Foster MBA class explores entrepreneurship through the investor’s eyes

susan-preston1713-XLHow to be a better entrepreneur? You might start with understanding what investors are looking for.

That’s the insight behind the Foster School’s distinctive Angel Investing course, a year-long practicum offered to a select group of advanced MBAs by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.

Actually, practicum may not be strong enough a word for what occurs over the course of this immersion into the world of early stage entrepreneurial investing.

It begins in the classroom with the principles of investing and how to spot a viable startup team, opportunity and technology. And then pairs of students embed with one of seven Seattle angel groups. Alongside the pros, they hear pitches, perform the due diligence, and eventually invest real money, on behalf of the University of Washington, in one or two startups that show the most promise.

This year, the class invested $50,000 in C-SATS, a Seattle startup using online crowd-sourcing to accurately and inexpensively assess, via video, the skill of surgeons and other medical practitioners.

The point of the class, though, is not only to make money on an early stage investment or two.

“A principle I teach is that if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to understand your market and your audience,” says Susan Preston, the Buerk Endowed Fellow for Entrepreneurship at Foster. “One of your first audiences is investors. So we try to understand how they think when they’re considering an investment. The learning curve is massive for everyone.”

Expert instructor

susan-preston1678-XLIf you engineered the perfect instructor for such a course, you’d come pretty close to Preston. A general partner of the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund and managing member of the Seattle Angel Fund, Preston is also co-founder of the nation’s first all-women angel investing group (Seraph Capital), an advisor to the National Science Foundation, a former entrepreneur-in-residence at the Kauffman Foundation, author of two books on entrepreneurial financing, and architect of a pending federal bill on private equity investing.

“I’ve been living and breathing this for almost two decades,” Preston says.

A self-described opportunistic risk taker, she jumped at the chance to take over this unique course created and taught at Foster for its first two years by Robert Wiltbank (PhD 2003), a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Willamette University and partner at Montlake Capital.

Preston has been energized by her first year teaching the class.

“I really enjoy the students and their energy,” she says. “They are demanding, because they want to get their money’s worth out of every credit. And I deeply respect that. It’s wonderful to see that level of interest and commitment.”

Interest and commitment

Esther Perman (MBA 2015), a member of last year’s class, typifies that entrepreneurial zeal. She was a UW Business Plan Competition finalist, a Gates Fellow in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Technology Alliance, president of the Foster School Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, and runner-up at the International Venture Capital Investment Competition. “Entrepreneurship is pretty much where I planted my flag,” says Perman, who came to Foster from a biofuel startup and hopes to leverage her education into a startup of her own someday.

She was in good company. “Most of us in the class aspire to either start or work for an early stage company,” says Greg Akselrod (Evening MBA 2015), a Microsoft program manager with entrepreneurial ambitions. “We saw the class as an opportunity to view entrepreneurship from the other side. By seeing how investors react to so many different entrepreneurial pitches, we learned to pattern match to see, oh, this is what they’re looking for.”

For Kate Thorson (MBA 2015), whose background is in global health, the Angel Investing class brought to life all of the core components of the Foster MBA. “By interacting with entrepreneurs and evaluating real companies from an investor perspective, we learned to grasp the whole picture of a business—from the broader economic context and the contours of the individual industries to company strategies, financial viability and makeup of the team,” she says.

“…With actual investment on the line.”

Putting Learning into Practice

Jacob Since, an incoming senior studying Finance and Technology Innovation at University of Washington Bothell, reflects on his experience at the Consulting & Business Development Center.IMG_5855

My first experience with the Consulting & Business Development Center was at a week-long Microsoft Dynamics CRM training this past June. About 40 students, including myself, learned how to use and customize this powerful platform. After the training, I felt like I could see myself as a consultant, and was thrilled when I learned about an opportunity to be a consulting intern over the summer.

In July, I joined a team with two other students from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM training and began implementing a new CRM system for the Consulting & Business Development Center. This unique consulting experience allowed me to not only gain invaluable consulting skills and see a full-cycle development process, but I was also able to gain a deep understanding of the students, community members, and organizations that the Consulting & Business Development Center has impacted over the past 20 years.

With more than ten programs offered throughout the year, there is always a chance for the Consulting & Business Development Center to improve the lives of students and members of the local community. Over the eight weeks I worked with the Consulting & Business Development Center, I have come to realize that the programs they produce are needed not only at the University of Washington by students and local organizations, but Centers like this should be available in Higher Education institutions all across the United States.

