MICHAEL G. FOSTER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON WINTER 2019
MASTER DEVELOPER MARTIN SELIG HAS SHAPED THE MODERN SEATTLE SKYLINE IN HIS OWN INIMITABLE STYLE PAGE 10
Leadership in the Time of AI PAGE 14
Founded at Foster PAGE 16
Peak Management PAGE 20
BUSINESS Dean James Jiambalvo
Associate Dean of Advancement Steven Hatting
Director of Alumni Engagement
Sky’s the Limit Master developer Martin Selig has shaped the modern Seattle skyline in his own inimitable style
News BLC XXVII, Rankings Scorecard, Data Dawgs, Design/Build, Strategic Investment, Great Sports, International Expansion, Foster Fan Zone, Notably, Foster Afield, Forté Fortissima
Fritzky Chair James Whittaker on the inevitability of artificial intelligence: will you profit or perish?
Business Manager Emily Nichols
Contributing Writers Andrew Krueger, Eric Nobis, Kyra Taubel-Bruce
Design a.k.a. design
Founded at Foster
Snapshots of successful studentfounded ventures catalyzed by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship
Research Briefs, Honor Roll, Class of 2018
Foster School of Business Marketing & Communications University of Washington Box 353200 Seattle, WA 98195-3200 206.685.2933
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 proceeds from the Ivar Haglund Endowment. No state funds are used in its production.
Foster’s Department of Management and Organization ranks #1 in the world for rigorous, relevant research
Alumni On the cover: The heart of Martin Selig’s Seattle stretches from Lower Queen Anne to Belltown to Downtown (Steven Fong photo).
Matt Hagen, Paul Gibson, Steven Fong, Suzi Pratt, Tara Brown, Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures, UW Athletics. Additional images courtesy of Martin Selig Real Estate and companies featured in “Founded at Foster.”
Leadership in the Time of AI
Jeff Roe, Jessica Gilmore, Mark Calvert, Nate Miles, Kasia Omilian
Change of Address? email@example.com
MEMO To: Alumni & Friends Re: Portfolio of Graduate Business Programs
There are many paths to success. We’re merely featuring 11 of them. • Full-time MBA
• Master of Science in Business Analytics
• Evening MBA
• Master of Science in Entrepreneurship
• Hybrid MBA
• Master of Science in Information Systems
• Technology Management MBA
• Master of Science in Taxation
• Executive MBA
• Master of Professional Accounting • Master of Supply Chain Management
Whether it’s family, a friend, a colleague, or even you who’s looking to get ahead, your alma mater offers 11 distinct paths to the most recognized and respected graduate business degrees in the Northwest and beyond.
The journey begins at foster.uw.edu.
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FROM THE ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR
MAKING A POSITIVE IMPACT TOGETHER The holiday season is a good time to reflect on all that has happened in the past year and set resolutions for the year to come. I’m a proud Husky and Foster School alumna who graduated in 1991. Ever since, I’ve been giving back to the school that has given me and our community so much. For almost a decade, I’ve served on the UW Foster School Advisory Board. It’s a privilege to be surrounded by amazing entrepreneurs and industry leaders who have shaped our business school and our society. Given the honor to serve as board chair this year, I see first-hand the importance of our private-public partnerships to sustaining the momentum of our school. Our fabulous dean, Jim Jiambalvo, gives a lot of credit for the school’s nation-leading rise in the rankings to UW Foster’s alumni network and business partners. Let’s review a few results: • #1 requested undergraduate major at the UW for the past seven years. • #1 for MBA career placement among the nation’s top business schools.
Fostering community: Dean Jim Jiambalvo, Fritzky Chair James Whittaker, Beverly Wyse of Boeing, Ron Armstrong of PACCAR, Annie Young-Scrivner of Godiva, and Pete Nordstrom of Nordstrom at the school’s Centennial Leadership Celebration last year.
