Happy Holidays from the Foster School

With the holiday season officially upon us, what better way to celebrate than with a Foster re-telling of a Dr. Seuss holiday classic? Be sure to follow along with the lyrics (posted below) and don’t miss the special cameo from our very own Dean Jiambalvo.

Every student at Foster liked business a lot…
There’s time for much study, but suddenly there’s NOT!
For Winter is Coming and with it vacation,
But first survive finals with much caffeination.
Supply and demand curves a theorem by Bayes,
Four P’s and five forces, they’re all in a daze;
Then everything’s done thus a change in the mood–
Time for skiing and sleeping and much gratitude…

…For PACCAR and Dempsey halls, and our dear mentors,
B of A and Eastside Executive Centers
Our holiday wish for a brand new “Mackenzie”
Is only because of the Foster growth frenzy.
Our grads go to work at the best places really
From Amazon to PATH to Starbucks to Zulily!
Oh the places we study, research, teach, and work
Cast out ghosts of Balmer with a satisfied smirk.

Heading out we may chance upon Pete Dukes, the Prof
For whose kindness and wisdom we all say, “hats off!”
There’s teaching award maven Jennifer Koski
And Sefcek, Accounting’s own Big Lebowski,
Look: Ed Rice, Frank Hodge and Deborah Glassman!
Plus Xiao-Ping… Dawn Matsumoto… Thaddeus Spratlen;
Foster faculty’s A-plus for research AND for teaching
So we shoot for the stars—and we’re not overreaching

Our business community’s vibrant indeed;
Our students? Work ready and all set to lead.
And they’ll LEAD! And they’ll LEAD! And they’ll LEAD
Yet there’s still something for their advancement they’ll need.
A text, if you will, of no small erudition
Available now in a new fifth edition
For business success is not mere intuition!

They’ll come back next month. We shall help them succeed.
Then they’ll read, and they’ll read, and they’ll read

If our rhyme’s turned out badly, we ask your forgiveness,
With warm holiday wishes from the Foster School of Business.

Environmental Innovation Challenge receives $150,000 Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant

Seattle, WA—December 18, 2014

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business has received a $150,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program in support of the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

Members of the Buerk Center and Foster School community, including Dean Jim Jiambalvo and Buerk Center director Connie Bourassa-Shaw, met Tuesday morning with representatives from Wells Fargo to accept the grant and share a few words on their mutual commitment to clean technology and the “green economy.”

The Environmental Innovation Challenge, now in its seventh year, provides a platform for students to explore the scalability of innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to environmental problems—a market that has grown exponentially in recent years.

“The focus on ‘green’ is exploding,” said Jiambalvo, noting dramatically increased efforts by large, established institutions to “green up” every aspect of what they do.

Marco Abbruzzese, Wells Fargo senior regional manager, agreed, saying, “We want to be a leader in clean technology and innovation because it’s the right thing to do, because the problems are so big, and because a positive impact on the environment also positively impacts our bottom line.” He went on to list some of Wells Fargo’s recent accomplishments, including granting over $3 million to 64 environmental programs. “We love what you are doing with the Environmental Innovation Challenge,” he said, “and we’re delighted to be able to support it.”

Wells Fargo Check Presentation 2015_4
$150,000 Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant presentation.
About the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant Program

The Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program funds clean technology incubator and accelerator programs, along with research and development projects involving universities and colleges. It supports building a framework for entrepreneurs seeking to provide scalable solutions in the low carbon economy.

About the Environmental Innovation Challenge

The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) at the University of Washington sparks creative thinking, innovative approaches to problems of environmental significance, and encourages cross-disciplinary teams. EIC student teams define an environmental problem, develop the solution, build a prototype, and write a business summary that defines the market opportunity and potential for impact. The next challenge will take place on April 2, 2015.
Learn more about the EIC.

