Retail Executive Jenny J. Ming to Serve as SJSU Commencement Speaker

Retail Executive Jenny J. Ming is 2012 Commencement Speaker

Retail Executive Jenny J. Ming to Serve as SJSU Commencement Speaker

Jenny J. Ming

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – San José State University’s 2012 Commencement speaker will be Jenny J. Ming, an SJSU alumna and retail industry executive. She will also receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during Commencement, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. May 26 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 8,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2011, December 2011 and May 2012 will be eligible to participate.

“Jenny Ming is an excellent role model for our students, having leveraged her degree, interests, creativity and incredible drive into a career leading the nation’s most innovative retailers while never losing site of her roots, giving back to the university and community she calls home,” President Qayoumi said.

In May 2011, Ming delivered a moving keynote address at the SJSU College of Business convocation. Speaking to thousands of students about to graduate and head off into the working world, she not only offered career advice but she paid homage to her own path, her parents, and Spartans everywhere.

“My own parents made difficult choices, changes, and sacrifices to bring me and my brothers and sisters to this country and to put us all through college,” she said. “I suspect that all you parents out there know what I’m talking about. Most of us are immigrants, and this country—our adopted home—offers enormous opportunity through education. I believe that each of you students and your families have a special appreciation of how worthwhile the privilege of an American education is.”

Jenny J. Ming

Jenny J. Ming was appointed president and chief executive officer of Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. in October 2009. Charlotte Russe, with offices in San Diego and San Francisco, is a fast fashion retailer of apparel and accessories targeting young women, with more than 500 stores across the United States and Puerto Rico. From March 1999 to October 2006, Ming was president of Old Navy, a $6.7 billion business segment of Gap Inc., where she oversaw all aspects of Old Navy and its 900 retail clothing stores in United States and Canada. Ming joined Gap in 1986, serving in various executive capacities in its San Francisco headquarters. In 1994, she was a member of the executive team that launched Old Navy.

Business Week magazine named Ming one of the nation’s top 25 managers in 2000. She was also featured in Fortune magazine’s 2003 and 2004 lists of the 50 most powerful women in American business. Ming is a member of the board of trustees for the Museum of Chinese in America. She also serves on the board of the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan and Merage Foundation for the American Dream. Dedicated to expanding opportunities for U. S. immigrants, the foundation gave Ming its Business and Community Leadership Award in 2006. Ming is a member of Committee of 100, an international, non-profit, non-partisan membership organization that brings a Chinese-American perspective to issues concerning Asian Americans and U.S.-China relations.

Ming was born in China and raised in San Francisco. She received a bachelor of arts in clothing merchandising with a minor in marketing from SJSU in 1978. She was in management at a Mervyn’s department store when she was recruited by Gap Chief Executive Officer Millard S. Drexler.

San José State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

First Ever "Hackathon" Taps Entrepreneurial Spirit

Student contestant standing behind a podium presenting a powerpoint on his idea for a business.

Freshman software engineering student Amru Eilwat took first prize for his online cloud storage prototype, which allows consumers to share files quickly online (Daniel Peterson photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Computer science, engineering, economics and business were just some of the majors who competed in the first ever SJSU StartUp Weekend April 7-8.

“It was an excellent way to hone your craft and meet smart people,“ said senior computer science major Erich Blume.

The three-day hackathon and business plan competition was organized by recent management information systems grad SoonKhen OwYong of the SJSU Entrepreneurial Society, and sponsored by local startup tech company, SendHub.

“The main purpose is to ultimately build a community where everyone can keep in touch and build a support network,” OwYong said.

Approximately 30 contestants gathered in the SJSU Dining Commons and worked through the weekend to form teams, pitch ideas and develop software applications. The weekend concluded with a demo, providing contestants the opportunity to present their prototypes and business plans to a panel of judges.

“A lot of what we were looking for was what you would look for when you fund a company, “ said judge Andrew Manoske, an associate at GGV Capital in Palo Alto.

Freshman software engineering student Amru Eilwat took first prize for his online cloud storage prototype Cloudous, which allows consumers to share files quickly over the Internet.

Cash awards ranged from $50 to $300. In addition, SendHub awarded a new iPad to third-place textbook sharing application winners BiblioBridge, for integrating SendHub’s application programming interface into BiblioBridge. SendHub’s technology allows businesses and consumers to send out group text messages.

According to Manoske, contestants were judged on how well each team worked together and how well they were able to demonstrate solutions to problems.

“It was refreshing to see the entrepreneurial energy and a variety of different majors working together in the same room,” Manoske said.

San Jose Mercury News: Entrepreneurial Society Spawns Startup Marathon

Three day ‘hackathon’ at San Jose State — golden minds with great ideas

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News April 8, 2012.

By Brandon Bailey

Those clumps of students hunkered down in a San Jose State cafeteria this weekend, staring at laptop screens from behind rows of coffee and soda cups, weren’t just cramming for finals.

Many of them were writing code and testing programs, hoping to create the next Facebook or some other killer app, during a three-day “hackathon” organized by students and sponsored by a local tech startup, SendHub.

“The idea was to get people who are interested in starting a business” to come together at an event where people with ideas can work with other people who have different skills, said organizer SoonKhen OwYong, 23, who graduated in December from SJSU with a degree in management information systems.

Students in engineering, computer science, business and other disciplines — many of whom had not met before Friday night — formed teams that competed to develop the best online game, service or application they could build in 48 hours.

Team members were allowed to go home and grab a few hours of sleep each night, but many set up camp at tables in the university’s Dining Commons, where the event was held.

One group worked on an idea for an online service that would help students share or lend textbooks they were no longer using. Another was busy with a smartphone app that would let friends exchange pictures of clothing in their closets and share ideas for new fashion ensembles.

“I just feel like this is the next big gold rush,” said business major Justin Lord, 24, referring to the explosion of online games and apps that has evolved into a booming industry in Silicon Valley.

Lord, who hopes to start his own company, teamed up with computer science major Nam Phan to work on Lord’s idea for an online basketball game that might be played on Android or Kindle devices. The game’s opening display includes a moving line of text that could be given over to advertisers’ messages.

SendHub cofounder John Fallone said the relatively new Mountain View startup wanted to sponsor the event as a way to raise the company’s profile and build ties with local schools, student programmers and would-be entrepreneurs.

The company put up the money for expenses and some modest prizes, including $300 for the best overall application created during the hackathon. It also offered a new iPad for the best project that incorporated SendHub’s own technology, which lets businesses and other groups send text messages to groups of people.

SendHub connected with OwYong through the university’s Entrepreneurial Society, a campus organization that supports and encourages students who dream of starting their own companies. Many of the hackathon participants said they share that dream.

