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Danielle Derkink (MBA ’05) commits to inclusivity, advocacy

Danielle Derkink (MBA ’05) is an enthusiast, whether she’s talking about her extensive experience in hospitality, being an advocate for women and diversity in the workplace, or creating awareness about childhood arthritis.

The daughter of Dutch immigrants, Derkink fell in love with hospitality at a young age through a family friend who was a live-in general manager at a hotel in Houston. She remembers learning about a new area of hospitality each time she visited her friends. She was curious and intrigued by the way a hotel functioned. Forgoing her initial childhood dream of being a female fighter pilot, Derkink embraced the excitement of a hotel management career instead and followed her passion to the Netherlands, where she received her Bachelors of Hospitality Administration at The Hotelschool The Hague.

Moving back to the United States to begin her career in hospitality, Derkink quickly began moving up the ranks as her career aspirations continued to grow. It was at this time she decided to pursue her Masters of Business Administration at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. Upon completing her degree, she took a promotion to Washington, D.C. and served as a hospitality ambassador for the Terry MBA program in the city.

After a career opportunity in Tampa, FL and the birth of her first child, Elle, Danielle made the move to back to Atlanta and to IHG, a company that has allowed her to live out her other passions – philanthropy and advocacy for women and inclusivity in the workplace.  When Elle was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In search of a support network, Derkink began volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation’s Georgia Chapter, of which she is now acting co-chair of the juvenile arthritis committee. Derkink has partnered with other organizations including the University of Georgia’s Alpha Omicron Pi to raise awareness about the disorder. Each year the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation and the sorority team up to put on the annual 5K “Run for the Roses” as a fundraiser.

Danielle (far right) at a Lean In event with Sheryl Sandberg (second from left) and other Atlanta-based Lean In leaders, Emily Schwarz and Alison Eminger.

Danielle (far right) at a Lean In event with Sheryl Sandberg (second from left) and other Atlanta-based Lean In leaders, Emily Schwarz and Alison Eminger.

IHG has provided Derkink a platform to demonstrate her commitment to women and inclusion in the workplace. For the fifth straight year, IHG has received a perfect score by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). At IHG headquarters, Derkink has led the Women’s Lean In Group, inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s book. Derkink also actively attends IHG’s representation at the Atlanta Pride Parade annually, bringing her two daughters—and this past year, her mother too—to encourage them to be their authentic self.

In addition to her philanthropy and advocacy, Derkink has engaged with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ newest major Hospitality and Food Industry Management. IHG will sit on the board of the new major, helping to guide curriculum and support students. The University of Georgia is grateful to alumni, like Danielle Derkink, who are making an impact in their workplace and reconnecting with the university.

Q&A With Aaron Luque (MBA ’16)

Aaron Luque (MBA ’16) is the CEO of EnviroSpark Energy Solutions, a company that specializes in the design and installation of electric vehicle charging station solutions. EnviroSpark was honored as a 2019 Bulldog 100 company, and Aaron is visiting campus this week to speak to entrepreneurship and sustainability classes, field questions from students and share his experience in both areas. We spoke with Aaron to learn a little bit more about him, his work, his UGA experience and how those three things intersect.

What made you want to start your own business? And why this particular business?

My work experience had previously always been in what would be considered a “big corporate” environment, complete with inefficiencies and red tape that would make it very difficult for me to best serve my clients. At the end of the day, I just wanted the freedom to be flexible and creative, and “best-fit” solutions for my clients. I wanted to recognize the uniqueness of each and every client and prospect, let them know they were special, and provide services with their needs in mind.

As cheesy as it sounds, I really did choose the sustainability sector out of an innate desire to leave the world a better place for future generations of humans and for life in general. Selling something you believe in is extremely fulfilling and comes easily and naturally, whereas selling something in which you don’t believe is difficult and unsatisfying.

You earned your MBA from UGA in 2016. Why did you choose to pursue that degree, and what impact has it had on your professional path?

