Category Archives: Diversity

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.

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

Congratulations 2014 Rotary Club of Seattle scholarship recipients

For the last 17 years, members from the Rotary Club of Seattle have mentored students from the UW Foster School of Business in their work to grow companies in underserved communities or those owned by people of color and women.  Nearly 2,000 UW business students have benefited from the mentoring they’ve received.

RotaryScholarship2014
2014 Rotary Club of Seattle Scholarship recipients (left to right) Jonathan Matson, Kelly Butler and Simran Singh.

This Program, provided by the UW Consulting & Business Development Center, also awards scholarships to participating students, which is funded by the Rotary Club.  The UW Consulting Center congratulates the recipients of the 2014 Rotary Club of Seattle Scholarship.

Kelly Butler, Senior
Studying Business Administration

Ellen Chang, Senior
Studying Philosophy 

Jonathan Matson, Senior
Studying Operations & Supply Chain Management

Simran Singh, Junior
Studying Information Systems

This year, more than 25 Rotarians volunteered nearly 900 hours of mentorship to students and their business clients.  This resource is vital to the success of our students’ work as they provide consulting services to their clients.

“The program offers a unique opportunity to work through ambiguous problems and develop creative solutions.  The stakes are significantly higher when your work has a real impact on real business,” states Jonathan Matson, whose student team consulted a local acupuncture company.

Jonathan’s Rotary mentors helped his team create a marketing plan for their client.  “The added dimension of managing a client relationship is another aspect that doesn’t exist in most of the work we normally do as students. This made the program much more rewarding from a student perspective”

“This is what makes this program a great learning opportunity!” explains Ellen Chang.  “You never know what to expect. Yet with the help from our mentors and advisors, we came out feeling comfortable to deal with uncertainty and a versatile working environment.”

Scholarship recipients were selected by their ability to demonstrated exemplary performance in the areas of team leadership, multicultural/cross-cultural communication, and application of business strategies for their client.

“This program can be thought of as a quarter-long internship,” says Simran Singh.  “When I go into job interviews today, I use this experience to showcase my skills in leadership, critical thinking, and ability to work within a team.”

Kelly Butler’s team helped develop a branding strategy for a local grocery store. “The UW Consulting Center offers an experience unlike any other offered at the Foster School. Students are given the opportunity to witness the struggles of business in the real world and are taught to think on their feet, dealing with day-to-day uncertainty beyond any case study or homework assignment. This program takes the material that other courses have taught in a vacuum, and applies it to reality; real people, real money, real risk.”

Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum opens

Fred Canady and John F. Robinson
Fred Canady and John F. Robinson

On May 13 the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum was unveiled at the UW Foster School of Business Center for Consulting and Business Development. The Hall of Fame, founded in 2004 by the National Minority Business Council and the Minority Business News USA, recognizes trailblazers who have built minority-owned businesses across the U.S. Since its inception, more than 50 people have been inducted.

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.

Provost Ana Mari Cauce
Provost Ana Mari Cauce

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.

Yonas Seifu
Yonas Seifu

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.”

Checking in on YEOC: The March and April Sessions

March: International Experiences
In an ever-connected world, with the lines that divide nations, ethnicities and philosophies becoming blurrier with each passing year, cultural competency will be (if it is not already) key when it comes to professional success. With the theme “International Experiences,” YEOC students are once again proving themselves to be ahead of the curve. The day began with college prep workshops in cultural awareness and leadership, preparing them for the month’s activity. In an event dubbed Global Student Experiences and Around the World Lunch, students rotated between three themed rooms (China, India and Brazil) where they ate lunch (also themed) and listened to a panel of students who had visited that particular country. Afterward, parents joined the students to watch the highly anticipated annual YEOC Cultural Showcase. Performers included UW’s African Student Association, Perlas Mestiza, Jamela Mohammed, Myanmar Student Association, Khmer Student Association and Seattle Karen Don Dance group. Be sure to watch the video for snippets of the showcase and to see the YEOC Flash Mob!

