Inaugural Client of the Year Award

Guest post by Michael Verchot, Director of the Consulting & Business Development Center.

Craig Dawson

For nearly 20 years the Consulting and Business Development Center has been providing student consulting services and business education programs for owners and managers of small businesses across Washington. For the first time ever, we recognized a business that has successfully used more than one of our programs to grow their profitability and their number of employees.

At our Minority Business Awards banquet earlier this month, we recognized Retail Lockbox as the inaugural recipient of our Client of the Year Award.

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of this company. What started as a simple lockbox company offering one service has grown into a firm offering lockbox, merchant services, and document management services. They have private sector, public sector, and nonprofit clients in the healthcare, telecommunications, utilities, insurance, and property management industries.

When they first connected with the center their revenues were slightly more than $2 million.

Three times in the last 12 years the company has worked with student teams from the Center to develop five-year strategic plans. The owners of the company credit these five-year plans with providing the framework they’ve needed to grow their sales to close to $6 million and add more than 50 employees. They’ve also used the Center’s week-long Minority Business Executive Program to improve the strategic decision making of their top executives.

Because of how Retail Lockbox has grown by leveraging resources from the Consulting and Business Development Center they’ve become one of the most vocal advocates for the center and they’ve encouraged other businesses to become engaged in their programs.

Chris DeVore and Matt Ehrlichman: “intro to entrepreneurship”

Startups are hard—identifying opportunity, developing a business plan, understanding legal issues, marketing your product. Luckily, you can learn a lot about navigating the startup world from entrepreneurs who’ve been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

Resource Nights, presented by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, feature experts from the local entrepreneur community sharing their knowledge on various aspects of starting a business.

This week’s class, “Introduction to Entrepreneurship,” featured Chris DeVore of Techstars and Founder’s Co-op and Matt Ehrlichman of Porch.

Read some of our favorite advice and insights below, watch the entire class video here, and check back weekly for more Resource Nights coverage.

 

Chris DeVoreWho becomes an entrepreneur? These are the characteristics and “people patterns” that Chris DeVore believes typify true entrepreneurs.

  • Insatiable need to create
    “Entrepreneurs have an idea of a future they want to create, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make that idea take shape.”
  • Choose autonomy and control over status and money
    “The last thing in the world you should do if you want to make a lot of money is be an entrepreneur.”
  • Do not need a lot of external validation
    “Entrepreneurs don’t crave approval from the world in order to be functional in their work.”
  • Lofty standards for themselves and for others
    “Entrepreneurs hold themselves to a very high standard and are never satisfied with their work.”
  • High tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity
    “Entrepreneurs have to be ok with not knowing the answer for a long period of time.”
  • Impatient
    “Entrepreneurs tend to push harder, faster, and further than anyone else.”
  • Relentless
    “Good entrepreneurs don’t give up. They don’t take no for an answer.”

 

matt-ehrlichman-familyWhere do you begin? What factors go into deciding what your startup is going to be? Here are Matt Ehrlichman’s thoughts on identifying an opportunity for your startup.

  • Don’t worry about the idea
    “The idea is the least important thing. Identifying an opportunity, a market, a problem to solve—those are important.
  • Choose your market carefully
    “Pick a market where you’re not going to be constrained.”
  • Attack the pain
    “The safest and most consistent way to build a company is to identify real pain points and address real problems.”
  • Go with your passion
    “Find something that you are deeply passionate about. There are so many highs and lows in building a company. If you’re not deeply connected to what you’re trying to do, you’re going to burn out. You need that ‘why’ to sustain you when things get difficult.”
  • Play to your strengths
    “Find something that you are uniquely great at, so that you have a competitive advantage over everyone else in the world.”
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EMBA students experience global business up close

International study trips have been offered as an option to Executive MBA students for many years. As the direct and indirect impact of global business on companies of every size has grown dramatically, the EMBA Program has responded by establishing this “International Immersion” experience as a required course in the curriculum. In 2014, all second year EMBA students participated in one of three study trips offered by the program, traveling to Brazil, Vietnam or Germany and the Czech Republic for an intensive week of visits to local and multinational companies, business schools, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Among the goals of the International Immersion: To offer students a firsthand experience in analyzing and understanding the business environment in these countries and stimulate insights into the potential opportunities and challenges of operating in a global context. Along the way, students broadened their cultural horizons, sampled local cuisine, and deepened their collegial bond. In this post, they share their experiences in words and images.

