FHSS Alumnus to Serve as Dean of the Marriott School of Business

FHSS alumni have the potential to lead the world in many positions—including as the dean of the Marriott School of Business.

BYU Economics alumnus Brigitte C. Madrian was recently named as the ninth (and first female) dean of the Marriott School of Business. On January 1, 2019 she will begin her five-year term as dean over the Marriott School’s four graduate programs, ten undergraduate programs and approximately 3,300 students. Madrian is currently the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management and chair of the Markets, Business and Government Area in the Harvard Kennedy School.

Brigitte at big tableMadrian comes to this position with a myriad of experience and expertise. Through her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from BYU and her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Madrian is an expert on behavioral economics and household finance. She has a specific focus on household saving and investment behavior, of which she spoke on in her 2016 FHSS Alumni Achievement Lecture. The work she has done in this field has changed the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation around the world. Madrian is also engaged in research on health and uses behavioral economics as a way to understand health behaviors and to improve health outcomes.

Because of her work and service, Madrian received the Retirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and is a three-time recipient of the TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011 and 2017). In addition to this, she serves as the co-director of the Household Finance working group at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Madrian is also a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Board of Governors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Academic Research Council, as well as other advisory boards.

BYU Academic Vice President James R. Rasband remarks in an article that current Marriot School of Business Dean Lee T. Perry has left a “long record of setting aside his own passion for teaching and research to instead focus on providing opportunities for his colleagues and for our students.” Madrian will no doubt add to this legacy of service and learning with her own unique perspective and experience.

Happily Ever After: Alumni Advice on Finding Personal Post-Mission Happiness

Courtesy of More Good Foundation

Serving a mission is a life-changing experience, but when missionaries come home, their lives tend to lose structure. Schedules change quickly, languages and lifestyles are different, and no post-missionary handbook exists to tell these young adults what their new identity and purpose should be. BYU Psychology Alumni Andrew Proctor became distinctly aware of these trials when he posted a satirical article titled Unmarried Returned Missionaries: New Option to Apply for Second Full-time Mission” on ldsmissionaries.com as an April Fools joke in 2015. The article quickly went viral among the LDS online community, generating over 600,000 organic impressions on the website’s Facebook page and eliciting numerous personal responses. While some individuals were live your mission coverupset that the issue was a joke, Proctor also received a number of emails from hopeful RMs who wished that this joke was a reality.

For him, the response was an indication that “there [were] tens of thousands of returned missionaries who [hadn’t] yet figured out their purpose after their mission.” He reasoned that it was because they  hadn’t learned how to separate their role from their identity. Proctor has since written a book to help return missionaries find purpose, identity, and their “unique life mission after [their] full-time mission,” and provides this advice:

Embrace who you are without the name tag

“The most important thing that a returned missionary can do when they get home is solidify their identity,” shared Proctor. Return missionaries are bombarded with questions about their future education, job, and marriage, but are these questions about the future justified when the RM has not solidified who they are in the present? “Marriage is important, but even the most hard working, intelligent, righteous, and effective missionaries can have very strained marriages if they don’t figure out who they are after the tag comes off.” This is a key point made in the first chapter of Proctor’s book  Live Your Mission: 21 Powerful Principles to Discover your Life Mission After Your Mission.

He said that after his own mission in Chile, he struggled with transitioning and accepting who he had become, but that when he did, “it made all the difference. One of the keys to determining your life mission is being comfortable with the new you. If you came home confused about who you were, you aren’t the only one…going through an identity transition requires real effort. No effort spent on solidifying your identity is wasted. Figure out who you are. Everything else will follow naturally.”

Combat loneliness by making yourself known

pexels-photo-247195“One of the greatest killers of happiness is loneliness” said Proctor. The challenge with combating loneliness, however, is that it can find you both when you’re alone and when you’re walking around campus with thousands of other students. Proctor believes this occurs because “it is more about being known than is it about proximity to other humans. I believe that to be known we must be willing to reveal ourselves to others.”

In order to share your identity with others, you must first acknowledge and accept it yourself. Turn the compassion you showed to others on your mission towards yourself, embrace who you are, share yourself with others, and then, let God take care of the rest.