Both of my companies had grown to a point where I needed to be thinking about business strategy and finance on deeper levels, and as a result I chose to enroll in the Executive MBA program. As an entrepreneur for the last 12 years, with no aspirations of working for anyone else anytime soon, the program has probably benefited me in different ways than it would for, say, someone who was simply looking to move up the corporate ladder. On a personal level, I’d have to say I personally got the most value from the finance and economic-related portions of the program, and the knowledge gained in those areas has significantly enhanced my ability to run my businesses.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The knowledge that my efforts and those of the teams I have built are having a major impact on the adoption rate and transition towards electric vehicles. EnviroSpark, a company self-funded and organically-grown, is directly responsible for the design and installation of over 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States and Canada. I cannot count the number of times one of my clients has called me up and told me they couldn’t believe how many people went out and purchased electric cars after we completed an installation at their office, hotel, apartment, condo, convenience store, etc. Knowing that we reached out to these locations, educated them about electric vehicles, designed a charging solution for them, implemented that solution, and then seeing the end result of increased electric vehicle ownership is extremely rewarding.

You’ve said that you’re passionate about sustainability. What do you see as your role—personally, professionally, or both—in creating a more sustainable society?

When I was first considering getting into the electric vehicle space I was thinking to myself “electric vehicles are amazing, why do more people not drive them?” After some research, it became very apparent there were two main reasons for this:

  1. Awareness – People simply didn’t know all the benefits of owning an electric car (I could go on for days on this topic).
  2. Range Anxiety – People were scared they would get stuck somewhere due to a lack of infrastructure (and rightfully so).

With that in mind l founded EnviroSpark with two primary goals:

  1. Learn as much as possible about all of the benefits of electric vehicle ownership and share this with as many people as possible
  2. Design and construct as many charging sites as possible. My hope was that every time someone saw one of our charging stations, they would be a little more comfortable with the idea of switching to an electric car.

If you could give one piece of advice to students, what would it be?

Whatever you do for a living, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Work is too much time of your life to be spent doing something you don’t love, and I’d venture to say it’s impossible for your overall quality of life not to be directly influenced by the level of satisfaction you have for your career.

 

Talking Nature Photography Day with Eric Bowles (BBA ’79)

UGA alumni can be found doing amazing things all over the world, so we were delighted to find Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) on the board of directors for the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), which established Nature Photography Day (June 15)A professional photographer specializing in the Southeast United States, Eric’s work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and commercial publications.  

Why did NANPA create Nature Photography Day?  

Nature Photography Day was created by NANPA to enhance awareness of the power of nature photography in telling important stories. June 15 would be a time to invite family and friends outside and to learn about the natural sights and places in their neighborhoods. Why not look to local scenes, where you can see and appreciate nature even in your own backyard? 

What are some of your favorite places to photograph nature? 

The diversity of nature in the United States is quite amazing. We’re very lucky to have so many places to go to see and photograph nature. One of the best known parks is Yellowstone National Park. The geysers are the icons of the area – and Old Faithful is the most famous.  

Yellowstone National Park

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

Closer to home, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite places to visit. Wildlife thrives in the Okefenokee – alligators, snakes, and a tremendous variety of birds. But what people don’t think about are all the beautiful wildflowers that are found in the Okefenokee. 

Alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

How has being a UGA graduate influenced your career? 

My undergraduate degree is in finance, and I spent more than 20 years in banking with what is now Bank of America. The foundation I received in business and finance has helped me with roles on boards and leadership roles throughout my career.  

UGA also has a tremendous research program, and photographs are part of many research initiatives. I’ve photographed several research projects through UGA.  One project involved counting and photographing birds at the edge of the Gulf stream to document migration. Sometime you get the unexpected – such as a sea turtle that decided a scientific instrument was a toy – resulting in the measuring equipment being many miles off course. 

What’s the story behind one of your photos? 

One of my favorite photos was made in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This particular photo idea started with just a small plant on a mossy rock. I returned to the area at least a half dozen times over the next four weeks working on compositions and watching the plant begin to bloom. We had just enough rain for the stream to rise and create just the shot I wanted, but it continued to rain every day over the next week and the water continued to rise.  By the end of the week, a torrent of water was flowing rapidly through the quiet stream and the blossoms were gone.  

Waterfall in the Smokies

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

What’s your best tip for a Bulldog looking to get into nature photography?

Photography in general requires some degree of specialization. If you choose what you love and are truly passionate about your photography, you can build a successful career. It’s not just about making good photographs–that’s a given. It’s about spending the time and effort to find projects and work that you truly enjoyYou may not be ready to specialize right away, so it’s fine to explore different areas. Take a look at all the places you see still photography and short videos to get an idea of the opportunities available.  