Emeka Nwadibia, who just graduated in December with a degree in finance, is a 23-year-old who said he’s wanted to start his own business since he was a high school student in Stockton. He’s dabbled in concert promotion and, with SJSU computer engineering student Minh Nguyen, recently launched an online service called Entusic.com, which helps organize public gatherings and events.

Nwadibia was on the team working on the fashion app. A few feet away, business student Jannice Tu was working on a marketing plan for the online book exchange, while teammates led by business administration major Klarence OuYang wrote code and tested various features.

“Right now, I’m on Facebook contacting everyone I know,” to gather information on how people might use the book service and what features they would like to see, Tu explained.

While some students came to the hackathon with ideas, others brought their skills and decided which team to join after listening to initial presentations on Friday night. Their final presentation was expected to include a basic business and marketing plan as well as a demonstration of the software. Judges from SendHub asked questions and offered helpful suggestions.

It’s a common model for “hackathons” and startup events. Several students said they had participated in similar events around the Bay Area, but most said this was their first at San Jose State.

“We don’t have enough events like this,” said OwYong, who added that the real test is not just who had the best idea. Instead, he said the challenge is for students to learn to work together. “It’s not the idea; it’s about how they are able to execute it.”

In the end, the judges awarded first prize to an idea for online cloud storage devised by 18-year-old software engineering student Amru Eliwat, who had to teach himself a new programming language over the weekend after one of his teammates dropped out.

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey.

"Lisu Voice" pillow, deep blue with multicolored embroidery

San Jose Mercury News: Business Major Launches Socially Conscious Startup

"Lisu Voice," one of nearly two dozen pillows offered by business major Aimi Duong's startup (Oimeico image).

"Lisu Voice," one of nearly two dozen pillows offered by business major Aimi Duong's startup (Oimeico image).

A passage through Asia leads San Jose State student to a soft launch

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 5, 2012.

By Bruce Newman

Aimi Duong is 24, so the fate of the world is naturally a matter of some concern to her. Not surprisingly, she believes there may still be some hope for it, although urgent action may be required. That’s where she comes in.

Duong was well into her studies as a business major at San Jose State when she realized that the primary objective taught by virtually every business class she took — maximize profits, destroy the competition — posed a conflict for someone determined to save the world.

So after returning to San Jose from Asia two months ago, she launched Oimei Co., a socially conscious startup where the only bottom line that matters is empowering marginalized workers in developing countries. “Oimei” is the Chinese version of Aimi; it means “love beauty,” which, as a matter of fact, she does.

Oimei operates under the banner “Pillows for Peace,” and through the company, Duong sells hand-woven textiles made in Thailand by women who are artisans, yet barely able to scratch out a living from the remarkable treasures they produce. When she met those women last year, Duong recognized something about their stories that touched her in a very familiar way.

Her mother and three siblings escaped from Vietnam as boat people in the early 1980s, then spent 11 months in a Malaysian refugee camp before making their way to San Jose. To keep the family together in a small apartment, Duong’s mom worked an assortment of odd jobs, always hoping her children would have a better life in this country. So when Duong first raised the possibility of an extended tour of Southeast Asia, her mother made no secret of her dismay.

“I’m the last child in my family, and my mom is quite dependent on me for her happiness,” Duong says. “So I never even thought of going to college far from San Jose because I always felt a really big sense of guilt. But I recognized that I can’t help anyone else if I can’t help myself.”

Extended sojourn

Duong had no particular sense of direction in high school, a situation that improved only slightly after two years of junior college. But after a year as a business major at SJSU, she had grown disillusioned with the engine that drives most businesses: the emphasis on the bottom line. “I chose business because I thought it would be more practical,” says Duong, “but when I began taking classes, I didn’t like the idea of everything being so profit-driven.”

To set herself apart from thousands of other soon-to-graduate job candidates, she hit upon the idea of studying abroad for four months. “It was scary just to drop everything, not have an income anymore and go somewhere where I don’t speak the language,” she says. “But when I got there, I saw how easy it was to travel around to other countries. So I decided to stay for four more months, and then four more months.” Her Southeast Asian sojourn eventually stretched to 16 months.

During her last semester in Thailand, as she was applying for jobs back in the U.S., Duong dreaded the idea of heading for some entry-level position in the corporate world. “I felt I was kind of selling myself short,” she recalls. While interning for a nonprofit in Thailand, her fascination with the handmade textiles she loved to buy at local markets in Burma, Malaysia and Laos became the inspiration for the company she wanted to form.

Great determination

But by that time, Duong had nearly depleted her savings. “My family was saying, ‘You just need to come home and come back to reality,’ ” she says.

Instead, she found a website called StartSomeGood.com, where she posted her idea and a short video asking for support, hoping to raise seed money. “I figured it doesn’t hurt to try,” she says. To her surprise, in 45 days she raised $5,600, some of which she used to go to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other parts of Thailand to meet the women — most of them from Chiang Mai, Thailand — who would become her pillow manufacturers. Most of the weavers subsist on less than $200 a month. Duong hopes to change that.

Chatchai Aphibanpoonpon, a recent MBA graduate from Thammasat University, was impressed by Duong’s determination. “Even though, from a business point of view, the textile market is highly competitive, she still strongly believes in her idea and keeps pushing it forward because she knows that many women that are now living under poverty depend on her,” Aphibanpoonpon says via email from Thailand. “She is an inspiration to me, and I hope to many young and talented people out there, to follow her path, to do something that really creates an impact to society and make this world a better place to live.”

As soon as Duong returned to classes in San Jose two months ago, she began assembling a team of like-minded young women as partners, and opened her website (http://oimeico.com/shop/pillows) for business. Everything is certified fair trade, and the weavers keep about 60 percent of what Duong pays for the pillows. The website originally claimed 50 percent of net profits would go to charity, and Duong’s plan for herself was to “live minimally.” But her partners informed her that the business would never survive if she gave away that much profit. “We need to grow in order to increase impact,” she says.

Her goal now is to begin working with women from a small village in northern Vietnam who are victims of human trafficking. Ramping up a distribution network from such a remote location is daunting. But with the fate of the world in the balance, her work won’t wait.

Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004; follow him at Twitter.com/BruceNewmanTwit.

CIO.com: IBM/SJSU Partnership Provides Students Hands-On Social Business Experience

Students Turn Social Media Skills into Social Business Strategy

San Jose State University and IBM partner in a real-world project to help students translate their Facebook and Twitter prowess into powerful business strategies.

Posted by CIO.com Jan. 30, 2012.

It’s no secret that Gen Y lives and breathes social media. And while some businesses consider it a time-sink, others are looking to capitalize on this generation’s skills to further its business goals. That’s where Larry Gee, a professor at San Jose State University, comes in.

Last year, Gee and IBM partnered to pilot a program that helps students turn their social networking savvy into real-world, business-ready skills.

The program, called “The Great Mind Challenge” (TGMC), has been wildly popular in India, with more than 100,000 students participating since 2004, according to IBM. SJSU is the first institution in the U.S. to adopt it.

