Programs with Purpose
College of Business Administration Updates
DAVID BERG CENTER FOR ETHICS AND LEADERSHIP
This past year, the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership hit a major milestone with a two-year grant from the David Berg Foundation to continue to grow new and existing programs within the College of Business Administration (CBA).
“We were renewed for additional grant funding, and the foundation was enthusiastic at hearing that we were focusing heavily on funding student internships during the pandemic,” says Ray Jones, director of the Berg Center and clinical professor of business administration.
This funding supports a broad range of undergraduate programs—from international programs to programs focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Part of the funding was given to Pitt Business Career Development to support students who were unable to secure 2020 internships due to the pandemic. Over the winter break, and into the spring semester, the career team paired more than 30 seniors with internships either in Pittsburgh or in their hometowns.
“Our internship scholarship program is a vital piece of the internship puzzle,” says Chris Meaner, director of career development. “By working with local and regional nonprofits, minority-owned businesses, and small, for-profit organizations, we are able to open up different types of internships for our students that traditionally would not be accessible.”
During the summer of 2021, some juniors and seniors were placed at internships with Pittsburgh-based, minority-owned businesses. One student, Jose-Pablo Portillo (BSBA ’23), interned at Coffee Arabica Foundation for Education, a nonprofit that works to prevent youth delinquency and violence in Honduras through education and employment.
“We actively work toward grant research and grant writing to generate revenue to provide scholarships for students in Honduras and expand our outreach to make this goal more feasible,” says Portillo. “I’m learning how to reach and network with related organizations, foster relationships, create a database to manage grants, research and write grants, and use analytics software to interpret data and track goals.”
VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Another important program that is supported by the Berg Center is the school’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Typically run out of the Carnegie Library in Oakland, the student-run program offers tax assistance to individuals in the community whose annual income is below $57,000. This year, the program was able to secure the highest total amount of refunds in the program’s history. The VITA program allows students to gain experience in tax preparation, and gives them an opportunity to give back to their community.
The Berg Center and all of its innovative programs continues to set CBA students apart from their competitors. As the programs develop and grow, Pitt Business will remain an integral part of the Pittsburgh community.
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DONOR FUNDING FOR NEW FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY
In the world of business, those who don’t adapt do not survive—which is why the College of Business Administration is constantly updating its resources and programming. One recent innovation is the world of FinTech, which refers to technologies used by businesses to provide automated and improved financial services, such as your Venmo or Apple Pay account or E*TRADE for managing your stock portfolio.
Through a generous donation from Gary Staub (MBA ’81) and head of Strategic Growth Initiatives at Finexio, and the leadership of Executive-in- Residence Zack Hilton (MBA ’97), a former executive at Microsoft and Intuit, a FinTech Lab was developed for undergraduate business students.
“Our goal is to provide students with practical experience, help them acquire skills required to outperform their competitive peer group, and develop professional references and exceptional work experience,” says Hilton. “I truly believe they will graduate from Pitt Business in a better place than when they came in.”
The goal of the lab is to educate and give students hands-on experience with financial technology disruptors. Students learn about topics like blockchain, cryptocurrency, distributed ledgers, and payment ecosystems. The lab experience can serve as an internship for some of the student participants.
Jodie den Outer (BSBA ’23), who is studying finance and information systems with a minor in economics, was approached about joining the FinTech Lab and, after a short interview with Hilton, was given the role.
“I really was compelled to take on this opportunity because this role perfectly fit my majors. Being able to apply my studies to this role was a perfect opportunity to see if this is truly what I love doing,” says den Outer. “I had never experienced what it was like working on the technology side of the finance world. I feel that getting to know the diverse and unique careers pertaining to your major could never hurt and really only helps you decide what the right job is for you.”
The creation and ongoing growth of the FinTech Lab over time will continue to set students like den Outer apart from those at other institutions.
“Because of this experience, I feel more comfortable knowing that there might be a future for me in the FinTech industry,” says den Outer.
Jodie den Outer