5 Questions with Joanna Muenks (B.B.A., B.S.A.)

In our 5 Questions series, we will hear from those at the heart of the Bloch School – our faculty, staff, students and friends.

Why did you choose the Bloch School?

Choosing the Bloch School was a “happy accident.” I was attracted to UMKC by the Trustees’ Scholar Program. However, my initial major was Biology. I enjoyed my science classes, but saw the activities and programs going on in the Bloch School and realized that business more closely aligned with my interests. I changed my major to a B.B.A. with a Marketing emphasis, and later added on the Bachelor of Science in Accounting after being encouraged by my Introduction to Accounting professor, Dr. Leigh Salzsieder. I was previously unaware of the opportunities in accounting, and was intrigued by the challenge of the degree.

What are some of your favorite activities you’re involved in on campus, and what are some of the challenges/rewards?

I’m involved in many activities, but my two favorites would have to be the Triathlon Club and the various business competitions. I have a competitive nature and am always up for a challenge. Last year another Bloch School student, Ben Hammes, and I teamed up to compete in the Regnier Institute Roo Idea Jump. Challenges like these allow me to utilize not only my interests and ideas, but also both of my degree programs. We were fortunate enough to come out on top!

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UMKC Alumnus Takes Conversation on Smart Roadways to South by Southwest

Tim Sylvester (B.S.E.C.E. ’12, E-Scholar ’10) is sharing his entrepreneurial idea founded in Kansas City on a national scale. Sylvester founded Integrated Roadways, a company focused on revising infrastructure through their Smart Pavement™ system, which provides durable, precast concrete sections embedded with digital technology and fiber optic connectivity to transform ordinary roads into smart roads.

Recently, Sylvester was a panelist at South by Southwest’s presentation on Designing Infrastructure for Autonomous Cars.


What was it like to be at SXSW presenting your smart roadways solution next to other inventive entrepreneurs?

While this was my third time at SXSW, it was my first time as a panelist. To actually be on a panel for such a hot topic was really incredible. When we set up the panel last year, we knew how emergent the topic of autonomy, especially in regards to smart cities, would be. But over the past year, the conversation regarding autonomy went from “will it or won’t it” to “it will, so how?” The themes combined nicely with our topic, and I couldn’t have asked for better co-panelists who are all experts in their own fields.

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Bloch Galleries Open at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Bloch School benefactor Henry Bloch’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art is on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Bloch School of Management, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City are legacy organizations of the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation in recognition of their lifetime commitment to these organizations.

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An Innovative Incubator

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Bloch Venture Hub provides array of services for start-ups

Kansas City has a new resource for entrepreneurship support services with the opening of the Bloch Venture Hub, a community resource for entrepreneurs at multiple pre-launch stages.

The Bloch Venture Hub is powered by the resources of Country Club Bank and the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

The home of the Bloch Venture Hub at 4328 Madison in Kansas City formerly housed Country Club Bank’s commercial and SBA lending division. The facility features a unique three-story layout that provides entrepreneurs with a place to access resources that can help them at whatever development stage they have reached, leading to launching a venture and refining their concept to achieve success and growth. Entrepreneurs at any stage in the start-up process can enter the Bloch Venture Hub incubator at the appropriate level.

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Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Spotlight: Ollie Gates

He may not have invented Kansas City barbecue, but Ollie Gates is a major reason why it is renowned across the globe.

Gates’ entrepreneurial journey started humbly, by working in his parents’ Ol’ Kentucky Bar-BQ at 19th and Vine. Following college and a stint in the Army, Gates returned home inspired to make his own mark in the barbecue world. He started off with a single Gates Bar-B-Q, but applied the efficiency of his military training to the business, along with a unique commitment to customer service. Gates Bar-B-Q now has six locations, 200 employees and a state of the art training facility known as Rib Tech.

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Brian Klaas, Ph.D., Named Dean of Henry W. Bloch School of Management

Currently Senior Associate Dean for Research and Academics and Professor of Management at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina

Brian Klaas, Ph.D., has been appointed Dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Klaas is currently Senior Associate Dean for Research and Academics and Director of the Riegel & Emory Human Resource Center at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, one of the top 75 graduate business schools in the country as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Klaas is also a Professor of Management and previously served as Chair of the Department of Management and Faculty Director for the Master of Human Resource program. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Klaas’s appointment was announced this week by Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at UMKC. He will begin his duties at the Bloch School on July 1.

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Bloch Student Wins Online Portfolio Competition

Pavithra Paravastu (B.B.A.) used her Bloch-acquired skills to win a national portfolio competition. From October 10, 2016 through January 27, 2017, Paravastu participated in the Women’s Investment Competition, an online virtual stock simulation. Throughout the course of the competition, she competed against approximately 100 graduate and undergraduate students nationwide, including students from MIT, University of Southern California and Carnegie Mellon University.

Upon the assessment’s completion, the results showed Paravastu’s simulation to have both the highest rate of return and highest information ratio, giving her a first place finish in both categories. Furthermore, she beat the overall market by 5% over the course of the competition.

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Alumni Spotlight: Patti McKenna (MBA ’07)

Patti McKenna (MBA ’07), COO, and Executive Director, ChopChopKids inc.

Getting kids into the kitchen

How do you teach kids to eat well? You let them get their hands dirty, says Patti McKenna (MBA ‘07).

McKenna is the executive director and COO of ChopChop Kids Inc., a nonprofit organization in Belmont, Mass., that inspires kids and their families to cook together.

“Our goal is to get kids back into the kitchen,” McKenna says.

McKenna got her start in the nonprofit sector in Kansas City. When she first moved to the area, McKenna volunteered for the Trolley Run. After serving as chair of the event, she decided that the nonprofit sector was where she wanted to be.

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High School Students Build Ideas at Camp Enterprise

Camp Enterprise students celebrate their winning idea

On Saturday, March 4, the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, along with the Rotary Club of Kansas City and the UMKC Office of Financial Literacy, sponsored Camp Enterprise for the second consecutive year. Camp Enterprise is a one-day competition allowing high school students to interact, brainstorm and develop new business ideas in entrepreneurial Kansas City.

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Honoring Role Models

2017 honorees include from left: Kate Spade, Tom McDonnell, Annie Hurlbut Zander and Ollie Gates. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Four new members inducted into Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Four of Kansas City’s most exemplary entrepreneurs were welcomed into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at a gala celebration March 3 at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

Designer Kate Spade, restaurateur Ollie Gates, clothier Annie Hurlbut Zander and longtime DST Systems CEO Tom McDonnell make up the second class of honorees. They join an illustrious group of Kansas City icons such as Henry W. Bloch, Ewing Kauffman and Lamar Hunt as inspirations whose stories are intended to ignite the passions and imaginations of the next generation of Kansas City entrepreneurs.

David Brain, another of the hall’s inaugural inductees, presided over the induction ceremony.

“It says a lot about this community, that we not only can create a hall of fame like this, but that we continue to produce the kind of outstanding people whose accomplishments earn them a place in it,” said Brain, co-founder of Sustainable Development Partners Kansas City, one of the world’s largest coworking facilities. “This is Kansas City at its best, and Kansas City’s university is the proper home for it.”

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