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Commencement Spotlight: Daniel Amodio, Full-Time MBA

amodio tower_1-300x451Daniel Amodio, MBA ’13, is a baseball fan, born and raised. He spent childhood afternoons with his dad watching the Cleveland Indians, collected a variety of Little League trophies, and played second base for the Medina High School Bees, a team “about as fearful as it sounds.” Now, he’s using his Texas MBA to globalize America’s Pastime, starting with the Australian Baseball League. Amodio’s love of baseball has evolved over time. While he worked toward his BBA at Miami University, he interned with the Cincinnati Reds, where he followed around the mascot, answered phones in the marketing department, and became interested in baseball’s uniquely devoted business culture.

“It is a bunch of passionate people that are there for a reason, because they love it, and that creates a really great atmosphere around the office,” he says. “I always remembered that and wanted to come back to it.”

That’s what eventually led him enroll in McCombs’ full-time MBA program in 2011.

In his first year at McCombs, Amodio helped develop a sustainable business model for the United States Olympic Committee, winning the San Diego State University International Sports MBA Case Competition. He returned to the big leagues to work on a PLUS project (short-term consulting internship) for the San Francisco Giants, and last summer he traveled to Sydney to intern for the Australian Baseball League, where he worked on developing a marketable and strategic business plan for the crowded Australian sports market. After graduation, he will return to Sydney and continue that work as the baseball operations and facilities manager.

“Baseball and sports are unique, but they’re still just businesses and have the same needs as any corporation,” Amodio says. “It’s great for me to get that overall business experience and be able to apply some of those things. For instance, the project I was working on in Australia was essentially a strategic growth project. How big should we get? And when should we make this move? Is it risky? Is it worth it? Those were the same questions we talked about in my strategic management class.”

Amodio says there are two major differences between American Major League Baseball and the ALB. MLB teams are owned by individuals and corporations, while the ABL teams are entities of the Australian Baseball Federation and are funded by both the American MLB and the Australian government. As an intern, Amodio worked to fit the MLB’s model of third-party ownership and operation to the much smaller ABL.

The second difference is size. According to a 2012 Harris poll, baseball is the second-most popular sport in America, posting revenue of $7.5 billion last year and drawing more than 10 billion spectators across its 30 teams. In contrast, Australia’s league, started in 2009, has only six teams and ranks below dog racing in numbers of spectators. While working in Sydney, Amodio says, it wasn’t uncommon to hear “oh, we have a baseball league here?”

However, according to Amodio, employees of both leagues share a sense of enthusiasm.

“It’s a hard industry,” he says. “The hours are rough because you’re at the games on the weekends, and in order to succeed and keep motivated in a job like that, it really takes passionate people. Even though the ABL is smaller in number and there isn’t the attendance that you’d notice here, everyone had that passion, and that is such an infectious thing and it makes for a great work environment.”

When he returns to Sydney, Amodio will continue working on enhancing the commercial viability of the ABL, develop new facilities and strategies, and work toward increasing baseball’s global popularity, which he believes is growing.

“Going forward I see the game becoming more and more international,” Amodio says. “I think we’ll see it growing in more and more countries and that the fans in other countries will start to see in baseball what we see in it here in America.”

Before pursuing his MBA, Amodio worked in technology sales at AT&T. He says that while he enjoyed the work, it lacked the passion he’d felt so strongly during his internship with the Reds. He knew it would be difficult to break into the sports business, and that it could mean sacrificing a lot of time and potentially more lucrative paychecks, but that he realized “those things are just less important that feeling a real connection to your work.”

According to Amodio, the hours spent at Jacobs Field, now called Progressive Field, instilled more than just the desire to root, root, root for the home team. Much like his love for baseball is generational, Amodio also inherited his career philosophy from his father.

“When I grew up I wanted to be just like my dad,” Amodio says. “ He told me ‘decide what you want to do and go do it.’ It sounds simple, and I think it is. Even though it might be tough, there might be some challenges and there might be something blocking your dream, go get it because you can do it.”

