UMGC Professors, Students and Alumni Share Success Stories of Women in Business

Fewer women than men tend to select careers in business, but they are making inroads. Women in management, business and financial operations had higher salaries than female workers in any other major occupation category in 2020, according to new data from a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Business schools can play a powerful role in encouraging women to pursue business careers, in exposing them to strong role models, and in opening opportunities to network with business professionals.       

Currently, more than 13,000 women are enrolled in an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, certificate or doctorate program within the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Business. Businesses are booming, and empowering women are working their way to the top.

UMGC faculty in business education said women in business are increasing in visibility. To round out Women’s History Month celebrating women’s achievements, faculty discussed ways to advance women pursuing business degrees.

Anna Seferian, PhD, acting dean of the School of Business, says UMGC provides role models for women pursuing degrees.

“The role of business education is not limited to developing business acumen and hard skills in management, finance, marketing and other related areas. Business education motivates and inspires people to reach for higher goals, to be a better version of themselves and, through that, to be a positive force in our society. 

“The role of women in business and society is more visible now than ever, a major driving force behind so many changes and achievements. As we [as a society] continue to learn to be more inclusive and diverse, we [in the UMGC School of Business] serve as role models in our student’s educational journey. We motivate and inspire our students, just as our students motivate and inspire our faculty. It’s a rewarding experience.”

Freda Powell-Bell, PhD, director of the human resources program and collegiate professor, encourages her students’ success.

“As a professor I try to do three things to motivate my students, especially women, to stay the course and complete their business degrees. First, I try to share stories and examples of successful business professionals in the workforce and in the world as part of our online or hybrid classroom discussions. 

“Secondly, I share information with my students through classroom announcements about upcoming events, presentations, speakers, conferences and summits, such as the SHRM [Society for Human Resource Management] Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference or Women Spanning the Globe Conference, so that they will be able to see talented women in the field and gain an opportunity to network with both professional women and men.

“And third, I share my own personal testimony with my students to be a living example of a successful business professional. I want them to understand the benefits of persevering and the rewards and challenges they will face. I want them to leave out of the class saying, ‘if Professor Powell-Bell could do it, so can I!’”

Kathleen Sindell, director of the finance and economics department and director of the Certified Financial Planners (CFP) program, has multiple strategies to help students stay the course: 

“Provide clear instructions, use examples that students can identify with and maintain a steady online presence.”  

Kathleen Sobieralski, director of the accounting department and a certified public accountant (CPA), gives students successful strategies for achieving their goals.

“Your resume is strengthened as you enter the name of the school and degree earned. On an employment application, you may be asked to list colleges and universities attended and to check the box ‘Did you graduate?’ Let’s work to say ‘yes.’

“Read job postings. What education and certifications do they seek? This assists you in creating your path to success. Certifications such as the CPA or others such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) opens doors. Begin by earning your first certification.”  

Anthony Vrba, collegiate professor of management foundations, and nonprofit and association management, says engaging learners is a big part of teaching.

“The course MGMT 630 is one of the first classes that management students enroll in, and it is crucial that they have an engaging learning experience and know that they can complete an advanced degree. 

“Having an engaging environment can help students stay motivated, increase self-esteem, and continue in their programs. Part of that is a focus on having a variety of learning experiences incorporating videos, tables, reports and other assignments as would be experienced in the work environment. Having a variety of resources is also important, such as lectures, readings from practitioners, and scholarly sources and videos. Videos can include talks, lectures, or feedback video.  

“Sharing experiences is the best way I find to connect with students, especially to show how concepts learned in the course can be used in their jobs. Being a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, I have had many experiences that I share.

“Relationship-building is one concept that is very important in business and covered in our courses. I was the only female manager in the eight-state recruiting area, and I had to work hard to build relationships with others and be able to keep up with communications and strategies that were going on within the organization. At that time, I would have to go to the smoking area to get things done. That is where the men made decisions on policy and strategy, which was important for me to know. 