Karpoff receives prestigious award for research in corporate governance

Karpoff_Jonathan-18-XLJonathan Karpoff, a professor of finance at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, has received this year’s Outstanding Contributions to Research in Corporate Governance award from the influential Drexel University Center for Corporate Governance.

The Drexel center provides expert guidance to corporate directors and other practitioners as they lead and advise boards and discharge their fiduciary obligations.

Karpoff is only the eighth recipient of the Outstanding Contributions award, which puts him in very good company.

“This award recognizes Jon’s tremendous contributions to corporate governance research and places him among a distinguished list of prior winners, many of whom have been mentioned as Nobel Prize contenders,” says Jarrad Harford, the Marion B. Ingersol Professor of Finance at Foster and chair of the Department of Finance and Business Economics.

The Outstanding Contributions to Research in Corporate Governance award is selected by the Drexel Center’s external fellows, a group of the nation’s leading scholars in the area of corporate governance that includes Harford, Karpoff and fellow Foster finance professor Paul Malatesta.

World-class scholar

Karpoff joined the Foster School faculty in 1983 and currently serves as the Washington Mutual Endowed Chair in Innovation.

His extensive research in corporate finance, governance, crime and punishment has earned numerous national awards.

Research on the cost to firms for cooking the books was recognized with the Best Paper Award at the University of Chicago’s CRSP Forum in 2006, the William F. Sharpe Award for Scholarship in Financial Research in 2009, and Emerald Management Review’s Citations of Excellence Award in 2012.

His study finding that short sellers expose corporate financial fraud earned another Best Paper Award at the CRSP Forum in 2008. His paper on why IPO firms have takeover defenses won Best Paper Awards at the 2012 Financial Management Association conference and the 2011 Financial Research Association Conference. His paper comparing successes of publicly versus privately funded arctic expeditions earned Karpoff the 2003 Griliches Prize in Empirical Economics. And his study showing that managers who aggressively manage earnings tend to get fired earned him the Best Paper Award at the George Mason University Conference on Corporate Governance and Fraud Prevention in 2009.

Karpoff has held appointments as the John M. Olin Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1998 and the Visiting Alumni Professor of Finance at Emory University from 2000-2002.

At Foster, Karpoff has won a number of teaching awards as well, most recently the Robert M. Bowen Executive MBA Excellence in Teaching Award (2014, 2015), Global Executive MBA Excellence in Teaching award (2013), and the Technology Management MBA Excellence in Teaching award (2011).

Worldwide service

In 2005, Karpoff received the KPMG/Peat Marwick PhD Project-Finance Doctoral Students Association inaugural award for Outstanding Service, Leadership, and Commitment to the Finance Profession.

He currently serves as associate editor of six different scholarly publications: the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Finance and Quantitative Analysis, Management Science, Managerial and Decision Science, and the North American Journal of Economics and Finance.

Karpoff also is a member of the Financial Economists Roundtable, an international research fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation, and a trustee of the Financial Management Association International. He’s past member of the Searle Civil Justice Institute Task Force on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (2011-2014), past president of the Financial Management Association (2007-2008), former faculty director of the Financial Management Association (2002-2004), former advisory board member for the National Association of Corporate Directors (2006-2011), and former managing editor of the Journal of Finance and Quantitative Analysis (1989-2003).

At the Foster School, he directed the CFO Forum from 2004-2007 and the Environmental Management Program from 1991-1993.

U.S. News ranks Foster’s undergraduate program #22 of 472 Best Colleges

Foster undergrad students jumping in unison

The undergraduate business program at the University of Washington Foster School of Business ranked in the elite top five percent of programs nationwide—#22 of 472 schools and #12 of public schools—in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2016 Rankings. Foster academic programs also rose to national prominence with specialty rankings in Accounting (#11), International Business (#17), Entrepreneurship (#23), and Management (#25).

Undergraduate Program Rankings
Source Northwest Nationwide Public Universities
U.S. News & World Report, 2016 1 22 12
Specialty Rankings
Accounting 1 11 6
International Business 1 17 9
Entrepreneurship 2 23 10
Management 1 25 16

Source: U.S. News & World Report

See full rankings and methodology from U.S. News & World Report. Learn more about Foster’s undergraduate program.

Undergraduate leadership retreat develops Foster’s best and brightest

Foster undergrads at last year’s Presidents’ Leadership Retreat.

The word retreat suggests backward motion, withdrawal or reflection.

