Cameron School of Business

Cameron Insider: The Quarterly Newsletter for Cameron School of Business Alumni

Cameron Insider: The Quarterly Update for CSB Alumni

In This Issue (December 2017):

Dean Robert BurrusMessage from the Dean 

Dear Friends of the Cameron School of Business,

As we close out another calendar year and ring in a new one, I wanted to take a look back at all Cameron has accomplished this year. Some you have read about in past editions of the Cameron Insider and some may be new to you, but please know that none of these accomplishments are possible without the hard work, dedication and generosity of Cameron’s faculty, staff, students, Advisory Board members, alumni and friends.

In January, 2017, Cameron welcomed it inaugural class of 8 students for its new online Executive M.B.A.. program. What makes this program so exciting and different from other EMBA programs is the inclusion of an international residency at one of Cameron’s four partner universities in Spain, Germany, France or the United Kingdom! 

Cameron still puts priority on applied learning for our students. Cameron students have the opportunity to go to Prague to complete a business consulting project. They can travel to New York City and meet with finance and marketing companies and get first-hand knowledge in their respective field of study. The Fed Challenge is a competition intended to enhance students' understanding of the Federal Reserve System and how it formulates and implements monetary policy. The competition encourages the development of student research, critical thinking skills, presentation proficiency, and group dynamics.

Cameron also puts an emphasis on the business community with growth in executive and professional education through Cameron’s Swain Center. Local business leaders have identified their needs and the Swain Center is responding. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship coordinates an average of 95 events a year for local business owners and entrepreneurs. It provides co-working space and private officers for more than 30 tenant startups at a time. Also working with local small business is the Small Business and Technology Development Center. The core of what the SBTDC does lies in personalized business counseling and strategy development services. They are committed to helping make small businesses better.

Global opportunities continue to abound for Cameron students. With a great emphasis on an international experience, Cameron is always looking for new opportunities for our students to explore the world. Planning for spring and summer 2018 opportunities already include Prague, Czech Republic; Marseille, France; Bremen, Germany; Valencia, Spain; London and Hatfield, U.K.; Shanghai, China; Cave Hill, Barbados; and St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia.

Cameron has partnered with AppyCity to create a new CSB app. It is a free download for iPhones and Androids. This new app keeps current students, alumni, faculty, staff, CEN mentees, CSB study abroad program participants, and CSB job and internship seekers on top of CSB-related events. 

In order to assist the Cameron School of Business in its support of the sales profession through academics, research and community involvement, UNCW established the UNCW Center for Sales Excellence and Customer Delight. The center will provide a vehicle for cross-disciplinary or cross-unit collaboration to maximize the capacity of UNCW to address complex problems, conduct research, educate students, and serve the needs of the state, the nation and the world.

Whew! This was only one year and just a few accomplishments in the life of the Cameron School of Business. We are all excited to see what next year brings us. We hope you’ll want to be a part of it! Our warmest wishes for a Happy New Year!

Rob Burrus

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Dr. Steve HarperDr. Harper: It's All About the Students

Dr. Stephen Harper, Duke Energy/Betty Cameron Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, will be retiring from the Cameron School of Business in spring 2018 after 41 years of exceptional service to the university. In Dr. Harper’s words, however, he doesn’t consider this to be retirement, but rather a graduation.

"Graduation implies embarking on new adventures," he said. "Spending more time with family is at the top of my list of things I plan to do, but there are also some ski slopes calling my name and a few sailboats waiting for me in the Atlantic."

In 1976, UNCW was a much different place, with only 3,000 students and no masters programs. However, Dr. Harper believes that there is much constancy with UNCW. "Teaching has always been this university’s primary focus, and undergraduate students have always been the primary audience. I have never regretted my decision to come to UNCW from the much larger Arizona State University. I recognized UNCW’s potential and the inevitable future growth and success," he shared.

During his time at UNCW, Dr. Harper has taught 28 different courses in the subjects of marketing, management and entrepreneurship, but his accomplishments and initiatives certainly do not stop there. In addition to his work as an award-winning professor, Dr. Harper is an entrepreneur, consultant, seminar leader, and bestselling author. He has written eight books on leadership and entrepreneurship, and more than 70 articles for academic journals and practitioner magazines.

