Category Archives: Student Life

Foster students win 2012 international marketing case competition

On March 3, 2012, an undergraduate case competition team from the University of Washington Foster School of Business won the Intercollegiate Marketing Competition held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Eight teams were tasked with developing a marketing plan for Zajak Ranch, a non-profit summer camp for disabled children.

Looking to become financially self-sustaining while attracting the next generation of donors and corporate sponsors, the camp had asked students to find ways to increase revenues during the winter months while also signing reoccurring monthly donors in the younger demographic. Teams were given only three hours to deliberate, design a full presentation and practice before immediately giving a 20-minute presentation with 15 minutes of Q&A. Only four teams would then move on to the final round where they would present in front of a panel of judges consisting of marketing professionals, members of the camp’s management, as well as the managing member of the Zajak family.

Foster’s team consisted of Allen Kuceba, Alex Diaz and Caitlin Snaring, all members of the American Marketing Association student organization. Kuceba is a senior with a focus in finance and entrepreneurship, Diaz is a senior focused on marketing and communications and Snaring is a junior focused on marketing and accounting. The three were selected from a pool of applicants from the UW American Marketing Association.

“I am extremely proud of this team. They worked hard practicing case analysis and presentation skills. With only three hours to prepare, they demonstrated the ability to critically analyze a business problem and develop a viable solution,” says faculty advisor Leta Beard, who coached the students.

Foster team wins national minority MBA case competition

An MBA team from the University of Washington Foster School Business and Economic Development Center took first place at the 2012 National Minority MBA Case Competition held at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.

The team of first-year Evening MBA students, Brent Bauslaugh, Ben Lapekas, Ksenia Karpisheva and Rakesh Saini, beat out teams from 18 other business schools from around the US including University of California Los Angeles, Carnegie Mellon, Indiana University and Boston College. The grand prize for Foster’s Evening MBA students? $7,500. Additionally, Lapekas was recognized as the best presenter and Bauslaugh won first place for best question and answer session.

All 18 competing teams had 20 minutes to provide a solution to a case dealing with strategic choices for third party commercial loan servicing business at Key Bank. “Our students’ ability to handle ambiguity of the case and yet provide firm recommendations backed up with hard data were ultimately what differentiated them from the rest,” says team advisor Geraldine Rodriguez, assistant director at the UW Business and Economic Development Center.

EJ Burke, Key Bank’s head of real estate capital and corporate banking services adds, “The University of Washington team’s presentation represented a thorough understanding of a very complex and difficult case. Their recommended solutions were actionable and thought provoking.”

A team from the UW Business and Economic Development Center has placed in the top three teams nationally for the past four years for this diversity competition.

Each fall, the Business and Economic Development Center hosts a UW Foster School of Business internal Diversity in Business Case Competition in order to select the team of MBA students who represents Foster at the national competition.

MBA Challenge for Charity: game on

Music and mountains. Pursuits that quicken pulses around the Pacific Northwest. So, too, at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Check out this video of Foster’s MBA house band—Death Spiral—laying down a thumping soundtrack to images of the inaugural MBA team charity climb of Mount Rainier in 2011. Both efforts were conceived and driven by students in Foster’s Full-Time and Evening MBA Programs. And both were components of the school’s year-long campaign in the MBA Challenge for Charity (C4C).



C4C is the annual competition among nine west coast business schools to raise the most money and work the most volunteer hours for local service organizations. The Foster School has won the C4C “Golden Briefcase” seven of the past 11 years, raising over $1 million and volunteering more than 15,000 hours for Special Olympics Washington and the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

Last year’s Rainier push landed 11 MBA mountaineers on the summit of Washington’s highest peak. The climbers also raised $7,000 for C4C charities. The MBA band rocked the C4C competition weekend at Stanford University, part of a growing tradition of sonic boom at the Foster School.

Mountains and music are a go for 2012, too.

This year’s Mount Rainier climb is scheduled for August and training has already begun. Organizer Scott Heinz and first-year MBA Jack Hogin hope to guide as many as 24 MBAs up two different routes. And Death Spiral, led by Nick Wilson (bass) and Mike Warady (drums), is back and amped for another epic concert at Stanford in May (not to mention numerous events in the run-up).

The primary C4C fundraiser is Foster School’s annual MBA Challenge For Charity auction, which takes place on February 25 from 5:30-11 p.m. at the Seattle Sheraton. Mardi Gras is the theme. You get the picture—a good time for a good cause.

Study abroad photo contest winners 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words. Every year University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students study and work abroad as part of their business degree and sometimes the best way to convey the value of those experience is through a photo. The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos of 2011 travels. Here are the 1st and 2nd place winners in two categories – titles, captions, descriptions written by students:

  1. Foster Abroad: Photo that inspires others to study abroad or makes a statement about the student experience abroad
  2. My Global Lens: Views uniquely accessible to students living abroad – social issues, cultural interactions, city scapes, landscapes, etc.

