Professional Development Project: PD Seminars and Community Networking INTRODUCTION Professional development (PD) is an important aspect of business that enables you to network with other professionals, continue learning, and expand your business experience. For this part of your senior capstone project, you’ll plan, attend and reflect upon at least two approved workshops, conferences, seminars, or professional business meetings at the local, state, or national level. These activities or events must represent a learning experience that contributes to your development as a business professional. You’ll earn credit for your 15 hours of assigned PD-related activities, including your attendance at two events. To receive credit, you must provide documentation of your planning efforts (approximately one hour for each event), your two approved professional-development activities (approximately three hours each), and a thoughtful report (approximately four hours) reflecting on and summarizing your professional development activity and/or event. Note: Read all the way through the assignment before you begin, to make sure you choose acceptable activities, collect the necessary information, and complete all the requirements for the project. OBJECTIVES When you complete this professional-development assignment, you’ll be able to • Explain the benefits of professional-development activities • Evaluate the professional-development potential of specific workshops, conferences, seminars, and professional business meetings • Plan for and arrange to attend professional development events • Present your reflections on the value of professional development activities RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES The following are suggested activities to consider for your professional development activities. There may be other opportunities in your area, but whether you choose one of the suggested activities or find something on your own, your instructor must approve your choices before you begin. Attend a Local Chamber of Commerce Meeting A local Chamber of Commerce meeting is a good place to meet people and to see what’s going on in business in your area. You can Google the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Web site or contact your local Chamber of Commerce for its meeting schedule. Spend some time navigating through the local Chamber’s Web site to familiarize yourself with their mission and/or vision statement, officers, members, and activities. Typically, local Chamber of Commerce Web sites provide information that’s valuable to the local members. Rather than just showing up at a meeting, first call the local Chamber and speak with the staff. Tell them that you’re completing a coursework assignment and would like a mentor, if available—someone willing to introduce you to Chamber members and assist you in learning more about the organization. Doing so will enhance the quality of your experience and afford greater success in both networking and maintaining your connection with new contacts. Attend a Guest-Speaker Event at a College or University Every college and university presents outside speakers to enrich their students’ education and to attract local leaders and community members to the campus. Look for a college or university event in your area that’s related to business, economics, or public-policy issues. Events are often publicized in newspapers and on the institution’s Web site. You may wish to call the university’s business department to ask if any public events are coming up or contact several institutions and ask to be placed on their mailing lists to receive e-mail or printed notices for these opportunities. Attend an Institute of Management Accountants Chapter Meeting The membership of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) includes professionals in accounting, finance, and information technology. The vast majority of those attending will be Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Certified Management Accountants (CMAs). However, the CMA exam, unlike the CPA exam, tests all business disciplines, so you also may find attorneys and real estate brokers at these meetings. Membership in each group will vary. Begin planning to attend a local meeting by reviewing the IMA Web site. You should be able to locate a nearby IMA chapter on this Web site; if not, send an e-mail asking for the nearest group. Once you make contact, ask if they’ll recom- mend a mentor to introduce you to chapter members and improve the quality of your networking experience. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING TOOLS AND FORMS The following is a summary of your professional development (PD) planning tools and submission requirements. Check each step to help you organize and complete your assignments for this part of your capstone project. 1. Professional Development (PD)—What Counts Read the “What Counts” requirements and the section on self-evaluation and planning before you choose your PD activities. Then discuss your ideas with your instructor and make sure you have approval for the activities before you attend. 