Category Archives: Leadership

A visit with the oracle, Warren Buffett

MBA Students in Omaha SnowEvery year the richest man in the country (or maybe 2nd richest depending on the most recent Forbes article) Warren Buffett invites groups from 5 to 6 business schools to visit him in the unassuming town of Omaha, Nebraska. The premise is simple. 120 business school students from across the country put on their best suits, tackle the Omaha snow (see photo), pepper Mr. Buffett with questions for over 2 hours, and then he takes us to his favorite restaurant in town for steak and root beer floats.

In early February, I was fortunate enough to make the trek. Naturally, people keep asking me what I took away from the trip. I respond with random facts about Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate philanthropy program and Buffett’s friendship with and admiration for former Geico executive, Lloyd Kreeger. And I love to share some of Buffett’s best lines such as, “You can’t make a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant.” He followed, laughing, “I probably should have told Tiger Woods that.” That’s classic wisdom, both literally and figuratively, and it demonstrates just how sharp and witty this 78-year-old man is.

BuffetwalletWhy does he meet with MBA students?
It is certainly not for us to hear stories we can see him tell on YouTube, nor to make sure I have a photo of me with an awkwardly devilish face stealing his wallet (see photo). No, I think this is Mr. Buffett’s opportunity to share his vision for investments, business, and life with the next generation of business leaders.

Buffett’s vision: Find passion, practice simplicity.
The man has more money than I can comprehend. Buying 120 people lunch is like me buying a gumball, or more likely, sharing a gumball. But he drives a simple car (a 1980s Cadillac), has lived in the same home for his entire life, and doesn’t seem to want more. His investment philosophy is the same. Find an undervalued company with good management, buy low, sell high. He doesn’t need fancy financial products that no one really understands; he just looks for good businesses. Oh, and he loves what he does. You can see how it sustains him, keeping him engaged day in and day out. I think he wanted to show us that. At a time in our lives when we’ve taken ourselves out of the workforce to build our skill set and reflect on our careers, he wanted to show us that money follows passion and simplicity brings happiness.

Meghann Glavin is a University of Washington Foster School of Business full-time MBA student slated to graduate in 2010. 27 Foster MBAs met with Warren Buffett this year.

Podcast: Social media as a leadership tool

This morning’s UW Foster School of Business breakfast lecture focused on the social media revolution. Richard Law, CEO of Seattle-based Allyis, talked about “Social Media as a Leadership Tool” and how executives can socialize their way to employee engagement, retention, collaboration and success.

Law touched on the communication game that’s already changed due to social media, ROI of engagement, statistics, social media being a broader concept than just its platforms of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Conversations among customers, employees and their peers now help create brands.  Two-way dialogue is the best way to represent a brand and Law offers tips for staying competitive in today’s marketplace.
RSSListen to podcast on social media.

Video extra: The Generation Y workforce will equal Baby Boomers in numbers, and Gen Y’s digital media presence is noteworthy. Law played this four-minute “Socialnomics” video about current social media use and demographics.

This lecture is part of Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, an event for business leaders and faculty to share insights about current business topics and trends with other business leaders, alumni, faculty, students and the Foster School community.

Faculty podcasts: Brands that die and merger research

Two UW Foster School of Business faculty members gave lectures this week on research relevant to the financial crisis and our current economy: Brands that die and mergers & acquisitions. Missed the lectures? Listen to these 20-minute audio recordings.

Shailendra_JainMarketing Professor Shailendra Jain discusses groundbreaking research on consumer responses to brands that die—brand loyalty, weak vs. strong brands and PR backlash when brands are eliminated. Jain recommends managers should consider which are high or low priority brands, whether or not to add more brands, which brands to eliminate and how to do so effectively.

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Jarrad_HarfordFinance Professor Jarrad Harford gave an overview of 30 years of merger & acquisition research. Do buying or selling companies benefit from a merger? How successful are mergers & acquisitions over the long run? How much do CEOs vs. shareholders and investors gain or lose? Some results show that when mergers destroy stock value, CEOs still get wealthier.

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These lectures are part of Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, an opportunity for business leaders and faculty to share insights about current business topics and trends with other business leaders, alumni, students and the Foster School community.