 

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Proctor at the World Congress of Positive Psychology

Since leaving BYU after he got his psychology degree, Andrew Proctor has delved into the social science of human flourishing. Taking his further education into his own hands, Proctor continues to learn about positive psychology by teaching others. He has done multiple podcasts and was recently featured in the Mindfulness and Motivation section of the podcast app Anchor.fm. He was also part of a paper that was published in the journal Mindfulness and was able to present this research in Montreal at the 5th World Congress of Positive Psychology in July 2017. Proctor continues to learn, teach, and reach out to those around him by sharing positive quotes and science-backed happiness facts on his Instagram page. He also just launched the beta version of his course on “finding more happiness by increasing positive emotion.” The course is based on the PERMA (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement) theory of well-being and is the first of five courses that will become available over the next several years.

When You Can Ignore Your Kids, According to Positive Parenting Expert Denise Barney

This post is nineteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Bette Davis once said: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” Parenting is hard! In a recent lecture to the alumni of the School of Family Life, Family Studies graduate Denise Barney spoke about age-typical behaviors of children and how parents can move past them.

“When my daughter was around 16 or 17,” Barney said, “she became less focused on her family and more focused on her friends. She only wanted to spend time with the latter.” Understandably, Barney found this upsetting. However, she eventually came to realize that that’s just how teenagers act. Her attitude went from offense to understanding: “If someone had told me that was totally age-typical, that all teenagers at the age are self-absorbed. And it wasn’t because she hated us. It was just that she was being…normal. So, once I understood that, the rest of our kids at that age: ‘Be on your way, go be with your friends, hallelujah!’” According to Barney, if you ignore your child’s age-typical negative behavior, it will go away.

In this two-minute video, she talks about her experience, as well as the kinds of behaviors that can’t be ignored. The full lecture can be viewed here.

 

Denise is an expert in the Power of Positive Parenting, a parenting manual written by Dr. Glen Latham, having taught classes on it for 15 years. She is also the mother of six children ages 30 to 17.

 

 

Alumni: YOU can Make a Difference by Being a Mentor

Author Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Alumni, how did you get to where you are now? How did you get started? Did you know that you can help current BYU students get their start? Mentoring is an easy way to give back your alma mater.

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Benefits for Current Students

What are the benefits for students? Steve O’Brian, Customer Success team leader at Chronus, a company that designs software that facilitates those mentoring relationships, lists them as:

  1. Help finding jobs:Smart universities are improving job placement rates after graduation by developing students and alumni through mentoring programs. These development programs connect and enhance a student’s networks to provide them with better tools for their job search.” Have you ever had someone who taught you the tricks of the trade? How helpful was it? Wouldn’t you want to do the same for someone else?                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Encouragement: Getting a college education can be difficult. Alumni members of all professions and backgrounds can make a difference by mentoring and encouraging current students. You can help give them the confidence and boost they need to continue their education and to succeed.

However, it isn’t just students that benefit from mentoring: You can too!

Benefits for Alumni who Mentor

Here are three ways you as an alumni can benefit from mentoring a current BYU student:

  1. Stay involved: Professor Sarah Stanley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said, “Often alumni want to become involved in activities that further promote and serve the university, and being a mentor allows them to become involved.” There are other ways to be involved than by donating money. If you aren’t in the position to give financially but still want give back to BYU, then look into mentoring!                     people-office-group-team
  2. Recruit workers: When you mentor, you establish a relationship with a student. You’re passing on the skills of your trade and teaching them how to thrive in the workforce. By the time they graduate, your student will most likely need a job, and since you’ve already trained them, they make good ideal candidates.
  3. Feel happier and healthier:  “Generosity has been found to reduce stress, increase longevity, and produce happiness hormones,” says Sandra Gurvis of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. “When [people] helped others, they felt more energetic and stronger and even experienced a sense of euphoria, or ‘helper’s high.'” By mentoring and being generous with your time, you help others and yourself. Says BYU Psychology professor Brent Slife in his soon-to-be-released book Frailty and Flourishing: “Self-benefit and other-benefit are usually and naturally co-mingled because relationships and mutual activity are central to a good human life. Attempting to separate them into egoistic and altruistic activities is a pointless distraction from the primary business of acting well together.”

It’s obvious that mentoring a student will greatly impact their college experience and future career while strengthening your relationship with BYU and making you overall happier. It’s a win-win. So why not take the plunge? Here are some websites to help you out:

BYU Career Services

For General Mentoring: Alumni Career Services

For Political Science Alumni: BYU Political Affairs Society

For Economics Alumni: Alumni Mentoring Program

Did you have an alumni mentor?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Wilms, Founder of Pop ‘n Sweets

Who can start a business, take it from the ground up, and turn it into one of the best sweet shops in the entire state of Utah? The candy man, in the person of Christopher Wilms, can! A recent attendee of Brigham Young University’s Economics department, Wilms and his wife went on to found Pop ‘N Sweets, a candy and soda parlor whose purpose is to “make the world a better place one candy bar at a time.”

