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Beta Alpha Psi students sweep first place at regional competition

BAP 2016 regionals

Back Row (left to right): Dr. George D. Schmelzle, Clint Caselman, Tanner Courtney, Dr. Carl Keller, and Brandon Holman

Front Row (left to right): Veronica Shultz, Tara Randles, Madison Clark, Brandon Smith, and Elizabeth Sivill


Earlier this month, members of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), an international honors organization for accounting, finance, and information systems students, converged in Omaha, NE for the Missouri Valley Regional Best Practices Competition.  Missouri State students placed first in all three categories of the competition:

  • Alignment of Officer Activities: Veronica Shultz and Brandon Smith
  • Good or Great: Tanner Courtney and Tara Randles
  • Leadership and Management: Madison Clark and Brandon Holman

“Winning first place in all three categories was a team effort. The teams met multiple times to critique each other and give ideas. I really believe we all won because of the teamwork involved,” states Brandon Smith, a senior majoring in accounting and current Beta Alpha Psi secretary.

All three teams were supported by MSU Beta Alpha Psi president, Elizabeth Sivill and vice president, Clint Caselman.   As the top team in each category, these MSU students will travel to Baltimore, MD in August, where they will compete during the National Beta Alpha Psi Annual Meeting.

“I am so proud of our Beta Alpha Psi students and faculty advisors Dr. George D. Schmelzle and Dr. Carl Keller.  To sweep first place in all three categories is exemplary and extremely rare,” states Dr. Stephanie Bryant, dean of the College of Business. “I am looking forward to a repeat of 2015 and seeing our students return with another first place national title.”

“The experience that you get from the competition is really hard to duplicate…Best Practices is a great way to help develop many of the soft skills that are a challenge to many…It teaches teamwork, leadership, time management, communication, commitment, creativity, camaraderie, responsibility, professionalism and so many other things…I am very thankful for the opportunity to be involved,” states Smith.

To become a member of Beta Alpha Psi, students must attend an AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited program, be among the top 35% of their university class or have a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

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Bears Business Brief: Understanding the evolving risks associated with technology

By: Richard Ollis

headshot Richard Ollis
Richard Ollis

Have you ever been held hostage or been a victim of extortion? The chances that you’ll be targeted by something like this are growing dramatically. According to a report by Intel Security, in the fourth quarter of 2015 the incidence rate of ransomware being installed on computers increased 26 percent.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid, normally accompanied by an associated deadline. According to the FBI, criminals have been netting an estimated $150 million a year through these scams. And this estimate has already become obsolete, with a single ransomware campaign last year netting $325 million.

The FBI report did not estimate the overall value of the losses, but found some six million known attempts to install this type of malware which encrypts the contents of a computer and locks the data down unless the user pays a ransom to obtain a decryption key.  Many times the criminal will encrypt your data so it’s not readable, or installs embarrassing pornography on your screen. Additional threats may also be implemented if the ransom is not paid by a stated deadline.

In February, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center acknowledged that it had paid $17,000 to hackers using ransomware, saying it was “in the best interest of restoring normal operations.” Locally, this practice is now common and impacts companies that have been caught in the extortion trap. In many cases, the criminals will demand payment be made in Bitcoin, making tracking down the hackers very difficult as there is no connection to the banking system.

According to Reuters, on March 25, 2016, the FBI sent a Confidential Flash Advisory focusing on ransomware known as MSIL/Samas.A. This software seeks to encrypt data on entire networks — an alarming change — because most ransomware has traditionally attacked only one computer at a time. “This is basically becoming a national cyber emergency,” said Ben Johnson, co-founder of Carbon Black, a cyber security firm that just uncovered another type of ransomware that seeks to attack PCs through infected Microsoft Word documents.

The practice of using ransomware is growing, due to several factors. The software is easy to obtain and can be accessed over the internet at little or no cost. Criminal networks now offer the service, making themselves available to less technical criminals, a business model known as “ransomware-as-a-service.” It’s also difficult to track down culprits who can hide behind anonymous networks and use payment schemes such as Bitcoin, again making the crime difficult to track.

In many ways, this has become a more lucrative business model than other traditional forms of cybercrime. “Soft targets” like hospitals, schools and police departments are now being targeted because they typically don’t have the types of sophisticated cyber defenses that are used by financial institutions or defense contractors.

It’s distressing that businesses and consumers have to deal with this type of emerging crime.

Here are several basic steps to employ in order to reduce the chances of this happening to you or your business:

1. Use reputable anti-virus software and a firewall. Enlisting the help of a technology expert can help you select the right security systems.

2. Back up your system often and in a separate location so your system and data can be restored easily. Some people or businesses even restore their system to default about every six months so they can start with a fresh backup.

