Foster Business Magazine Spring/Summer 2017

Page 1


Michael G. Foster school of business University of washington spring / summer 2017


Difference MAKERS page 10

Plus: O Coxswain!

My Coxswain! page 16

Sales Force page 20

Northwest Classic page 22




business Dean James Jiambalvo

Associate Dean of Advancement Steven Hatting

Director of Alumni Engagement Andrew Krueger


Difference Makers

The Foster School of Business has been shaped by a century of formative, formidable figures.



Contributing Writers

Orange is the New Green, Santé, Metrics that Matter, Comeback for the Kids, Expanding Portfolio, Share your Story, Growth Continues, Legendary Leader, Best in Sales Again


The Professional Sales Program equips students to add value immediately.

Matt Hagen, Paul Gibson, Scott Eklund,, UW Special Collections

Design a.k.a. design

Foster School of Business Marketing & Communications



Research Briefs, Lean for Life, Creating a “Chinese Dream,” Research Dynamo


Northwest Classic

Elton Leith, an “everyday guy” with an extraordinary gift, lived an entrepreneurial life that paralleled the Foster School.

Ed Kromer, Carolyn Marsh, Charles Trillingham

Foster historical photos primarily courtesy of Ruth Grant Pearson collection.

Some of the finest coxswains to captain the venerable Husky Rowing juggernaut have been powered by Foster.

Sales Force

Renate Kroll


O Coxswain! My Coxswain!


Managing Editor

University of Washington Box 353200 Seattle, WA 98195-3200 206.543.5102

On the Web

Foster Business is published twice a year by the University of Washington Foster School of Business. The publication is made possible by donations from the Ivar Haglund Fund. No state funds are used in its production.

Change of Address?


Alumni Shelley Reynolds, Mike Urness, Joe Sniezek, Centennial Pop Quiz


from the dean

The Business of Relationships Like a CEO or a stay-at-home parent, a dean must wear many hats. Whether it’s a few rounds of golf with alumni, presenting awards to student leaders, accepting a check from a generous corporate sponsor, or visiting recruiters who provide experiential learning projects and career opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders, it’s my pleasure to be at the hub of UW Foster’s powerful global network. Similarly, a 100-year-old business school must adapt and flex to remain at the forefront of business education. When I arrived at the University of Washington in 1977, the School of Business was home to three degree programs—BA, MBA and PhD. Over the next 28 years before I became dean, our school added the Master of Public Accounting, the Executive MBA, the Evening MBA and finally the Technology Management MBA—growing our distinct degree programs to seven. To illustrate the rapidly accelerating speed of change and our commitment to students and companies alike, since I became dean in 2005, our faculty and program staff have added a new Global Executive MBA, new master of science degrees in supply chain, information systems, taxation, and entrepreneurship, our new Hybrid MBA for distance learners, a minor in entrepreneurship for non-business students, AND we have additional offerings in the pipeline including a future masters degree in business analytics. After taking almost 85 years to grow our degree programs to seven, it will have taken less than fifteen to double that number. Some may ask how this is possible, and others may wonder why it’s necessary. The answer is the same to both questions: relationships. Like me, Foster’s staff and faculty are engaged in our communities. We’re listening to students, to alumni, to our state and to the business community locally and globally. We continue to strive to be the best public business school in the nation. And while we will never have the resources to be everything to everyone, I am confident we do a lot of things in education really, really well. This couldn’t be the case without your continuing input and support. I hope you will enjoy the stories that follow, and I also hope you see what’s new as well as what’s tried-and-true back here at the UW. We’re proud to be your business school. Thank you for hiring, supporting, promoting and being UW Foster. To help you show your colors, I invite you to share your story to our timeline with your favorite class, professor, study location or memory from business school. See page 8 for details. Our alumni office will draw 25 names from all responses for the official UW Foster centennial hat like the one fashionable Foster alum Don Root (gold shirt) is wearing in the first photo.

James Jiambalvo Orin & Janet Smith Dean in Business Michael G. Foster School of Business

2 | Foster Business


Orange is the New Green Students teams awarded $38,000 for environmental innovations On a day when being green meant everything, it was a student team highlighting the orange glow of the sun that won the spotlight. Nova Solar Glazing earned the $15,000 Wells Fargo grand prize at this year’s Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. The team from Western Washington University developed a luminescent glass pane that converts conventional windows into affordable solar-power receptors. Nova was one of 21 student teams pitching plans to solve environmental problems through cleantech innovations. The $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize went to the UW team of Airy for its battery-free, wireless home security solution that uses sensors mounted on doors or windows to harvest energy. The Starbucks $5,000 third place prize was awarded to Lignin Biojet, a team from Washington State University converting a byproduct of the paper industry into a renewable alternative to conventional jet fuel. Judges awarded the $5,000 UW Clean Energy Institute clean energy prize, as well as a $1,000 “Judges Also Really Liked” award to the UW team of Membrion, developer of low-cost, high-performance membranes for advanced batteries, fuel cells, and reverse osmosis water desalination applications.



$32,000 Awarded at Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge This time the judges didn’t just like them, they really, really liked them. EpiForAll won the $15,000 grand prize at this year’s Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge. The HIC featured 20 student teams seeking to address problems in health, wellness, and healthcare through innovation. This was EpiForAll’s second year competing with their affordable emergency epinephrine auto injector. Last year, the team of UW mechanical engineering, business, and pharmacy students was awarded a Judges Also Really Liked (JARL) award. The $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize went to BWB Anesthesia for their electricity-free portable anesthetic device that aims to improve access to inhaled anesthesia in low-resource settings. The $5,000 Fenwick & West third place prize went to PlayGait, a team of mechanical engineering and business students who developed an adjustable, affordable, non-electric exoskeleton to support in-home walking practice for kids with neuromuscular disorders. Now in its second year, the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge was renamed in recognition of the generous support of Jim and Timmie Hollomon. Along with their family, the Hollomons have committed $1 million to encourage and advance student innovations in health and healthcare across Washington.

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Metrics That Matter When you focus on the factors most meaningful to MBAs, across rankings, the Foster School soars to #9 in the nation—and #1 among public universities The proliferation of MBA rankings holds the Foster School of Business in high esteem. Foster is ranked #19 in the nation (and #5 among public universities) by the Financial Times and Bloomberg Businessweek, #21 (and #7 public) by the Economist, #22 (and #8 public) by Poets & Quants, and #27 (and #9 public) by U.S. News & World Report. It’s a consistently strong performance across the board, especially considering the pool of business schools numbers nearly 800 accredited by AACSB. But Poets & Quants, the influential MBA news site, has suggested that Foster would fare even better if the rankings emphasized metrics that really matter to students.

Now this suggestion is more than academic. Aggregating user-weighted search criteria on Foster’s new customizable MBA Rankings Calculator, the Foster School emerges at #9 in the nation and #1 among public universities. How do we come to this conclusion? From some pretty big data. Cutting through the noise Program rankings exist, ostensibly, to help prospective students find the best school for them. But each ranking is composed of a different combination of sometimes obtuse criteria. And some of these criteria have little to do with the interests of MBAs. To help applicants make a more

informed choice about their best educational fit, the Foster School developed the MBA Rankings Calculator last year. This free online tool deconstructs four of the top published MBA rankings and organizes their licensed data into ten distinct metrics (determined, in part, by prospective students): job placement rate, average salary and bonus, average debt, employer opinion, return on investment, alumni advancement, faculty research, average GMAT, student selectivity, and dean and director opinion. A sliding scale allows each user to assign a weight to each of these metrics. This generates a top 30 listing that is customized based on the features they deem most meaningful. Since its introduction last year, the MBA Rankings Calculator has been used more than 30,000 times by prospective students from across the United States and 94 other nations. In addition to providing useful intelligence to those MBA seekers, the volume of calculations has also opened a window into the particular ranking components that MBAs care most about. Their top four metrics—salary, placement, ROI and employer opinion—are all about outcomes. And when you apply the average user weights to the calculator, the Foster School rises well above its standing in any of the component rankings.

Aggregating the results of Foster’s new customizable MBA Rankings Calculator, the Foster School emerges at #9 in the nation and #1 among public universities.

4 | Foster Business

Comeback for the Kids Positive outcomes The rankings issued by U.S. News, Businessweek and the like may be rather imprecise instruments with which to measure the quality of an educational experience. But if you drill down a bit, you can see why Foster excels at delivering the outcomes that MBAs desire.

Foster MBAs win first Challenge for Charity since 2006

Placement rate – Both Financial Times and Businessweek rated Foster #1 of the top 20 US schools for its 98 percent job placement last year. Average salary – U.S. News noted that Foster MBAs commanded an average starting salary plus bonus of $133,299 last year, one of the nation’s highest. Moreover, FT reported that Foster MBA grads earned an average salary increase of 97 percent within three years. It didn’t hurt that Foster placed more of its grads in tech industry jobs than any other b-school last year.

Return on investment – U.S. News declared the Foster MBA the “Best Bang for the Buck” in 2016. And this year both Businessweek and U.S. News declared Foster’s ROI without peer, based on a salary+bonus-to-debt ratio that is far superior to any of the nation’s other top 30 schools. “Foster students pursue an MBA degree for many different reasons,” says Dan Poston, associate dean for masters programs. “But nearly all of them share one common objective: to come out of the MBA program with a more meaningful, more rewarding career. Foster succeeds by never losing sight of that common endgame.”

Every April, a rowdy team of Foster MBAs heads down to California with one objective in mind: to bring home the Golden Briefcase. That’s the victor’s trophy in the MBA Challenge for Charity, the annual contest between nine West Coast MBA programs to raise the most funds and volunteer the most hours in support of Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as other charities of each school’s choice. Foster also supports the University District Food Bank. The challenge culminates in a sports weekend at Stanford University each spring, featuring friendly—but fierce—athletic matchups among the competing schools. The last time Foster MBAs brought home the coveted briefcase was 2006. But the Huskies returned to the summit in style this year, raising $153,900 and donating 3,600 volunteer hours for their charities— earning first place in both categories. They didn’t do too shabbily in the sports competition, either, taking first in co-ed football and second in men’s softball. Plans for next year’s C4C title defense are already in the works.

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©Rene Tate Photography

Employer opinion – Recruiters rated Foster #12 nationally and #2 among public universities in employer satisfaction according to Businessweek.

The past school year has brought thousands of special corporate engagements inside and outside our classrooms. Business is always “in season” at UW Foster, as the following examples illustrate. SUMMER QUARTER: Pacific Coast Banking School Now in its 79th year at the UW, the Pacific Coast Banking School brings hundreds of West Coast bankers to campus for a two-week residential program as part of a three-year executive program viewed as a world leader in its industry. Today more than 11,000 PCBS-Foster alumni are creating economic opportunities across America.

AUTUMN QUARTER: Russell Investments International Case Competition UW Foster’s Global Business Center hosted the Russell Investments International Case Competition. The 37 teams comprised more than 140 students competing to impress business leaders from Russell and other top corporate and community leaders for epic bragging rights (and cash prizes). Next fall will mark the competition’s 20th anniversary for Husky business students.

