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.”
I 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.
Guest post by Kelci Zile, Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) student
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.
As a student at Seattle Pacific University, Dan Price won second place in the 2007 UW Business Plan Competition for Gravity Payments. This year he was the keynote speaker at the UW Business Plan Competition Awards Dinner on May 22. Price shared his personal story and the lessons he learned while building Gravity Payments into one the fastest growing credit card processing companies. His advice for student entrepreneurs:
Dive in. One important lesson for all entrepreneurs is to learn how to dive in and get things done—even when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Price shared what happened to him in 2008 when the financial collapse hit. First, 20% of his revenue evaporated overnight. Next, two of his major clients filed for bankruptcy leaving him with the prospect of losing $1.3 million, which would have left him with just $200K in the bank. But instead of panicking, he started learning everything he could about bankruptcy law and was appointed to the official committee for unsecured creditors for both bankruptcy cases. In the end, Gravity Payments didn’t lose the entire $1.3 million.
Make incremental progress. He also made the point that building a company is about making incremental progress each day. Instead of focusing on everything that needs to be done, do what you can see today.
Be open to change. You’re not going to follow your business plan exactly like you think you are. He said, “You’re going to shred it. You’re going to redo it.” It’s important to be flexible and open to change to meet demands. He said, “We’re doing things in our business I never imagined we would do.”
Support successful people traits. He concluded with a challenge to the audience. He showed an image depicting successful people versus unsuccessful people. Successful people share information, keep a journal, want others to be successful, while unsuccessful people fear change, secretly hope others fail and criticize others. Price challenged everyone to create a world where the successful people traits thrive.
Foster undergraduate student Wilson Carletti was recently awarded a Bonderman Travel Fellowship which will enable him to travel solo for eight months and visit at least two regions and six countries around the world. Carletti was one of fourteen UW students to receive the fellowship worth $20,000.
Carletti grew up in Seattle and is preparing to graduate in June with an undergraduate degree in finance from the Foster School. He plans to leave for his eight-month adventure sometime in September or early October and will travel to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Antarctica, Argentina and South Africa. He first heard about the fellowship as a freshman through the Honors Program. After studying abroad in Italy and Spain for a summer and participating in an Exploration Seminar to China, he knew he wanted to travel more.
His travel objectives are to appreciate the natural beauty of these places, engage in dialogue with local communities, and participate in sports to learn to understand their role in the lives of other peoples and cultures of South America and South Africa. He is also interested in improving his Spanish while he’s in South America. And he’s visiting Antarctica because he has always wanted to visit all seven continents. He said, “I also want to use the opportunity to focus on one of my passions: writing. I want to write about my experiences, as a mode of self-reflection and documentation for others, and to hone my art of storytelling.” He said he started his blog before his first study abroad trip and found it helped him view his experiences differently, especially as he documented them for others.
He expects the most challenging aspect of this trip to be the long periods of solitude. Venturing out of the Puget Sound for eight months will also be an adjustment, but it’s one he’s looking forward to.
When Carletti returns, he’ll pursue a master’s degree in human centered design at UW. His ultimate goal is to combine his business education with startups and writing. His advice to current students, “Study abroad if you can. Seek out those opportunities that expose you to other parts of the world.”
The Bonderman Travel Fellows were established in 1995. The aim is to expose students to the intrinsic, often life-changing benefits of international travel. While traveling, students may not pursue academic study, projects or research. UW graduate students, professional students and undergraduate students are eligible to apply. In total, 207 UW students—127 undergraduate and 80 graduate and professional students—have been named Bonderman Fellows, including the 2014 fellows. Look for future blog posts from Carletti next year as he shares his journey with us on the Foster Blog.
In 2013 the Hall of Fame board approached the Foster School and Professor and Dean Emeritus William Bradford, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013, with a request to collaborate on the exhibit. Fast forward to almost a year later, a partnership between the Hall of Fame and the Foster School has been established. The exhibit is housed on campus in Mackenzie Hall and was developed in partnership with the Center for Consulting and Business Development, which has been helping minority-owned businesses succeed for the past 19 years.
