Professor Spratlen on minority history + legacy

UW Professor Emeritus of Marketing Thaddeus Spratlen, founding faculty director of the Consulting and Business Development Center (formerly the Business & Economic Development Center), discusses segregation in higher education during the 1960s, how he became one of the first African American professors to teach and publish at a mainstream (non-historically black) US university—and how the UW Foster School of Business BEDC all began.

Professor Spratlen and his wife Professor Lois Price Spratlen have given $1 million to the UW and the Consulting and Business Development Center over their lifetime, ensuring the center will continue for generations to come as one of only a few centers at top public business schools in the country devoted to minority business economic development.

Donate to the Thaddeus H. Spratlen Endowment for Business and Economic Development Program

UW luminaries fulfill lifelong dream by breaking barriers, giving back

Thaddeus Spratlen and Lois Price SpratlenThaddeus Spratlen and Lois Price Spratlen, University of Washington emeritus professors, broke down barriers across the US while raising the bar for women and people of color in higher education.

Thad, professor of marketing, paved the way for professors of color to join non-black universities and expanded access for other women and people of color in business by establishing the Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC), now called the Consulting and Business Development Center. He was the first African American faculty at the UW Foster School of Business, first to receive tenure and first emeritus professor. If he hadn’t pushed racial boundaries, the Consulting and Business Development Center might be a smaller program at a historically black college – and its impact might be far less.

Lois contributed to gender equality by writing the book on how women are treated in university settings. She also was the first female UW ombudsman. And in the 1950s she got a policy change for women nursing students to marry while in college.

Their $1 million lifetime gift to the UW ensures the Consulting and Business Development Center will flourish. To date, more than $85 million in new revenue was gained and more than 6,000 jobs were added or retained across Washington through the center’s work.

“The Foster School’s vision is to become the best public business school and to me that means we serve everyone. Foster is one of only three top public business schools in the nation to address minority business economic development,” says Michael Verchot, director of the Business and Economic Development Center. “Because of the Spratlen gift, we know right now that the Foster School Business and Economic Development Center will forevermore be working with small businesses in underserved communities.”

Serving minority-owned businesses

Thad started in the 1970s and 1980s at the University of Washington doing project-based learning to support minority-owned businesses. Then founded the center, one of the few centers of its kind to exist at a nationally ranked public university, in the 1990s.

Thad says, “You can do things as a center that would be more difficult to do, if you could do them at all, if it had remained a course of the business school or just a program. The center gives support for businesses, its board fellows, its MBA students and working with larger minority business owners through executive development.”

The center’s unique approach educates minority business owners while boosting their revenue. Thad says, “We developed the idea that we don’t show up as experts, do the study, leave you with the report. It’s a learning experience where we develop skills and knowledge in those who are assisted in the program. We take such pride in it and know that it’s a known quantity even beyond the helping save some jobs, creating some jobs, increasing sales. Those kinds of tangible things are part of the record of the center.” For 15 years, the Consulting and Business Development Center has assisted hundreds of minority-owned businesses with this approach.

Lois says, about the center, “It’s a tangible representation of a life’s work. Thaddeus started this a long time ago. It’s wonderful to know that it’s going to be here well after he’s gone and we’re gone.”

“His generation broke down all these barriers,” says Verchot.

Lois Price Spratlen, academic barrier-breaker

Lois was once denied admission to the University of Virginia in 1949, despite being valedictorian at her high school. Her neighbor helped her get scholarships to attend historically black Hampton University. “It changed my life,” says Lois.

In 1952, she pushed for a policy change at Hampton to allow students to be married while completing their degrees, an unprecedented event. “To have the nerve to go talk to the dean. I don’t know where I got it, but I did it,” says Lois. “It broke down the barrier.”

She went on to earn her bachelor’s in nursing (Hampton 1954), master’s in community mental health (UCLA 1972) and doctoral in urban planning (UW 1976).

Lois was a UW nursing professor for 30 years and named ombudsman for sexual harassment at UW, first higher education institution in the country to establish this office. She then became the first female ombudsman at the UW, changing the focus of the role from reacting to conflict to preventing it through community education. In 1998, Lois was named Ombuds of the Year by the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds.

“At the time that I served the university as the ombudsman for sexual harassment, we only had one case go to court. The one case that did go to court, we were able to use my educative approach and to win that case.”

From being denied admission to one nationally ranked university to becoming a leader at another one, Lois lived the civil rights dream.

UW laureate $1 million gift

The last chapter of the Spratlen legacy will live on through a bequest endowment primarily for the Consulting and Business Development Center. Through a lifetime of giving plus an estate gift, they enter an elite group of only a few hundred donors who are UW laureates, giving $1 million to the UW.

