Category Archives: Diversity

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.

Dean Emeritus William Bradford, seminal supporter of minority business development, takes a bow

Dean Emeritus William Bradford

Bill Bradford is not exactly a founding father of the Foster School’s Consulting and Business Development Center. But he could be called a funding father. A catalyst. And an author of the center’s inspiration.

Bradford was the Foster School dean who green-lighted the vision of Michael Verchot and Emeritus Professor Thaddeus Spratlan, and who provided the seed money to launch their plan to spur minority business development in the mid-1990s.

More significantly, perhaps, Bradford generated many of the groundbreaking studies of minority enterprise that provided the empirical foundation for the center’s aspirations.

“Early on I got the idea that if the US is going to maintain its economic status in the world, then it’s going to have to use all of its resources as best as possible,” says Bradford. “And if there is a set of people who are not systematically reaching their potential, then all of us stand to lose.”

For a career of major contributions to economic development among minority populations, Bradford was inducted this year to the Minority Business Hall of Fame—only the third academic to receive this honor.

Catalytic conversion

Bradford grew up in Cleveland, eventually choosing the academic life over the family business of ministry (his grandfather and father led Baptist congregations, as do two of his brothers).

He earned a BA from Howard University and an MBA and PhD from Ohio State in 1972. Prior to joining the Foster School, he was on the faculties of NYU, Stanford, and the University of Maryland Smith School of Management, where he also served as chair of the finance department and associate dean of academic affairs.

Bradford became the first African-American dean of the Foster School in 1994.

By the time of his Foster appointment, Bradford’s prolific research had already established him as one of the foremost experts on minority wealth creation and management, entrepreneurship and economic development in the context of minority-owned businesses.

When Verchot and Spratlan pitched a program that would leverage his (and others’) academic work by deploying student teams to accelerate the growth of small minority-owned businesses, Bradford was more than intrigued.

“My thought was that we are a public university,” he says. “So we needed to contribute not only to the Boeings and Microsofts, but also to small firms, and those firms in less economically developed areas. I didn’t know if the program was going to work, but there was a demand, and it was a way to connect with the community.”

Verchot recalls finding more than just a champion in Bradford. “What was exciting about Bill being appointed dean was that he brought with him 25 years of research and publishing on minority business development,” says Verchot. “He became a catalyst— someone who not only understood and supported what we were trying to do, but who had actually done some of the seminal work that we could refer to.”

Living legacy

When he stepped down as dean in 1999, Bradford was named the Endowed Professor of Business and Economic Development at the Foster School, an honor financed by a group of anonymous donors. That same year, what is now the Consulting and Business Development Center instituted the William Bradford Minority Business of the Year Award, the premier honor for minority-owned businesses in the state of Washington, based on revenue size, management quality and commitment to community.

Today Bradford continues to publish actively, shaping public policy and private sector practice. His current research investigates venture capital investment in minority-owned firms. He’s finding that such firms earn investors a higher average rate of return compared to the general population of venture-funded firms.

And he continues to serve on the board of a flourishing Consulting and Business Development Center, and as its faculty director.

“When we began, Bill’s knowledge stretched us to think bigger and further than we might have otherwise,” reflects Verchot. “Had he not been dean when we were just getting started, it’s hard to imagine the center even existing today.”

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!”

Business Certificate Program – Seattle

The Business Economic Development Center’s Business Certificate Program will begin in April at UW Seattle campus. The six-session course teaches business fundamentals through a series of six three-hour classes. BCP will be offered in Spanish (Tuesday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. starting April 2) and in English Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 pm starting April 17.

blog_BCPWho should attend? Any small business owner or manager who is interested in learning or refreshing their knowledge of sales and marketing, finance and accounting, leadership and management, and legal topics.  Students come from every industry- from construction companies to restaurants to medical clinics. And to due to the diversity of participants, the classroom is a great place to network with fellow business owners.

The class also offers students to learn from award-winning University of Washington faculty including Mike Eguchi, lecturer of sales and marketing. With over 30 years of sales experience, Eguchi shares proven strategies and tactics in his class session Developing a Sales-Oriented Company. Student Pratish Brady relays how she used what she learned, “I used the guidelines [from class] to write my mission and vision statement for my website emphasizing benefits and value of my product; people are complimenting me on them.” And “ I spoke by phone with a new customer I had sent a sample too.  He liked the product, but it was the wrong size.  I used the term “how so” and kept him talking so I could understand more clearly what he wanted. Our conversation ended with a new order for a smaller size product and he wants to distribute my product to his customers not only in the US but in Europe.  A definite win-win.”

