Better batteries, recycled building materials, and smart diapers: Environmental Innovation Challenge 2015

EIC 2014 winner Korvata with Pam Tufts
EIC 2014 winner Korvata with Pam Tufts

How do you foster innovation to address pressing environmental issues? Get college students engaged! The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge at the University of Washington taps into the passion, smarts, and motivation that  students have for solving environmental  problems.  Since its outset, the EIC has attracted 726 students (161 teams) and awarded over $180,000 in prize money.

EIC Banner 2015_541x138A record 40 student teams from colleges and universities across the pacific northwest applied to the this year’s Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. Each team that applies must define an environmental problem, design a solution, and develop a prototype. This year 22 teams were selected to show their prototypes and pitch to 250+ judges at a demo-day event on April 2, 2015.

Meet the 22 teams competing in the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge:

Benchmark ECR
(University of Washington, Washington State University)

Benchmark Environmental is developing an affordable, easy to install, and low maintenance stormwater treatment system. The Benchmark ECR will enable more companies and municipalities to effectively treat every pollutant present in stormwater runoff.

Bettery
(University of Washington)

Bettery provides a better model for battery use: a reusable subscription service that gives consumers unlimited access to reusable batteries with a monthly subscription.

BrightBike
(University of Washington)

The BrightBike has a revolutionary set of features, including electric assist, cargo capacity,  a strong and lightweight composite frame, a rain cover, and a complete light system, that make it an irresistible alternative to driving.

Community Supported Bio
(BGI at Pinchot University)

Community Supported Bio (CSB) closes the loop for the farm-to-table movement by turning food waste into renewable biogoods: organic fertilizer & fuel. CSB helps decrease emissions and lower air & water pollution, all while improving soil fertility for farmers.

EcoStream
(University of Washington)

EcoStream builds awareness and lifelong habits to conserve our most valuable resource by helping people conserve water and change their usage habits in a fun and inexpensive way.

Estufa Bella Company
(Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University)

Estufa Bella Company designs and manufactures clean-burning, biochar-producing cook-stoves for use by an estimated 2.7 billion individuals who use traditional wood fires for household cooking and heating.

Extrusion Electronics
(University of Washington)

Extrusion Electronics is reimagining 3D printing with a conductive plastic filament, enabling makers to create and replicate simple electronics at home.

FireBee
(University of Washington)

FireBee is a portable thermoelectric generator that turns cooking fires into personal power stations,  creating an alternative energy source for people in countries that are otherwise off the grid.

Flexolar
(University of Washington)

Flexolar, a flexible and lightweight polymer-based solar cell, is an alternative to inorganic solar cells that are heavy, fragile, and costly to manufacture and install.

GeoPop CCS
(University of Washington)

GeoPop turns used plastic bottles collected from the trash  into affordable geocells for use in constructing retaining walls, stabilized slopes, platforms, stairs, and pathways in urban slums.

Helio
(University of Washington)

Helio manufactures portable solar panel chargers designed to generate enough power to charge laptops and other electronic accessories.Transmitting energy from the sun eliminates the need for extra batteries and reducing the toxic pollution associated with them.

Hook
(University of Washington)

Hook is a home automation hub that allows customers to convert existing electronics  to smart devices, decreasing energy consumption, improving home safety, and reducing the amount of electronics that are routinely discarded in landfills.

Illuminant Diagnostics
(University of Washington)

Illuminant Diagnostics has developed a biosensor empowered by nanotechnology that provides rapid, mobile bacteria detection without the need for cell cultures, traditional DNA testing, or isolation of disease-specific antibodies.

Ion Informatics
(University of Washington)

Ion Informatics is developing a proprietary technology that provides critical information to battery operators, optimizing asset utilization and prolonging the useful life of the battery. The end effect is a dramatic increase in value that can be extracted from each battery by enabling viable second use battery systems.

MarineSitu
(University of Washington)

MarineSitu provides environmental monitoring solutions that facilitate the sustainable development of marine renewable energy.

PowerNode
(University of Washington)

PowerNode is a web-based industrial energy monitoring system that enables users to monitor machine-specific power consumption.

