What do business plan competitions accomplish?

I had lunch with a good friend last week—someone who supports tech entrepreneurship and the larger Seattle startup community. He asked if there was research to detail the value of business plan competitions. What, he asked me, do business plan competitions accomplish?

UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round 2015
A sea of student teams, judges, and mentors at the Business Plan Competition Investment Round

There are 350+ entrepreneurship centers in US colleges and universities, and my sense is that less than 70% of them have competitions called business plan competitions, startup competitions, new venture competitions, etc. Some programs require their own students to participate in their competition, a good number of them have national or international scope, and a number of them have themes (social, tech, global, undergraduate, graduate). Most all of them award money, and some of them, like Rice University, offer BIG money.

OlyKraut, UW Business Plan Competition 2014
OlyKraut, UW Business Plan Competition 2014

Competitions, in my opinion, shouldn’t be easy, and students should never get a grade for competing. If you want to mimic the realities of the entrepreneurial world in the safe environment of a university, you have to up the ante. Make the competition as real world as possible, with deadlines and deliverables that require student teams to use all the resources they can muster to succeed.  Yes, we assume that students are smart, talented, driven and motivated. How good are they at combining those personal characteristics with an idea, a vision and turning it all into a compelling business? It’s a test. But not like any they’re used to.

Competitions require that student teams butt up against reality. Anyone can write a business plan, but tell me about your execution strategy. What traction do you have to date? Give me a customer profile. Who’s your mentor, your industry expert? Who on your team is going to leave to take a job after graduation—and who’s starting the company?

UpHill Designs, UW Business Plan Competition 2014
UpHill Designs, UW Business Plan Competition 2014

The UW Business Plan Competition is badly named, and we know it. We started the event in 1998, when every major university was starting a  BPC. Then it was about the plan, but the plan was demoted in 2006 and now the 100+ teams apply with an executive summary. In the 18 years we’ve offered our Business Plan Competition, 4,091 students on 1,278 teams from 16 colleges and universities around Washington State have applied. We’ve given out $1.3 million in prize money/seed funding to 128 winning teams. We guess that 75+ teams that went through the competition are still in business, contributing to the (mostly) Washington economy. The 2003 grand-prize winner, NanoString, went public in 2013.

But here’s the real value of the BPC:  it’s hard. It takes discipline and motivation and sheer determination. It demands that teams overcome doubt and anxiety, team dynamics, and their own misconceptions of how things should work or who deserves what. It requires them to move past the paralysis that will surely come when their initial market vanishes or when financial projections are scoffed at. The pain and frustration would make it easy to quit. And some do. The survivors become entrepreneurs.

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Meet the Author

ConnieBourassaShaw_editsAs director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business, Connie Bourassa-Shaw works to integrate entrepreneurship into the student experience at the University of Washington. She’s responsible for the strategic direction of the center, ensuring the relevance of its curriculum and practical experiences, working with student entrepreneurs, and developing new initiatives. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, which received a $5.2 million naming gift in January 2013, produces the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge and the highly visible Business Plan Competition.


Minority Business Hall of Fame 2015

On April 21, the Consulting and Business Development Center had the honor of hosting the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum (MBHF) for the second year as MBHF inducted five new members into the prestigious Hall of Fame.


MBHF has been acknowledging trailblazers in the area of minority businesses as honorees since 2005, and this year marked a significant step towards creating a global community when the first international honoree, Dr. Jan Neissen, was inducted into the Hall of Fame and Museum.  In his acceptance of the award, Dr. Neissen eloquently spoke about his study of American systems of minority supplier development and his efforts throughout his career at implementing the same ideals in Europe.  He cited fellow honorees Anthony Robinson and Ralph Moore as influencers in his work both through their participation in the civil rights movement in America and their continuing work as proponents of equal opportunities both in the US and internationally.

Another significant induction was the late Billy Frank Jr., member of the Nisqually Tribe, who was represented by his son, Willie Frank. Billy Frank Jr.’s life work led directly to the growth of

image14business opportunities for Native families and for tribes across the U.S. From family-owned fishing businesses to tribally-owned hatcheries and fish processing plants thousands of jobs for Native and non-Native people have been created affecting the business community both here at home in Washington state and across the nation.