• #1 public business school for research productivity in the world. • Over 1 MILLION jobs created by Foster alumni founding businesses. (There’s a reason why our next new building will be called Founders Hall!) Together, we already have achieved so much. But there is more work to do. As you set your New Year resolutions for 2019, I ask all alumni to take an active role in supporting the Foster School. Whether you’re volunteering valuable time, including the Foster School in your philanthropy, or building bridges to your companies and professional networks, thank you for being our partner in these transformational efforts to educate creative, conscientious and effective leaders. There is one more way you can support your alma mater: advocacy. While our private funding has continued to grow, we are ranked the LOWEST among 23 peer flagship universities in combined state support and tuition per student. We truly have done more with less. But we also have an opportunity to highlight the value that Foster provides to the UW and the state of Washington. With your advocacy and your role in Washington’s dynamic business community, we can realize our school’s full potential for generations to come. Dean Jiambalvo set an ambitious goal for us when he became dean 14 years ago: to become the best public business school in America. The Advisory Board believes this remains the standard to which we must aspire and work. Join us in making the UW Foster School of Business the #1 public business school in the nation. If you have questions or ideas to enhance education, please connect with our Foster Alumni Network by emailing FANs@uw.edu. I believe you will make a difference. In the meantime, enjoy this issue of Foster BUSINESS to find many more points of pride at our alma mater. Wishing you happy holidays and a fabulous 2019,
Annie Young-Scrivner (BA 1991) Chairman of the Board, Michael G. Foster School of Business
Along with her role at UW Foster, Annie is the CEO of Godiva Chocolatier and serves on the board of directors at Tiffany & Co. She and her husband Scott are both proud Huskies.
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BLC XXVII 27th Annual Business Leadership Celebration honors outstanding leaders, extraordinary dean
Firoz Lalji, David Selig, Dean Jim Jiambalvo, Nancy Zevenbergen, Pete Shimer and Annie Young-Scrivner.
In November, the Foster School’s 27th Annual Business Leadership Celebration honored four versions of the American Dream, offered leadership wisdom from an American hero, and bid a fond farewell to the school’s own outstanding, outgoing leader. The evening was emceed by Christina Fong, principal lecturer of leadership and management, and Jessica Raasch (MBA 2018), the Outstanding MBA Student of the Year. Raasch captivated the audience with an account of her toughest day in the MBA Program—an ignominiously failed classroom pitch for her “perfect” app idea that precipitated some serious growth— to illustrate the hard-earned leadership lessons of her Foster experience.
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five million square feet of office space and has another 1.75 million in development across his adoptive city. “I don’t know of another developer who is so hands-on,” said his daughter, Jordan Selig, the company’s executive vice president. “His passion for the business has completely reshaped the Seattle skyline.” Firoz Lalji, the co-founder, president and CEO of Zones, was born in Uganda and educated in England, launched his entrepreneurial career in Canada, but forged his greatest success with the $2.5 billion global IT solutions provider that he founded in Auburn, WA. “I like to say that I am living the American Dream,” Lalji said, pointing to his team as his true competitive advantage. “It takes talented, engaged, empowered people with a shared vision to make your dreams come true.” Nancy Zevenbergen (BA 1981), the founder, president and chief investment officer of Zevenbergen Capital Investments, has created incredible success investing in growth firms with an empowered team and an uncanny eye for
Distinguished leaders Exemplary leadership, ambition and inspiration were the constants among four very different recipients of this year’s Distinguished Leadership Awards. Martin Selig (BA 1959) fled Nazi Germany with his family as a young child, founded Martin Selig Real Estate while studying business at the UW, and built a company that, over six decades, has played an essential role in Seattle’s emergence as a global economic and innovation capital. Today, Selig’s orga- Christina Fong with David and Jordan Selig, representing nization owns and manages their father, Distinguished Leadership Awardee Martin Selig.
Through the lens of his highly decorated 32-year career in the military (and plenty of colorful stories), McCaffrey offered his blunt observations on the keys to effective leadership: 1. It helps to not be stupid. 2. Not everybody likes being in charge. Don’t make them. 3. Motivate more by reward than by punishment. General Barry McCaffrey
game-changers. ZCI got in on the ground floor of Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Facebook, Zillow, Google, Chipotle and LinkedIn, to name a few. “We believe diversification maintains wealth, and that’s fine,” said Zevenbergen. “But concentrated growth investments create wealth. Own businesses with great people, look to the future, know change is coming, and stay invested.” Pete Shimer (BA 1984), the CFO of Deloitte and a former Husky basketball player, has built his sterling reputation as the ultimate “player’s coach,” both professionally and in his many contributions to the community. “The Foster School taught me how to think, how to connect and how to lead,” said Shimer, chair of the UW Foundation Board. “This is where I came to know and understand what true community is, what giving back and paying it forward is all about.” Leadership in plain language Delivering the evening’s keynote was Barry McCaffrey, the retired four-star general in the United States Army, former presidential cabinet member, and current professor, commentator and business consultant.