3. Train yourself and your staff about accessing websites and clicking on links or attachments. Enabling your pop-up blocker and installing defensive software to filter out hacker emails are also good ideas. Ransomware is often installed unwittingly by accessing or clicking on a “faked” website, attachment, link or pop-up.  Be extremely cautious with unknown email addresses, websites, links, attachments and when anyone is asking for your data. If it seems unusual or suspicious, verify the source — even if it looks like it’s coming from your CEO (another popular scam).

4. Alert authorities, including the police department and FBI. Intel Corp’s McAfee Labs estimates that 3 percent of users end up paying the ransom, which is typically low enough to tempt the victim to avoid the hassle of being locked by the ransomware’s encryption.  Experts say the bigger issue is that by paying the ransom, you are encouraging the cyber criminals and driving the next generation of ransomware.

5. Consider purchasing cyber insurance to protect against this crime and other issues such as data breaches. Because technology crimes are fairly new and quickly evolving, insurance policies are not standardized. Enlisting an insurance expert is important to help you analyze the various options available.

The world of crime is changing and technology is expediting the pace of change. Understanding the evolving risks associated with technology, implementing strategies to mitigate risk and insuring against the catastrophic are now parts of a critical process individuals and companies should employ.

Richard Ollis is CEO of Ollis/Akers/Arney, an employee owned business and insurance advisory firm.

This article appeared in the April 9th, 2016 edition of the Springfield News-Leader and can be accessed online here.

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Rayanna Anderson to join Missouri State University College of Business

Rayanna Anderson
Rayanna Anderson

The College of Business at Missouri State University (MSU) announced today that Rayanna Anderson has been named Entrepreneurship Coordinator and Community Liaison.  As of August 1, Anderson will begin this part-time position where she will be primarily responsible for special projects closely related to entrepreneurship and will serve as community liaison.  Anderson will work closely with Dr. Steve Mueller, incoming department head for Management and Dr. Stephanie Bryant, dean of the College of Business.

“We are indeed fortunate to have Rayanna join the MSU College of Business.  Her extensive knowledge of the Springfield business community and expertise in entrepreneurship will be an invaluable asset to us as we seek to advance our entrepreneurship program,” states Dr. Stephanie Bryant.

Anderson brings extensive experience

Anderson is currently serving as Director of the Management Development Institute (MDI) and the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at Missouri State University.  She has been in this role with MDI since 2012 and with SBTDC since 2007. Prior to 2007, she was Assistant Director of SBTDC (since 1995).

With MDI, Anderson has worked to provide quality professional education for individuals and corporate clients, to enhance careers and foster workforce development.

Under Anderson’s leadership, SBTDC (certified by the National Association of Small Business Development Centers) achieved record-level economic impact.  Since July 2007, SBTDC has helped over 5,000 entrepreneurs through one-on-one counseling and training, and conducted over 500 educational training seminars focused on small business needs.

Community leadership

Anderson is also very active in the local community.  She is a member of the Greater Ozarks International Trade Association (GOITA) and has served three terms on their Board of Directors.  She is also a member of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce International Business Council, an active Rotarian, and has served on many local boards.

In 2013, Anderson was honored in the local Congressional Record by U.S. Congressman Billy Long of Missouri for her service as the Director of SBTDC.  In 2011, she was included in the Springfield Business Journal’s list of Most Influential Women.


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Bears Business Brief: Why do some businesses cluster together?

By: Barry Cobb

Barry Cobb headshot
Barry Cobb 

No matter which direction your commute takes you in Springfield, there are strategically placed wayfinding signs that publicize three areas — downtown, Battlefield retail and Bass Pro Shops.

As my family settled into the southwest part of town two years ago, we often made the trek down James River Freeway toward the Battlefield retail district. If we needed an item for home improvement, there were essentially two choices — Home Depot and Lowe’s — located within blocks of each other.  For casual dining, we ventured to Red Robin or Outback Steakhouse, all the time lamenting the lack of restaurant options closer to our neighborhood. When the wait at one restaurant was too long, we walked across the street to the other. Eventually, we noticed some other local options in the same vicinity. The wayfinding signs were a visual reminder that brought to mind a couple of questions. Why do some businesses cluster together? What does this mean for someone who wants to open his/her own business?

A classic location model from economics can be illustrated by the case of two ice cream vendors selling similar products on a beach. This basic idea was first described by Harold Hotelling in a 1929 paper titled “Stability in Competition.” Suppose people on the beach are more or less evenly spread out. The location choices of the vendors might proceed as follows:

  1. The first vendor puts down stakes in the middle of the beach.
  2. The second vendor doesn’t like the idea of being right next to a competitor, so she locates nearer to one end of the beach.
  3. This second vendor captures the market at that end, but likely loses almost all potential sales from anyone ready for a treat on the opposite side of the competitor in the middle.
  4. The eventual solution: the ice cream vendors locate right next to each other in the middle of the beach, with each capturing about half the market.