WINTER QUARTER: The Boeing Company Centennial Celebration On the cusp of celebrating our own centennial, the Foster School took the opportunity to celebrate Boeing and its 100 years of firsts that have shaped and sustained Seattle. More than 600 future business leaders cheered one of Foster’s truly foundational partners. They also consumed 72 SQUARE FEET OF BOEING SHEET CAKE!

SPRING QUARTER: Wells Fargo Grand Prize to Nova Solar Glazing Nova Solar Glazing grabbed the top prize at the 2017 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. The student team developed a luminescent solar concentrator glass pane. Translation: Current windows can be converted into affordable and practical energy-producing solar windows.

Our thanks to PCBS, Russell, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Alaska Airlines and all of our generous Corporate Partners. To learn more, please contact Corporate Development Director Sara Jack at 206.221.6725 or

Expanding Portfolio The Foster School rolls out a trio of new graduate degree programs designed to meet market demand The Foster School of Business is responding to expanding— and evolving—student demand by launching three new graduate degree programs in 2017. Master of Science in Entrepreneurship The essence of entrepreneurship can be captured in a single guiding query: what is the customer pain you’re trying to solve? “It’s not a random question,” says months Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. “I’ve had to answer it myself several times in relation to the new programs and competitions we’ve started at the center.” One particular customer pain has weighed on BourassaShaw for many years. Specifically, the needs of early stage entrepreneurs who know they’re missing business skills and knowledge, but won’t take two years out of their lives to complete an MBA—which might not be a great fit anyway. Now the Foster School has a solution. The Master of Science in Entrepreneurship Program is a 12-month daytime degree program that combines intensive entrepreneurship education with a platform for students to work on their own startups while receiving ongoing mentoring from an A-list of Seattle entrepreneurs. The first class begins in June.


Hybrid MBA Speaking of customer pain, another pervasive concern of potential management students is access. The Foster School has fueled the growth of many of the region’s iconic companies and accelerated the careers of more than 54,000 graduates through its traditional academic programs. Now its two-year Hybrid MBA Program offers the comprehensive Foster MBA experience to working professionals across the Northwest and virtually anywhere that has a dependable Internet connection. The flexible program—a unique blend of online and in-person instruction—was designed based on input from

hundreds of professionals in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii, each surveyed to determine their top priorities for a highly accessible MBA program. The result is a format that offers the flexibility of an online learning environment while providing networking, collaboration, and leadership development opportunities enhanced during intensive in-person sessions that will convene at Foster’s Seattle campus three times a year. “We built our prospective students’ top priorities into the Hybrid MBA Program,” says Tracy Gojdics, executive director of the Hybrid MBA. “It features flexible online learning, personalized career development throughout the two-year program, plus an emphasis on leadership and collaboration— both online and in-person.” The program begins in September, and applications will be accepted until July 15. Master of Science in Taxation Also beginning in September is the new Master of Science in Taxation Program, TAXATION based on the taxation track of the Foster School’s long-running MPAcc Program. The change is a response to input from program faculty and the Seattle tax community as the program seeks to place students in a wider geographic region. Although Foster’s MPAcc was well regarded in Seattle, accounting firms outside of Washington didn’t necessarily realize that the program was entirely tax-based (rather than offering a few electives in taxation). Turning to a Master of Science degree underscores the depth and focus of the taxation curriculum. But never fear. The new MS Taxation will maintain the core values and traditions that made MPAcc Taxation students so successful. Foster’s masters in taxation pass the CPA exam on their first attempt at a rate of 77 percent, leading the Pacific Northwest and eclipsing the national average of 48 percent. And, in recent years, the program’s job placement rate has been 98 percent—thanks in large part to a close relationship with public accounting firms in the region and around the country. Of the class of 2016, 36 grads went to Big Four firms (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY) and 15 regional placements.

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Share your story ...on Foster’s Centennial Timeline In 1982, Brant Schulz (MBA 1982) learned an important lesson about assumptions in his FIN 550 class. Jake Domer (BA 1995) met his wife, Britt, in the Accounting Program, and they recently celebrated their 17th anniversary at a Husky game. And ten years ago, Abby Breckenridge (MBA 2007) made connections in Balmer Hall that would help her cofound a marketing firm staffed almost entirely by Foster grads. Read about these stories and more on the Foster centennial timeline, and consider sharing your favorite memories of your time as a student—in the form of photos, videos and written recollections—to help bring our history to life. Visit for more information.

Growth Continues

Britt and Jake Domer celebrate a Husky anniversary

Foster School Advisory Board Vice Chair Annie Young-Scrivner (BA 1991) joined alumni in Shanghai for a strategic marketing discussion and reception March 15th. More than 50 alumni living and working in China’s largest city gathered to celebrate their purple-and-gold pride.

8 | Foster Business

Will Seattle, once again, take it to the hoop? As efforts to bring back the Seattle SuperSonics heat up, Jeff Shulman’s Seattle Growth Podcast returned this spring with a new season examining this possible return of NBA basketball. The podcast is the passion project of Shulman, an associate professor of marketing and the Marion B. Ingersoll Professor at the Foster School. Season one earned critical acclaim and more than 25,000 downloads of its conversational analysis of Seattle’s economic boom and its wide-ranging impacts on life in his adopted hometown. In season two, Shulman interviews former Sonics players, coaches and executives, as well as Seattle residents, business leaders, academic experts and civic leaders. Their discussions consider practical matters of a Sonics return, and investigate far-reaching impacts—from traffic to real estate to philanthropy— on a city that has changed enormously in the decade since the franchise departed for Oklahoma City. Join the conversation at


Season two of the Seattle Growth Podcast explores the potential return of the Sonics

Legendary Leader Eddie Bauer CEO offers inside tour of epic turnaround campaign The rise, fall and epic renaissance of iconic Seattle retailer Eddie Bauer were examined in detail at a March “Leaders to Legends” presentation at the Foster School. President and CEO Michael Egeck (MBA 1983) guided the audience through the company’s 96-year history, from its 1920 founding by outdoorsman Eddie Bauer to its decades of innovation and supremacy in the technical outdoor apparel industry to its “misplaced” shift to casual wear in the 1990s that eventually landed the firm in bankruptcy. “With all of the perspective of hindsight,” he said, “the company pivoted into a shrinking market at just the wrong time. And it pivoted away from its heritage authenticity, which is really what drives a brand in the long term.” Egeck then offered a remarkable behind-the-scenes tour of the company’s ambitious turnaround campaign that has been in the works since he joined in 2012. “Heritage is an asset, not a strategy,” he said, citing one of the company’s guiding maxims. But Eddie Bauer’s heritage happens to align perfectly with one of retail’s strongest areas of growth: performance outdoor wear. So the company is making a vigorous return to its rugged roots. Egeck outlined Eddie Bauer’s recent efforts and reported that sales are up since the campaign began. The comeback expedition is on track. The brand is being restored. But the future is still unknown. “Is it going to work? I really hope so,” he said. “We’ve put a great team together, and we believe we’re doing all the right things. It’s a very challenging time in retail. We’ve had some ups and downs. But I’m gratified to say that since this holiday season, business has been quite good. We think we’ve turned the corner. I’m encouraged. We’re fighting the good fight.” The Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series occurs several times per year and features leaders from various industries.

Best in Sales, Again Foster School wins third National Team Selling Competition in five years Too soon to call it a dynasty? The Foster School’s Professional Sales Program has won another National Team Selling Competition, adding the 2016 trophy to victories in 2014 and 2012. The NTSC, hosted annually by Indiana University, attracts student teams from 21 universities across the nation. The 2016 competition challenged teams with growing a bottled water product line in a chain of 3,752 retail stores. The competition involved case knowledge, identifying information gaps and understanding the retailer’s goals and pain points. And, of course, persuasive presentation. The Foster team of Paulina Klemm, Tim Nelson, Madison Shinn, and Thea Snow made the best impression over three sales calls of the judges from sponsoring corporations 3M and Altria. The team was well prepared by Rick Carter, associate director of the Professional Sales Program, Joe Vandehey of Altria, Jeff Lehman of Mentor Press and previous competitors from Foster. “Of all the training I’ve had in school,” said Klemm, “this experience was the best practical learning experience in preparation for the real world.”

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Difference MAKERS 1917– 2017

The Foster School of Business has been shaped by a century of formative, formidable figures. Here are just a few of the most fascinating, across the decades 10 | Foster Business

1917-27 Bright light, extinguished too soon It is perhaps the cruelest footnote of Foster School history that its promising first year in business would end in personal tragedy in the highest office. University of Washington President Henry Suzzallo appointed a rising star named Carleton Parker to lead the newly formed School of Business Administration in 1917. He wooed Parker away from the University of California, where the young scholar had earned growing acclaim for his engaging teaching of economics, his introduction of psychology into the discipline, and his preternatural ability as a labor negotiator.

Accidental historian, intentional trailblazer Ruth Grant Pearson (BA 1925, MBA 1928) wasn’t the first woman to serve on the faculty of the UW School of Business Administration (that distinction goes to firebrand economist Theresa McMahon). But she certainly made a historic impression. After completing her undergraduate studies in business, Pearson graduated directly to a faculty post, heading the school’s merchandising curriculum from 1926 to 1931. In 1928 she established the prescient Women’s Vocational Club, an organization promoting networking among women professionals working in Seattle’s nascent business community. Dean William E. Cox named it “outstanding project of the year.” Beyond her role as a founding mother of a school that now educates nearly as many young women as men, Grant Pearson left a more tangible legacy as well: an invaluable scrapbook that was recently unearthed from the basement of Mackenzie Hall. Composed on the occasion of the school’s golden anniversary, the book is a trove of rare photographs, newspaper clippings and memories—and one of the most tactile touchstones of the Foster School’s rich history.

During the first year of America’s involvement in World War I, Parker averted or settled 26 strikes—many during his tenure as dean. He mediated labor disputes for longshoremen, loggers and builders of Camp Lewis. He negotiated an eight-hour workday for forestry workers and a wage raise for gas employees. “Parker had the trust and confidence of both sides in disputes between labor and capital,” wrote one colleague. “His services were called in whenever trouble was brewing… Thanks to him, strikes were averted; war-work of the most vital importance, threatened by misunderstandings and smoldering discontent, went on.” At the School of Business Administration, the man the UW Daily dubbed “the Builder” laid a solid foundation for the future. He hand-picked the inaugural faculty, composed of seven distinguished scholars from Harvard, Stanford and Wisconsin. But in the spring term of his first year in the office, Parker contracted a virulent strain of pneumonia and died March 17, 1918. He was just 39. “Parker’s sudden death in March shocked the entire university,” reported the UW Tyee. But the foundation held. In the wake of Parker’s untimely passing, Stephen I. Miller stepped up to take the mantle. Serving as dean for the next five years, Miller led the school through a period of exponential growth—from 12 students in 1917 to 1,350 in 1920. By 1921, the UW College of Business Administration (as it was recast) was one of only 20 schools to be accredited by the AACSB, and considered one of the largest and finest in the land.


