Author: Scott Slater III

Data Shows UConn Alums Rank Among High Earners in Accounting, Finance, Law

UConn Today – UConn is among the top 20 public universities nationwide in which alumni who built careers in accounting, finance, and law earn more than peers who graduated from other institutions, according to data compiled by an organization that researches employment trends.

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Alumni Spotlight: Molly Cournoyer ’22

Molly Cournoyer graduated from the UConn School of Business in December 2022. During her time at UConn, Molly made sure to focus on both her physical and mental health to ensure success in starting her career. Molly explained, “I think in today’s world being able to work from home can get in the way of work life balance as you can just hop on your device to answer a few emails. By choosing to prioritize my health while in school I became a better student and now a more successful employee.”

Molly is currently working as a Sales Representative for Pure Barre. The company’s focus on health and wellness is what attracted her to the role. “The team is very focused on having a healthy mind and body for the clients, along with each other;” she continues, “The deciding factor for me was how I felt in the studio. I would say I’m a pretty intuitive person so when I felt at home as I walked into the studio I knew it was a good fit.”. For Molly, a typical day in her role is centered around strong customer service. She works to make sure members are getting what they are looking for out of their memberships, as well prospecting for new members. Her main objective is to get them into the studios and eventually into memberships that will work for their own routines and personal goals.

Molly recalls her favorite professional experience so far would be making so many connections with her professors while at UConn, especially those who are adjunct professors. “Having professors who are still in the field has been such a great opportunity for connections that will help in my professional life;” Molly stresses the importance of networking, “The connections you make can bring so many opportunities your way. Something that I’ve done to advance my career is keeping an active LinkedIn account and consistently growing my network.”. Molly’s advice to current undergraduate students is to be prepared for whatever comes your way. She notes that “When you are in an interview you are also interviewing that company. Be prepared, ask questions, and follow your gut instinct. Learn to be your best self. If a company is not going to accept you for who you are, and what you have to offer then there are bigger and better things coming your way!”.

Ish Panwar ’23, School of Business

UConn Today – In high school, Ish Panwar used her talents in public speaking and leadership to run a non-profit organization teaching those skills to young adults. That approach to life – simultaneously ambitious and concerned with helping others – served her well at UConn, where she forged connections with mentors, developed new skills, and discovered that, for such a big university, UConn has a close-knit, supportive field. After graduation, she heads off to New York City, to put her skills to use in the finance industry.

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UConn celebrates promotion and tenure of 96 faculty

UConn Today – The University of Connecticut Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the award of promotion and/or tenure to 96 faculty across its multiple campuses.

Evaluations for promotion, tenure, and reappointment apply the highest standards of professional achievement in scholarship, teaching, and service for each faculty member evaluated. Applications for promotion and tenure are reviewed at the department level, school or college level, and finally at the Office of the Provost before recommendations are forwarded to the Board of Trustees.

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Sustainability Summit Blended the Hope and Challenges of Environmental Change for Forward-Looking Audience

A key goal of the School of Business is to convene important conversations among faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. On March 24, we hosted our second- annual Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit. This half-day event to explore ESG issues drew a wide array of talent.

It was my pleasure to start the program with a conversation with Dinah Koehler, the head of ESG Research at FactSet. Dinah is no stranger to UConn, having met with our Student Managed Fund students last fall to discuss ESG. At the summit, we tackled pressing questions around sustainability, reporting practices, and regulation. Next, multiple panels including students, alumni, and UConn faculty delved into other pertinent ESG issues.

ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance, three important dimensions of our economic lives. In recent decades, many investors and companies have moved past profit maximization as the sole criteria for managing their companies and their investments. They have integrated ESG issues into their decision-making. For some companies, their commitment to ESG is about emphasizing these issues relative to their business model. For others, their ESG focus is a way to communicate to the investing community not only corporate values, but also about the risks and rewards of investing in the company’s stock.