This year, the honorees became more than just pictures on the wall when UW Foster undergraduates were given the opportunity to meet these trailblazers face-to-face and interact with the honorees in a special lunch panel. During this luncheon, the inductees shared about their work and their lives as well as the wisdom they had to impart to the students as they move forward with their careers.  After participating in the luncheon Lillian Mitchum, a senior at Foster studying operations and supply chain management, said, “It was encouraging to hear the stories of the honorees; where they started out, how far they have come, and how much they have accomplished during their journey.”image8

When asked about what the next generation of leaders should be focused on in moving towards diversity and equal opportunities for businesses inductee Bill Imada encouraged students to know their own background and stories and to, “share those stories with one another and engage.”

All are invited to come and share in the stories of this year’s nominees on display in the Mackenzie Hall Lobby.


Foster MBAs take first in their division at ethics competition

Evening MBA students  Kayla Erickson, Garin Wedeking, and Naveen Ahmed
Kayla Erickson (MBA 2016), Garin Wedeking (MBA 2015), and Naveen Ahmed (MBA 2016)

Foster Evening MBA students Naveen Ahmed, Kayla Erickson, and Garin Wedeking took first place in their division at the International Business Ethics Case Competition (IBECC) on April 23 in New Orleans.

The International Business Ethics Case Competition is the premier international competition of its kind. It is jointly sponsored by the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association, the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University, and the Opus College of Business of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Foster MBAs competed in the full presentation competition. The team identified an ethically-problematic issue and designed a presentation to address that issue. They picked the use of technology at Uber. In their presentation they explained the legal, financial, and ethical dimensions of the issue and recommended a solution that addressed all three dimensions. The presentation was judged by professional corporate ethics and compliance officers. The purpose of the competition is to show students it is possible to do business profitably while acting ethically.

According to Elizabeth Umphress, associate professor of management at Foster, “The team was extremely well-prepared, and did a fantastic job!”

Change as strength

While introducing Bsquare CEO Jerry Chase as the April 22 Leaders to Legends Breakfast speaker, Dean Jiambalvo described the tech leader as an “accomplished executive with decades of experience leading public and private companies through times of transition and growth.” With the theme of “transition and growth” clearly in mind, Chase spent his time at the podium discussing the importance of listening to customers, company adaptability, and the burgeoning “internet of things” industry.

Watch his full lecture below.

Meet the UW Business Plan Competition Sweet 16

BPC Investment Round 2015
A sea of student teams and judges at the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round

37 student-led startup teams from colleges and universities across Washington state gathered at the University of Washington HUB yesterday to compete in the 2015 Business Plan Competition Investment Round. For four hours, the teams pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to  250+ judges—many of whom said it was the most impressive group of teams in the history of the BPC— in the hopes of landing a spot in the next round of the competition. By the end of the afternoon the scores had been tallied and the sixteen top-scoring teams were announced. These teams will move on to the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the 2015 BPC—one step closer to winning the $25,000 Grand Prize. Congrats to the Sweet Sixteen!

The UW Business Plan Competition is presented by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business.

University of Washington

Auctora’s automated recruiting tool seamlessly screens, sorts, and schedules candidates so that corporate recruiters can utilize their time more effectively while sourcing job applicants. No dealing with paper resumes; no back-and-forth emails between recruiters and candidates – welcome to recruiting in the 21st century!

University of Washington

Authality’s first product, Klide, is the most secure and convenient smart lock, and the only smart lock that meets the demands of Airbnb hosts. Klide pairs a physical lock with a mobile app that allows hosts to distribute revocable “keys” to guests and control access remotely.

Benchmark Environmental
University of Washington and Washington State University

Benchmark Environmental is changing the way we treat storm water. By combining innovative design with new technologies, our treatment solutions are affordable, easy to install, and low maintenance. Benchmark Environmental’s products enable more companies and municipalities to treat storm water runoff effectively–a win-win for customers and the environment.

University of Washington Tacoma

Bettery provides consumers with the most cost effective, convenient, and sustainable portable power solution on the market. Bettery taps a growing demand for sustainable solutions by offering batteries as a low cost subscription service.