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1947-57 Age of enlightenment

1937-47 A separate peace During his tenure as dean from 1938 to 1948, Howard Preston delivered the College of Business Administration through some turbulent times, from the Great Depression to World War II and into the Baby Boom. But the most divisive conflict under his watch turned out to be internal. Economics had been part and parcel of the College since its founding. But a tectonic rift was growing between the faculties of economics and business administration. The more theory-based economists wished to return to the College of Arts and Sciences. And the field of business administration was emerging as a distinct discipline, in which the faculty was anxious to assert its independence. Preston, an economist and expert on banking, favored keeping the two disciplines together. He was an extraordinarily empathetic leader who cared deeply about students—even surreptitiously delivering degrees to graduating Japanese American students who had been banished to internment camps—and faculty. But the debate grew increasingly rancorous. In one of the final acts of his deanship, Preston brokered a split that led to a more amicable relationship between two complementary faculties. Moreover, it represented a philosophical shift in the College of Business Administration toward the humanity of enterprise. Donald Mackenzie, a professor of accounting who led the committee charged with exploring the dissolution, wrote that “business is not simply the application of economic theory” and that members of the business administration faculty preferred to offer an education based not on “cold economics but on human welfare.” Mackenzie argued that business leaders who recognize their workers as “human beings and not ‘economic men’ have proved to be the most successful in the world.” The field of business, he concluded, could “contribute much more to the social welfare than economic theory has contributed. If we teach our business courses purely from the viewpoint of profit, and not from the viewpoint of society, we should be thrown out of the university.”

12 | Foster Business

The Foster School of Business today employs one of the elite research faculties in the world, regularly ranking among the most prolific producers of groundbreaking knowledge that is published in the most influential journals of each discipline. It wasn’t always so. Early business professors were called, first and foremost, to teach. The extent of their scholarly production, if any, was most often the writing of textbooks for classroom digestion. This orientation expanded significantly with the installation of Austin Grimshaw as dean of the College of Business Administration in 1949. A dynamic innovator with experience in business enterprise, Grimshaw led a revolution in management education at the UW. He moved the curriculum toward the tools of management and the art of decision making, and increased the focus on the graduate program. But the Harvard-educated Grimshaw was also an ardent scholar. He came to the UW after a distinguished career at the University of Illinois, one of the most consciously research-oriented public universities at the time. And perhaps his most indelible legacy at the UW was to push scholarly research to the forefront of faculty priorities for the first time. He also established a doctoral program to educate the next generations of scholar-educators. This new call to scholarship did not resound with everyone. Some faculty even staged a “mini-revolt.” But midway through his tenure, Grimshaw found a powerful intellectual champion in President Charles Odegaard who endeavored to build one of the world’s elite research engines at the UW. Grimshaw’s advances paid dividends. By the time he stepped down in 1963, business had returned to its standing as the most popular major on campus.

Forging alliances


Dean Kermit Hanson introduced numerous innovations during his eventful 15 years at the helm of the College of Business Administration that spanned 1964 to 1981. Among them, Hanson modernized the curriculum, spun out a distinct Graduate School of Business Administration, advanced executive education offerings, developed a computer center, and recruited and fostered exceptional scholars such as William Sharpe, the Nobel Prize-winning financial economist, Fred Fiedler, a giant in industrial and organizational psychology, and Gerhardt Mueller, the “father of international accounting.” To make business education more relevant and responsive to market demands, Hanson strengthened ties with the business community, assembled a formal Business Advisory Board, and recruited a related Affiliate Program to secure invaluable private and corporate support for the school into the future. In short, Hanson modeled a thoroughly modern business school. “Looking to the future in this age of increasingly rapid change, American industry, if it is to maintain its position of world leadership, should devote more attention to research and innovation, sophisticated techniques of management, and economic growth and the external environments,” he wrote in

an early and prescient report to faculty. “Similarly, graduate schools of business must be in the forefront in research related to business and the economy, and in the utilization of research in a constant renewal of a curriculum designed to prepare students for managerial careers. The importance of teaching and curriculum development cannot be overemphasized; we must preserve the status of teaching concurrently with our encouragement of research and consulting activities. It is essential that faculty develop curricula for executives who seek greater proficiency in the art and science of management by enrollment in special programs and seminars. The computer, strategic planning, information systems, environmental forces, and the multinational dimension of business are among a host of subjects of immediate and specific concern. “Both American business and American education for business have large stakes in preparing future business leaders and in seeking new knowledge and techniques.” Kind of sounds like a roadmap to the Foster School today.

Seeding entrepreneurial studies In 1970, Professor Karl Vesper got the green light to create and deliver the School of Business Administration’s first course in entrepreneurship. “That’s back when people would ask, how do you spell that?” Vesper recalls. He had come to the UW with a joint appointment in engineering and business, armed with a Harvard MBA and a Stanford PhD in mechanical engineering—and an idea, perhaps ahead of its time, to join the two disciplines in an effort to commercializing innovation. First, though, the course. Vesper had written entrepreneurial case studies at Harvard, but never taught the subject. So he reached out to schools that had, in an effort to glean some intel on course design. He came to realize that precious few were actually teaching entrepreneurship. But Vesper culled a set of best practices from that original exchange of curricula, and disseminated them to anyone who was interested in an “open source” experiment. As entrepreneurial activity took off around new technologies through the 1970s and ’80s, Vesper’s influence grew. To establish credibility for entrepreneurship as a field of academic study, he organized the first entrepreneurship research conference while visiting Babson College. A few years later he established the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management.

Businessweek and Inc. both named Vesper the “dean of entrepreneurial studies.” For his part, Vesper considers himself more of a Johnny Appleseed than a Ben Franklin, a cross-pollinator rather than a founding father. And he’s amazed at what entrepreneurship has become, both professionally and academically. Entrepreneurship courses, programs and centers—such as the Foster School’s own highly ranked Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship—have proliferated around the world. “I’m awed by the amount of activity there is today,” he says. “You’d think that somebody must have planned all of this. It ain’t so. I just thought it was a fun subject.”

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1977-87 Shattering glass ceilings When Nancy Jacob was named the ninth dean of the UW School of Business Administration in 1981, she became the first woman to lead a major American business school. But hers was no overnight ascension. As an undergraduate at the UW, Jacob (BA 1967) worked as a research assistant to Nobel Prize-winning financial economist William Sharpe, eventually co-authoring an early book on the economics of computing. She earned her PhD in financial economics at UC-Irvine and became one of a select few women teaching finance at the university level. In 1978 she became chair of the UW Department of Finance, Business Economics and Quantitative Methods. And during her tenure as dean (1981-1988), Jacob introduced the Executive MBA Program, centers for banking and retail management, and the Business Education Opportunity Program, formed to promote economic, ethnic and gender diversity and increase enrollment and support of underrepresented students.

Jacob’s leadership was emblematic of the growing diversification of the school. William Bradford, who is enshrined in the Minority Business Hall of Fame, became the first person of color to serve as dean in 1994, his decades of groundbreaking research in minority business development catalyzing the Consulting and Business Development Center. And Yash Gupta became the school’s first Indian American dean in 1999, bringing entrepreneurial thinking and ambition for the reinvigoration of the curriculum around technology and the construction of world-class facilities. When Jacob was honored with the Foster School’s 2014 Distinguished Leadership Award for her influence on the school and the two successful investment firms she subsequently founded, she reflected on the journey. “We make a big deal of the glass ceiling for women executives,” she said. “But that’s misleading because life is not a vertical climb. It’s a multidimensional trip. It doesn’t come with an easy button or a fair button. It is what it is. But when one door closes, another opens. You have to be flexible and you have to be willing to deal with adversity.”

Centers of attention The early ’90s in the Northwest were best known for great coffee, groundbreaking software and grunge rock. But this fervid era of creation also produced a trio of game-changing centers at the UW Business School. More than academic think tanks, these centers were designed to challenge students with indelible, realworld learning experiences. First up was the UW Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and founded in 1990 by Professors Gerhardt Mueller (executive director) and Richard Moxon (faculty director), pictured at right, both longtime advocates for international business education and study. The renamed Global Business Center has become a bustling hub of international activity at Foster. Over 300 Foster School students study abroad through its programs, and another 500 students annually benefit from its global business case competitions. Graduates from global certificate programs are working all over the world. In 1991, the Program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation was launched by Professors Gary Hansen and Borje “Bud” Saxberg with venture capitalist Neal Dempsey (BA 1964).

The renamed Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship has lived up to the promise of its title, continually spinning out new ventures from the marquee Business Plan Competition to the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge to the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge to the Jones + Foster Accelerator to the Startup Job Fair to certificate programs and the new Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. Bottom line: at least 987 startups have been founded by Buerk Center and competition alumni, raising nearly $400 million in funding. And in 1995, graduating MBAs Michael Verchot and Paul Pressley partnered with Professor Thaddeus Spratlen to establish the Business and Economic Development Program, inspired by the practicum work of Professors Spratlen, David Gautschi, and Ali Tarhouni and the research of Dean William Bradford. Today’s Consulting and Business Development Center has expanded to provide a range of educational and— student-driven—consulting assistance to small businesses with the goal of spurring economic growth in distressed communities across the state. Its vital work has resulted in more than $150 million in new revenue generated and more than 125,000 jobs created and retained.


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1997-2007 A new, familiar name As an honorary eponym for an academic institution, you could hardly do better than “Foster.” It’s a name, richly symbolic, that evokes that noble promotion of human development. And, in a happy bit of fortune, it also happens to be the surname of a family that has done more financially than any other to further business education at the University of Washington. The legacy begins with Albert O. Foster (BA 1928), who founded the investment firm of Foster & Marshall, Seattle’s first locally-owned brokerage to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He and his wife Evelyn, a fellow UW graduate, were also leading figures in the cultural life of the city. Their son, Michael G. Foster, departed the UW early to start his own career in finance and eventually returned to Seattle to join his father’s firm. After becoming president in 1971, he surrounded himself with a dedicated, talented team and set a clear direction of aggressive expansion, becoming a regional finance powerhouse before brokering the sale of Foster & Marshall to Shearson/American Express in 1982. Michael, A.O. and Evelyn Foster established The Foster Foundation in 1984. It has supported the school’s facilities, libraries and student scholarships ever since. In 2007, the UW Business School was officially renamed the Michael G. Foster School of Business, in recognition of a combined $50 million in giving from The Foster Foundation. The man behind the moniker was known for his brilliance with numbers and his remarkable timing and strategy, as well as impeccable ethical standards. But he also was known as a man who never sought the spotlight, who gave generously of himself to family, friends and the community, and who led by example for generations to follow.