 

UGA names business school building for Doug Ivester

Doug and Kay Ivester at UGA's 2014 Alumni Awards Ceremony.

Doug and Kay Ivester at UGA’s 2014 Alumni Awards Luncheon.

This was written by Ed Morales and originally posted on November 29, 2018, on UGA Today.

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The final building to become part of the Business Learning Community at the University of Georgia will be named for M. Douglas “Doug” Ivester of Atlanta.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved naming the sixth building at the new home of UGA’s Terry College of Business in November. A large auditorium inside the new building also will bear Ivester’s name, all in recognition of his longstanding support of UGA, which includes a $7 million gift to the Terry College of Business.

“Doug Ivester’s outstanding generosity leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “His gift reflects a heartfelt commitment to supporting our students, faculty and staff and will strengthen the learning environment for generations of business students.”

The building and auditorium, to be named M. Douglas Ivester Hall and M. Douglas Ivester Auditorium, are located at the corner of Baxter and Lumpkin streets. The building will house undergraduate classrooms along with staff and administrative offices.

“We are so grateful to Doug for his investment in the college’s future, as well as the time he gives every semester to the Deer Run Fellows Program,” said Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. “We are excited for completion of the final phase of construction in the spring. In these facilities, thousands of Terry students will be educated each year, and virtually every undergraduate will take classes in Ivester Hall. Those students will go on to serve as leaders in their businesses and their communities.”

Ivester graduated from UGA in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and now presides over Deer Run Investments LLC. He was elected chairman of the board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co. in 1997, a company he joined in 1979. In 1981 he became the youngest vice president in the company’s history. Two years later he was named senior vice president of finance, and in 1985 he became chief financial officer at the age of 37. He retired from Coca-Cola in 2000. He began his career at Ernst & Ernst, eventually leading its audit team for The Coca-Cola Co.

Each year, Doug and Kay Ivester host Terry College’s Deer Run Fellows at their 25,000-acre property in Leary, Georgia. In the fellowship program, Terry faculty and staff choose eight students to take a leadership class that centers around a unique weekend immersion experience on leadership and life with select industry experts.

“The University of Georgia is so important to our state and our region, and the university elevates everyone who experiences its passion for learning. My time at UGA was foundational for me. Without the experiences I had at UGA, I don’t think I could have ever joined organizations like Ernst & Young or Coca-Cola. UGA provides students with the skills necessary to chase their dreams. I will forever be grateful to the university and can never adequately express my gratitude,” Ivester said.

Ivester is an emeritus trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation. He is on the board of directors at SunTrust Banks, is a trustee of Brenau University and a director of the Melvin Douglas & Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation. He is a former board chairman of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, an emeritus trustee of Emory University and a former board member of the Woodruff Arts Center. He is a former board member of numerous corporations, including The Coca-Cola Co., S1 Corp., Coca-Cola Enterprises, where he was chairman of the board, as well as a number of community organizations.

Earlier this year, the other Phase III building at the Business Learning Community was named for Sanford and Barbara Orkin of Atlanta. UGA broke ground on Phase III in October 2017 after the dedication of Amos Hall, Benson Hall and Moore-Rooker Hall, which comprise Phase II. Terry College faculty and staff moved into the Phase II buildings in fall 2017. Phase I (Correll Hall) opened in 2015 and was funded entirely by private contributions.

Phase II and III are the result of a public-private partnership between the state of Georgia and hundreds of donors. The Business Learning Community represents one of the largest capital projects in the university system’s history.

The following video was shared during the UGA Alumni Association’s 2014 Alumni Awards Luncheon when Ivester was recognized as an Alumni Merit Award winner. The University of Georgia is grateful for the Ivesters’ continued involvement and generosity.

Brandon Stewart (BBA ’06) dishes on becoming a Jimmy John’s franchisee

Written by Liz Powell (BS ’06, ABJ ’06), a member of the Young Alumni Leadership Council.

Brandon Stewart had big plans of becoming a pilot before starting school at UGA, but after arriving in Athens he decided to become a lawyer instead. However, a critical piece of advice from Earl Leonard, the namesake of the Terry College of Business Leonard Leadership Fellows program, changed everything.

