All posts by UW Foster School of Business

Bright ideas for Seattle City Light

SCL_WinnersSeattle City Light has been trying to shine a light on the issue of how to derive 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. This deadline based on state legislation presents a clear goal, but not a clear solution. The utility is actively debating how to most effectively balance between hydro-power, wind and solar energies while being mindful of the interests of their various stakeholders. The Foster School of Business partnered with City Light to put teams of students to work on innovative solutions to this issue through the strategic management course.

This required capstone course for all graduating seniors features a customized case competition. Instructors and case writer Alex Murray, a Foster PhD student, worked closely with senior leaders at Seattle City Light to understand this strategic question. Using publicly available research, the case was created and then analyzed by nearly 250 students in 46 competing teams.

The teams were charged with providing recommendations as to what Seattle City Light’s strategic position(s) should be regarding solar energy, including whether the utility should actively promote and develop its use or invest in other renewable energy sources; and how to most effectively market and price various solar projects, including a viability analysis of an existing Community Solar program.

The case study focused on short-term and long-term strategies to satisfy key stakeholders, encourage supporters and overcome detractors. As a publicly owned utility, Seattle City Light operates as a non-profit organization that must balance environmental, financial and social considerations in its decisions. The complexities of the case required a great deal of research and a thoughtful approach.

“The most challenging aspect (of the case) was hashing out with my team what view we were going to take,” case competition participant Cara Haas said. “(Many) of our meetings were solely focused on researching and discussing alternatives before we decided on our approach.”

Her team’s solution: a marketing program, Solar|Sea, to build awareness and support amongst the community and important constituents. The YDC Consulting team members Ken Luginbuhl, Ryker Young, Erin Hoffinger, Julia Kuhn, and Cara Haas attribute their success to the synergies they found in their ideas and team dynamics.

Hoffinger found the most valuable takeaways from the case competition experience centered on knowing “how to speak and pitch ideas to members of the executive board… and being able to think on your feet about (responses) with concrete numbers and analysis in order to answer questions.” These skills she and her peers will surely be able to put to good use as they enter the workforce in just a few short months.

The case competition proved to be another win-win for Foster School of Business students and a local organization. “Seattle City Light was pleased to partner with the Foster School of Business to examine one of the most complex and important issues the utility faces in the medium to long-term,” general manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco said. “It’s also an issue that confronts the industry as a whole. We were excited by the fresh ideas and perspectives the students brought to the table.”

Sten Karlholm combines his passions for Swedish and sports

Guest post by Sten Karlholm, Foster senior and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

SwedenSportsInternBlogMy education seems to have taken the scenic tour, as my passion for traveling combined with my studies opened up opportunities and happily postponed my graduation. The journey all began while finishing my third year at UW, which I spent as an exchange student in Uppsala, Sweden as part of the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program (CISB). I had accomplished many of the requirements during this study abroad year, but there was one last challenge I was looking to complete during the summer: the International Business Practicum. It was mid-June and I had been applying and seeking out internships in Sweden for the past two months to no avail. As the long days of the Swedish summer began to come into full effect, there was a sense of anxiousness and uncertainty. I began preparing for the expectation of autumn quarter and flight back to Seattle. I had applied to one job on a whim, with the tag line “Passion for sports.” I had emphasized my passion for the game of basketball and my affinity with golf in my cover letter. After a telephone interview and my first ever sit down interview conducted in Swedish, I was offered a job as part of the opening team for a new Nike Factory Store in Stockholm.

I accepted this opportunity to further my proficiency of the Swedish language and master the fundamentals of Nike in the retail setting. I was dedicated to showing a high level of commitment on the job, tackling the unfamiliar terms of shoe specifics in Swedish while giving the best customer support. Recognition came my way as I took over further responsibilities like closing the store, accounting and submitting daily sales reports.

Nearly a year had gone by and it was time to continue my studies at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. This period away gave me the time to reflect on what I wanted to aim for within a future career, and influenced and ignited my passion for fashion and sports. With this goal in mind, it motivated me to keep looking for opportunities and ultimately led me to where I am today as the product management intern for Club and Balls within Nike Golf at the European Headquarters in Hilversum, The Netherlands.