4. Units only do well what the boss checks. 5. Don’t think too highly of yourself. 6. Make sure your instructions are clear. 7. See the threats on the horizon. “You need two things to succeed in any enterprise,” McCaffrey concluded. “One is first-rate, dedicated people with talent. And the other is luck.” A bon voyage This was the final Business Leadership Celebration presided over by Jim Jiambalvo, the Orin & Janet Smith Dean of the Foster School of Business. In July, Jiambalvo will return to his faculty post in the Department of Accounting after 14 remarkable years at the helm of this fastclimbing academic organization. “Dean Jiambalvo is a true leader,” said Annie Young-Scrivner (BA 1991), the CEO of Godiva Chocolatier and chair of the Foster School Advisory Board. “Under his leadership, we have all come together to realize his bold plan for the Foster School to be the number-one public business school in the nation. He has transformed the experiences and business education that creates prosperity for all. “When all is said and done, I have no doubt that Jim will be remembered as the greatest dean in Foster School history.”
The UW Foster School’s margin of excellence is largely due to private support from alumni and friends. If you are considering a gift to Foster before the tax year ends on December 31st, you can browse different areas of support by visiting:
BUSINESS COMMUNITY Foster’s rise has been powered by many invaluable corporate and individual partnerships, many of which were on display at the Business Leadership Celebration. The Awardees Reception was sponsored by Deloitte. Gold Sponsors included Accenture, Alaska Airlines, Dorrit Bern, Susan Bevan & Tony Daddino, Jason & Stephanie Child, Gretchen Claflin, Kathy & John Connors, Crowley Maritime Corporation, D.A. Davidson, Neal & Jan Dempsey, Ken & Mary Denman, Bill & Sally Douglas, EY, The Foster Foundation, Dan Fulton, GM Nameplate, Charlie & Nancy Hogan, Iron Mountain Quarry/Washington Rock Quarries, Kemper Development Company, KPMG, Eileen O’Neill Odum, Premera Blue Cross, Providence St. Joseph Health, PwC, Shelley Reynolds, Bruce & Gail Richards, Saltchuk, Martin Selig Real Estate, Wells Fargo, Windermere Real Estate, Gary & Barbara Wipfler, Annie YoungScrivner, Zevenbergen Capital Investments and Zones Inc. Student Tables were sponsored by Chuck & Linda Barbo, Ed & Karen Fritzky and Lee & Darlene Nutter. The Dessert Reception was sponsored by Holland America Line. Net proceeds from the Business Leadership Celebration will help foster leaders at the University of Washington.
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RANKINGS SCORECARD The epic climb continues. The Foster School has reached #16 in the nation (and #3 among public schools) in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek ranking of MBA programs. The Economist rated Foster #18 in the nation (#6 public) in its “Which MBA 2018” rankings, a climb of 14 places. And Foster moved up five spots to #21 overall (#11 public) in the most recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation’s undergraduate business programs. Here’s how Foster stacks up against the 520 accredited business schools in the United States, according to the most-watched rankings.
FULL-TIME MBA #16 (#3 public) – Bloomberg Businessweek #18 (#6 public) – Economist #22 (#7 public) – U.S. News & World Report #22 (#7 public) – Poets & Quants #23 (#7 public) – Financial Times EVENING MBA #13 (#7 public) – U.S. News & World Report #18 (#6 public) – Bloomberg Businessweek EXECUTIVE MBA #13 (#5 public) – Financial Times #23 (#7 public) – U.S. News & World Report UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM #21 (#11 public) – U.S. News & World Report #23 (#10 public) – Poets & Quants FACULTY RESEARCH #3 (#1 public) – Financial Times #4 (#1 public) – Top 100 Business School Research Rankings
DATA DAWGS Foster to launch Master of Science in Business Analytics To have value, data requires smart analysis. To this end, the Foster School will begin offering a Master of Science in Business Analytics, with the charter class commencing studies next June.* The 12-month, evening and weekend program will equip students to drive business value through data-driven decision making. Director Sara Jones explains that students will gain the technical skills and business knowledge needed to analyze challenges and create strategic solutions. They’ll also be able to leverage the Foster alumni network and connections to Seattle’s business community to accelerate careers in a high-demand profession. The MS in Business Analytics will join Foster’s growing portfolio of specialized master’s programs. *pending approval by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Learn more at foster.uw.edu/msba
DESIGN/BUILD Architect and contractor hired for Founders Hall
Future Founders Hall
The Foster School has selected LMN Architects and Hoffman Construction as the design/build team for the future Founders Hall, the 96,000 square foot multi-use facility set to replace Mackenzie Hall. LMN designed both PACCAR and Dempsey Halls. Founders Hall will add more than 500 classroom seats, 40 student team rooms and expansion space for Foster’s Undergraduate Program, career services and experiential learning centers. Estimated project costs of $70 million will be funded entirely by private gifts from leadership donors, with more than $59 million raised to date. Founders Hall is projected to begin construction in winter 2020 and open its doors in fall 2021.