April: Accounting
Just in time for tax season, this month’s theme was “Accounting.” Students kicked things off with a mentor lecture on accounting and a workshop on dining etiquette. Led by Pamela Lacson (Foster’s Associate Director of Diversity & Recruitment), the workshop included the 3 “D’s” of etiquette: Demeanor, Dining and Don’ts. Students also learned the importance of first impressions, voice, eye contact, appropriate attire, handshakes and elevator pitches. Afterward, Beth Lambert, senior manager of EY Fraud Investigative Dispute Services, joined students for this month’s YEOC Talk on Forensic Accounting. Fans of the popular Crime TV genre may be familiar with the term “forensic” as a scientific means to solving grisly crimes. As it turns out, those same skills (gathering and analyzing evidence) can be used to solve white-collar financial crimes like embezzlement, bankruptcy or fraud. Not many high school students can say they spent the day learning the ins and outs of a crucial specialty practice area of accounting. Near the end of the session, students were introduced to their last YEOC activity of the 2013-2014 school year—the case competition. Students will present their findings to a panel of Seattle-area professionals during the May session.

This blog post is a part of a series focusing on monthly YEOC student activities. Visit the YEOC page to learn more about the program.

Checking in on YEOC: The January and February Sessions

January: iCreate
Imagine going to a meeting and finding out that you and your team must write, film and produce a commercial for a client within a few hours. How do you think you’d do? This is exactly what Young Executives of Color (YEOC) students were tasked with during their January session. Upon arriving to campus, students were separated into groups, paired with a mentor and presented with iCreate. According to Korrie Miller, YEOC Program Manager, “iCreate allows students to create their own commercial for a client that follows their branding, strategy and business goals.” The client in this case was APLUS Youth, a non-profit based in Washington state that focuses on character development and education through sports. “APLUS Youth is launching a new running program and asked the YEOC students to act as consultants and create not only commercials (on our YouTube Channel), but also fresh ideas for their program,” says Miller.  Watch the session video below:

February: Information Systems
This session’s business activity was inspired by the ABC Show “Shark Tank.” When describing the project, Miller says, “On the show, investors called “sharks” consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investments for their business or product. At YEOC, students decided on a problem they wanted to solve and came up with creative solutions involving technology. Each team presented their product in front of the sharks, who were professionals from EY (YEOC sponsors).” Students also heard lectures on social image and online correspondence and information systems. Watch the session video below (and don’t miss the Seahawks gear!):

This blog post is a part of a series focusing on monthly YEOC student activities. Visit the YEOC page to learn more about the program.

YEOC students take on inequity in higher ed and business: The November and December sessions

For one Saturday a month, 145 high school students from across Washington State converge on the UW campus for their monthly YEOC session. YEOC, which stands for Young Executives of Color, is a nine month long college-prep program for sophomore, junior and senior high school students. With an average GPA of 3.47, this group of high-achieving students aims to increase the visibility of an under-served and under-represented population—themselves­— in the college and business worlds. The program provides participants with networking opportunities and a lecture series dubbed YEOC Talks and engages them in business activities.

Each session focuses on a different aspect of business. For the month of November, the session focus was on branding and marketing. YEOC activities consisted of super-hero team skits, a dress for success fashion show and a battle of the brands debate. The sophomore college prep session centered on leadership while the juniors focused on college fit and the seniors reviewed their college applications and essays. The students also heard from YEOC alumna/current mentor Jordan Faralan and Microsoft Product Marketing Manager Leona Locke. Check out some highlights in the student-made video below:

Finance was the well-timed focus for December. YEOC activities included honing their public speaking skills and a financial freedom game with YEOC mentors and community volunteers. The sophomore college prep session was devoted to paying for college while juniors gained insights into scholarships and seniors worked on scholarship essays. Students also attended a mentor lecture on personal finance with UW student Paulos Shiferaw and a YEOC Talk with Wesley Burns, a Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Advisor. Watch some highlights below:

This blog post is first in a series focusing on monthly YEOC student activities. Visit the YEOC page to learn more about the program.

