The College of Business features a diverse group of Distinguished Guest Speakers each year. Speakers connect with students, faculty, and staff by sharing knowledge and real-world business experiences. Explore some of the College’s past guest speakers below.
Distinguished Guest Speakers
Allen C. Johnston—Professor of Cyber Security and Management Information Systems,
University of Alabama
Allen C. Johnston, who visited our MIS2000 class, is the Hewson Professor of Cyber Security and professor of management information systems (MIS) in the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama. His research centers on behavioral information security, collective security, data loss prevention, innovation, and privacy and is found in industry publications including Communications of the ACM, Decision Sciences, Decision Support Systems, Information Systems Journal, Journal of Information Technology, and MIS Quarterly. Johnston serves as a senior editor for European Journal of Information Systems as well as a member of the editorial review board for the Journal of the AIS. He is a founding member and current chair of the IFIP Working Group on Information Systems Security Research.
Johnston serves as a consultant, visiting professor, and invited speaker at universities, workshops, panels, and companies in the US and abroad.
Dan J. Green—Principal, Blackfin Group
The Michigan Tech Economics Club invited Dan Green '83, a principal at Blackfin Group with more than 35 years' experience in the mortgage industry. He counsels executives on setting and achieving their goals for profitability and growth. Green earned his BSBA from Michigan Tech.
Kevin Wampler—Chief Financial Officer, Dollar Tree, Inc.
The Michigan Tech accounting major and the Kappa Sigma Iota Club welcomed Kevin Wampler ’86 on September 27, 2021. Mr. Wampler is the chief financial officer (CFO) of Dollar Tree Inc. First-year accounting and management dual major Jaylen Body was in attendance and he says that one of the takeaways he learned from Kevin’s presentation is to venture into different areas of a company to gain insight into what’s working—and what’s not. ”I learned the importance of seeking opportunities that’ll challenge me, while also benefiting the company,” Body says.
While on campus, Wampler also paid Sheila Milligan's accounting class a visit where he emphasized the importance of lateral moves within a company. He described the impact data analytics can have on decision-making and he challenged students to develop solid people-management skills, which can dramatically impact career advancement.
Monica Hahn—Franchisee, Elements MassageTM
Students members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the American Marketing Association(AMA) heard from College of Business alumna, brand management expert, and entrepreneur Monica Hahn in September. After a successful career in marketing for well-known global brands, Hahn is now thriving as a franchisee with Elements MassageTM. Elements Massage is one of the largest retail massage franchises in North America. Hahn owns and operates two studios in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Zhouli “Pye” Yuan—Senior Investment Analyst/Investment Officer, Boy Scouts of America
Asset Management, LLC
Pye Yuan '12 is an investment analyst and officer for Boy Scouts of America Asset Management (BSAAM) LLC. In his role, he conducts the strategy asset allocation study and investment research and analysis. Prior to joining BSAAM in 2015, he served as an investment analyst for Dallas, Texas-based Meadows Foundation while pursuing graduate degrees. Yuan holds a BS in Finance from Michigan Technological University and both an MS in Finance and MS in Information Technology Management from The University of Texas at Dallas, and professional designations of Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Financial Risk Manager, Chartered Alternative Financial Analyst, and Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement.
Brandon Hutchison—International Equity and FX Trader, Artisan Partners
Brandon Hutchison '15 '18 earned a BS in Finance and TechMBA® from Michigan Tech. He began his career as a municipal bond trader, transitioning into a senior trader covering municipals and US-traded equities for Crossmark Global Investments in Houston, Texas. Currently, Hutchison is with Artisan Partners, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as an international equities and FX trader. He is a CFA charterholder and member of the CFA Society of Milwaukee.
Ryan Layton—Founder, EmraldSpark Investments
Ryan Layton '04 is an alumnus of the Michigan Tech Applied Portfolio Management Program with 17 years' experience as a portfolio manager primarily focusing on economic analysis, asset allocation, security selection, and behavioral finance. In 2015, he founded EmraldSpark Investments, a location-independent registered investment adviser that provides private wealth management services. He has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and regularly volunteers for the CFA Institute.