Co Optical
Washington State University

Co Optical specializes in lifestyle management technologies, with a flagship product that revolutionizes diabetes management by continuously and non-invasively monitoring blood glucose. This wearable device, structured as a pair of glasses, improves convenience and enhances the overall user experience allowing seamless integration of lifestyle management strategies into the everyday lives of people with diabetes.

University of Washington

Empreva aims to empower and engage women across the world to take their health into their own hands by providing a safe, convenient, and comfortable method for birth control and STI prevention.Empreva is developing birth control and combination birth control/anti-HIV products to benefit the health of women in high-HIV burden areas of the developing world who lack options for protection. For every purchase of an Empreva birth control product in the U.S., Empreva will donate one combination product to a woman in need in the developing world to help achieve sexual health and empowerment for women everywhere.

Washington State University

Go KEFI is an experience-based travel website that helps you plan vacations based off desired experiences and budget. The team won first place at Spokane Startup Weekend 2014, and has since sparked a movement for a new way to travel.

University of Washington

Hook is a home automation hub that offers smart home capability to the price sensitive consumer. Customers are able to convert existing electronics in the home to smart compatible devices, keeping these products up-to-date for years to come. Consumers will enjoy convenience with control via their mobile devices, savings on energy costs, and improved home safety. With an affordable price and remarkable ease of use, Hook aims to make smart home technology accessible to the masses.

University of Washington

JikoPower makes thermo-electric generators to turn ordinary cook stoves into personal charging stations for off-grid households that have small electronic devices in the developing world. JikoPower POWERS devices, but it EMPOWERS people.

NOVA Technologies
Western Washington University and University of Washington

NOVA Technologies’ Smart Solar Window uses transparent nanotechnology to create clean, local electricity that can turn skyscrapers into giant solar arrays and reduce HVAC systems costs, an innovative link to a carbon neutral future.

Park A Lot
University of Washington

Park A Lot is a platform connecting private businesses who have unused parking spaces with customers looking for parking. Lot owners sign up on a hop-on, hop-off platform and their lots become available to the public, generating them revenue. Customers use Park A Lot’s website or app to purchase parking on a lot of their choice from their home or mobile device.

RainCity Heart Lab
Seattle University

Seventy percent of patients who have suffered a heart attack for the first time were previously classified as low risk for cardiovascular disease based on the current testing methods. RainCity Heart Lab (RCHL) is a specialty diagnostic lab that offers a better diagnostic test called CALLIS. CALLIS (Calibrated Lipoprotein Ion Separation) is a blood test for accurately quantifying intact lipoproteins for improved Cardio Vascular Disease risk assessment.

University of Washington

SmartyPants reinvents toilet training and mitigates adult incontinence issues to prevent millions of diapers from ending up as a biohazard in landfills. It predicts impending bowel events and alerts users to get to a toilet. The company’s innovative, first-of-its-kind, technology creates value for the consumers by saving on diaper purchases and the environment by reducing waste and biohazard from disposable diapers.

University of Washington

vHAB is a virtual rehabilitation platform that helps patients regain fine motor skills to lead autonomous lives again. vHAB enables occupational therapists to customize patient treatment and accurately monitor progress through engaging and dynamic video games. System portability and precision metrics pose a competitive advantage for rehabilitation facilities, allowing delivery of quality treatment to patients – anywhere, anytime. vHAB saves rehabilitation facilities time and money. Most importantly, vHAB empowers patients to reclaim their independence.

Vie Diagnostics
University of Washington

A significant portion of patients attending STD clinics fail to follow up for treatment, even when tests are positive and the risk for transmission and complication is highest. Vie Diagnostics’ disruptive molecular diagnostic technology will reduce the spread and pain of STD infections by allowing patients to be tested and treated in a single clinical visit. Its tests will provide better patient management, lower costs for clinics, and improve overall public health.

University of Washington

Yowgii has the potential to disrupt the bottled water industry and the water filtration industry. The global bottled water industry is worth over $157 billion a year, but is heavily comprised of plastic bottles with significant environmental footprint and potential for contaminants. Yowgii combines environmentally-friendly water delivery with innovative water purification to deliver the best drinking water to consumer and promises pure water for a better you!

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See what others have to say about the BPC on Twitter: #UWBPC2015


A contrarian’s tale

“And then I ran out of money. That,” says Scott McAdams (MBA 1986), “was when I knew it was time to get serious about finding a job.”

