Amit Hooda — Building a Business for Peace

Amit Hooda — Building a Business for Peace

MUM alumnus Amit Hooda

Amit with his father, Dr. I.S. Hooda

Amit (far left) with the honey collector families in India

A farmer collecting honey without harming the wild bee hive

Amit Hooda is the co-founder and CEO of Heavenly Organics, an Iowa-based business that imports raw honey made by wild bees in the remote forests of northern and central India. This unique business model helps sustain the economic and cultural survival of indigenous people.

Amit grew up in the countryside in northern India, where his father, a renowned agronomist, has been cultivating relationships with local farmers to preserve organic and sustainable models and to help them market their products. Although Amit grew up around farming and healthy food, the area was riddled by conflict due to the Maoist insurgency widespread in the 1980s.

Amit and his father had been dreaming about creating a business that would support small farmers in these areas and also create a high-quality product that would satisfy a need. Since the family has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique, when it came time for Amit to attend college he enrolled at MUM.

In 2005, while Amit was earning his MS in computer science at MUM, he and his father founded Heavenly Organics. “I wanted to create an economic model that created ethical jobs in conflict areas,” said Amit. “That is the only way to have long-term sustainable peace.”

The company has trained 650 families in bee-friendly sustainable methods of extracting honey in untouched forests, so the honey is free of pesticides, pollutants, GMOs, and antibiotics. The honey is then shipped to the U.S. and packaged 25 miles north of Fairfield in Keota, Iowa. Heavenly Organics sells three kinds of honey as well as honey-filled chocolate patties in several flavors. Their products are sold in six countries by specialty stores and large online retailers such as Amazon.

Amit appreciates the friends he has made at MUM, and he tries to recruit MUM graduates whenever he can. He also finds that the TM® technique has helped him improve his thinking process and enhance his personal growth.

It took several years for Heavenly Organics to build a reliable supply chain in these conflict areas, but now Amit is ready to adapt his model in other countries such as Afghanistan and Sudan. His goal is to utilize the skills already available within local communities and replace illegal and unsustainable activities with fair and honorable employment.

Watch a video about the story of Heavenly Organics here.

Nathaniel Alexander Wins Contest to Direct Branded Content Commercial

Nathaniel Alexander Wins Contest to Direct Branded Content Commercial

Nathaniel Alexander at his MUM graduation with Professor Gerry Geer and with his mother, Professor Vicki Herriott

Nathaniel on the set of the Mountain Dew commercial

A scene from Nathaniel’s commercial

Nathaniel Alexander recently graduated with an MFA degree from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, the oldest and one of the most prestigious film schools in the U.S. He is now launching his own production company, called 200 Percent, to offer music videos, unconventional advertising, and other branded content.

Nathaniel grew up in Fairfield and attended Maharishi School. With his teachers’ approval, he submitted his assignments in the form of videos whenever he could. At MUM he majored in media and communications, and in his free time began to do internships and freelance video work for local businesses.

“I was given a lot of freedom to explore my own creativity,” said Nathaniel. “Professors Gurdy Leete and Stuart Tanner were incredibly supportive and encouraging. Professor Leete’s encouragement was hugely instrumental in my eventual decision to make film my full-time career, because I felt supported in that aspect of my creativity.”

Nathaniel also appreciated the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique and everyone’s focus on their personal growth. “Because of TM, the professors were very secure in their understanding of who they were. As a result, the feedback and the encouragement they gave weren’t coming from a place of their personal needs.”

The USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles is very closely connected to Hollywood studios and experts, so Nathaniel had the chance to experience how the film industry operates. Due to the MFA program’s interdisciplinary approach to filmmaking, he was also able to create short film projects, working on every detail of the development including script writing, editing, production design, and budgeting.

In his third year, Nathaniel won a $50,000 contest, sponsored by PepsiCo, to write and direct a commercial for one of their products: Mountain Dew. The process of working with a brand made him realize he enjoyed working creatively on a story that not only functioned as a narrative but as a vehicle for a product. Nathaniel’s long-term vision is to write and direct television shows, movies, documentaries, and interactive media.