Management podcasts by Foster faculty

University of Washington Foster School of Business Assistant Professor of Management Michael Johnson and Assistant Professor of Management Morela Hernandez interviewed several other researchers and professors about organizational behavior in an Academy of Management 2008-2009 podcast series.

Audio interviews include new and notable management research on a wide range of topics such as shared leadership, trust in cross-cultural business relationships, stress and fairness. The topics are useful for leaders, managers, academics, students and workers in general. Listen to a few select management interviews below and share with colleagues or apply new insights to the workplace. See all management podcast topics.

mdj3[1]Michael Johnson audio interviews

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Work as a Calling: Interview with J. Stuart Bunderson from Washington University in St. Louis
October 30, 2009

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Early Warning Signs of Burnout: Interview with Christina Maslach from University of California at Berkeley
February 12, 2009

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Charismatic Leadership and Emotions: Interview with Amir Erez from University of Florida
July 19, 2008

morela[1]Morela Hernandez audio interviews

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Does Your Boss Trust You? Interview with Sabrina Deutsch Salamon from York University in Canada
June 24, 2009

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Perceived Discrimination: Interview with Derek Avery from University of Houston
July 8, 2008

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Team Downsizing: Interview with Scott DeRue from University of Michigan
June 7, 2008

Dean travels to Asia to expand global business leadership

Traveling abroad may sound exotic, but this one-week, December trip was all work, no play. Despite spending nearly 50 hours at airports and inside airplanes, the experience in Asia was exhilarating.

Beijing, China

We began in Beijing visiting some of the largest banks in China—including Bank of China, China Minsheng Bank, Industrial Commercial Bank of China, and Agricultural Bank of China. Leveraging contacts from the University of Washington Foster School Advisory Board, these meetings led to renewed support of Executive Education programs for global leadership development.


CIMG0470Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

In Taipei, Dean Jim Jiambalvo gave a keynote presentation titled “Five Keys to Sustained Innovation” to 250 business and government leaders of Taiwan as well as alumni of the joint program between Foster’s Executive Education and National Chengchi University. We also met with one of our distinguished alumni, Mr. Leslie Koo (BA 1977), chairman and CEO of Taiwan Cement. Mr. Koo continues to stay engaged with the Foster School and recently accepted an invitation to join Foster’s advisory board and donated to the School with a naming gift for a new computer lab in Paccar Hall (opening fall 2010).

Photo: Foster School Dean Jiambalvo and Associate Dean Dan Turner

CIMG0407Seoul, South Korea

In Seoul, the Foster School has strong ties with businesses, government, and universities, in part, because of the active involvement of our long-standing University of Washington Alumni Association. Of the 600 UW alumni in Korea, 130 are Foster School of Business alumni. We have continued to stay connected with the Korean business community and these relationships have led to children of UW alumni becoming Foster alumni, financial support to both the UW and Foster School, research connections for Foster faculty, and new partnerships in Executive Education.

Photo: Korean alumni and government leaders with Dean Jiambalvo (second from left) and Jean Choy (far right)

The Foster School is committed to expanding our global ties, especially in Asia. Key leaders of Foster travel on a regular basis to cultivate existing and new business partnerships. Over the years, these efforts have resulted in significant financial investments in education to support Foster students and faculty, as well as connections with influential leaders around the globe.

By Jean Choy, assistant dean of executive education and international initiatives at UW Foster School of Business

Minority community must mobilize today for green economy

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

RitaBroganWhat do solar energy, non-toxic cleaners, bio-plastics and alternative fuels have in common?  More than meets the eye.

All are obviously outgrowths of the emerging green economy—big business, about to get even bigger. But here is something else these industries have in common: All are enterprises owned and managed primarily by Caucasian Americans.

The growth of the green economy reflects growing public demand for products and services that reduce our carbon footprint and help the planet.  More and more, people are asking questions about what products contain, how they are manufactured and their impacts on human health.

The need for green goods and services is of particular relevance in communities of color, whose health and safety are more likely to be threatened by environmental impacts such as water and air quality, toxic exposure and hazardous working conditions.