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STRATEGIC INVESTMENT Consulting and Business Development Center receives major infusion to spur small business growth Earlier this year, the Foster School’s Consulting and Business Development Center received $300,000 from KeyBank to support its core undergraduate student consulting programs. Each year, more than 200 Foster undergrads work with 45 businesses owned by minorities, women and operating in inner-cities. Beth Mooney, KeyBank’s chairman and CEO, noted that the national grant is intended to help increase the center’s record of measurable success at accelerating student careers while spurring profitable growth for client businesses. Since its founding in 1995, the Consulting and Business Development Center has generated more than $200 million in new revenue and created and retained 200,000 jobs. The center named KeyBank its Corporate Partner of the Year at its annual Impact Awards December 7.
GREAT SPORTS Courtney Thompson and Jake Browning make historic impressions on Husky Athletics The Washington Huskies football program has never lacked for elite talent at the quarterback position. But no one in school history has ever thrown for as many yards or touchdowns, or generated as much total offense as Jake Browning, the current star QB. By the end of the regular season Browning, a senior studying finance at Foster, had claimed school records for career passing yards (11,796), and touchdown passes (94). He’ll finish his career among the Pac-12 all-time top 5 in both categories. The 2016 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and 2017 Academic All-Pac-12 selection, Browning is one of only six players in Pac-12 history to account for 100 or more TDs during a career (with 110 through the Apple Cup). Courtney Thompson (BA 2006) has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish on the volleyball court: High school state champion (three times). NCAA national champion. NCAA All-American (three times). Honda Award (for NCAA player of the year). Olympic medalist (twice). World champion. How do you top all that? With athletic immortality. In October, Thompson was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame, only the third player in her sport to receive this honor. Now retired from competitive volleyball, Thompson has co-founded the Give It Back Foundation and recently joined Compete To Create, the high-performance consulting firm founded by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
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INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION Federal funding increased for Global Business Center The Foster School’s Global Business Center (GBC) has been awarded $1.3 million from the US Department of Education Centers for International Business Education & Research (CIBER) program for 2018-2022. This renewed—and increased—investment makes Foster one of only 15 b-schools with a federally designated center of excellence in global business education. A CIBER-funded center for 28 years, the Global Business Center will use its increased funding to deliver 30 new initiatives around the areas of Asia Pacific trade networks, the digital economy and multidisciplinary skills for successful careers. Plans include an annual Town Hall to join a national discussion about the US-China relationship and grants to develop joint courses and projects with faculty in other countries.
FOSTER FAN ZONE
NOTABLY… First in Jobs – Foster led the nation in MBA job placement for the third-straight year in 2017. And with 99 percent of 2018 grads landing jobs within three months of graduation, the streak is likely to continue. Best of the Best – Foster’s PhD Program accepted just 3 percent of nearly 500 applicants from around the world this year. Doubling Up – The Master of Science in Information Systems incoming class of 2019—100 students—is twice the size of any cohort in program history. Top Dawgs – The top employers of Foster’s undergraduate class of 2018 were Accenture, Amazon, Boeing, Deloitte, EY, Expedia, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Moss Adams, Nordstrom, Protiviti, PwC, Starbucks and Tableau. College Pipeline – The Young Executives of Color Program saw 100 percent of its senior class of 2018 enroll in college— of the 94 grads, 64 were admitted to the UW and 22 to Foster via its elite Freshman Direct Program. Going Concerns – 27 of 42 student-led startups that received seed funding from the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Jones + Foster Accelerator are still in business today.