“Students use Facebook and Twitter for personal purposes all the time,” Gee says. “The goal was to help them realize that they can go into the workplace and connect the dots to apply their social media skills to the business to benefit them. It’s an emerging area that’s getting bigger and bigger.”

Social business, while still in its infancy, is gaining more traction in the marketplace. In its report “Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration,” Forrester Research predicts that the market for social enterprise applications will grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion. In 2010, it was a $600 million market.

IBM paired SJSU with Group Business Software (GBS), an IBM business partner. Over the course of the semester, 96 students from Gee’s management information systems classes, along with biotech and management graduate students, were grouped into teams to assess GBS’s social networking and collaboration techniques, and to devise a plan to help the company better embrace social business.

Having a mix of students involved was important, Gee says, because he didn’t want the challenge to be technical-scripting-based. His goal was something that was more cross-disciplinary so the students could learn how social business affects the whole company and not just IT.

“We wanted to give students an unstructured, real-life problem to solve where they had to get on the phone and dig for information and drill down,” Gee says. “Say you’re in the CIO’s office and a marketing or HR person comes to you and says, ‘I read about this thing called social business. How can we effectively use that in our organization?’ That’s what they’re trying to solve.”

To help students gather information for their assessments, GBS provided a dedicated sponsor who was available every week for Q&A sessions, webinars, phone calls and email conversations. IBM also provided the students with access to both social business experts with whom they could collaborate and the cloud-based environment through which the program took place.

Using these resources, Gee’s students performed social business assessments, specifically looking at GBS’s marketing environment, how it collaborated internally and built connections with suppliers.

The second phase, Gee says, focused on building prototypes to model what GBS should be doing, ultimately resulting in a social business plan that they presented at the end of the semester. Gee and GBS chose the teams with the best solutions and presentations.

GBS, Gee says, is applying some of the students’ recommendations within their business right now. These include suggestions for making better use of blogs, videos, a better flow of information and collaboration improvements.

“This was a great way for students to preview what will happen within the next strategic period of how businesses will operate,” Gee says. “Social business is laying the foundation of how future leaders will operate in the next generation.”

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collaboration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at kburnham@cio.com.

Business Admin Major Michelle Elliott: Believing in Unseen Potential

Business Admin Major Michelle Elliott: Believing in Unseen Potential

Michelle sitting at an outdoor table with a young lady she mentors.

“Black History Month is a time to look back at the ensconced lives of African American families, regaining our perspective on the strength, endurance and power we possess as a people,” said senior business administration major Michelle Elliott (Dillion Adams photo).

(Editor’s note: In celebration of Black History Month, we profiled five campus leaders. Here’s the second in the series.)

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Although she attended three different San Jose high schools before graduating, it wasn’t until Michelle Elliott had nearly completed her associate’s degree at Evergreen Valley College that she knew attending San Jose State was possible.

“That was the first time I realized I had the potential and ability to pursue my dreams,” said the senior business administration major. “I also knew that there was so much more I wanted to learn.”

Elliott is a student and employee mentor of the Educational Opportunity Program, which supports first generation, low-income, historically disadvantaged students.

Taking a Leap of Faith

She enjoys working with students that come from such backgrounds, but who do not let circumstances dictate their futures.

“They are taking a leap of faith and making a decision to challenge themselves because they believe they are worth it,” Elliott said.

Elliott also enjoys working with the EOP staff, which she says offers a gracious, motivating and structured environment for success.

“There is a great deal of community support, opportunities, and integrated projects, giving the students a fulfilling experience while attending school here,” Elliott said.

Getting Through Tough Times

Although Elliott’s inspiration comes from the students she mentors, she turns to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to get her through the tough times.

“Dr. Martin Luther King impacted my life by revealing the traits and characteristics of selflessness and love,” Elliott said.

Elliott’s support and encouragement helps fellow students transition to college life and adds to her personal growth.

“My favorite aspect of my job is working with students like myself, who believe in their hearts that there is more to their being than what they currently see,” she said.

This is reflected in her favorite quote: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Student Raises Funds for “Green” Water Bottle

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Junior business administration major and Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge winner JD Leadam speaks at an Acceleration campaign event (SJSU Alumni Association photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A business administration major’s award-winning idea for environmentally friendly water bottle is gaining traction.

JD Leadam is moving quickly to capitalize on his first place finish at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge this past December, when he presented his idea for a reusable, biodegradable water bottle made of a renewable resource, industrial hemp. The challenge is an annual Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship event.

“I could still be sitting in the seat of a classroom dreaming up ideas, but because of the competition, it’s all starting to happen like a snowball effect,” he said.

Leadam, who also received the Most Innovative Idea, Best Elevator Pitch, and People’s Choice awards, shared his experiences at an Acceleration leadership committee gathering held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose.

Leadam’s has been pouring energy into his own 30-day crowd sourcing funding campaign, set to expire in just over a week. As of Feb. 10, Leadam has raised nearly $10,000 from 93 backers.

“I’m looking to raise $15,000,” Leadam said. “This is the amount that I calculate will get me through the plastic testing phase and the design and the tooling of the mold itself.”

Leadam credits his advisory board, which includes the president of a consulting firm specializing in injection molding, an investment banker from Morgan Stanley, and Avon U.S. President Brian Connolly.

“Experts in a given field can be a great resource to an entrepreneur or a small business trying to get started without the formal responsibilities of a board of directors of a company,” Connolly said.

Leadam’s updated plans include manufacturing his bottles locally, which Leadam says will keep jobs in the United States and decrease the size of his product’s carbon footprint.

“The greener I can make this product, the better,” he said.

Notable speaking engagements in the works for Leadam include appearances at Humboldt State University and a TEDx conference this April in Denver.

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal: Students Help Corporate Client Use Social Networking

IBM, San Jose State Partner on Social Business Savvy Class

Posted by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Feb. 3, 2011.

By Diana Samuels

If there’s one thing today’s college students know well, it’s how to use Facebook.

Now IBM Corp. is partnering with San Jose State University to help students harness some of their online social skills and bring them to a work setting. The university and IBM recently finished a pilot program to teach students about “social business.” The goal is to give students resume-boosting skills that can lead to a career creating social business tools or simply help them communicate more effectively at work.

“Young people today, they thrive on using social media tools,” said Larry Gee, the lecturer at San Jose State who taught the pilot program. “Can you imagine if they overlay it with business concepts? It’s a fantastic medium for success, to move business forward.”

The idea for the program came out of IBM’s student engineering competition in India, called “The Great Mind Challenge.” The company was looking for a way to bring a similar initiative to the U.S.

“We’re looking for more ways to work with students worldwide,” said San Jose-based IBM Director of University Relations Jim Spohrer, “to get them the skills that they need for 21st-century jobs. Social business is a great example of a 21st-century job.”