Protium Innovations
(Washington State University)

Protium Innovations is developing a solid state hydrogen liquefaction device that is scalable and more energy efficient than current liquefaction technology.

Silicar9
(University of Washington)

Silicar9 is producing a new low-cost disposable protein purification system that uses more environmentally friendly materials than existing technology.

SmartyPants
(University of Washington)

SmartyPants is reinventing toilet training—and aims to prevent millions of diapers from ending up as a biohazard in landfills across the country—by predicting impending bowel events and alerts users to get to a toilet.

SwitchPoint Solutions
(Central Washington University)

SwitchPoint Solutions’ pilot product, the Solar Evaporative Air Conditioning Handler (SEARCH) is capable of achieving HVAC efficiency gains of over 40%, offering cost savings necessary to incentivize investment in renewable methods of heating and cooling.

Tape-It-Easy
(Seattle University, University of Washington)

Tape-It-Easy is increasing the adoption of water-efficient drip irrigation with a hand-driven, inexpensive tool that dispenses and secures drip tape for faster and easier installation.

TrashWall
(Washington State University)

TrashWall uses recycled materials scavenged from waste streams to build insulation panels that can be installed in rental units to reduce energy waste and increase cost-savings for renters.

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The Carletti Expedition: Excerpts from Nicaragua

Guest post by Wilson Carletti, recipient of the Bonderman Travel Fellowship

Before departing for La Isla de Ometepe, I happened to meet Alex Tuthill, a UW grad who started Pacha Mama (arguably the most well-known hostel in San Juan del Sur). He left corporate America behind after the 2008 financial crisis and ended up meeting his future Nicaraguan business partner in a hostel while traveling. We chatted about his business, the emerging middle class in Nicaragua, and the various projects he is involved in around the community – currently he is helping to rebuild the local health clinic, but he is also involved in local youth sports leagues, women’s shelters, etc. And to think, simply because I wore my UW shorts that day, I ended up having an awesome conversation.

Ometepe

Ometepe is a gigantic island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua that houses two massive volcanoes – it looks like it belongs in Jurassic Park.

I sat down on the stiff, warm wooden bench on the musty ferry, as the loud motor churned at the water, attempting to pry itself from the land. Mexico was playing Nicaragua in Little League baseball on a tiny, fuzzy television set, so I sat down with some other men and entered the conversation. One guy’s favorite team was the Boston Red Sox, while the other’s was the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers fan spoke nearly perfect English – turns out he grew up in LA, but left the states for one reason or another. Now he lives on Ometepe, working as a chef.

I got up early on the day I planned to climb Madeira, the smaller, more forested volcano on Ometepe. As we clambered up a trail toward the entrance of the park, our guide, Harold, gave us a quick Ometepe history lesson (currently it has 47,000 residents, but the first inhabitants came here 4,000 years ago), and showed us some 2,000 year old petroglyphs.

He commented on the state of Ometepe. Tourism has greatly improved the quality of life on the island. For example, there used to be two schools on the island and now every town has its own school. There are still plenty of problems, one being sexual education – Harold’s wife has 64 siblings.

Sure, there are problems, but Ometepe is also nearly self-sustaining – almost all of the fruit, dairy and meat products come from the island or the lake. Unlike much of Nicaragua, there is a recycling program on the island, the animals look much healthier and in general, the people have a much greater respect for nature.

Regardless of what I am doing, I am learning every day. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

 

Granada

I wandered down the streets of Granada looking for a cab, but had no such luck. Two men, one who spoke English, near the Parque Central persistently offered me a taxi, though something in my gut told me not to go with them. I can’t really explain it – the offering of assistance felt insincere.

And then out of nowhere, a taxi driven by an older man came whipping around the corner and stopped right in front of me. There were already two women and two kids in the backseat, but he saw the other men attempting to strike a deal and immediately undercut their prices. This time my gut told me to hop in, so I did.

Minutes later the man asked me where I was from. “Los Estados Unidos,” I replied, which disrupted his calm demeanor and brought about a new energy in him.

“Los Estados Unidos es el mejor país del mundo,” he declared dramatically. I was pleasantly surprised and honestly taken aback. Most people here have been very friendly and helpful, but not to the point of declaring my country the “greatest on Earth.” He went on to explain that while the U.S. does some bad stuff, all countries have bad people, and the U.S. helps those in need. Plus, they have Major League Baseball (his brother lives in San Francisco, so he is a Giants fan).