2007-17 World-class campus After Commerce Hall opened its doors for the School of Business Administration’s debut in 1917, the school didn’t have a new dedicated building until 1960 and the construction of Mackenzie Hall. This new headquarters of the school’s faculty and administration, named for influential accounting professor Donald Mackenzie, was designed by Paul Hayden Kirk, one of Seattle’s most influential modernist architects. Two years later, Balmer Hall went up across the lane, adding a dedicated classroom building of complementary design. Named after prominent local businessman and UW regent Thomas Balmer, the fourstory, 80,000-square-foot classroom building was built for $1.7 million. The “unadorned example of modernist architecture” hosted generations of students—many who fondly (or not so fondly) remember their days in “Balmer High”—until its razing in 2010. Balmer was never intended as a 50-year solution for a fast-growing school. In the early 1970s, plans were commissioned envisioning a soaring architectural showpiece between Denny and Balmer Halls. But those were not great days to indulge in lofty dreams. The Foster Library and Bank of America Executive Education Center opened in 1997. But it wasn’t until the early 2000s that renewed energy revived the plan for a world-class HQ for the school. PACCAR Hall opened in 2010, the product of nearly $80 million in private support, championed by Dean Jim Jiambalvo and Campaign UW co-chairs Neal Dempsey, Ed Fritzky and Mike Garvey, and capped by an extraordinary naming gift from the PACCAR Foundation and the Pigott family. Two years later, on the site of dearly departed Balmer Hall, rose Dempsey Hall, a modern companion to PACCAR. These LEED gold, architectural award winners foster collaboration by their very design. But the Foster campus is not quite complete. A top priority of the UW’s current “Be Boundless” philanthropic campaign is raising funds to construct a modern replacement, at long last, for Mackenzie Hall. n spring /summer 2017 | 15

O Coxswain! My Coxswain! The Foster School of Business has educated some of the finest coxswains to captain the venerable Husky Rowing juggernaut By Ed Kromer


rom the shore’s remove, the motion of the vessel and her crew appears almost balletic. The sleek shell skims across the racecourse swiftly, elegantly, the crisp whoosh of eight oar blades flashing through the water in perfect parallel, the swing of eight torsos in metronomic sync. Except for a ninth—smaller—figure, at the stern of the boat. He sits hunched over the gunwales, lurching forward and aft with each powerful pull of the oars. His gaze is alert, like a bird’s, darting between his cockpit computer, the linear engine of bodies and blades before him, the movements of the competition off to starboard and port. His sharp, staccato commands pierce the rising roar of the crowd lining the Montlake Cut. Exhorting his charges toward the finish. Asking for more. This is Stuart Sim, coxswain of the varsity men’s eight of the University of Washington Rowing team. He is a master of this position that is unique in sport. The brain behind the brawn of the oarsmen. Navigator, strategist, analyst, communicator, motivator, coach and commander. All together. All the time. “A lot of people undervalue coxswains,” says Michael Callahan, head coach of the vaunted UW men’s rowing program. “I almost do the opposite. They have to articulate strategy and tactics, and get people to execute them. They have to analyze and adjust on the fly. But most of all, they have to unify the crew, get everyone moving together. That’s what (Washington’s legendary boat-builder) George Pocock called swing. It’s the story of rowing.”

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By any measure, Sim is an exceptional steward of swing. A third-generation coxswain of the Australian national team, he has already steered the Husky varsity eight to national titles in 2014 and 2015. After taking last year off to captain the Aussie men’s eight in the run-up to the Rio Olympics (narrowly missing the seventh and final spot to the Americans), he has returned for his senior year, bringing such a deep well of experience, skill and athletic intelligence to the Huskies that Callahan considers him another coach in the boathouse. But Sim has other unfinished business at the UW. He’s working to complete his degree in finance at the Foster School of Business, where he’s a fixture on the dean’s list. This particular dual identity places Sim along a proud lineage of transcendent Washington coxswains who have been intellectually powered by Foster. Five are enshrined in the Husky Hall of Fame. Moch one The first—and most famous—was Bobby Moch (BA 1936), the coxswain who led “The Boys in the Boat” to glory at the 1936 Olympics. Raised in the foggy logging town of Montesano and diminished by a botched appendectomy when he was a kid, Moch earned his seat in the Husky varsity eight with unrivaled wit and unyielding tenacity. His legendary underdogs won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championship in a late charge and then overcame impossible odds to claim the gold medal—in another breathtaking comeback—before 75,000 roaring partisans and a disapproving Adolph Hitler at the Berlin Games. “Bob got some things out of the crew,” recalled bowman Roger Morris, “that I didn’t think were there.”


Bobby Moch and crew

After razor-thin victory at the IRAs, James Burchard of the World-Telegram wrote “it was a story of psychology, pure nerve, and rowing intelligence. Moch’s noodle was the best oar in the Washington boat.” On land, that magnificent noodle earned him a Phi Beta Kappa key. He graduated magna cum laude from the UW with a degree in business administration, then picked up a Harvard law degree while coaching crew at MIT. Afterward, Moch ran a successful law practice in Seattle for more than five decades, eventually arguing and winning a case before the US Supreme Court. He also served as president of the UW Alumni Association.

American dreamer Vic Fomo (BA 1942) embodied the American Dream. The son of Italian immigrants who grew up in Anacortes during the Great Depression, he found a future at the UW. On the water, he became a cagy coxswain who led three national championship boats and never lost a race in four years (a singular feat in the sport). Fomo’s 1940 crew was selected to represent the USA in the Helsinki Olympics before they were cancelled by World War II. “We cried like hell,” he recalled. “We all had confidence we were going to win.” The next year, his Hall of Fame varsity eight rowed away with the national championship. “As great a crew as I’ve ever had,” remarked legendary coach Al Ulbrickson. “I’ve never seen a gang with such sockeroo.” After graduating from the UW, Fomo served as a navigator in the Army Air Corps during WWII and the Korean War, then put his business degree to work in sales for Dictaphone before a successful run of commercial real estate development. Veteran leadership Al Morgan (BA 1950) served in the Navy in the South Pacific during WWII before studying business at the UW on the GI Bill. His wartime leadership translated famously into the rowing shell, where the Seattle native coxed the Husky varsity four to a gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics. His was the only UW crew to be coached by the master boatbuilder Pocock, who commented, after that come-from-behind victory, that he had “never before or since seen a four pull as we did in the last 15 strokes. They were actually lifting the bow out of the water.”

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Dwight Phillips and crew

In 1971, Phillips coxed the Husky varsity eight that was selected to represent the USA at the Pan American Games in Colombia, taking the silver medal. And even after graduation, his Husky pair-with-coxswain competed in the 1973 World Championships in Russia. “We had some wonderful athletes who I, jokingly, say gave me a ride around the world,” says Phillips, who was elected team captain his senior season. After a stint in coaching, he embarked on a long career in banking. He serves as senior vice president of Columbia Bank today. Al Morgan and crew

“I attribute our win completely to Al Morgan,” remarked oarsman Gordon Giovanelli. “A coxswain has to steer a straight course, coach the crew, and cheerlead. Al was the best I ever had. He won the Olympics for us.” But Morgan wasn’t finished. The four-year letter-winner delivered another national title in the Husky varsity eight in 1950 before graduating to a career managing sales of Gestetner duplicating machines. Comeback kid John Bisset (BA 1958) had never been in a rowing shell when some fraternity brothers convinced him to turn out as a coxswain his freshman year at the UW. Maybe it was his experience as Roosevelt High School’s “Yell King” or the slightness of his frame. “I remember thinking, what a thankless job,” he says. But Bisset became a tremendous coxswain for the Huskies, leading the 1958 varsity eight to the Henley Royal Regatta in England after an undefeated season. They fell hard to the powerful world champions from Leningrad. But two weeks later, they delivered a stunning and symbolic victory at the rematch in Moscow, winning the first athletic contest between the USA and USSR on Soviet soil—or water—since the start of the Cold War. After graduating from Foster, Bisset was an assistant coach at the UW and head coach at UCLA before coming home to become executive director of the UW Alumni Association. Later, he served as president of the group travel company Alumni Holidays. Row around the world Polio robbed Dwight Phillips (BA 1971) of his promising athletic prowess. But he found a fitting competitive outlet in the coxswain seat at the UW, leading a major renaissance in Husky Rowing. In 1970, his junior varsity eight contributed to the school’s first IRA national title in 20 years, then represented the USA as a four in that year’s World Rowing Championships in Canada. 18 | Foster Business

The business end Why has the UW produced so many masters of boat and of business? Eric Cohen (BA 1983) is in a better position to answer that question than anyone. While studying operations management at Foster, he coxed the Husky varsity eight to a pair of Pac-10 titles before a career in marketing gave way to his role as chief historian of the storied Washington program (his definitive research can be found at Through this work, he has come to know these Hall of Famers well. And he sees the connection between rowing and business as more than just metaphor. “There’s a common bond between all of us who have experienced the uniqueness of the coxswain position,” Cohen says. “It’s the ultimate multitasking management job. You’re doing five different things at the same time, all of the time. Steering, coaching, executing the training or race plan, analyzing and motivating. Getting the most out of your team. All to maximize the efficiency of the boat. Sounds a lot like business, doesn’t it?”

Eric Cohen and crew

Technology and tradition If Callahan is the CEO of this competitive floating enterprise called Washington Rowing, Sim is his chief operating officer in the boat. Maybe chief technology officer, too. The coxswain’s job has evolved alongside the tech at his disposal, from the stopwatch-and-megaphone days to the modern rigger-mounted power sensors and biometric monitors delivering real-time data to a dashboard computer and a communication network that runs the length of the shell. In addition to feeling the boat, a cox needs to be a crack analyst of data. “That’s the modern world,” says Callahan. “Just as in business, we’re making that jump of turning data into intelligence. So I look for coxswains who can command authority and are situationally aware, but who also are quantitative, detail-oriented and articulate. Above all, I recruit intellect. There’s a lot to process and then simplify so that everyone has one direction.” He says that no collegiate coxswain manages instinct and intellect—and what it takes to meld eight strong-willed individuals into a high-performance machine—better than Sim.

What makes a great coxswain? The job of a coxswain is complex, and completely distinct from the rowers they lead. “From the moment the shell is launched, the coxswain is the captain,” wrote Daniel James Brown in his bestselling “The Boys in the Boat.” “He or she must exert control, both physical and psychological, over everything that goes on in the shell.” Here are a few of those controls that the best have to master—simultaneously. Navigation — Great coxswains must steer a clean line in this hyper-sensitive vessel that is 80-feet long and narrower than an oarsman’s shoulders. This requires constant reading of the wind, the water, the synchronization of the strokes. Personnel Management – “You try to get the most out of your people and avoid calamities between strong personalities,” says Dwight Phillips. “Part of the job of the coxswain is to make sure that that nothing gets in the way of the boat going fast.”