Chris Ackerlund with Scott McAdams
Chris Ackerlund, recipient of the McAdams Wright Ragen, Inc. Endowed Scholarship, with Scott McAdams (MBA 1986).

A few months prior to running out of funds, McAdams had graduated from Cornell University with degree in mechanical engineering. The year was 1979. Jimmy Carter was president. McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal. The economy was in a lull and jobs were hard to get. Oil prices were high.

McAdams was fascinated by alternative energy and passionate about becoming a solar engineer, so, after graduating, he came west. First he drove to Colorado for some interviews. He then went to New Mexico. He stayed with some relatives and lined up some more interviews.

All of the interviews led him to the conclusion that jobs in the field were demanding PhDs. This conclusion coincided with running out of money. McAdams started to send out resumes further afield.

Hello, Scott. This is Boeing.

One of the resumes got him an interview with Boeing, which led to another. “Everything happened over the phone,” says McAdams. “They even hired me over the phone. It was as if they were thinking, ‘We need engineers and you passed muster.’”

He had never been to the Northwest, but accepted the job offer and drove to Seattle with everything he owned in January of 1980.

McAdams found Boeing to be an incredible company, but a bit stifling. “If you were young and ambitious at that time—and I was—it wasn’t a great place to be. There were guys who had been there for 20 to 30 years and they weren’t going anywhere,” says McAdams. “It just wasn’t moving fast enough for me.”

McAdams sought other work, but found it hard to find. He believes a good part of it was a prevailing attitude in the area at the time of Boeing engineers. “There was an unspoken mark against you if you worked at Boeing, if you were part of the ‘lazy B,’ as many people called it.”

A well placed bet

McAdams decided to pursue an MBA and applied to a number of schools. With acceptance letters in hand, and a desire to stay in Seattle, he made his choice. “At the time, Seattle was a provincial enough economy that if you wanted to work in the Northwest you were better off going to school in the Northwest. So I did,” says McAdams. “It was the bet I made and it worked out.”

Once he was in school, the decision to pursue finance as a concentration was easy. “As my wife reminds me, even at Boeing I would read the WSJ everyday cover to cover. Even as an engineer, I wanted to be a stock analyst.”

At the time, there weren’t many investment firms in Seattle. He interned with Foster & Marshall (where he met both Michael and A.O. Foster). Upon graduating, he went to work for Cable, Howse & Ragen as a junior analyst.

“My starting salary was half what I had been making as an engineer two years before. But at the time, the finance community was so small and if you wanted to get your foot in the door, you started at the ground floor,” says McAdams. “I was so excited to have the job, it didn’t matter.”

The early days provided some lessons that couldn’t be taught in school, even by Karma Hadjimikilakis and Bill Alberts, his favorite professors in the program. He learned a lot, but didn’t realize the courage it would take.

“It’s something you have to experience and it’s brutal. Classic problem you run into: a stock drops 50%, you do your analysis and think it must be the bottom, so you build a position. Then you realize it’s not the bottom when it drops another 50% and it turns out your assumption wasn’t accurate. And you’re faced with a big decision–do you double up or sell and take the loss? When you’re in this business and you come in in the morning and one of your stocks has done that, it’ll be the worst 24 hours of your life.”

Youre all fired

Within a couple of years, he returned to work at Foster Marshall, a subsidiary of Shearson American Express at time, but which still had a local research staff led by John Mackenzie.

“Shearson Lehman had a huge research department in New York, which was being led by Peter Cohen, and they didn’t really need us in Seattle. And unlike the team in New York, we were practicing contrarian value based investing,” says McAdams.

In 1988, the differences in investing approach came to a head. The New York research department was recommending the sale of a particular security. The Seattle office was recommending a buy on the same security. “Someone must have marched into Peter’s office and said, ‘What are these guys doing in Seattle? They’re confusing the clients.’ He called us that day and fired the whole department.”