Hundreds dropped by the Foster alumni tailgate outside the old ASUW Shellhouse—historic home of “The Boys in the Boat”—before the football Huskies dismantled the Arizona State Sun Devils in September.
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GET FOSTER GEAR ONLINE AT THE FOSTER SCHOOL STORE
foster.uw.edu/store 10% off with the code: magazine
Some of the most passionate Foster alumni live and work many time zones away from Seattle. Active alumni clubs connect around the United States and across Asia, from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Tokyo to Taipei, Seoul to Singapore—where this gathering of proud Huskies took place last July.
To keep up with the full calendar of Foster School events at home and away visit: foster.uw.edu/foster-alumni/
The Forté Foundation, a powerful consortium of leading companies and top b-schools, has selected the Foster School’s Jessica Raasch (MBA 2018) as the winner of its 2018 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award. Raasch was the consummate Foster MBA: president of Women in Business, co-founder of the Leadership & Management Society, Dean’s Merit Fellow, Finance Society, Tech Club, Consulting Society, Strategy Club, competitor in the UW Business Plan Competition, champion of the WeSolv Corporate Innovation Challenge, runner-up at the PepsiCo MBA Invitational Case Competition. Her classmates selected her Outstanding MBA Student. Now Raasch is engaged in T-Mobile’s Executive Leadership Program.
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MASTER DEVELOPER MARTIN SELIG HAS SHAPED THE MODERN SEATTLE SKYLINE IN HIS OWN INIMITABLE STYLE By ED KROMER
SOME HAILED THE PLAN AS BOLD. Others found it mad. But Martin Selig (BA 1959) never minded the critics, even as he set out to erect the world’s sixth-tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle. It was the dawn of the 1980s. Starbucks was a local coffee house, Microsoft a nerdy startup and Amazon just a river in South America. Seattle, to the many unacquainted, was still a little-known dot on the far upper left of the map; a misty, mysterious land of evergreens and airplanes, salmon and a sci-fi tower straight out of the Jetsons. Selig aimed to change that perception. An astute developer of commercial real estate across the city’s midsection, he could see where Seattle was headed, the waves of innovation and economic growth to come. Its skyline needed a statement of intent. And he was all in. Selig put up many of his existing properties as collateral on a $205 million loan—the largest in state history at the time—without a single major tenant committed. He painstakingly bought up an entire city block sloping between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, and bartered retail space and public amenities for added height. After more than five years in development and construction, the Columbia Center topped out just shy of 1,000 feet (as high as the FAA would allow)—76 stories of steel and sleek black glass encasing 1.5 million square feet of elegant office space designed for 6,000 businesses. He built it, all right. And they came. Of course, Martin Selig’s role in Seattle’s emergence as an economic capital neither begins nor ends with the Columbia Center. Today, his signature is written across the city’s skyline. But this mid-career act of vision and tenacity, this corporate counterpart to Seattle’s earlier, quirkier landmark, certainly fired the engine. “My philosophy was that the Space Needle told people where Seattle was,” Selig says. “The Columbia Center told people that Seattle had arrived.”
already underway. “I can still hear the bombing of Warsaw in my ears,” Selig says. His family eventually reached Moscow, where they boarded the Trans-Siberian Railway and traveled nearly 6,000 miles to its terminus in Korea, then hopped a boat to Japan. A steerage berth on the steamer Hikawa Maru delivered them across the Pacific, bound for San Francisco. On October 14, 1940, the ship stopped in Seattle. “It was one of those bright, sunny fall days,” recalls Selig. “The mountains were out and the weather was beautiful. My father said, ‘We’re getting off here.’ And the rest is history.” They arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few gold coins stashed in the heels of Manfred’s shoes. But it was a new start in a land of peace, possibility and, they hoped, prosperity. Career change Manfred and Laura rebooted their livelihood selling textiles doorto-door, before opening a store at 23rd and Jackson. The post-war baby boom sparked a wise migration to children’s wear. Naturally, Martin worked in the family store from early childhood to his days at the University of Washington. “At first, I’d stand on a shelf so that I could see over the counter,” he says. He got his first taste of the real estate industry while studying business administration at the UW. In the summer before his senior year, he dated a young woman whose father was an investor of some distinction. “He would brag that he could make the stocks go up or down based on whether he bought or sold,” Selig says. “I thought, why should I let people like him control my destiny?” When he returned to campus in the fall of 1958, Selig gathered his savings from years working in the family shop— $2,000—and made a down payment on a commercial property