Foster Abroad – 1st Place (tie): Olivia Arguinchona, undergraduate 
India

Good morning India!
This picture was taken at the Taj Mahal at around 6 AM in the morning. I don’t think there is any other place where I could have been so awake at this hour in the morning.

Experience abroad: This exploration seminar focused on women leadership and entrepreneurship in a country where women are commonly oppressed. Looking back on all I experienced, India has become a symbol of resilience for me. I met so many women who had found a way to lift themselves and their family out of desperate poverty, or who were, in poverty, surviving and planning for the future of their children. Our group delved into the topic of microfinance, something I know hope to pursue once receiving a degree.

Foster Abroad – 1st Place (tie): Olga Kachook, undergraduate
Johannesburg, South Africa

Shadows of Us
Biking through Soweto, one of South Africa’s most culturally rich and diverse townships.

Experience abroad: Life abroad beats to a different drum- restaurants serve food at a snail’s pace, transportation is a chaotic adventure, and many things are lost in translation. Sometimes these changes were exhilarating, and sometimes they were frustrating, but most of the time they just made you stop and question things you take at face value back home. The differences between places and cultures are what usually stand out, but ultimately studying abroad shows you both sides of the coin- not just differences but similarities too. Discovering our similarities to people half way across the world is what makes travel exciting.

Foster Abroad – 2nd Place: Stephan Chung, undergraduate
Cork, Ireland

Reppin’ the DUBYA after win #1
The first of many. UW’s Ireland Exploration Seminar representing the dawg pack in Ireland following our season opening win against the Eastern Eagles. Photo location: Kinsale Harbour

Experience abroad: I decided to go on this business summer exploration to Ireland after hearing raving reviews from everyone I ever talked to who went on the trip. We spent an amazing three weeks visiting large national business and touring Ireland’s cities, towns, and beautiful natural landscape. The Charles’ Fort at Kinsale Harbour where this picture was taken offered breathtaking views of the coast and an interesting piece of Irish history.

My Global Lens – 1st Place: Amanda Hamilton, undergraduate
Ahmedabad, India

Who Runs the World? (Girls)
Empowering a girl empowers the world. Providing education and opportunities to girls around the world is the key to the future. Location: A small, rural village outside Ahmedabad

Experience abroad: Traveling to India was the biggest eye-opener ever. The culture shock and awe-inspiring experience was, at times, overwhelming, but left me thinking so much more deeply about the issues going on in this world. Seeing the stark contrast between the rich and poor and meeting all these amazing women who are taking what they were given and being empowered to be the change in their own lives and communities is so entirely humbling and inspiring. It was amazing to see the people and programs who are truly trying to make a difference by empowering these women and giving them opportunities to affect change around them. The woman in this picture was part of a case study where we went and met with a group of women in a village who had been given solar lanterns and clean cookstoves to improve their lives and daily work.

My Global Lens – 2nd Place: Siena Cairns, undergraduate
Valdivia, Chile

Trapped Miners: 33+
Crawling deep into the suffocating tunnels of Cerro de Potosí showed me there were more than 33 miners living in the dark. Location of photo: Potosí, Bolivia

Experience abroad: The week I arrived in Chile was the week that 33 miners became trapped in the north. Although this was significant international news, it was hardly the only cause for attention across the nation. At that same time, leaders of the indigenous minority, the Mapuche, were entering their second month of a hunger strike and protesters were gathering blocks away from my university. In the midst of national turmoil, Chile was approaching its 200 year celebration as a nation and an election year. I was swept into all of this, and slowly over meals with my host family, classroom discussions, and chats with local friends, my understanding of Chile’s political, social, and cultural history grew until I really began to understand the weight of these pressing issues around me.

Touring the mines and engaging with miners was one of these eye opening experiences. The miners taught me how life in the mines is so demanding that there comes a day when you know little else. In this sense, they become trapped in those deadly tunnels, unable to leave the only lifestyle they know. When I left home to learn Spanish, I never expected to return with such an understanding of this foreign culture too.

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included nearly 30 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study and work abroad opportunities via the Global Business Center.

Foster MBAs place 3rd in national ethical leadership competition

A team of MBA students from the University of Washington Foster School of Business took third prize at the fifth-annual MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership at Baylor University November 18.

The competition challenges MBAs to demonstrate ethical leadership in a practical business dilemma. This year’s case was based on a recent, real-world, ethics scandal. Teams were charged with creating a path for News Corporation to rebound from its phone-hacking mess and reemerge as an ethical leader in the media industry.