According to the Seattle Times, that same year, Tom Cable and Elwood “Woody” Howse “decided to focus exclusively on their Bellevue-based venture-capital firm, investing in new, cash-hungry companies.” That provided an opening for John Mackenzie, with his small team of recently laid-off analysts, to approach Brooks Ragen. Ragen MacKenzie, formed in 1988, prospered and grew becoming a dominant regional firm in the Northwest.   The firm was eventually sold to Wells Fargo in 2000, which later folded the operation into its larger brokerage unit.

We need a name

In late spring of 1998, Ragen made a call to McAdams. He wanted to start another firm.

“At the time, Brooks was in his 60s,” recalls McAdams. “He said, ‘I’ll supply the capital, my name and contacts, and you do all the work.’ ”

The men pulled a staff together and found a location, but ran into a dilemma prior to opening their doors. They were in need of a name. “Because of the terms with our prior firm, we couldn’t use our names together. It sounded too much like Ragen Mackenzie,” says McAdams. “We needed another name.”

They wanted to find someone with a name that meant something in Seattle. At the last hour, the duo asked Bagley Wright if they could include his name. Wright was well known as a real estate developer as well as a philanthropist and patron of the arts. He agreed to lend his name and became a shareholder and a member of the board.

Contrarian value investing

“Contrarian value based investing tends to work because it isn’t used very often,” says McAdams. “It’s about buying when companies are down and out and no one else wants them. You’re looking for the intrinsic value and trying to guess what Wall Street is thinking. Practiced with discipline it tends to be, on a risk adjusted basis, a good way to manage retail money.”

He is quick to note that the approach is not going to make a 20-something a millionaire, but for someone with a million dollars in their 60s it’s a good way to protect it and make some money.

“There’s always been this little enclave of people in the northwest that believe in this type of investing,” says McAdams. That little enclave helped McAdams Wright Ragen become a big success. The firm experienced 15 straight years of growth of approximately 20% every year.

During that fifteenth year of growth, McAdams along with his partners and staff decided to celebrate in a unique fashion. Rather than throw a lavish party, they endowed a scholarship at the Foster School, the educational institution that educated many of them, to create a means by which to encourage students to pursue a finance career. Of equal importance to McAdams and his partners was the desire to contribute to the most vulnerable parts of the community by designating the scholarship for students affiliated with the university’s Educational Opportunity Program.

The closing bell

As the firm celebrated their fifteenth year of business and growth, they were approached by Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. with an offer to buy the firm.

“Brooks and I decided that if we were ever going to sell, the firm would have to be of high caliber and high integrity,” says McAdams. ”Unfortunately on Wall Street, there is a shortage of those things. We were particular and Baird passed the test. We worked with them to understand the values of our firm and our clients. It made sense and it made a return for our shareholders.”

McAdams notes that notifying clients was hard, particularly because most were with the firm because they shared a world view and values.

As for life after the acquisition? McAdams and his wife have been traveling, enjoying hobbies and catching up on long neglected projects. “I’m probably at a stage where being on boards might make the best use of my experience, says McAdams. “I‘m not currently enthused about being another CEO, but I wouldn’t rule it out if something really disruptive came around.”

Perhaps there’s a firm out there in need of a name.

Twitter for entrepreneurs: using social media to build your personal brand

T.A. McCann is many things to many people: entrepreneur, mentor, angel investor, America’s Cup winner … (I could go on). On Thursday, April 23, the founder of Gist (which sold to Blackberry in 2011) and Rival IQ assumed the role of social media pro and spoke to a room of up-and-coming entrepreneurs about how to use Twitter to build their personal brand and promote their companies.

McCann’s presentation, called Twitter for Entrepreneurs, was packed with solid social media advice and anecdotes. We’ve included a few of our favorites below. You can see McCann’s full slide deck here.

1. Twitter is for learning

Always be learning “Twitter is this amazing place where many of the smartest people in the world are pushing their ideas out in real time,” says McCann. Experts, CEOs, and thought-leaders are on Twitter sharing information that they feel is of value.  If you follow the right people, they will educate you on whatever it is that you care about.


2. Twitter is for building relationships

building relationshipsTwitter is an amazing resource for building relationships with people you don’t know, but with whom you share a connection. McCann didn’t know Brad Feld (a well-known investor, entrepreneur, and co-founder of TechStars) when he first contacted him on Twitter. What he did know was that they shared a connection–a love of running.  McCann reached out to Feld with a simple tweet prior to a conference they were both attending: “I know you’re a runner, and I’m hoping to run while I’m at this conference. Can you recommend any good places to run while I’m there?” Feld replied and suggested the two of them meet up and run together. So they did. Feld ultimately ended up leading the series A financing of Gist. McCann used Twitter to build a connection that  led to success for his company (and a great friendship).