IBM connected with San Jose State to pilot the first U.S. “Great Mind Challenge” competition, and Gee incorporated it as a major part of his fall semester courses. This spring, the company is expanding the competition to more than 20 universities, with prizes like a Kindle Fire awaiting the winners.

IBM’s definition of social business goes beyond just using Facebook and Twitter to interact with customers. A social business is one that uses social networking tools — including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis and others — to collaborate and communicate both internally to colleagues and externally to customers and partners.

The skills that students have learned from using Facebook in their personal lives “can be used in the workplace to help build relationships, to help build customer engagement, and to help build productivity,” said Alameda-based IBM web and social media manager Daryl Pereira, who worked with Gee to help plan the course.

The market opportunity is a huge one: Forrester Research predicts the market for social enterprise software will reach $6.4 billion by 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 61 percent. And IBM, which is based in New York but has a large Silicon Valley presence with five local facilities, has a vested interest in seeing the market grow. The company makes social business software including IBM Connections and IBM Lotus Quickr and was named by an IDC Research report in June as the market leader.

As part of the SJSU program, IBM employees hosted webinars and helped bring in industry guest speakers. The program also allows students to use their skills in the real world. SJSU students were asked to analyze and evaluate the social business practices of Group Business Software, a software company and IBM business partner with U.S. headquarters in New York.

Teams of Gee’s students analyzed GBS’ social business practices, culminating in a competition where the teams developed recommendations for GBS to implement social business practices more effectively. GBS will also participate in the broader competition this spring encompassing universities nationwide.

For the SJSU pilot program, the winning team had recommendations such as creating a “like/dislike” button for GBS employees to immediately give feedback on company ideas, and hiring a company that can monitor GBS’ presence and customer feedback on social media sites.

Adam Lazarus, a product marketing engineer at GBS who helped coordinate GBS’ involvement in the program, said his company is currently analyzing students’ recommendations and does plan to implement some of them.

The competition is “a great example of how these companies and these businesses are looking to get top talent and looking for the innovative ideas that can put them above their competitors,” Lazarus said. “I think nowadays drawing that talent from the pool of college students is necessary.”

Jackie Flowers, a San Jose State master’s student in biotechnology who took the course, said she sees social business as a way to speed communication at large companies.

After growing up with Facebook and other social networks, adapting those skills for business was “really, really easy,” she said.

“I think some of the older generation are some of the ones who are actually going to have trouble transferring over to a social business platform,” Flowers said.

Diana Samuels can be reached at 408.299.1835 or dsamuels@bizjournals.com.

Mr. Thomspon with 2 students in Hong Kong

Thompson Global Internship Program Receives $950,000 Gift

two students with Crown truck in Hong Kong

Students Jimmy Sigona (left) and Artem Shevchuk (right) in Hong Kong with the Thompson Global Internship Program (photo courtesy of Jimmy Sigona).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

James E. Thompson, ’62 Aeronautical Engineering, has made a $950,000 gift commitment to San Jose State University supporting a College of Business program he helped establish in 2010. The gift is expected to support student participants over the next ten years. The competitive Thompson Global Internship Program sends undergraduate business students to tackle challenging, real-life projects identified by Crown Worldwide Group in cities where it operates such as Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Thompson is founder and chairman of the Hong Kong-based business, the world’s largest privately-held international moving company. He created the internship so students could develop a truly global worldview. “My interest in funding this program was to encourage San Jose State students to realize the fact that globalization is now part of all our lives and we should embrace it,” he said in May as SJSU’s commencement speaker. “We’ve come very far in making the world a global society, and in my opinion there’s no turning back.”

To learn more, please contact Program Director William DeVincenzi, (408) 924-3488.

Information Week: SJSU & IBM Provide Students Real World Social Business Experience

IBM, San Jose State Team On Social Business 101

IBM-sponsored program lets San Jose State University students practice social software strategy.

Posted by Information Week Jan. 11, 2012.

By David F. Carr

San Jose State University students are getting a crash course in social business, thanks to a partnership with IBM.

The program is part of IBM’s “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges.

In this case, the challenge was provided by GBS, an IBM business partner that has traditionally focused on Lotus Notes applications consulting, with a growing social business practice. GBS presented a social business framework it had developed and asked the students to critique and refine it.

Professor Larry Gee, who teaches in the Management Information Systems program of the College of Business, put together a group of 76 students, who broke into 24 teams, each of which was responsible for developing a feasibility study and presenting it to the consulting firm by the end of the Fall semester. In addition to students from his own MIS strategic management course, Gee involved graduate students from the school’s biotechnology program to provide “cross-pollination” between business, science, and computer science.

“The challenge was creating a framework to utilize various social media tools out there so the organization can use them effectively,” Gee said.

“In 2012, I’m planning to do something very similar–a practicum, where students are doing something of value, not reading a 30-page case study,” Gee added. GBS has agreed to keep working with the school because “they liked what they saw,” he said.

IBM says the program is designed to help students:

— understand the tenets of a smarter social business through the use of social networking software.

— build business skills and real-world experience by assessing the social business capabilities and business challenges of an IBM partner organization.

— develop teamwork and collaboration skills.

The IBM developerWorks community website served as the social collaboration environment for the project.

Gee said students tend to come into the program thinking “we’re doing this already,” because of their experience with consumer social networks, and must learn that “these are separate entities, social tools for business.”

In a video testimonial for the program, one student expresses surprise at learning that social media could function as a business tool. “Really, this is a complete blind spot,” he said. Another added, “I always thought it was more of an entertainment kind of tool, but now I’m strategizing for how businesses can use it productively.”

One student, who recently secured a job, reports, “I applied some of the things I learned in this class to the interview, and I think that’s what really landed me the job.” She also complains about the number of emails she receives that consist of one sentence or one word–messages that could be more easily managed in a social activity stream.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

San Jose Mercury News: Business Instructor Comments on SOPA/PIPA

Wikipedia and other websites shut down to protest online piracy bill

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Jan. 17, 2011.

By Patrick May

As Wikipedia and other websites go dark Wednesday in what backers are calling the largest Internet protest ever, the epic battle between Silicon Valley and Hollywood over online anti-piracy legislation continues to heat up, even as many Web surfers scratch their heads over what it all means.

The fight is over the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill now stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives that’s aimed at stopping the spread of pirated copies of movies and other content by “rogue” websites overseas. Heavyweight supporters of SOPA such as Time Warner and the Motion Picture Association of America are butting up against tech titans such as Wikipedia, Google (GOOG) and Facebook, which argue that the legislation could lead to widespread censorship.

Here is a guide to help understand SOPA and a parallel bill in the Senate called the Protect IP Act:

Q What is SOPA?

