All posts by Sarah Massey

Bruce Avolio TEDx video: showing up for leadership

Bruce Avolio, executive director of the Foster School’s Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, spoke at TEDxUmeå on January 17, 2013. The theme was “Leadership, creativity and innovation” and Avolio’s talk was titled, “Showing up for leadership…Ta Dah!” In his talk Avolio discusses three types of leadership: leadership that grows people, leadership that sustains people and leadership that diminishes people.

When a leader grows people, she empowers them to take ownership and challenge conventions. Leaders who grow people share a common trait—they all had people in their lives who set extremely high expectations for them. When they failed to meet these expectations, they were supported and encouraged to get up and do it again, and this process was repeated over and over. As a result they developed the ability to transform other people into leaders.

Avolio shared examples of how people can show up for leadership. You can be a leader who grows people by:

  • Showing up with great expectations.
  • Showing up claiming leadership.
  • Showing up over and over.
  • Showing up with everyone.

Avolio said, “We can all grow a better world together. Why don’t we do it?”

Watch the 20-minute video.

Paradigm shifts and P4 Medicine

Dr. Leroy Hood, a pioneer in the systems approach to biology and medicine, spoke at UW Foster School in January 2013 about innovation, complexity, P4 Medicine—predictive, preventative, personalized, and participatory—and much more.

Dr. Hood has played a role in founding more than fourteen biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Darwin, and The Accelerator and Integrated Diagnostics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Of the 6,000+ scientists world-wide who belong to one or more of these academies, Dr. Hood is one of only fifteen people accepted to all three. Additionally, Dr. Hood has published more than 700 peer reviewed articles and currently holds 36 patents.

In a career of dramatic innovation, Dr. Hood has seen a number of paradigm shifts. He identified four common traits. Each paradigm change:

  1. Fundamentally altered how, in his case, scientists think about biology and the practice of biology.
  2. Faced enormous initial skepticism and, in some cases, actual hostility because there were perceived threats to the traditional way of getting things done.
  3. Forced the creation of new organizational structures—the bureaucracy that comes from existing organizational structures hurts the ability to change the way you think about something.
  4. Required enormous risk taking.

Watch the video below for more highlights from his talk, including how the Human Genome Project transformed biology, implications of P4 Medicine, and his thoughts on the future of systems biology.

Dr. Leroy Hood from Foster School of Business on Vimeo.

Leroy Hood 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.

Can vending machines be innovative? Definitely.

Paul DavisPaul Davis, CEO of Coinstar, spoke at the Foster School of Business’s Leaders to Legends Breakfast Series in November 2012. His talk focused on how Coinstar has reinvented itself to become a leader in the automated retail space—otherwise known as kiosks—through innovation.

One of the largest and best-known parts of Coinstar’s business is Redbox, the popular automated movie DVD kiosk business. Redbox comprises more than 80 percent of Coinstar’s revenue. Redbox’s business model centers on value, simplicity and convenience, and it’s been highly successful. It’s a $2 billion business and there are over 42,000 Redbox kiosks in the U.S.

In addition to Redbox, Coinstar is involved in eight other companies. These companies, like Redbox, embody value, simplicity, and convenience. A perfect example is Rubi, a new twist on vending machine coffee. Coinstar is launching this in partnership with Seattle’s Best Coffee, which is owned by Starbucks. Rubi utilizes French press technology and offers single cup brewing—beans are ground on the spot—that starts at $1 a cup. It offers affordable, high quality coffee from a vending machine.

Other Coinstar properties include Alula, which allows you to turn gift cards into cash at 70-85 percent of the value of the card, and Eco ATM, which allows you to get cash for your cell phone on the spot. They’re looking at expanding this to all electronics.

Coinstar looks for innovative opportunities in the automated retail space in myriad places. It holds big-idea competitions within the company, talks to venture capitalists and private equity firms, holds white-board competitions at universities, and utilizes a nation-wide innovator network.

Coinstar has also developed criteria and a process for finding new companies. It only considers businesses that can scale or expand outside of the U.S. and that are capable of $100 million in revenue. All of the ideas are also consumer-tested before being seriously pursued. And once an idea is vetted, Coinstar hires an entrepreneur with deep domain expertise to launch and grow the company. The entrepreneur is given four years to do this and his or her compensation is tied to the success of the company. This systematic approach is paying off. All but one of the ideas Coinstar has pursued have succeeded; industry standard is typically a 25 percent success rate.

