SBD and ODE Activity

The Department’s honor societies, Sigma Beta Delta and Omicron Delta Epsilon, continued their tradition of supporting professional development in the major.  Members helped orientate RATS, published the ECBU Online Journal, provided speakers, and promoted a field trip for second and first classmen.  

On March 6, 2009 the junior and senior class had the opportunity to embark on an out-of-class learning experience – visiting Northwestern Mutual Financial Network in the morning and Black Finn restaurant in the afternoon. Both of these businesses were located in Richmond, VA.  While at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network the Cadets had the pleasure of getting to listen to and interacting with Mr. Darren Vita, one of the leading Chief Financial Consultants at his firm. Mr. Vita gave us a brief autobiography of his life experiences and about how he got to be in such a prominent role today.  He also discussed how corporate business operates and what we Cadets should expect in the future when we graduate and seek careers in the business world. He finally talked about what Northwestern Mutual firm did and how the upperclassman at VMI could take advantage of this down economy to make ourselves prosperous in the future.

While at BlackFinn the Cadets were able to see how the restaurant and nightlife business operated at one of Richmond’s most lavish restaurant. Ryan Golbitz the manager of BlackFinn discussed the difficulties as well as the perks of running a restaurant. He stressed the importance of having a people first attitude and made it clear that “whatever you do, do it for your customer and keep them happy. If you do that they will continue coming and refer their friends to the restaurant.” Finally, he talked about the importance of trendy technology. He talked about how Facebook and MySpace are not taboo and are actually legitimate channels to communicate and advertise. He told us how he wished he began advertising special events and restaurant deals on these social networks five years ago because the restaurants and companies that have gained a significant competitive advantage with marketing their respective local restaurants. All in all both of these companies have allowed the Cadets to gain a well-rounded experience on how various companies run and operate in their respective sectors in their industry.   We deeply appreciated the efforts of Toni Warren from BlackFinn and Sarah Austin from Northwestern Mutual for making this field trip possible by allowing us to visit their businesses.

This year’s speakers were Dr. Art Goldsmith from Washington and Lee and James Maurer of Base-X.  On February 11, Dr. Goldsmith, the Jackson T. Stephen Professor of Economics, at Washington & Lee University gave a talk to EC/BU majors on whether African American students tend to be disengaged students or not. This ODE (International Honor Society for Economics) sponsored talk was directed towards all EC/BU majors and was extremely well received.

On February 16, James Maurer came to VMI to speak with Cadets about his road to success in the business world. As a graduate of Drexel University, Mr. Maurer worked a variety of jobs before ultimately investing and devoting himself to the family business (Base-X). Mr. Maurer was actively involved in every aspect of Base-X's business operations including: production, financing, accounting, operations management, and sales. His devotion and work ethic allowed Base-X to expand and prosper at both the regional and national level. Mr. Maurer spoke of his business experiences of the past and addressed various aspects of owning and operating a personal/family business.  These speakers’ topics were truly enlightening.