Keeping up the pursuit of acquiring an international internship paid off as I have now spent seven months learning the ins and outs of Nike and the European marketplace. Every day I am conducting competitor analysis of the club and ball market for various regions and currencies in Europe. I’ve also been an integral part of updating pricing and catalogs for our recently released Covert 2.0 and upcoming RZN golf ball. I was even presented the chance to assist in the set up and lead the tear down at the Nordic Golf Trade show in Sweden due to my language proficiency. Not only was this a phenomenal experience as an intern, but as a result of my abilities I was selected to help out during our go-to-market sales meeting in Spain.

I had finally achieved the goal of receiving an international internship, but the experience is so much more than ticking a box for completion. The lessons learned and experience gained will be invaluable as I continue to pursue a career within international business. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that I’ve received and the support from my peers and colleagues along the way.

San Francisco Trek

San Francisco Trek 2013

Foster Undergraduate Career Services team understands the importance of giving our students opportunities to engage with employers outside of the Seattle area. With that said, we are happy to report that Foster Undergraduate Career Services had the opportunity to take a group of Foster students to San Francisco to visit five companies. This group of Foster students consisted of finance/accounting majors who are interested in working in the bay area after they graduate. Each visit entailed an overview of the company, in-addition to students getting the opportunity to network with company representatives. During this two-day trek we also had a San Francisco alumni networking night, where we had roughly 40 Foster alumni from the San Francisco area meet up to network with each other as well as our current students.

When we asked some of the students who attended this trek what they liked best about it, here is what they had to say:

“I loved the networking night at Thirsty Bear. It was beyond helpful to socialize and talk with all the alumni. They were beyond helpful and interested in answering all of our questions.”

“I met several great companies that are on my target company list. These companies let their partners, managers and seniors share their work experience. That is very helpful to me. I knew more about these companies and got in touch with people there.”

“Going to the companies and learning about what is out there was definitely the most valuable part of the trip for me. In addition to and along with that, getting the chance to connect and meet with professionals in the field, particularly the UW grads, was great.”

The companies that we had the opportunity to visit on that two-day trek were:

10th Biennial International Business for Community Colleges Conference

Intl Bus Comm College FacGuest Post by Ian Priestman, International Business Professor at Linn-Benton Community College, Oregon, who attended the 10th Biennial International Business for Community Colleges Conference with a travel grant from the Global Business Center. 

Being an Englishman in America, I get a great kick out of going to conferences in the US, especially to places I wouldn’t get the chance to go to if I’d have stayed in England. There’s something exciting about saying, “I’m going to Washington” or, “the conference is Colorado” or even Michigan. It is these places that us Brits see in the movies or hear about in songs all the time but only ever dream about going to. Instead, the Brits attend conferences in rain soaked Manchester, in dark stone buildings in Leeds or in the concrete jungle of Birmingham. These courses in the UK take place against the backdrop of the perpetual dark cloud that hangs over the country, threatening to rain at any moment. On the other hand, no doubt these English towns are of the same interest to the US anglophile or history chaser as American places are to me.

This speaks to my first point I gleaned from the 10th Biennial International Business for Community Colleges Conference. There is a myriad of motivations and interests that we and more importantly our students have for studying international disciplines. Writing this post inspired me to think about the factors that had led me to the conference. I concluded with this: to make an international class or program, modern, and dynamic, we have to tap into our student’s motivations and interests in all things international and allow our students to develop these interests.

I now realize my reason for living and working in the US and becoming a citizen (and with my accent, me being an American really confuses my students!): It was my love of vacations as a child. Vacations gave me wanderlust, and as a direct result, there I was at the conference in Michigan as an International Business professor. With my love of vacations in mind, I realized that although a student might have no international experience other than a magical spring break vacation in Cancun, there’s plenty of scope to apply international business concepts to the tourist industry in Cancun or even another resort. Another example:  If a student enjoys British TV miniseries such as Downton Abbey or Brit comedies or even our musical output, the British movie or music industry would provide a great structure for the student in which to house international business concepts.

