On the cusp of a new year, we look back on records and firsts, pioneering research and global initiatives, and the people who have made a mark on the Wharton community.

Cheers to Wharton’s Class of 2018

2018 was a stellar graduation season, with keynotes from powerhouse alumni such as Safra Catz (W’83, L’86), CEO of Oracle, Jeff Weiner (W’92), CEO of LinkedIn, and Bill McNabb (WG’83), Chairman of Vanguard, and a moving speech from Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya that landed him among the best advice from 2018 commencement speeches.

End-of-year ceremonies also welcomed the first Moelis Advance Access Cohort of 2018, a highly-selective group of Penn graduates who will be returning to Wharton’s MBA program after spending a few years in the workforce.

First Business School to Receive Prestigious IACET Accreditation for Online Learning

Wharton Online Alumni logo with Penn insignia in a blue circle and alumni on a red banner underneath

In November, Wharton became the first business school in the world to receive the gold-standard accreditation for online learning from the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). The accreditation is a certification of best practices, meaning learners on Wharton Online can now receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs) when they complete their courses and demonstrate their new business skills to employers.

Capitol Hill Hosts Penn Wharton Budget Model’s First Spring Policy Forum

Clockwise from top left: Steve Ballmer on USAFacts; Prof. Kevin Werbach on blockchain; panel with Thomas Barthold, Stephen Goss, and Prof. Kent Smetters; and an off-the-record conversation with Angela Ellard, Ways & Means Committee chief trade counsel and Trade Subcommittee staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives.

PWBM’s inaugural Spring Policy Forum was a testament to the initiative’s growing recognition in D.C. as a global leading source for trustworthy economic analysis. On July 9, the Forum convened select Capitol Hill staffers, policymakers, business leaders, academics, and media outlets to review new tools to help policymakers partake in more evidence-based policymaking. Highlights included Steve Ballmer, co-founder of USAFacts and former CEO of Microsoft, addressing the importance of having quality data, as well as Wharton Prof. Kent Smetters and Prof. Kevin Werbach on how the government can use public policy modeling and blockchain to solve problems.

Incubating Ideas, Powering Insights, Creating Leaders: More Than Ever, Wharton

Fintech, entrepreneurship and innovation, and analytics – Wharton’s future is being ushered in with the More Than Ever campaign. Officially launched in June 2018 at the Wharton Global Forum in New York City, the campaign is designed to energize and inspire the entire Wharton community and raise a total of $1 billion for the School. Those funds will create world-class programs and strengthen existing research endeavors, provide financial aid for Wharton undergraduates and MBAs, endow professorships that attract renowned scholars, and transform campus to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. Landmark gifts fueled the campaign this year such as the School’s largest donation and a commitment to build a physical hub for entrepreneurship. The campaign’s success counts on every measure of philanthropy and engagement through its conclusion in 2021.

IDDEAS Program Launches at Stanford

Now in its seventh year, IDDEAS@Wharton (Introduction To Diversity In Doctoral Education And Scholarship) introduces promising undergraduate students to business research at the doctoral level through its annual two-day program. This May, IDDEAS traveled to Stanford to host 17 undergraduates from diverse academic and personal backgrounds for IDDEAS@Stanford. More launches are to come at additional institutions across the country.

The Pitch: Live from the Wharton School

The Pitch investors Phil Nadel and Jillian Manus (top) and three young entrepreneurs on the stage (bottom left).

Three student-founded teams from the Philadelphia area battled for best pitch in front of judges and investors Phil Nadel (W’88), and Jillian Manus from top business podcast, The Pitch. The Pitch taped its first live show on the road in front of a full-capacity crowd at Huntsman Hall in a partnership between Gimlet Media and Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship. The winning company, Strella Biotechnology, develops biosensors to curb food production waste and is a current VIP-X company in the Venture Initiation Program for young Penn-affiliated entrepreneurs. Listen to the episode, and look forward to Strella’s feature on a full-length episode of The Pitch next spring.

Read a Q&A with investor Phil Nadel, W’88.

Policy Incubator Awarded for Social Protection Efforts

Policy Incubator director Carolyn Kousky (left) accepting the award from Queen Sofía of Spain.