“Meeting people in their areas can help build relationships. These … can include connecting with people at conferences, in the lunchroom, even at the turkey trot. You never know when you can expand your network to improve your future.”  

Female students enrolled in UMGC business degree programs also shared their thoughts in honor of Women’s History Month.  

Ivory Cooper, a graduate student in management, information systems and services and the former president of the SHRM Student Council, underscores the opportunities the School of Business has given her.

“UMGC has an assortment of opportunities and is inclusive in its approach to learning and teaching. (…) From its robust career support services, various volunteering initiatives, and club activities, at no point have I felt my ideas being dismissed or was I discouraged from going into a field that many women are not represented in, like management and information systems. 

“My teachers have always gone the extra mile to ensure I trust the university but, also, myself, and [I] feel confident when I step out into the world,” Cooper said.

A master’s degree candidate in criminal justice management since October 2021, Lakerera Little says a UMGC degree will allow her to rise in her career field.

 “I wanted to move up in my current job role as a family law clerk. Hopefully, after graduation, I am able to manage my own team.”  

UMGC Business Professors Weigh in on Global Supply Chain Disruptions and Holiday Shopping

Supply chain disruptions are making the headlines again, in large part because of the way they are affecting the traditional end-of-year shopping and shipping season. Three business professors from University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) in the United States, Europe and Asia offer perspective and advice for consumers in advance of the upcoming holiday season. 

One big takeaway: Planning and patience are essential.

From UMGC stateside:

Sandeep Patnaik is professor and program director of the marketing program in the Department of Business Management at UMGC School of Business. He previously served as the program director in the MBA Marketing Program and, later, as program chair of marketing specialization in the Graduate School. His advertising strategy research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania resulted in the publication of the handbook “Persuasive Advertising.” Dr. Patnaik is a past research director at Gallup and Robinson, a leading market research firm affiliated with the Gallup organization.

In his marketing courses, Dr. Patnaik offers insight on issues related to pricing and customer satisfaction. 

  1. What advice do you have for holiday shoppers when it comes to U.S. supply chain issues?

The supply chain challenges have grown acute in the last few months and are likely to persist by most estimations, at least until the first quarter of 2022. These are some of my key pieces of advice:

  • Holiday shoppers will do well to complete the purchase of major items by Thanksgiving, and no later than the end of November. 
  • There is no need to overstock or hoard in anticipation of future shortages. 
  • It may not be possible for businesses to adhere to the same delivery timelines as earlier. Allowing for a delivery cushion and being patient are the keys to dealing with this unprecedented situation. 
  • Prices of gift items are likely to go up significantly, so it will be a good idea to budget ahead to avoid last-minute surprises. Credit card interest rates have increased so racking up debt is best avoided.
  1. As demand increases, do you think prices will also rise?

Yes. More demand and fewer supplies lead to price inflation. The current situation is not, however, a case of product shortage. Rather, goods are stuck in transit as opposed to not being produced at all. However, the impact at the consumers’ end is the same. Goods are not available as readily as before.

Consumer anxiety leads to excess demand which, in turn, spikes up prices. This has already happened in the last few months. Halloween costumes were much more expensive this year. The shortage of computer chips has led to fewer new cars and an increase in the price of electronics. Rising energy cost, a shortage of workers and reoccurrence of COVID-19 cases are other key factors that resulted in an increase in the cost of production and a consequent rise in prices. 

  1. Where did the supply problems begin? 

An abundance of demand, together with other factors, contributed to the current supply chain situation. At the beginning of the pandemic, people hoarded toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc., as no one had a clue as to how long the situation would last. In reality, there was no shortage in the production facility, but retailers did not have adequate reserve stock. The sight of empty shelves in the stores created a panic situation and led them to order a lot of goods, far more than what they needed. 

The manufacturers, many of them in far-off global locations, could not fulfill the U.S. orders as they were either closed due to COVID-19 or forced to operate in a limited capacity with restrictions. When they did start functioning a few months later, they shipped the accumulated orders in giant shipping containers. The arrival of a massive amount of cargo resulted in severe congestion in the ports. The shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has also meant that even offloaded cargo is taking much longer to reach distribution centers and, ultimately, the consumers. 