“It’s a wonderful legacy to be a part of,” says Thad. “It’s more important to think of the commitment to supporting something in the university that is really important. At the same time you’re showing an example to colleagues, to family and so on of just what can be accomplished.”

Lois agrees, “Anybody can do it. All you have to do is start small and give continuously. And you don’t have to have a million in the bank.”

MBA transforms economist into business strategist

Meet Natalia Perez, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Leaving behind a job as a government economist in Washington, D.C., Natalia Perez moved to Seattle with her family and decided to enroll in an MBA program as a way to transition to a new career in business. The Foster School’s supportive, collaborative culture and close connections with Seattle’s vibrant business community have helped with these major life changes. Exposure to guest speakers from the area’s major employers at club meetings gave her insight into the job market. An internship at premier retailer Nordstrom offered a chance to apply what she was learning in the classroom, and brought her career goals into focus. She’s eager to put her experience and her developing skills as a strategist to work after graduation, and sees ample opportunity in Seattle to pursue her new vocation.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Asia native finds new home, plans career in Seattle

Meet Joana Tou, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Macao, Joana Tou’s undergraduate studies started in San Francisco and ended at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After starting her career in consulting, she and her husband, who was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, decided to return to the West Coast and landed in Seattle. Looking for a new career where she could build on her previous experience, Joana chose the Full-time MBA Program at the Michael G. Foster School of Business as a way to broaden and deepen her background in business and connect with the thriving local business community. She’s closing in on her goals.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.

MBA candidate plans to do well by doing good

Meet Laura McCurry, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Seattle native Laura McCurry places a high value on community and collaboration, and found a “perfect fit” for these values at the Foster School of Business. She parlayed an undergraduate degree in business into a five-year stint in Quito, Ecuador, helping fair trade producers improve their business practices and market to customers worldwide. After returning to Seattle, she decided to take her career to the next level by seeking an MBA. At the Foster School, she has found ample opportunities to pursue her passion, whether sharing her experience with new MBA students as a Leadership Fellow, serving on a non-profit board as a Board Fellow, or raising funds and networking with alumni for Challenge for Charity. And Foster’s connections in the business community have given her an opportunity to explore post-MBA employment that will have a positive impact on society as well as the bottom line.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Accountants without borders

Students crack tax code in Brazil and audit business in South Africa

When two University of Washington Foster School of Business Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) students chose to prepare for accounting careers, they never imagined working abroad after graduating with BA degrees.

That’s exactly what Jonathan Qu (BA 2011), audit master’s student, and Erin Hoff (BA 2011), tax master’s student, did. They were two of an elite group of 25 interns chosen from a national pool of 2,000 for Deloitte’s first global internship program. Normally, only managers at the Big 4 accounting firm work abroad, so their experience was unprecedented.

Auditor gauges risks locally and globally
Jonathan Qu Qu spent several weeks auditing a large firm in Johannesburg, South Africa, working 40-50 hours per week and squeezing in travel on the weekends.

He enjoys the human interaction part of auditing and spent a lot of time in South Africa talking with clients as an accounting intern. “The math isn’t complicated. It’s moving beyond what computers can’t do and working with clients to gauge and prevent risk.”

He verified work Deloitte’s clients did and helped build transparency into financial reporting. Talking with controllers and verifying assets mirror auditing procedures Qu will tackle as an auditor in Seattle. “The rules and regulations are different [in South Africa] but the principles are the same.”

Qu felt the Foster School prepared him far better for his internship experience than students from other universities he met in South Africa. He had already handled complexities and client interactions. “You get a lot of hands-on experience at Foster.”

As an accounting graduate student, he and his team presented an audit plan to Microsoft and Deloitte managers for an in-class case competition, gaining presentation and strategic thinking skills.

All those skills are what attracted him to a business degree focused on accounting. “Business is dynamic and constantly changing. You can do a lot with accounting … you understand financial statements better. Financial statements are the DNA of a company.”

To Qu, numbers are not always black and white. He likes the challenge of clarifying gray areas and tracking down answers and believes he learned how to use resources wisely at Foster.

“MPAcc goes deeper in specific areas like Sarbanes-Oxley… with lectures from partners of global accounting firms,” says Qu. “It helps you figure out how accounting issues fit in a bigger hierarchy.” As an MPAcc student, he’ll spend winter quarter interning for Deloitte, stationed at Microsoft.

Qu also had personal reasons to become an auditor. As a child, Qu watched as his father, an Enron employee, lost his job and retirement savings in that company’s financial scandal. Qu experienced the Enron effects first-hand and also worked at Washington Mutual during its failure, saying “I definitely learned a lot from both experiences.” Auditors can uncover inaccuracies, keep companies honest and expose fraud—a bit of detective work. While Qu’s father eventually found another job, Qu himself learned a lesson in ethics and developed a passion for accuracy and accountability nurtured at the Foster School.