At the grand opening of the Hall of Fame, Foster School Dean Jim Jiambalvo said he was very pleased the Foster School and the Center for Consulting and Business Development were able to form this partnership with the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum. UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce said the Hall of Fame, along with the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, the UW Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center and the Intellectual House, scheduled to open in March 2015, represents the UW is committed to building a diverse community open to everyone. Washington State Representative and Foster alumna Cindy Ryu (MBA 1983) said the Hall of Fame signaled there are opportunities for everyone. She also cited the Washington State Dream Act (REAL Hope Act) as one of the most important pieces of legislation to pass because it makes college possible for people who are not legal citizens and creates a more diverse learning environment at higher education institutions in Washington.
John F. Robinson, founding board chair of the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum, said that for the past nine years they have always wanted to find a home for the Hall of Fame and he was pleased it was able to be here at the Foster School. Then Fred Canady, chair of the Hall of Fame, introduced the newest inductees. Two of the five 2014 inductees are from the Seattle area: Firoz Lalji, co-founder of Zones, an IT company, and the founders of Liberty Bank, which was started in the Central District of Seattle in 1967 by business leaders who wanted to make more banking services available to minorities. The other inductees are Charles Timothy Haffey, former VP of corporate purchasing for Pfizer; Don McKneely, founder, chairman and CEO for MBN USA and Business News Group and co-founder of Billion Dollar Roundtable; and Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley, former executive director of National Minority Supplier Development Council.
The grand opening concluded with Foster MBA student Yonas Seifu. He shared how mentoring and seeing African Americans in the engineering field, the career path he pursued as a high school and college student, shaped his career. He ended the talk by referencing the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And he said, “The Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum is now part of the Foster School of Business village.”
On April 2, the Foster School held its 2nd annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium, hosted by Neal Dempsey, this year’s Fritzky Chair. Julia Link, principal of the Link Group which offers product and go-to-market strategies for various companies, spoke about the creative process and provided a design framework.
A design framework for innovation:
Step 1: Empathize – In this phase, you’re trying to understand your target customers’ needs, motives, feelings and goals. Your job is to get the story. Don’t go to your potential customer with the solution; instead let them tell you what they want.
Step 2: Define – Take the information and insights you’ve gathered in step one and start to define the user and decide what problem you’re trying to solve. You should ask yourself “so what.” We’ve created this product that solves this problem. So what? Why is it so important to solve that problem? Who needs that problem solved?
Be sure to design your product for individuals, not the industry. Link also made a very important point about designing for the extreme users. Extreme users are not power users, but they are people who have more requirements than the average product user. If you can design for the extreme users, chances are high the regular users will also like what you designed. An example she cited was wheels on suitcases. Now ubiquitous, wheels on suitcases were originally for people who traveled a lot.
Step 3: Ideate – Come up with a lot of ideas for your product. This works best when you can brainstorm with a group which has varying backgrounds. Have everyone suggest ideas. Don’t judge the ideas, just write them down.
Steps 4 and 5: Prototype and Test – Take the ideas generated in step three and go make something. Don’t spend a lot of time or money on the prototype. It’s not sacred. You’re simply trying to create something people can give you feedback on. Don’t take the feedback personally. Repeat this process as often as needed: Prototype > Fail > Learn often.
Learn more about all the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium sessions.
On April 2, the Foster School held its 2nd annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium, hosted by Neal Dempsey, this year’s Fritzky Chair. Three people spoke about design and innovation trends in business: Ken Denman, president and CEO of Emotient; Bob Paulsen co-founder and CEO of PlayerLync; and Julia Link, principal of the Link Group. Below are highlights from Denman’s and Paulsen’s sessions.
Denman focused on innovation and relayed his experiences with Emotient, a facial expression recognition and analysis company. Main points included:
When established companies are trying to innovate, they tend to make existing products only incrementally better. This works for awhile, but then smaller companies start to catch up and offer more innovative products that grab more and more market share. The example Denman cited was the iPhone. When it came out, it was a product category maker or re-maker. It started taking market share away from existing markets such as GPS and personal cameras.
Study up on the industry you’re in so you know who the competitors are and where the market is heading. Knowing this information allows you get beyond the basics in conversations.
As an entrepreneur, you’re always raising money while you’re doing everything else. It’s exhausting, but it’s part of the job.
As an entrepreneur you have to be able to overcome your fears. You must have the confidence to say, “I can do this.” And you have to be able to project that confidence.
Uncertainty is a given in entrepreneurship. You don’t know what you don’t know, but you’ll learn it when you need to know it.
Product philosophy: Before you start, think about the inevitable. What’s inevitable given the technology available, customer needs and status of the market? Use the answers to these questions to decide whether or not to pursue an idea. If you can identify those areas in the market where something big is going to happen, you’re positioning yourself for success.
