The George Washington University

School of Business: GWSB News

January 9, 2009

Business School Student Wins $1,500 Entrepreneur Prize

Christina Morin, MBA,’09, entered an elevator at George Washington University and came out $1,500 richer.

The School of Business graduate student was given five minutes in the elevator to detail a business plan before judges from Ideablob.com, a Web site that encourages entrepreneurial ideas. Morin was one of more than 200 students, and among the handful of finalists, who drafted business plans as part of an idea contest dubbed “Pitch George.”

Morin’s plan called for Kenya’s Masai people to make and sell handmade goat’s

milk soap to tourism lodges in order to generate sustainable benefits from the vacation traffic they lure to the African nation. The GWSB grad student said she’ll use the $1,500 first prize as seed money for the undertaking. She estimates she’ll need to raise another $1,000 to get the project off the ground.

“She not only had a viable idea where it was clear she had done her homework, she had a business plan and strong personal connections to the village she wanted to help,” said judge William Robinson. “She also had the best presentation. Her pitch and composure were excellent.”

Ideablob.com is an online community where small business owners and entrepreneurs share ideas and receive feedback from both peers and guest experts. The Pitch George contest was a student twist on Ideablob’s regular prize program, which awards $10,000 monthly for a small-business idea.

GWSB Professor Makes Technological and Scientific Predictions for 2009

Space tourism, cars that drive themselves, and a cure for cancer are among the predictions William Halal, GWSB professor emeritus of information systems and technology management, is forecasting for the near future. Halal’s predictions were published in the Washington Post. “Technology forecasts should be a central focus for GW School of Business faculty and students because the technology revolution is even now destroying old markets and creating new ones, altering social values and buying patterns, and changing the way organizations work,” said Halal. To view "The Next Big Things" click here (PDF).

GWSB Students Show Their Patriotism During the Holidays

GWSB Senior Christina Johansen volunteers
at “Wreaths Across America” on
December 13, 2008

At 7 a.m. on a cold Saturday in December, a group of GWSB undergraduate students were already on the subway, but they were not headed to the mall in search of holiday sales. The students, coordinated by the GW Business Council, were on their way to Arlington National Cemetery to help in the laying of 10,000 wreaths on the graves of U.S. veterans.

The “Wreaths Across America” tradition began 17 years ago when a Maine-based company, Worcester Wreath, began placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery during the holidays. Since then, Worcester Wreath has donated 90,000 wreaths, which volunteers use in a wreath-laying ceremony each December. This year, Worcester Wreath owners Morrill and Laura Worcester donated more than 17,000 wreaths, including the more than 10,000 wreaths placed at Arlington.

“‘Wreaths Across America’ was nothing short of an amazingly patriotic, emotionally moving, and simply delightful experience,” said GWSB junior Clarice Casamina. “The event was a great way to share the holiday season with close friends and show the appreciation we have as GW students, as well as citizens of the United States.”

The GW Business Council was established as an umbrella organization uniting all undergraduate student business organizations on campus.

Presidential Inauguration Update

The George Washington University will observe Inauguration Day, January 20, as a holiday.

Here are a few tips to remember:

  • All escalators at Metro stations will be turned off. Metro officials say the expected crowd size may make escalator operation dangerous.
  • Downtown ATMs could run short of cash during the weekend preceding the inauguration.
  • The Foggy Bottom Campus east of 23rd Street falls inside the “Parade Dispersal Area.” There will be no street parking from midday on Monday, January 19, through Inauguration Day. Buses will be parked on both sides of 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd streets from Pennsylvania Avenue to Virginia Avenue. Bus parking on 21st will also extend to Constitution Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue, which will be closed from 17th Street to Washington Circle, will also have parked buses.
  • Constitution Avenue will be closed from 3rd Street to 18th Street (and possibly to 23rd Street).

Members of the GW community are reminded to carry their G-World cards at all times. For the most up-to-date information visit Campus Advisories or call the GW Information Line (202-994-5050).

Getting to Know: Stephanie Lundgren

Title: Program assistant at the GWSB Center for Latin American Issues (CLAI).

Job duties: Assists with planning CLAI conferences and training programs.

Years at GWSB: One

Best part of working for the GWSB: A friendly environment with great people!

Favorite place on campus: Duqués Hall, Suite 452, also known as our private “Ushuaia.”

What co-workers don’t know about me: In a couple months, I will be going back to Brazil – my home – to resume studying law at the University of Brasilia. They also don’t know that I will miss GW and D.C. very much!

Family: I live with my parents and my younger twin siblings, a brother and sister, in Rockville, Md.

Favorite things to do on the weekends: Trying new restaurants with friends, going clubbing in D.C., watching movies, and sleeping in between.

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere there is a beach. Brazilian beach Porto de Galinhas is one of my favorites. Not only is the sea water clean and blue, it is also warm!

