Tag Archives: business mentor

Living your academia: marketing/management 445 class for undergraduates

Senior Ivette Aguilera reflects on her experience in the Marketing/Management 445 Class and Student Consulting Program.

Ivette Aguilera with Bill Low
Ivette Aguilera, BA 2014, with Bill Low, her Rotary Business Mentor at the Rotary Club of Seattle luncheon.

Throughout my time in Foster, I have lived through so many incredible experiences, including two study abroad opportunities to China and India, where I was able to see and experience major business practices that were very different when compared to the United States. I have also interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms worldwide, and this coming summer will be my third summer internship with them.

Growing up, I first wanted to be a doctor.  I pictured myself analyzing patients, checking their symptoms, figuring out the root of their problems, and of course finding their cure. After watching shows like Grey’s Anatomy, House, and other medical television shows I realized that the concept of helping others was fantastic, but the idea of having physical contact with my patients was not so much—yet I still wanted to become a doctor and that is when consulting became a true interest of mine. My patients would not be human beings, but companies; I would not be checking for common colds or flus but for holes in company’s’ operation systems and pitch marketing plans to execute. I would be the doctor for businesses, Dr. Aguilera; which I believe has a nice ring to it.

Unfortunately, after multiple conversations with consultants, I soon realized that in order to be a great consultant you really need experience. It isn’t something you can’t pick up from a book; it is a learning process.  The Consulting and Business Development Center offers students the Marketing/Management 445 class that is specifically designed to help students develop the essential business skills by having them be consultants for a real life company. It is an opportunity to get real hands-on exposure and live your academia, instead of just reading about it.

Through this process I have learned how to interact with my client, how to manage a successful meeting, and I have gotten to know the resources of the University of Washington both on and off campus. One of our most valued resources being the Rotary Mentor assigned to each group. My team has the privilege of having Bill Low as our mentor, and I actually would like to take this opportunity to thank Bill for his mentorship. Just last week we were preparing a survey for our client’s customers.  Our team thought our survey had well thought out questions, but when we showed it to Bill he opened our eyes to see that the questions were way too broad.  In order to understand the client’s problems we had to develop much more specific survey questions. Let’s just say that from now on our team is thinking a lot more about the specific details for EVERY assignment.

As I said before, this coming summer I’ll be an intern with PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Advisory Line of Service. At the end of the summer my performance review will determine if I get a full time offer starting January 2015. However, thanks to the Marketing/Management 445 class, I feel much more confident and prepared with what I am doing. What I’m learning this quarter will definitely give me a head start on my work this summer.

This class continues to challenge me in ways that significantly improve my consulting skills set. It has given me a chance to network with professionals who have passed down their wisdom, and more importantly it has allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them along the way. So thank you to the professors, the Consulting and Business Development Center, the mentors, and the Rotary Club of Seattle for allowing us, (the students) to make mistakes yet continue to learn from them.

Read an excerpt from Mentoring Moments

Mentor Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, and John Sheppard, Foster Evening MBA Program alumnus and Director of REI Adventures and Outdoor School share a laugh during a mentoring moment. Read an excerpt from author Susan Canfield's interview with Jewell below.
Mentor Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, and John Sheppard, Foster Evening MBA Program alumnus and Director of REI Adventures and Outdoor School share a laugh during a mentoring moment. Read an excerpt from author Susan Canfield’s interview with Jewell below.

The following excerpt is taken from an interview with Sally Jewell, CEO of REI.  REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI operates retail stores nationwide, two online stores, and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. REI employs nearly 10,000 people and was ranked 12th in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2009.

Susan Canfield:  Let’s begin by talking about your definition of mentoring.

Sally Jewell: To me, mentoring is something that actually happens every single day, and it goes both ways. Even if the person I’m talking to is 15 years old, I very much believe relationships are two-way and you gain as much as you give.

As a parent, for example, you have opportunities to mentor your kids and their friends. I had been in banking for 19 years and had just gone to REI as an employee. While I knew a fair amount about business, I really didn’t know anything about retailing and fashion. I don’t consider myself in any way to be fashion-forward. So as I talked to young people, I was able to ask them about what they did in their spare time, what they think is cool.

Susan Canfield: You volunteered for the MBA Mentor Program a few years ago. Do you recall why you chose to participate?

Sally Jewell:  I have always prioritized my time for students over other requests because the leverage is so much better. I remember as a student the impact of having a glimpse into the real world.

Susan Canfield:
  John Sheppard, a graduate of the evening MBA Program and director of REI Adventures and Outdoor School, considers you an inspiring role model. What do you value in him?

Sally Jewel:  His ability to think strategically. What John did very capably in his first year or so, as manager of REI Adventures, was dig in and understand what the barriers are to people participating in outdoor recreation. What’s the purpose of REI Adventures? And how can we use REI Adventures to help people overcome the gaps they feel in terms of their skills or confidence? He presented to our management team a strategy that still sticks in my mind and which I quote from fairly often.

John is both a strategist and a pragmatist. He has a good financial head on his shoulders, and he recognizes that for a business line to be sustainable it also must be economical. REI Outdoor School, which John initiated, is a money-losing operation for us.

But, if you look at a bigger picture in terms of its influence on the ability of people to become life-long outdoor participants, then the economic picture changes. John is very good at saying, “We need to pace growth in this business not only from an economic standpoint, but also from a quality standpoint so that we’re delivering safe, well-executed outdoor schools.”

Susan Canfield:
What lessons do you most want to pass on to young people today?