We went back and forth talking about politics, baseball, poverty, his favorite U.S. presidents (he really liked Ronald Reagan), communism, war, etc. He explained why he feels democracy is so great; “democracy allows us to be friends,” he said, extending his hand. As I shook it, and told him my name was Wilson, he smiled and exclaimed, “Como la pelota!” – “Like the ball (from Castaway).” As we neared my destination the road became muddier and rugged; he slowed down and looked gravely at the rough terrain ahead. He then turned to me and said what might be the only words he knows in English, “I’m sorry, Wilson.”

The sincerity in his voice was heart wrenching. He felt as though he was letting me down – after that single sentence, the conversation switched back to Spanish and I assured him that everything was just fine.

Little did he know that was one of the coolest taxi rides of my life and a moment I’ll never forget.

I bid my new friend farewell and gave him a nice tip. Holding the money in his hands, he looked up, smiled, and said – “Dios bendiga usted y Los Estados Unidos” – “God bless you and the United States.”

And with that he was gone.

Adapted for the Foster Blog with the help of Wilson Carletti. More episodes to come. Follow his unabridged journey here.

Storyform is shaking up online storytelling

Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, says you should never s do a startup just to do one. “There are much easier ways to become rich,” he says, “and everyone who starts a startup always says that they couldn’t have imagined how hard and painful it was going to be. You should only start a startup if you feel compelled by a particular problem and think starting a company is the best way to solve it.”

It was this advice that led Rylan Hawkins (BS 2009) to leave his job at Microsoft in the summer of 2014 and start his own company. “I believe in a better online reading experience, and I’ve decided to go after it,” says Hawkins, now the co-founder and CEO of Storyform, a framework that allows publishers and photographers to share their stories online in more captivating ways.

Storyform BannerHawkins and his co-founder, Luke Clum, believe that the current state of online reading—static content, complex designs, distracting layouts, relentless popups—diminishes the stories that authors are trying to tell. With Storyform, publishers can create “immersive narratives” on their own domains that truly engage their readers. They’ve done away with distracting sidebars and replaced scrolling canvasses with full-screen magazine-style pages that feature eye-catching layouts and interactive elements like video. They’ve also discarded traditional web page advertising in favor of ads that are sleeker and better integrated. “Not only will readers be engaged with beautiful story content,” says Hawkins, “they’ll also find the ads beautiful.”

storyform-ogThough Storyform is not even a year old, Hawkins is no stranger to startups. “I had three startup experiences in college,” he says, referring to VibeGlobe (BPC 2009), a platform to help nonprofits raise money from younger donors; Visual Schedule Finder, a program that allowed UW students to search for the perfect class schedule; and YourSports, a startup that is still thriving in the hands of CEO Chris McCoy (read about it below!). Hawkins reflects on each of his early startups as great learning experiences that he can apply to Storyform, and those lessons-learned seem to be paying off. Storyform currently has 1,900 registered publishers in countries around the world (a number that is growing about 10 percent a week) and they have logged over 17,000 hours of user engagement.

So what’s next on the road to Storyform’s success? “We’re still very early-stage, so we’re bootstrapped right now,” says Hawkins, “but we’re preparing for a first round, learning the fundraising space and meeting with everyone we can.” In the meantime, Hawkins and Clum will keep working on what got them into the startup life in the first place: transforming the way stories are told.

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YourSports: connecting the world online through sports

March Madness is coming, and athletes, coaches, and fans all over the country are gearing up for another exciting season—the sweat, the competition, the glory! But Chris McCoy (BA 2011) is excited for another reason. March Madness 2015 will mark the public beta launch of a startup effort seven years in the making. YourSports is a new sports networking platform that aims to change the way people connect through sports online.

“Sports is the ultimate connector,” says McCoy, who started YourSports during his senior year at the University of Washington. “It has an inherent ability to build relationships at all levels—high school softball teammates, 2010 Winter Olympics competitors, 12th fans—but until now these relationships haven’t been collected online in a centralized location.”