Favorite book: My favorite books are in Portuguese. One is “Dom Casmurro.” One of the books I read in English and really liked was “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.

Alumni View

Note from the editor: The GWSB newsletter is sent to thousands of alumni and, from time to time, they share their business views. If would like to share your viewpoint with our readers, please send your comments to gwsbcomm@gwu.edu.

Big Problems…Bigger Opportunities

William J. Robinson, GWSB MA,’72

We recently witnessed the U.S. Congress and the president enacting into law nearly $1 trillion in federal aid to the banking and mortgage industries. The tidal wave of financial and foreclosure problems suddenly confronting our economy evoked unexpected private sector opportunities as well as the federal response to addressing the problems.

As my parents often reminded me, the problems created by the Great Depression resulted in new and often unexpected opportunities for many. And now, as 2009 begins, let us consider one such potentially valuable opportunity — not without its detractors — created by the real estate and mortgage crises. The opportunity is “Mortgage Modification.”

In the new laws and regulations, “modification” is not refinancing existing home and commercial mortgages. Refinancing suggests an entirely new loan, with new lenders, and maybe new buyers as well. Rather “mortgage modification,” as the legislative and regulatory language demonstrates, must occur between existing lender and homeowner.

The newly authorized U.S. Treasury “Troubled Assets Repurchasing Program” (TARP) offers banks both a carrot and a stick. Existing troubled loans and mortgages about to foreclose can be rewritten (modified) to lower, more affordable rates and terms so the existing borrower/homeowner/mortgagee will not be foreclosed on and will be able to remain in the house with a more-affordable, albeit less-profitable, mortgage for the bank. No new financer need apply.

But hold on! Mortgage Modification is such a new concept and the banking “bail-out” funds are so slow in working their way into the marketplace that new problems are beginning to emerge. One such problem: Several Internet-based companies have flooded e-mail boxes with their own brands of “mortgage modification” in which the “borrower” pays in advance without any assurance that such a non-bank mortgage modification loan will be made. Media investigators tell me that publications such as the Wall Street Journal will detail and expose unethical hustlers and lenders who present themselves as “mortgage modifiers” but, in fact, are simply scam artists.

But if you talk, as I have, with U.S. Treasury officials in Washington, D.C., who are charged with implementing the TARP/mortgage modification program under the leadership of Sheila Bair, chairperson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), you will be informed that most banks cannot efficiently and expeditiously process (modify) all of the troubled loans in their files that face foreclosure. A new class of mortgage experts, service personnel, and loan officers are needed to modify the growing number of troubled and soon-to-be foreclosed mortgages. Internal proponents of the new mortgage modification opportunities say that if standard guidelines, terms, and conditions can be imposed for all modifications, then “consultants” working for banks will have less opportunity to commit illegal acts in the process.

Treasury officials made a telling point. If banks are discouraged by the complexity of mortgage modification, standardized guidelines need to be imposed for all such loans in order to make the banks’ task easier.

Whether this newly initiated “mortgage modification” process will succeed or not depends a great deal on how banks adapt to entrepreneurs claiming to be experts in the modification business. It will also depend on how Congress and the U.S. Treasury oversee and implement this aspect of the TARP program. Hopefully, specific, standardized guidelines will be adapted without creating more failures and foreclosures.

Robinson, GWSB MA, ’72, a resident of Raleigh, NC, is a professional government relations specialist with 31 years of legislative, lobbying, and political experience. He has held high-ranking U.S government and private sector positions since 1964.

Getting Ink

The School of Business MBA program was highlighted on the blog of the Ethical Optimist. “I’m delighted to share some terrific news from the folks at GWU. The School of Business has revolutionized its MBA programs through the launch of the first-ever curriculum in the country fully imbued with theories and practical applications on ethical leadership, corporate responsibility, and globalization,” wrote blogger Ann Subervi. “The new Global M.B.A. and World Executive M.B.A. programs incorporate values, theory, and international residencies to produce ethical leaders primed for success in today’s global marketplace. Bravo! I’ve long advocated for this type of curriculum in business schools. Values-based leadership skills need to be taught to our future business leaders if we are to change the status quo.”

Lisa Delpy Neirotti, associate professor of tourism and sport management, was quoted in the St. Louis Jewish Light article, “Witnessing Sports History, Grad Student Gets First-hand Look — and College Credit — at Olympics in Beijing.” The article featured GWSB graduate student Mayer Weisel, who was among the students traveling with Neirotti to the Beijing Olympics. “The students have to keep a journal and submit blog entries. Mayer did a great job. He was probably our best blogger. He used our video a lot and edited and narrated it,” said Neirotti.

We want to hear from you!

If you have information for the newsletter, news, or items to post on the GWSB Web site or events calendar, please send them to: gwsbcomm@gwu.edu.