The Policy Incubator, launched by the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, supports novel approaches for increasing resilience through the development of visionary ideas, encouragement of innovative thinkers, and the advancement of workable on-the-ground solutions. This summer, the incubator was selected to receive the X International Julio Castelo Matrán Insurance Award from the Fundación MAPFRE, a leading, global nonprofit dedicated to social progress. The biennial award honors projects that have insurance and social protection, and this year, it was delivered in person by Queen Sofía of Spain at a June ceremony in Madrid.

Making Sense of Blockchain

Interest in blockchain and fintech has risen sharply over the last few years, and the Wharton community answered in various ways this year: the Undergraduate Fintech Club hosted Penn’s first all-undergraduate fintech hackathon in February, the inaugural student-run Penn Blockchain Conference had an audience of over 300 in April, and even Wharton alumni have been actively pioneering use cases for blockchain with an eye towards disrupting entire industries. In the fall, the Mack Institute published a new white paper, “Making Sense of Blockchain: How Firms Can Chart a Strategic Path Forward,” to provide a roadmap for blockchain adoption that helps guide managers beyond the buzzwords and straight to identifying strategic possibilities.

Wharton Research Defines What Makes Companies Good Employers for Women

Chart showing the Four for Women framework

A report published by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII) in November tackled this deceptively simple question: What makes a company a good employer for women?

Four for Women: A Framework for Evaluating Companies’ Impact on the Women They Employ” identifies the workplace outcomes that matter most for women: representation, pay, health, and satisfaction. Co-authored by Vice Dean Katherine Klein, Wharton doctoral candidate Shoshana Schwartz, and WSII Senior Director Sandi M. Hunt, the Four for Women framework highlights these critical outcomes and possible metrics to use to assess them, setting a new standard for employer excellence.

Inaugural M&T Summit Examines Tech in Healthcare

(Top to bottom) Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and M&T Program director Prof. Gad Allon speaking at the Summit.

In March, the Jerome Fisher Management & Technology (M&T) Program — Penn’s oldest dual-degree combining Wharton and Penn Engineering curriculums — invited students, alumni, and faculty to a first-ever summit around the theme “Big Data and Personalized Health.” Nearly 200 convened at the Singh Center for Nanotechnology to see student entrepreneurs compete for best healthtech pitch, presentations of M&T senior capstone projects, and a keynote by M&T alum and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow (W’89, EAS’89), on how data analytics helped Houston win the World Series. The summit will be returning with a new topic every year.

PWCC Book Talk Connects Readers Around the Globe

In the fall, Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) and Wharton Digital Press partnered to launch the PWCC Book Talk Series in Beijing with the mission of connecting thought-leading book authors with Chinese audiences and encouraging an ongoing exchange of ideas. The first authors to be featured are Wharton Professors Michael Useem, Harbir Singh, and Peter Cappelli for their book Fortune Makers; Prof. Barbara E. Kahn for The Shopping Revolution; and Prof. Peter Fader and executive editor and co-founder of Wharton Interactive Sarah E. Toms for The Customer Centricity Playbook.

EMBA Alumnae Named 2018 Bendheim Winners

EMBA alumnae Katherine St. Onge and Jodi Reynhout.

For Wharton graduates dedicated to making a difference through social impact, the John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund, managed by WSII, is a valuable source of financial support. The Fund has awarded more than $1.7 million to nearly 100 MBA alumni since its establishment in 2005. In February, alumnae Jodi Reynhout (WG’16), VP of administration at Esperanza, and Katherine St. Onge (WG’16), director of syndications and institutional partnerships at Calvert Impact Capital, received the Bendheim award for their leadership in elevating social, environmental, and economic impact for in-need communities.

Celebrating 50 Years Offering Faculty Insights to Journalists

The Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists launched in 1968 to help journalists deepen their business literacy. Since then, the program has become a global exchange for media professionals with 3,000 participants to date and representatives from China News, CNBC, the Economic Times (India), and The Economist. In June, about 80 journalists from media outlets around the world gathered in New York City to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seminars. The celebration’s all-star panel discussion was moderated by leading social and digital media consultant Sree Sreenivasan on the changing landscape of business journalism. He was joined by Matt Murray, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, Andy Serwer, editor-in-chief of Yahoo! Finance, and Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company.