YourSports Graph BTCSure, you can find fellow fans or your college soccer teammates on Facebook or Linkedin, but there’s a lot of chatter on those social platforms, and only a small portion of it is about sports. There’s also many mainstream sports media websites, but those don’t offer the personalization that comes with social networking sites. McCoy is banking on the belief that sports communities want a personalized dedicated sports experience.

McCoy explains that social platforms connect people by interest. “Think of it this way,” he says, “Facebook was student directory-meets-social network. Linkedin is resume-meets-social network. YourSports does the same with sports data. We’ve taken the most comprehensive historical and geographical sports data on the planet and gathered it online in one place to unite teams, athletes, fans, and influencers from all levels, throughout history, and around the world.”

YourSports - chris and russell wilson
McCoy (right) with Russell Wilson

YourSports currently employs about 20 people—mostly engineers and data scientists—in 9 cities, working to build out a platform based on millions of pieces of local and national data from 100+ years of sports history. They have already created 500,000+ profiles of athletes, schools, and sports venues, raised $1.7 million in angel investment, and have seen a steady stream of people joining (“in the low thousands”) since launching their private beta in 2012. McCoy has also recruited a strong board of advisors, including ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jerry Crasnick and Ward Bullard, former head of sports at Google+. After YourSports’ public launch during March Madness, McCoy will continue to work on the next step: monetizing YourSports using a commerce model that connects users with places and products recommended by their favorite athletes. “If we get it right,” says McCoy, “YourSports will become one of the most interesting sports marketing and commerce platforms on the planet.”

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Career fair success

Career FairThe Foster School’s Professional Sales Program and the Husky Sales Club pulled off a huge win. On Tuesday, February 24, over 35 corporations joined us for our most successful Career Fair yet. A representative from E&J Gallo said, “This is the best Career Fair we attend. You have the right student population and potential employees for us.” Close to 200 students connected with potential employers to talk about opportunities and careers in sales and to explore the variety of opportunities.

The Professional Sales Program would like to recognize the Husky Sales Club for helping plan, recruit, and execute such a large event. Sponsors are signing up for next year already.

Checking in on YEOC: The January and February Sessions

YEOC Session: January 2015
With their polished resumes and personalized YEOC business cards in tow, students kicked off the January 2015 session by attending the first ever YEOC Resource Fair. Program Manager Korrie Miller says that over 23 companies and non-profits (Microsoft, Foster Lavin, Girls Who Code, and YMCA to name a few) participated, interacting with students and helping them find summer jobs, internships, and even scholarships.

The remaining activities of the day focused on finance, both personal and professional. Students heard from Mentor Joshua Banks on the importance of investing and from Microsoft Finance Director Cliff Camp on the significance of the mentor-mentee relationship. Students also learned how to navigate financial aid packages and create personal budgets via the financial freedom game, led by Mentor Maria Garcia.

See photos of the January session below:Resource Fair

Intro to finance course
Cliff Clamp

YEOC students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YEOC Session: February 2015
The focus on this month’s session was iCreate Consulting Challenge, YEOC’s annual commercial competition. Working with partner organizations the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) and Foster’s Consulting and Business Consulting Center, students were tasked with developing a marketing strategy and viral Instagram video for a burgeoning, education-focused organization. In line with YEOC’s mission to address inequities in the high-school-to-college pipeline, the group receiving consultation was the Urban Technology Center, an initiative of ULMS designed to attract underrepresented students to STEM.

After hearing Michael Verchot, the director of the Consulting and Business Development Center, discuss past consulting projects and ULMS Board Chairman Nate Miles argue the importance of resiliency, fellow ULMS Board Member Kia Franklin divulged the specific challenges facing the Urban Tech Center’s launch in Seattle. Under the guidance of Mentor Danielle McConnell (a YEOC alum herself) and the Mentors-in-Training, students separated into groups and began working on their marketing plans and videos. After only an hour and fifty minutes of preparation and feedback sessions, students then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, their parents, and the many others in attendance. Program Manager Korrie Miller reports, “It was a packed house!”

See a few photos from the session below. Student photos and video can be seen here.

Nate Miles
iCreate presentation
iCreate judgesYEOC students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits to YEOC mentors Emmeline Vu and Skyler Rodriguez.

