Having a real impact

Gabriel Heckt (BBA 2016) reflects on his experience as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting & Business Development Center.

One of the most unique aspects of the Consulting & Business Development Center’s Summer Consulting Program, and one of the reasons I’m most grateful for having participated in it, is the amount of true creative freedom and independence that is given to  each summer consultant. When I was first reading the description for the position, which outlined a student simultaneously consulting with three small businesses and personally constructing recommendations that would really improve them, I was skeptical. Most short-term business opportunities for students that I had heard of up to that point seemed to involve repetitive grunt work without much room to manage oneself or have a real impact.

Student consultant Gabriel Heckt (BBA 2016) with client Tonyia Smith, owner of Silver Slice Bakery in Seattle.
Student consultant Gabriel Heckt (BBA 2016) with client Tonyia Smith, owner of Silver Slice Bakery in Seattle.

What I experienced this summer was widely different from that perception. As the first few days of orientation began to wrap up, I realized that each student consultant would be individually responsible for their businesses, and the strategies we would eventually present would be all our own. I had to build everything from the ground up: outlining my own projects, carrying out my own research, and forming my own recommendations. I received excellent training and ongoing support from the center and a professional consultant advisor, but ultimately the finished product that would be used by the companies would be my creation. Although this created considerable pressure to create effective recommendations that could be actually used by the companies, the reward of having a real, tangible impact on these small businesses was immense, and is another reason why this program really stands apart from others.

This summer I worked with a gluten-free bakery, a specialty hair care salon, and a clothing boutique, all with their own diverse backgrounds and challenges. I really enjoyed connecting with all of these businesses and getting to know the owners over the course of the program. Working with real people and their livelihoods required my best work to deliver solutions that really addressed the challenges outlined at the beginning. It was incredibly satisfying to hear these owners excited to put the strategies I had created into effect in order to help their businesses.

The wide range of challenges presented to me over the course of the summer pushed me to expand my knowledge of business and step outside my comfort zone. The fact that I had to simultaneously construct a public relations campaign, recreate a website, and streamline a business’s infrastructure meant I was constantly learning new skills, testing new strategies, and improving my time management by leaps and bounds.

The Summer Consulting Program was an amazing opportunity that I recommend every business student apply for. The combination of extensive responsibility, positive pressure to improve, and the tangible impact of my work really made it the most significant experience of my undergraduate business career thus far, and a key part of my journey to becoming a professional consultant.

Foster students manage the business end of the UW’s EcoCAR Challenge

UW's eco carA team of UW students recently took second place in the EcoCAR 2 Challenge. Its modified Chevy Malibu traveled 48 miles on an electric charge before switching to its biodiesel engine—making it the most energy-efficient car in the 15-school international competition. A brilliant feat of engineering.

Behind that engineering was some savvy business support from Foster School students. Nicholas Wilson (MBA 2012), Tyler Rose (MBA 2013) and Taj Matthews (MBA 2013) served as business managers for the first stages of the three-year project. Alex Ong, a senior studying finance, took the engineering and design team through to the finals earlier this year at General Motor’s Milford Proving Ground.

The son of engineers, Ong has no formal technical training of his own. “But I’m interested in cars and I knew a few things,” he says. “Enough to get the conversation going.”

His role was to manage the project’s six-figure budget, cultivate and communicate with sponsors, and provide financial reporting to funders and competition organizers—GM, the US Department of Energy, and a wide range of transportation and renewable energy firms and organizations.

In Detroit, the team finished first in eight categories, including quickest acceleration, lowest energy consumption and least greenhouse gas emissions. While his colleagues put the car through its paces, Ong presented the team’s financials to a panel of judges representing the sponsor organizations.

It was a unique experience, this working collaboration of engineering, business, communications and visual arts.

“There’s nothing like it at the UW,” Ong says. “It was an incredible interdisciplinary learning experience where you had to work together with people who have no knowledge of your expertise and vice-versa. Otherwise, the whole project falls flat.

“That’s about as real world as it gets.”

The UW has been selected to compete in EcoCAR 3 beginning this fall. Ong plans to recruit fellow Foster students to better distribute the workload and formalize procedures to ensure continuity over the project’s four-year run.

The team just learned that they get to play with a Camaro this time around.

Senioritis? Bah. Count Ong in.