In his senior season, he has already led the men’s varsity eight to gold at the prestigious Head of the Charles and Pac-12 Championships, and will enter June’s IRA Regatta as a favorite to win the program’s 20th national championship. After graduation, Sim plans to retire from competitive rowing and embark on a career in entrepreneurial finance. He packs an impressive resume, even beyond internships at Uber and Ignition Partners. “I tell employers that my job as a coxswain is synthesizing data to make decisions that add value,” he says. “In rowing and in business, those who turn information into better decisions win the day.” And that’s really what this great pantheon of Foster-educated Husky Hall of Fame coxswains has always done, from Moch on up the line. It is how an indelible tradition is built. “We have a saying that the ‘W’ is bigger than you or I,” Sim says. “You don’t do any of this for yourself.” And when he goes, another able coxswain will step into his seat at the helm of the formidable Husky varsity men’s eight. Maybe it will be Rielly Milne of this year’s second varsity eight. Or Braedon Daste of the third varsity eight. Both happen to be juniors at Foster. n

Strategy – “As the boat’s strategist, the coxswain needs to know the conditions of the course and the competition’s tendencies and capabilities in order to get the crew’s maximum effort,” says Bruce Avolio, director of the Foster School’s Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking. Analysis – Modern onboard technology—on top of old-school sensory analysis—means processing enormous amounts of data on the fly. “You have to find the signals through the noise,” says Stuart Sim. Communication – However advanced the technology, commands must be clear, simple and powerful. A former Husky oarsman said this of Eric Cohen: “I couldn’t always hear him, but I always knew what he was saying.” Motivation – “You’ve got to know exactly when to be technical, and when to motivate,” says Sim. “When to give the carrot and when to get the stick.”

©Pavel L/

Stuart Sim and crew

©Scott Eklund

Psychology – Authority must be earned. “You have to project self-confidence and gain the crew’s respect so that your size doesn’t matter and they listen to you,” says John Bisset. “We’re all on the same page, we’re all in it together, we all want to win. So let’s get the job done.”

Competitiveness – “There has to be that edge, that overwhelming desire to win,” says Cohen, “and a huge amount of disappointment if your boat doesn’t win.” “These things are what make a coxswain a vital member of a crew rather than dead weight in the stern,” adds Sim. “If I’m not adding value, then I should not be operating the boat.”

Sales Force The Professional Sales Program equips students from the Foster School and around the UW to add value immediately By Ed Kromer


hannon Connors was having a “major” crisis. After returning from an idyllique year in Paris pursuing her UW studies in French and history, she took a course in accounting—kind of her family business—at the Foster School out of curiosity. And she absolutely loved it. “It was my senior year, too late to switch majors,” Connors says. “But I was really liking business.” Her mother had heard of Foster’s Professional Sales Program, and suggested she check it out. The one-year program is open to qualifying undergraduates from around the UW. So alongside the accounting, marketing, management, finance and IS students are many others studying communications, political science, psychology, international studies, public health, mathematics, to name just a few. “Our students bring a diversity of interests,” says long-time Sales Program director Jack Rhodes (BA 1961). “This adds a real richness to the classroom.” For Connors, the attraction only began with access to an array of business classes that she found fascinating and “relevant to so many careers.” She also valued the challenge of departing her

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comfort zone, the personalized attention of a niche program, and the exposure to Seattle’s amazing companies—large and small. Shark tank tamer One particular exposure turned into a promising job for Connors (BA 2016). After performing the program’s required practicum internship with Slalom Consulting last spring, she earned a rare straight-out-of-undergrad position with the Seattle-based firm, working with its lead generation team to create new sales opportunities in each of its markets. Less than six months into her career, Connors won Slalom’s internal “Shark Tank” competition, by pitching the firm’s services most convincingly to a panel of general managers impersonating their most challenging customers. Connors chalks up her Cinderella story to being the company’s newest and youngest employee. “My moment of fame,” she declares, laughing. “People wanted to know, who is this kid?” If winning a fun, intramural competition made her a curiosity within the company, it’s an opening that a good salesperson can work with.

From left to right, Meredith Barrett, Tim Lee and Shannon Connors

And, in fact, Connors has already earned a spot on the team launching an internal sales startup around one of Slalom’s marquee partners: Salesforce, the cloud-based customer relationship management platform. Standard bearer Tim Lee (BA 2015) was something of an academic journeyman at the UW, wending his way from life sciences to economics to political science before finding the Professional Sales Program. Maybe it was destiny. He had shown early aptitude for sales while interning with Kimberly-Clark during his dabbling in biology. With his graduation approaching, he was recruited via LinkedIn for a regional sales position with BSI (British Standards Institute), which provides certification and training to companies that are bound by all manner of standards, from quality to environmental to health and safety to IT security. Lee is an account manager with the medical devices practice, serving clients such as Philips, Medtronic and Boston Scientific. He says it’s a great merging of his scientific background and acumen in sales. He works out of his Seattle home, which affords him enough flexibility to coach high school baseball. BSI is likely to give him all the flexibility he needs if he continues performing as he did last year. Lee finished 2016 at 299 percent of his sales goal, winning both the Best Sales Award for BSI’s medical devices practice and the firm’s MVP Award for the Americas. “It was a good year,” Lee understates. “I owe a lot of my success to the classes at Foster, sales club and the Sales Program—especially the support and guidance of Jack and the rest of the program faculty.” Golden glover Meredith Barrett (BA 2015) enrolled in the Professional Sales Program as she headed toward her degree in communications, focused on journalism. Her intent was to expand her potential career opportunities. “Though I loved it, I didn’t want to be limited to journalism and public relations jobs,” she says. “I wanted to make sure I had options and I thought sales could only help me, whatever I ended up doing.” Barrett excelled at sales, even contributing to the winning Foster entry at the 2014 National Team Selling Competition at Indiana University. At Foster’s Sales Career Fair, she connected with Softchoice, the Toronto-based IT consulting firm, and hit the ground running. In less than two years as a territory sales representative, Barrett has made a big impression. At the company-wide sales kickoff meeting earlier this year, she was shocked to receive the Softchoice “Golden Gloves” award (to the theme from “Rocky”), her division’s foremost recognition of exemplary performance and leadership. “It was an incredible honor,” says Barrett. “I wasn’t expecting it at all, because I hadn’t even been there two years.” Sudden impact How are these young Sales Program grads able to make such profound impacts on their companies so early in their careers?

It’s the quality of the people, for one. But Rhodes emphasizes that Foster’s program, launched in 1998, has transformed to address a revolution in modern sales. One of the earliest academic programs in the country, Foster’s continues at the vanguard of the profession. “Before the rise of information technology, sales used to be the bearer of information,” he says. “Nobody needs salespeople for that anymore. Modern sales requires knowing as much about your clients’ Jack Rhodes business as you do about your own. It’s escalated the profession to the next level. To be a good salesperson today, you’ve got to be educated in business.” So the program requires a fuller set of business coursework and a wide array of electives—along with a timeless sales rubric and essential skills of negotiation and communication. And it continues to expose students to professionals and employers at every turn, from guest speakers to the Sales Career Fair to the required sales practicum. Those employers, facing enormous upfront training costs for each fresh-out-of-school hire, like what they see. “Our first hire from the UW Professional Sales Program was Shannon Connors,” says Todd Sink, Slalom’s managing director for sales. “She brought a skill set that you rarely see in a recent college grad and has already made an amazing impact at Slalom. I’m a huge fan of the Sales Program and look forward to our continued partnership.” Special sauce For their part, these young and accomplished sales professionals cite the Foster School program’s personal touch as that something extra. They are quick to recall a favorite kernel of wisdom they have carried into their careers. For Lee, it is Rhodes’ prohibition of “I” over “we.” Connors recalls the oft-repeated slogan: “marketing tells, sales sells.” And Barrett keeps in the back of her mind another of Rhodes’ favorite advices: “Keep it simple, stupid.” “It’s about being concise, direct,” she explains. This package of education and experiences has produced a sustained job placement rate in excess of 90 percent for graduating Professional Sales Program students. “What’s the special sauce?” asks Rhodes. “We are providing students with a skill set that can add value to a company immediately. The proof, for us, is the Shannon Connors and the Meredith Barretts and the Tim Lees out there. Our students get great jobs and are successful right away.” Simple. Stupendous. n

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 Northwest


Elton Leith, an “everyday guy” with an extraordinary gift, lived an entrepreneurial life in parallel with the Foster School of Business By Ed Kromer


hen he was 14 years old, Elton Leith (BA 1942) traveled to Snoqualmie Pass with his Boy Scout troop to learn how to downhill ski. He noticed some of the experts scything effortlessly down the slopes with the aid of two slender poles. At the time, twin-pole skiing was still a recent innovation to the ancient sport. And strong, lightweight ski poles made of imported bamboo were hard to come by—especially for a hardscrabble kid from Seattle in the depths of the Great Depression. But young Elton got a twinkle in his eye. “I could make those,” he thought. And so he did. First for himself and his friends. Then, in short order, for the paying masses. The enterprising young man ran his Cascade Outing Supply Company out of his family’s basement. He imported Tonkin cane, a straight, smooth, thick-walled bamboo, from Thailand, and fashioned the baskets of rattan from Singapore and leather from Oregon. He sold thousands of pairs of custom-made poles and eight kinds of ski wax to customers from Seattle to San Francisco to New York City. Elton’s cottage industry helped the family through some lean years, and even financed his education at the University of Washington where he, unsurprisingly, studied business. “Dad was a real entrepreneur,” says Elton’s daughter Lorin, “before anyone had ever heard of the word.” But entrepreneur only begins to tell the story of this quintessential son of the Pacific Northwest.

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Vintage Seattle Robert Elton Leith was born at Swedish Hospital in 1917, the same year as the UW Foster School of Business. He was hewn of rugged stock, the descendent of coal miners from England, gold rush traders from the Scottish isles of Orkney, and pioneers of the Oregon Territory. The only child of Mildred and Robert Leith, a former logger who worked as an engineer for City Light, Elton grew up in Rainier Valley with his trusty dog, Rip. The Seattle of his youth was the rough-and-tumble town of “The Boys in the Boat.” In fact, Elton knew a few of those legendary Husky rowers. As a kid, he picked fruit in the neighborhood orchards and delivered newspapers to make a buck, dodging the menacing bootleggers’ dogs that roamed his tough South Seattle neighborhood. A ruptured appendix, before the days of antibiotics, nearly killed him. A long bout of pneumonia delayed his graduation from Franklin High School. But Elton was resilient. And he loved the sanctuary of the great wilderness beyond the city borders. His family spent many happy summer weeks hunting the forests, fishing the lakes, clamming the beaches and hiking the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula, often from a base camp on the shores of Lake Ozette. “We didn’t have any money,” he recalled, “and it was a cheap way to have a holiday.” Cascade outing Elton’s ski equipment business, though, grew like “a snowball rolling downhill,” according to an article on the DIY teen entrepreneur in the Seattle Star.


He sold his wares via local outfitters Eddie Bauer, Warshall’s and Seattle Sporting Goods. When an Olympic ski coach from an Ivy League school saw his state-of-the-art poles while training on Mount Rainier, he convinced an East Coast retailer to carry them. To keep up with demand, Elton employed neighborhood friends and his family. “His grades go down during ski season,” his mother admitted to the Star. But Elton’s basement enterprise was a means to an end. He wanted a college education. His illness-plagued adolescence delayed his start at the UW School of Business Administration. And managing the business meant an extended stay—it didn’t do wonders for his GPA, either. “I was always working too much to spend as much time as I would have liked on my studies,” he recalled. But he made it through, with the help of the legendary Donald Mackenzie, a favorite professor of shared Scottish heritage. At the UW he earned his business degree and fell in love with Mildred Wright, a nursing student who would soon become his wife.