Even now consumers are ordering far more than they need, as they are anxious about availability in the future. That has caused excess demand and resulted in what is termed as a “bull-whip” effect. The instability in both demand and supply has severely impacted the supply chain.

From UMGC Europe:

Bert Jarreau is an overseas collegiate professor in the MBA Program in the UMGC Europe Division. In recent years, he served as the subject matter expert for digital marketing in the MBA Program, where he maintained the digital analytics project for all MBA classes. Dr. Jarreau also taught in the stateside MBA Program as an adjunct from 2011 to 2017. He received both his Doctor of Management in 2010 and his MBA in 2004 from UMGC and started his career as a technologist in the Air Force.

Dr. Jarreau has studied holiday supply chain issues in his course, MBA 640: Innovation through Marketing and Technology.

  1. What would you tell holiday shoppers about supply chain issues in Europe?

My advice for holiday shoppers is to shop early and have contingencies to buy alternate products.

  1. How do you think demand is going to affect prices?

Prices will inevitably increase as demand increases and supplies decrease.

  1. Where did these supply chain disruptions begin? 

Supply chain issues were greatly exacerbated with the pandemic. Due to the lockdowns and convenience of buying online, e-commerce has grown two to five times faster than before the pandemic, as demonstrated by an article published by McKinsey & Company on March 5, 2021, at www.mckinsey.com

From UMGC Asia

Gregory Evans, an overseas collegiate professor in the UMGC Asia Division, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who currently lives in Okinawa, Japan. With more than 25 years of marketing and marketing research experience across several industries, he has taught at the university level since 1995. Today, he teaches MBA 610 Organizational Behavior and MBA 640 Marketing and Innovation, where he touches on the supply issues to help prepare MBA students with global experience.

  1. What advice are you offering holiday shoppers in Asia given current supply chain issues?

Worldwide shipping delays and other supply-chain issues are causing shortages in seasonal holiday shopping that will last from Christmas and beyond. As supply chain problems cause product delays, marketers are starting more holiday promotions earlier than ever to get consumers spending before inventory sells out.  

  1. Do you think as demand increases, prices will also increase?

Salesforce projects a 20 percent increase in prices this holiday season due to supply chain issues. Retail giants such as Amazon, Target and Walmart are encouraging early Christmas shopping to ease future panic. The lower supply will have other consequences including fewer Black Friday discounts and less variety among children’s toys and other goods.

However, this disruption in the supply chain is larger than just seasonal demand. China was traditionally the primary source of many goods. However, the manufacturing base was already moving to other lower-wage countries like India, Vietnam and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.  

In addition to increased prices for goods, there is a delay in rolling out products. Nintendo revised its Nintendo Switch sales forecast for the fiscal year down by $1.5 million on Nov. 4 because of the global semiconductor shortage. Sony reportedly expects to make fewer PS5s. The company originally forecasted it could assemble 16 million consoles in the current fiscal year, but now it plans to make “about 15 million,” according to Bloomberg. The PS5 has been incredibly hard to find since it launched in November 2020, and that’s likely not going to become easier soon.

And the issue goes far beyond gaming hardware makers, with Intel saying that the chip shortage could last until at least 2023 and Apple, which is renowned for its mastery of its supply chain, taking a $6 billion hit last quarter because of constraints. Despite that, you can still get many Apple products by Christmas if you order them now from the company’s website, but that is still dependent upon the distribution channels. 

3. What’s behind this supply disruption? 

The supply chain issues began long before the pandemic started. The supply chain has grown steadily for decades, which manufacturers and shippers could manage accordingly. Now the supply of goods has been halted or delayed. This created lags in the system, which meant the typical waves of supply and demand went from ripples in the system to larger and larger disruptive waves. It took longer for manufacturers to finish goods, and shipping companies had to wait for orders. Consumers waited for delivery, and stock-outs and back orders grew. Prices were increased and insecurity crept in, creating anxiety and tension within the system. Further anxiety was created by the false expectation of when “we get back to normal.”  

