Alumni Newsletter: December 2014 
ABC: Al's Book Club
..One of the most important lessons we have learned at CIMBA as we developed and tested our behavioral models, and the technology supporting their implementation in the workplace and beyond, is the importance of looking beyond neuroscience and social psychology to encompass other fields that have much to offer in supporting and solidifying our Social Brain Theory of Leadership. In all truthfulness, perhaps the most important step was the decision to move beyond the traditional bounds of leadership as it was then understood in the early 90s. An important contributor to our thinking was the anthropologist Dr. Robin Dunbar.

Lou Fabiano

CIMBA MBA Full-Time Class of 1994


Lou, tell us about yourself. What year did you graduate from CIMBA? Would you mind sharing your current and past job experience with us? 

I am Canadian, married to an American, Nicole, and we have two boys, Adam, 6, and Andrew, 3.  I graduated in 1994. That year I believe we had eight Canadians in the class. I am currently COO of Veritas Equity Research, a small equity research firm located in Toronto, Canada.  We have about 30 people in total.  I love my role.  I have the ability to impact every part of the organization. 


In reminiscing about your CIMBA experience, what are a few things that changed your way of thinking?

I often tell the story to people that when I got to Italy, I thought I was so open minded.  But it wasn't until I got back to Canada that I realized how little I really knew about the world and others.  CIMBA opened up my world to people from around the world, new ideas, new cultures, and new perspectives.  I remember that some of classmates couldn't actually vote in their countries.  If they could vote, they only had a choice of two people in the same party.  Here I was coming from Canada where democracy was taken for granted.  I became a very strong advocate of ensuring that people, wherever they live, vote to protect their freedoms.  Today, all my staff is encouraged to leave work early, come in late, or do whatever they have to do to ensure they vote. 


Another funny story, when we got to the US a bunch of us went out, and we went through a drive-thru.  I remember the Europeans being appalled at the concept of a drive-thru.  I remember them saying how lazy and wasteful this was.  "Food should be eaten at the table not in a car".  "You're wasting gas",  "You can't digest properly".  It was funny, true, but very funny.  It offended their whole sense of being.  All good though, we later met at a local pub where we could drink and eat at a table.  We were all good.


What was your favorite moment during your time at CIMBA? Favorite class?

My favorite moment of the program was probably when we would all get together on weekends.  It was a great time.  My classmates became my family.  Most of us had left, family, friends, spouses, jobs, countries.  All we had was each other.  I wouldn't change it.  Still to this day, some of my favorite people I ever met are from this class. Regarding my favorite class, I don't remember the name of the class but it involved team negotiations, strategic planning, ensuring your team was positioned to win.  I loved that class.  In fact, it is still what I love to do today.  


What was the impact of the MBA program on your career?

The program had a huge impact on my career and my life.  We went to school with kids from all over the world.  Sometimes we think that our countries have a monopoly on education and intelligent people.  The people I met were extremely bright.  In fact, they were so smart that I was concerned that Canadians were not doing enough to compete with all these bright people. I also learned that every person has their own strengths and weaknesses.  The goal is to find those strengths and be great at those things.  You can try to fix your weakness but you'll never be as good as those people who are great at it.  So, surround yourself with great people.  I apply this to my work today. 


Looking back on your professional career so far, is there anything you regret?

Looking back at my career, sometimes I regret my impatience.  Whenever I felt I could no longer help or I didn't think I could progress further or on my timelines, I tried to create new opportunities for myself. I probably also regret not being more entrepreneurial sooner.  I have worked in large corporate environments for 20 years and truly appreciated what I learned and the experiences I lived in those 20 years.  In the back of my mind I always wanted to join or be part of small group where I had more direct impact on the direction of the company and where I had the potential to be an owner, not a shareholder.  My new role as COO at Veritas Investment Research provided this opportunity.  I love it.


What advice would you give to current or prospective students?

I'm not sure what I would tell today's students.  I have hired so many students in my career.  They seem to get smarter, faster, and far more willing to take chances.  I think they are living the advice I would give them.  One other thing, be smart of how you manage whatever you do on the web.  The web is powerful, it judges you whether you like it or not and without any knowledge of who you are. It can bring people together for good but can also be a destructive force.  


Would you mind sharing a dream or a future goal of yours?

My career goal is to grow Veritas Investment Research Corp into a global provider of independent equity research and to spin off into other businesses.  I would like to leave the legacy of building something great.