3. Once you’ve got the hang of it, become a thought leader

thought leader“If you like using Twitter,” says McCann, “you will evolve from purely consuming (listening and learning) and connecting, to sharing your own perspective with your followers.” Once you develop your perspective in a particular area, you have the opportunity to become a thought leader, someone Twitter followers look to for opinion on a given subject. “Once you become a thought leader,” says McCann, “you';; begin to accrue value to your business.”


4. Bottom line: CEOs who aren’t on Twitter are letting their company down

CEOs on TwitterAll CEOs use Twitter in different ways. Some use it to communicate with customers or other industry leaders.  Some act as thought leaders and create their own content. And some simply amplify others’ content. But the bottom line is that once the leader of a company has a strong following on Twitter, it becomes a powerful marketing tool. On March 30, 2015, Tesla Motors’ CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted a major announcement, and Tesla’s stock price suddenly shot up:











5. Don’t forget the 5-3-2 rule

5-3-2Does Twitter seem overwhelming? Don’t worry–you don’t have to spend all day tweeting and re-tweeting. Just remember the 5-3-2 rule: For every 10 posts:

  • 5 should be about your space: What does your company do? Find thought leaders that do the same and re-tweet their content
  • 3 should be your thoughts on a particular subject: Have an opinion on news that applies to your company? Share it!
  • 2 should be personal: Show some personality? Tweet about your favorite new song, or what you think will happen on the next Game of Thrones

Don’t forget to check out all of T.A. McCann’s Twitter for Entrepreneurs slides, and share this post on Twitter:

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Want a better board? Recruit more women directors

Now that more than 20 countries have adopted quotas for women on corporate boards, the number of companies with women directors is growing worldwide. To identify the impact that women directors make on boards, Foster adjunct professor Cate Goethals and global management consultant Susan Bloch recently completed the Better Boards Project, an international study of more than 100 board members.

The study builds on research by Credit Suisse, McKinsey, and Catalyst that concluded public companies with women directors outperformed all-male boards on several financial dimensions, including stock price, return on equity, and better average growth. For the Better Boards Project, Goethals and Bloch explored the distinctive qualities that women directors brought to the table and the relationship between board effectiveness and women’s contributions.

Study highlights
The directors interviewed overwhelmingly believe that the contribution of women makes majority-male boards more effective. Specifically:

  • Women provide the broad diversity of perspective critical to robust governance practice
  • Female directors are more likely to fully explore the implications of decisions through their implementation stage and insist upon discussing standards of ethics and accountability
  • Women are more likely to build relationships among board members and with management
  • They ask more and different questions to fuel deeper discussions and better-considered decisions
  • Women are more likely to probe the human dimensions of policies—their effects on employees, customers, and other women
  • Inside the boardroom, female directors are generally more collaborative, listening carefully and facilitating contributions from others

Many directors expressed enthusiasm for bringing more of the right women onto their boards, but noted challenges locating qualified candidates.

Creating a pathway for potential women board members
Several countries, including Norway, France, India, and the United Arab Emirates, have passed legislation mandating a percentage of women serving on public boards. Still, there are remarkably few female directors—about 11 percent of all board members around the world and markedly less in some countries and sectors.

The number of women on public boards is closer to 20 percent in the U.S., and growing as companies actively seek qualified women directors. The percentage of new female nominees to S&P 500 directorships has doubled in the last seven years to 30 percent—almost one in three new board members is a woman. The primary problem boards face is locating and nominating eligible women directors.

To respond to this recruitment gap, Goethals, Foster market researcher Andrea Bowers, and Executive Education staff Lisa Loucks and Ann Koziol launched a new program to help prepare talented professional women for board service. The Women Board Directors Development Program will be offered June 18-19 at the Foster School of Business.