Tweet: Environmental Innovation Challenge @UW receives $150,000 grant from @WellsFargo http://ctt.ec/5ACfx+

Leading Across Boundaries: Complexity

The Fall  2014 Leading Across Boundaries (L.A.B.) session focused on the topic of dealing with “complexity” in the workplace. In a recent global study, both CEOs and MBA students identified dealing with complexity as a major area of challenge in their work.  Bruce Avolio, Mark Pigott Chair in Business Strategic Leadership and Executive Director of the Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking (CLST) describes complexity as;

“1. When you have a lot of competing and difficult priorities to choose from and not all the information you need.
2. When you are trying to lead systems that have a lot of moving parts and you are trying to figure out how to integrate them to get things done.
3. When you have lots of competing priorities and have to determine how to get each done with limited resources.”

During the session, a panel of business leaders (Beth Schryer, Director 737 Business Operations for Boeing Commercial, Karen Clark Cole, CEO & Founder of Blink UX, and Nick Dykstra, Finance Director at Intellectual Ventures) sat with a group of ten MBA leaders to discuss the challenges they have with dealing with complexity in their current leadership roles. The panel then provided their strategies for dealing with complexity and responded to questions posed by the MBA leaders in attendance. Soleil Kelly, Foster’s MBA Association (MBAA) Leader and Bruce Avolio moderated the dialogue.

See photos of the event below:



















L.A.B. sessions enable MBA students to discuss topics of interest with business and community leaders while  developing their own leadership skills. The sessions are sponsored by MBAA and CLST. Visit CLST’s website to learn more.

Insurance Ad Wars: Foster Teams Provide Liberty Mutual Insurance Recommendations for Market Positioning

MGMT 430 students
Winning Case Competition team

This post was written by Josina Garnham, Foster’s Experiential Learning Manager for the Undergraduate program.

What do a gecko, a caveman, and a charismatic woman named Flo all have in common? Each is trying to sell you home, car and life insurance. Liberty Mutual Insurance has not opted for this approach, despite industry research demonstrating them to be a “laggard brand.” Should Liberty Mutual adopt a new marketing scheme or are there better alternatives to position them in the market for long-term customer retention?

The Foster School of Business partnered with Liberty Mutual on the development of a customized business case as part of a capstone course for graduating seniors (Management 430). The case centered on how Liberty Mutual might attract new customers and how to maintain customer lifetime value (i.e. the longer the company can retain a customer the higher the profit margins.) On November 21st, twenty-seven teams provided formal presentations on their recommendations to these critical issues to professionals, including a number of loyal alumni, and senior leaders from the company.

Strategy Consultant for Liberty Mutual, Rory Barratt “was impressed by the depth of analysis the teams were able to deliver given the short turnaround time of three weeks and felt there were many actionable insights that Liberty Mutual could use to reassess their strategic positioning.”

The insurance ad wars began in earnest in 2006 with Liberty Mutual’s competitors spending an average of two-to-three times more on advertisements featuring quirky characters. Current target customers for Liberty Mutual tend to be the parents and grandparents of today’s college students. The student’s recommendations included how the company can expand market share with new products and new customer bases – including Gen Y. The winning team: Jagger Beato, Woo Chan Lee, Jose Pena-Rodriguez, Janet Yang and Michelle Zhou proposed that Liberty Mutual shift their marketing resources, look carefully at product bundling, and renew their focus on mobile and web traffic.

The Case Competition provides students with tremendous learning opportunities: applying analytical frameworks, teaming and leadership skills, and exemplary presentation skills. For Michelle Zhou, the biggest lesson from the competition was “that effective teamwork is not only about cooperating with the rest of the team, but also about challenging each other’s ideas to improve and innovate…All of the team members constantly played the ‘devil’s advocate’ to further challenge and improve upon our original ideas. This strategy prompted us to dive deep into our recommendations and prepare for ways to defend for our (ideas) during the final presentation.”

From Janet Yang’s perspective, “the biggest take-a-way from participating in the case competition is the importance of understanding a company’s values and culture…We were able to come up with our recommendations to align with the company’s needs.”

One of the key benefits for both students and companies who engage with the Foster School on the Strategy Development Case Competition is the opportunity to meet one another in a high-performance environment. Conversations over the informal networking lunch included discussions about career paths, learning about full time and internship opportunities at Liberty Mutual, and the buzz of anticipation surrounding the announcement of teams who would advance to the semi-finals and final rounds.