Learn how to make your business win with proven business fundamentals from the Business Certificate Program.  Course registration fee is $200. To sign up please visit our website. You can also be a program supporter by sponsoring a student.

Leadership Team teaches STEM lesson to local middle school students

Guest post by Jackie Nguyen, Foster undergraduate

Being the founders of the annual Foster Week of Service, the Business and Economic Development Center Leadership Team members were excited to volunteer at the Renton/Skyway Boys and Girls Club for the third year in a row. This year, LT members were challenged with a new task in educating 5th to 8th graders about careers and opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). However, being primarily business students, the LT members put a fun spin on educating the kids about STEM by tying business into the concept of STEM.

Each LT member was assigned to a team of four to five students. The LT helped guide the teams in researching and creating a short presentation about their company. The focus of this activity was to help the kids think outside of the box and see that there are a great variety of jobs in companies that are not as obviously STEM related.
blog_LT_FWSTeams researched companies including Target, McDonalds, Nestle, and Microsoft. The activity helped the students see that having skills in STEM and business could open a lot of doors to fun jobs; from being a pharmacist at Target, a game-designer at Microsoft, a food scientist at Nestle, or a social media manager at McDonalds.

After the learning activity was over, it was time for the kids to be kids and enjoy what they do best: play! LT members had a great time hanging out afterwards to play Dance Central and Fliers Up on the playground. Overall the event was a success and the BEDC LT members are looking forward to returning to the Boys and Girls Club for the next Foster Week of Service. Learn more about the BEDC Leadership Team.

Student Consulting Program – student perspective

Guest post by Rai Huang, Foster undergraduate

BEDC Student Consulting ProgramI initially enrolled in the BEDC Student Consulting Program without really understanding what consulting means; my impression was that consulting is the dream job of many of my peers at the Foster School of Business, yet it wasn’t something I particularly cared for.

I expected to walk away from the class with experience in conducting market research and formulating online marketing/public relations strategies, which is related to my dream career after graduation. And I liked the idea of working with a team; the communication skills learned would prepare me for work in any field. The fact that it would look good on my resume didn’t hurt either.

My team’s assignment is to formulate online marketing and social media strategies for our client, Concourse Concessions, who currently operates a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf franchise in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. A newcomer in the Seattle market, they wish to grow brand recognition through traditional and non-traditional public relations methods as they expand to locations outside of the airport within the next year. It was an exciting task to take on, as the overall business environment and market for coffee in Seattle is very saturated, and would require creative thinking to accomplish the mission.

The first step for our team was to identify the strategy and comparative advantage of the franchise.  Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has only been in operations for about three months, and there was lack of substantial data for us to analyze. Challenged by our advisers and mentors, we were able to take a step back and look at the project from a wider perspective. We learned to think in terms of what is most valuable for the client every step of the way. With the support of our mentor and advisors, we came up with a framework in which every question raised had to be answered in a way that would help the business.

During the research phase of the project we gathered survey data and took a close look at local competitors such as Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Uptown Espresso, Espresso Vivace and Café Vita. We examined how they are utilizing social media and promotion strategies to maximize brand equity. Marketing concepts we’ve seen play out in real life include: how social media is being utilized for Customer Relation Management; how Search Engine Optimization is becoming increasingly intertwined with social media; why it’s essential for all business owners and managers to understand the marketing concept; how to really use a business’ competitive advantage; and how to communicate through interaction with the consumers.

As we come near to the end of the project, I now understand what consulting really comes down to is communication. It is important to practice the art of listening to your client and really hearing their needs, and finding resources and formulating recommendations with your team to create value for them. Through the process of tackling the different obstacles, my team and I have bonded together and grown both professionally and personally.

I look forward to applying the skills I’ve learned to a future career in Public Relations. I now understand what it is like to work with a real client, how to identify their wants and needs, and strategically come up with solutions that would benefit the client and heighten awareness of the brand. The Student Consulting experience is not just a line on my resume, but truly a real-world experience I was fortunate to have as an undergraduate student.

Learn more or become involved in the Student Consulting Program as a client or volunteer advisor.