This article can be found in the Winter 2017 edition of the Alumni Magazine.

March 9, 2017

This spring, Ash Brokerage moved from suburban southwest Fort Wayne to its new downtown facility. USF students from a senior capstone project in the EPIC business program worked with Ash CFO Joe Svitek, CIO Dr. David Threm, and USF Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) Program Director Eve-Lynn Clarke to assess the risks associated with the move and present their findings to Ash.

“We knew a move from point A to point B posed a number of different risks, including moving the technology and physical assets and getting them working, moving the people, and building in contingencies in the event of bad weather and delays,” Svitek said. “Months before the move, we had the students walk through and assess potential risks while the building was under construction.”

“We were concerned about the change management of moving into the building,” Threm said. “We talked about how to manage internal and external change like potential loss of employees who wouldn’t take an elevator, being downtown and things of that nature. They had a good handle on that. The students brought up security issues and we walked through solutions.”

“Students in the enterprise risk management class had the opportunity to meet and work with the CFO and CIO,” Clarke said. “They focused their assessment on the new building and were excited about the opportunity to tour it for potential facility and move risks. We wore hard hats, stepped over HVAC, and watched the raised flooring installation. This is what experiential learning is all about!”

Seniors Tyler Speigl and Rosie Schroeder worked on the project, while Ben Mauch experienced the client end of the project as an EPIC intern working with Ash.

“We had a five-step approach,” Speigl said. “We wanted to gain knowledge of the organization and their standards and processes in relation to industry standards and practices; develop a risk register to identify as many risks as possible and categorize them by priority and likelihood; develop a questionnaire for a meeting with the CFO and CIO about the new facility, including a look at the blueprints; tour the new building to add any new risks to the register; analyze and evaluate the data, leading to conclusions; and present these observations to Ash.

They focused their assessment on the new building and were excited about the opportunity to tour it for potential facility and move risks. We wore hard hats, stepped over HVAC, and watched the raised flooring installation. This is what experiential learning is all about! – Eve-Lynn Clarke

“An increase in cyber-crimes was a concern, with the news of their move,” he said. “Another was making sure the technology would work the first day.”

Schroeder explained a different angle. “The move downtown was going to raise awareness of the homeless population. Ash worked with the shelter and police to better understand what to expect with the homeless population, for their safety and that of Ash employees,” she said. “When we took this challenge, we thought it would be easy. We broke it down into manageable project steps, and began to see the full picture. You don’t just move your computers and you’re good to go. We set target dates for tasks, we established roles for our teams and communicated with Eve-Lynn and Ash.

Ash is really on their game, so we learned a lot, but they did too. Sometimes they were like, wow—we didn’t think of that.”

From the Ash perspective, Mauch said, “We’ve had very few issues since the move. It went very smoothly. We walked in the door and went to work. I see every day how the processes played into how it all works. The moving parts give you perspective.”

It adds up to a great outlook for the new RMI program.

“We’re accessible to downtown companies and continue to explore experiential learning opportunities and new partnerships for the risk management program,” Clarke said. “We also had a repeat client with the Fort for Fitness organization.”

Ash executives had positive feedback.

“The students were enthusiastic and very engaged, and when you look at it holistically, they brought an overall strategy in managing risk, and managed precisely,” Threm said. “They brought up issues regarding the necessary documents applying to local laws. They were very well organized, and their presentation was top-notch. They were very impressive. The students understood exactly what we wanted to accomplish for our organization, community and downtown Fort Wayne.”

“This shows our confidence in the students’ work and our partnership/mentoring of them,” Svitek said. “We had a positive experience with the USF students. The RMI program is young, but the successes indicate the foundation is in place and as we work and mentor, I feel very good about our ability to shape it and make it one of the best programs in the country.”