As a senior transitioning to the professional world, Woo Chan Lee believes “this experience will strengthen my ability to work in teams, especially in the areas of delegating tasks and communicating through-out a project… I’ve learned the process of conducting industry/market research and the importance of balancing (the) company’s interest with potential recommendations that I will be making in any professional setting.” Barratt amplified this point from a business perspective by saying “the presentations themselves were of high quality and the students should feel confident that the skills they have built as a part of this case competition will serve them well as they enter the world of work in the near future.”

After congratulating the winning team, Tom Troy, Executive Vice President of Regional Operations, West at Liberty Mutual was impressed by the “level of engagement we encountered. It exceeded our expectations and left us longing for more opportunity to hear and see the students engage with our business opportunities.   The energy level was fantastic and the insights into our business problem proved to be both authentic and inspirational.”

To learn more about undergraduate case competitions, visit the Foster School website.

A view of Japan from the Top: Event with Former US Ambassador to Japan, John Roos

Guest post  by Nick Dwyer, Foster MBA Candidate, 2016

Before enrolling in the full-time MBA program at the Foster School this fall, I often heard full-time business students characterized as “day students”. But with the vast number of engaging presentations, speakers’ series, networking opportunities and other evening events at our disposal, I now realize this was a misnomer. While I’m not currently taking any evening classes, my on-campus education rarely ceases before 6PM.  Perhaps my most notable example is the evening of November 20th, when I had the opportunity to hear from the former US ambassador to Japan, John Roos.

Ambassador Roos came to the Foster School as part of the Tateuchi Foundation Asian Business Distinguished Speaker Lecture, a series of annual speeches by business leaders focused on presenting US-Japan business opportunities.

By partnering with the Tateuchi Foundation, we can honor the legacy of Mr. Tateuchi’s business success and further the Foundation’s goals of promoting international understanding, knowledge, and relations.

The event is made possible by the Tateuchi Foundation, a family foundation charged with building bridges of understanding between the United States and Japan. Given this mission, its unlikely there is a more fitting presenter than John Roos, who served in his role as ambassador to Japan from 2009 to 2013.

One of the most interesting points of Ambassador Roos’ presentation was his atypical professional background for an ambassador. Unlike most American ambassadors to Japan, John Roos never held a significant public office before his ambassadorship and was not a political figure in Washington, DC.  Before Japan, Roos was a lawyer in Silicon Valley, where as CEO he led a premier technology law firm.

He explained that he was such an outsider that his wife quipped that he “didn’t have a chance in hell” before formally receiving his nomination for the post. But his less than common background was appealing to President Obama, who appreciated his experience in technology and innovation and his understanding of Asia-Pacific business. “But most of all, it was just a matter of trust” Roos confirmed.

tateuchi_2014-roos-120As someone who has always been interested with the economy of Japan, I particularly enjoyed watching Ambassador Roos interact with Japanese students in the Q&A part of the evening. What emerged was a major difference of opinion between the state and potential future of Japan. Several students commented they felt pessimistic about the future of Japan, given the weak economy, the high population loss, and the high national debt. Ambassador Roos reminded them that Japan is still the third largest economy in the world and that 90% of the world would trade places with them. When asked what is the best characteristic of Japanese business, Roos stated that “quality and attention to detail permeate the whole society” and there is a very high level of service, which can continue to drive the Japanese business.  He also sees the Japanese business culture beginning to address its lack of entrepreneurial thinkers and businesses, which will be key for future economic growth.

While Japanese business was a major conversation point for the evening, Roos also discussed a number of geopolitical issues, including the thorny relationship between Okinawa and the United States, the dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, and North Korean threat to Japan. He also described the biggest challenge of his ambassadorship; the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The link between national security and economic wellbeing was not lost on the ambassador, as he frequently pivoted between both topics.