EMBA students tour a BMW factory
EMBA students visit a BMW plant in Berlin.

“I was so thankful to be taken out of my comfort zone and placed into a unique situation.” – Matt Gleason (North America 16)

Ho Chi Minh City
Traffic is a challenge for Hanoi commuters, too.
Old bomb crater in Vietnam
Students visit an old bomb crater in Vietnam, where the wounds of war are slowly healing.

“I left Vietnam with a sense of wonder about the growth potential of this small nation. While still a relatively poor country with major infrastructure issues, the population seems primed for incredible growth. I look forward to following the progress of Vietnam and its people.” – Andy Wolverton (EMBA Regional 31)

El Boticario
Students visit the headquarters of O Boticário, one of the world’s largest cosmetic companies, in Curitiba, Brazil
Casa de Cultura
EMBA student Ali Donway makes new friends at Casa de Cultura in São Paulo.

“Brazil is a land of contrasts. The vibrant culture, fast paced environment and economic growth are contrasted with extreme poverty and rampant crime. Looking back on my week in Sao Paulo and Curitiba I can honestly say that I saw the “true” Brazil. I was exposed to the culture in the form of the food (delicious) artwork (vibrant) and people (optimistic and friendly). I also learned a tremendous amount about the business of Brazil. I came away from Brazil with new connections, friendships and lifelong memories.” – James McBride (EMBA North America)

EMBA students tour the DAF plant
Students get a look inside a Brazil factory that produces trucks for DAF, a PACCAR subsidiary.

“The opportunity afforded by this cultural and business immersion was truly a unique opportunity that would never have been possible by simply visiting a country or culture on one’s own agenda.” – Charles Baer (EMBA North America 16)

Learn more about the Executive MBA program at the Foster School of Business.

Checking in on YEOC: the November and December sessions

November Session: Marketing and Branding
The scene: After a morning of guest lectures on the topic of marketing, a new client enlists your teams’ services in developing a marketing strategy for their business…and they want you to present it by the end of the day. For the students in YEOC, this is the November 2014 session. Led by YEOC Mentor Skyler Rodriguez, students were divided into groups and tasked with coming up with a marketing strategy for a unique animal café. Having just attended a lesson in developing a marketing plan from YEOC Mentor Midori Ng as well as a guest lecture from Razorfish Strategy Associate Chike Ume, the students were all set for the task.

See photos from the session below:

YEOC Students

 

 

 

Checking in on YEOC: The November & Decemeber Sessions
 

YEOC students

 

 

 

 

YEOC students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
December Session: International Experience
With YEOC passports in tow, students traveled from classroom to classroom, learning all about the different study abroad options that Foster has to offer. When the activity ended, they all gathered in Shansby Auditorium to hear from EY Dallas Managing Partner Advisory Thear Suzuki. During her time at the podium, Suzuki discussed international experiences and the importance of having a “global mindset.” After the keynote, students participated in a cultural showcase complete with discussions on current events in Ferguson, Missouri the All Students Count Act and international dances.

See photos from the session below:
YEOC Session

 

 

 

o	Grupo Folkorico Guadalajara

Polynesian Student Alliance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jafra Dabke Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

New Year’s Resolution

Christina Fong’s four tips to becoming a more effective networker in 2015

Fong_Christina-05-cutAt the dawn of any new year, it’s human nature to take stock of our lives and plot measures to improve them—losing weight, exercising more, procrastinating less, or whatever the doctor orders. In this new year, however, you might consider addressing an area that can enhance your life, your career and your effectiveness as a leader: networking.

We asked Christina Fong, a senior lecturer in management and faculty member of the Foster School’s Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, to share some of the networking wisdom she imparts to Foster MBA students.

Foster Unplugged: Are effective networkers born or made?