A Backers say the bill is necessary to rein in copyright infringement, specifically from pirate sites outside the United States, by essentially cutting off their oxygen supply, says Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University and a neutral observer in the debate.

“We can’t send in the feds to bust them,” he said, “and the intellectual property, or IP, owners can’t go after them in U.S. court. So these bills create ways to marginalize websites by cutting off their domain name or their money supply, doing things like requiring credit-card companies to stop making payments to the sites and require ad networks to drop them as customers.”

Q Aren’t there already laws that punish online pirates?

A The 1998

Digital Millennium Copyright Act does provide enforcement measures. For example, if someone uploads a copyrighted song to YouTube, the act gives the song’s rights holder the ability to send a notice demanding the site remove it. In this case, YouTube must let the offending uploader know the song has been flagged, and that person in turn could object and even appeal the matter in court.

But SOPA proponents say that because the copyright act doesn’t have the legal teeth to bite down on overseas offenders, new legislation is crucial if made-in-the-U.S.A. content is to be protected in the global wilderness of the Internet.

Q Why would anyone have a problem with such a law?

A Much of the controversy lies in the legislation’s vague, even esoteric language. And as Goldman points out, “the intermediaries like the credit-card companies may not be as careful as the law requires them to be, and they could cut off a legitimate website that they mistook as a rogue. These intermediaries doing the dirty work could make mistakes.”

Q Why are the two sides so adamant about their positions on the bills?

A Tiffiniy Cheng, director of online-freedom advocacy group Fight for the Future, says both the SOPA and the Senate bill as written “give corporations too much power to take down entire sites over what they consider a copyright infringement. And the language in the bills is really vague when it comes to ‘enabling copyright infringement.’ ”

Cheng says the vagaries of the legislation could encourage credit-card companies and ad networks to “go on the safe side and comply with all requests from rights owners to shut down a site, even if it’s not really doing anything wrong. Plus, it could lead other sites to self-censor their posts to risk even the chance of liability.”

But in a statement supporting SOPA, the Motion Picture Association of America points out that “the potential harm from rogue sites — exposure to malware, identity theft, unsafe and untested medicines and other counterfeit products, and lost jobs and income for creative workers — is profound. Too much is at stake for us to allow rogue sites and those who operate them to continue to steal creative works with impunity.”

Q Who are the online protesters and what do they hope to achieve?

A MoveOn.org is joining Reddit, Wikipedia, Mozilla and thousands of other sites, many of them in Silicon Valley, in a show of opposition to what they call “Internet censorship legislation that threatens free speech and technology innovation on the Internet.”

Cheng said more than 7,000 websites have agreed to take some sort of online action to rally opposition to the two bills, with Wikipedia planning to go dark for 24 hours starting 9 p.m. PST Tuesday. Other sites, including Mountain View-based Google, planned to issue protest statements on their home pages.

Q What’s the political prognosis for the legislation?

A Both bills are currently tied up in Congress, with the Senate bill on hold while SOPA’s fate is pending action by the House Judiciary Committee. More shadows loom after the Obama administration issued a statement saying, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

San Jose State business professor Jeffrey Gaines suspects both bills are “dead on arrival until after the November election because of intense lobbying on both sides. We may eventually see a boiled-down version that targets some of the more controversial issues in the bills. But when lawmakers try to legislate individual issues like this, the net result is that the lobbyists find other ways to get around them.”

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689. Follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.

Passengers boarding VTA light rail.

Rep. Lofgren Applauds $3.5 Million Federal Transit Grant

Passengers boarding VTA light rail.

The SJSU-led consortium will serve the public transportation industry through research, education and workforce development, and technology transfer activities.

CONTACT: Stacey Leavandosky,  202-225-3072

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $3.49 million to a San Jose State University-led consortium to develop and advance public transportation research and education. The consortium members represent a diverse group of universities, including Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ; Howard University in Washington, DC; University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, MI; Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI; Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH; University of Toledo in Toledo, OH; University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV; and Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA.

Congresswoman Lofgren led an effort, in collaboration with San Jose State University’s Mineta Transportation Institute, to secure the funding.

The SJSU-led consortium will serve the public transportation industry through research, education and workforce development, and technology transfer activities. Areas of expertise include alternative fuels, safety and security, public policy, finance, workforce development, livable communities, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, new modes, and many other critical factors essential to sustainable mobility.

Rep. Lofgren stated, “I want to congratulate San Jose State, as well as the other consortium universities, on receiving this grant funding. Transit options are critical to communities like ours in San Jose, and this investment will lead to important research to keep our public transportation systems running smoothly and safely for all.”

“The Mineta Transportation Institute’s selection by the Secretary of Transportation to lead a nine-university national transit research consortium validates the quality of MTI’s research and education programs. We look forward to helping to create a more sustainable national transportation system for America,” said Rod Diridon, Executive Director Mineta Transportation Institute.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is serving her ninth term in Congress representing most of the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County. Congresswoman Lofgren is Chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation consisting of 34 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives from California.

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal: Entrepreneurial Alumna Launches Pitchcrawl

Pitchcrawl serves up angel food

Published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Dec. 13, 2011.

By Shana Lynch, Assistant Managing Editor

There’s a pitch event a day in the Silicon Valley. But when one combines pitching with good food in a speed-dating-style experiment, it has my attention.

That’s what Dishcrawl founder Tracy Lee [an SJSU alumna] is attempting with her new venture, Pitchcrawl.

The inaugural Pitchcrawl was held in downtown San Jose on Dec. 7. About 40 startups paid a $39 ticket price to meet a dozen venture investors and sample some local fare. The crawl started at San Jose’s TechShop at 300 South 2nd Street, where name tags identified pitcher from pitchee and the companies were paired with investors and given three minutes to explain their product before moving to the next investor.

After a few rounds (and some burritos from La Victoria Taqueria), the group headed to NextSpace at 97 S. 2nd St. for round two (with RawDaddy’s spicy Thai salad cones and a free day pass to the coworking space). Then the final lap was at the Irish Innovation Center on Santa Clara Street over some House of Siam goodness.

Investors included people from Bay Partners , Brownstone Ventures, Valencia Ventures, Originate Ventures and OPT/Dentsu, as well as several angels.

Startups came in from around the South Bay, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and even Los Angeles and Argentina. They included Picsual, a Palo Alto-based mobile product search company founded a few months ago by Anson Liang and Greg Tapper, and WordWatch, a management tool for Adwords based in downtown San Jose. Geekatoo, a Walnut Creek startup, offered up a website that allows users to bid on tech help. And the most popular company of the night — which won a 60-minute pitch working session with Angel’s Forum — was Wurlpool, a social mobile app startup pitched by founder Eric Shelton.

Lee aims to host anywhere from monthly to quarterly Pitchcrawls, hosted in both San Jose and San Francisco. The second one is in San Francisco on Jan. 10, with a follow-up back in downtown San Jose in February.