He asked Leonard about his tips for success after law school even though Stewart wasn’t sure he wanted to be a lawyer. Leonard replied, “Brandon, if you don’t want to be a lawyer, for goodness sakes, don’t go to law school.”

From that moment on, Stewart stopped following the path he felt he should take and instead, created his own. That path originally led him to pursue a career in finance, but after several years of working in investment banking and private equity, Stewart determined that he wanted to work more closely with people.

This led him to Jimmy John’s, where he became a franchisee, and opened his first store in Birmingham, Alabama in 2011. Today, he owns 52 Jimmy John’s locations across the Southeast. He credits his success to this mantra: “My employees are the most important part of my business and I will always treat them with respect and fairness.”

Brandon with his wife, Elizabeth, and son, George.

Stewart resides in Birmingham, and when he’s not traveling for work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Elizabeth, and his 2-year old son, George. He also makes time to give back to the local community by volunteering with the Phoenix Club of Birmingham, Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama and Birmingham Zoo.

We caught up with him and asked a few questions about his time at UGA and how he’s making an impact in his community, today.

Favorite class at UGA
“Lessons in Leadership,” taught by Pat Pittard, executive-in-residence at Terry College. He taught me to read the Wall Street Journal every day. He also showed me that I want to, and should, teach to inspire others after retirement.

Most memorable college experience
The first time I walked out of my dorm on football Saturday. I had no idea.

Athens in three words
Southern, nostalgic and easygoing.

The importance of UGA
UGA means so much for me and completely changed my life. I’ve reinvested about every single dollar I have made in my business and employees, but giving back to UGA is on my mind all of the time. I cannot wait for my business to reach a mature point to enable additional giving.

Advice to graduating seniors and recent graduates
Build a network, read often and never stop learning.

UGA names building for Sanford and Barbara Orkin

This article was originally published on UGA Today on February 15, 2018.

Writer: David Dodson, Terry College of Business (ABJ ’89)

Third and final phase of the Business Learning Community will open in 2019

The next building to become part of the University of Georgia Terry College of Business will be named for Sanford and Barbara Orkin of Atlanta.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents has approved naming one of the two buildings currently under construction in the third and final phase of the Business Learning Community for the Orkins in recognition of their longstanding support of UGA, including a $5 million gift to the Terry College of Business.

“Sanford and Barbara Orkin’s tremendous generosity will leave an enduring legacy at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Their latest gift, which will further enhance the learning environment on our campus, demonstrates their unyielding commitment to supporting the endeavors of our students, faculty and staff.”

The building to be named Sanford and Barbara Orkin Hall—located at the corner of Baxter and Hull streets—will include a large auditorium, undergraduate classrooms, a behavioral lab, a computer lab for marketing research, interview suites and faculty and administrative offices.

“Throughout this building campaign and the construction that followed, creating a modern and vibrant learning community for the Terry College of Business has been our primary goal,” said Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. “We are so grateful to the Orkins for their philanthropic investment in the college’s future, and we look forward to opening and dedicating the final two buildings of the Business Learning Community next year.”

Sanford and Barbara Orkin both attended UGA. Drafted into military service while still a student, Sanford Orkin joined his family’s pest control business after returning from the Korean War and served as president. Following the sale of Orkin Pest Control to Rollins Inc. in 1964, he maintained real estate and business interests in Atlanta and volunteered his time and support to UGA in numerous ways, including as a trustee of the UGA Foundation and UGA Real Estate Foundation.

“Barbara and I love the University of Georgia and are so pleased to continue our support of its academic mission to educate future leaders for the state and nation,” Sanford Orkin said.

The Orkins’ most recent gift extends a remarkable legacy of giving to UGA. The couple has endowed a $1 million scholarship fund for low-income students, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar position in the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and supported the School of Law, the College of Education, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the College of Public Health, UGA Athletics and other academic initiatives.

Phase III of the Business Learning Community is currently under construction. Phase II was completed in 2017.

The university broke ground on Phase III construction of the Business Learning Community in October 2017 after the dedication of Amos Hall, Benson Hall and Moore-Rooker Hall. Terry College faculty and staff moved into the Phase II buildings last summer, and classes began this past fall. Phase I (Correll Hall) was funded entirely by private contributions and opened in 2015. Phase II and III are the result of a public-private partnership between the state of Georgia and hundreds of donors. The Business Learning Community represents one of the largest capital projects in the University System’s history.