Christina Fong: There is some research that indicates that your personality does affect the type of network that you tend to be in. That being said, no matter how introverted or extroverted or selfless or Machiavellian you may be, we all can improve our networking effectiveness.

Okay, then, let’s cut to the chase. What can we do in 2015 to become more effective networkers?

There are some specific behaviors we can improve upon. I’d categorize them into four actions:

  1. Meet new people at networking events.
  2. Diversify your network.
  3. Expand your conversation topics.
  4. Follow your passions (or, don’t try to fake it).

Isn’t meeting new people what networking events are for?

You’d be surprised.  Researchers who tracked the interactions of people wearing GPS-embedded nametags found that the vast majority of people at networking events and parties tend to talk only to people they already know. To make the most of a networking opportunity, I urge people to push themselves to break out of their circle of friends and acquaintances, and actually meet new people. Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.

What do you mean by “diversifying” your network?

There’s a great historical illustration of the power of a diversified network in Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” On an April night in 1775, two patriots rode from Boston to inform the nearby citizenry of an impending British attack. One, named William Dawes, had a limited social network that was largely insular: everyone knew everyone else. The other, Paul Revere, had much more expansive network of acquaintances, many of whom did not know each other. This diversity of connections enabled his message to disseminate widely and quickly (and won Revere immortal fame whilst Dawes was relegated to a historical footnote).

What can we learn from this? The most effective networkers are those who connect with others who are dissimilar to themselves. This means knowing people in different industries and walks of life, from different demographic backgrounds and of different ages. We especially encourage more senior executives to connect with younger colleagues.

What’s the point of expanding conversation topics? Shouldn’t networking be focused?

We tend to talk about school with our school friends, church with our church friends, and work with our work friends. But the most effective networkers are able to toggle between different domains of conversation with different people. A great example is the Silicon Valley venture capitalist Heidi Roizen who is famous for blurring the lines between personal and professional in her extensive and powerful network.

Passion is great, but don’t we sometimes have to attend events that don’t really excite us?

Maybe, but don’t expect to get much out of them. Many of our MBAs make the mistake of going to events they think they should attend or where high-powered people will be. But we don’t typically make meaningful connections at such events because we appear calculating as opposed to genuinely interested. When you follow your passion, your body language changes. Your enthusiasm and openness is incredibly attractive.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about networking?

That it needs to be self-serving, viewing people as instruments to our own objectives. Francesca Gino calls this “dirty networking,” and her studies show that it makes us feel literally contaminated. It is not sustainable. If you are trying to use your network only to help yourself, you are not going to be as successful as if you use your network to help other people. At Foster we talk a lot about the work of Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take.” One counterintuitive takeaway from his work: people who spend time giving to others can be more successful, over time, than those who take from their networks or try to broker a fair exchange of giving and taking.

How can you be a giver without being taken advantage of?

As Grant points out, the most successful givers schedule particular times that they dedicate to helping other people. They also develop some particular expertise to offer their network, some added value that complements the expertise of others. Finally, they recognize that helping others—in a controlled and intentional fashion—actually relieves their own stress, and makes them more productive, even during their busiest periods.

How does effective networking lead to more effective leadership?

You can’t be a leader by yourself. The most influential and effective leaders, especially in the long run, are those who build communities in which it’s easy for everyone to help everyone else. Connectors. Catalysts. Changing the way we think about networking—from how to use people to how to help people—is often a first step in becoming a better relational leader.

With some work, this is attainable to any personality type. Many of our MBAs enter the Foster School thinking I can either help myself or others. But the big “aha” moment is that these are not mutually exclusive. Helping others doesn’t mean you’re not helping yourself. Most of the time, our self-interests are aligned with helping others.

Christina Fong’s tips on networking are adapted from the Foster School’s LEAD, a leadership development course for incoming MBAs. Learn more here.

Consulting and Business Development Center recognizes outstanding alum

Guest post by Michael Verchot, director of the Consulting and Business Development Center.