Marie Cleveland—Worldwide Account Manager, FedEx
Alumna Marie Cleveland '82 was a guest speaker in Ulrich Schmelzle's operations and supply chain management classes. Marie highlighted her career as a worldwide account manager with FedEx while explaining important strategic decisions used to enhance the company's competitiveness. She also shared career advice for students and offered to provide job-hunting tips, mock interview opportunities, and résumé feedback.
Larry Durland—Senior Vice President, Equitable of Iowa Companies
Mr. Durland is a retired fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He served in senior management positions in the financial services industry including service as senior vice president of Equitable of Iowa Companies. He earned a BS in mathematics from Montana State University and served as the chair of the Michigan Tech College of Business Applied Portfolio Management Program Advisory Board from 2005 to 2021.
Thomas Verhagen—Founder, WeESG
Thomas Verhagen, who presented to Michigan Tech Finance Club students, is a founder of WeESG, a boutique ESG strategy advisory and training company. Verhagen is an active practitioner-researcher at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and is an expert in banking, banking insurance, financial regulation, and sustainable asset management, specializing in business model innovation, finance, and sustainability.
Carrie Schaller—I/T Director for Manufacturing and Engineering, Dow Chemical
Carrie Schaller '86 spoke with the students in MIS2000 IS/IT Management. She focused on Industry 4.0 and its impact on Dow manufacturing systems. The five primary components are: analytics (critical skills for all business professionals), robotics, mobile communications, process control systems, and digital thread/visibility (integration). The key driver is Value. She included a discussion of the levels of security covered by ISA-95 International Standards from the shop floor to the enterprise level.
Schaller has been with Dow for more than 30 years and is currently leading a global
team that is securing cyber information critical to the work processes for manufacturing.
She is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business
Administration with an MIS concentration from Michigan Tech. Schaller serves on the
North American steering team for the Women's Innovation Network at Dow, and resides
in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and family.
Denise retired in 2017. Throughout her career she held numerous positions in the
Information Technology field with a focus on Business Analysis and Resource Management.
Most recently Denise served as the Vice President of Business Analysis at the Church
Pension Group (CPG) where she was a senior IT manager responsible for partnering with
corporate business leaders to define, prioritize and develop IT strategy for supporting
both IT and business projects.
During her tenure at CPG, Denise:
- Established an enterprise Business Analyst program.
- Implemented numerous process improvement projects spanning web self-service, policy administration, document automation and enterprise content management with a focus on efficient work-flow automation.
- Served on numerous vendor Customer Advisory Boards
- Recipient of the 2011 Woman in Insurance Leadership award
Denise holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Michigan Technology University. As an alumni, Denise has:
- Served as Alumni Chapter President for New York City
- Served as a member of the MTU Presidential Council of Alumnae (PCA)
- Sponsored high-school students for the Summer Youth Program
- Presented at numerous MIS related classes
As a worldwide corporate account manager for Federal Express, Marie Cleveland handled six major accounts and was responsible for bringing in over $50 million in sales each year. Cleveland has found a talent and a passion for a high level of client interaction. She became a regional recruiter for Roadway Package Systems (RPS) in 1988 and went on to hold various positions with the company. When FedEx purchased RPS in 2000, Cleveland was named a corporate account executive. A passionate Michigan Tech supporter and advocate, she has served on the Presidential Council of Alumnae, in various roles for the Alumni Association and gives regular presentations to students on campus.
Steve is a seasoned executive with over 18 years of experience serving at the CEO/President/Board of Directors level. He has successfully taken over and worked numerous engineered product manufacturing businesses out of distressed situations in both Private Equity and Fortune 500 settings.
Fairbanks started his career as an engineer, and grew through market/product management and engineering leadership roles. His efforts contributed to industry changing new products viewed as either “state-of-the-art” or “disruptive technology”. He further gained experience in the operations and finance areas as he progressed to his President/CEO positions.
His turnaround successes, the tools and techniques used to achieve them, and his understanding of the dynamics in smaller companies, led to multiple guest lecture invitations to MBA and EMBA schools. Post-lecture demand from these executives/students for a hard copy documentation of this well-received information led to the new book “Performance-Based Strategy: Tools and Techniques for Successful Decisions”. Here Fairbanks shares his strategic planning process and practical approaches developed over the years - specifically aimed for use in these unique time and resource constrained organizations.