While working diligently to inspire and educate his students, Dr. Harper significantly shaped the fabric of the Cameron School of Business and established a number of programs, student experiences, and even discipline-specific majors. Some of his most notable initiatives include establishing a marketing major and an entrepreneurship and business development major, launching the M.B.A.. program, assisting with the establishment of UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, providing integral support for the creation of Business Week, and establishing Entrepreneurship Week. 

Every effort has been for the benefit of his students, improving the student experience both inside and outside of his classroom. Through the establishment of exceptional student experiences like Entrepreneurship Week, Dr. Harper has been able to stay true to his primary goal.

"My job has always been to focus on the application of the relevant, rather than the investigation of the obscure," he said. His work has often allowed students to interact with experienced business professionals, and Dr. Harper has provided unique opportunities and exposure to things many students rarely encounter.

Recent grad Camden Weis feels sure that his career path would have looked quite different if it weren’t for Dr. Harper.

"Without Steve, I may not have come to UNCW to pursue a degree in entrepreneurship, and I definitely wouldn’t have been introduced to a Fortune 500 CEO who is now also one of my closest mentors and friends. I may never have been given the opportunity of a lifetime to be on the founding team of TekMountain at such a young age. He has shaped Wilmington’s entrepreneurial landscape, and I believe he has served as the catalyst that not only UNCW needed, but that Wilmington as a whole needed to become a key tech player on the East Coast," Weis said. "One of the best traits that Steve has is his ability to see the need for change, and how to start to make it happen. He has touched countless people and I am so humbled that he took me under his wing."

Dean Burrus believes Dr. Harper has not only accomplished much for Cameron, but he also recognizes his meaningful reason for doing so.

"Steve’s dedication to his students was at the very heart of all the incredible feats he accomplished for the Cameron School," he said.

Upon Dr. Harper’s "graduation" there will be a noticeable void in the Cameron School of Business. His profound impact has been felt by many and the lessons he taught his students are ones that they will continue to reference and value for years to come. Remarkably, students from his early years at UNCW still keep in touch and look to Dr. Harper for advice and encouragement. 

Cameron graduate and Cameron Outstanding Alumni honoree, Becky Parker O’Daniell, continues to seek guidance from Dr. Harper when contemplating new business decisions.

"When I was in school, Dr. Harper taught me so much about the possibilities entrepreneurship could offer,” O’Daniell said. “He actually taught students about the real world and brought in real-life business leaders who shared their successes and failures. Years after graduation, he is still so patient to listen and help guide me to better decision making by asking me the hard questions. Thirty years later, and I am so thankful for the friendship we have."

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Casey Beal and Martha AndrewsMaking Connections that Count

As a college freshman, it is easy to believe that you have to know exactly what you want to do with your life when you begin your academic career. However, it is often the newfound experiences and relationships formed during this time that provide a clearer picture and some perspective about the future.

Upon reflection, December 2017 CSB graduate Casey Beal recognizes that this was certainly true of the path she took during her time at UNCW. Casey initially planned to study entrepreneurship at NC State, but after only one semester she decided to transfer to UNCW. She said she was drawn to the Cameron School of Business partially because of her older sister who had previously graduated from UNCW, and also because of her entrepreneurial interests and Cameron’s reputation in this area.

During her first semester in Cameron, Casey was given the opportunity to explore some of the other concentrations offered when she took her first business essentials course. Through conversations with some of her instructors, she discovered that a career in human resources piqued her interest. Her decision to switch gears and concentrate in human resource management was solidified after she took an introductory HR course. With her new career aspirations in view, Casey took full advantage of all that Cameron had to offer. Casey excelled in her coursework, joined the Tau Sigma National Honors Society, and was an active mentee in the Cameron Executive Network. Casey’s mentor stressed to her the importance of networking and participating in an internship. 

Casey learned from a professor that there might be a human resources internship opportunity at Wilmington Health. The specific position was posted by Cameron’s Director of Work Practice, Teresa Walker, who regularly provides students with internship and job leads as well as guidance on the application process. Casey pursued the lead and made the connections necessary to secure the internship. She further leveraged connections with alums and classmates to help her with full-time job prospects, as well.