MBA Students Place in Top 10th Percentile in Global Business Simulation

MBA Students Place in Top 10th Percentile in Global Business Simulation

The MUM team: John Ortaliza (Philippines), Rithy Um (Cambodia), and Elias Mengistu (Ethiopia)

Professor Andrew Bargerstock

MBA students in class

A team of MBA accounting students recently finished in the 92nd percentile in an online integrated decision-making simulation that involved 1,125 master’s-degree-level teams worldwide. This team reflects the international character of MUM’s student population: John Ortaliza (Philippines), Rithy Um (Cambodia), and Elias Mengistu (Ethiopia).

This is the 12th consecutive time that at least one group of MBA students from MUM has finished in the top tenth percentile since they began participating in the simulation in 2011. Other U.S. universities that finished in the top tenth percentile in this window of the competition included Brigham Young University, Indiana University, University of Georgia, Drake University, Ohio University, and Seton Hall University.

“MBAs are expected to make decisions guided by analysis of quantitative data,” said Andrew Bargerstock, chair of the Accounting Department. “We feel that the Capstone Simulation results demonstrate the readiness of our students for job markets now and ultimately for executive leadership positions later.”

In the online Capstone Simulation points are earned through well-defined metrics based on the Balanced Scorecard, a concept developed by Robert Kaplan at Harvard University. It recognizes four perspectives for measuring performance: customer, financial, internal business processes, and learning/growth.

The students must manage both short-term and long-term metrics across eight rounds of decision-making, with each round representing one year. This entails using their knowledge of marketing, finance, operations, human resources, accounting, problem-solving, and data analysis. Team performance depends on their ability to analyze data and financial statements across eight years of business activities.

While not a real-time competition per se, the ongoing simulation allows MBA teams to compare their performance with all the other MBA teams who have participated in the previous six-month period from the end date of the last round of decisions.

“The experience I had from the simulation was a better understanding of how executive management makes decisions based on different perspectives,” said Elias Mengistu. “Maharishi’s quality executive management was exercised in all our management decisions; comprehension, creativity, initiative, vigilance, and foresight played a significant role.”

In addition to available concentrations in accounting, SAP-finance, and sustainable business practice, MBA students at MUM take a variety of general management courses that might include marketing, finance, human resource management, operations management, business law, data modeling, and data mining.

“My experience with the MBA program at MUM helped me grow professionally and personally,” said John Ortaliza. “The subjects covered in the Accounting Professionals program assisted in my preparation to take the US CPA examination, while the daily practice of TM took care of my focus, comprehension, foresight, and creativity.”

Approximately 200 students are currently enrolled in various specializations in the MBA program, including those on campus, those in their practicum phase, and in special-purpose corporate MBA programs.

Terrell Smith—Discovering Art

Terrell Smith—Discovering Art

MUM alumnus Terrell Smith

Untitled by Terrell Smith

With fellow MUM art students

Untitled by Terrell Smith

MUM graduate Terrell Smith started his MFA in painting program this fall at the University of Iowa with a full scholarship. He graduated in 2016 with a BFA degree from MUM and applied to six different graduate programs. He was accepted to all of them, but after visiting the University of Iowa art department he needed to look no further.

“My source of achievement is looking for something that stretches my boundaries,” said Terrell. “As long as I am able to grow and learn and pass that on to somebody, I have achieved that goal. I felt that this program was going to do that for me.”

Terrell grew up in Florida and started working for the large retailer Costco at 18. For ten years he moved around the country and up the corporate ladder. Although he was successful, had a stable income, and a comfortable lifestyle, he felt he wasn’t growing. His girlfriend came to MUM first and easily convinced Terrell to follow.

He first signed up to be a pre-med major, but after taking a drawing class he discovered his passion. He has always been a visual learner and enjoyed expressing himself through imagery. Soon he fully immersed himself in creating art, participated in student life, and began helping other students with their art work.

“TM has changed my thinking a lot,” he said. “It made me understand life, my role in life, and my role as an artist. I have been able to really work on ideas that I want to push in my work. I am able to articulate what I want to say because I have confidence in myself.”

“Terrell is uniquely curious and always comes up with surprising, yet studied, results in his paintings,” said James Shrosbree, professor of art.

Terrell feels he has experienced a thorough transformation at MUM, enjoyed every minute of it, and “blossomed” along the way. He wants to continue expressing himself through art and teach others to do the same.