Elton became an avid golfer, a fitting pastime for a man with the surname that is shared with the famous links course near Edinburgh where the game’s earliest rules were recorded. He also became increasingly invested in giving back for his good fortune in a life that extended longer than he could have imagined. He financed student support at Santa Rosa Junior College, where his daughter taught ESL to first-generation immigrants, and at the UW. And his bequest of $1 million to the UW will leave a legacy of endowed scholarship support to students in perpetuity. Elton didn’t often talk about the reasons for his philanthropy. But Lorin knew. “Because he was such a poor kid who really worked hard to get through school, Dad felt like giving a hand up to others,” she said. “I think he’s been impressed with these kids who come to school with nothing, work extremely hard and, with so much against them, accomplish so much.”

War effort Elton graduated in 1942, shortly after America entered World War II. He volunteered to serve, but was denied for his terrible vision (he could see only through Coke-bottle glasses), flat feet and a positive test for tuberculosis. Nevertheless, he was determined to contribute to the war effort. After graduation, the Leiths moved to Portland where Elton put his business degree to work supervising at the Kaiser naval shipyards while Mildred took a job in Vanport, the hastily constructed settlement on an ill-fated bend of the Columbia River—later destroyed by flood—to house the influx of shipyard workers from around the country. After the war, the couple returned to Seattle. Lorin was born in 1949. And Elton decided it was time to become his own boss once more. Ski poles had gotten him through college. His family’s future would be in laundry.

The good life We became acquainted with Elton in early spring of his 100th year, at the end of a life that paralleled the school that educated him. He was in hospice care at the time, and Lorin was instrumental in helping us chronicle his story. When informed that he was—according to university records—likely the oldest living alumni of the Foster School and that we were going to write an article on him, he was surprised, even tickled. “He saw himself as your everyday guy,” Lorin reported. Well, not every everyday guy wills $1 million to his alma mater. Elton Leith died in March. “He related to people, took care of people,” Lorin said. “He was funny and kind, hardworking and unpretentious, blunt and outspoken—people loved even that about him.” In his final days, Elton recalled his youth with astounding clarity. His time at the UW, his basement ski pole business, the neighborhood dogs, the family camping trips. The best old days of his many years played over in his mind. Shortly before he passed away, Elton dreamed of duck hunting with his dad. n

Clean living Resettled in Seattle, Elton purchased a single coin-operated laundromat, then acquired a small washer service company from its retiring founder. He methodically built a regional empire of coin-op machines for renters and appliance sales and service for home owners. It wasn’t a flashy business. But it was very profitable. Elton had foreseen the post-war boom, and knew how to take advantage of a market opportunity. His fair and generous demeanor forged a fiercely loyal team of employees, among them a number of women promoted to key management positions. By his 50s, Elton had earned enough from the business to retire comfortably. He took care of Mildred, who had advancing multiple sclerosis, until her death in 1983. He eventually remarried, to Barbara Wescott Sievers, and split time between Whidbey Island and Palm Desert before moving to Northern California to be near his daughter in his last decade.

spring /summer 2017 | 23

faculty Research briefs

Cashing Out

Better Bureaucracy

Mix Mastery

Corporations are stockpiling cash, some of it in risky investments

The empirical guide to greater government efficiency

Helping marketers find the right balance of media channels

The largest American industrial corporations hold combined cash reserves in excess of $1.5 trillion, an account that has more than doubled over the past decade. But this is not simply an industrial-sized rainy day fund. According to researchers at the Foster School, firms are investing a good deal of this “cash” aggressively in risky financial securities. A new study by Ran Duchin, Thomas Gilbert, Jarrad Harford and Christopher Hrdlicka introduces a more comprehensive method of accounting for corporate cash. This measure, applied to financial disclosures issued by the S&P 500 from 2009 to 2012, reveals 25 percent more non-operating financial assets on their books than had previously been captured. And this surplus of cash is not just glacially accruing interest in the safe harbors of bank accounts, money market funds and treasury bonds. Nearly 40 percent of these financial assets are invested in high-risk assets such as corporate debt, equity and asset-backed securities. “These investments run contrary to the common view that industrial firms mainly hold cash and cash equivalents for precautionary reasons,” says Hrdlicka, an assistant professor of finance. “And this activity represents an unregulated ‘shadow’ asset management industry, questioning the traditional boundaries of non-financial firms.” n

However they lean politically, most American taxpayers share at least one civic opinion: that government ought to operate more efficiently. Now the brightest minds in organizational science are helping to make it so. Fourteen leading management scholars—including Tom Lee of the Foster School—have contributed their particular areas of expertise to produce a practical guideline of best practices in organizational management, customized for agencies of the US Federal Government. This plan addresses deficiencies identified by the annual survey of the federal government’s 2.7 million civilian workforce. It offers evidence-based strategies to enhance employee engagement, empowerment, embeddedness, voice and collaboration in and across large bureaucratic organizations. Any move toward government efficiency—a notion often laughed off as oxymoronic—should be welcomed warmly in these days of unprecedented budget scrutiny. If the right people pay attention. “The intent of this project is to improve productivity, innovation and satisfaction among federal employees,” says Lee, the Hughes M. Blake Endowed Professor of Management. “Ultimately, this should result in more effective and efficient use of the trillions of tax dollars collected each year.” n

Modern marketers have more ways than ever to reach consumers. Television commercials. Print ads. Banner ads. Product web sites. Online search promotions. Podcasts. Viral videos. And an ever-expanding menu of social media. Yet, no matter how “big” the data at their disposal, finding the optimal mix of media remains elusive, according to Oliver Rutz, an associate professor of marketing at Foster. A new study by Rutz begins to disentangle this proliferation of media channels that marketers employ to make a sale. From deep analysis of a comprehensive campaign—on TV, search and social media—promoting a common grocery store staple, he and his co-authors have developed a model that identifies the role and relative importance of each channel along the path to purchase of any product. “The ‘Holy Grail’ for marketers is knowing the value of each touch in this multi-touch world,” Rutz says. “We’ve made the first step in creating a more holistic view on all of the marketing metrics and media, and to understand how they work together, not just individually.” n

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©, erhul1979, sorbetto, NLshop. Gwengoat. akindo

Why We Give

The Dark Side of Big Data

Do Accelerators Accelerate?

Social comparisons influence our reasons for charitable giving

Determining the toll of customer data vulnerability, perceived or real

How and why (some) accelerators expedite startup success

Why do we give to charitable organizations and causes? According to new research by Ann Schlosser at the Foster School, our motivations for philanthropic giving depend on how we feel we’re doing compared to others. Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. Are you doing better or worse? Schlosser finds that when people perceive that they are better off in some way—wealthier, healthier, more popular, better educated, to name just a few of the possibilities—compared to a benchmark, they are more likely to give purely for the benefit of others. But when people feel comparably worse off in some way, any charitable giving tends to be tied to self-interest. She adds that the benchmark can be others or even one’s past self. “We find that people feeling relatively better off are most likely to view giving as an expression of altruistic values such as giving back and being a better person,” says Schlosser, a professor of marketing. “On the other hand, those feeling worse off are most likely to give for more egoistic and competitive reasons.” n

Data breach. The thought alone can send us into a panic of existential dread. It’s the unavoidable byproduct of our increasing tendency to shop and socialize online, triggering a pervasive anxiety that our identity or finances will be stolen or misused. A new study led by Robert Palmatier, the John C. Narver Endowed Professor in Business Administration and research director of Foster’s Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy, gets to the core of customer data vulnerability, determining its causes, effects and ways it can be eased. The study establishes that simply giving personal and financial information to companies is enough to trigger feelings of vulnerability that make customers more likely to fudge personal information, disparage the firm, and take their business elsewhere. And this vulnerability exacerbates the financial cost to firms—and sometimes their competitors—when they fall victim to a data breach. “Our examinations confirm that vulnerability generates negative outcomes for firms, including abnormal stock returns and damaging customer behaviors,” says co-author Abhishek Borah, an assistant professor of marketing. “But we also find that firms can suppress these detrimental effects by offering data transparency and extending to customers greater control over how their data is collected and used.” n

Entrepreneurial accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars play an increasing role in the launch of new businesses. But do they expedite the development and success of early stage startups? Do accelerators actually accelerate? The better ones do, according to new research by Benjamin Hallen, an assistant professor of management at the Foster School. By comparing the fortunes of similar business startups that develop inside and outside of leading accelerators, Hallen and his co-authors demonstrate that the accelerator ventures reach key milestones—of funding, customer traction and employee growth—more quickly and perform better over time. The study also indicates that this accelerator effect is most likely a product of learning rather than the prestige or networking that a startup might derive from being selected by a top accelerator. “The better accelerators work for new ventures by changing the way that entrepreneurs think about their business models, how they’re going to go to market, how they’re going to compete,” Hallen says. “This indirect learning from the experience of mentors and expert speakers helps entrepreneurs correct known and unknown flaws and gaps in their initial business plans and identify unexpected possibilities for improvements.” n

Interested in reading more about this research? Visit

spring /summer 2017 | 25


Lean for Life Master the principles of lean manufacturing for more efficient living What are the principles of lean manufacturing?

Wish you could simplify your life? Make more time for the important stuff? Michael Wagner can help. An assistant professor of operations management at the Foster School, Wagner has adopted the principles of “lean” manufacturing to achieve a more efficient life—in the office, in the kitchen, in the closet, in the car, in the inbox. Foster Business asked him to show us the way. Foster Business: When did you begin applying the principles of lean manufacturing to daily living?

Wagner: In a general sense, I probably started “optimizing” my life in graduate school, when my studies were focused on optimization. The specific use of lean came later, when I started teaching it to students and realized it can be applied to settings much more general than manufacturing. Why should I adopt lean principles for my life? What’s so great about efficiency?

In my view, it’s about living life to the fullest. Life is short, which can be interpreted as a limited resource. I want to get as much out of this limited resource as I can. And a primary function of lean, in this more general context, is to eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to living life to the fullest.

26 | Foster Business

There are three basic principles that were developed at Toyota. Muda is basically a Japanese word for waste. When thinking about manufacturing, waste is usually interpreted as scrap or defective products. But this interpretation is too limited. Muda is meant to represent anything that does not add value. In manufacturing, it could be an idle machine not making anything. Muri is another Japanese term, loosely translated as overburden, which is detrimental to manufacturing. In other words, trying to make a resource (machine, employee) do more than they are capable of will result in poor outcomes, such as rushed, shoddy work. Mura, a Japanese term meaning unevenness, relates to variable workloads, resulting in poor performance. For example, giving a worker four hours of work today and 12 the next day will result in a stressed-out employee and inferior work. It’s best to “level load,” or give a resource (worker, machine) the same workload every day. How do you apply these concepts to everyday life? Let’s start with Muda.