Leadership Team: aiding students advance their professional careers

Guest post by Charissa Chin, Vice President of the Leadership Team

Each quarter, the Leadership Team (a student organization that partners with the Consulting & Business Development Center) offers a Flagship Consulting Program, where students provide consulting services to local businesses. During these seven-week projects, students work in teams and receive guidance from professional advisors from Ernst & Young.  This spring, our students gathered research and developed recommendations for The Seafair Foundation, Sealaska Corporation, and The Skin Firm.

The Seafair Foundation, which is part of the organization that hosts Seattle’s Seafair Festival, focuses on charitable services through its scholarship programs and community outreach. The student team’s goal was to expand brand recognition for the Foundation and other programs in their portfolio. Besides providing recommendations on how to increase membership for Seafair’s Ambassador Program, the student team also created an event, Inspire Seattle, which projects to attract more than 500 participating high-school students.

Sealaska Corporation, a $275 million dollar Alaska Native Corporation, with subsidiary operations in various industries, tasked their student team with researching potential markets where Sealaska could gain market share and increase profits, while still maintaining their company’s core organizational values. The team identified various industries such as athletic apparel, green retrofitting, deconstruction, and niche recycling as attractive markets where the company could potentially flourish.

The Skin Firm is a Seattle-based company that offers high-quality skin care products and services. The primary objective for their student team was to develop a marketing strategy to grow their customer base by 4% monthly. In order to reach this goal and increase overall revenue, the team recommended strategies to strengthen the firm’s local advertising, social media campaign, and service packaging.

Our consulting students came away feeling extremely accomplished as they learned how to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world business situations and helped small business owners become more successful.  Students gained insight into what consulting is and had the opportunity to expand their network with Ernst & Young professionals. Through the Flagship Consulting Program, students improved their analyzing, problem-solving, time-management, and teamwork skills.

Personally, I was most excited to see how this experience has helped our students grow and ultimately advance their professional careers.  In fact, this experience has already helped several Flagship members acquire various internships and job offers.  As Vice President of the Leadership Team, I’ve had the pleasure of managing these projects for three consecutive quarters.  It was not only rewarding, but allowed me to grow personally.  Learning how to manage 17 students this quarter has helped me develop my organizational, decision-making, and leadership skills.  It’s a wonderful program and I encourage every student at the UW Foster School of Business to join!

Collaborating for increased opportunities: A new BEDC partnership to further develop minority-owned businesses nationwide

Michael Verchot, Director of the UW BEDC (left), stands with NMSDC President Joset B. Wright (center) and Shelley Stewart, Jr., the Vice Chairman of the NMSDC Board of Directors.
Michael Verchot, Director of the UW BEDC (left), stands with NMSDC President Joset B. Wright (center) and Shelley Stewart, Jr., the Vice Chairman of the NMSDC Board of Directors.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc.® (NMSDC®) and the University of Washington’s Business and Economic Development Center (UW-BEDC) announced a partnership agreement to further the development of minority-owned businesses across the US on May 22nd at the NMSDC’s annual Minority Business Leadership Awards Dinner Dance in New York City.

This partnership joins together the nation’s premier organization committed to the growth and development of Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American-owned companies with the nation’s most comprehensive business school center dedicated to the growth of minority-owned firms and businesses in low- and moderate-income communities.

“This agreement will provide minority business enterprises a new opportunity at one of the country’s leading institutions that supports minority business development,” said NMSDC President Joset B. Wright. “It will allow us to enhance MBEs’ ability to meet the needs of their customers. We are delighted with our new relationship, and we look forward to many years of success for NMSDC, for the University of Washington, but most importantly, for our certified MBEs.”

Jim Jiambalvo, Dean of the UW Foster School of Business, expressed similar excitement about this partnership. “We recognize the NMSDC’s pioneering role in growing minority-owned firms across the US. The work of the council and its member corporations has done more to create opportunities for business growth and wealth creation in communities of color than just about any organization in the last 40 years. We’re proud to be partnering with them so that collectively we can do more than either of us could do independently.”