2. Self-Evaluation and Planning Framework Use the criteria to plan your intended PD activities and to evaluate their value after you complete them. If you’re not satisfied with the potential value of one or both of them, look further to find a more worthwhile experience. For instance, you may live in a small town and learn that your local Chamber of Commerce or business professionals’ organization has a very small membership and isn’t very active. You might decide to call an organization in a larger community or a nearby city to make arrangements to attend their meeting instead. On the other hand, if you plan to work in your small town, the local group might be a better choice, since any contacts you make through networking will be more helpful you once you’re working. 3. Professional Development Sessions Essays During or immediately after an event, make notes on the people you’ve heard speak, your mentor, and others you’ve been introduced to. Answer the questions and note the relationship of each aspect of your experience to your area of interest. Also note important points and new ideas that were part of the presentation or meeting discussion. 4. Writing Guidelines See the writing guidelines in the “Submitting Your Work” section at the end of this book. 5. Sessions Summary Log the time you spend in planning, attending, and reporting on your PD sessions. Professional Development Activities: What Does and Doesn’t Count To clarify what kind of activities are acceptable as professional development activities for your assignments, use the guidelines that follow. What Doesn’t Count The following activities do not qualify as valid experiences for your professional-development assignment: • Staff meetings at work with your present employer— these are required as part of your current employment and don’t contribute to the development of new PD skills or experiences. • Mentoring others—the PD experience should represent a new or novel experience and be directed by others. • Time spent reading a book, an activity that’s not interactive or directed by others. • Renewal courses for current position or certifications, which are generally part of employment requirements. What Does Count The following activities do qualify as valid experiences for your professional-development assignment: • PD activities outside of or beyond the minimums required by your current employer • Workshops, seminars, or meetings held by local professional societies, including the American Marketing Your Professional Development Sessions Essays You must complete one essay for each PD event you attend. Essays will be graded according to the guidelines provided. Essays that don’t meet minimum criteria may, at the instructor’s discretion, be returned to the student for revision. Note: Read the project submission instructions at the end of this book before beginning your session essays. Each essay should be well written and should describe your activity and present your opinion on the applicability of your new knowledge and PD experience. Each PD experience will be unique, depending on your interests, expectations, and results. Make sure you answer the following questions: • What were the educational benefits of the PD experience? • Did you meet people who work in your area of interest? If so, how do you plan to stay in contact with them? • Were you able to use your education and prior coursework experiences to identify any theoretical or methodological strengths or weaknesses in the materials presented for your PD experience? • How will you apply the PD experience to your future professional goals and objectives? Writing Guidelines Briefly describe the content of the session (fewer than 750 words, typed, double-spaced). Include a description of how you prepared for your PD session, what you expected prior to participating in it, and how this compared with your actual PD experience. Where possible, reflect on how your session relates to the coursework you’ve completed. Refer to the “Submitting Your Work” section at the end of this section for details on submission requirements for the Professional Development Project. Professional Development Session Summary Senior Capstone: Business Include a separate “sessions summary” page when you send your PD activity reports to the school. Record a PD activity summary for each of your two required experiences using the following guidelines: Your name and student number Event information and contact hours Include the name of the activity and attach a copy of the agenda or flyer, if available Date and time of session Names of instructors and/or presenters (include titles and credentials) Preparation hours Preparation date(s) and number of hours spent planning Step 1 In the infamous Enron bankruptcy case, the form of the financial statements prepared by the Enron Corporation and WorldCom was very professional; however, the substance was lacking, leading to audit and market failures and the eventual bankruptcy of both of these big-cap, or largecapitalization firms. PPMC represents a reverse case, in which the form of the data contained in the PPMC news release and corporate Web site was very poor. To begin, read the PPMC report, focusing on problems with the form of the report. (“Form” means spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are correct and that the text is grammatically correct. Also, form means that the format of the text as far as font, bold, underlining, indents, and so on are correct.) Prepare a typed, clearly communicated summary of all errors or weaknesses you find in the form of this report. This should be a numbered list. There are well over 30 form errors in the Step 1 In the infamous Enron bankruptcy case, the form of the