”

Avery Langlois ’17, a management major from Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, whose team researched Sri Lanka, says he enjoyed the assignment because it pushed the students out of their comfort zone. His team member, Kalli Kirkpatrick ’17, says she liked being creative with the presentation. The Portland, Maine, native and minor in management, made traditional Sri Lankan cuisine for visitors to their display.

“The assignment gave me an opportunity to learn about a whole new culture and lifestyle I was unaware of,” says Sheraton Jones ’17, a double minor in business administration and management from Anaheim Hills, California, who worked on the first-place exhibit. “I was able to broaden my perspectives on business and life as I learned about the business rules, laws and regulations in Denmark, and about how Danish people live their everyday life with certain beliefs, morals and values.”

Relyea and Sarath Nonis from Arkansas State University presented a paper about the project at a June meeting of the Academy of International Business in New Orleans.

“I was happy to spread the word about UMaine students’ great work,” Relyea says.

Written By Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Writer for the Maine Business School.

Worldwide Studies: MBS Students Go Abroad

Undergraduates travel to Russia

Students learned firsthand about doing business in Russia when they visited the country in the spring as part of an MBS international entrepreneurship class.

Led by John Mahon, an MBS management professor; and Andrei Strukov, an MBS cooperating faculty member, director of the UMaine Faculty Development Center, and a native of Russia, the trip focused on international business opportunities and included discussions with entrepreneurs and business experts.

To prepare for the trip, the class studied Russian history, culture, economics and politics. While in Russia, the students kept journals, and when they returned home, they created blogs to reflect on the experience.

The students toured Moscow and St. Petersburg and visited businesses including a furniture manufacturer, felt factory, real estate firm and wood products company, as well as a law practice where MBS alumnus Matthew Shannon ’11 works. An aspiring attorney who lives in St. Petersburg, he was first introduced to Russia when he participated in an international field study class as a student.

The itinerary also featured visits to cultural attractions and landmarks, including the Hermitage Museum, Red Square, Kremlin, Tretyakov Gallery, Novodevichy Convent and Peterhof Palace; a boat trip; and a four-day stay in Syktyvkar where host families provided a more personal view of life in Russia.

Shawn McKenna, MBS executive in residence and owner of a chain of popular Moscow-based diners, treated the travelers to a meal at one of his restaurants and talked about doing business in Russia and the cultural differences he overcame.

Muscovites “don’t take customer service as seriously as we do,” says Zachary Stephens ’17 of Saco, Maine, who is majoring in finance with an international business concentration.

“Doing business in Russia is a lot different,” he says. “You don’t want to become too big or make too big a profit because you will be forced to sell your business to the government. This was surprising because, with my business mindset, I am always thinking about profit and increasing shareholders’ wealth — something we are taught in our MBS classes.”

For Stephens, a trip highlight was visiting the law firm where students were given a variety of scenarios and asked to make a successful business based on the circumstances.

“This was really eye opening,” he says. “It demonstrated the different situations you can run into while starting a business in Russia.”

Calling the city center of Yaroslavl, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “one of the most wonderful places I have ever been,” MBS senior Tyler Morin ’16 says he came away with a new perspective.

“It’s funny that 200,000 people spread out like that is considered a tiny community,” says the South Paris, Maine, native who is now an MBA student. “That’s triple the size of Portland, Maine. It is interesting that the Russian economy can’t support the random small 5,000–10,000 town that I grew up in. Having no Amazon, Walmart or Hannaford and no decent wages would be a different world. The inequality gap seems to be even larger here than in America. Every day here makes me more grateful for my family back home and the opportunities I have been given.”

Kaitlyn Lavallee ’17, a math and economics major from Sabattus, Maine, says the trip taught her “there are innumerable ways to view or react to a situation or idea.”

“Living with a Russian family and learning about the culture has allowed

me to see the advantage of acknowledging and welcoming other viewpoints and traditions as well as sharing my own,” she says.

MBA students visit Sweden as part of international field study class

Eleven MBS graduate students got an international perspective on business this spring when they traveled to Sweden as part of the MBA program’s international field study class.

Divided into teams, the students researched and visited five Stockholm-based businesses. They say the trip was a highlight of their MBA program experience, and they gained a better understanding and appreciation of Swedish business practices.

“The businesses we visited were much less hierarchical than most in the U.S.,” says Steve Achorn ’16. “They focused on teamwork and being successful as a company rather than individual success. I thought this was an excellent way of doing business because it makes every employee feel empowered and promotes collaboration to achieve a common goal.”

Led by Niclas Erhardt, MBS associate dean and associate professor of management, and Devon DeMarco, an adjunct professor, the eight-day journey included visits to Magine TV, a cloud-based TV platform; Electrolux, a global leader in home appliances; Avalanche Studios, a computer gaming company; Widespace, the leading mobile brand advertising company in Europe; and Epicenter, an office-share company that provides various amenities including meals, conference rooms, workshops and social networking events to startups.

Also on the itinerary were visits to a maritime museum, art museum and zoo, as well as a daylong “selfie” scavenger hunt designed by Erhardt to familiarize students with Stockholm.