So now I want to spread my wanderlust (or wanderdust as I prefer to call it) to my students. How did the international business conference help me? The presentations on the regions of the world were fascinating as possible research projects and destinations for my students. Then, after hearing about the possibilities, the next piece of the puzzle was already waiting for me.  Waiting in the wings were sessions on raising the profile of international business in community colleges, internationalizing existing curriculums, and the possibilities for study abroad programs.

The conference gave me the tools with which to work in spreading the wanderdust. Great resources were suggested, notably by Tomas Hult and also the ‘Global Edge’. These resources will help me make my case at my community college for emphasizing the importance of international business courses. Finally, it was suggested that I research the availability of funds to attend further conferences thereby sustaining my enthusiasm for international business. Such funds are out there, you know- just like international business experiences and opportunities for our students.

Roei Ganzarski named Global Business Advisory Board Chair

Ganzarski HeadshotRoei Ganzarski is President and COO of BoldIQ. He is the Chair of the Global Business Center’s Global Business Advisory Board and holds an MBA from the Foster School.

Tell us a bit about BoldIQ. How did it come about, and what is your role in the company?

Thomas Edison once said: “There’s a way to do it better – find it”. At BoldIQ we find it for our global customers every day. We are a developer and provider of software platforms enabling real-time, optimal and actionable solutions for resource utilization, operations management, and disruption recovery, in complex business environments. Using our proprietary technology, our customers experience net operating savings of 4% to 16% and an increase in revenue-generating capacity of ~10%. Beyond ongoing real-time optimized planning, our platform provides on-the-fly change management from an entire systems perspective.

We originally developed our robust operations management platform and our optimization engine to support an innovative new air carrier: DayJet Corporation. We worked for 5 years developing systems and algorithms to support the very complex world of air taxi – no fixed schedule; constantly changing customer demand and requirements; variable unpredictable working environment including changing weather; multiple resources required to deliver each service; and a multitude of legal and operating constraints. This required complex automation and significant optimization, solving a large problem in seconds, multiple times a day, every day.

As president & COO, I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, our growth, and our business.

 How did you become interested in global business?

My father worked for an international container shipping company and I spent my childhood in Asia watching him grow the business. We then returned to our homeland in Israel where I continued watching him grow the business throughout the world. I was intrigued and fascinated by his ability to talk to a political leader in China in the morning, solve an operational  problem in Italy in the afternoon, and then contend with the daily business of ships and crews scattered across the seven seas, all in complete calm and as  second nature. I was privileged to grow up in an environment where ‘global’ was simply the norm, and I was hooked.

 You serve on 3 advisory boards. What do you like about advising, and what direction would you like to take the Global Business Advisory Board in now that you’re the chairman?

I have been fortunate to experience a lot from a global perspective, both as a youngster, and a business leader working for companies like Boeing and BoldIQ, and I now feel that it is my duty to share that experience and knowledge with others so that we, as a whole, can continue to get better. Moreover, I am finding that I am learning just as much as I am imparting, which is what this is all about- always learning and always getting better.

As chair of the board, I would like to see us, the business community, take a more active role in the global education of our next generation’s leaders. My plan as chair is to help drive that forward. Seattle and the Pacific Northwest have an abundance of global companies – leaders in their respective markets and industries. We have globally known brands like Starbucks, Boeing, Costco, Amazon, and Microsoft to name but a few. We also have an abundance of less known brands that are global leaders in their fields. We must take advantage of that to the best of our abilities and help shape what tomorrow’s leaders need to know and need to be able to do, to continue the legacy that we are creating for them today. It is not just about jobs and internships. It is about shaping the academic and experiential programs that our students should go through to prepare for the world of global business. I would like to see the board take a more active role in this influence, and see the school and professors take a more active role in seeking out that real-world guidance from us.

 What would you tell students about the world of global business?