The program will feature sitting directors Colleen Brown (American Apparel, Newport Board Group), Connie Collingsworth (Premera Blue Cross, Banner Corporation), and Betsy Berkeimer Credaire, (Women Corporate Directors, Los Angeles/Orange County, author of “The Board Game”) joining Goethals to share their personal board experiences.

The Women Board Directors Development Program will help participants:

  • Deepen knowledge of board roles and responsibilities, including financial reporting, corporate strategy, CEO performance, and regulatory compliance
  • Understand the best professional pathways to influential boards
  • Develop a detailed personal action plan for securing the right board seat and advancing board service
  • Learn proven techniques for becoming known to nominating committees
  • Understand the board interview and onboarding process
  • Hear from sitting board members how they found their best voice at the table

For more information and to register, visit www.foster.uw.edu/women-on-boards

For more information about the Better Boards Project, visit http://www.betterboardsproject.com/ or contact Cate Goethals.

Foster Global Leadership Summit in photos

The UW Foster School of Business hosted a Global Leadership Summit in Taipei, Taiwan ROC on April 10, 2015. The purpose of the Summit was to host a high level forum in Taiwan in an effort to reach out to business leaders in the region and engage them in a meaningful dialogue on strategies in innovation and leadership. The Summit included presentations by Dean James Jiambalvo, Professors Michael Johnson and Matthew O’Donnell as well as panelists representing Chairmen and CEOs from Taiwan Cement Group, Chungwha Telecom, CTCI Group, Walsin Lihwa, Costco Taiwan, and The Boeing Company. Attendees were mostly from Taiwan, but also included participants who traveled from S. Korea, China, India, and the Philippines. See photos of the event below.


Foster-18 Foster-21 Foster-25 Foster-26 Foster-28 Foster-31Foster-32 Foster-36 Foster-41 Foster-42 Foster-63 Foster-68 Foster-130 Foster-133 Foster-143 Foster-144 Foster-154 Foster-150  Foster-160 Foster-232Foster-165 Foster-70Foster-137Foster-189 Foster-145Foster-194Foster-202  Foster-213 Foster-217 Foster-206Foster-223Foster-220 Foster-226 Foster-229 Foster-231 Foster-260Foster-234 Foster-235 Foster-242 Foster-245 Foster-250 Foster-251 Foster-241Foster-254  Foster-269Foster-244 Foster-270

Picatti Brothers | reflections on the Business Certificate Program

Doug_PicattiDoug Picatti, Vice President of Business Development and Co-Owner of Picatti Brothers, Inc. based out of Yakima, Washington, reflects on the value of the Business Certificate Program offered in Yakima by the Consulting & Business Development Center.

I am Doug Picatti, the Vice President of Business Development and an owner of Picatti Brothers, Inc., an 86-year-old multi-company electrical and pump contracting family business in Yakima, WA.  During the Spring of 2014, I and six of my team members attended the UW Foster School’s Business Certificate Program.

First, I’d like to thank the staff and excellent educators from the UW Foster School of Business, Domex Superfresh Growers, the Kershaw family, the Educational Service District 105 and most importantly, my fellow classmates whose enthusiasm and participation made this program a success!

Picatti Brothers has 5 core values that guide our culture.  Our first is knowledge.  Our people and team must be knowledgeable to create quality solutions to exceed our customer’s goals.  Continued education is important to our success.  Expanding the capabilities of our people, our leadership team and ultimately our company is of paramount importance to us.

Picatti Brothers will be 90 years old in 2018.  We have set some very aggressive goals for this very special anniversary.  In order to meet these goals, we need to continue to learn and grow our people’s capabilities.  I was excited after learning about this program and felt this was a great opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge of our management team to effectively lead our company to the next level.

This six-week program taught techniques, skills and experiences from some of the brightest minds within the University of Washington.  The case studies were interesting, relevant and helpful.  In short, this program and its people were truly world class!

Ultimately, this class helped us learn to be better leaders.  Leadership is more than just having skills and knowledge.  Leadership coalesces the passions and purpose of people to achieve a common vision.  It is about inspiring ourselves and others to achieve a unified goal.

Mindy Grossman, the CEO of HSN said it well when she said “If you are inspired, if you are excited, and you are part of something, you are probably going to be successful, because you are doing what you love.”  Because of this program, we’ve made some great new leaders who will make our companies and ultimately our community successful!

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