“Students always come back raving about their trips,” Erhardt says. “It really is a unique learning opportunity to build ties with other MBA students, interact with faculty, network with local businesses, and socialize with host nationals.”

Beth Johnson ’16 says the trip was a great way to end her MBA program.

“Teamwork can be challenging, but this class made the experience seem effortless and enjoyable. Sweden was a wonderful host. I realized that the world is not such a big place and is even getting smaller with the digital age,” she says.

The voluntary MBA trip is an important part of the curriculum because it “furthers understanding, appreciation and application of the principles, practices and nuances of international commerce,” says MBA director Scott Spolan, a lecturer in management. “Shared experiences and memories are also the basis for lifelong professional bonding and networking.”

Former MBA director Rick Borgman, a finance professor, said “these international experiences are often life changing. Students  expand their worldview — important in the age of global business — and open their eyes to different ways of doing things.”

In addition to Sweden, MBA students have traveled to Vietnam, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and China.

To prepare for the Sweden trip, students gathered information about each company’s business model, challenges and customer profile, and composed questions for business leaders. To help understand the context within which businesses operate in Sweden, the students were asked to give a presentation on a Swedish television series, book or movie.

Students kept journals about their experiences during the trip and created blogs with observations, reflections and impressions when they returned home.

In his blog, Pip Kolmar ’16 wrote about Avalanche’s open office space and the importance of sharing resources when it comes to innovation. Shane Albert ’17 wrote that Widespace introduced him to a “whole new perspective of how-to market brands, and their technological insights were truly impressive.”

Vartika Srivastava ’16 was impressed with Epicenter’s willingness to provide space to universities and younger professionals. Even more impressive, she wrote, were the microchips inserted into hands to replace office key cards.

Written By Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Writer for the Maine Business School.

Sipping Success: Keane’s Logical Sip merges business and baked goods

Combining her MBS training with her love for baking, recent graduate Alison Keane has opened Logical Sip, a cafe and bakery featuring natural and healthy foods, in Brewer, Maine.

Keane, who graduated with an MBA in May, says she always planned on opening her own business, but didn’t anticipate it happening this quickly.

“I figured I would gain experience working for someone else for a while,” says Keane, who earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a concentration in entrepreneurship from MBS in 2013.

“But after I started applying for jobs, I realized it was silly to try so hard to convince someone else of my worth. I thought, ‘Why wait?’”

Now Keane’s days fly by as she manages Logical Sip, which opened April 22 and held its grand opening June 3. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, the cafe’s extensive menu features fresh food at reasonable prices.

With four employees, including two trained bakers, Keane does much of the food preparation, but makes it a priority to be at the front counter as often as possible.

“Interacting with customers, preparing their orders, and serving them quickly and with a smile are my most important tasks,” says Keane, who grew up in Brewer and lives in Eddington. “My staff is great, but I figure nobody takes greater pride in this service than I do. Connecting with customers also helps me network, since right now, in these early stages, many are neighbors and fellow Brewer/Bangor business owners.”

Reflecting on her journey since opening the downtown Brewer business, she can’t believe how far she has come.

“I have learned a lot about myself during these past few months,” she says. “I am proud that I have been able to handle something completely new with great risks. I am working harder than I ever thought I could, but I know that if I stay patient and persistent, the reward will be worth the wait. My hope is that I can work hard enough now so that I can spend the next chapter of my life traveling the world.”

Why did you choose the name Logical Sip?

The term ‘logical’ refers to food made from scratch with no preservatives or strange ingredients. We use ingredients you have heard of: flour, sugar, cinnamon, etc.,

with no additives. We offer many healthier choice items, but also a wide variety of sweet treats. It is logical to eat simple, homemade food, and to have a balanced diet of health food, as well as ‘treat yourself’ foods.

All of the original recipes are mine, practiced and perfected in my kitchen at home over the past year. My two bakers like to experiment, though, so I think new bakery items will be a frequent occurrence.

All the baked goods — including our bread — are made in-house, from scratch, with the exception of the gluten-free items, which we purchase locally.  

Who helped and advised you as you wrote your business plan?

I reached out to MBS associate professor of entrepreneurship Jason Harkins and met with him many times to discuss my business plan. He was a huge help. He helped me establish a target market and figure out how I was going to differentiate my business.

I also sat down with D’arcy Main-Boyington and Nicole Gogan, the economic development team in Brewer, who went above and beyond to entice me to choose Brewer. I knew they would be great support when I started operating and contributing to the city.

How is your MBS training helping you run your business?

My MBS education gave me a solid foundation of essential business skills as well as an awareness of the importance of having a detailed business plan, including accurate expense and sales forecasts. I think many people who open restaurants have culinary experience without business experience, but I was the opposite. The business skills I got at MBS will give me a huge advantage over competitors.

Now that my staff is fully trained, I have had time to sit down and plan out the ‘bigger picture’ business duties. Many people stress the importance of marketing and bringing in revenue, but that is not my top priority right now.