One of the most challenging aspects of innovation is to take big complex ideas and make them stupid simple—so simple anyone can understand them.
To innovate, be disciplined and methodical in your thinking. Try something, measure it and iterate. Repeat that process over and over.
Learn more about Ken Denman and his company Emotient, formerly Machine Perception Technologies.
Bob Paulsen, co-founder and CEO of PlayerLync, shared his innovation best practices. PlayerLync creates an enterprise platform that provides a secure and easy way to control content and offers tablet-based collaboration. Their clients include large restaurant chains and NFL football teams.
Paulsen shared several keys to success:
PlayerLync takes a very user-focused approach to their product, and Paulsen reinforced that mentality throughout his presentation. He said you have to make it easy for someone to use your product. If their first experience with it isn’t positive, they’ll look for something else.
When developing PlayerLync, they considered what their customer would want in their product by anticipating their needs. The customer gave them a few initial requirements, and they took those requirements and ran with them. The result was a product that exceeded the customers’ expectations.
Ideas are great, but businesses are based on who will pay for your product, service or software. Don’t overlook this when starting a new venture.
He also recommended three business books: The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore and The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema.
Learn more about all the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium sessions.
On Wednesday, April 2, the Foster School of Business held its 2nd annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium. Neal Dempsey, the visiting 2013-2014 Edward V. Fritzky Chair in Leadership, hosted an interactive day where students and business representatives came together to discuss the latest challenges in design and innovation.
The symposium started with Christian Chabot, founder CEO of Tableau Software. Next, Salman Ullah of Merus Capital and Neal Dempsey gave an insightful talk and provided advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Highlights included:
It’s hard to be an entrepreneur. You have to fail to succeed. And after you fail, you have to get up and do it again.
To be successful today, you have to work really, really hard—harder than those in previous generations. Why? Because the world is full of people who are also working really, really hard, and you’re competing against them.
There are many sources from which to raise money. Ullah made the point, however, that it’s good to raise money from traditional sources (venture capitalists) because they have a high bar, which is good for you and your business.
The real work of an entrepreneur starts after you’ve raised money. Ullah said, “Have enough psychic energy to get past the initial euphoria of raising money.”
Take responsibility for your own career path. Regularly evaluate your career to ensure it’s what you want. If it isn’t, make a change.
In every job you have figure out who will give you air cover. In this context air cover refers to a person who will back you and your ideas up when you need it. This person could be someone you’ve done a favor for, your mentor or a colleague.
Learn more about all the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium sessions.
Christian Chabot, CEO and co-founder of Tableau, spoke at the Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series on April 2. He outlined how Tableau, a business intelligence* software company, went from a small start-up in his Capitol Hill apartment to a publicly traded company (NYSE: DATA).
Chabot drew parallels between the rise of Tableau and the pattern that all disruptive companies follow as outlined in the book Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen. That pattern is outlined below.
1. Disruptive technology comes along that is written off as low-end.
Initially, industry experts dismissed Tableau’s software even though it made it much easier for people to analyze data. Its software democratized people’s ability to work with and analyze data.
2. Market share captains write off the disruptive technology.
Gartner, an industry research firm, wouldn’t give Tableau the time of day from 2004-2006, and from 2007-2009, Gartner referred to Tableau as an interesting little data visualization start-up that is part of a niche market.
3. Massive numbers of people start to adapt the new technology.
The company’s revenue has roughly doubled every year since 2005, except for in 2009, the year of the financial collapse. Today, Tableau is the fastest growing software company in the world.
4. Technology moves up market and replaces the high-end technology.
Gartner visited Tableau in 2013 and said traditional business intelligence is dying and the world is moving toward the way Tableau operates.
5. Traditional providers start to struggle financially.
While Tableau is experiencing rapid growth, companies such as SAP and IBM, former leaders in the business intelligence industry, are reducing the size of their business intelligence divisions.
To learn more about Tableau and hear Chabot’s two pieces of advice for entrepreneurs and why he thinks Seattle is a better place for start-ups than Silicon Valley, watch the video below.
* Business intelligence (BI) refers to software applications that are used to analyze an organization’s raw data. BI includes data mining, processing, querying and reporting.
Christian Chabot was one of UW Foster School of Business Dean Jim Jiambalvo’s guest speakers at the annual Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, which include notable leaders in an array of industries from greater Seattle and around the country.
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