The focus on venture capital connections comes partly from Lee’s own frustration in building connections in the venture capital world.

“A lot of amazing startups don’t have that network — it takes six months to a year to build that. Then it takes more time to get funding,” Lee said.

“It’s kind of a pain in the butt.”

And of course, this latest venture wasn’t too much of a stretch for Lee, a startup founder herself. Lee’s Dishcrawl, which pairs the local restaurant scene with foodies who support them, is bootstrapped, bringing in revenue and looking for an angel or seed funding. It has expanded to 25 cities with seven full-time employees.

IBM social business logo showing globe wrapped in colorful, intertwined ribbons

IBM, SJSU Collaborate to Advance Social Business Skills

ARMONK, NY – 11 Jan 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and San Jose State University (SJSU) today announced they are collaborating to help students turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

This new academic program provides students with the opportunity to deepen technical and business skills in the emerging arena of social business, while learning to adapt their knowledge to real-world business challenges. According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million last year.*

Under the direction of the Department of Management Information Systems and the Department of Organization and Management, SJSU students assess the social networking capabilities of an IBM Business Partner organization as a way of learning about the characteristics of a social business while helping to apply social networking technologies to business operations for more efficient collaboration and faster innovation. As part of their coursework, the students are mentored by IBM experts and learn about internal and external use of social business solutions.

As the program develops, students learn that through the use of social software and an open, supportive culture, organizations can activate networks of people – employees, clients, business partners – to apply relevant content and expertise to improve and accelerate how work gets done. Students also learn about the value social business generates for organizations when every department, from HR to marketing, to product development to customer service to sales, integrates social networking tools into their work flow and business processes.

“Today’s students are already social savvy in their personal lives,” said Professor Larry Gee, College of Business, San Jose State University. “However it’s vital for them to be able to apply these skills to business and differentiate themselves as they enter a tough job market. Through the use of IBM technology and experienced mentors, our students will join the corporate world prepared to compete.”

By bringing together IBM’s experts with SJSU’s students, the program seeks to educate, enlighten and advocate the key role of social business as a driver for a Smarter Planet. The goals of the partnership are to help students:

  • understand the tenets of a smarter Social Business through the use of social networking software;
  • build business skills and real-world experience by assessing the social business capabilities and business challenges of an IBM partner organization;
  • develop teamwork and collaboration skills;
  • better understand how to use IBM social networking technologies;
  • deepen relationships between faculty, students, IBM, and IBM business partners.

“IBM and San Jose State University have a long-standing relationship, founded on our deep commitment to preparing students with the skills needed to become successful business leaders,” said Jim Corgel, General Manager, Academic Programs, IBM. “There’s no disputing that social business has become a necessary component in today’s business strategy and the skills that go along with social business are in high demand. With SJSU, we are taking the next step in ensuring students are prepared to use social business technology to create business value, and solve complex business challenges quickly and efficiently.”

The program is part of IBM’s “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges submitted by global corporations, entrepreneurs, community leaders and nonprofit organizations.

This program is also part of IBM’s work with universities around the world to help students prepare for jobs of the future. IBM’s Academic Initiative offers a wide range of technology education benefits to meet the goals of colleges and universities. As a member of this initiative, participating schools receive no-charge access to IBM software, discounted hardware, course materials, training and curriculum development. Over 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide have joined IBM’s Academic Initiative.

For more information about IBM’s social business initiative follow #IBMSocialBiz on Twitter.

*”Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration,” Forrester Research, Inc., November 30, 2011.

IBM social business logo showing globe wrapped in colorful, intertwined ribbons

IBM and SJSU Collaborate to Advance Social Business Skills

ARMONK, NY – 11 Jan 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and San Jose State University (SJSU) today announced they are collaborating to help students turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

This new academic program provides students with the opportunity to deepen technical and business skills in the emerging arena of social business, while learning to adapt their knowledge to real-world business challenges. According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million last year.*

Under the direction of the Department of Management Information Systems and the Department of Organization and Management, SJSU students assess the social networking capabilities of an IBM Business Partner organization as a way of learning about the characteristics of a social business while helping to apply social networking technologies to business operations for more efficient collaboration and faster innovation. As part of their coursework, the students are mentored by IBM experts and learn about internal and external use of social business solutions.

As the program develops, students learn that through the use of social software and an open, supportive culture, organizations can activate networks of people – employees, clients, business partners – to apply relevant content and expertise to improve and accelerate how work gets done. Students also learn about the value social business generates for organizations when every department, from HR to marketing, to product development to customer service to sales, integrates social networking tools into their work flow and business processes.

“Today’s students are already social savvy in their personal lives,” said Professor Larry Gee, College of Business, San Jose State University. “However it’s vital for them to be able to apply these skills to business and differentiate themselves as they enter a tough job market. Through the use of IBM technology and experienced mentors, our students will join the corporate world prepared to compete.”

By bringing together IBM’s experts with SJSU’s students, the program seeks to educate, enlighten and advocate the key role of social business as a driver for a Smarter Planet. The goals of the partnership are to help students:

  • understand the tenets of a smarter Social Business through the use of social networking software;
  • build business skills and real-world experience by assessing the social business capabilities and business challenges of an IBM partner organization;
  • develop teamwork and collaboration skills;
  • better understand how to use IBM social networking technologies;
  • deepen relationships between faculty, students, IBM, and IBM business partners.

“IBM and San Jose State University have a long-standing relationship, founded on our deep commitment to preparing students with the skills needed to become successful business leaders,” said Jim Corgel, General Manager, Academic Programs, IBM. “There’s no disputing that social business has become a necessary component in today’s business strategy and the skills that go along with social business are in high demand. With SJSU, we are taking the next step in ensuring students are prepared to use social business technology to create business value, and solve complex business challenges quickly and efficiently.”

The program is part of IBM’s “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges submitted by global corporations, entrepreneurs, community leaders and nonprofit organizations.

This program is also part of IBM’s work with universities around the world to help students prepare for jobs of the future. IBM’s Academic Initiative offers a wide range of technology education benefits to meet the goals of colleges and universities. As a member of this initiative, participating schools receive no-charge access to IBM software, discounted hardware, course materials, training and curriculum development. Over 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide have joined IBM’s Academic Initiative.

For more information about IBM’s social business initiative follow #IBMSocialBiz on Twitter.

*”Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration,” Forrester Research, Inc., November 30, 2011.

hands patting down dirt around a sapling tree

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens Doors to Start-Up World

Students standing at the reception desk of WePay

The spring E-LAB course focuses on all aspects of building an early-stage company. WePay is one of many start-up companies on last year's start-up tour (photo courtesy of Steven Bennett).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you need another spring semester class?

Students in Professor Steven Bennet’s Entrepreneurship Lab (E-LAB), now in its fifth year, get the opportunity to learn a wide set of skills in a start-up environment.