What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

I probably have a couple of favorite movies.  I love the movie Swingers, it's 20 years old but I still watch it.  It's about good friends getting through life.  I love the movie Big Night, too. It's about family and going after your dream. And I love the movie Life is Beautiful.  I have two kids and that movie showed how a father guided his son through the tragedy of the Nazis.  Fantastic. There are too many books to pick one favorite.  


What inspires you?

What a great question.  I would have to say that a great experience inspires me.  I also love architecture, so seeing things like St. Peter's or Versailles, is inspirational.  And the people I care about and love inspire me a great deal.  


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I miss my classmates.  We had such a good group of people.  We have had ad hoc re-unions here and there.  Whenever we see each other, 20 years later, we just pick up where we left off.  They were a big part of my life, they always will be.


On December 13th and 14th, both full time and part time MBA students were privileged to have Professor Kenneth Brown, Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program at the Tippie School of Business, help them explore topics such as motivation, compensation, employee selection, and influence and persuasion. The photo above has a bit of a story behind it! Professor Brown asked if someone in the class could convince him to give him or her the 10 Euro bill in his hand. While there were several solid options thrown out there, one stood out for its creativeness and meaningfulness. The last student suggested giving him the bill so that he could pass it around for all students to sign before taking a group photo with the signed bill as a memento. Consequently, Professor Brown is holding the final signed bill in his hand! It was a great way to wrap up a rewarding and challenging weekend for all.

Alumni Updates

Welcome to the world, little girl! Madeleine Jane Parkison was born just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Congratulations, Ben and Marjorie Davis, MBA full time Class of 2008 alumna!       


Donna Bramlett Figueiredo, RI and UG Fall 2009 alumna is the proud new mother of this gorgeous boy, Blake Arthur Figuereiredo, born on November 29th. Congratulations, Mom and Dad, Nick!



We're pleased to introduce little Emma Roldo! Simone Roldo, MBA Class of 2013, and Sabrina are the proud parents of this little sweetie. Congratulations - she is simply adorable! 

Dear ,  


We imagine that you are taking advantage of the holiday season and reflecting on the whirlwind that was the past year!  


To the left, get up to speed with Lou Fabiano, MBA Class of 1994, about his exciting post-CIMBA experiences. Lou's thoughtfulness and impressions of his time at CIMBA will surely be appreciated by current MBA students and fellow alumni alike.    


Paderno has been quite a-buzz throughout December so far! We were lucky enough to grant two Leadership Awards in the undergraduate program - one to University of Connecticut student Taylor Hammeke and the other to Purdue University student Kevin Leung. Additionally, MBA Class of 2011 alum Michele Chiariello introduced a pair of Image in Digital Advertising and Photography workshops and we've included some of their productions to show off their impressive work!    


Both full time and part time MBA students enjoyed a fantastic weekend of Management in Organization classes with the charismatic Professor Kenneth Brown, Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program at the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business. This weekend brings the second half of the module taught by Professor Brown's wife, Professor Kristof-Brown.


Before you go, be sure to catch up with CIMBA alumni to see what joyous occasions have blessed the CIMBA family! 


While the fall semester has come to an end, we already have high hopes for a brilliant Spring 2015 semester right around the corner. We'd like to wish you all the best in the new year and look forward to hearing from you!


Happy Holidays!


CIMBA Undergraduate
New Image in Digital Advertising and Photography Workshops!
Some insight into the sessions from workshop leader, Professor Michele Chiariello...
A University of Iowa student poses stoically during a photography session.

This workshop served as an occasion to analyze different aspects of how to use the images in a communicative environment with the students. The group moved from the role of mere passive users and entered the specifics of how an effective image is born and subsequently created. In order to overcome the limitations of a formal and generic presentation, we were able to apply the concepts with a lab-style, "hands on" approach in which students, simply guided by some general instructions, were the real stars, and could take on the various roles of the world of professional photography. In this way, they could feel the emotions of creativity and expression as participants in a creative act.  Students really grew into the roles of a working group that, in order to give the best results, has to be especially sensitive and respectful, but close-knit and cautious.


For me, it was very exciting to see the students unleash their expressive, in some cases very intense, skills, and turn what may seem, at a glance, like a simple photo shoot into small works of art. It's not easy being in front of a camera lens let alone transmitting a part of oneself that exceeds the outward appearance (model). A precise moment and the point of view that effectively represents a second in time is what a photographer expresses. I believe we achieved excellent results and went well beyond the expectations that we all had - a testament to the quality of the human heritage of the students and their desire to understand the benefits of exploring areas beyond the boundaries of everyday life. A big thank you goes out to all of them - and also to CIMBA who made this path of sharing so many beautiful things possible.