In all, Ambassador Roos painted a complex yet optimistic picture of Japan and Japanese businesses. His belief in the country is illustrated by his current position on the board of directors at Japan’s largest electronics company, Sony. While Japan has to overcome it’s shrinking population and stiff competition, his ambassadorship allowed him to see up close what makes Japan so dynamic.

While I certainly don’t wish to underestimate my daytime classes and activities, Ambassador Roos certainly demonstrated that learning about global business doesn’t necessarily slow when the sun sets at Paccar Hall.


A business by any other name: The transformation of Outerwall

Scott Di ValerioTwo years ago, Coinstar Inc., known for its eponymous coin conversion kiosks as well as the movie rental kiosks Redbox, found itself in stasis. Addressing a packed Anthony’s Forum during his Leaders to Legends talk, CEO Scott Di Valerio put it this way, “Think about a company that has two businesses that grew rapidly and then have hit a level of maturity, that’s where we were two years ago.” He knew it was time to shake things up—a process that included a name-change (Coinstar became Outerwall in 2013), renewed focus and vision, and leveraging customer data—all while maintaining their unique company culture. During his time at the podium, Di Valerio expanded upon the three latter aspects, explaining how each one plays a pivotal role in the story of Outerwall.

Know thy customer
When discussing Outerwall’s marketing strategy, Di Valerio made it clear that data is king. After the company name-change, Outerwall purchased a NASCAR truck and began regularly sponsoring banners in Seahawks and Sounders games. These decisions, Di Valerio revealed, are driven by data that indicate high brand loyalty among sports fans—a key factor when deciding who to market to. “When we took a look at where to push our product brands, and our demographic, and our consumers,” Di Valerio argued, “sports is the highest return area for us to go.” Outerwall also invested in a CRM system, enabling the company to begin sending targeted emails, track user behavior, and provide incentives for customers who haven’t used a Redbox kiosk in a while. Likewise, customer data can also be the reason to end a service. When answering a question on Outerwall’s decision to shut-down the short-lived streaming service Redbox Instant, Di Valerio points to the data that reveals Redbox customers to be transaction-based and more interested in new release movies—something subscription-based services cannot provide.

Every action Outerwall takes must fit within its four strategic pillars:

1) Lead in automated retail
2) Optimize core business
3) Grow business probability and
4) Invest in strategic platforms.

One such action is their investment in ecoATM, a kiosk that enables users to sell their old mobile devices (cell phones, mp3 players, and tablets) for cash. In support of the venture, Di Valerio points to other mobile buy-back programs like mail-in services, store credit offers, and online classified ad. All of which, Di Valerio argues, is not exactly customer-friendly, stating “the number one thing people want from their used electronics…is cash, not store credit or credit on their bill.” By deploying ecoATM, Outerwall will continue to leverage automated technology while delivering a service that no one else can provide.

Strong company culture
As CEO to a company with over 2500 employees, Di Valerio sees his role as chief “encourager” of sorts, promoting teamwork and removing roadblocks that impede innovation. To this end, he keeps his hiring philosophy pretty simple, stating “Hire people that can take your job and don’t be intimated by it.”
Outerwall also maintains an environment of giving, with over a third of Outerwall employees regularly volunteering at charitable organizations (the company matches employee volunteer hours and contributions). The company also donates 1 percent of its after-tax profits to non-profits, a move that Di Valerio says works double-time, creating a positive workplace while attracting a “different kind” of investor/shareholder.

While it may take several years to truly understand the implications of Outerwall’s transformation, it is clear that Di Valerio is very excited about the direction his company is taking and will continue to, in his own words, “find a better way for a better every day.”

Watch the full lecture here.


Sharper Image

William F. Sharpe’s seminal work at the Foster School in the 1960s forever clarified the relationship between risk and return in capital markets, and later earned the Nobel Prize in Economics

sharpeWilliam Sharpe thought he was onto something big.

No, he knew it. The freshly appointed assistant professor of finance at the Foster School—known as the UW College of Business Administration when he arrived in 1961—had devoted his first years in Seattle to a paper introducing the Capital Asset Pricing Model. On its face, the CAPM was an elegant equation to calculate a security’s expected return. But in its essence, it held the lynchpin of modern investing theory and practice, a luminous primer on the relationship between risk and reward.

