Written by Mike Zimmerman
If Lehigh’s College of Business is anything, it is opportunity. These five standout students define that standard, coming in as the typical reluctant freshmen and within a few short semesters evolving into bona fide campus leaders with chrome-bright futures. Their evolution comes from that magical combination of experiential learning, managing teams and prominent campus organizations, and maximizing opportunities to put their boots on the ground learning within the U.S. and abroad. They represent what Lehigh Business can bring out in any student.
Junior and Birmingham, Alabama native Helen Tynes ‘22 is in the Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) program majoring in mechanical engineering and economics and also has the typical stuffed resume of the ambitious Lehigh student: an admissions tour guide, a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, a 2021 recipient of the Bond Memorial Prize, and last but not possibly least, president of the Beekeeping Club.
But more importantly, Tynes brings a fresh and future-driven perspective as a woman dedicating her life to the STEM field, looking to leverage her combined science and economic education to pursue green technology. “I can pursue that in a mechanical engineering capacity while also understanding the economics that will be driving the industry,” she says.
Tynes will also be putting her hands-on research chops to the test when she travels with 11 other students to Alaska as part of the Martindale Student Associates Honors Program. The goal: Two weeks observing a resource extraction economy first-hand. “Normally we might go abroad, but with COVID it made more sense to stay within the U.S. But Alaska is a great choice for research as it’s very different than most states.”
With few women entering STEM fields, Tynes relishes the learning experience (“I’m not intimidated by a classroom full of men,” she says with a smile) and the opportunities she’s found at Lehigh. “The school has really given me a more focused perspective on everything. Lehigh is really good at classwork as the foundation of a much larger education.”
You may one day find Nick Zouras ‘22, a junior finance major, helping to manage your investment portfolio. He joined the Investment Management Group as a freshman and is now the president. For the uninitiated, the IMG uses the finance education and background of its students to actively manage a small portion of Lehigh’s endowment money in a $100,000+ stock portfolio. So real money is on the line. “We really learn the core concepts of portfolio diversification,” he says. “We also have to figure out how to effectively pitch a security.”
That’s the real fun and challenge of it, as students can’t simply throw out a suggestion like Apple just because the latest iPhone camera is awesome. An eight-student executive board oversees all pitches and digs deeper into investment decisions. The club measures its performance against the Russell 1000 index, so these burgeoning money managers have to beat the broad market to be successful.
One recent example of the depth of research required: Zouras took a hard look at JP Morgan and Bank of America, which are required to set aside money for loan losses in bad times. “We didn’t think the pandemic would be as bad for business as everyone thought and those funds for loan losses would flow through to earnings,” he says. Sure enough, “those banks have recorded higher earnings and the loan losses weren’t as bad.”
Sophomore Trevor Ballingall ‘23 is the perfect example of the Lehigh student who evolved into leadership positions in diverse areas. He joined the International Business Club and is now president, learning along the way how to guide a program through a pandemic. The Club’s mission is to introduce College of Business students to global affairs and their relationship to the business world – as well as offering Lehigh Business students step-by-step guidance and resources for studying abroad in places like Singapore, Prague, and Belgium. “Our approach is helping students to make the world their campus,” he says.
The problem? This past year prevented in-person events and crushed the attendance of events they were able to schedule. The solution? Ballingall and the club created a series of videos of conversations with experts in different countries and posted them to a YouTube channel. The response was positive. “We really learned about the importance of strategic agility and learning on the fly,” he says.
In a completely different realm, Ballingall is also now a lead fellow in the Technology, Research, and Communication (TRAC) Writing Program, conferencing with students on writing process and managing 25 other TRAC fellows. “TRAC fosters a collaborative learning experience that enables students to develop valuable mentorship skills. The program really has transformed my Lehigh experience.”
Junior Michael Tahiru ’22 has accomplished more than most in his time at Lehigh. The double major in finance and African Studies is also a starting midfielder on Lehigh’s men’s soccer team and a key part of the championship team his sophomore year.
He also founded and is president of the Lehigh Africa Business Club, an all-inclusive organization that provides a platform for networking and professional development for members of the Lehigh community who have a strong interest in the events and investment opportunities related to Africa. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about since my freshman year,” Tahiru says. “A good platform to bring African and non-Africans together to understand economics, which is a common language regardless of background.”
Tahiru wants to create opportunities for investment in his native Ghana now and after he graduates. He even founded a startup finance company in Ghana that will invest in several African businesses. He’ll combine his American experience and connections at Lehigh with his connections back home.
How does he do it all? “This school has given me so much academically and athletically. Finding myself has been very important to me. But aside from leadership opportunities and relationships, the soccer program has taught me the most amazing lesson: Time management.”
Senior Carolyn Taylor ’21, economics and Business Information Systems (BIS) major, has a message for incoming freshmen: You don’t have to have your entire life mapped out on day one. In fact, it’s okay to not have a clue. “I came in undecided,” she says. “But I admit I was also an over motivated student and wanted to try everything. By the end of my freshman year I knew I wanted to do econ and BIS.”
She loves BIS so much that she’s now president of the Business Information Systems Club, which represents the college’s Business Information Systems majors and minors. The club schedules guest speakers, networking opportunities, resume workshops and other events to promote internship/job opportunities.
“Our biggest job is promoting awareness of the BIS major because that’s one major people come into school not knowing much about, like I did,” she says. “We make sure business students understand career opportunities and how to take better advantage of their education.”
The BIS club has taken day trips to visit companies, such as Google in New York City, to show students how corporate America can use specific BIS talents in the future. And Taylor knows how fortunate she is to have those resources. “Lehigh has helped build me as a leader and expanded my academic and social circle,” she says. “Basically I’ve had opportunities here that most people don’t get to have.”