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 (pictured above) 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
“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 Centerfor Strategy, Execution and Valuation (SEV), which is directed by MarkFrigo, professor of accountancy at DePaul.
In addition to the talk on global tax practices, Graziano
the GAAPs,” a recently revised case study he authored with Gwen Wu,
assistant professor 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.”
more about the DePaul MBA.