MBS taught me the importance of customer satisfaction and loyalty and listening to the demands of the people. I am focused on quality of service and food now, as opposed to quantity of sales. I want to make sure we are organized enough behind the scenes to handle increasing business.

I think my MBS education will come into play even more later on, once we are established and need to determine a strategy going forward. So far, I have been able to limit marketing expenses since social media exposure and word of mouth have been huge.

Of course, MBS also taught me the importance of accurate bookkeeping and monitoring numbers. I can’t wait to be in business long enough to have some numbers to analyze.

MBS also taught me the importance of culture. My operations manual initially included a much more rigid culture, but once I hired employees and opened the business, it became clear that a casual environment would be more productive.

How did MBS prepare you for your career and for life after graduation?

When I took executive-in-residence Shawn McKenna’s leadership class, I learned that not all leaders are the same — you have to figure out your strengths, decide your strategy and then own it.

I have a unique approach for dealing with employees. My focus is on keeping them happy and engaged with the business. They respect me for the work I put in everyday, but they also like me and are rooting for me to succeed.

For more about Logical Sip, visit logicalsip.com.

Written by Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Writer for the Maine Business School.

Prof. Agrrawal inducted into Phi Kappa Phi

MBS associate professor of finance Pank Agrrawal has been inducted into the UMaine chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

The nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines in higher education, Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at UMaine by 10 seniors to recognize outstanding students, faculty and staff. With a mission “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others,” the society has more than 1.25 million members from approximately 300 campuses around the United States and Philippines.

Agrrawal exemplifies the land grant tripartite mission of scholarship, teaching and service, which is an integral part of Phi Kappa Phi, says UMaine professor Daniel Sandweiss, the national Phi Kappa Phi vice president for chapter development.

“Pank is a strong scholar with a national reputation, an exceptional educator with outstanding teaching evaluations, and a dedicated supporter of UMaine who provides tremendous service on campus,” says Sandweiss, a professor of anthropology and climate change, who nominated Agrrawal for the society.

Each spring, the UMaine chapter of Phi Kappa Phi inducts up to five new faculty/staff members and around 50 students.

“The best part of the induction ceremony was seeing top students campuswide,” Agrrawal says. “Phi Kappa Phi celebrates cross-disciplinary scholarship at a national level and I feel humbled and privileged to be part of it.”

Agrrawal spent eight years in quantitative research and portfolio management in the investment management industry before joining the MBS faculty in 2005. He has served on and helped establish several UMaine committees related to research and graduate studies.

“Pank is a constant advocate for quality and intellectual rigor both in education and research,” says David Neivandt, a Phi Kappa Phi member and UMaine’s associate vice president for research and graduate studies. “His contributions to the research and graduate studies missions of the University of Maine have been outstanding.”

In 2013, the Maine Alpha Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon recognized him as  the faculty member of the year. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance for being listed as one of 17 influential business school professors by ETF Database (ETFdb), a global leader in market analysis, tracking and ratings. Committed to enhancing the MBS student experience, he created the MBS Finance Society, a meeting ground for students who are passionate about finance and want to explore topics that go beyond the course curriculum.

Agrrawal has delivered more than 25 papers at refereed conferences, published 14 peer-reviewed papers, been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, and developed and released the ReturnFinder app via Apple’s App store. His biographical profile is included in “Who’s Who in Finance and Business,” a publication of Marquis Who’s Who. He is a member of the CQA (Chicago Quantitative Alliance) and is an active reviewer of many peer-reviewed journals.

Written by Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Writer for the Maine Business School.

Careers in Accounting Night at MBS

The Maine Business School Accounting Faculty partnered with the University of Maine Career Center and the Institute of Management Accountants to host a Careers in Accounting Night at the Maine Business School. Over 20 professionals from 8 different organizations participated in the event which saw over 50 students turn out. Major public accounting firms Albin, Randall & Bennett, Baker Newman Noyes, BerryDunn, LG&H, and MacPage LLC were present as well as representatives from the Maine Revenue Service and the State of Maine. Stone Coast Fund Services, a Hedge Fund Administration & Consulting firm, was also present. Special care was made in planning the event by Assistant Director Kate Axelson Foster of the UMaine Career Center, Lecturer in Accounting Wendy Coons of the Maine Business School, Internship Coordinator Amanda Plourde of the Maine Business School, and MBS Student Ambassador and Senior Accounting Major Michael St. Denis, also President of the local chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants.

Attendees were treated to a panel of Accounting experts from every organization in attendance, who shared their advice and their organization’s cultures with the audience. With everything from interview tips, career advice, and what types of positions are available – the panel, moderated by Wendy Coons, was an opportunity for Accounting Majors to ask questions and hear feedback from professionals in all areas of accounting. After the panel discussion, dinner was available for all attendees and students had the opportunity to network and connect with professionals one-on-one to discuss internship or job opportunities in their organizations.

Events like this make it easier for students to connect with professionals and explore the job opportunities that await them after life at the Maine Business School. There is already talk about holding another event like this next year, as well as how similar events can be held for Management, Finance, and Marketing students in the future. The Maine Business School would like to thank everyone for attending and for the professionals who gave their time to be a part of this amazing event.