Reposted from McCombs Today

Commencement Spotlight: Haley Lowry, Texas MBA At Houston

DSC_0995_1-450x301Longhorns everywhere know that what starts at The University of Texas changes the world. Haley Lowry, MBA ’13, embodies that philosophy, taking the skills she learned in her Texas MBA at Houston classroom all the way to Rwanda. According to Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics, 44 percent of the population of 10 million is considered poor. In Rubavu, located in the nation’s western region, 48 percent of the population is poor. Sixty four percent of people in Rubavu must walk one hour to access healthcare, and in 2009, there was just one doctor per 43,000 residents. Nineteen percent of the population under 20 has lost at least one parent, many to AIDS and the 1994 genocide.

The Ndengera Clinic, located in Rubavu, was established as part of the Ndengera Foundation’s movement to protect these orphans. Typically, orphans are taken care of by neighbors and friends, stretching already thin resources. The foundation provides access to food, shelter, and education for orphans and their community, but the clinic struggled to provide this care due to a lack of patients with health insurance.

In spring 2012, Lowry and a team of her Directed Studies in Global Management classmates started Caring Connections Consulting, a nonprofit healthcare firm, to set up a marketing plan for the clinic with the help of Lowry’s sister, an ER nurse who moved to Rwanda to help establish the clinic.

“We were charged with creating a business that had a fit in Africa, and our team thought that the clinic would be a great opportunity,” Lowry said. “They were really struggling with awareness, and our team really dove in and came up with a lot of different options. People had to figure out how to get to the clinic, but first they had to know that the clinic was there.”

The team found there were two centers to the community: service and church. In Rwanda, the last Saturday of each month is dedicated to nationwide, mandatory community service activity, and most members of the community regularly attend church. The team created a marketing strategy for the clinic, and designed traditional media such as posters and brochures to hang around these hubs. Lowry distributed the materials when she visited the clinic in April 2012. This media, in addition to outside efforts and insurance changes, helped the clinic grow from 10 patients to 536.

Lowry says that she was surprised by the amount of creativity involved in the strategy planning, but even more surprised by the work the community has done to recover from the devastating genocide.

“Anyone can make a brochure; that is not that creative. The creativity was in understanding the social network, the place where everyone goes and how everyone is connected,” Lowry said. “Everyone in Rwanda is required to do community service as a way of remembering the genocide and working together for their country. People talked about how their whole family was killed by their neighbors, but they’re all friends now. I’ve never seen an act of forgiveness like that, and they’re living it out.”

She says that while she was the only member of her team to visit the clinic in person, she was inspired by the contributions possible even from 8,500 miles away.

“With an MBA, you might think that there is not much you can do from abroad, but there really is,” Lowry said. “As long as you have a passion for it, you can continue to help people. Little things like sponsoring a child go a long way.”

In addition to pursuing her MBA, Lowry is the global packaging solutions manager at Dow Chemical in Houston, where she works with companies such as Wal-Mart, HEB, and Costco to manage packaging.

“Creativity is something that drives me, but this is a different kind of creativity that drives me to create new business models and new ways of making revenue,” Lowry says. “The ability to be creative through new business models is my favorite thing.”

Lowry says she has already benefited from her experience in the Texas MBA at Houston program.

“I didn’t expect to have such an expansive network and a really close-knit class,” she says. “The MBA program gives you the skills you need to make decisions, but also gives you the network to bounce ideas off of.”

Lowry says the MBA program has opened her eyes to the way business works outside of the United States, which will continue to help her in her career.

“I personally love to travel, and I’ve always been intrigued by other cultures and different ways of doing things,” Lowry says. “I started with a travel bug. Now I’m interested in ways that business is done in different regions and countries."

After graduation, Lowry will continue her work at Dow and hopes to travel more internationally. She says that while her direct work with the Ndengera Clinic ended, she will continue to sponsor two young children she met during her trip to help pay for their food, water, shelter, school uniforms, and other supplies. She encourages others to find ways to get involved as well.

“Where you live shouldn’t affect how you live,” Lowry says. “It isn't just throwing money at something, it’s becoming involved. Don’t just give a man to fish, teach him how to fish. Becoming involved and using my MBA to really dive in and make a difference is really engaging.”

Originally posted on McCombs Today