In 2016, Casey attended a session presented by a Cameron alum and current employee of Vanguard. During the session, she learned more about the organization set her sights on Vanguard for her post-graduation career. Casey connected with the presenter on LinkedIn, and her mentor also encouraged her to reach out via LinkedIn to other UNCW alums working at Vanguard. It was through these multiple connections that Casey felt sure about where she wanted to work, and learned more about what to expect as she prepared to interview for a highly competitive position. 

Casey’s dedication to her education was acknowledged by the CSB earlier this month when she was recognized as the Human Resource Management Outstanding Graduate. In 2018, she will begin her new position with Vanguard as a client relationship specialist.

Cameron’s graduates are clearly deserving of and well-prepared for competitive positions such as these. Casey is confident that CSB is part of the reason why she was able to graduate with such a wonderful career opportunity, and she feels that she has been more than adequately prepared for what lies ahead.

"The unique experiences and connections I've made through Cameron have afforded me opportunities I never thought possible," she said.

Is your organization interested in hiring Cameron students for internships or full-time positions? Please contact Teresa Walker, Director of Work Practice, at to learn more.

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Students in the Cameron Executive NetworkThe Cameron Executive Network Celebrates Fifteen Years of Mentoring

In the spring of 2002, a small committee of individuals invested in the education of Cameron’s students and started something truly special that has since blossomed into something extraordinary.

Building on an idea that originated in 1999, Skip Jones and Dick Verrone, Cameron School of Business Executives-in-Residence and instructors, along with a handful of area business professionals and a few CSB faculty members, recognized that CSB students were in need of professional council to better facilitate the transition from academia to the world of work. To meet that need, they founded the Cameron Executive Network. Having recently retired from business careers, Jones and Verrone knew Wilmington had a wealth of excellent professional resources. 

Initially, the program was intended to be fairly small, comprised primarily of retired business professionals in the area. To quote from a 1999 email from the committee:

"We envision a retired executive program that will attempt to tap the talents and resources of the substantial retired executives in the Wilmington area. It will be limited to 15-20 selected executives, as yet unidentified, to serve as an advisory group working directly with students and faculty. The initial executives group would undertake such activities as guest lecturers, career advisors, one-on-one mentors, comprise a speakers’ bureau, teaching in classrooms, fundraising, internships and advisors to student organizations."

Dick Verrone and Skip Jones served as the program’s first co-directors. They created the initial framework of CEN, assisted by three original executive members, Spencer Everett, Neal Curry and Steve Michael. These original members and about a dozen students formed the first class of CEN in 2002. Fifteen years later, the network has grown to nearly 250 experienced business executives, both active and retired, and these executives have collectively mentored approximately 3,000 CSB students to-date.

Over the years, a number of talented executives have served as program co-directors, putting their stamp on the organization and growing the program into what Cameron students experience today. These individuals include Bruce Gibson, Charles Schaefer, Allen Patrick, and Bob Pious. The network today is an integral part of the Cameron School. Approximately 25 percent of students admitted into the CSB are CEN mentees. The program offers students access to experienced business executives who assess strengths, help develop professional and personal skills as team players and leaders, coach students in interviewing and networking, evaluate resumes, and guide in mapping out a job search and career plan.

CSB senior John Owens believes he has been given a great advantage through his involvement in the program and often encourages his peers to consider participation.

"Joining the CEN program was one of the most valuable decisions I have made during my college career," he said. "My mentor has given me a wealth of knowledge that far surpasses anything that I've learned in any single course. I truly would not be the person that I am today without my mentor and this program."

CEN mentors have an incredible opportunity to pass on insights and leadership skills to the next generation, and the advice they offer can guide students toward making informed decisions as they enter the business world. Many of these relationships continue long after graduation, and former students often update mentors on their successes and reach out for additional guidance from a now-trusted mentor and friend.

Kathy Behr, CEN mentor of four years, certainly sees these mutual benefits.

"The impact of being a CEN mentor is that it is a two-way learning process. As a mentor, you are giving a gift but getting an even bigger gift back from the mentee," she said. "It is a privilege to enter into a relationship based on trust and honest exchange of information, and to uncover the student’s interests, background, key gifts and skillsets to help these mentees position themselves in the job market to land spot-on to their ideal career match. To me, this is the most important goal of CEN – coaching the mentee to self-discovery of their key gifts and breathing life into their quest for a fulfilling and successful career match. I found the ideal place to be, and made some wonderful new relationships along the way."