Advancing Analytics in Research and Education

Award-winning data research platform and business intelligence tool Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) has continued to support and enrich impactful research at global institutions this year. The WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award, for example, recognized three emerging business schools — Illinois Institute of Technology, American University of Beirut, Nanjing University — for outstanding financial and economics research, while the Wharton-WRDS Best Paper Award for empirical research honored professors from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. The inaugural WRDS Advanced Research Scholar Program in August brought Chinese scholars to Philadelphia for a six-day program exploring the latest innovations in academic research, including classroom tools designed by WRDS for instructors.

Alumni Engagement Breaks Records

At the Leadership Conference: Alumni club representatives pose for a group photo (top); Prof. Michael Platt (bottom left); view of the venue at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel (bottom right).

This year’s annual Wharton Club Leadership Conference celebrated the volunteer efforts of 63 alumni club leaders from 13 countries, setting record attendance with a 128 percent increase from last year. Hosted in June alongside the Wharton Global Forum in New York City, the conference agenda featured an interactive master class with Prof. Michael Platt and Dr. Zab Johnson on “Building Leadership Through Brain Science,” as well as a workshop on improving data-driven decisions based on results from the Global Clubs Network annual survey, wherein a record-setting 62 clubs out of 75 participated.

Wharton Alumni Relations also hosted two special fall webinars as part of the Wharton Webinar Series. “Joe Talks: Ideas that Matter” in October had a pilot format featuring three star Wharton doctoral candidates presenting their research in diversity, entrepreneurship, and emotional quotient. In November, “Wharton Webinar Series: More than Ever” premiered with Dean Geoffrey Garrett and Nicolai Tangen (W’92) discussing the School’s future impact on innovation, finance, analytics, and global education. Meanwhile, the Wharton Alumni Fast Chats series counted over 1,000 alumni registering throughout the year to network via online instant messaging, representing industries like finance, tech, and energy.

New and Acclaimed Books by Faculty

A computer screen with a browser open to "The Bookstore" with Wharton at the top in a red ink mark seal. Background is blue.

Wharton faculty published several impactful books this year that are featured in the Wharton Digital Press Bookstore:

Expert Insights on Business Radio

A computer and a microphone on a desk

Listeners of Business Radio, powered by Wharton on SiriusXM 132, traveled with the show this year as it made its way across the U.S. for a multitude of special broadcasts.

Business Radio offered live coverage of Penn and Wharton events, including the Wharton People Analytics Conference, the Wharton Global Forum in New York, and Penn President Amy Gutmann‘s discussion with the Hon. Joe Biden. The show broadcasted directly from industry conferences CES, EY Strategic Growth Forum, and Super Bowl LII. At home on Penn’s campus, Wharton professors and other industry experts were invited into the studio for special episodes: a “Black Friday Special” featuring Prof. Barbara Kahn and Prof. David Reibstein, a “Business Behind Politics Special” featuring prominent political strategists and Penn’s William Burke-White, and more.

Follow the Business Radio on Twitter at @BizRadio132 and Wharton Business Radio Highlights for selected segments.

Baker Retailing Center Draws Industry Leaders on Both Coasts

Pictured here: Summit keynote speaker Bill Schlough wearing his World Series ring (left); Social Media and High-Value Customers panel with Christian Oswald of Local Measure, Ana Brant of The Dorchester Collection, Prof. Gad Allon, and Mark Wales WG’14 of Kill Kapture and the Younger Heroes (top right); Workforce Management panel with Caleres’ Miriam Scholes, Forge’s Stacey Ferreira, and Prof. Karl Ulrich (bottom right).