Green jobs for minority communities
Many organizations that include non-profits, labor unions, community colleges, and the federal government have worked hard to promote “green jobs” for people of color.  These are jobs that give training and job skills in areas such as weatherization, solar panel installation, and green building.

This is a good thing, but it is not enough.  Green jobs may produce skilled laborers who can get family wage jobs.  These programs will not bring as much sustainable prosperity to communities of color as would a solar panel factory or a business that distributes environmentally-friendly products.  After the government funding ends, then what?

Businesses that are owned and managed by people of color are more likely to hire people of color, and more likely to return wealth and investment in their communities. What will be the opportunities for minority-owned businesses to play an early and formative role in the emerging green economy?

Scott Oki, a University of Washington MBA, who conceived and built Microsoft’s international operations, once said, “Preemption is worth its weight in gold.”  The sooner minority-owned businesses can establish a toe-hold in the green economy, the more likely they will be to establish a strong market presence.

For minority-owned business owners and leaders: In coming posts, we’ll discuss the tools and resources that minority-owned businesses need to get established in the world of green business—capitalization, market intelligence, networking, policy support and more.  Tell me what you would like to hear about, and we will marshal the resources to help you get what you need.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle that is nationally recognized for its work in social marketing, public involvement, and community building. PRR is one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recent recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She will be writing the BEDC Brogan blog series twice a month, focusing on green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.

Building the next generation of business leaders of color

MichaelVerchotThis past spring, the College Success Foundation released the results of a study that looked at how well Washington’s high school students are doing in progressing toward high school graduation and their success in making it into college. As a state, we are lagging the national average:

  • Washington has a lower-than-national high school graduation rate of 69% versus 71%
  • The four-year high school graduation rate for white students in Washington is 72%; for Latino students it’s 57% and for African American students it’s 52%
  • Washington’s college-going rate of 48% for high school graduates immediately starting college is lower than the national rate of 61.6%
  • For 18-24 year olds in Washington just 29.2% are enrolled in college compared to 33.9% nationwide

For an economy like Washington’s where the future job growth is dependent on an educated and high-skilled workforce, these numbers are troubling. And with the projected growth among students of color among the college-going age group over the next decade the gap in college attendance between Caucasian and Asian American students on the one hand and African American, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander students on the other has the potential to have a significant impact on this state’s economic future.

Recently, the UW released a profile of our new freshman class. There was nearly a 7% growth in the number of freshman applicants but due to state funding cuts this year’s freshman class is about 4% smaller than last year. Looking at the number of under-represented minority students, this year’s freshman class has an all-time record number of Latino students (330 up from 320 last year) and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students (45 up from 42) an increase in the number of Native American students (75 up from 71) but a four-year record low in the number of African American freshman (134 down from 179 last year).

At the Foster School of Business we focus on the total number of under-represented minority students at the undergraduate level. This year we have:

  • 70 Latino students (a record high)
  • 39 African American students (a slight increase from last year)
  • 13 Native American students (a slight increase from last year)
  • 533 Asian/Pacific Islander students (a record high)

But what’s most exciting to me is the growing pipeline of under-represented minority students we are building. For decades the Foster School has worked with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMAD) and we continue to do so. But recognizing that business continues to be the most popular undergraduate major we’ve felt a special need to build programs that complement OMAD’s work and insure that the next generation of business leaders reflect the diversity of Washington State. That is why I’m very excited about the symbiotic relationship between the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC) and the Undergraduate Diversity Services (UDS) office.

At the 2001, UW Minority Business of the Year Awards the BEDC raised funds to award the first scholarships (we call them BEDC Fellowships) to students of color at the business school.  In the fall of 2002, under the leadership of the UDS, these BEDC Fellows began to mentor and tutor high school students of color to help them prepare to go to college. Since 2002, individuals and companies who have attended the UW Minority Business of the Year Awards banquet have donated $170,000 in scholarships to 68 students of color at the Foster School of Business.