If only his editors could see it. Certain of a grand slam off his first swing of the bat, Sharpe submitted his paper to his field’s preeminent journal, anticipating quick congratulations.

Instead, his paper was rejected. Not just once, but twice. It was only on his third try (and third reviewer) that he earned a place in the publication.

And even then, his theory hardly set the finance world ablaze, at least at first.

“When I finally published the paper, I was expecting to receive a flood of calls and correspondence. But they didn’t come,” Sharpe recalls today. “It was really disappointing. I thought, man, this is almost certainly the best paper I’m ever going to write, and nobody cares.”

The disinterest was only temporary. It took a few years for scholars to appreciate the CAPM, and a few more to reach the mainstream of investment advisors. And it took a quarter century for the Nobel Prize committee to recognize what has become a cornerstone of financial economics.

Age of financial enlightenment

Economics had hooked Sharpe from his first semester at UCLA. But his introductory course in investments held no such love-at-first-sight. “There was no underlying theory, no defining principles, no notion of diversification or consideration of risk,” he says. “It was all rules of thumb and how to make a buck.”

That didn’t sit well with a curious young microeconomist. And when he later sought a doctoral dissertation topic, a UCLA finance professor named Fred Weston introduced Sharpe to the work of Harry Markowitz. Working at the RAND Corporation in the 1950s, Markowitz had fused economics and finance to introduce the radical notion of portfolio investing—diversifying across a broad assortment of stocks and bonds to remove the risk that is particular to any one security.

Sharpe was enthralled.

During graduate school at UCLA he joined Markowitz at RAND, and expanded upon the breakthroughs of his unofficial dissertation advisor. Sharpe first applied computer programming and mathematics to cast portfolio theory as an investment strategy. And then he addressed the function of risk on the setting of market prices by those investors, each trying to make money on the market.

The Rainier factor

Sharpe’s introduction to Seattle came one crystalline spring day while on assignment for RAND. As he took in the trim flotillas of sailboats breezing across the waters of Lakes Washington and Union, the lifelong sailor was sold.

“It seemed like an ideal place,” Sharpe says. “I went back to my graduate advisor and asked if he could get me a job at the University of Washington.”

sharpe_71He did find some time on the water, with the UW Sailing Club. But first and foremost, Sharpe was here to work. He got right to it, first converting his doctoral work implementing portfolio theory into a paper in Management Science.

And then he began writing his defining contribution to financial economics. He worked alone on the paper, but regularly bounced ideas off of faculty neighbors in Mackenzie Hall, including professors Yoram Barzel, Bruce Johnson, Walter Oi, R. Haney Scott and, most notably, George Brabb.

By 1962, Sharpe had a draft of “Capital Asset Prices: a Theory of Market Equilibrium Under Conditions of Risk,” and presented it at several universities to a generally positive reception. But few could have predicted what the CAPM would become.

The model, simplified

As published—finally—in the Journal of Finance in 1964, Sharpe’s paper sparked a dramatic progression from the dark ages of investing.

He started with Markowitz. Specifically, what would happen if everyone did as Markowitz advised—that is, invested in wide-ranging portfolios to diversify away the risks attached to individual securities? How would we price those securities efficiently, given the ever-present risk of just being in the market?

To address the question, Sharpe cast the spotlight on systematic risk—the exposure of a firm to macroeconomic conditions. His measure of this risk is called “beta.” And what he found was that the prices of firms with higher betas tend to move more than the market overall; lower-beta firm prices move less.

The CAPM demonstrates that returns should be proportional to systematic risk, which cannot be removed.

“The first big practical message is that diversifying a portfolio in market proportions is a sensible and efficient market strategy for the average investor,” Sharpe says. “And the second is, yes Virginia, there is a reward, in the form of higher expected returns, for bearing the risk of doing badly in bad times.”

Applicable theory

By the late 1960s, the CAPM had caught on, sparking an entire literature on the topics of risk measurement and asset pricing that continues today.