Undergrads trek to San Francisco to network with employers

Guest post by Zak Sheerazi, assistant director of career development, Undergraduate Career Services

On August 26 and 27, Foster Undergraduate Career Services took a group of students to San Francisco to visit seven companies. This group of Foster students consisted of finance/accounting majors  interested in working in the Bay Area after they graduate.

Each company visit entailed an overview of the company and provided students the opportunity to network with company representatives. During this two-day trek we also had a San Francisco alumni networking night. Roughly 60 Foster alumni from the San Francisco area met up to network with each other and our current students.

Amy Li, accounting/finance major, had this to say about her experience on the trek, “It was a great opportunity that enabled students to have direct interaction with employers and to learn about their jobs from different perspectives. Communication is an essential skill in career development, thus through this form of networking event, we not only explored the diverse career paths we could choose from but also had the chance to build and present our personal brand.”

We would like to send a special thanks to the employers who participated in the SF Trek: Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Piper Jaffray, Prudential Capital, PwC, and Vaquero Capital.

San Francisco Trek
Photos from the company visits and networking night on the San Francisco Trek.

“Is a career in consulting the right choice for me?”

Faith Katsman (BA 2015) reflects on her experience as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting & Business Development Center.

As fall recruiting quickly approaches for full-time consulting positions, I reflect on my time as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting and Business Development Center. When I initially applied for this program, I did not know what to expect. I was not sure what my scope of responsibilities would be, how much independent work I would be doing, if a manager would be telling me what to do every day, or what I would learn from the program. What I did know is that I was interested in a career in consulting, and this program could help me confirm or deny that interest.

Faith Katsman & Mike McKinney
Student consultant Faith Katsman (BA 2015) with Mike McKinney from McKinney Glass, Inc. after presenting her final recommendations to the Yakima-based company.

This summer, I worked with three very different clients in Yakima: a restaurant, an electrical contractor, and an auto-glass professional. Working with each client was a unique and invaluable experience. One aspect of the program that could not be duplicated in a classroom was directly interacting with the clients. Interacting with each client was not only fun for me, but also helped me grow personally and professionally. Hearing positive and constructive feedback from someone you are directly working with on a day-to-day basis was very rewarding.

Working with the restaurant was especially interesting to me because I am passionate about cooking. Opening or investing in a restaurant in the future would be something I may be interested in. I was able to assist the restaurant by designing a new marketing plan to create a more loyal customer base. This afforded me the opportunity to look at the internal operations at a restaurant and some of what it takes to be successful. The owners were extremely dedicated to making sure everything was perfect, which I admired greatly. Working with them inspired me to continue to follow my dreams.

Each day throughout this internship was a challenge. I was encouraged to reach outside my comfort zones and think outside the box. Since I was given a lot of autonomy and not micro-managed, I had to stay organized and utilize excellent time-management skills to get my work done promptly, much like the real world will be. As this program comes to an end, I know without a doubt consulting is the right career choice for me. Each day at work was exciting for me, and I am sad to see it end so quickly. This internship has given me a great foundation to continue my desire to enter a career in consulting.

Foster’s CISB program creates career ready grads that go global

The nationally-ranked, award-winning Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) Program helps undergraduate Foster School students hone the competitive edge they need to succeed in global business. The CISB programs promotes a global mindset that leads to global employment opportunities by requiring international business coursework, study abroad, foreign language immersion, area studies coursework, and resources about global career pathways. In the last academic year, CISB students participated in several activities outside the classroom to make them better equipped to compete in the global business workforce.

In addition to academic coursework and language studies, CISB primes students with informational career panels about global business. In Fall 2013, CISB students attended an International Business Panel which featured professionals with established global business careers at Starbucks, Wells Fargo Bank, Slalom Consulting, and Port of Seattle. The panel provided insight into the realities of an international career and inspiring advice to those entering the workforce. CISB also hosted an Alumni career panel in which 12 CISB alumni shared how their CISB experiences helped shape and further their career. The panelists provided job search advice and examples of a typical day in their position.

networking

CISB students also get hands on experience in networking for a global career. In spring quarter, over 100 CISB students participated in a “Speed Networking” event. In small teams, the students practiced their networking skills on global business executives. The executives included the Assistant Corporate Controller from Microsoft, theVP of Global Client Reporting from BlackRock and theInternational Buyer from Costco. Primed with their global business education and career pathways insight, the CISB students could then practice the art of networking for their career.