Muda, the best-known lean principle, is anything that doesn’t add value. For me, social media fits this definition perfectly. I feel that I waste too much time on sites like Facebook while some of the most productive people I know avoid social media completely. Another example is sitting in traffic, an activity that is beneficial to no one. To avoid this wasted time, my wife and I commute during off-peak hours and finish our work day at home. This saves us at least an hour each day to be more productive at work or enjoy more time relaxing (which is not muda!).


Muri is about taking on more than you can handle, which leads to inferior work, stress, and poorer quality of life. To regain quality of life, you must learn to say “no.” Requests on our time come from work, friends, and family. And we have to be careful to take on only a reasonable number of activities and tasks—despite wanting to say yes to everyone. One possible solution to muri is outsourcing. If you have too much going on in life, hire a cleaner for housework, send out your laundry, even sign up for a meal service. My wife and I recently started using Blue Apron which saves us the time we would have spent at the supermarket and drastically reduces our food waste— a win-win solution! Mura?

Mura is about spreading out your work in an even manner. Pace yourself! Don’t try to get everything done today. Some work environments allow flexible schedules, as long as the work gets done. Some people will cram all the work into a few days so they can relax the rest of the week. On a related note, even going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia. Living lean sounds like a great idea… in theory. How do you put these principles into practice?

A useful technique to deploy is called the “Five Whys.” The goal is to determine the root cause of an inefficiency by repeating the question “Why?” five times. Each successive question gets closer to the true culprit. Here’s an example, from my own life, of how it works: I forgot to pay my bill. Why? I never saw the email for it. Why? I guess I must have missed it.

Creating a “Chinese Dream” Why? It must have gotten lost among my other emails. Why? Because I have 1,000 emails in my inbox. Why? Because I don’t take the time to either delete or file away emails. So the solution to the problem of a missed bill? Work toward “inbox zero” by minimizing the number of emails in your inbox that require your attention. Remember, high inventory hides problems. And, in this case, the high volume of emails hid the email about the unpaid bill. Do you have any tips for how to begin living lean?

One of the most frequently cited reasons for failure at lean manufacturing firms is attempting to make too many changes at once. I suggest taking baby steps. Start with something simple to reduce either muda, muri or mura in your life. Hopefully you’ll see some improvement, which will motivate you to try to find other steps for reducing waste, overburden or unevenness. Once you have achieved efficiency, how do you maintain it?

There is a principle for that, too: kaizen, or continuous improvement. Always keep an eye out for ways of improving how you go about your daily life. Never be satisfied. You can always do something better and there is always room for improvement. Getting things done is not about working harder, but working smarter. n

New book explores successful entrepreneurship in an unsupportive environment The “American Dream” is a concept so deeply ingrained in our nation’s mythos that it scarcely needs definition. But is there an analog in China? Does the world’s largest—and fastest-growing— economy have a comparable path to a better life through industry and innovation? A new book by Xiao-Ping Chen explores what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in China, a nation whose government has been far more supportive of state- and foreignowned enterprises. In “Leadership of Chinese Private Enterprises,” Chen and co-authors Anne Tsui and Yingying Zhang examine the nation’s most successful homegrown private enterprises via interviews with 13 founders (including Jack Ma of Alibaba and Xinjun Liang of Fosun Group). “While Chinese economic growth has focused primarily on governmental policies and institutional factors, we propose that the success of these firms has primarily been due to the ‘visible hands’ of these entrepreneurs,” says Chen, a professor of management and the Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration at the Foster School. From their analysis of these exemplary entrepreneurs, the authors present a concentric model of private firm leadership in China that radiates from a common set of personal attributes they call the “4 Ds”: determination (perseverance and commitment); discipline (to ensure consistency, meritocracy and professionalism); duality-focus (embracing conflict and balancing the short and long term, modernity and tradition, self and other interests); and divinity belief (driving uncompromised integrity, gratitude and compassion). At the center of it all is the proto-attribute of reflective thinking. “We consider this attribute to be fundamental,” the authors write, “since it enables leaders to reflect on and learn from their own personal experiences, from the observations of others’ successes and failures, and from reading the words of great thinkers and leaders who changed the world in their lifetimes.” n

Research Dynamo Foster faculty ranks #7 in the world in research productivity The Financial Times has ranked the UW Foster School of Business faculty #7 in the world, #6 in the nation and #1 among public universities for research productivity. This research index, a factor in the newspaper’s “2017 Global MBA Rankings,” is derived by tallying the number of research papers by each b-school’s faculty that are published in the top 45 scholarly journals, representing every business discipline. The ranking is weighted to reflect the relative size of each faculty. Management up Foster’s Department of Management & Organization faculty moved up to #3 in North America in the latest “Management Department Productivity Ranking,” which is published annually by Texas A&M University. This raw rather than weighted ranking measures each school’s total number of studies published in the eight most-important management journals during the year 2016. Only the Universities of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and Michigan (Ross) published more than Foster, which rose two spots in this year’s index. n


A Challenger Brand Mike Urness takes on rowing, brand management, and now private equity specializes in “challenger brands”–brands that disrupt an established category or create a new segment, often by connecting with customers on evolving values. Think of dye-free macaroni and cheese for health-conscious parents, or a small-batch distillery with deep local roots. When he’s not in the field probing for insights, Urness is in the Norwalk, CT, offices of Seurat, about an hour from the northeast corner of Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

Mike Urness (BA 1991) doesn’t often find himself on the “interviewee” end of conversations. “I’m usually the one asking the questions, out in the field,” he chuckles. “I know how this works.” “The field” he refers to is the battleground for consumer dollars, from behemoth supermarkets to sidewalk bodegas, big box superstores to all-natural boutiques. The battle contenders: consumer brands, those products trying to win shoppers’ hearts, minds and wallet share. Urness spends many of his working hours conducting “discovery fieldwork” —talking to customers, company managements, vendor partners, even the category managers at grocery stores. “Listening well and being able to probe and build on answers is a crucial part of unlocking great insights,” Urness says. Urness is foremost a retail consultant, helping brands to better understand and interact with their target markets. The firm he co-founded, Seurat Group,

28 | Foster Business

Pulling his weight Urness is an easy subject, amiable and open, offering thoughtful and measured answers. But his easygoing demeanor belies his intense resume—he’s done the work. While at the UW, Urness was on the rowing team, making the cut in freshman tryouts though he had never rowed before college, and being voted captain his senior year. He loved the simple rules for success in rowing: Do your part. Work as hard as you can. Make sure the whole team succeeds. “It was no politics, only performance,” Urness says. “I really loved the merit-based nature of being on the team.” That’s not so surprising when you hear a little more about Urness’s career. He clearly likes to be in the thick of it, doing the work, and making sure the team succeeds. After college, Urness took a position in a finance and accounting program at The Clorox Company, makers of the widely-known bleach and other consumer products. “Brand management ruled strategy there,” Urness says, fondness in his voice when he talks of the company. “I thought what they were doing was so in tune with what their customers wanted and needed.” When his finance rotation was done, Urness found a spot on a brand management team. After leaving to complete an MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School, Urness returned to Clorox and was promoted to brand manager, spending

much of his time working with retailers in the field. He later went on to a retail consulting firm, where he worked alongside two friends who would become co-founders of the Seurat Group. For UW, much love Urness speaks with reverence of the University of Washington. Growing up in Kent, WA, he remembers watching his father, a college student later in life, doing his UW homework in the evenings at the kitchen table, and tagging along to the majestic Suzzallo Library on weekends. “My dad used to take me to Suzzallo to do my own homework projects. I remember scrolling through microfiche in those beautiful halls,” he says. “The University was part of the fabric of our lives. I’ve been proud to represent UW out in the world.” These days, Urness is focused on a new venture, one that builds on all of these experiences. Seurat Capital has a private equity arm that invests in growth-stage challenger brands. Urness and his partners use their consulting platform not only to build a portfolio of investments with the eyes of trend-watchers, but also to help their portfolio companies achieve the exponential growth that comes with a rock-solid brand. He also makes it all look easy, cracking in to wildly competitive fields—rowing, brand management, private equity—as a nontraditional upstart. He seems to have the secret recipe for gauging the necessary attributes for success as an outsider, then putting rubber to road—or oar to water—to bring it all together. It’s not a surprise, then, that challenger brands are kind of his thing. n – Carolyn Marsh

Accounting for Amazon Shelley Reynolds relishes “big and complicated” challenges Last year Shelley Reynolds (BA 1987) was named to Moves magazine’s prestigious list of Power Women. The honor was conferred at a glamorous New York City gala of the kind usually reserved for genuine glitterati. As a person of the comparably less glittery accounting persuasion, however, Reynolds found the experience utterly surreal. But exciting. “Accountants don’t often get to walk the red carpet,” says the vice president, worldwide controller and principle accounting officer at Amazon, laughing. “It’s not what we do.” But, oh yes, she did. And Reynolds’ road to the red carpet began at the UW Foster School of Business. Or, in truth, maybe even earlier, in her intensive training in competitive gymnastics, which instilled the virtues of discipline, focus and fearlessness that would serve her well. “I’ve never done anything as challenging as gymnastics,” she told Moves. Deciding to quit competing while her body was still intact, Reynolds found a worthy new challenge in accounting at Foster. The discipline suited her shrewdly analytical mind. Developing at Deloitte Reynolds went to work in audit for Touche Ross (soon to become Deloitte) right after graduating. Her first client was a scrappy startup selling gourmet coffee. “I was a few weeks out of the UW, learning fast. I kept going and they kept growing and a few years later this little company called Starbucks goes public,” she recalls. “You never know what tiny thing is going to become a crown jewel.” After Starbucks, Reynolds audited tech firms through the 1990s boom, becoming well-versed in mergers and acquisitions. This earned her a spot on the Boeing account just as the aerospace giant was acquiring Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas. “I quickly decided that I liked big and complicated,” she says. “I was all in, and I never looked back.”