That’s not the case with the Presidents’ Leadership Retreat. The annual summit of undergraduate leaders at the University of Washington Foster School of Business keeps the focus firmly on the future.

Over two jam-packed early autumn days at Warm Beach Conference Center, the prime movers of the Undergraduate Business Council and 25 other student organizations undergo a distraction-free crash course in communication, collaboration, cultural competency, decision making, event planning, conflict resolution and, as last year’s keynote emphasized, staying true to the Foster ideals of honesty, integrity and respect throughout life.

leadership-retreat4“It’s a packed 48 hours,” says Clay Schwenn, the Undergraduate Programs’ assistant director for student leadership and development. “It’s so important to take them out of their daily lives to immerse themselves in this.”

The participants emerge equipped and inspired to lead more effectively at and after Foster.

“The retreat gave all of us a real sense of what it means to be a leader within the Foster School,” says Kelly Phillips (BA 2015), last year’s president of Undergraduate Women in Business. “It has inspired me daily to be a great leader.”

Focus on the future

Frances and Roy Simperman

This indelible experience—in its 13th year—is made possible by the financial underwriting of Roy (MBA 1970) and Frances Simperman, who know a thing or two about leadership.

Roy is the longtime chairman and CEO of a computer network management firm called Semaphore Corporation, but an engineer at heart. He got his start at the Boeing Company in the mid-1960s, an era of grand adventures developing a space shuttle prototype, the lunar orbiter, and warhead integration (he once borrowed a 105-mm tank from the US Army and commandeered 15 oscilloscopes from Boeing to study shock physics on the site now occupied by the Tulalip Casino).

After adding a Foster MBA to his degrees in mathematics and physics, he created a sophisticated economic simulation to guide Weyerhauser’s forestry program, partnered in a stock photography company at the dawn of the commercial Internet, and has led Semaphore ever since.

Roy and Frances, who served as president of Printex Press for three decades, have become staunch supporters of education, and keenly interested in the development of Foster’s emerging leaders.

leadership-retreat5“Leadership requires trust,” Roy says. “And trust requires integrity, good judgment and common sense. I think a program that can intervene and instill these qualities in young leaders is well worth our support.”

“We need leaders who are educated, ethical and responsible to take the long view,” adds Frances. “The future of our country—our world—is at stake.”

This year’s Presidents’ Leadership Retreat takes place September 21-23. The keynote speaker will be Long Phan (BA 2006), the founder of Foster’s Undergraduate Business Council and Week of Service who left a career in finance and venture capital to work in K-12 education reform with the City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning.

Lessons learned in a 3,000 mile drive

Picture for Blog
Megan with summer clients Shae, Greg, and Jayden Frichette of Frichette Winery.

Megan Whitman, Foster School of Business, BA Class of 2016 reflects on her summer as a Consulting & Business Development Center summer student consultant.

In May, immediately after being hired as a student consultant in the Consulting & Business Development Center’s Summer Consulting Program, my first duty as a new employee was to attend a Foster alumni event in the Tri-Cities, hosted the Center. It was my first time going over to Eastern Washington in many years.It was the first time I met the team I worked alongside this summer. That first trip marked the beginning of an incredible journey. Ten weeks and seven trips to the Tri-Cities later I have traveled approximately 3,000 miles and learned so much along the way.

When my fellow intern and I would make one of our numerous trips to the Tri-Cities, we would invariably manage to make a wrong turn and end up on an entirely new route each time despite the fact that one of us would always have our phone out with the directions pulled up. Although our debacles with the GPS were most likely the fault of user error rather than the actual device, our challenges gave me a new level of respect and admiration for the small businesses I worked with this summer.

Running a business does not come with step-by-step directions.  It does not come with a GPS. At best, there are road signs that lead you towards your destination, but without specific directions, it is hard to know which signs you are supposed to be looking for and whether or not they will connect to the places you want to reach down the road. As a student consultant I learned to be the GPS for the small business owner, not the driver. I learned how to offer insight on where focus should be directed, to provide analysis on the traffic and other potential roadblocks, and to develop strategies to support the driver in deciding which route is the best fit for them. Over the course of the summer I was able to play this role and produce a set of deliverables for each client that will truly have a tangible impact on their business.

So I would say that the 3,000 miles were worth it — sure, it was exhausting (but that wears off with a large cup of coffee), and now I am just left with a much stronger foundation of business knowledge, a close bond with the intelligent and talented individuals with whom I shared an office space, and the confidence that I am well prepared to be successful no matter my destination.