The partners will begin their collaboration by growing the Foster School’s six-year-old Minority Business Executive Program. This Program has a track record of success in growing minority-owned businesses from across the U.S. JBE Enterprises, an NMSDC-certified firm based in South Carolina, participated in the 2012 Minority Business Executive Program. Richard Ellison, the company’s Vice President and a graduate of the Program attributes its ability to cross the $40 million revenue threshold in part to what firm representatives learned in this Program.

NMSDC and the Foster School will launch a pilot program in June. NMSDC corporate members will select a few MBEs to participate in the program. Ms. Wright will be the commencement speaker at the University’s 2013 graduation ceremony on June 21 in Seattle.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American business enterprises and connects them to corporate members.  One of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations, NMSDC was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes. The NMSDC Network includes a National Office in New York and 36 Regional Councils across the country. There are 3,500 corporate members throughout the network, including most of America’s largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned NMSDC companies, as well as universities, hospitals and other buying institutions. The Regional Councils certify and match more than 16,000 minority-owned businesses with member corporations that want to purchase their products and services.

Seeking enlightenment: a Business Certificate Program graduate’s reflections

Guest post by Jeffrey Chon, graduate of BEDC’s Seattle Business Certificate Program

The Business & Economic Development Center (BEDC)’s Seattle Business Certificate Program (BCP) has recently wrapped up after six weeks of educational coursework and with over sixty graduates. We have invited graduates from the BCP to reflect on their experience of the Program; this is the first in the series written by Jeffrey Chon, Sole Proprietor of Jun Hong’s Kung Fu Club in Seattle.

chonI’ve always been a passionate martial artist and my goal is to never work a day in my life. You see, I’m not “working” if I love what I do. Coming from a family of martial artists, deciding to open my own studio was a breeze. However, after four years of operation, I’m ready to grow my business so that I could focus on teaching instead of worrying about money.

I’ve been a student of kung fu since I was eight. I’m a secular disciple of the Shaolin Temple, and a gold medalist in three different countries. Now I’m able to teach the discipline and philosophies that I’ve learned through Jun Hong’s Kung Fu Club. Through Jun Hong’s Kung Fu Club, students attain better health and fitness by learning the importance of both physical and mental strength through sports and meditation.

Auspiciously, a longtime friend directed me to the Foster School’s Business & Economic Development Center (BEDC), where I participated in their Business Certificate Program.  Held once a week for six weeks, professionals from all fields would come together to give lectures, covering everything from marketing to liability. My classmates, who are professionals themselves, were able to share their experiences, lead class discussions and propose insightful questions. Those questions and concerns were met with direct and in-depth answers. In short, all professionals who seek further knowledge and education can benefit from these seminars.

“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”  ~Sun Tzu

As a small business owner, sometimes we do things for the business with the idea that it will be beneficial, but without the understanding of “why.” During every class I would say to myself, “That’s what I do!” and I began re-applying what I’ve been already doing, but with a deeper understanding of the fundamentals. Within two weeks, I was able to bring nine new students to my business.

To me, it was the missing piece to the puzzle. These classes take what we do as business owners and provide us with the skills to further expand our minds and better our businesses.  Simple questions such as, “Does it work? Why or why not? What are other people doing? What do customers respond to?” helped me understand what areas I need to improve on. Sometimes finding success can be as simple as asking the right questions.

As business owners and professionals, we are always keeping long-term and short-term goals in mind. These classes allow you to re-calibrate what’s important and focus on future goals; not only for your business, but for your life. The professors help you ask the right questions, fellow classmates provide you with networking opportunities, and the synergy created in the class paves the way to endless ideas. I know that the Business Certificate Program will be a priceless and lasting benefit to my business.

You have to prepare yourself for when you’re blessed with an opportunity. As Sun Tzu once said, “opportunities are multiplied as they are seized!”