Ken Stief determined that three pairs of retailers  — Target and Walmart, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds and Burger King — exhibited a particularly strong tendency to co-locate — the “hotelling” effect. More complicated is the case of a new business, opening in Springfield, that needs to determine where it should locate. But the example illustrates some potential advantages of being near competitors (and some of the reasons we find existing businesses in certain locations).

Locating your business next to your competition might seem counterintuitive, but consider the possible benefits:

  1. Competitors may already be located in a certain area due to positive demographics and traffic patterns.
  2. Established competitors may have already committed significant effort and advertising expenditures to drive customers to that specific location.
  3. The location of potential competitors in a geographic area may indicate the existence of a convenient labor pool.

Rayanna Anderson, director of Missouri State University’s Small Business & Technology Development Center, notes two important reasons competitors are often found near each other. “You may locate near a competitor if you can bring in a complementary business or because that is where customers reside,” she said.

If you’re interested in starting a business that depends on foot traffic to generate customers, there is a chance that your competition may point you to a good location.


Hotelling, Harold (1929), “Stability in competition,” Economic Journal 39 (153): 41–57.

Spaeder, Karen E. (2005), “How to find the best location,” Entrepreneur, July 2005. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/73784 (accessed March 21, 2016).

Stief, Ken (2013), “Why do certain retail stores cluster together?” Planetizen. October 2013. http://www.planetizen.com/node/65765 (accessed March 21, 2016).

Barry Cobb is interim department head in the Department of Management at Missouri State University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and conducts research and consulting in the areas of operations and supply chain management.

This article appeared in the April 2nd, 2016 edition of the Springfield News-Leader and can be accessed online here.

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Bears Business Brief: Wear your name tag and write a thank-you note

By: Vickie Hicks

Vickie HicksHaving worked professionally with students and young professionals for over 25 years, I am often asked to share my best tips on professionalism.

Investing time in the small details can reap big rewards in building a professional reputation and helping you climb the career ladder to success.

Below is my top 10 list of professionalism tips for those new to the workplace.

  • Wear your name tag to events. It makes it easier for the people you don’t see often to talk to you and helps those you just met remember your name. By the way, you should place your name tag on your right side.
  • Write thank you notes/emails. I guarantee that extra step will get you noticed. Or take it a step further and write a note congratulating or complimenting someone. I once commented, in the food line at Rotary, about losing my father. Later that week, I received a thoughtful handwritten note from someone who heard me mention it. I will always remember that note and the person who wrote it. It is important to watch your grammar, and remember not to depend exclusively on spell check. A few years ago we had a student thank Caterpillar for the free CAT shirt they gave him, but he mistakenly left the letter “r” out of the word shirt.
  • Appearance truly matters. Always dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Read the company dress code and follow it. I have heard of people not getting promoted, based on appearance alone. Appearance reflects your desire to get ahead.
  • Own up to your mistakes — but one genuine apology is enough. My father used to say there is no need to fall all over yourself apologizing, as it makes the apology seem less sincere.
  • Don’t send an angry email. Email lives forever. Instead, carefully consider what you want to say, then have a face-to-face conversation about it the following day.
  • RSVP means respond please. Respond with a yes or a no. Many people only respond with a yes, but it is equally important and professional to respond with a no.
  • Be early to work and to meetings. People will notice who is late. I had a co-worker who would always show up late for a weekly Monday morning meeting. She kept everyone waiting and, worse yet, when she did show up she always had a Starbucks coffee cup in her hand. If she hadn’t stopped at Starbucks, she wouldn’t have been late. The signal she sent was that her coffee, and therefore her personal needs, were more important to her than the people in the meeting.
  • When leaving a message, always leave your phone number and be sure to repeat it. Not everyone you call is on a cellphone. It frustrates people when they don’t have a return number and have to stop to find it.
  • Don’t ever stop reading and learning. I’m a huge fan of news radio. I also suggest students read the newspaper so they can talk about current events. Be prepared to make small talk, especially in networking situations. For years, I worked with Chiefs fans, so every Monday morning I would check to see if the Chiefs had won or lost so I could mention it during my conversation with the boss.
  • Smile, be friendly and treat everyone with respect. Some of the most powerful people in an organization may not be the people you would expect. Everyone is a part of the team, so be friendly and helpful to everyone. That’s the reputation you want to have.

Vickie Hicks is the corporate relations specialist for the College of Business at Missouri State University. Hicks has over 25 years’ experience in marketing, communications and college recruiting and she can be reached at vickiehicks@missouristate.edu.

This article appeared in the March 26th, 2016 edition of the News-Leader and can be accessed online here.

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