Another fantastic shot thanks to Professor Chiariello's additional photography workshop!
Professor Michele Chiariello's marketing students share their passions, needs, and wants with us!
Check out this video of the Fall 2014 Introduction to Marketing Class sharing their passions, more photos from their photography workshops, and primary takeaways from their semester at CIMBA! A must-watch!
CIMBA Executive 
New Course for the Spring:
Soft Skills for Managers 
We are thrilled to announce the creation of a new course specifically geared to Italian managers and entrepreneurs: Soft Skills for Managers. The program focuses on those skills that are essential to doing business today: leadership skills, problem solving and decision making tools, and team work skills. The course will be taught completely in Italian and will start in March 2015.


The ECIMS Strategy module wraps up! Professor Jon Gray sums up an engaging weekend below....

"The course was comprised of lecture and simulation exercises. My lecture tied together traditional strategic business tools, KT tools, the Italsedia business case, and a Marketplace simulation tool into a comprehensive strategy course. The course simulation placed the students into competing business teams fighting to create a profitable business. The simulation will end in Iowa this summer defining which team ran the best business.


The participants were very knowledgeable in business and enjoyed the competition offered by the simulation tool. As a former Executive business person, I enjoy working with this caliber of students to share experiences and implement ideas. I can't wait to work with them again to build a business plan and presentation for their business."

Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Workshop
We are proud to have Professor George Siedel of the University of Michigan once again leading his annual seminar on Negotiation and Dispute Resolution on January 24th and 25th at CIMBA. If you live in the area and are interested in participating in this engaging workshop weekend, please contact us at Space is still available. Applications will close on January 15th. 
Alumni Gatherings

Members of the CIMBA MBA Class of 2014 enjoyed a dinner reunion while Supply Chain Prof Tim Lowe and Strategy Prof Jon Gray were in town! Two representatives of each capstone course team were present! Mattie Clark and Vadim Denisov of Team Exelis, as well as Matteo Badalocchi and Laura Basso of Team Blink, joined their professors to catch up over a delicious meal in the Treviso area. Another example of members of the CIMBA family coming together!


CIMBA Alumni Association

The Treviso area alumni are meeting in Treviso on Monday December 22, 2014. Join them for a Christmas Prosecco at 7.30 pm at Abituč in Treviso - for directions follow this link  

New job? Moving somewhere? Getting married? Other life changes? Want to volunteer your profile for the Meet the Alumni section?   

Keep your fellow alums in the loop! Send your news items to and they will appear here the following month!

Save the date

Saturday, February 28th at 10.30AM 

MBA Program Presentation - CIMBA Campus

Calendar of Events:

January 10 and 11, 17 and 18
MBA Leadership and Personal Development
Professor Ginny Wilson, University of Iowa

January 30 and 31
MBA Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Professor David Hensley, University of Iowa

January 24 and 25
Negotiation Strategy
Professor George Siedel, University of Michigan 
Quick Links 
AbcABC:Al's Book Club
Those of you familiar with the CIMBA Leadership System know that we prescribe heavily to something we referred to internally as the Social Brain Theory of Leadership. Several of the books we have reviewed in this column have both supported and extended this core theory. From Dr. Leslie Brothers' Friday's Footprint (1997), which arguably predated social neuroscience, to Dr. Matt Lieberman's Social (2013), who is arguably the father of social neuroscience, the evidence supports our two most fundamental tenets: (1) The human brain is wired to be social; and, (2) Leadership is a social event. One of the most important lessons we have learned at CIMBA as we developed and tested our behavioral models, and the technology supporting their implementation in the workplace and beyond, is the importance of looking beyond neuroscience and social psychology to encompass other fields that have much to offer in supporting and solidifying our Social Brain Theory of Leadership. In all truthfulness, perhaps the most important step was the decision to move beyond the traditional bounds of leadership as it was then understood in the early 90s. An important contributor to our thinking was the anthropologist Dr. Robin Dunbar. Dr. Dunbar is recognized for building evidence in support of the core notion that the human brain got bigger, it evolved, in order to manage its demanding social responsibilities - his Social Brain Hypothesis. In the book, Thinking Big: How the Evolution of Social Life Shaped the Human Mind, Dr. Dunbar and his colleagues put together the pieces that led to the development of his theory and then provide us with a variety of studies that have been undertaken over the past 15+ years since he introduced it. In addition, given that it is the holiday season, reviewing the brain's sociability seems appropriate as many of us will gather together or in other ways communicate with our closest and most important social connections. 