The Baker Retailing Center hosted over 50 events in 2018, including the Lunchtime Speaker Series, Leadership Lectures, Career Treks, and alumni socials. Guest speakers represented a broad mix of retailers from the luxury, specialty, eCommerce, and traditional retail sectors, as well as companies that service the industry. Some of the many campus visitors included CEOs, executives, and alumni from Alice and Olivia, Everlane, Google, Christian Lacroix, Michael Kors, and Walmart. In November, the Center hosted a summit, “Technology and Retail 3.0: Reinventing the Workforce, Retooling the Organization, Evolving the Customer Experience” at Wharton San Francisco. Wharton Professors Gad Allon , Kartik Hosanagar, Karl Ulrich , and Elea McDonnell Feit (C’94), WCAI Senior Fellow and Assistant Professor of Marketing at Drexel University, moderated panels on workforce management, machine learning, data analytics, attribution modeling, and social media. The summit was attended by 80 C-level executives. Keynote speaker, Bill Schlough (WG’98), SVP and CIO of the San Francisco Giants, shared his perspective on baseball and how technology has evolved the customer experience of the team’s fan base.

Lauder Institute Renovation Dedicated

Provost Wendell Pritchett, brothers Ronald S. Lauder and Leonard A. Lauder, Lauder Institute director Mauro Guillén, and President Amy Gutmann dedicating the renovation on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Renovations for the building now known as the Lauder Institute — home of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies, a joint-degree program integrating international studies with a Wharton MBA — began in early 2018. Major changes are in store, including an expanded lobby and dining space to encourage student collaboration. In October, President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and alumni brothers Ronald S. Lauder and Leonard A. Lauder returned to campus to dedicate the renovation of the institute they founded 35 years ago.

The project is funded by a gift from Ronald Lauder (W’65), chairman of the Lauder Institute Board of Governors. His contribution coincided with the end of the Lauder Institute Challenge, which raised over $30 million from more than 1,000 donors over its five year run, helped by the Lauder family’s $15 million, dollar-for-dollar match. Renovations for Lauder are expected to finish next fall.

Brain Meets Business in New Executive Education Program

Neuroscientist Michael L. Platt at the Morton Collection in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 1, 2018.

Wharton Magazine published an eye-opening profile of Prof. Michael Platt in its Spring/Summer issue, detailing his journey to conducting cutting-edge research as the founding faculty director of Wharton Neuroscience Initiative (WiN). Since his addition to the faculty in 2015, Platt and his team have developed and used high-tech tools to challenge the boundaries between evolutionary brain science, human psychology, and the way people do business. This year, Platt decided to extend his research insights to Wharton Executive Education in a three-day program, “Leveraging Neuroscience for Business Impact,” which teaches business leaders how to improve their organizations with neuroscience principles.

Challenging Perspectives on the Future of Finance and Immigration

Wharton hosted a number of conferences to bring scholars and thought-leaders together, one of the most notable being a reflection on lessons learned from the 2008 financial crash and what lies ahead. Part of the Tarnopol Dean’s Lecture Series, “The Future of Finance: 10 Years After the Financial Crisis” took place in September, marking the 10th Anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The packed event featured financial services titans James G. Dinan (W’18), founder of York Capital Management, Ruth Porat (WG’87), senior VP & CFO of Alphabet and Google, Marc Rowan (W’84, WG’85), co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and Robert Wolf (W’84), CEO of 32 Advisors, who all joined Dean Geoffrey Garrett for a panel discussion.

Another notable conference, organized by Management Prof. Zeke Hernandez, brought academic experts from across the States for a two-day workshop discussing new research on the economic impacts of immigration. The program focused on assessing how immigrants influence the investment and operations decisions made by firms , shape bilateral trade flows, and spur innovation and entrepreneurship.

Read Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s issue brief on “The Missing Pieces of the Economic Debate over Immigration Reform.”

Wharton Global Forum Greets Sydney

The 51st Global Forum visited Australia for the first time on March 7-9, where leaders convened in Sydney for panels and fireside chats on the future of foreign policy, retail, and the multimedia landscape. Highlight sessions included Former Australian Prime Minister and Chair of the International Advisory Council Hon. Paul Keating reflecting on power and politics; David Gonski, chairman of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, and Sir Frank Lowy, chairman of Westfield Corporation, on retail and tariffs; Dean Geoffrey Garrett with Simon Jackman, CEO of The United States Studies Centre, and Hon. Kristina Keneally, Senator for New South Wales, on feeling rising tensions between U.S. and China; and Michelle Guthrie, managing director of ABC, on the role of media in a changing landscape.

Posted: December 20, 2018

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