I would say that there is no longer such a thing as global business. I would say that today, the world of any business is global whether we like it, or plan it, or not.  Be it on the supply side (parts, materials, goods, or software engineers); be it in the customer base; be it in sourcing support or services; or even in the hiring of our employees – everything today has some element of global in it. So I would say get ready for an amazing environment of business that is making the world smaller and smaller and with that driving the need for an expanded knowledge and understanding of the world and the people in it. Your time at university is an amazing opportunity to experience, experiment, learn and try new things that later you may not get a chance to. Use the time wisely and fully and enjoy the journey.

Global entrepreneurship: rewards & challenges

Guest post by Maria Reyes, CISB student Saito 1

As a graduating senior I am often asked what the highlight of my business school career was. The response? The people I’ve met through the Michael G. Foster School of Business.

One of the most inspiring individuals I’ve met is William Saito. Internationally, he’s renowned for his work in encryption, authentication, and biometric technology. Today, he runs InTecur, a consultancy in Japan that helps companies identify and develop applications and markets for innovative technologies.

On May 9th, he came to the Foster School of Business to deliver a talk titled “Global Entrepreneurship: Rewards & Challenges.” I came expecting to learn just about starting a business, but Mr. Saito delivered that and beyond. He shared challenges in penetrating Japanese markets using American venture strategies and was humble in sharing what worked and what didn’t work, how he learned from his mistakes, and the importance of giving back once you are successful.

What I personally received from his talk is the drive to become an innovator during my internship in Tokyo, Japan. For those who are unfamiliar with the Japanese business culture, it is very uniform and male dominated, which is a challenging environment for a woman let alone a foreigner like me. Prior to meeting Mr. Saito, I felt pressured to conform to the Japanese norms. When I expressed my concerns about Japanese business culture to him one-on-one, he challenged me to break my own preconceived notions and be innovative by utilizing my unique background to help grow the company rather than work under it. I will never forget his words and will continue to think of them after graduation. I hope to one day inspire others to be innovative like Mr. Saito does.

Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary visits the Foster School

Ambassador Szapary photoOn Friday, May 3rd, a group of Foster students and finance faculty members had the unique opportunity to meet with Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States. An economist who worked for the International Monetary Fund and served as deputy governor of the National Bank of Hungary in his previous roles, Ambassador Szapary spoke on the topic of the European debt crisis.  He began by observing that the European debt crisis is really a triple crisis:  it started as a financial crisis, became a debt crisis, and is now a confidence and growth crisis.  The ambassador used the analogy of an iceberg:  the financial crisis was the part that was visible above the water, but many more problems were discovered under the water.

The European response to the crisis has been to impose fiscal discipline (austerity), although there is now a debate about whether to switch to more expansionary, growth-focused policies.  Ambassador Szapary reviewed the economic performance of European countries over the last five years and contrasted it with the US economy. In a wide-ranging question and answer session, the ambassador addressed questions about bank regulation, the prospects for Hungary adopting the euro, the availability of credit to Hungarian businesses, the effect of austerity policies on social cohesion, and the Hungarian constitution.

MBA study tour: reflections on Shanghai

Post by Jess Rush, Global Business Center Assistant Director of MBA Global Programs

IMG_6078 (2)Twenty three million. It’s hard to fathom the reality of that number. It is almost the population of the state of Texas. It is the population of the CITY of Shanghai, China. Nearly twenty five hundred square miles. It is both the area of the state of Delaware and the city of Shanghai. It’s daunting to think that this is just one city (and it’s not the biggest) in a country that is on the fast track to overtaking the US as the world’s biggest economy. Some studies indicate that we are less than twenty years from that happening. For the past twenty years, Shanghai has been growing, no, exploding. (Check out the photos here for some visual context: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/05/shanghai-can-the-fastest-growing-city-in-the-world-keep-it-up/257021/)

It is in Shanghai that the 2013 MBA Study Tour to China took off for a two week exploration of the culture and business of China. Shanghai provides a wonderful introduction to China. It eases one in with fairly clear skies and clean, safe streets. While it’s not as challenging as other cities, don’t be fooled. It’s still a real challenge to take a taxi to the Bund without it written in Mandarin. Just ask a few of us who tried!