Before we begin, I would like to resurface for consideration other books and articles from our "social" brain list. Of particular note is Dr. Dan Siegel's Brainstorm, like Dr. Matt Lieberman's Social, a book we made the subject of this column in the recent past. The CIMBA Leadership System places considerable emphasis on social transitions and the role they play in exposing shortcomings in an individual's leadership competencies. In short summary, the tools we develop to "survive" in one social group may not function or may not function as well in subsequent social settings to which we transition (e.g., from high school to college, from college to our first job, upon being promoted). Through our assessments, and the unique technologies that assist us in collecting the relevant data, our coaches work with program participants to identify shortcomings in those necessary-for-success competencies. Dr. Siegel gave us "permission" to assist participants in understanding how those prior social experiences, and particularly those social experiences originating in the participant's primary social group, may be creating unforeseen or unexpected shortcomings in performance and well being. It is not uncommon to find a participant's anxiety rise to unproductive and unhealthy levels in the face of social cues that functioned well in prior social settings but are not functioning in the same manner in the new one. On the other hand, we also observe participants who seem to make the social transitions quite effortlessly; internally, we refer to these latter participants as having a higher level of mental complexity or wisdom. Prof. Dunbar's thesis provides considerable support for this type of reasoning, although, as might be expected, using different language and terms of expression, something to which we have become accustomed as we compare and contrast findings from social psychology, neuroscience, and other sciences.


Dunbar's Social Brain Hypothesis states that the human brain evolved to its larger size relative to other primates in order to manage its demanding social responsibilities. Note that in his book, Descent of Man, Charles Darwin recognizes the fundamental importance of these social constructs: "With those animals which were benefited by living in close association, the individuals which took the greatest pleasure in society would best escape various dangers, while those that cared least for their comrades, and lived solitary, would perish in greater numbers." In making his case for the relationship between social responsibility and brain size, Dunbar persuasively argues away competing explanations such as the advent of tools, fire, language, and others in large measure by showing a willingness to move beyond the physical presence of artifacts and offer compelling explanations on the why and how of their existence. He makes a very strong case for the fact that our social nature is not an accident of having a larger brain relative to other species. Rather, the value of increasing our sociability is a major reason why we evolved to have a larger brain. A fundamental tenet of Dunbar's hypothesis is that the relative size of the human neocortex determines the size of the social group to which an individual could be a member. As an anthropologist, Dunbar is looking at this by observing development over a period of some 2 million years and across several animal species. Dunbar was able to estimate what the largest effective, coherent social group should be for each kind of primate, based on the size of its neocortex. In the current epoch, his analysis suggests that for humans the number is around 150 (and includes spouses, children, relatives, and friends), the largest for any primate. This is referred to as "Dunbar's number," and it turns out that a striking number of human organizations and activities tend to operate at around that size. For example, he notes that "despite the opportunity to create new connections at the click of a 'friending' button, most people's Facebook pages list only between 100 and 250 names" (citing a study of more than 1 million Facebook pages). He shows us that as we move to cities and population concentrates, we still maintain a personal social group size of around 150 people. Consistent with our notion of mental complexity, he shows us research demonstrating that individuals with the capacity to have larger social groups tend to have a larger orbitofrontal cortex. Importantly, he also makes the case for the important role effective leaders play in the context of super-large communities "because they allow the group to impose some discipline on itself, to cut through the different levels of its huge numbers. ... A charismatic leader who can persuade everyone else to act in concert, despite what each of them might prefer to do individually." However, he makes no effort to investigate the notion of effective or ineffective leadership or its traits or characteristics, stating "it is the stuff of history and not anthropology."


In reality, we believe that the Social Brain Hypotheses proffered by Dunbar actually provides a solid foundation for understanding the evolution of followership - where a follower is defined as an individual who coordinates his actions with another individual who is frequently the leader but may also be another follower. Clearly, the transition from group member to leader is fundamental and may in many cases be as important to survival as was the decision to form the group in the first place -- a notion Darwin makes clear in the quote above. Taken from this perspective, it is difficult to understand why there is such a dearth of research on followership relative to the volumes and volumes conducted on leadership. Could this be the reason we see the high rates a failure in leadership development programs in companies and organizations -- with some reputable consulting companies placing that failure rate at more than 75 percent?