A Legacy of Environmental Reliance at Risk

Dinah put the story in perspective by reminding us that humanity’s prosperity in the last several hundred years was built on a stability of climate regarding temperature, that enabled agricultural success and importantly, stability of ocean levels. This stable environment has been the cornerstone for economic progress, and now these historic realities are at significant risk.

Concerns about the environment and human influence on earth’s sustainability go back to Malthus. At the end of the 1700s, he cautioned that the natural growth of human population would exceed the ability of our planet to feed everyone. Happily, decades of agricultural innovation have sustained population growth. Recently however, the tension between people and planet has intensified. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Club of Rome’s landmark report, ‘The Limits to Growth’ – which stressed our planet’s interconnected systems. Of paramount concern is their predication that if growth trends in population, industrialization, resource use, and pollution continued unchanged, we will reach, and then overshoot the carrying capacity of the Earth within the next 100 years.

Companies Tend to ‘Cherry Pick’ Their Stories

More recently, the environmental threats have accelerated and despite the global gnashing of teeth, we are making insufficient progress to alter the overheating of our planet. The ESG focus is a response to these issues, in the spirit of what-gets measured-gets-better. Europe has led the way in requiring company disclosures about their environmental footprint, and U.S. companies have begun to engage in reporting. But a key concern around the world is the reliability and verifiability of disclosures. The phrase “greenwashing” has emerged to reflect company tendencies cherry pick the stories to tell in voluntary disclosures. Companies craft their narrative in a favorable light, emphasizing the positives and ignoring the problems.

The costs and difficulty of verifying these disclosures rather naturally spawned a small industry of firms that rank/measure/assess companies’ ESG characteristics. That industry fed another industry of companies offering ESG-friendly investment portfolios. Our conversation at the conference addressing ESG sustainability as an assessment of what these innovations are delivering, what they could deliver, how they could be improved, and what the future might look like.

Mandated Government Reports Provide Critical Information

ESG measurements and rankings are numerous and diverse in nature, including for example risk analysts MSCI. The basis of these measurements and rankings is information that companies report about their ESG profile. For example, what kinds of environmental risks do they face and how do they mitigate them? The “better” firms report more, but many critics argue that these firms “greenwash” their efforts. The data is not easily verifiable. An alternative reporting structure based on ESG activity drawn from mandated government reporting would yield reliable and verifiable data. Companies are required to fully disclose hazardous spills, train derailments, air traffic mishaps, accidents in the workplace, and the like. Today, these measures are less commonly the basis of an ESG ranking system, but such a system would be more credible.

From an investing perspective, some investors focus on maximizing their returns, and ask the question, “Is an ESG portfolio likely to deliver high(er) returns? Is an ESG portfolio likely to deliver lower risk (lower variability of returns).” Other investors have value-based agendas for their investments, and for example, prefer a portfolio that doesn’t hold tobacco stocks, or gun stocks, or fossil-fuel stocks. The important question is whether current ESG rankings provide relevant information for these questions.

The day of our symposium, MSCI (one of the most visible ranking activities for ESG that relies on firm reporting) announced that they were downgrading ESG ratings on thousands of funds. As reported in the Financial Times, “the changes are part of a push by index providers to tighten the criteria for ESG-compliant funds.” Especially in Europe, a triple-A ESG rating is required by many portfolio managers and this MSCI change is projected to reduce the number of triple-A companies from 1,120 to just 54, while the number with no rating will surge from 24 to 462.

Doing the Right Thing

In the last 50 years, science has made a case for global warming, and many countries have embraced the importance of action to ameliorate the CO2 and other pollutants accelerating the warming path. Good intentions have been expressed, but actions and investments have been insufficient to significantly slow the path. Awareness is critical, and ESG measurements support awareness. The clock is ticking.

We have witnessed many successes of businesses “doing the right thing.” Sixty years ago, the ozone layer was severely threatened, and SC Johnson, the parent company of Johnson Wax, responded by removing the destructive propellants from its products. Shortly thereafter, the government banned those propellants. Recently the press has acknowledged that the ozone layer has largely recovered. By all accounts, our challenge today is bigger and much more complicated, but there is hope.