There is also pressure on the supply chain because many workers have quit their jobs during the Great Resignation of the last six months. Many who worked from home have asked why they wanted to return to the office environment.  

Japan, India and Australia’s trade ministers have met to officially launch the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, following reports that the three nations are working together to counter China’s dominance on trade in the Indo-Pacific. The three nations are seeking to build stronger supply chains to counter China’s dominance as trade and geopolitical tensions escalate across the region.

UMGC Names Sharon Fross as Vice President and Dean of School of Arts and Sciences

Adelphi, Md. (Sept. 30, 2021)—Sharon L. Fross, PhD, has been appointed the new vice president and dean of the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Arts and Sciences. Fross has served for nearly 3o years in leadership roles across higher education, dedicating her career to making colleges and universities accessible to adult and first-generation learners.

“UMGC is one of the few national institutions that has been committed to adult and military learners since its founding. I am thrilled to join such a preeminent institution−especially, at this critical time as the pandemic continues to change the needs of adult learners,” Fross said. 

The School of Arts and Sciences at UMGC offers degree programs that can be easily customized with a variety of minors. Students and alumni stay connected through lifetime career services and a strong global community that can greatly aid professional networking. 

“The nature of work is changing right before our eyes, along with the expectations of employees and employers,” said Fross. “Adult learners and employers know they can rely on UMGC to put learners first and to respond quickly and thoughtfully to these changing needs. I am excited to join the UMGC community of faculty and staff who do everything possible to foster the continued success of our learners.”

Fross holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Public Administration from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of South Carolina.  

“Sharon brings extensive experience developing online, credit and competency-based curricula, stackable credentials, and student pathways to meet workforce needs,” said UMGC Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Blakely Pomietto, when announcing Fross’ appointment. “She is adept in creating collaborative teams to revise and develop new programs.”

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models with award-winning online programs in biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, information technology, and other high-demand disciplines in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs, including doctoral programs. A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver accessible high quality, low-cost higher education.

UMGC Partners with FPA NCA to Offer Free Financial Advice 

Last month, staff and students from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) Certified Planning Program (CFP) collaborated with the Financial Planning Association National Capital Area (FPA NCA) to host a virtual Financial Wellness Day. The event offered the public an opportunity to take part in pivotal educational workshops and receive one-on-one advice from a certified financial planner.  

“The UMGC Virtual Financial Wellness Day was the first time many attendees met with a financial planner,” said Kathleen Sindell, CFP, program director and professor of finance and economics. “Before the day, many of our UMGC personal financial planning students had never spoke with an expert planner about their day-to-day duties and experiences.”

Sindell and Peter Munger, JD, department chair of finance and economics, coordinated the event with the help of FPA NCA, industry speakers, and UMGC Certified Financial Planning program students and staff volunteers. Thanks to the day’s success, nearly 80 individuals received free, private consultations on financial issues ranging from household budgeting, debt, income taxes, mortgages, college expenses, estate planning and insurance. 

The day was structured so participants could attend up to three presentations in a virtual auditorium, in addition to one-on-one financial counseling. The presentations addressed key personal finance topics, such as basic investing and retirement and estate planning. Three lucky participants walked away with one door prize, which included the AverMedia Live Streamer Webcam, Apple AirPods and Fitbit Versa 3 Motivational Smartwatch. Participants also received 30-day access to the Financial Wellness website.

“I enjoy being able to give each client a personalized experience. In fact, my five-year goal is to become a financial adviser at a small to medium-sized financial advising firm,” said Rachel Woodward, a finance major at UMGC and student volunteer at the Financial Wellness Day. “I am currently working as a financial advising intern at Global Advisor Group in Reston, Virginia. My ultimate goal is to earn my CFP certification.”

The 2021 Financial Wellness Day provides valuable financial advice to those who needed it, and UMGC aspires to continue this important service. A survey will go out to attendees in October, and plans are in the works to use the feedback to plan a financial wellness event in 2022.