Tax accountant learns locally, gains experience globally
Erin HoffErin Hoff (BA 2011) hit the Brazilian ground crunching numbers during her Deloitte international internship. Hoff spent 4 of her 8-week Deloitte internship deciphering Brazilian tax code, translating accounting documents, visiting Deloitte’s Brazil business clients, and tracking and organizing tax documents to improve tax records and savings. While Brazilian government pushes for better accounting practices, Hoff helped Deloitte’s clients comply.

The language barrier was a challenge, but she worked methodically while only knowing key accounting phrases in Portuguese.

Hoff also participated in a multi-country intern team project on social media while in Brazil. Beyond accounting, she gained experience researching how firms leverage social media to develop new business opportunities and presented findings to a Deloitte consultant.

Watching her mother work as a Boeing executive, Hoff decided to study business well before college. After her first Foster School accounting class, she was hooked. “I’ve always liked numbers, but I just loved accounting.”

Digits and detail have been part of her college experience. Hoff worked part time for a year at local financial firm Pacific Capital Resource Group, then spent a whirlwind summer after her junior year gaining leadership and cultural experience, attending a Deloitte national leadership conference, a local KPMG leadership conference and studying Shakespeare and architecture in London. She also served as professional activities VP for accounting club Beta Alpha Psi for a year, arranging guest speakers such as Boeing Commercial’s CFO, accounting professionals and entrepreneurs.

Given all her experience, why earn a master’s in accounting?

“Tax is complex. I learned how things fit together as there are so many different types of tax,” says Hoff. Through MPAcc, she not only strengthened her accounting knowledge, she learned to solve issues independently and crack the tax code herself. Hoff says, “I can use the code now instead of staring at it in awe.”

Qu and Hoff both start jobs at Deloitte in fall of 2012 after they finish their master’s degrees and pass the CPA exam. Not much down time after back-to-back accounting degrees and global experiences. Qu says, “Our last leisurely summer.”

Rich Barton on successful entrepreneur traits

When Rich Barton, creator of Expedia, Zillow, Glassdoor and many other successful web companies, spoke at the University of Washington EntrepreneurWeek 2011, attendees closely listened for his secret. What was the thing that enabled him to be wildly successful across a range of seemingly unrelated businesses? He did not disappoint, although he didn’t give up his secrets easily.

Barton referred to himself as a revolutionary who “stormed the Bastille,” a pronouncement that might—from someone else—be laughable. According to Barton, in the ancien régime of business, industries were intrinsically unfair to consumers. They guard information and profit from this secrecy. In travel, flight schedules were the closely-held province of agents. Realtors used public record information, largely inaccessible to all but the most savvy buyers. Storming the protective Bastille, releasing information and leveling the playing field for consumers is Barton’s organizing principle for success.

The next metaphor Barton employed to detail the traits of successful entrepreneurs came from the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” The great entrepreneur/leader needs to have all the traits that the Mighty Oz bestowed upon Dorothy’s three companions in the movie:

  • Scarecrow was granted wisdom. The factory of the entrepreneur is the brain. Great entrepreneurs are smart, have insights and appreciate assets that are locked in the heads of smart people.
  • Cowardly lion was given courage. Entrepreneurs have the courage of their convictions, a capacity to think boldly and an ability to convey that belief.
  • Tin man received a heart (passion). Leaders believe in what they’re doing. The passionate entrepreneur will win hearts and minds.

Who knew? The talk was not all metaphor. Barton also offered a bit of advice to attendees who want to join start-ups: bring social marketing tools. Most start-ups don’t have money for marketing and these skills will be valued. In the old days, marketing on a shoestring budget was called guerilla marketing, which fits perfectly with Barton’s revolutionary metaphor.

Watch another lecture from serial entrepreneur Rich Barton. UW EntrepreneurWeek is an annual week-long event put on by the UW Foster School of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

MBA/MHA candidate plans healthcare management career

Meet Dan Bush, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

After managing medical education projects in Chicago for two years, Dan Bush set his sights on a career in healthcare management. Graduate education was a logical next step, but Dan wanted more specialized industry knowledge than an MBA alone could offer. The University of Washington’s concurrent program leading to a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Health Administration (MBA/MHA) was an ideal solution. In his MBA program at the Foster School, he has built a foundation of business knowledge across the disciplines and tailored his elective courses to his specific career goals. He also found opportunities to personalize his Foster MBA through club activities, a business plan competition and an internship relevant to his interests. Balancing two nationally-ranked graduate degree programs at the same time is no mean feat, but Dan relishes the challenge.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.