Sally Jewell:  If there is one word, I guess it would be “respect.” It is respecting everyone you interact with, regardless of pedigree, education level, or background, because the chances are pretty good you’ve got a lot to learn from them.

The reality in business and in life is that people who have been around the block, even if they have never been to college or finished high school, have tremendous wisdom that we can all learn from. These are things especially important to tell MBAs and lawyers, people with degrees that sometimes give them an air of superiority.

I also tell young people to stand up for what they believe in and try to encourage them to align with an organization where they feel they can make a difference.

The other thing I would say is that it is important to give back. Working your tail off is very common in the early years in business, but don’t forget to broaden your horizons and give back as well, because it’s the breadth and depth of your perspectives that’s really going to shape your contributions and success long-term.

Interested in reading more? Order your copy of Mentoring Moments from the UW Bookstore now.

Mentoring Moments explores the transformative nature of mentoring relationships

Susan Canfield

Can you be both a mentor and a mentee at the same time? Is mentoring a formal relationship, or does it evolve organically? What does great mentoring look like?

Susan Canfield, director of the MBA Mentor Program at the Foster School of Business, recently published Mentoring Moments (March 2009) to explore these questions. To get at the heart of meaningful mentorship, Susan delves into eight mentor/mentee relationships across divergent industries, company sizes and personalities.

Mentoring Moments not only examines the ways in which mentoring can be transformative for both mentor and mentee, it also serves as a map toward changing trends in the way mentoring happens. For example:

Traditional view of mentoring Evolving view of mentoring
You are either a mentor or a mentee You are both at the same time
A mentor must be more senior than the mentee A mentor is anyone from whom you can learn
The mentor structures and drives the relationship The mentee drives the relationship
Mentoring is a formal relationship Mentoring is often organic and may be based solely on observation

What’s Inside?

Mentoring Moments features interviews with the following pairs of mentors and their mentees:

Richard Tait, Co-founder, Cranium; chief boomboom, boomboom brands and
Chris Howard, MBA 2007

Mike Mondello, President & CEO, SeaBear Company and
Heidi Otto, MBA 2007

Lynn Parker, Principal & Co-founder, Parker LePla and
Nicole Pargoff, MBA 2008

Alan Frazier, Founder & Managing Partner, Frazier Healthcare & Technology Ventures and Lisa Meyr, MBA 2008

Tom Giordano, Former VP Marketing, Philips Medical Systems and
Maria Gerea, MBA 2004

Stewart Parker, Founder & Former CEO, Targeted Genetics and
Eric Keeler, MBA 2001

Phyllis Campbell, President & CEO, The Seattle Foundation and
Rebecca Lovell, MBA 2006

Sally Jewell, CEO, REI; University of Washington Board of Regents and
John Sheppard, MBA 2001

Read an excerpt from Canfield’s interview with mentor Sally Jewell, CEO of REI.

Order your copy today. All proceeds from book sales support the Foster School of Business.

KPLU’s Bellamy Pailthorp recently interviewed Susan Canfield about Mentoring Moments. Listen to the interview.

For more information contact Susan Canfield at susancan@uw.edu or 206-616-8609.

Mentor Program helps Jacob Burns MBA ’08 break into investment banking

Jacob Burns

Back when Jacob Burns (MBA ’08) was a prospective MBA student researching business schools, he knew that an MBA program’s ability to connect him to the business community would be a key factor in his decision about where to enroll.

“It was easy to see how these connections would play a role in my post-MBA career,” Jacob said. “What was not easy to see was the immediate impact it would have on informing which career that would be.”

Jacob credits his MBA mentors not only for opening doors in the Seattle business community, but opening his eyes to the possibilities of a career in investment banking. The insights and guidance he received from mentors Mark Working (MBA ’81, Zachary Scott Investment Bankers), Bob Hord (CIBC Oppenheimer) and Alan Frazier (Frazier Healthcare and Technology Ventures) pointed him toward his first post-MBA job at Goldman Sachs.

“This program has made a difference,” said Jacob, in helping get a new career off the ground. In fact, students consistently rate contacts with mentors through the MBA Mentor Program among their most valuable experiences in the Foster MBA Program. Beyond the classroom, added Jacob, “mentors have the ability to put students in front of deals, situations and people that help crystallize the learning experience.”

For Jacob and small groups of fellow first-year MBA students, Working, Hord and Frazier were invaluable assets. Frazier demonstrated the decision-making process, types of deals and views that informed his firm’s investing strategy. Hord walked them through a comprehensive portfolio analysis and his firm’s capabilities. Working arranged a series of presentations that covered a middle market mergers and acquisitions transaction, including meetings with investment bankers, private equity partners and a deal attorney.

MBA mentors not only provide students with insights into specific industries and career paths. They also model what it is to be a successful businessperson. After the first year in the MBA Program, Jacob continued his mentoring relationship with Mark Working on a one-to-one basis and has stayed in touch after graduation. Earlier, during a summer internship with Goldman Sachs, Jacob was in the Seattle office and took the opportunity to introduce a fellow MBA from Cornell’s Johnson School to Working.

“This fellow MBA – a diehard New Yorker – was trying to weigh the pros and cons of living and working in Seattle. We made our way up to Mark’s office for a half-hour meeting in which the conversation focused on Seattle business and our career goals. After the meeting, we were walking back to the office when this fellow asked me, in that East Coast accent, ‘Hey, Jake, is everybody that friendly here?’ I got a laugh out of that.”

Smart and nice, as Jacob learned from his mentors, is the Seattle way of doing business.