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.

Foster “pays it forward” with over 1,500 volunteer hours

Guest post by Nella Kwan (BA 2017)

Foster's Week of ServiceAt the Foster School of Business, students are not only focused on excelling in their coursework and extracurricular activities, but are also using their skills and talents to give back to the community. Each year the Foster School hosts a Week of Service and encourages Foster student organizations to participate by hosting a philanthropic event for a charitable cause of their choosing. This year, our theme was “Pay It Forward” and the hard work and dedication of Foster student organizations resulted in over 1,500 volunteer hours devoted to aiding a variety of charitable causes and organizations throughout the community.

We would like to sincerely thank our generous sponsor, UPS, and everyone who participated to make a difference and make this year’s Week of Service our most successful one yet. We hope to continue the Week of Service for years to come and cannot wait to witness the amazing impact Foster students will continue to make on the community.

Below are highlights from this year’s service week.

American Marketing Association teamed up with Ad Club to fundraise for the Fight For Air Climb hosted by the American Lung Association. Their efforts allowed them to fundraise over $250 to the event.

Business Information Technology Society (BITS) organized a pizza fundraiser throughout the Week of Service, raising both funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and donated over $300.

Beta Alpha Psi and Foster Finance Association volunteered at an Earthcorp event and helped remove invasive plants and blackberries around the community.

Business Leaders in Healthcare partnered up with Operations Supply Chain Management to create care packages to send to our troops.

Undergraduate Women in Business and Business Ethics Association co-hosted a Week of Service Mocktail Party that allowed attendees to not only mingle with fun drinks, but to also participate in an interactive workshop on cocktail party etiquette. Their proceeds were donated to support the YWCA Dress for Success Program.

Alpha Kappa Psi got together with Husky Sales Club, ALPFA, and UW Society for Human Resource Management to clean up The Ave.

Business Impact Group and Undergraduate Management Consulting Association took a trip to a local Boys & Girls Club to shed some knowledge about career opportunities.

Out for Business partnered with the Chicken Soup Brigade to help package nutritional meals for those dealing with chronic conditions and hunger.

AIESEC and CISB (Certificate of International Studies in Business) collaborated to collect item donations that were then donated to StandUp For Kids in order to help homeless youth in our community.

The Association of Black Business Students and National Association of Black Accountants volunteered at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club and helped with organizing and cleaning up.

ASCEND and Asian Business Student Association passed out information and promoted UW Red Cross.

Start Up UW, Montlake Consulting Group, and Husky Traders hosted an event to promote VenturePolicitics, a startup focused on lobbying for immigration reform at the White House.

High reliability, high integrity: Curtis Reusser on leadership

Curtis Reusser, CEO of Bellevue based aerospace manufacturer Esterline, addressed a packed crowd in Anthony’s Forum during the most recent Leaders to Legends Breakfast. While discussing his decades-long career in the engineering sector (he’s an alum of UW’s engineering school), Reusser delved into the mechanics of running a large, yet under the radar company, revealing everything from his approach to activist investors to decentralization. Watch the full lecture below:

Modern mentoring

Foster’s mentoring maven, Susan Canfield, discusses how the time-honored practice has evolved, and how you can get involved

Mentoring is having its moment.

An ancient concept, the powerful exchange between expert and apprentice is experiencing a surge in the public consciousness. Mentoring is a buzzword in business. Columnists hold forth on its virtues. And formal programs proliferate at b-schools.

Canfield_Author_ColorThe Foster School’s MBA Mentor Program was one of the first, and it’s still one of the best. The long-time director of this national model of mentoring, Susan Canfield, has become a nationally recognized authority on the subject. We asked the author of Mentoring Moments: Inspiring Stories from Eight Business Leaders and MBAs to enlighten us on mentoring beyond business school.

What’s new to learn about the ancient art of mentoring?

Susan Canfield: Plenty! Mentoring has evolved in recent years. Traditionally, people viewed themselves as either a mentor or a mentee. Today we recognize that we can be both at the same time and throughout our lives. It was once assumed that a mentor must be more senior and experienced than the mentee. In fact a mentor can be anyone from whom you can learn. In the past it was common for the mentor to choose the mentee and structure and drive the relationship. Now we know it is better if the mentee chooses the mentor and drives the relationship. Finally, mentoring used to be seen more as a formal, ongoing relationship. Today we know it need only last as long as it is useful and may be based solely on observation.