In 2006, UDS altered this high school program to become the Young Executives of Color (YEOC). This nine-month program has brought 247 high school students to the Foster School of Business between 2006 and 2009. Last year, there were 37 high school seniors who completed YEOC and 35 of them were offered admission to four-year colleges and universities and two were offered admission at community colleges. We’re excited that 13 of these students are enrolled at the UW and are getting in line to apply to come to the Foster School when it’s their turn to declare a major.

This year, we are witnessing a significant change in the YEOC program. Thanks to a three-year $75,000 commitment from Ernst & Young, this program will be able to support 100-125 high school students each year – a tripling of the number of students we can reach.

But now the leaders of the YEOC have come back to the BEDC with a challenge. The eight BEDC Fellows are being stretched to the limit as they work with our YEOC high school students. We need to increase the number of BEDC Fellows from 8 to 10 which means we need to raise at least $25,000 in scholarship funds at our December 10 UW Minority Business of the Year Awards banquet. In this economy that will be a steep challenge, but we’re confident that our 550 guests will be able to help us reach this goal. After all, our state’s economy depends on having an educated work force and what better way to do that than to increase the college-going rate for the state’s fastest-growing population groups.

I hope to see you all there on December 10.

By Michael Verchot, director of the UW Business and Economic Development Center

Team spirit carries EMBA student through recession

Megan Lum, Foster School Executive MBA program student (class of 2010), is blogging for Business Week while pursuing her graduate degree.

In her first post, Lum shares her story of losing a job—and corporate funding for the program—mid-degree. After these set-backs, she decided to stick with the Executive MBA program, in part, because of the collaborative environment at the Foster School of Business.

In her own words…

“I was very lucky to have been put in a study group filled with extremely bright and talented professionals. While UW called us the Purple Team, we dubbed ourselves the Phoenicians. We developed a team charter that we have stuck to so far. The five of us—Rebecca, Aidan, Dave, Eric, and me—have become an extremely effective team.

“My husband and I sat down and considered the options. I could continue with the EMBA program with its premium price. I could transfer to a full-time day or evening program, which would undoubtedly be less costly. In the end, we decided that I would stay with the EMBA program. The EMBA class schedule would undoubtedly be more attractive to a new employer, but most important, I didn’t want to miss the camaraderie and support of my fellow Phoenicians and the rest of my EMBA class.

“I had expected the MBA to fill out my skill set and give me the tools I needed to go where I wanted in my career. What I had underestimated was the broadening of my skills and world view. I had always been so confident that I would be an EHS executive. Now, after just a year of my program, I could see there were many more options before me. I’m no longer convinced that I will finish my career as an EHS executive. There are so many more possibilities.

“In hindsight, it’s rather amazing how much my paradigms have changed in a year, the first of my MBA program.

“I can’t wait to see what I learn in my second year.”

Read Megan Lum’s full blog post on Business Week.

Foster alumni honored at 2009 Business Leadership Celebration

A social networking entrepreneur, a finance executive and a light doctor walked into a room. Why?

Foster School Leadership Celebration 2009 Distinguished Alumni Awardees









Last night, the UW Foster School of Business honored outstanding alumni at the 18th Annual Business Leadership Celebration. Over 300 alumni, faculty, students, staff gathered in downtown Seattle to celebrate leadership, mix, mingle and connect.

Who won the 2009 awards?

  • Chris DeWolfe (BA ’88), MySpace co-founder
  • Phyllis Campbell (MBA ’87), JPMorgan Chase chairman of the Pacific Northwest
  • Don Nielsen (BA ’60), Light Doctor LLC chairman

Past winners? Take a look at past Foster alumni awardees and keynote speakers.

Emotional leaders – new research and survey

Joy. Sorrow. Guilt. Anger. Are emotional leaders received well by employees? Perceived as sincere? Motivational? A new series of studies by UW Foster School of Business researchers explores this topic and found followers are skeptical of sincerity when leaders emote negatively. Doctoral student Marion Eberly and Christina Fong, assistant professor of management and organization at the Foster School conducted a study and are doing ongoing research on the effects of emotions in leadership.

Mid-career professionals: Take a short survey of your experience with emotions in leaders or supervisors. Do you work for a manager who expressed either positive or negative emotions? How did that impact you? Express yourself in a study and contribute to ongoing research about the effects of emotional leaders.