But results speak louder than any of these events. Sam Bokor, VP Training and Personnel Development at Expeditors International stated that “CISB students are a a good fit for Expeditors because of their passion for the international trade community and their curiosity around other cultures.” Visit our CISB Alumni highlights to see the array of global careers secured by CISB graduates.

Are you a community member from the global business field and interested getting involved with CISB? Learn more about ways to contribute or contact CISB@uw.edu

Taking the plunge and moving to Chile

Guest post by Katie Gray (BA 2011)

Katie GrayI graduated from the Foster School in 2011, having studied marketing and Spanish and earning a Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB). Last year I decided to take the plunge and move to Chile, where I had studied abroad four years prior. Although I didn’t have a job lined up, my plan was to immediately begin networking with my U.S. and Chilean contacts as soon as I arrived in Santiago. I began to email everyone I knew back in the U.S. to let them know I had moved in the off-chance that someone might have a connection in Chile. Luckily my plan worked, and a contact from Microsoft put me in touch with the man who is now my boss here at Microsoft Chile. I applied for and was offered the position of customer marketing manager for the Small and Medium Business segment.

As a marketing manager for a sales team, I manage and execute Microsoft’s direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns and activities throughout Chile for companies below 250 PCs. Although it is challenging to work in a fast-paced environment in a foreign language, I recognize this job has provided significantly more responsibility and room for growth than an entry-level position I would have had in the U.S. I am very grateful to Foster and the CISB Program for the foreign language and networking skills they helped me develop, and I cannot recommend the experience of working abroad highly enough. To anyone considering a move abroad after graduation who would like to know more about my experience, please feel free to contact me at kemilygray at gmail dot com.

Reaching outside the comfort zone

Guest post by Michelle Sievers, Executive Development Program (EDP) alumni

Michelle SieversI’m the community relations manager at PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company – the quirky Northwest company that’s a lot like you; a little different. PEMCO was founded by an educator, so it goes without saying we inherently foster a culture that encourages continuous training and education for our employees. As a community relations manager, my position requires me to creatively engage and influence colleagues, our leaders, and the organization to help our Northwest community be a better place to live, work, learn and play. I was achieving this, but I wanted more for PEMCO, my community and myself. I looked to professional development as a key to unlock my potential.

The opportunity to participate in the University of Washington’s Executive Development Program came at a time in my life and career at PEMCO when I needed a “disruption.” I yearned for a positive disruption that would challenge and push me both personally and professionally. I wanted to innovate. I wanted to think beyond the rules and authority that confined my professional role. I wanted to learn from others. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

On my first day in class, I had an overwhelming feeling of insecurity. As my classmates introduced themselves, I suddenly became intimidated by titles. Executive Director. Chief Executive Officer. Vice President of Operations. Physician. Is this the right place for me? Do I belong here? Mission accomplished: within the first thirty minutes, I was out of my comfort zone. It didn’t take long for me to realize that in the end, titles and positions were secondary to the people: their experiences, their perspective, their voice. And what each of them brought to the EDP for me completed a rich, comprehensive curriculum.

With the Executive Development Program, I gained a deeper understanding about business strategy, leadership, innovation, financial accounting, macro-economics, marketing, communication, decision making and organizational leadership. And specifically within organizational leadership, I had an opportunity to work closely with a subset of classmates to problem solve and recommend solutions on a real-life organizational problem. One of my biggest takeaways: organizational problems regardless of their size are mere symptoms of deeper challenges with an organization’s people, process and structure. Again, the opportunity to work and learn together with a diverse group of EDP classmates provided a perspective beyond the readings and lectures. The final group business case project pushed us all to think creatively, strategically and play to each of our strengths.

It’s been almost two years since that first day in class. In the past two years, I’ve continued to stretch myself personally and professionally. I’ve accepted leadership roles on two local nonprofit boards. More important, I’ve taken on more leadership responsibilities within PEMCO that has enabled me to innovatively improve our programs and positively “disrupt” our thinking and actions about what it means to be “a lot like you, a little different” in our community.