I titled my book Mentoring Moments because, after many years observing mentoring relationships and conducting interviews on the subject, I learned that mentoring moments can come from formal programs and one-time meetings. They can come from family, friends, colleagues and even people we hardly know.  They can come from hearing wise words and seeing wisdom in action. In fact they often come when we least expect them and most often need them.

What do you think accounts for the growing interest in mentoring?

A number of factors. People are seeking ways to accelerate their learning as they navigate more frequent career changes and face life’s challenges. Baby Boomers are arriving at a time in their lives when they want to give back. Universities are finding mentor programs attract prospective students, enrich their students’ academic experience, and provide them with career insights and connections. And businesses are seeing evidence that mentoring brings bottom-line benefits and addresses the issue of knowledge transfer before those Boomers walk out the door.

What are the hottest mentoring trends?

There are several. In reverse mentoring, younger recruits provide senior staff fresh perspectives and feedback—and maybe even a few tips on social media. Group mentoring, a trend we’ve pioneered at Foster, is an efficient alternative to one-on-one one relationships. And our experiments with speed mentoring have received unexpectedly rave reviews from both participating students and mentors. When a mentee prepares ahead and comes with specific questions, you’d be surprised at how valuable a short, focused meeting can be.

Mentor graphic-editWho should seek a mentor? Only the young and inexperienced?

We can all benefit from a mentor—or many mentors—throughout life. It’s a relationship that enhances our learning and growth, no matter what age. And, if we’re lucky, mentors inspire us as well.

My vibrant, still-learning 94-year-old mother has a number of informal mentors. One is Grace, a 99-year-old friend who travels, has an active social life and gets up early to swim every morning. Grace is an informal mentor and inspiration to my mother in how to continue aging with grit and gusto.

Stewart Parker (MBA 1981), a Foster MBA Mentor who founded Targeted Genetics, says that you can get along without mentors, but it may be harder to fully realize your opportunities and potential. Mentors make it easier to have perspective and a healthy approach to life.

How do you find a mentor?

We can seek mentors in formal programs (at work, school or community organizations) or create them informally on our own.

Formal mentoring programs in companies, for example, can run the gamut from being available to all employees to only being offered to select, high-potential managers. Increasingly mentor programs have become more widely available because of growing evidence that they help attract and retain talent, contribute to employee engagement, enhance training opportunities, and support leadership and diversity initiatives.

Informal mentoring opportunities are all around us and are often there just for the asking. If you are open, curious, and eager to learn, then it is natural to seek conversations with people you want to learn from. Avoid starting with “will you be my mentor?” Instead, ask for advice or feedback about a specific question or problem. One conversation over a cup of coffee may be sufficient. However, if you would like to meet again, you may eventually use the word “mentor.” Or maybe not.

At Foster, we encourage our MBAs to take advantage of our formal MBA Mentor Program and seek informal mentoring opportunities as well. Better yet, I recommend creating a mentoring network consisting of diverse people with unique experiences, skills and perspectives that can be your guides in different parts and stages of your life. This dynamic approach might include a combination of ongoing mentors and others who move in and out of your life as your interests and needs change.

How does a dynamic approach work?

Chris Howard and Richard Tait.
Chris Howard and Richard Tait.

A great example is Chris Howard (MBA 2007), founder of Fuel Capital, a San Francisco venture firm. As an incoming MBA student, Chris immediately impressed me with his networking savvy. He knew the power of creating a mentoring network—including faculty, staff, peers, alumni and members of the business community—that he called his “board of advisors.” He was very intentional about what he wanted to learn and finding people he wanted to learn from.

Along with this fluid board of advisors, Chris took full advantage of our formal mentor program and chose Richard Tait, co-founder of Cranium and founder of Golazo, as his mentor. Both Chris and Richard were seeking a goes-both-ways mentoring relationship, and they clicked immediately. Eight years later, they’re still learning from each other and regularly return to Foster to speak on their powerful mentoring relationship.

