It’s in the cards

Connie Bourassa-ShawWho doesn’t remember Topps baseball trading cards? The Foster School of Business has applied the same concept to its “all-star” faculty, “rookie” new hires, “skipper” Dean James Jiambalvo, and new “stadium” (now under construction). The first Foster staff to earn a trading card is “pitching coach” Connie Bourassa-Shaw, CIE’s director who was also recently named to Seattle’s “100 Top Women in Tech” list.

Foster MBA reunion speakers: Howard Behar and Allan Golston

Over 350 – a record number – Foster MBA grads returned to business school in September for the annual UW Foster School MBA reunion weekend. MBA grads from six different years (1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009) gathered to reconnect with classmates, tailgate at a UW Husky football game, and listen to guest speakers talk about leadership issues. Guest speakers included:

Howard Behar, past president of Starbucks and former Foster School Fritzky leadership chair, talked about why people are not corporate assets, the value of the human spirit in the workplace, and how to encourage creativity and innovation.

 

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Allan Golston, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation president of United States programs, shared insights about new and upcoming research on education, the minority access gap, and discussed “talent lottery” luck.

Click image above to play video.

Mentor program connects students to work world

Repurposed from a 2007 newsletter from the Certificate of International Studies in Business

CISB 2007 mentor photoFifteen Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) students received support and advice from professionals in the business world this year through the pilot Business Mentoring Connections Program. Mentors from Microsoft, Boeing, SanMar, Deloitte Consulting, KPMG, Accenture, Expeditors, Washington Mutual, Tran Law Firm, Ballard Travel and Cruise Consultants, and Lowell Elementary School shared their expertise and offered career guidance while benefiting from the chance to practice their coaching skills.

“The program does a great job of connecting education to the work world,” according to one student. Mentors were equally enthusiastic, saying, “this kind of program develops skills that are crucial to managers: listening, patience and developing the overall person rather than just focusing on their potential job”, and “we have worked a lot on professionalism, networking and communication skills; these are key aspects of transitioning successfully into the business world.”

Business School alumna Margaret Xu, ’03, will join Nishika de Rosairo in co-managing the program in 2008. CISB alumna and co-founder of BMeC, Anne Sackville-West, ‘03, will be moving to the San Francisco Bay Area and will stay involved with the program in an advisory capacity.

Associate Dean Steve Sefcik says, “we’re thrilled to have the involvement of dedicated mentors who care so much about helping our CISB students succeed.” The program will continue in 2007-2008, thanks to the support of the UW Business School Undergraduate Program office.

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business.

Alumni mentoring

Life as a college student can be fraught with uncertainty about the future. And who better to understand the angst of a student than a former one?

AlumniMentoring

It was that empathy with the mental mindset of the undergrad that prompted two former Foster students to launch a mentoring program.

“A student’s life is so brittle,” Nishika de Rosairo says. “They are at the point where even the most confident harbor insecurities about their careers and life in general. But having a mentor to aspire to, or who can just help guide them through that process, is an incredible advantage.”

With this in mind, de Rosairo and Anne Sackville-West (BA 2002) launched a mentorship program in 2006 for undergraduate students working toward the Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB). Anne has since moved away, and now Brian Wright helps Nishika run the program.

The program matches students with a young professional, someone who can still recall what it’s like to be an undergrad. “Most mentors have graduated within the past one to seven years so they’re more connected to what it’s like to be a student and enter the corporate world–a world quite different from what the students know,” says Nishika.

Each mentor takes a student under his or her wing for a year, providing counsel on career and life development. The benefits for the student are obvious: confidence, information, support, insight and more. And the mentor benefits too.

Mentoring improves leadership skills, and “today’s business world is demanding leaders who are well rounded and equipped to develop our talent of the future,” says Nishika.

Mentors also learn important skills such as effective listening and questioning, and how to provide constructive feedback. “For a lot of us, the hardest thing is to learn how to manage and develop people. Mentoring gives us an opportunity to improve our people management skills,” says Margaret.

Mentoring also keeps alumni connected to Foster, a prestigious business school. It provides an opportunity to network with other young professionals with similar interests. And mentoring is a fulfilling way to give back to Foster, to help nurture the next generation of business leaders while nurturing one’s own career development.  For more information, contact CISB at cisb@uw.edu.

