Aug. 15, 2003
Juggler of projects
by Kevin Brown
and her border collie, Talyn, practice search skills. Photo by Bob Elbert.
Robin Habeger is a
Professionally and personally, when one project ends, she seeks
another. She looks for activities that are challenging -- mentally and
physically -- where she can use her creativity and problem-solving
This explains some of the West Bend native's hobbies: training and handling
a search and rescue dog, and attaining black belt status in tae kwon do. It
also helps explain how she became director of the Business and Partnership
Development Program (BPDP) in the College of Business.
"I became active with STAR 1 Search and Rescue, based in Story County,
shortly after I completed my MBA at Iowa State," Habeger said. "It was my
"When I learned about this new position at the college, I immediately was
attracted by the potential of this program for both the growth of Iowa
businesses and of the college," Habeger said. "I have studied under many of
the faculty members and I understand what they can offer to the Iowa
Capitalizing on the expertise of College of Business faculty, the BPDP
provides personalized assistance, seminars and training to Iowa businesses.
Habeger currently is working with account managers in the Iowa Manufacturing
Extension Partnership (IMEP) to promote the college's expertise and
professional services to IMEP members. IMEP provides technical and business
assistance to two-thirds of Iowa's small and mid-sized
Habeger also works closely with the Iowa Small Business Development Centers
(SBDC) -- itself an outreach program of the college. On the job since May 1,
Habeger has been meeting with the Iowa Central Community College office of
the SBDC. The team is in the early stages of creating an executive education
seminar based in Fort Dodge for businesspeople in early 2004.
"The executive education seminar is a condensed version of the MBA
curriculum tailored to meet the needs expressed by executives in the Fort
Dodge area," Habeger said. "These continuing education courses focus on
topics such as marketing, process or succession planning -- who will lead
the company in the future. Courses also will respond to issues the local
business leaders identify. Adaptability is the key."
Habeger also connects companies that need feasibility studies with College
of Business experts. A feasibility study is a fairly standard requirement of
companies applying for guaranteed government loans, she said.
For example, to successfully complete a study for the USDA, a firm "would
potentially have to hire different consultants in five areas. These include
areas such as economic development impact, management structure and
capabilities, marketing plan development and appropriate-ness, accounting
and finance practices, and technical information, which includes identifying
the supply-chain management style used by the firm," Habeger said.
"The College of Business can offer all of these services, coordinated by one
person, to help reduce costs, increase efficiencies and improve the
turn-around time for the firm."
Another pending project involves helping a small, family-owned company
interested in project management and succession planning.
"Succession planning is a big concern for many family-owned businesses and
working with them provides real-world research for the faculty, with company
approval," Habeger said. "Faculty can use these current Iowa business
examples when teaching students the same concepts in the
Her own study
Habeger is familiar with the needs of Iowa's small business community.
Working with Kay Palan, associate professor of marketing, Habeger has
written a case study based on a business plan for a dog kennel service. The
study is under review for publication.
The kennel business plan was another project Habeger pursued following the
adoption of her border collie, Talyn, and her developing interest in canine
training. This potential business interest also worked hand-in-hand with her
volunteer work with STAR 1.
"Working with a search team is a good potential job' for a border collie,"
Habeger said. "And, the opportunity for volunteer service to the
organization was very appealing, even without a canine."
Habeger and Talyn are one of only seven canine teams in Iowa that are
nationally certified, a process that includes a written exam covering canine
first aid, lost person behavior and knowledge of "scent theory," or how
scents move. Part of the certification process involves a field evaluation,
in which handlers are tested on proper reading of the body language of the
dog and, of course, on whether or not they can find the person.
Talyn also is a "cadaver dog," trained to search for a deceased person at a
suspected crime scene. On a recent weekend, Habeger and Talyn were in
Plattsmouth, Neb., helping search for the body of a missing toddler. The
pair also trains regularly with the kennel master at Offutt Air Force Base,
"I'm a person that seeks out experiences," Habeger said. "I'm not one to
wait for something to come to me."
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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