Our second Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit brought attention to the issues of ESG measurement and investing, but also specific conversations more local to UConn and Connecticut. One panel led by alumnus Brian Paganini discussed the significant challenges of food waste in Connecticut. Brian’s company, Quantum Biopower, converts food waste into green energy and provides compost as a byproduct.

Professor Richard Meinart, Center Coordinator at UConn Extension, reminded us that not all compost is perfect for all uses. In Connecticut, our ground is over-burdened with phosphorous, and Quantum Biopower’s compost is phosphorous rich. This reminds us that the details matter, and Quantum will be challenged to find a way to mitigate phosphorous or treat their compost as an export product to other states.

Our other panels featured students and recent graduates who shared their UConn and professional experiences in the ESG space. They reminded all of us about the importance of bringing passion to address the ESG challenges what we will continue to face.

Indeed, our Summit was a rich and rewarding day – an important conversation that we must and will emulate.


Back to the Dean’s Corner

Student Spotlight: Olivia Hoffman

Olivia Hoffman is a senior Marketing major with a concentration in Digital Marketing and Analytics and a minor in Management. Early in Olivia’s college career, she made it a priority to get involved in extracurricular activities and try new things. Olivia recalls that the most important step she took as an undergraduate was exposing herself to areas outside of Marketing. Through experiences like joining the Learning Community Council’s Recruitment Committee instead of the Marketing Committee and participating in the First Year Experience Program as a Mentor, Olivia got a taste of what different career paths looked like and new opportunities. Another important step Oliva took was making sure to network. “We hear all the time from professors and faculty that networking is important, but networking is so much more than a buzzword. The only way I discovered my past internship and the role I am pursuing after graduation was by striking up a conversation with a friend of a friend who worked at the company – if I had not taken the time to network with her and ask her about her job, I would have missed out on the perfect opportunity for me.” This past summer, Olivia worked as a Human Resources Corporate Intern at CVS Health. The internship lasted 10 weeks from June through August 2022. At the conclusion of her internship, Olivia accepted a return offer to join the company’s Human Resources Leadership Development Program (HRLDP) after graduation, which is a three-year rotational program based in Hartford, CT.

When looking for internship roles, Olivia had certain criteria in mind. She knew she wanted to work for a large company with a strong company culture and a mission she believed in. She also wanted to work somewhere that invested in early career talent. “That can mean something different to everyone, but to me, that meant a company that offered Leadership Development Programs after graduation and other talent development opportunities catered to recent graduates. CVS Health checked all of those boxes, and when I joined the company this summer, I was even happier than I expected to be.” Although interns were primarily virtual this past summer, Olivia made the most out of her experience. Most days, She would attend meetings with her team to discuss and work on projects and participate in development workshops offered to interns. CVS Health placed a large emphasis on networking, so over the summer Olivia was able to set up 30 minute “coffee chats” with 50 human resources professionals across different areas of the business. Olivia states, “It is important to keep in mind that as an intern, your entire internship is also an opportunity to showcase your skills and company fit; that played a large part in the process for receiving a full-time offer” Olivia recalls her favorite part of her internship was when CVS Health hosted all 300+ corporate interns for a week in their Hartford, CT office for their Intern Summit event. “Although I had completed other internships prior to this role, this was the first time that I was truly in an office setting for full-time work due to the pandemic. That week really transformed my perspective on the workplace and allowed me to gain a better understanding of what office culture looks like, which cannot be communicated through a Zoom call. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience that influenced my choice to join the company full-time next June.”