Luxury brands are here to stay

Guest post by Gary Shansby, Foster alumnus (BA 1959)

There has been a lot of talk these past several months about whether luxury brands will survive the recession, and whether “premiumization” is dead. Contrary to what the pundits, consultants and bankers may be saying, I believe certain niche premium brands are not only surviving the recession but actually creating inroads and growing in this down economy.

I have spent the past 50 years building luxury and premium consumer brands such as Famous Amos Cookies, Mauna Loa Macadamias, Shaklee Nutritional Products, Terra Chips, Voss Water, Pureology Hair Care Products and my latest brand venture, Partida Tequila.

While I’ve never experienced economic conditions of the current level, I have been through numerous market and economic roller coasters and I can say from years of experience that the biggest mistake a luxury brand marketer can make in an economic downturn is to abandon the premium brand positioning and begin price promotions and discounting. This will provide short-term sales relief but ultimately doom the brand—once you break a price, there’s no going back up market.

America has become an investment nation focused on the here and now, and on short-term (quarter-to-quarter) results. Public company CEOs and management teams are unrealistically forced to deal with stock prices, temporary or current trends, and demands built by financial institutions. We know how weak many of those institutions have become.

As a former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an investor and a proud entrepreneur, I do not believe “premiumization” is dead. Marketers must learn that the growth path to success is not a straight line, and variances occur along the journey of life. Consumers are becoming more and more interested and knowledgeable about what they purchase and especially about what they put in their bodies. I believe premium brands will resume the upward momentum once the economic downswing lightens, and consumer confidence comes back.

I believe that brands that discount, offer lower “deals,” and change their direction for temporary gain will succumb to a form of suicide. Brand equity is all important along with the highest quality products that can be made.

Only time will tell… but my bet is on future growth for truly great premium brands.

Gary Shansby is founder, chairman and CEO of Partida Tequila, LLC and on the advisory board of the UW Foster School of Business.

What do you think? Will premium or luxury brands survive the down economy?

Naming opportunities connect more than money to PACCAR Hall

Stepping into PACCAR Hall next fall, you will see a multitude of differences between the Foster School’s spacious, cutting-edge facility and its former primary classroom building, Balmer Hall. Most noticeable will be the feeling one has stepped into the next century where natural light bathes a sophisticated architectural mix of brick, steel, wood and glass.

Pass through the corridor of the second floor and you’ll see a two story atrium complete with a coffee shop and a fireside lounge (again, this isn’t Balmer Hall). To your right you’ll see an undergraduate commons and three of the most advanced multimedia classrooms at the University of Washington. To the left are four more classrooms ranging from 30 to 95 seats. Outside each is a cluster of student team rooms to promote collaboration and business planning… perhaps for the launch of the next Microsoft.

It took more than $80 million in private support to build PACCAR Hall, and a closer look in the new building will show significantly greater signage carrying the names of business partners and alumni who helped make the building possible. Yet, there is more than money behind each name found in PACCAR Hall.

Here’s the story of one such amazing person: Alice W. Sandstrom.

The sign adorning the last team room on the left says Ms. Sandstrom was a 1934 graduate of the business school. 1934! Unlike today’s evenly represented programs, there weren’t many women studying business back then.

In fact, Ms. Sandstrom was one of only two women in the accounting program and an exception to many social restrictions throughout her life. In the midst of the Great Depression, she realized that an accounting degree was necessary for the future she hoped to have.

Alice, who passed away in March of last year, was one of the first female CPAs in Washington and worked as an accountant through World War II. In 1948, she began a 33-year run in helping Children’s Hospital become the vital community enterprise it is today.

When Alice stepped down as CFO in 1981, she did anything but retire. She spent more than 10 years sharing her knowledge as a lecturer at the UW. She was a long-time president and board member at both the YWCA of Seattle and Senior Services. Alice also received numerous awards for volunteerism and community service.

In 2002, on the heels of receiving the Outstanding Alumna Award from Foster students in Beta Alpha Psi, Alice was given Foster’s Distinguished Leadership Award, the School’s highest non-degree honor.

For 94 years, Alice lived in Seattle and eagerly helped those around her. She enjoyed nothing more than the opportunity to share her success and passing on nuggets of wisdom, which included the five rules she lived by:

  • Be passionate about what you do
  • Be a mentor
  • Cherish your friends
  • Always be positive and enthusiastic
  • Dream big

Even in her last few years, Alice frequently attended events throughout the community.

Patricia Angell, Accounting Department Lecturer and Internship Director at Foster, accompanied Alice to many functions and was one of Alice’s many fans and friends.

