Khoo TIME: Foster alumnus an influential entrepreneur

TIME magazine has named the founders of Seattle-based Internet comic strip Penny Arcade among its 2010 “TIME 100,” a roster of the world’s most influential people. While recognizing the artist/writer duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins as the “tastemakers, and conscience,” of the massive computer gaming industry, the magazine also credits Foster School of Business grad Robert Khoo (BA 2000), Penny Arcade’s business director who turned an obscure comic into a mighty—and fiercely independent—media empire.

With Khoo at the helm of business affairs, Penny Arcade catalyzes a tight-knit Web community of 3.5 million hardcore gamers, throws an annual expo called PAX that draws 60,000 fans to Seattle each summer, and runs Child’s Play, a thriving charity that delivers video games to 60 children’s hospitals around the world.

State of the economy with faculty Hadjimichalakis and Rice

The 2010 MBA State of the Economy forum at the University of Washington Foster School of Business with finance and economics faculty members Karma Hadjimichalakis and Ed Rice covered issues related to our national economy, European trends, state and local economic issues as a result of the recent budget crisis, health care reform and more. This event is an annual series for Foster alumni.

RSS Missed the event? Listen to the 50-minute MBA State of the Economy podcast.

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The ABCs of LEED

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

RitaBroganIt is almost impossible these days for there to be a discussion about building or development that does not include discussion of LEED, an internationally-adopted third party certification of environmental excellence in metrics related to energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and sensitivity to impacts.

LEED, which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” was initiated by Robert Watson in 1993 to:

  • Define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement
  • Promote integrated, whole-building design practices
  • Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
  • Stimulate green competition
  • Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
  • Transform the building market

Although it is not the only certification system for sustainability, it is certainly the best known. With the broad-based efforts of the US Green Building Council, LEED has become the global sustainability certification standard for everything from building design to interiors to whole neighborhoods.  And, oh yes, for people, too! 

Increasingly, public agencies are requiring or incentivizing compliance with LEED standards in new construction. In addition, many believe that LEED accreditation of buildings and neighborhoods offer a real market advantage for people who want to live and work in healthy, environmentally-responsible settings.

Individuals can become accredited as either LEED Green Associates or LEED APs through a program administered by the Green Building Certification Institute. The Institute offers educations and seminars, and certifies environmental expertise through a testing program. 

LEED certification can open doors to the green economy for minority entrepreneurs in architecture, construction, planning, engineering or design. It represents official recognition of expertise in sustainability from the industry, and it is a way for you to become current with state-of-the-art business practices in the new green economy.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle that is nationally recognized for its work in social marketing, public involvement, and community building. PRR is one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recent recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She writes the BEDC Brogan blog series twice a month, focusing on green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.

Foster MBA alumnus lands crossword puzzles in LA and NY Times

What does it take to create a crossword puzzle of sufficient challenge and cleverness to be published in the New York Times? A bona fide polymath, well-read and widely-experienced. A serious student of popular culture, equally versed in history, sport, art, science, architecture, medicine, warfare, European languages—a renaissance man.

Jeff ChenFoster MBA alumnus Jeff Chen fits the bill. An entrepreneur, personal wealth manager, writer, rock climber and world traveler, Chen is also an avid puzzle-solver. A friend turned him on to the venerable New York Times daily crossword a couple of years ago. “It was love at first sight,” he says. 

Last year he began composing his own. He’s already had four published in the Los Angeles Times and his first puzzle was recently accepted for the New York Times, a gold standard in the crossworld.

Chen says constructing crosswords is as much a test of strategy as vocabulary. He begins with a theme that ties together four or five long answers, and then builds around them. Devising appropriate, accurate, pithy clues is an art in and of itself.

Crossword puzzles are not a lucrative hobby. Each one takes Chen 15 to 20 hours to complete—before revisions. He has created 30-something puzzles and sold only five, each fetching between $85 and $200.

Entrepreneur, wealth manager, globe trotter, writer
It doesn’t threaten to supplant Chen’s day job. After earning his MBA from the University of Washington Foster School in 2002, Chen helped launch Acucela, developer of a novel treatment for degenerative eye disease. Since leaving Acucela last year, he has done private wealth management and is working on a new venture (currently undisclosed) with some friends. He has been an active board member with local non-profits Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Passages Northwest and Treehouse and recently traveled to Bolivia to examine microfinance operations for Global Partnerships.

Chen is also 90,000 words into his first novel, a story set at school in the mountains of Peru where kids learn how to be secret defenders of justice. “My brother and I were talking about how sad it was that there would never be another Harry Potter book,” he says. “So about two years ago I decided to write something that could start a similar kind of series. I’m not a published author, but I thought I’d give it a try.”

Chen still challenges himself daily with the puzzles of both newspapers (each escalates in difficulty from Monday forward), and says he can complete a New York Times Friday puzzle 75 percent of the time.

Match wits with Jeff Chen’s recent 2010 Monday and Tuesday Los Angeles Times puzzles.

Undergrads consult with farmers over spring break

Over 2010 spring break, roughly 29 University of Washington undergraduate students, most from the Foster School, visited a mountain village in Panama to help the villagers improve their farming business.

The team spent most of their spring break on Machuca Farm in the Cocle province, roughly three hours from Panama City. The farm is a 25-minute hike from the end of the nearest roadway. The community has about 800 inhabitants, but the farm group that the students focused on has 14 members and supports roughly 35 people. The farm grows yucca, plantain, rice, beans, corn and other crops and also raises chickens, goats and fish in a pond. Read more.

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Calling all leaders

Guest blog post by Don Nielsen (BA 1960)

Neilsen-headshotNormally, I am a very optimistic person, but I am concerned with what I see taking place or, perhaps not taking place, in all facets of our government. Federal government programs are not working as predicted, and many of them have failed. Looking at the list of bankrupt programs—Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, the Post Office, Amtrak—is depressing. Most of our states are in serious debt—California could declare bankruptcy in the not too distant future—and finances at the city level are no better. Debt is piling up in all sectors.

One striking statistic, which I think contributes to these failures, is the fact that many of our top-level national and local government officials have never worked in the private sector. Today, we have developed an entirely different occupation—career elected official—that is the norm for those in most of our elected offices.

However, our founders never anticipated that serving in an elected position would be a career choice. It was intended to be a public service. It was something you did to make your contribution to the society in which you lived.

How many times have you heard someone compare the voting process to deciding between the lesser of two evils? Would this be acceptable if you were recruiting a new CEO to run your company? I think not—and it shouldn’t be acceptable for recruiting people to run our government.

This country needs leaders who understand our economic system. The Foster School has recently initiated a major effort in leadership development. Foster students, already considered A-list hires, are being asked to take academic rigor and real world relevance even further. While most of our graduates will go into business, I hope some will think about public service, if not at the outset, then later in their careers. And while many of our alumni are doing great things in the world of business, I hope they too will consider lending their expertise to righting the “ship of state.”

We need leaders who run for office as a public service and who run for office to preserve this wonderful republic that we all love. Leaders, not politicians, will make sure that happens. Please consider running for public office and serving a few years in a public service position as a part of your career plans. Give voters the chance to choose the best officials who can help make the tough decisions needed to solve this nation’s problems.

Don Nielsen is a member of the Foster School Advisory Board and chairman and CEO of Light Doctor, LLC.

This alumnus opinion post is not intended to represent the views of the Michael G. Foster School of Business.