Fairbanks graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University. He earned his Professional Engineer’s License, has been awarded eight United States patents, is a trained Six-Sigma Black Belt and has been additionally recognized with “Distinguished Alumni” and “Executive of the Year” awards. A practicing Servant Leader, he has also been involved with and certified as a facilitator with the “Lead Like Jesus” organization, and is passionate about leadership development concurrent with his turnaround efforts.
Fairbanks is currently CEO of SIXFAIR Ventures, LLC, where he is now focusing his efforts on helping other small business leaders replicate his success.
Dana M. Johnson
Johnson has over 37 years of experience including industrial, consulting, and academia starting at Michigan Tech in 1981 as an accounting instructor. Upon her departure in 1984, she worked for a variety of manufacturing and consulting firms, ultimately owning her own business supplying training and consulting primarily to the automotive industry in quality engineering and supply chain management, business assessment, and project management. In 1999, Johnson returned to the College of Business to teach supply chain, operations and engineering management related courses.
Ryan Layton, CFA
As alumni of the Applied Portfolio Management Program, Ryan has over ten years of
portfolio management and research experience involving asset allocation, strategy
implementation, economic analysis, and investment research in equities, fixed income,
real assets, and alternative assets.
His resume includes the following positions and activities:
EmeraldSpark Investments, LLC – Chicago; Founded EmeraldSpark in 2014 as a fiduciary investment adviser serving community bank trust departments, 401(k) plan sponsors, and other fiduciaries as well as individual wealth management clients.
MainStreet Advisors – Chicago; Portfolio Manager who advised community bank trust departments on the management of over $2 billion in assets.
Wells Fargo WMG – Minneapolis, MN -Team Lead for Asset Allocation and Analysis on the Wells Managed Portfolio (WMP) Team.
Jeffrey C. Littmann
Jeffrey Littmann of Grosse Pointe Park is a life trustee and chairman of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. For more than 25 years, Littmann served as the director and CFO of Buffalo Bills, Inc., operating within the National Football League. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s degree in taxation from Walsh College and a law degree from the Detroit College of Law.
Mark C. Roualet - Executive Vice President, Combat Systems
Mark was named an executive vice president of General Dynamics in March 2013. He is responsible for the company’s Combat Systems group, which includes three companies: European Land Systems, Land Systems and Ordnance and Tactical Systems. He was appointed a vice president of the corporation in October 2008.
Previously Roualet served as president of General Dynamics Land Systems, from October 2008 to March 2013. Roualet joined General Dynamics Land Systems’ predecessor, Chrysler Defense Inc., in 1981 as a quality engineer. He held positions of increasing responsibility throughout his employment with General Dynamics Land Systems to include plant manager of the Sterling, Mich., manufacturing facility; vice president of the Interim Brigade Combat Team program; vice president of Wheeled Vehicle Systems; and senior vice president and chief operating officer.
Roualet earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Michigan Technological University and a master’s of business administration from the University of Dayton. He was recognized in 1993 by Crain’s Detroit Business Magazine as one of their “40 Under 40” executives, which is an annual acknowledgement of the top 40 executives under 40 years old in the state of Michigan.
Darnishia is a proud Detroiter turned Yooper; she graduated from Michigan Tech in 1998 with a degree in Industrial Management, minoring in International Business. She currently serves as Manager of Global Engagement Programs in the Pavlis Honors College and working on a doctorate degree at in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors at Michigan Tech. Since her first international trip to Finland in 1997 she has studied, traveled and performed community service in over 25 countries.
As an alumna, Darnishia served on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 2008-2016. She is the second woman and first African-American to serve in the role of President of the Board. In 2014, she was inducted into the Presidential Council of Alumnae and she earned the inaugural Bayard Rustin Award presented by the National Society of Black Engineers in 2019.
Dar is a foodie who enjoys impromptu road trips and spending quality time with friends, family and her pup Trotter. Her favorite pastime is watching a good comedy and serving as a volunteer Minister at Harvest Church of the Keweenaw in Calumet, Michigan.
Miklos A. Vasarhelyi
He is credited with developing the original continuous audit application and is the leading researcher in this field. At Rutgers Business School, Professor Vasarhelyi heads the Continuous Auditing and Reporting Laboratory, which works on projects for such leading companies as Siemens, KPMG, Proctor and Gamble, AICPA, CA Technologies and Brazil's Itau-Unibanco. Also, he leads the RADAR (Rutgers AICPA Data Analytics Research Initiative) project support by the 8 leading CPA firms, AICPA, and CPA Cananda.