Coinstar has been steadily rising on Fortune’s “Fastest-Growing Companies” list for the past few years. Despite critics, they are successfully reinventing—or rather inventing—the automated retail space. Look for Coinstar products in all kinds of kiosks near you.

Since giving this talk, Paul Davis announced he will retire from Coinstar. Scott Di Valerio, currently CFO of Coinstar, will become CEO in early April.

Paul Davis 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.

Foster finance workshop explores the ABCs of HFTs

Guest post by Jonathan Brogaard, an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Foster School

Jonathan BrogaardIs high frequency trading good or bad for financial markets? In January, the Foster School Department of Finance and Business Economics hosted a high-level summit to discuss how the increasing automation of financial markets is affecting investors, market volatility and order execution.

The discussion brought together Foster finance faculty and senior executives from local investment firms.

As an early investigator of this emerging topic in finance, I was asked to present the leading academic findings.

First, a bit of definition. High frequency trading (or HFT) is the fastest subset of computer-based algorithmic trading. HFTs act either as market makers or exploit inefficiencies in the market. They buy and sell constantly, hold very little inventory at any given time, and end each day with zero positions. In short, they run a volume business, picking up fractions of a penny over and over and over again. This leads to regular—and sometimes extravagant—profitability.

But HFTs are shrouded in mystery. Little is known about these firms and their algorithms that dominate market trading. HFTs are obtuse and generally unregulated. And they have been linked to scary events such as the flash crash of May 6, 2010.

A small group of academics, including myself, study the effect of HFTs on market quality—how well markets operate. The consensus of our findings is that, on average, HFTs are improving the quality of markets. That is, they are adding to price discovery (making prices more informative), increasing liquidity (making more shares available to be bought and sold), and decreasing spreads (the price difference between what a buyer and a seller will pay).

But what are traditional investors experiencing in the markets? Our workshop guests voiced a variety of opinions on HFTs, and shared experiences that will help me and other researchers fine-tune our measurements to better reflect the realities of an increasingly computerized market.

We certainly share their concerns about the lack of understanding around high frequency trading. We have much to learn. Do HFTs increase or decrease the risk of flash crashes? What is their presence doing to investor confidence? Are they beneficial in the market for smaller stocks?

We tend to fear what we don’t know. But high frequency trading is certainly here to stay. So we’re working diligently to shed light on this powerful new force in the financial markets.

Great manager vs. great leader

Guest post by Ben Flajole, Evening MBA 2014 and Evening MBAA VP of Alumni Affairs at the Foster School of Business

“If you’re up at a whiteboard listing all of the things that make a good leader, I don’t think many of you would put ‘4.0 student,’ right?” With that remark, Eric Sprunk, VP of Merchandising and Product at Nike, saw most, if not all, of the crowd breathe a sigh of relief. As the featured speaker at the MBA Perspectives on Leadership event on January 10, Sprunk spent time discussing what, if not perfect grades, makes people great leaders.

Sprunk’s presentation on leadership at Nike highlighted some key differences between being a good manager and a good leader. To him, a good leader creates an environment in which people are encouraged and allowed to achieve their best work every day; a good manager makes sure the employees have what they need to be able to do that. He then referenced the traits he considers necessary for good leadership, which were defined by a student in a prior session as “soft skills”:

  • Courage: having authenticity and honesty in your interactions with others.
  • Energy: bringing great enthusiasm to your team and never asking for more from them than you are willing to give yourself.
  • Balance: knowing that burnout is real and that feeling like a good son, daughter, dad, mom, husband, and/or wife is crucial for producing your best work.

Ideally, as Sprunk stated, we’re able to be great managers and leaders simultaneously. However, that’s not always the case. While good managers generate good results, it is often good leaders that produce the best results by leading with vision, strategy, and having and exercising the traits listed above.

Watch the video below for more highlights from his talk.

Eric Sprunk, VP of Merchandising and Product at Nike from the Foster School of Business.

The MBA “Perspectives on Leadership” Speaker Series is organized by the Full-time and Evening MBAA and the Foster School’s Alumni team.