Dan PetersonDan Peterson (MBA 1997) received the Consulting and Business Development Center’s inaugural Alumni of the Year Award in recognition of his 17 years of work with the Center. Dan’s first project with the Center was a competitive analysis for Uwajimaya. Immediately after graduation from the Foster School he became an Alumni Advisor where he guided undergraduate student consulting projects. He helped teams that worked with Four Seas Restaurant and the Theater Off Jackson in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District neighborhood. He then worked with Catfish Corner in Seattle’s Central Area, Oberto and Mutual Fish in the Rainier Valley, and Garlic Garden in Pike Place Market.

In the early days of the center, there weren’t enough student teams to meet the demand from small businesses. On multiple occasions Dan stepped in and served as a consultant on behalf of the center working with an auto detailing shop in the Central Area.

Dan and his wife Angie have also been generous donors to the Center. Every time that the Center has asked for financial support Dan and Angie have said yes. They were one of the first donors to the Center’s endowment that will sustain the student consulting projects and he continues to support the center’s effort to build a self-sustaining funding base to insure its longtime financial health and its ability to serve students and businesses in under-served communities.

We’re honored to recognize Dan as a role model for how alumni and other business people can use their business skills to simultaneously improve student learning while growing jobs in under-served community.

Consulting and Business Development Center presents Corporate Partner Award to Microsoft

minority business awardsThis post was written by Jennifer Bauermeister, Assistant Director of the Consulting and Business Development Center.

As we get ready to celebrate our center’s 20th anniversary we’ve reestablished a tradition that we started in the 1990s to recognize our corporate partners who have made a difference in our work.

We presented our 2014 Corporate Partner Award at our 2014 UW Minority Business Awards Banquet earlier this month to Microsoft.

Microsoft has been a key strategic partner in growing the Consulting and Business Development Center into a national center of excellence. As early as 2007 Fernando Hernandez, who is Microsoft’s director of supplier diversity, began helping us to develop the Minority Business Executive Program. This week-long executive education program is designed to accelerate the growth of minority-owned, women-owned, and other diverse businesses that are supply chain partners of major national and multinational corporations. Microsoft has sponsored 20 businesses to this program.

In 2008, Microsoft hosted the center’s 2nd national research conference that focused on diversity in business issues.

In 2011 Microsoft hosted the annual summit for the Billion Dollar Roundtable. The BDR is an association of 20 corporations that spend at least $1 billion annually with minority- and women-owned businesses. Fernando Hernandez, who by then was on the Center’s Board, invited me to speak at the summit.

Fast forward to this year, and we can see the results of this work as the Minority Business Executive Program drew 30 participants from seven states as well as the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. This program is just the second executive education program to be endorsed by the National Minority Supplier Development Council and is just the 3rd of its kind in the US.

Earlier this year the center became the official research partner for the Billion Dollar Roundtable where it provides data to grow the effectiveness of corporate supply chain efforts in diversity.

Microsoft has been an invaluable partner in helping us to become a national center of excellence in developing businesses in under-served communities and in advancing student careers.

Happy Holidays from the Foster School

With the holiday season officially upon us, what better way to celebrate than with a Foster re-telling of a Dr. Seuss holiday classic? Be sure to follow along with the lyrics (posted below) and don’t miss the special cameo from our very own Dean Jiambalvo.

Every student at Foster liked business a lot…
There’s time for much study, but suddenly there’s NOT!
For Winter is Coming and with it vacation,
But first survive finals with much caffeination.
Supply and demand curves a theorem by Bayes,
Four P’s and five forces, they’re all in a daze;
Then everything’s done thus a change in the mood–
Time for skiing and sleeping and much gratitude…

…For PACCAR and Dempsey halls, and our dear mentors,
B of A and Eastside Executive Centers
Our holiday wish for a brand new “Mackenzie”
Is only because of the Foster growth frenzy.
Our grads go to work at the best places really
From Amazon to PATH to Starbucks to Zulily!
Oh the places we study, research, teach, and work
Cast out ghosts of Balmer with a satisfied smirk.