Verrone is still instructing CSB students today and has been able to witness the expansion of CEN closely over the years. Having been a part of the program’s origins and vision, he has been astounded by the overwhelming growth and impact CEN has had on Cameron’s students.

"The Cameron Executive Network mentoring program has exceeded our wildest dreams of what we had envisioned it could become, thanks to the full support of the CSB deans, faculty, staff, executives and most of all the CSB students," he said. "It is my hope that the program will continue to thrive and that countless future students will benefit from these mentors."

To learn more about the Cameron Executive Network, please visit or contact Sara Kesler at  

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EMBA students January 2017Which Graduate Program is Right for You?

Business skills and knowledge can apply to countless opportunities, and obtaining a master’s degree can lead to several career paths within or beyond the business world. If you’re considering a graduate degree in business, you should know what you want to do with the degree and you should ask yourself why. Perhaps it is to:

  • Move up within your current company and climb the corporate ladder;
  • Interact and build a network with local businesses;
  • Take your career in a new direction;
  • Build your professional network;
  • Start or improve upon your own business; or
  • Improve analytical and communication skills.

UNCW’s Cameron School of Business provides many options to help strengthen your skillset and business acumen. We are pleased to offer face-to-face programs on a full-time and part-time basis as well as hybrid and completely online options.

So which program is right for you?

If you want to equip yourself with a broad skillset and knowledge of multiple aspects of business, an M.B.A.. may be a great option. At UNCW, we offer four versions of the MBA.

If you are hoping to grow professionally while at your current position and without having to relocate, take advantage of the convenience of the Online M.B.A. You can fit learning into your schedule without sacrificing your income or current position.

The Executive M.B.A. combines primarily online learning with three face-to-face residencies. The residencies, two on campus and one abroad, allow leaders to gain the soft skills needed to become an effective manager. This program is for those looking to achieve a higher level of responsibility in their firms without having to relocate or leave their current employer. This is a full time 21 month program.

If you prefer a combination of both face-to-face instruction and online coursework, a part-time hybrid program like our Professional M.B.A. may be the perfect fit for you. It offers the flexibility of meeting one evening a week but allows you to complete some of the work online. You will enjoy small class sizes and a real-world experience consulting project for a local business.

Our International M.B.A. is a part of the International Business School Alliance Dual Master’s Degree Program, and is an excellent choice for the adventurous. Travel to one of our five partner universities located in destinations including Spain, Russia, France, Germany, or the UK. Earn two degrees in one year through this full time, face to face program with one semester spent intensively studying marketing, finance, and strategy at UNCW, and a another semester abroad at a partner university for your second master’s degree.

If you are looking to obtain your CPA, then the Masters of Science in Accountancy is the program for you. Our program has a high placement rate and CPA exam pass rate. You can prepare for a career in tax, assurance, or systems advisory.

Launch your career in an exciting technological field with a Masters of Science in Computer Science and Information Systems. Become an expert in high-demand fields like mobile development or information security.

More and more, businesses are using advanced data analytics to make important decisions, so jobs in this field are skyrocketing. The Masters of Science in Business Analytics program is offered full or part-time and is delivered completely online. This program of ten courses is tailored to the working professional who wishes to develop a competitive advantage through the use of cutting-edge analytics techniques and tools.

If you are looking to take a deep dive specifically into finance and investments, the Masters of Science in Finance & Investment Management will offer you the opportunity to gain a specialized finance graduate degree as well as the opportunity to prepare for the CFA exams. Designed for the working professional, the program is fully online and can be completed in one calendar year or can be completed at a pace that allows you to balance work, home and school responsibilities. This new and unique degree offering delivers a traditional M.S. Finance degree that is aligned with the CFA candidate body of knowledge.

Graduates from any of the programs offered within the Cameron School of Business can expect a high-quality yet affordable education that will equip you with the tools to further your career. If you would like to learn more about the graduate programs offered at the Cameron School of Business, please visit or contact Candace Wilhelm at

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