The Executive Development Program is a nine-month, part-time certificate program that explores each facet of business enterprise from an executive’s top-level view. The program focuses on practical business applications and provides a progressive, entrepreneurial learning community where students can access advanced business education without a significant burden to their work, travel and family schedules.

International business students present to Lululemon execs

Guest post by Kelci Zile, Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) student

Kelci Zile and Erin Hollingshead
Kelci Zile and Erin Hollingshead at Lululemon headquarters
Erin Hollingshead and I, Kelsi Zile, were fortunate enough to visit the Lululemon headquarters in Vancouver, BC as a prize for our team winning the Certificate of International Studies in Business Foreign Market Strategy Project Competition held on February 13, 2014. The trip included a presentation of our proposal to the foreign expansion board at Lululemon consisting of Jessica Reigle, international specialist; Mary Pittman, international e-commerce manager; Tina Sarazin, brand creative & translation manager; Brooke Harley, international business development director; Sairah Hearn, global social media manager; and Mila Rusimovich, international community. Erin and I were very thankful we came prepared and were able to successfully answer the multitude of in-depth questions they had.

After our presentation we asked the board about their positions, biggest challenges and what they predict for the future. Not only was this an incredible learning experience, it was great to see how a board like this functions as a team. After the presentation we were given a tour of the facility by CISB alumna Nancy Richardson. One of our favorite parts of the tour was seeing their massive HR department, or what they call the people potential department. Their department is 500% larger than the average HR department. Lululemon truly understands the value of human capital. This is a progressing trend in business, and both Erin and I were glad to see that Lululemon has seen great success with this management style.

Following the tour we took a yoga class with Nancy and then had dinner with the rest of the board. At dinner Erin and I had a chance to ask real-life questions. The group was inspiring and pushed Erin and me to follow our hearts in everything we do. They understand that following your passion is the only true way to find happiness in a career. Erin and I returned to Seattle with increased drive, vision and enhanced presentation skills. This was an amazing trip and we are extremely grateful to not only have gained these business skills, but to also have met a group of inspiring people.

The Certificate of International Studies in Business is a rigorous, integrative academic supplement to the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Through study abroad, foreign language immersion and area studies coursework, CISB students are equipped to meet the challenges facing business leaders in today’s global economy.

Checking in on YEOC: The May Session

“The building bridges program’s primary goal is to assimilate prospective workers into a more international cultural body, and to succinctly mend the gap between differing generations of workers. This program will not only expand the worker’s knowledge of various cultures, but will also elevate their opportunity to grow through art and culture, to allow for a more well-rounded workforce.”

The quote above is the mission statement of Building Bridges, a social program aimed to engage millennials in the workplace. On their website, interested clients can find more information regarding future activities, daily reads and program benefits. Here’s the thing: Building Bridges does not exist… at least not yet. The organization is the winning creation of a team of YEOC students participating in the YEOC Case Competition Challenge. With Amazon Kindle Fires at stake, the competing student teams (18 in total) were tasked with developing a one page proposal describing their millennial workplace engagement plan and presenting for 10 minutes in front of a panel of business and community leaders. After successfully wowing the judges with their carefully designed website, brochure and presentation, Building Bridges was declared victorious at the YEOC End of Year Celebration in the HUB Ballroom. The announcement was just one of the many highpoints of the evening.

At the celebration, five $2,000 YEOC Senior Scholarships were awarded to students attending UW in the fall. Attendees also heard remarks from Keynote speaker Carlos Gutierrez, partner at EY, and student speaker (and future Foster student) Ashlyn Thomas.

Since YEOC is a college-prep program, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention what a few of the YEOC seniors have in store after graduation. Some highlights:

  • 50 of the 79 seniors who applied to UW were accepted for a 63% acceptance rate –higher than the UW’s acceptance rate of 55%
  • Eight YEOC seniors were admitted to the Foster Freshman Direct program
  • Schools that YEOC seniors will be attending include: University of Washington, Washington State University, Evergreen College, Babson College, Northeastern University, Hawaii Pacific University, University of Southern California and the University of Oregon

With stats like these, YEOC students are a true testament that anything is possible. Take part in the celebration by watching the end of the year compilation video and checking out some of the photos below:

YEOC_presentations
YEOC-panel
YEOC_EY
YEOC_studentspeaker
YEOC_casewinners

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