“Sharpe’s work is the bedrock of finance,” says Rocky Higgins, an emeritus professor of finance who joined the Foster School during Sharpe’s tenure. “It is the start of a great many discussions about corporate and investment finance. We like to think that we’ve advanced, and in many ways we have. But the Capital Asset Pricing Model is still the point from which you might contemplate making advances.”

For his own part, Sharpe authored several subsequent papers while at Foster testing the empirical merits of his theory, including a 1966 mutual fund performance analysis that confirmed the CAPM in practice.

He also fielded increasing calls from firms seeking help implementing the wisdom of portfolio management and the CAPM. He consulted Merrill Lynch in the late 1960s, and later Wells Fargo, Allstate, AT&T, Frank Russell and many others.

In 1968, his stature growing, Sharpe decided to return to the expansive academic environment of the Golden State, where he had spent most of his life. “I never really weaned myself from California,” he says.

He joined UC Irvine briefly, then settled in at Stanford in 1970 for a productive period of research and consulting. He founded his own investment advisory firm in 1986.

Nobel and back again

Early one October morning in 1990, Bill Sharpe was jolted awake by a phone call. A man in a Swedish accent announced that he had been awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, along with Harry Markowitz and Merton Miller. He has yet to find words that adequately describe his feelings upon receiving the ultimate professional honor.

“The Nobel Prize doesn’t change your life among your colleagues much at all, nor should it,” he says. “But it changes everything else.”

Floods of invitations to celebratory lunches, for one, as well as lucrative speaking engagements for all manner of audience.

“It’s fun for a while,” Sharpe reports. “But eventually you find it’s more fun to go back to work.”

wfs20130823He returned to active duty at Stanford for many productive years. Today he’s the STANCO 25 Professor of Finance, Emeritus. And as his personal and professional interests evolved into retirement economics, in 1996 Sharpe co-founded Financial Engines, provider of retirement investing support to employees of large corporations.

He continues to publish scholarly papers and books. And as he nears his ninth decade, the long-time technophile has become an active blogger (his site, RetirementIncomeScenarios.blogspot.com, is a compendium of his latest evangelical efforts in financial economics and computer programming, his twin passions since the nascent days of both).

CAPM today

About that asset pricing model he introduced to scholars and shareholders 50 years ago… Critics have probed it for flaws ever since. Scholars have scrambled to invent a better way to price securities in the era of Big Data.

Yet the CAPM is still in the text books, and it’s still used daily by corporate and institutional investment managers to plan and assess their portfolios.

Sharpe himself has long tinkered with the model and advocates a different computation of beta now.

“We’ve come a long way since the original Capital Asset Pricing Model,” he says. “But I believe the big messages are still worth paying attention to, if not following entirely. That is, you need to diversify. And if you want to make a reasonable assumption about the expected return of your investments over the long haul, you should be thinking about how badly it would do in bad times. These conclusions hold up.”

Of his scores of published works, did the CAPM paper really turn out to be his best?

“Oh, yes,” says Sharpe’s own toughest critic. “I’ve done other work that might earn an argument, but partly because it includes the essence of the 1964 paper. In terms of something novel and with lasting value, that’s my best.

“…though maybe I write better now.”

Learn what else William Sharpe did while on faculty at Foster.

Read William Sharpe’s investing tips.

Sharpe’s Living Laboratory

sharpe_73In keeping with the era’s zeitgeist, William Sharpe’s time on the Foster School faculty (1961-68) was radically experimental. “I’m a great believer that if you really want to learn a subject, you should teach it (which is probably not fair to students),” says the Nobel laureate in economics. “I wanted to learn a lot so I taught a lot of courses.”

Among them were classes in microeconomics, finance, investing, computer science, statistics, and operations research. He also consulted organizations ranging from Boeing to IBM, McKinsey to Western Airlines.

In addition to his Nobel Prize-winning work on the Capital Asset Pricing Model, Sharpe published more than 20 papers during his Foster days. He also wrote two books—the first introducing the BASIC programming language and the second forecasting the economics of computers. His deep interest in programing led his push for the school’s first computer center (he claims the words “pooter center” were among his daughter’s first).