While in Shanghai, the Study Tour visited a variety of companies including AGCO, Siemens Healthcare, SKF, Trina Solar and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. Two particularly interesting meetings were with an ex-pat, “C-level” recruiter who left Pittsburg for Shanghai when the US economy took its downturn and with a UW alumnus who created a tech start up and is developing new social networking applications for an increasingly connected Chinese youth.  The MBA students, faculty and staff were treated to a wide array of industries and approaches to doing business both in China and around the globe. We were also treated to a typical Chinese lunch meeting. Over plates and plates of delicious food and steaming cups of tea, we talked hiring tendencies, the importance of human resources in multinational companies and creating community while living abroad.

Part of my experience in Shanghai also included a visit to one of our exchange partner schools-the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF). While it also involved being treated to an amazing lunch spread, it was more importantly and opportunity to connect with colleagues and learn more about each other’s programs. SAIF is a relatively new program in a beautiful new building and in a fantastic part of the city near Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Students interested in studying finance could really benefit from spending a term there.

I expected Shanghai to be an interesting learning experience. I did not expect to be so charmed by the city. From exploring Tianzifang and Xitiandi in the French Concession to an adventure under the river to Pudong and up the Oriental Pearl Tower to see the night lights, the city gripped me. Making our classroom the boardrooms, restaurants, streets and taxis of Shanghai expanded the minds and perspectives of students and faculty/staff alike. There is no experience that can substitute for taking one’s learning global, especially given the future of the world’s economy. In our lifetime, the US will be sharing the stage more and more. Our best prepared leaders will be able to sit at that lunch meeting and make deals while serving themselves with chopsticks.

The 2013 International Business Club Summit- a student’s experience

Post by Vi Nguyen, CISB student

Vi Nguyen IBC

Thank you to the Global Business Center for giving me for the opportunity to attend the third annual International Business Club (IBC) Summit 2013 at the Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University. The IBC had prepared an intense two-day summit for the purpose of gathering international business clubs from across the U.S. to share their best practices and develop deeper global awareness. This experience was very inspirational in many ways.

Prior to the event, each student had to fill out an IES (Intercultural Effectiveness Scale) survey. The idea focused on the likelihood of your working effectively with people whose cultural backgrounds differs from yours. This survey related to one of the sessions that were hosted on the first day, which was an assessment debriefing by Dr. Larry Inks, Department of Management and Human Resources, Fisher College of Business, The OSU. Dr. Larry Inks explained the purpose of the IES and emphasized that this assessment allows for an individual to seek out growth opportunities, to grow and develop based on our results. The IES provided us with the information on areas where there is room for improvements and to consider. He further mentioned that our position as college students is the richest environment for global reach.

The next event was the best practices presentation where each club had to give a 10-minute presentation on their club’s best practices and why they think their club is doing a good job for its members. It was then followed by an international trivia/jeopardy quiz where the questions were based from the issues of The Economist magazine. Additional questions were from general awareness and knowledge on global issues, geography, politics, cultures, etc. To end the first night of the summit, we had dinner and the chance for students to network with each other. We also had the honor to have Kent Larsson, currently a retail marketing consultant for The Gordman Group. Mr. Larsson shared his senior positions in marketing, merchandising, and strategic planning during his 30 years in specialty and general merchandise retailing companies such as Big Lots. He also spoke about the challenges of working overseas and of course the rewards of it.

The second day was an intense simulation on making great global decision based on the topic “China in Africa: Savior or self-interest”. This simulation was created by the Foreign Policy Association that requires robust discussion and consensus building on international topic and was facilitated by Shannon McAfee, Columbus council on World Affairs (who is also from Washington). After reviewing the topic, each team was to debate their positions on elements of this topic and present their points of view to all the participants. To end the summit, we had a keynote speaker: Mr. Patrick Terrien, President and CEO, Columbus Council of World Affairs. We had the opportunity to hear Mr. Terriens biography and how he was exposed to globalization. He then led an informal discussion on the topic of The Business of Global Awareness.

Through this experience, I had the opportunity to learn compelling best practices from other clubs across the U.S., build global competitiveness through survey feedback, test my knowledge with Economist quiz, network with peers also interested in global careers, participate in Foreign Policy Association global simulation and gain a competitive edge by expanding global awareness.