“I want to expose students to the start-up community, and show them the way to get experience at a young age so they can prove what they can do,” Bennet said.

A big company will encourage each worker to specialize in one hard skill, he says, while a start-up offers the opportunity to wear many different hats, nurturing a broad array of hard and soft skills.

Multi-Disciplinary

Bennet’s goal this year is to recruit students in the business school and beyond, crossing multiple disciplines.

“We are looking to bring in students from business, design, engineering, science, media, education — kind of everything,” he said.

The three-credit E-LAB course, open to undergraduate and graduate students and all colleges and majors, takes a look at all aspects of building an early-stage company through case studies, entrepreneurial speakers and start-up tours.

Eighty hours of the course is dedicated to students working as interns at the some of the fastest growing Bay Area start-ups. Participants have included Sociogramics, Whodini, Astrid, WaterSmart, The Glue Network and WePay.

Internships

Emeka Nwadibia, ’11 Finance — who won third place in last year’s Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition for Entusic, an event ticketing website — did his internship with Appstores in San Francisco.

“I got to get a hands-on feel for the tentative daily schedule of a start-up and saw what they had to do to grow their business,” Nwadibia said.

WePay CEO Rich Aberman has participated in SJSU’s E-LAB program for the past two years. His first student intern, senior business major Stephen Guerguy, ’11 Finance, is now a full-time employee.

“Steve changed the vision for our sales team, which will be 40 people by the end of the year,” Aberman said. “Working at a start-up company is an opportunity to have a level of responsibility and ownership that I think take people careers to build at a larger company.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Alumna to Head Beloved Railroad Attraction

Roaring Camp Railroads names new CEO

Originally published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel Jan. 2, 2012.

By Jondi Gumz

A new chief is taking the helm at Roaring Camp Railroads, the local tourist attraction where Norman Clark ran the first steam train ride in 1963.

It’s Melani Clark, Norman’s daughter, who has been working alongside her mother, Georgia Clark, who took over as CEO after her husband died in 1985.

“It’s not something I gave in hesitation,” said Georgia Clark, 77, who has worked at Roaring Camp for 45 years.

She said Melani, her middle daughter, is familiar with all facets of the company. She has worked in every department — food, the depot, the general store, and as a fireman running the train’s steam engine.

A San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Jose State and is author of the book, “Violet Secret,” which is on sale at Roaring Camp.

The new chief is in New York City, looking for ideas for next season.

The tourist attraction, depicting life in the 1880s, employs about 60 people during the summer and 40 during the slow season.

The railroad, which operates every day except Christmas, just wrapped up the Holiday Lights train rides. From January to March, the railroad offers “rain forest rides,” named for the aura of mist in the redwoods during the winter.

Norman Clark came to Felton in 1958 with the idea of building a recreational railroad. With investors, he got a 99-year lease on the Big Tree Ranch property, and turned his dream into reality.

SJSU in the News: Business Major Lights Up the Night With Growing Business

Two buddies work out of San Jose’s Willow Glen to string lights for a fee

By Mary Gottschalk

Originally published by Silicon Valley Community Newspapers Dec. 15, 2011

Not everyone has a Clark Griswold in their family to outline their home in holiday lights, as Chevy Chase did so memorably with 25,000 light bulbs in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

For those without a talented guy like Griswold in the family, there’s Scott Basilotta and Mike Matsis, owners of Holiday Lights, headquartered in Willow Glen.

Friends since they met in the seventh grade in Hermitage, Pa., the duo works nonstop from mid-October through the first part of February.

They light rooflines, walkways, trees and bushes on the outside of homes, businesses, churches, hospitals and resorts. They sometimes even hang the lights on the inside trees if a client requests it.

“We start at 7 a.m. and finish at 1 a.m. some days,” says Matsis. “We work in the rain and in the wind. We don’t stop.”

Matsis, 28, has been in the business of hanging lights since the age of 16, eventually going into business in Las Vegas, where he lives the rest of the year.

Basilotta says he was finishing up his degree in business management at San Jose State University when Matsis convinced him to start hanging lights locally.

“It was cool. I was doing business management courses and I started a small business,” Basilotta says.

His first year, working alone, Basilotta concentrated on Santa Cruz, where he lives the rest of the year.

In 2007, Matsis decided to join forces with Basilotta, and the two have rented a place in Willow Glen each year since to serve as their headquarters and a place to catch a nap during the peak season.

This year, Rebecca Matsis, Mike’s mother, joined them to manage the office, make appointments and keep things running smoothly.

Matsis says their client list grows each year, from about 30 customers the first year to more than 200 this year.

“Some customers consider us family,” he says. “We see them over and over and they invite us in.”

Their services vary by client, but all want lights hung for the holidays and taken down after the first of the year.

Beyond that, if a light goes out, it just takes a call to get it fixed. They also offer free storage for lights when not in use, and they will provide lights, hooks and whatever else is necessary if a client wants.

Charges vary with each job, but Matsis says the minimum is $150 for a simple, one-story job up to the thousands for a big commercial job.

“We’re pushing LED lights for energy efficiency,” he says.

The biggest challenge the two face on a regular basis is a tall tree.

Most of the time, they work with ladders. However, they sometimes rent lifts.

Matsis recalls the difficulties of lighting the ice rink at Squaw Valley in the middle of a blizzard with black bears running by.

“If we can do a job, we do it. If we can’t, we will tell them,” he says.

Basilotta says they really enjoyed lighting the Veterans Hospital in San Francisco this year.

Since theirs is very much a seasonal business, they hope to do more lighting events at other times of the year. They’ve done a few summer weddings and receptions and envision expanding those services in the future.

Matsis and Basilotta are able to handle many of the jobs by themselves, but on a big project they will bring in others to help.

Emilie Highley has been a using Holiday Lights for her Willow Glen home since they first started offering the service.

“My husband has MS and can’t climb, so I called and Mike came out right away. He gave me a quote that was very fair, and they put my lights up,” she says.

Highly has their roofline outlined in lights and a large star hung at the top of the pitched porch roof, about 15 feet up.

“These young men are efficient, friendly and they’re careful,” she says. “I really want to support them and help them find more business.”

Rose Garden resident Lamar Lee has been using Holiday Lights for three years.

“I have a single-story Spanish-style home, and it’s hard to deal with the roof tiles,” Lee says. “They haven’t broken a single roof tile yet; they’ve been really good.”

Prior to connecting with Basilotta and Matsis, Lee did his own light hanging.

“It was a nightmare,” he says.

“This is the best decision I’ve made in the last couple of years. It’s one of those services you don’t think about getting, but they do a great job. They’re very professional and not only do they put it up, they take it down as well.”

Both Matsis and Basilotta worked on Thanksgiving this year, repairing to Basilotta’s parents’ home in Santa Cruz for a late turkey dinner.