Eric Waara - Houghton City Manager
Waara was a guest speaker in Professor Tom Merz’s Public Sector Economics class March 3 2020. Eric graduated from Michigan Tech with a degree in Civil Engineering. Upon graduating, he worked as a consulting engineer in the private sector until he was appointed City Manager in 2014. In 1986, Eric completed an economics class taught by Professor Merz.
Danielle (Lorenzetti) Cyrus - Director of Purchasing, Michigan Tech University
Danielle serves as the Director of Purchasing and is responsible for university Purchasing, Strategic Sourcing and the University Card Program. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2017, Cyrus spent 22 years in healthcare supply chain management and logistics. She played a major role in working with the UP wide Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) that works collaboratively with all healthcare organizations in upper Michigan to ensure cost effective group buying.
In additional, Cyrus is part of the university Emergency Management Incident Command Team (ICT) and serves as Chapter Advisor to Alpha Gamma Delta international woman’s fraternity on campus.
Cyrus is a 1993 Michigan Tech graduate of the College of Business with a B.S. in Business Administration. She and her husband, Michael, live in Houghton with their children, Dante and Jillian.
Larry Durland Jr.
Larry is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, retired, and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He served in senior management positions in the financial services industry including service as Senior Vice President of Equitable of Iowa Companies. He received a B.Sc. In Mathematics from Montana State University.
John Farquhar - Chief Credit Officer of Superior National Bank and Trust Company
John’s roles includes developing policies and procedures for the loan area of the bank, management of the credit risk of the loan portfolio, supervision of the credit department, collections department and the loan operations department.
John joined Superior National Bank in 2014 and has 30 years of banking experience. Prior to working at Superior National, John was a special loan administration officer for a holding company in Lower Michigan specializing in financial risk management for the member banks owned by the holding company. John holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Ferris State University and a MBA in finance from Grand Valley State University.
Joel Florek - Owner of JF Holdings: Residential Multifamily Properties
Joel Florek graduated with a Finance degree from Michigan Technological University in 2015 and was a participant in APMP during his senior year. Post-graduation he began a career as a Program Manager for Trident Maritime Systems based out of Iron Mountain MI. While starting his career he began investing in small multifamily real estate in Iron Mountain. Joel currently owns 31 units between 4 properties and transitioned to managing his portfolio full time more than a year and a half ago. Now, he is focused on partnering with investors to tackle larger multifamily projects in Indiana and South West Michigan and help others learn how to get started investing in real estate themselves.
Barbara has worked in the health care industry for nearly 30 years. The first was
Marshfield Clinic, based in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Her career with Marshfield started
as an Internal Auditor which led to CFO for Security Health Plan. She served for
9 years on the Board of Trustees of the Marshfield Clinic Retirement Plans.
In 2009, she took a job as CFO for SMDC Health System out of Duluth, Minnesota overseeing approximately 500+ staff in Accounting, Business Intelligence and Revenue Cycle. SMDC was part of Essentia Health which included hospitals and clinics across Northern Minnesota and North Dakota.
In 2010, she was appointed to be the Vice President of Financial Operations for Essentia Health. Recently retiring from Essentia Health, but continues to work as a consultant helping with payer contracting and data around cost of care.
Eli Karttunen - Trust Investment Officer for Superior National Bank and Trust Co.
Karttunen provides investment management and trust services to a variety of clients including: individuals, corporations, non-profits, and municipalities totaling assets under management of approximately $550 million. He is also a licensed Life, Accident, and Health Insurance Producer in the State of Michigan. Aside from that, Karttunen is an Adjunct Instructor of Accounting at Finlandia University.
Karttunen received a Master’s of Science in Finance degree from the University of Michigan – Dearborn in 2016. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Michigan Technological University. Karttunen is a Keweenaw native and currently resides in Dollar Bay. He is actively involved in numerous activities throughout the area. He has served as President for the Rotary Club of Houghton and currently is Treasurer for Dial Help, Inc. –a human services agency with focuses on prevention of substance abuse and sexual assault –as well as an advisory board member for the Salvation Army of Hancock.