Chris would be the first to admit that all of these relationships helped him turn a pre-MBA career in advertising into a successful second act in venture capital.

What do exceptional mentees contribute to a great relationship?

Great mentees take initiative and maintain contact with their mentor. They know what they want to learn and they actively drive the relationship. They prepare for meetings. They are honest about challenges at work and in life, and are open to feedback. They respect their mentor’s time. They express appreciation and lend mentors a hand when they can. They create a network of mentoring relationships. They pay it forward and seek opportunities to mentor as well.

In short, great mentees are hungry to learn and appreciative of all the wisdom they can observe, hear and absorb.

Who should be a mentor? And why?

Anyone who wants to facilitate the professional and personal development of another should consider mentoring, not only for the sake of the mentee but also for their own growth and opportunity.

Studies from the pioneering corporate mentoring program at Sun Microsystems found that mentors are 20 percent more likely to receive a raise, and six times more likely to be promoted. And, according to several longitudinal studies cited in George E. Vaillant’s Aging Well, those who mentor—seeking to better the world not only for themselves but for others—effectively triple their chances of being joyful in their 70s.

Outside of formal programs, how do you go about offering mentorship?

The short answer is: be someone people want to learn from.

In fact, you may already be mentoring and not even know it. Many of the senior executives I interviewed for my book mentioned learning great lessons from their bosses and leaders by simply observing their actions and behavior. In addition, these executives were encouraged to stretch and grow professionally by someone who believed in them. In many of these situations, the word “mentor” was never used.

How can you become an exceptional mentor?

Exceptional mentors see the relationship as a two-way street. They create an atmosphere of trust. They genuinely enjoy mentoring. They listen deeply and ask insightful questions. They give honest feedback. They are vulnerable and willing to share their own setbacks and how they overcame them. They see abilities in mentees they may not see in themselves. They discuss and help mentees set goals. They facilitate connections. They provide role modeling for work and life. They inspire mentees to be their best selves.

We may not all be born with the mentor gene but we can certainly strengthen our mentoring muscles with guidance, good role models, practice, and a genuine desire to get better. I have seen this among our MBA mentors, many of whom have been guiding and inspiring our students for a decade or more.

Read more about the Foster’s MBA Mentor Program, an internationally-renowned model of modern mentoring.

Learn more about mentoring at Foster or how to purchase Canfield’s book.

The very model of a modern mentor program

The Foster School launched its MBA Mentor Program in 1999 to offer students a broader and deeper understanding of business through regular meetings with business leaders from a wide array of companies and industries.

Though it’s a voluntary program, more than 250 full-time and evening MBAs each year take advantage of the golden opportunity to learn from one of 86 senior executives about careers, companies and industries, and to discuss the keys to effective leadership, overcoming challenges and finding long-term success.

The program has been so successful that director Susan Canfield regularly fields inquiries from the world’s top business schools—Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Chicago, MIT, to name a few—when they are considering installing or improving their own mentoring programs.

Canfield attributes the Foster program’s exemplary status to six differentiating qualities:

Leadership – The Foster School leadership—including Dean Jim Jiambalvo and Assistant Dean Naomi Sanchez—is a strong supporter of the MBA Mentor Program, providing essential backing and resources.

Longevity – At 15 years, it’s one of the oldest continuously running MBA mentor programs in the country.

Innovation – Foster has been on the vanguard of trends such as group mentoring, speed mentoring, reverse mentoring and promoting mentoring networks.

Efficiency – Mentoring software facilitates the logistics of mentor-student matching and students who serve as lead contacts synch schedules and organize preparation for meetings.

Flexibility — Within the program structure is a great deal of latitude to adapt based on the needs and wishes of mentors and students.

Commitment – The program is powered by a potent renewable energy—senior executives who serve as mentors year after year. “Our mentors say they get more than they give,” Canfield says. “They enjoy hearing what’s on the minds of future business leaders, they like being asked the tough questions that help them reflect on their own career and decisions, they are energized by being around bright and eager minds, and they enjoy getting to know other mentors who share their same commitment. Foster is lucky to be in the midst of many generous alumni and a giving-back business community.”

Read more about how modern mentoring has evolved, and how you can get involved.

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