While later serving some of Deloitte’s financial industry clients out of the New York office, Reynolds was recruited to Amazon by outgoing chief accountant Mark Peek—her recruiter to Deloitte 20 years earlier. Amazing Amazon The Amazon that Reynolds joined in 2006, as vice president and controller, had 12,000 employees and annual revenues of $8.5 billion. Big and complicated enough for her? “I thought, okay, this is starting to look interesting,” she says. It would become vastly more interesting. The customer-focused “world’s largest bookstore” has transformed into a customer-obsessed online business of unprecedented diversity. At 340,000 employees worldwide and revenues in excess of $135 billion, Amazon’s financial results are scrutinized to the last decimal point. The dizzying expanse of Amazon’s various initiatives and experiments, fueled by the company’s all-encompassing passion for invention, could be difficult for any accounting organization to manage. Reynolds relishes the challenge, but notes that Amazonians are equally focused on operational excellence. She describes her role as resembling a lawyer more than an accountant, interpreting old standards to apply them to the financial reporting of new and unprecedented businesses. “There’s no road map for how we proceed,” she says. “For me, it doesn’t get any better.” She has thrived at Amazon by developing accounting systems that can scale with the company’s amazing growth, anticipating the requirements of each expansion,

and by distilling the complexities of its accounting to the very essence. Reynolds explains she is “in the business of: Is it right? And how do I know it’s right?” A role model Reynolds believes that accounting is a wonderful field for women because it values discipline and ability above personality and politics. “It isn’t hard to figure out who knows what they’re talking about,” she says. “Having said that, I’d like to see more women in the executive ranks.” In this respect, Reynolds is becoming a role model of increasing visibility. She was asked to join the Foster School’s Advisory Board a few years ago. In addition to the Power Women award, she was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council in 2015. And she is the ranking woman at Amazon, one of seven executive officers of this company of historical significance. “Amazon is a company that loves a challenge,” she explains, “that believes there’s nothing that can’t be done if you put your mind to it.” Just like Reynolds. n – Ed Kromer spring /summer 2017 | 29


The Business of Healing Joe Sniezek, MD/MBA, serves as a model of the modern physician-leader

It’s not the first time Joe Sniezek (MBA 2016) has heard the question. What was a successful, dedicated head and neck surgeon doing in a place like the Foster School of Business? The answer is simple. Healthcare, for him, was becoming more than medical. He had begun rising to leadership roles of progressive responsibility long before he became medical director of head and neck endocrine surgery at Swedish Medical Center in 2014. “Why did I get a Foster MBA? I found myself feeling anxiety in meetings with administrators and business professionals and not understanding fully what they were talking about,” Sniezek says. “My goal was just to learn the language of business. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I learned so much more.”

the problem, come up with a solution, execute your solution and see the outcome immediately.” After his surgical residency, Sniezek took his practice in head and neck cancer surgery to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, where he served the bulk of his active duty commitment (and where he learned to surf, as one would). A few years after his arrival, Sniezek was directing the residency program. “I was pretty young to be given that responsibility,” he says. “But the military tends to give you more opportunities to lead earlier than you get in the civilian world.” Six years later, Sniezek was named chief of Tripler’s Department of Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat surgery), and finally consultant to the Surgeon General of the Army.

Rapid rise Sniezek wanted to be a doctor as long as he can remember. He grew up in Tennessee, graduated in the top two percent of his class at West Point, and earned his MD at Vanderbilt Medical School. From his first day in a gross anatomy class, he was sold on surgery. It was immediate, tactile. Healthcare in action. “The logic and order of surgery appealed to me,” he says. “You define

Army outreach Beyond his leadership at Tripler and throughout the Army, Sniezek led humanitarian surgical missions throughout the Asia Pacific, supporting the State Department’s diplomatic efforts by serving patients and training local physicians through “Sight, Sound and Smile” pop-up clinics. He also served an unforgettable sevenmonth deployment to Bagram Air Base in

30 | Foster Business

Afghanistan, directing the Joint Combat Casualty Research team which continues the military’s long tradition of turning war-time trauma into medical advancements. During his time in Afghanistan and Iraq, the team discovered a breakthrough in the treatment of bleeding wounds, learning that IV fluids actually impede the body’s natural measures of self-protection. But the experience was more emotional than cerebral for Sniezek. “It was such a pure opportunity to provide healthcare with no distractions,” he says. “To see the humanity, humor, dedication and camaraderie among the deployed physicians—it’s incredibly uplifting to see the human spirit work like that. I’ve never been happier or prouder to be a physician than I was when I was deployed.” Expanding impact After retiring from active duty at the rank of colonel, Sniezek jumped at the opportunity to join the Swedish Cancer Institute—especially when it came with a chance to study in the Foster School’s Executive MBA Program. Sniezek says the degree opened immediate doors. Upon graduation, he was asked to join the Operative Executive Committee at Swedish. “I love medicine and my goal is to continue practicing high-quality surgery,” he says. “But with the MBA, I feel empowered to affect healthcare around me, too.” He believes this will be a critical factor in the brave new world of medicine, where quality of care must be balanced with cost containment. “It’s the challenge of our time,” he adds. “And that’s why more doctors need to be trained in business. We were taught in medical school to avoid letting financial issues cloud our medical decision-making. But now we have to address both sides of the equation, and there is no one better positioned than physicians to do it right.” n

– Ed Kromer

Centennial Pop Quiz How well do you know the Foster School of Business? Test yourself on these 15 questions that span the 100-year history of business education at the University of Washington. 1. In what year did the UW School/ College of Business Administration begin offering an MBA degree? a. 1917 b. 1944 c. 1950 d. 1965 2. Who was the School’s first Nobel Prize winner? a. Carleton Parker b. Charles Miller c. William Sharpe d. Gerhardt Mueller 3. Which member of the legendary “Boys in the Boat” was a Foster grad? a. Don Hume (stroke seat) b. George “Shorty” Hunt (6 seat) c. Joe Rantz (7 seat) d. Bobby Moch (coxswain) 4. Which prominent Seattle-based musician is a Foster School graduate? a. Macklemore b. Kenny G c. Quincy Jones d. Ann Wilson 5. In what year did the School establish its first international student exchange program? a. 1918 b. 1920 c. 1975 d. 1990

6. Which Seattle Mariners legend holds a certificate from the Foster School? a. Edgar Martinez b. Alvin Davis c. Jay Buhner d. Dave Niehaus 7. Michael G. Foster is a graduate of the University of Washington. a. True b. False 8. How many winners of the PACCAR Award for Excellence in Teaching are still educating students at the Foster School? a. 6 b. 8 c. 12 d. All of them 9. Which chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the financial information honorary society, is the Foster School’s? a. Beta b. Delta c. Lamda d. Upsilon 10. The School’s Aerospace Industry Management Seminar (AIMS), a joint venture with The Boeing Company, was established in what year? a. 1941 b. 1962 c. 1970 d. 1993

11. The UW School of Business Administration began with 12 students and 7 faculty members in 1917. What was enrollment in 1920? a. 56 b. 128 c. 560 d. 1350 12. When did the School first offer courses in entrepreneurship? a. 1928 b. 1970 c. 1985 d. 1991 13. Mackenzie Hall is home to a work by which famous Northwest artist? a. Dale Chihuly b. Jacob Lawrence c. George Tsutakawa d. Morris Graves 14. The College of Business Administration was first accredited by the American Association of College Schools of Business (AACSB) in what year? a. 1918 b. 1921 c. 1943 d. 1965 15. Who was the keynote speaker of the first annual Business Leadership Celebration? a. Howard Schultz b. John Eyler c. Andy Grove d. Alan Greenspan

Answers next page

Pop Quiz: Answer Key

1 (a): 1917 From its first day of operation, the Foster School of Business offered both BBA and MBA degrees. 2 (c): William Sharpe Dr. Sharpe received the 1990 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work developing the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) while on the UW School of Business Administration faculty in the 1960s. 3 (d): Bobby Moch After leading the Husky Clipper to improbable victory in front of Adolph Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympiad, Moch went on to coach crew at the UW and MIT, partner in a Seattle law firm and serve as president of the UW Alumni Association. 4 (b): Kenny G. Kenneth Gorelick (BA 1978) earned his degree in accounting before becoming one of the biggest-selling artists of all time, with global sales of his smooth jazz and sultry saxophone totaling more than 75 million records. 5 (b): 1920 Twelve Chinese students were enrolled in the College of Business Administration’s first international exchange. Several were Boxer Indemnity Scholars, their tuition and travel financed by the Chinese government as part of its war reparations to the United States for damage done during the Boxer Rebellion. 6 (a): Edgar Martinez After retiring as one of baseball’s all-time greatest hitters, the future MLB Hall of Famer enrolled in the Executive Development Program to hone the skills required to manage his family apparel branding business.

7 (b): False The school’s namesake attended the UW but left early to begin his career in finance, eventually joining the local brokerage firm of Foster & Marshall that was co-founded by his father, Albert O. Foster, who was a Foster graduate. Albert, Evelyn and Michael founded The Foster Foundation in 1984. The Foundation has given a total of $50 million in philanthropy to the school. 8 (c): 12 The School’s highest teaching award has honored 16 faculty members since it was established by PACCAR Inc in 1998. Recipients include Karma Hadjimichalakis (1998), Steve Sefcik (1999), Elizabeth Stearns (2000), Jennifer Koski (2001, 2008, 2015), Ali Tarhouni (2002), Rocky Higgins (2003), Jane Kennedy (2004), Dan Turner (2005), Mark Forehand (2006), Mark Hillier (2007, 2013), Shelly Jain (2009), Thomas Gilbert (2010), Lance Young (2011), Erich Studer-Ellis (2012), Frank Hodge (2014), and Kathy Dewenter (2016). Of this best-of-the-best roster, the only ones no longer teaching at the Foster School are Karma Hadjimichalakis (passed away in 2011), Ali Tarhouni (left to lead a revolution in Libya), Rocky Higgins (emeritus professor) and Jane Kennedy (now a Distinguished Professor of Accounting at the University of San Diego). 9 (b): Delta Beta Alpha Psi was established at the College of Business Administration in 1921, the organization’s fourth (or delta) chapter. 10 (b): 1962 The intensive residential program is still educating Boeing managers today, making it the longest-running corporate custom program in the nation. 11 (d): 1350 With the First World War ending, enrollment at the school spiked, ranking it among the four largest schools of commerce in the United States. Through the 1920s, nearly one-in-four undergraduates at the UW majored in business; one-third of them were women.

32 | Foster Business

12 (b): 1970 Professor Karl Vesper, dubbed the “dean of entrepreneurial studies,” developed the school’s first classes in entrepreneurship before most even knew what the word meant. 13 (c): George Tsutakawa The internationally renowned sculptor’s “Fountain of Reflection,” commissioned for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, was installed in the Mackenzie Hall courtyard in 1987. 14 (b): 1921 At the time, UW became one of only 20 American business schools to be accredited by the influential AACSB. Today the number is 789 business schools in 53 countries. 15 (d): Alan Greenspan Headlining the inaugural BLC, held in 1992 on the occasion of the school’s 75th anniversary, was Greenspan, the powerful chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Over the years, the school’s marquee event has featured many of the preeminent names in American corporate leadership including Schultz of Starbucks (1998), Eyler of FAO Schwartz (1995), Grove of Intel (1997), Jeffry Immelt of GE (2003), Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase (2011) and Robert Iger of Disney (2014). How did you do? 13-15 correct – Summa Cum Laude! 10-12 correct – Dean’s List 6-9 correct – Solid student 0-5 correct – Maybe consider a refresher course? To learn more about the Foster School’s history, visit:


Flying a small private airplane Occupation:

Piloting a FORTUNE 500 company

When Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden graduated from UW Foster’s Executive MBA Program in 1997, his career was ready for take-off. With Brad’s leadership, Alaska Airlines continues to reach new heights— and he has the confidence of knowing that 16 of his senior leaders are well equipped for business with their own Foster MBAs.

­N onprofit O rganization U.S. P ostage

PAI D S eattle, WA P ermit N o. 62 ADVAN C E M E NT B ox 353200 S eattle , Wa 9 8195-3200

Michael G. Foster school of business University of washington

*initial concept of the Foster School complex with a future classroom/collaboration facility to replace Mackenzie Hall


spring/Summer 2017

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