One piece of advice Olivia has to offer other undergraduates is to look early and often for roles, but to also understand the timeline for your industry. “Sometimes you might find that perfect job listing in October, but most often the timeline may look different. It can be disheartening to consistently look for Marketing roles early in the year and to not find many, but once you realize that the Marketing recruiting timeline leans more towards the Spring semester, it can alleviate some worry.” Olivia also wants to emphasize how incredibly important it is to network as much as you can. “UConn students have such a large alumni network who want to see UConn students succeed, so take advantage of that! Attend events on campus where you can connect with employers and take the time to build genuine relationships before the internship or full-time role you want is even on the table so that you are top-of-mind when application time comes.”

Mike Morris ’23, School of Business

UConn Today – Mike Morris had his sights set on an MBA degree for a long time, but the obligations of work and military service – Morris holds the rank of colonel in the US Army Reserve – meant that had to be put on hold. When the time was right, Morris chose UConn – and found a seamless process from application to acceptance to support in course work and studies in the School of Business’ Online MBA program. And although the OMBA program is designed for non-traditional students, Morris was still able to take advantage of a familiar student activity: an immersive trip to study abroad, in Europe and North Africa. Having been elected to the UConn School of Business Student Hall of Fame, he’s looking forward to the next goal in life.

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Why a criminology prof wants addiction clinics within 500m of major transit hubs

CBC Radio – Jeffrey Cohen, a professor at the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, has been researching the benefits of bringing addiction and mental health treatment facilities near public transit routes. His research project ran between 2013 and 2018 is currently a working paper under peer review.

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Student Spotlight: Morgan Darby

Morgan Darby started her UConn career by commuting to the Waterbury campus and eventually arrived at the Storrs campus. Morgan is pursuing a Dual Degree of a Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Balancing this 145-credit course load in 4.5 years required the ability to be malleable and pivot as necessary. The choice to pursue a Dual Degree erupted from a desire to gain a holistic perspective. Morgan understands the value of emotional intelligence in the workplace, explaining that “emotional intelligence or EQ is not only a required skill for life but necessary for effective teamwork and leadership. Now more than ever it’s clear that business doesn’t operate in a vacuum.”

Over the years, Morgan has totaled 7 part time jobs in different industries: retail (clothing, food & beverage), government/nonprofit, education, residential construction, environmental remediation, and research/academia. She explains that learning how to work under various management styles has been beneficial in her understanding of the governance of corporations. She states, “Recognizing where the decision-making power and funding trickles down from has allowed me to more effectively implement feedback as necessary.” One of Morgan’s most standout opportunities was serving as a Project Intern for Shelton Economic Development Corporation. “In a very fast paced environment, I had the privilege of learning how to perform the act of effective grant writing from the President himself.” Morgan recalls, “During my first two weeks, we had a 9-day deadline to successfully earn the city a $410,000 Small Cities Grant for their Sensibaugh Heights project. Seemingly learning on the spot how to acquire and produce 50 supporting exhibits/permissions was a learning curve. This effectively laid the groundwork for future projects which require tight-deadline management. This experience ultimately offered me know-how into navigating cross-departmental communication between the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), the Mayor’s office, and the local municipality’s Housing Authority. This experience ultimately offered me know-how into navigating cross-departmental communication.” These projects gave Morgan insights into the function and allocation of not only city planning, but an introduction to the expansive world of environmental remediation. As graduation approaches, she is seeking a Marketing position in branding or a role that sits in the realm of ESG/Corporate Responsibility. For students interested in these topics, she recommends the following courses: MKTG 3208 on Consumer Behavior; MKTG 3253 on Sustainability, Markets, Society; MGMT 4900 on Strategy, Policy and Planning.

As a first-generation college student, one challenge Morgan found breaking into the professional world was attaining networking skills. She advises students to discuss their career with everyone, even if it’s just to gain knowledge of a specific industries’ systems. She describes how this exposure can give you a competitive edge on landing your next role. “Being able to bring value to a brand through personal experiences can only benefit consumers and society on a macro level.” She states, “At first, I felt this pressure to fit a certain ‘mold’ of the standard corporate intern, but I found more success by bringing my personality to the forefront of every discussion. Critical problem solving requires thinking outside of the box. Ask questions and try everything!”