The Foster team of second-year MBAs Krister Fardig, Jeremiah Marks, Jesse Robbins and Henry Vogler recognized that no cosmetic fix would do the job. To address the root problem—an organizational issue with ethics—they recommended that News Corp directors implement what they called the “audit and continuous improvement of ethics (ACE) model.” This external and internal auditing process enables increased accountability, increased visibility and better performance when it comes to managing ethical behavior.

Robbins, a veteran of three case competitions as an undergrad at the Foster School and five in his first year of the Full-Time MBA Program, said that the team was well prepared by the program’s rigorous core curriculum. He also credited Foster’s business ethics professor Scott Reynolds, who armed the team with an ethical framework that helped them identify the solution that hit closest to the sweet spot where technology, strategy and ethics intersect positively.

The Foster MBAs competed with teams from Auburn University, Baylor University, Iowa State University, Pepperdine University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota and University of Texas. Illinois and Florida took first and second places.

From local to national design—UW students progress on hybrid car

Guest post by Trevor Crain, UW engineering student and Environmental Innovation Challenge winner

The Voltaic team is finishing up its sixth month of participation in the US Department of Energy and General Motors-sponsored EcoCAR2 competition. It’s been a wild ride!

There’s been some really excellent work done the last few months as we tackle difficult automotive engineering challenges. We’ve considered a myriad of complex plug-in hybrid vehicle architectures for our Chevy Malibu along with all the drivetrain components required for each, simulated the performance of each of those configurations and selected the ideal vehicle design for our team down to every major drivetrain component. We also began work on the system for the vehicle that monitors and controls most of the systems of the hybrid vehicle.

And while we’re doing all of this, we were building a research lab from scratch from four to more than 40 members, and traveling to Detroit five times for training from the competition sponsors. We haven’t had too much free time, but seeing our vehicle and program start taking shape makes it all worthwhile. And we get the amazing opportunity to work with real automotive companies to develop a production-level hybrid prototype, while helping train our team’s engineers to make the vehicles of the future.

This unforgettable experience of being in EcoCAR2 started when we competed in and won the Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) last year. The relationships we built during the EIC, both with faculty and team members helped us get where we are today. One of our faculty advisors, University of Washington Professor Per Reinhall  first alerted us to EcoCAR2. Along with UW Professor Brian Fabien, he’s continuing to help our team succeed. Rich Wurden, Kerwin Loukusa and Trevor Fayer, members  from the Voltaic EIC project team, are team leaders now and doing a great job.

Overall, we’re having an awesome time on the design process. We can’t wait to get our vehicle running!

Read the Seattle Times article on UW team’s progress in the national car-design competition. Learn how the UW Foster School of Business Environmental Innovation Challenge helps new ventures seed a greener economy.

McKinstry’s David Allen offers sustainability industry insights

Guest post by Katie Collier, graduate student at UW Foster School of Business and Evans School of Public Affairs

This month, McKinstry Executive Vice President David Allen sat down with University of Washington students to deliver the message that green jobs are real and abundant, and available in surprising places.

David should know. Several short decades ago, McKinstry was founded as a small plumbing company in Bellevue, WA. By responding to an increasing demand for sustainability in building design, construction, operations and maintenance, McKinstry realized enormous growth potential. Today the firm employs over 1,800 people, earns more than $400 million in annual revenue, and continues to innovate and create value in the energy-efficiency sector.

A generation of Americans who care deeply about environment may be disappointed by recent headlines challenging the legitimacy of the “green economy.” The way Allen sees it, the green economy is alive and well, blossoming from every corner of the economy; rising costs of energy are naturally changing the way America does business, and the green economy is made up of those who tweak their business models to accommodate demand for more sustainable products and services.

Green job trends

Allen explained that some of the most important jobs in sustainability are not where we expect them to be: “Not everyone can be an environmentalist. We need people to be in business, to be in Congress and to create jobs.” At McKinstry, where many employees are engineers and construction professionals, Allen says a dozen or so “sustainability-specific” positions are added every year. This was good news for Allen’s audience, students in the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Practicum.

Data analysts and engineers were among the promising environmental career pathways Allen emphasized. Building owners responding to new municipal energy standards, or inevitably rising energy costs, need professionals to “monitor, measure, verify and act” on changes in building BTU usage.

Allen delivered a hopeful prognosis for continued growth in the energy-efficiency sector, citing the following trends:

  1. Rising need for efficiency as costs of energy and water continue to increase
  2. Clean technology innovation boom
  3. Aging infrastructure that must be replaced

Students interested in careers in sustainability can learn more about McKinstry online and explore the clean-tech industry by entering the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge.

Katie Collier is a joint master’s student at the UW Foster School of Business and Evans School of Public Affairs. She has a background in energy policy, urban land use policy and private utility development and is currently the MBA co-chair for the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge, and a student representative for Net Impact’s UW Chapter.