financial statements prepared by the Enron Corporation and WorldCom was very professional; however, the substance was lacking, leading to audit and market failures and the eventual bankruptcy of both of these big-cap, or largecapitalization firms. PPMC represents a reverse case, in which the form of the data contained in the PPMC news release and corporate Web site was very poor. To begin, read the PPMC report, focusing on problems with the form of the report. (“Form” means spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are correct and that the text is grammatically correct. Also, form means that the format of the text as far as font, bold, underlining, indents, and so on are correct.) Prepare a typed, clearly communicated summary of all errors or weaknesses you find in the form of this report. This should be a numbered list. There are well over 30 form errors in the Here is what you are looking for as far as the number of stores is concerned: • You are looking for the most “current” information. However, current doesn’t mean today. For example, if store A (which has 10 stores) took over store B (which had 3 stores) in a merger, then B is no longer in business. The number of stores for A will be 13 as of today because it is still in business. The number of stores for B will be 3 which is how many it had before the merger. That is the most current for B – not zero. As another example, if a store declares bankruptcy, it all depends upon the bankruptcy status. If the store is in Chapter 11, which is reorganization then the number of stores will be the current information. If the store is in Chapter 13, which is a closing of the business, then the number of stores will be zero. Be aware that the solution to the number of stores in the table is kept current, but that doesn’t mean that data will all be “as of today.” It is possible that the most current information might be 2015 or 2016. It all depends upon your research and what is available. Finding the correct information is the purpose behind doing research. One other thing to watch out for in doing your research is a “name change.” If a store changes its name, then list both the old name and the new name and the current information available for the number of stores. • You should rarely use third party sites such as Google Finance, InvestSnips, Investopedia, Wikipedia, newspa- per articles, and so on as these don’t have the most current and accurate information. You should use information from the business web site, SEC filings, Annual Reports, and so on for the most applicable, relevant and current information. • Lastly, this step involves research. “Research” is not doing a quick search and picking a web site or two and going with what is found. Research is looking at quite a few sources and thinking critically about what is found as to relevancy, currency and accuracy. For example, one web Motomart: A Litigation Support Engagement The Motomart case evolved from a litigation support engagement. The lead author of this case was hired to analyze the data and provide expert testimony. His report and testimony was made available to the public (for a fee to cover reproduction costs). A broad description of the relevant points for the Motomart case follows. Motomart wanted to move their retail automobile dealership, blaming their location for declining profits and increasing losses. They provided financial projections, using variable costing, to show that after relocation both Motomart and the existing dealership would be profitable. They created these financial projections using a database provided by the manufacturer, which included all North American retail automobile dealerships. Motomart was one of the observations or retail automobile dealerships included in the database used to create these financial projections. You’ll be examining portions of Motomart’s historical financial data. The relocation site was quite close to the existing dealership (which we’ll refer to as Existing Dealer), and Existing Dealer felt that, if the relocation was permitted, one or both of the dealerships would fail to break even and eventually go bankrupt, leading to poor service, or what the industry refers to as “orphaned” owners of these automobiles. Antitrust laws provided Existing Dealer with the means to block the relocation requested by Motomart, but only if it could prove that the relocation wasn’t in the best interest of the consuming public. Generally, the only way to prove this is to prove that there’s simply not enough business for both retail automobile dealerships to break even (or generate a reasonable return on investment, given the risks associated with the industry). Again, the manufacturer, in support of the proposed Motomart relocation, supplied financial projections showing that both retail automobile dealerships would be profitable after the relocation. The expert witness hired to investigate the merits of the relocation was given the Motomart data, but not the entire database that included the Motomart data. The Motomart data was in such poor form that it wasn’t possible to produce a financial forecast. An alternative forecast, not included in this case, was produced. This alternative forecast did not support the relocation of Motomart to a site closer to Existing Dealer. The alternative forecast showed that the market simply couldn’t support two retail automobile dealerships. The implication