A recent Wall Street Journal article informed the world of something DePaul University MBA candidate Ryan Lombard already knew. The Internal Revenue Service announced new tax rules to crackdown on companies practicing inversion — a tactic corporations employ to use their international residency to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Lombard isn't an oracle. He just listened when Ronald Graziano (MBA '06), global accounting specialist for Credit Suisse Securities, discussed the possibility of the IRS changing the rules on inversions during an MBA capstone class at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.
In just 30 minutes, Graziano brought Lombard and his fellow MBA candidates up to speed on inversions, a corporate accounting phenomenon affecting billions of dollars worldwide, by sharing information gleaned from his job as a director with Credit Suisse, one of the world's leading financial services providers.
"What we learn is so practical," says Lombard, who is studying for an MBA with concentrations in strategy, execution and valuation and entrepreneurship. "We can read our books, we can go on the Internet, but it's cool to hear people like Ron because he went through this same program. We can see what you can actually take from this MBA program and what you can end up doing with it."
Bringing Textbook Material to Life
Graziano's presentation was part of a series of guest lectures by alumni, Chicago-based CEOs and other c-suite executives. Called clinical instructors, these executives are brought to DePaul's business school through the Center for Strategy, Execution and Valuation (SEV), which is directed by Mark Frigo, professor of accountancy at DePaul.
In addition to the talk on global tax practices, Graziano presented "Bridging the GAAPs," of business administration at Harvard Business School. A few weeks after he delivered the lecture in the DePaul MBA capstone course led by Frigo, Graziano presented the case to students at Harvard Business School.
Considered a global tax expert, Graziano has published several research papers used in business schools around the world. But he says he loves presenting his work at DePaul because he enjoys returning to his alma mater to share his knowledge. Graziano was an MBA student when the SEV was in its infancy, and he loves seeing it flourish.
Some MBA programs can put too much emphasis on just learning technical knowledge, Graziano says, but that’s not the case at DePaul. "SEV classes make the information practical and applicable."
Return of the Alumni
In addition to Graziano's talk, the capstone course featured a lecture in SEV 611 by Russ Gottesman (MBA '11), founder and CEO of Dayton-based Commuter Advertising. Just a year into his MBA program at DePaul, Gottesman won a university business plan competition and began his startup. He moved to Dayton, where he landed his first contract. Yet, he commuted up to 600 miles round trip to attend classes and finish his DePaul MBA. Gottesman is quick to point out that everything he learned in his MBA classes at DePaul he applied immediately to his startup.
"I had a dual concentration, entrepreneurship and SEV," Gottesman says. "The material I learned in my entrepreneurship courses was invaluable in helping me to get my company from point A to point B. But my SEV courses — finance, accounting, etc. — took my company from point B to point C. They teach you how to read financial statements and understand balance sheets and cash flow statements."
Gottesman says his company would still be a flicker of an idea if it weren't for DePaul. In fact, DePaul alumni and students were among his first investors.
"A lot of graduate schools feature returning alumni for courses," says Gottesman, "but the DePaul difference is that very successful graduates not only care about sharing their experiences but they genuinely want to see the growth and development of students that they speak to, and they want to be a part of that growth."
For his part, Lombard says the capstone lecture series is just more of what he's come to love about studying at DePaul.
"It's hands-on learning," Lombard says. "We've had guest lectures from executives from McDonald's, Fed Ex… you get to talk to people who have been really successful and I learn more with them than I would learn reading any textbook."
Learn more about the DePaul MBA.