The significance of this question was made evident to us in a research article written in 2011 by Todd Heatherton, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College. Taking note of the evolutionary consequences of the adaptive challenges facing our earliest ancestors in much the same way as Dunbar, Heatherton persuasively asserts that the brain evolved dedicated neural mechanisms acutely sensitive to social context. In particular, those neural mechanisms would be most sensitive to any sign that the individual's group membership was imperiled. Given the adaptive challenges being confronted, those neural mechanisms involve at a minimum self-awareness (an awareness of our behavior so as to compare it against group norms), social awareness (to include mentalizing - essentially theory of mind, a component of social awareness upon which both Dunbar and Lieberman place considerable emphasis), the ability to detect threats (particularly in social situations), and self-regulation (to allow us to alter or inhibit behaviors that would place us at risk of group exclusion). Our research here at CIMBA has led us to view these four neural mechanisms as core competencies, enabling an individual to be an accepted group member. The failure of any one of these for mechanisms can lead to poor outcomes and sensor from the group -- with such social rejection conflicting considerable social pain. Of the four, we have found self-regulation to be of particular importance, a topic we have addressed in some detail in other ABCs.


As to the threat detection mechanisms, we have placed considerable emphasis on the social stimuli that engender social pain (as defined by Profs. Lieberman and Naomi I.Eisenberger, 2003), initially employing the SCARF model (which categorized social stimuli as being Status, Certainty, Ambiguity, Relatedness, or Fairness oriented) and more recently moving to SAFETY (Security, Autonomy, Fairness, Esteem, Trust, and You) to embrace the core elements of SCARF and to allow for the inclusion of the important components of Trust (T) and thinking biases (You). Under our Social Brain Theory of Leadership, an individual needs first to meet group norms for inclusion, and then develop those core competencies at elevated levels to take a leadership role. In other words, an individual must demonstrate competency in the behavioral manifestation of the four core neural mechanisms to be accepted as a group member and then to show elevated capacity in order to adapt or change the group itself as its leader. Of course, such an individual would need to be motivated (by status, prestige, desire to implement a particular vision whether the vision is driven by group desire or by the individual's desires) and persuasive, with the latter requirement lending credence to research arguing that our brains evolved to be more persuasive (or manipulative) then rational.


The book takes you on a fascinating journey, exploring the impacts of technology, fire, language, religion, and storytelling as it travels through some 2 million years of human development in piecing together the components of Dunbar's Social Brain Theory. At one point in the latter part of the book he proffers a very interesting anecdote to explain our brain's ancestral journey. He asks you to imagine an alien tourist (one of long memory and great curiosity), which seeks to visit Earth every 500,000 years. During the alien's visits at 1.5 and 1 million years the alien would have been taken by the slowness of our change. On the third visit 500,000 years ago, the alien would have found little difference from the prior two trips except now it would have found the human brain to be significantly bigger. Visiting today, it certainly would have been a surprise to find urban-living, super-technological humans, exploring the solar system and messaging on smart phones; and, they would also be taken by the fact that those brains were not much larger than the last visit. While other anthropologists might be led to believe that nothing much changed, Dunbar points to the fact that while extensive physical changes might not be apparent, humans experienced dramatic development in their social environment, placing particular emphasis on the development of social emotions such as compassion, and in music, laughter, language, and ceremony.


In this specific regard, the book seems to have particular relevance to this time of year. Dunbar argues that endorphins, and particularly the sub-class known as β-endorphins, play an important role in social behavior. Interestingly, these brain chemicals are released in response to stress and can be quite pleasant -- causing us to seek more of it. Many of you will recognize this notion from the pleasant "runner's high" that goes along with exercise. Based on a variety of interesting research, Dunbar makes the case for a similar response from two other "stressful" events: laughter and music. During this holiday season many of you will be enjoying the comfort of family and friends, all members of your Dunbar 150. I encourage you to embrace your body's ability to generate β-endorphins, but with a little advice based on the research. You will certainly participate in and enjoy the laughter and merriment that is an indispensible part of the holiday experience. My advice regards the music. The research clearly shows that listening to music will not deliver the β-endorphins high; you have to perform it in order to get the high. So I encourage you to actually sing along with those Christmas carols this year and fully embrace the experience by deriving all of its physiological benefits!


Happy Holidays!