Heading out we may chance upon Pete Dukes, the Prof
For whose kindness and wisdom we all say, “hats off!”
There’s teaching award maven Jennifer Koski
And Sefcik, Accounting’s own Big Lebowski,
Look: Ed Rice, Frank Hodge and Deborah Glassman!
Plus Xiao-Ping… Dawn Matsumoto… Thaddeus Spratlen;
Foster faculty’s A-plus for research AND for teaching
So we shoot for the stars—and we’re not overreaching

Our business community’s vibrant indeed;
Our students? Work ready and all set to lead.
And they’ll LEAD! And they’ll LEAD! And they’ll LEAD
LEAD! LEAD! LEAD!
Yet there’s still something for their advancement they’ll need.
A text, if you will, of no small erudition
Available now in a new fifth edition
For business success is not mere intuition!

They’ll come back next month. We shall help them succeed.
Then they’ll read, and they’ll read, and they’ll read
READ! READ! READ!

If our rhyme’s turned out badly, we ask your forgiveness,
With warm holiday wishes from the Foster School of Business.

Environmental Innovation Challenge receives $150,000 Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant

Seattle, WA—December 18, 2014

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business has received a $150,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program in support of the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

In mid-December 2014, Members of the Buerk Center and Foster School community, including Dean Jim Jiambalvo and Buerk Center director Connie Bourassa-Shaw, met with representatives from Wells Fargo to accept the grant and share a few words on their mutual commitment to clean technology and the “green economy.”

The Environmental Innovation Challenge, now in its seventh year, provides a platform for students to explore the scalability of innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to environmental problems—a market that has grown exponentially in recent years.

“The focus on ‘green’ is exploding,” said Jiambalvo, noting dramatically increased efforts by large, established institutions to “green up” every aspect of what they do.

Marco Abbruzzese, Wells Fargo senior regional manager, agreed, saying, “We want to be a leader in clean technology and innovation because it’s the right thing to do, because the problems are so big, and because a positive impact on the environment also positively impacts our bottom line.” He went on to list some of Wells Fargo’s recent accomplishments, including granting over $3 million to 64 environmental programs. “We love what you are doing with the Environmental Innovation Challenge,” he said, “and we’re delighted to be able to support it.”

Wells Fargo Check Presentation 2015_4
$150,000 Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant presentation.
About the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant Program

The Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program funds clean technology incubator and accelerator programs, along with research and development projects involving universities and colleges. It supports building a framework for entrepreneurs seeking to provide scalable solutions in the low carbon economy.

About the Environmental Innovation Challenge

The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) at the University of Washington sparks creative thinking, innovative approaches to problems of environmental significance, and encourages cross-disciplinary teams. EIC student teams define an environmental problem, develop the solution, build a prototype, and write a business summary that defines the market opportunity and potential for impact. The next challenge will take place on April 2, 2015.
Learn more about the EIC.

Tweet: Environmental Innovation Challenge @UW receives $150,000 grant from @WellsFargo http://ctt.ec/5ACfx+

Leading across boundaries: complexity

The Fall  2014 Leading Across Boundaries (L.A.B.) session focused on the topic of dealing with “complexity” in the workplace. In a recent global study, both CEOs and MBA students identified dealing with complexity as a major area of challenge in their work.  Bruce Avolio, Mark Pigott Chair in Business Strategic Leadership and Executive Director of the Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking (CLST) describes complexity as;

“1. When you have a lot of competing and difficult priorities to choose from and not all the information you need.
2. When you are trying to lead systems that have a lot of moving parts and you are trying to figure out how to integrate them to get things done.
3. When you have lots of competing priorities and have to determine how to get each done with limited resources.”

During the session, a panel of business leaders (Beth Schryer, Director 737 Business Operations for Boeing Commercial, Karen Clark Cole, CEO & Founder of Blink UX, and Nick Dykstra, Finance Director at Intellectual Ventures) sat with a group of ten MBA leaders to discuss the challenges they have with dealing with complexity in their current leadership roles. The panel then provided their strategies for dealing with complexity and responded to questions posed by the MBA leaders in attendance. Soleil Kelly, Foster’s MBA Association (MBAA) Leader and Bruce Avolio moderated the dialogue.

See photos of the event below:

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L.A.B. sessions enable MBA students to discuss topics of interest with business and community leaders while  developing their own leadership skills. The sessions are sponsored by MBAA and CLST. Visit CLST’s website to learn more.

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