Laura Konkel - Attorney and Partner of Michael Best and Friedrich LLP
Laura spoke in the MGT3650 class about 'careers in intellectual property law'. She is an attorney and partner at the law firm of Michael Best and Friedrich LLP and her practice focuses on all aspects of trademark and copyright prosecution and enforcement.
Amanda was a guest speaker in ACC4100, Audit and Attestation and ACC5100 Advance Audit
and Forensic Examination.
Amanda is responsible for the integrity of Walmart's domestic internal control environment
for approximately $20B of retail store inventory. She also indirectly oversees the
process to measure and post inventory shrinkage captured during each store's physical
inventory reconciliation. Additionally, she supports internal and external auditors
on inventory related requests and develops accounting system enhancements involving
new inventory flows to accommodate new business projects and more efficiently/accurately
account for inventory.
Amanda is the founder and Coordinator of the Houghton Women's Leadership Society and a member of the Rotary Club of Houghton.
Stephen Mattson - Regional Brokerage Manager, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC
The LSGI Trading Room hosted guest speaker Stephen Mattson on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Mr. Mattson is a Regional Brokerage Manager and Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Advisors. As a Regional Brokerage Manager, Mr. Mattson is responsible for Wells Fargo Advisors financial advisors across his Midwest U.S. region. In particular, Mr. Mattson presented a "how to" on becoming a financial advisor to the students in the Applied Portfolio Management Program. Steve also discuss his role and responsibilities in the firm. The SBE and the APMP thank Steve for his long-time connection to Michigan Tech.
Dave Priem - in-house counsel at Medtronic
Dave spoke in the MGT3650 class in the spring. Medtronic is one of the world's largest medical technology, services and solutions companies. Dave is responsible for management of Medtronic's intellectual property portfolio.
Drew Randell - Facilities Purchasing Manager, Michigan Tech University
Drew Randell graduated from Michigan Technological University in 2013 with a B.S. in Operations and Systems Management. He went on to work for Uline Inc. as a Corporate Buyer where he was responsible for maintaining the inventory levels of thousands of products through the procurement of goods based on warehouse space, sales trends, and forecasts. Drew left Uline in July of 2015 to become the Facilities Purchasing Manager at Michigan Tech. He is responsible for procuring supplies and equipment for campus maintenance as well as the negotiation of maintenance contracts.
Special Agent Martin Rowe - US Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General
Special Agent Martin Rowe spoke in both ACC4700 and ACC5100 class this spring.
Martin has worked as a special agent for the HHS department for 18 years. The goal of the Office of Investigations (OI) is to conduct criminal, civil and administrative investigations of fraud and misconduct related to HHS programs, operations and beneficiaries. State-of-the-art tools and technology assist OIG investigators around the country and help OI meet its goal of becoming the world's premier health care law enforcement agency. Martin is also a visiting faculty member at Georgia Southern University in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. He is also a retired Colonel from the US Army.
Ronald Staley-Sr. VP Southeast Michigan Operations, The Christman Company
Staley has been with The Christman Company for 33 years and is currently leading the reestablishment of a new construction management and general contracting office in the City of Detroit. He founded Christman’s Historic Preservation Group in 1992 providing construction services for high profile national historic landmarks across the US and foreign countries. Ron earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Industrial Management) and Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology from Michigan Technological University. He is on the Board of Directors of The Christman Company and multiple non-profit boards, and honored as a Fellow in the Association for Preservation Technology International and Honorary Affiliate of the Michigan Chapter American Institute of Architects.
Tax and Accounting Staff at Greenstone Farm Credit. Ian is an alumni of the SBE, majoring in accounting and also a 4 year football athlete. He has worked in the tax and accounting department for Greenstone for 2 years. GreenStone Farm Credit Services offers land loans, construction loans, farm financing, leases for real estate, operating and farm equipment.
Adam Zawisza - Financial Supervisor of Kent County, Michigan
Adam supervises several Financial Analysts within the Fiscal Services Department. He is responsible for overseeing the processing of bi-weekly payroll for almost 2000 Kent County employees. Assist and oversee the preparation and issuance of the CAFR and Single Audit. He is also the Point of contact for Accounting and Payroll Questions from other departments. Adam spoke in class about the need for data analytics training within the college experience.