Foster MBAs a close second at international venture capital competition

Global-Finals-Photo-with-CheckThe dynasty continues.

The MBA team of Jacob Wallack (MBA 2015), Esther Perman (MBA 2015), Hartley Riedner, Matt Gryll (MBA 2015) and Travis Vaughan of the University of Washington Foster School of Business returned to the international finals of the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) in April and brought home second place.

To get there, the Foster team first won the enormously competitive Silicon Valley regional in January, one of the 12 feeder competitions held around the world.

In the VCIC, students play the role of venture capitalists, evaluating pitches from real entrepreneurs and choosing what and why to invest in the most compelling plan. All the while, real venture capitalists from some of the nation’s most illustrious firms observe and judge the entire process.

The Foster team had the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and the full force of the UW and Seattle entrepreneurial communities behind it. Students spent countless hours preparing with faculty, former VCIC champions from Foster, and all of the top venture capital firms. “Getting that network and the insight into how to do this right was incredibly helpful,” says Perman. “That was by far the best part of the competition.”

Foster’s return to the international finals also marks a return to form for the most successful school in the history of this 18-year-old competition. In its 13 years contending, Foster has won the Silicon Valley regional six times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015). And in six trips to the VCIC international finals, Foster has twice been champions (2004 and 2006) and runners-up (2008 and 2015).

Upon hearing the results from the Silicon Valley regional this year, VCIC director Patrick Vernon summed up the news in a simple tweet: “A dynasty returns!”

A budding career in consulting

Jaren Nakamura, Foster School of Business Class of ’15 reflects on his experience as a student consultant for the Consulting & Business Development Center.

Jaren Nakamura with clients Jane Yuan and Collin Hunter from Simple & Crisp and representative Joe Sky-Tucker from Business Impact Northwest.
Jaren Nakamura with clients Jane Yuan and Collin Hunter from Simple & Crisp and representative Joe Sky-Tucker from Business Impact Northwest.

My experience in the Summer Internship Program for the Consulting & Business Development Center was exactly what I was looking for.  I found myself doing meaningful work for real clients, conducting research that I later transformed into applicable material, and delivered tangible results to meet my clients’ expectations.  That last part was by far the most gratifying part of this entire program.

I appreciate the Center’s desire for its student consultants to make recommendations around certain areas for the clients.  Personally, I like to create action and deliver a tangible result that is ready for implementation—that’s always been my prerogative, even since I took the Center’s flagship business consulting class  (MKTG/MGMT 445).  Whether it was delivering the customer research for an online sales database, securing a microloan with a business plan presentation, or presenting the balanced scorecard and action plan to a client company—having the ability to go beyond making simple recommendations was what attracted me not only to this program, but to  a business consulting career.

Starting with the flagship business consulting class in the winter of 2015,   I took on a project with Ultrafino Panama Hats, an E-commerce company that sells high-quality hand-woven Panama hats.  While the project included components of a marketing plan, the main body of work revolved around growing the business in a sustainable fashion: driving sales, increasing capacity, and funding the overall project.  Taking all that I learned from the class and applying it in the Summer Consulting Program allowed me to reflect on and learn from past mistakes, and then reapply my experience for the new clients’ projects.

I do not consider my experience with the  Summer Consulting Program from just June through August—to me, this summer was a continued experience from the winter quarter class.  This experience was exactly what I was looking for in order to start my own consulting career.  Doing this type of work gave me insight on myself as a budding professional, and helped me realize how much I enjoy working in collaboration with others for their success.  This work is rewarding, eye opening, and diverse as any job.

I do not have a lot of “favorites”.  I did not have a clear vision for my career path coming out of the Foster School.  Hardly anything is definitive for me, save for my girlfriend, my friends and family, and my wonderful time at the UW.  However, I can proudly say that my experiences as a student consultant for the Consulting & Business Development Center have been the most educational and entertaining  within the realm of the business school.  Applying business acumen into meaningful client work is not  easy to come by  at Foster, and I have been lucky enough to meet the right people and land the right projects to have created such a wonderful, wholesome experience here.  I highly encourage anyone considering a career in consulting to begin here with the Consulting & Business Development Center.

One more item: the staff at the center are some of the friendliest and most welcoming folks I have ever had the pleasure to work with.  Great clients, great staff, great coworkers, great internship.