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar benefits 3,000 and counting

Adapted from a Boeing publication

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar's (AIMS) 50th AnniversaryManagement theories and approaches fall in and out of favor, as any experienced manager can tell you. That’s a fact of life in the business world, and one that makes the half-century staying power of the Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar, or AIMS, all the more impressive.

AIMS is a two-week residential leadership development program created and administered in partnership by Boeing and Executive Education at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Over the years more than 3,000 Boeing employees have gone through the program. All have benefited from the program’s focus on such topics as improving the global supply chain, increasing efficiencies and productivity in operations management, boosting business performance, and becoming effective leaders of change management.

AIMS celebrated its 50th anniversary in July 2012, and students of Class 97 currently in the program joined some of the past graduates and UW representatives in mid-July for a dinner and reception at the Foster School of Business to honor this milestone and celebrate the program’s many accomplishments.

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar's (AIMS) 50th Anniversary“AIMS is a great program and a wonderful partnership with Boeing and the University of Washington said Bill Schnettgoeke, vice president of Supply and Operations Chain for Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Lean+ Enterprise Initiative Leader, who spoke at the event. “Its success is due to its ability to evolve from a focus on manufacturing to encompass Engineering, Supplier Management, Quality, among other areas – all the better to support the businesses. As we work across the value stream, it brings a cross section of people together.”

Tim Copes, vice president of Manufacturing and Safety for Commercial Airplanes, also spoke at the July 19 dinner at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“As an AIMS graduate myself, I can attest to how well the program prepared me to take on the challenges I’ve faced throughout my career,” said Copes, who completed the program in 1993. “The program’s endurance speaks volumes about its ability to give managers the skills they need to contribute to Boeing’s growth and profitability, and about the company’s commitment to developing the strengths of its leaders.”

The AIMS program is a nomination program for managers and executives from across Boeing who have at least three years of experience with the company.

Learn more about the Foster School’s Executive Education programs.

It’s not all about the money!

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

This month’s innovation blog focuses on an organization: Craft3. Craft3 is an old organization with a new name. Once known as Enterprise Cascadia, Craft3 is a financial institution that operates as a non-profit, lending capital to help businesses, communities, and consumers unable to secure regular financing.

Since 1995, Craft3 has invested $233 million in over 2,800 business and individuals in Pacific Northwest communities. Based in Ilwaco, Craft3 also has offices in downtown Seattle, Port Angeles, Astoria and Portland. In 2013, Craft3 will open new offices east of the mountains in both Washington and Oregon.

“This means that Craft3 can more effectively serve both rural and urban customers,” says Sue Taoka, Craft3’s Executive Vice President in Seattle. “In urban areas, we are more focused in helping targeted areas, like depressed neighborhoods and communities of color. With our strategy to expand in rural, regional centers, Craft3 will serve broader areas that have a potential for growth.”

Pippa's Real Tea
Pippa’s Real Tea, a Craft3 project

As a “triple bottom line” organization, Craft3 measures its success in terms of economic, social and environmental outcomes. Its mission, to “strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities,” is great news for those who have suffered during this economic downturn.

Craft3 fulfills this mission by offering loans to entrepreneurs to start or grow their business, and conservation organizations to acquire sensitive lands and restore habitat. It also makes loans to individually-owned tribal businesses, tribal enterprises, tribal government and non-profit organizations. Energy efficiency retrofit loans are available to homeowners and small businesses in Seattle and Portland.

And it doesn’t stop there. Craft3 also provides support to its customers by referring them to other sources, and making connections. For example, Craft3 was able to help a Quinault fisherman connect his caviar products with an urban store that also benefits from Craft3 services. Craft3 financed an Oregon organic creamery so that it could place its products in urban markets. Craft3’s loans to The Freshwater Trust, helped to plant trees along the Rogue River, to cool industrial effluent.

“We make loans to innovators of all kinds, to those who have difficulty getting loans from a for-profit financial institution,” says Sue. One of her favorite success stories? In the late 1990’s few babies were being born in the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. Most were stillborn. Craft3 helped fund a new health clinic, and when Sue visited 18 months ago, a healthy baby had just been born.

Small business entrepreneurs, small industry, human service agencies and farmers have all benefited from Craft3. And so has the environment, the community, and our future. For more information, go to www.craft3.org.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle, one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She writes the BEDC Brogan blog series monthly. Previously, she covered green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.