On Christmas Eve, Matsis will fly home to his family in Las Vegas for a couple of days, but Basilotta will be on call.

“I have to be here to make sure all the lights are on for Santa Claus,” he says with a laugh.

“We’re spreading Christmas joy, and the kids are really cool. It’s nice to have a happy customer base.”

For more information, visit www.holidaylightsbayarea.com or call 408.384.9627.

SJSU in the News: Tesla Motors HR “Point Man” is an SJSU Alumnus

The man to see about a job at Tesla

Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Dec. 10, 2011.

By Dana Hull

As millions of Americans desperately search for jobs, Tesla Motors (TSLA)’ Arnnon Geshuri is racing to fill some. He’s the point man for a company on a hiring spree, looking for top-flight engineers, vehicle technicians, sales experts and even an executive chef.

Tesla is ramping up to manufacture its all-electric Model S sedan at the former NUMMI plant, now renamed the Tesla Factory, in Fremont. It currently has 1,400 employees worldwide, a figure expected to roughly double by the end of 2012 and double again by the end of 2013.

“We’re going to have hundreds of openings at the Tesla Factory,” Geshuri said in an interview at Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters. “We’re going to bring manufacturing back to California, and it’s going to stay.”

But landing a job at Tesla is not easy — it’s looking for the best of the best.

“Do you question tradition and constantly think of ways to improve status quo? Do you thrive in environments where brilliance is common and challenge is the norm?” its website asks. “Are you excited by challenge because you’re among the best in your field? If so, you’d be in good company at Tesla Motors.”

Geshuri, 42, has a track record for assembling great teams and putting people to work. His reputation as a Silicon Valley legend in the realm of staffing and recruiting

was cemented at Google (GOOG), where he oversaw a recruiting staff of 900 that fielded 2.5 million job applications in one year.

He got his first job in human resources while still a graduate student in industrial and organizational psychology at San Jose State, when the former NUMMI auto plant hired him as a consultant. Geshuri held frank discussions with line workers to find out what would make a better working environment and zeroed in on the need for better communication within the plant.

From there, Geshuri went on to Applied Materials, E-Trade Financial and his own startup. He’s always been fascinated by the intersection of business and human behavior and likes to cultivate talented people around a common cause.

He’s rarely had to look for work himself: Google came knocking in 2004, when the company was about to go public and explode in size. Geshuri met with Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt on a weekly basis as they sought to hire the best engineers from around the world. From 2004 to 2009, the employee head count skyrocketed from 2,500 to more than 20,000.

“I thought I knew recruiting and staffing but Google really changed my perspective,” Geshuri said. “It really forced me to think about how to cultivate talent and make Google the destination point, and everyone in the company was responsible for bringing in more talent.”

Geshuri never thought he would leave Google. But now he’s two years into his next act at Tesla. He joined the electric-vehicle company in November 2009, when the company’s head count was about 600. Geshuri remembers walking through a vacant former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) building on Deer Park Road in Palo Alto with J.B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer.

“I was walking around Tesla’s future headquarters while under construction with J.B. and he said something like, ‘Imagine building this place with the best of the best,’ ” recalls Geshuri, who loves the startup phase of a company and the chance to have a hand in creating a unique corporate culture. “He pushed on the right buttons.”

Most of the 217 jobs currently listed on Tesla’s website are for design and manufacturing engineers based in Palo Alto and Fremont. But the company is also looking for an assistant store manager in Newport Beach, an intern in Zurich, vehicle technicians in Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo and an executive chef. As Tesla’s brand has grown in the wake of its successful IPO in June 2010, résumés have poured in. On average, Tesla receives 300 applications for every job opening.

“We’re searching for excellent individuals,” Geshuri said. “We want people who are exceptional in their own right but share the same DNA and can collaborate as part of a team.”

To find the best and the brightest, Geshuri has built a recruiting staff of 25 people. But all Tesla employees are encouraged to think of themselves as recruiters, and referrals are a vibrant part of the hiring process. CEO Elon Musk has often said that staffing is his top priority and that the value of the company is measured by the quality of the talent. He plays a hands-on role in hiring and personally interviews many of the job candidates.

Former NUMMI workers make up a big pool of potential employees to choose from. College campuses are also key: Tesla has reached out to colleges and universities that have active Society of Automotive Engineers competitions, forming relationships with faculty advisers and keeping tabs on top students and winning teams. It’s a global search: Tesla employees have relocated to the Bay Area from the Midwest, Germany, Asia and elsewhere.

About 25 percent of Tesla employees are women, a higher ratio than that of many Silicon Valley tech companies. And Tesla has hired nearly 60 military veterans, including several from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the nation slowly emerges from the economic downturn, many workers face the daunting task of reinventing themselves. Geshuri has some advice: Social networks like LinkedIn are effective, but make sure that your information is current and in-depth. And instead of simply listing the most recent jobs on a résumé, be sure to elaborate on what exactly you did in each job.

“Sometimes people miss an opportunity to describe their exceptionalism on their résumé,” he said. “What made them exceptional in that role?”

Gaps in employment can also be overcome.

“We’re looking for people who are proactive. We want people who are go-getters,” he said. “When you were in between jobs did you go back to school, pursue a favorite hobby or volunteer? Whatever hand you were dealt, are you emerging better?”

Eric Burgess worked for Geshuri at Google and now at Tesla. He says Geshuri is both a player and a coach who wants people to be successful. He regularly takes part in interviews with job candidates and has a knack for peeling back the layers of a résumé.

“He’s really good at getting interesting nuggets out of people,” Burgess said. “He pulls things from résumés that aren’t related to the job to see what the person has learned from the experience. He’ll ask you why you became a history major.”

Though hiring and recruiting is a big part of Geshuri’s job, as vice president of human resources he’s also building Tesla’s culture. It’s a typical startup: People arrive early, stay late and work hard.

Tesla tries to alleviate some of the pressure by providing shuttle buses with wireless Internet access to ferry employees who live in San Francisco and elsewhere to and from work. There’s an employee garden on the hill above the parking lot, and everyone is encouraged to exercise and stay healthy. Employees can sign up to have boxes of organic vegetables delivered to Tesla. And some of those vegetables could be served in the company’s cafeteria once he’s found the perfect executive chef.

“They have to not just create a great menu, but programs for healthy living,” Geshuri said. “And they need to be an effervescent personality.”

Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706. Follow her at Twitter.com/danahull.

ARNNON GESHURI

Born Iowa; moved to Porterville, a small town outside of Bakersfield, when he was 10. Now 42 years old, Geshuri resides in Los Gatos.

Job Vice president, human resources at Tesla Motors since November 2009

Previous jobs Director of staffing operations at Google from 2004-09; vice president of human resources and director of global staffing for E-Trade Financial; Applied Materials

Education Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Irvine; master’s in industrial/organizational psychology from San Jose State