Class of 2015: Foster School welcomes promising new faculty

Farh Crystal 030.webCrystal Farh
Assistant Professor of Management & Organization

Education & Experience
PhD (organizational behavior), University of Maryland, 2012
Assistant Professor of Management, Michigan State University, 2012-2015
Office of Naval Research Grant on diversity and team decision-making, 2015
Wallace Dissertation Research Award, Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, 2014
Frank T. Paine Doctoral Award for Academic Achievement, University of Maryland, 2011
Best International Paper Award, OB Division of the Academy of Management, 2010
Outstanding Reviewer Award, OB Division of the Academy of Management, 2009

Leadership and teams in dynamic contexts; employee proactivity, voice and creativity; individual cross-cultural effectiveness

Avid singer and lover of seafood and hiking

Abhinav GuptaAbhinav Gupta
Assistant Professor of Management & Organization

Education & Experience
PhD (management), Pennsylvania State University, 2015
Research published in top-tier journals Administrative Science Quarterly and Strategic Management Journal

Political ideologies of corporations and executives; institutional change; social activism

Enjoys walking and hiking

Hyeunjung Elina Hwang.webHyeunjung (Elina) Hwang
Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management

Education & Experience
PhD (industrial administration), Carnegie Mellon University, 2015
Formerly worked for Women’s World Banking, Samsung Securities, 2e Consulting and IT Research & Evaluation

Social networks; business analytics; open innovation; organizational learning

Enjoys running and strength training

Sarah Shaikh

Sarah Shaikh
Assistant Professor of Accounting

Education & Experience
PhD (accounting), University of Arizona, 2015
Is a CPA and CMA
Worked for John Deere in budgeting, forecasting and internal audit, 2005-2009

Management incentives and decision-making; corporate governance; financial reporting quality

Enjoys running, volunteering, reading and traveling

shunko-masha-1039.webMasha Shunko
Assistant Professor of Operations Management

Education & Experience
PhD (manufacturing and operations management), Carnegie Mellon University, 2011
Assistant Professor of Management, Purdue University, 2011-2015
Salgo-Noren Outstanding Master’s Teacher Award, Purdue University, 2014
POM SCM Best Student Paper Competition (Carnegie Mellon), first prize, 2009
Consulting and research with Caterpillar, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Emergency Medical Services of Marion County, Indiana, Mayo Clinic
Worked for Deloitte in her native Estonia, providing audit and consulting services to manufacturing and banking clients in Estonia, Latvia, Belarus and Russia

Tax-efficient supply chain management; healthcare operations; behavioral operations management

Loves anything outdoors, including hiking, biking and running, most recently competing in adventure “mud” races

Learn more about Masha Shunko.

Class of 2015: Masha Shunko

shunko-masha-1079Masha Shunko is far from the first Foster faculty member to list Deloitte on her curriculum vitae, but she’s certainly the first to have started her career at the firm’s Estonia office.

A native of the tiny nation on the Baltic Sea, Dr. Shunko worked out of Deloitte’s Estonia headquarters in Tallinn, the charming capital of the former Soviet republic that has become an economic jewel of the European Union. During five years with the firm, she provided audit and consulting services to clients with global ambitions in Estonia, Latvia, Belarus and Russia.

Her own global ambitions led Dr. Shunko to the United States. Her plan was to complete an accounting degree at Indiana University, pass the CPA exam, and return to Deloitte. But she ran into an irresistible detour. “I took one operations management course and decided that’s for me,” she says.

Dr. Shunko switched her studies to operations at IU right on through her doctoral program at Carnegie Mellon University. There her Deloitte experience inspired her dissertation topic: tax-efficient supply chain management.

As she joins the Foster faculty as an assistant professor of operations management, much of her other research marries the efficiency of engineering with the insight of the behavior sciences. She designs more responsive healthcare operations (a collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to study the effect of redesigned environments on physician performance is in the works). And she studies behavioral operations, especially the effects of queuing systems’ design on employee and customer behavior.

An award-winning researcher and instructor, Dr. Shunko will lead the operations management course in the MBA core at Foster this year, as well as an elective in global supply chain management which she’ll adapt for Foster’s new Master of Supply Chain Management program. The one-year degree program, which debuts in June 2016, will equip students to lead the global sourcing and local distribution of goods, building upon the supply chain innovations of Seattle-based firms such as Amazon, Costco, Starbucks, Boeing and PACCAR.

Learn about more of this year’s incoming class of promising new faculty at the Foster School.

– Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.