“Alice was an inspiration to me and all women pursing our professional dreams.” Patricia said. “She was a trailblazer in accounting and she continues to inspire us today.”

There’s no question the Foster School and the University of Washington benefited from Alice Sandstrom’s presence, passion and persistence. The team room named for her in PACCAR Hall is but one small way she will be remembered.

And, knowing Alice, little would bring her more joy than seeing future generations of business and community leaders learning to “dream big” using the Sandstrom Team Room in PACCAR Hall. She’ll be right there with them in spirit as well as name, just like so many others who helped make Foster’s new world-class facilities a reality.

Foster MBAs collaborate from the start

The first week of fall 2009 brings a new crop of Foster School full-time MBA students to the UW Seattle campus for orientation, leadership preparation and collaboration with “veteran” 2nd-year MBAs. Here’s a taste of what new full-time Foster MBAs are experiencing during the intensive LEAD week.

“Teams are a central part of the Foster MBA Program. During the first year nearly every class requires you to complete work with your core team of 5 or 6 students, whether it’s a research paper, a presentation or both. Foster’s Leadership Fellows program matches a 2nd year student with a 1st year team to provide support and guidance. As 2nd year students, by now we’ve all learned a thing or two, from tools for facilitating a brainstorming session to the secret for cheap parking on campus.”

- Jessica Didion, current Foster MBA 2nd-year student

Read more about the Foster MBA student experience on Inside the Foster MBA blog.

Foster undergrads study in China

Great Wall of ChinaWhile UW Foster School faculty met with businesses and toured China last week, Foster undergraduate students are studying in China this fall, on one of many undergrad study or work abroad trips. Foster students’ first impressions and experiences in China?

Great Wall of China toboggan descent
“…the view was amazing and we really felt chills being able to say that we had climbed the Great Wall. However, what really made the experience great was the way down. …we chose to toboggan and it was probably the most exhilarating thing we did in Beijing.” – Alan

Lesson on local study habits
“Even though this is not my first time here, I am still very excited to be a student at Peking University, the best university in China. Many of my classmates are exchange students from all around the world, but surprisingly about 80% of them are from Europe. I was expecting more exchange students to be from the US, but there is only a handful.

“I also made friends with local Chinese students. During the break in the evening’s Operation Management class, I had a conversation with a local student who sat behind me. I asked him about the typical life of a typical Peking University student. Some of the students can study 14 hours straight per day! To deal with this study-mania, the school completely turns off the electricity in the dormitory at 11pm.” – Daniel

Find more Foster undergraduate international adventures on the Undergrads Go Global blog.

UW Seattle campus gets rave, green reviews

uw-seattle-campusUniversity of Washington’s Seattle campus, home to the Foster School of Business, keeps getting greener and was recently noticed for its efforts. Recent UW honors:

  • Sierra Club ranked UW Seattle campus 2nd in their 2009 cool school ranking for “most eco-enlightened U.S. universities.”
  • UW Seattle made the The Princeton Review green honor roll – a rave review for the UW’s energy conservation, green building and other practices.

Living to the Fullest

Mendoza-JosueThis post was written by Josue Mendoza detailing his 2007 Foster School Exchange trip to Chile.

Growing up, money issues have always been a problem for my family. Not in my lifetime did I ever imagine that one; I would go to college because of the expense and two; be given the opportunity to study and travel abroad for over a year in South America.  I did the latter while working on my degree at a prestigious university and interning at the North American Chilean Chamber of Commerce in Santiago, Chile. Thanks to the Foster School’s extremely dedicated undergraduate advisers and scholarship opportunities, this one thought impossible dream, I lived to the fullest.

Being abroad in South America has done more than help my Espanol, it has truly helped solidify the academic, career, and personal paths I follow now and will follow for the rest of my life. This was a genuinely transformational experience that I recommend to all students.

I have learned that “The world is [truly] our classroom”. Not only have I been able to see the world through the eyes of professors in the areas of business, economics, and culture in Latin America in ways that I would have never considered, I have also discovered and explored the millions of details that distinguish each individual country as their own little satellite.  I have done so while understanding what unites these countries to one world.

A week into being in South America I heard a phrase in a song by Bacilos titled “Tobacco y Channel” which I have used as a guide throughout my experience abroad; “Esto solo se vive una ves” (You only live this once). I challenged myself to take this quote of the song to heart and live it out; my same challenge goes out to you.

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