Of his experience at school, he says: “BYU was great for networking and making friendships that I hope to never lose.” He also praised the low cost of such a high-quality education. However, Wilms felt restricted by the academic environment. One day, while driving with his wife, they came up with the idea of opening a sweets shop–and they actually decided to try it out. That’s how Pop’nSweets came to be, in September of 2013.

Pop’nSweets sells exactly what it says: pop and sweets. With five locations already open throughout Utah, business is booming and the sky appears to be the limit. “So far, it’s been crazy fun,” Wilms said. “It’s something that is easy to duplicate, so opening more stores hasn’t been hard. It’s fun because of how different it is and how awesome it is to see people reflect on the stuff they can find there.”

“My favorite aspect [of the business] is watching people enjoy the experience of all the different products we offer,” he continued, referencing the 300+ different flavors of soda that can be found in his stores. “Honestly, this is a concept that can go anywhere–even internationally, especially because we import products from other countries. I think the most important thing for the future of Pop’nSweets is . . . setting up the store in the most customer friendly way possible.”

In 2015, he was honored by the Utah Student 25, a non-profit corporation that honors the top student-founded companies in the state. One of the other awardees, Ryan Caldwell, founder and CEO of MX, compared the Utah community of entrepreneurs to a forest of redwood trees:

“Utah finds itself in this very unique situation where it’s in this magical stage of a startup ecosystem. If you look at Utah about a decade ago, you had two massive redwoods – WordPerfect and Novell. These powerhouses, these great redwoods started to shed branches. And those branches being shed were people who had developed very big skills – they learn business lessons and how to run big companies. And that resource, that wealth of nutrients, falls to the ground as the branches shed and it creates this dense cover that allows other trees to grow.”

When he’s not busy making the world taste good, Wilms is spending time with his family. He has a wife and two children, a two-year-old daughter and a two-month-old son.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Randall Lewis and Big Data

randall_3cropped_headshot_blur-941x1024If you’ve ever googled or binge-watched  something, or read news online, then you’ve more than likely used Google, Netflix, or Yahoo. Other than being some of the most frequently-used apps and sites in the “interverse,” they have another thing in common: Randall Lewis. The BYU graduate has worked at each of these tech companies. Currently employed at Netflix, he statistically analyzes data he has gathered from sales both offline and online, searches, clicks, page views, and survey outcomes. big-data-1667212__180In his own words: “As an applied econometrician, I use causal statistics to extract valuable insights from large data sets. In today’s digital economy, this requires inventing new types of measurement systems and cleverly adapting econometric algorithms to efficiently perform advanced analyses at scale (i.e., causal machine learning).”

With a job description like that, it is no surprise that Lewis has a doctorate in Economics, with a focus on econometrics and industrial organization, from MIT. It’s also no surprise that he has won several related award, which include:

  • BYU Hinckley Presidential Scholar and Valedictorian, with a double major in mathematics and economics
  • MIT Presidential Fellow
  • Yahoo! Superstar Runner­Up, Nominee

While attending BYU, he was an economics programmer/researcher for a year and a half. This was followed by a similar post at MIT and a pre-doctoral job at Yahoo as a research assistant. After two years, Lewis was promoted to Economic Research Scientist at Yahoo upon completing his PhD. write-593333__180After four years at Yahoo, he moved to Google to work as an Economics Research Scientist. Three and a half years later, Lewis was hired by Netflix for a similar role.

Randall Lewis is one of a growing number of economists who are breaking the mold of the job type economists are usually hired to do, which is to research exchange rates and recessions. Today, according to the New York Times: “businesses are studying the data trails of consumer behavior to help digital companies make smart decisions that strengthen their online marketplaces in areas like advertising, movies, music, travel and lodging.” Lewis is part of this new wave of corporate economic research that is revolutionizing the way tech companies market their products.

If you are an alumni of BYU’s School of Family Life, or any of the nine other departments in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, we’d like to hear your story! Please share with us your accomplishments, your stories of service and inspiration. Share them at Rise.byu.edu.