“My time at the UW was fabulous,” Sharpe says.

Rocky Higgins, an emeritus professor of finance whose tenure overlapped with Sharpe’s, says the impact of his scholarly explorations left a deep and positive impression on the school. “Bill was a supportive and enthusiastic colleague,” Higgins says. “He did a lot to create an atmosphere of collegiality and supporting unconventional thinking that lasted many years after he left.”

“A lot of people who Bill mentored or worked with have gone on to impressive careers in finance,” adds Nancy Jacob (BA 1967), Sharpe’s undergraduate research assistant who later became dean of the Foster School (1981-88) before running two investment firms of her own. “His impact on people is probably as important as his path-breaking research.”

Read about William Sharpe’s work at Foster to define the relationship between risk and return in the markets.

Sharpe Investing

William Sharpe offers tips for savvy investing, adapted from his 2007 book “Investors and Markets” and informed by his seminal work at Foster in the 1960s leading to the 1990 Nobel Prize in Economics.

DiversifyReally diversify. Buy a percentage of everything that’s out there, stocks and bonds as a start.

Economize – Keep costs down. Investing in low-cost index funds delivers 20 percent more income than actively managed funds over your entire retirement.

Personalize – Every investor is different, with different preferences, different levels of risk tolerance, facing different situations and different stages of life. Invest in the way that suits you, not the herd.

Contextualize – Remember that a share price is the result of many smart investors trying to figure out what it’s worth. Don’t expect to get something for nothing by following some hair-brained scheme that somebody is pushing on you.

As for Sharpe’s personal strategy? “I don’t tell people how I invest,” he says. “But let’s just say I have really good friends at Vanguard.”

Read about Sharpe’s work at Foster.


Over 300 University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students studied or interned abroad last year.  These photos and short descriptions are a small taste of the transformative educational experiences these students have each year.  The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos in two categories: Foster Abroad and My Global Lens.


1st Place Foster Abroad: Hitchhiking in George Town

Experience abroad: Jeremy Santos, Foster School Exchange Program at the National University of Singapore.  Studying and living abroad gave me the opportunity to see, hear, and taste new things. The experience knocked me off my feet!”


2nd Place Foster Abroad: Dawg Pack in Prague - Our program contributed to the Lennon Wall in Prague by spray painting a W and showing our Husky spirit abroad.

Experience abroad: Jessica Gardner, UW CHID Program in Prague.  “I spent 10 weeks studying abroad in Prague and visiting surrounding areas learning about how different groups and countries learn about history and how this represents who they are today. I immersed myself in Eastern Europe culture and felt that I gained a greater appreciation for different cultures and discovered how I want my business career to be internationally focused.”


1st Place My Global Lens - The Last Potter: This man was the last potter in his village, as his only son pursued a different career. I love how his grin shows how proud he is of his work!

Experience abroad: Alexandra McCarthy, Foster School Exploration Seminar in India.  “Studying abroad in India was nothing short of amazing. I absolutely fell in love with the people and the culture. From their colorful clothing to breathtaking temples, India is by far one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to.”


2nd Place My Global Lens – A Man and His Dog: It’s not every day that you get to wander through the mountains of Northern Spain. Even more rare is meeting this man who has lived in a stone hut in the mountains his whole life, swapping stories over the cheese he makes from the cows that roam nearby, using smiles to convey what my broken Spanish could not.

Experience abroad: Bonnie Beam, Foster School Exchange Program at the University of Navarra in Spain.  “My time abroad has been challenging, awkward, hilarious, embarrassing and most importantly, has opened my eyes to things I would have not seen otherwise. I have been humbled by how much I have to learn and am extremely grateful for every single person who has taken the time out to teach me something new; from teaching me a simple phrase to showing me how to play pádel to divulging the secret to making the perfect roscillas, I am a better person because of it all and I owe it to the lovely citizens of Pamplona. I have realized that I will never stop learning as long as I continue in humility and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 40 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.

- Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.