was that, as the weaker of the two dealerships, Motomart was losing business to Existing Dealer. In conclusion, the relocation request by Motomart was denied. Income and Expense Data The following tables give you information such as income statements, semi-fixed expenses, and salaries for Motomart. Look for unusual entries or discrepancies in their records and, where you can, note the cause of the problems. Table 3 summarizes financial and cost driver information produced by Motomart, where new retail vehicles sold (NRVS) is the cost driver. The account classification method has resulted in three cost behavior classifications: variable, semi-fixed, and fixed costs. Semi-fixed is the automobile industry-specific term used for mixed costs. We’ll assume that Motomart’s classifications of variable costs (VCs) and fixed costs (FCs) are correct, and focus our analysis on Motomart’s semi-fixed or mixed costs. REQUIREMENTS The project requires five steps to be presented. Step 1 – Provide comments on a 5 year Income Statement. Step 2 – Discuss patterns in expense items. Step 3 – Identify High/Low activity levels. Step 4 – Compute cost equations. Step 5 – Summarize your findings. In one Word document, provide individual sections for each Step. This Word document along with the Excel file (described below) will be uploaded when you click on the Take Exam button on your Student Portal to submit your project (described under “Submitting Your Assignment” later in the instructions). This Senior Capstone project highlights your knowledge and the skills you have developed over the course of your education. There is nothing “new” to be learned here. The knowledge and skills required for this project include English Composition, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Business Statistics and the abilities to think critically and to present your work in a professional manner. If you are unsure or don’t understand something about the project, then go back to your previous subjects to review. For example, if you don’t remember how to use the High/Low Method, the revisit your Managerial Accounting to refresh your memory on how to use the High/Low Method Remember, there is nothing “new” here. Everything about this project you should already know how to do. On your Student Portal, under the Supplements section of the Senior Capstone subject is a downloadable Excel file titled “Exam 500896 – Motomart Excel Spreadsheet”. • The Excel file provides a detailed example of what needs to be done for one of the expenses in order to fill out the figures required in Steps 3 & 4. You will include this Excel file as part of your project submission along with the Word document you create to present this project. o There is a “60 Months” worksheet that has the 60 months of data already entered. There is also a “Sample” worksheet that an example of how to calculate the R-sq. o There is a “PLOT – SALARY” worksheet that shows how the FC, VC and R-sq figures are calculated for Salary. o There is also a “high&low” worksheet for help with the high/low method in Step 3. o Complete and include the Excel spreadsheet. You will need to create new worksheets for each of the other expenses following the example to calculate the figures needed for Table 5. Operating Profits and Semi-Fixed Expenses Step 1 First, using Tables 2–4, note the pattern of operating profits (or losses) over the five-year period. Then focus only on the semi-fixed expenses contained in Table 2. Do any amounts appear to be odd? (Think about whether the figures are right or wrong. What is it about the individual numbers that is not “right”?) Next, briefly comment on the five-year pattern or trend for operating profit/loss measures. You should be able to respond to this step in a few well-written sentences. SUBMITTING YOUR WORK Writing Guidelines 1. Type your submission, double-spaced, in a standard print font, size 12. Use a standard document format with 1-inch margins. (Do not use any fancy or cursive fonts.) 2. Include the following information at the top of your paper: a. Name and complete mailing address b. Student number c. Course title and number (Senior Capstone: Business, BUS 450) d. Project number (see Format instructions) e. Project title (Professional Development Activity, Case 1, etc.) 3. Read the assignments carefully and complete each one in the order given. 4. Be specific. Limit your submission to the questions asked and issues mentioned. 5. If you include quotes or ideas from textbooks or other sources, provide a reference page in either APA or MLA style. On this page, list books, Web sites, journals, or any other references used in preparing the paper. 6. Proofread your work carefully. Check for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. SUBMITTING YOUR ASSIGNMENT You can submit your research assignment online, following this procedure: 1. On your computer, save a revised and corrected version of your project. 2. Go to http://www.pennfoster.edu and log in. 3. Go to Student Portal. 4. Click on Take Exam next to the lesson you’re working on. 5. Enter your e-mail address in the box provided. (Note: This information is required for online submission.) 6. Attach your file or files as follows: a. Click on the Browse box. b. Locate the file you wish to attach. c. Double-click on the file. d. Click on Upload File. e. If you have more than one file to attach, repeat steps a–d. 7. Click on Submit Files.