Exodus An arrival just as momentous, in a more personal way, occurred one crystalline autumn day some 45 years earlier. Martin Selig was born in 1936, the second child of Manfred and Laura Selig. The Seligs lived in the Bavarian hamlet of Arnstein, above the small department store they owned. One day in 1939, a neighbor tipped off Manfred that the Nazi Party had labeled the family “undesirables” and planned to confiscate their home and business. They fled that night, hiding in warehouse basements near Frankfurt until Manfred could arrange for safe passage out of Germany. As the Second World War broke out all around them, the Seligs made their way east into Poland. Hitler’s invasion was
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near what is now University Village. “I liked to show the guys in my fraternity house: that’s mine. I own it,” he says. “Sounds kind of naïve, doesn’t it? But I knew I had a good tenant who paid rent, and I knew how long it would take to pay off my investment.” But a career in real estate? “I was in children’s wear,” he says. “That was the family business. That was what I was going to do.” Until… “I figured out that the numbers in real estate were a lot different than the numbers in children’s wear,” he says with a chuckle. “A lot more fun.” Around a stint in the Army and an MBA from the Wharton School, Selig sold his first property and reinvested the proceeds in the purchase of a small shopping center. Then he sold the shopping center at a profit and bought another. And so on. “Eventually I thought, why should I keep on buying shopping centers?” Selig says. “So I went and built them.” He developed retail centers in Everett, Renton, Bellevue, Monroe and North Seattle. Reshaping the city In 1969, Martin Selig Real Estate began developing professional spaces, constructing its first office building in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. This kicked off an incredibly productive period that saw Selig put up a new building, on average, each year for nearly two decades. These were mostly high-end high rises, stretching from Queen Anne to Belltown to Downtown, including several blocks of Fourth and Fifth Avenues in the city core. But nothing approached the scale of the Columbia Center. This triple-tiered pinnacle of the Seattle cityscape opened its many doors in 1985 and was fully occupied within a couple of years. By then, Selig owned more than one-third of Seattle’s downtown office space. A 1986 article in the New York Times proclaimed that he had done “more to change Seattle’s skyline than anything since the Great Fire of 1889.” In 1989, Selig made the uncharacteristic decision to sell the Columbia Center, for $354 million. “It was a lot of fun, but also all-encompassing,” he says. “When I sold it, it felt as if the shackles had come off.” Free once more to pursue new projects, he continued developing commercial buildings across the city and the years. Today, Martin Selig Real Estate owns more than five million square feet of office space—99-percent occupied—with another 1.75 million in development. Secrets to success It’s not by accident that Selig has built a real estate empire through so many of Seattle’s heaving cycles of boom and bust. His secrets to success are hardly secrets at all. He has rarely sold properties, compounding on the upward trend of Seattle’s real estate valuations. He has maintained a lean,
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independent organization that fully taps the talent of its tight-knit team of loyal colleagues. And his strategy has remained remarkably consistent. “I give Martin a great deal of credit for being disciplined,” says longtime consultant and friend Jack Rodman. “A great deal of his success comes from knowing his market, knowing what he does well, and doing it well. He has never drifted.” That’s not to say he hasn’t evolved. Rodman adds that Selig has transitioned his developments from serving the traditional office needs of accountants, lawyers and insurance brokers to meeting the demands of a new generation of entrepreneurs and tech firms seeking flexible work environments and one-of-a-kind architecture. And then there are the intangibles. Those who work closely with Selig describe him with words like determination, tenacity, courage, vision, innovation and optimism. His youngest daughter, Jordan, the organization’s executive vice president, counts a long list of indelible lessons learned from her father: “Do not miss the forest for the trees. Never burn bridges. Always view the glass as half full. Listen more than you speak. Think outside the box. Never sell. And, above all, follow your passion.” Art and architecture Selig is certainly a man of many passions. In addition to his absolute dedication to the business, he also is a devoted patron of the arts and an accomplished artist in his own right. Though he describes himself as a “dabbler,” his vivid abstract paintings fetch thousands of dollars at charity auctions. His buildings are de facto galleries of fine frescoes, murals and sculptures by renowned artists (including the eye-catching giant “Red Popsicle” outside of Fourth & Blanchard, created in 2013 by his wife, the artist Catherine Mayer). Now in his early 80s, Selig continues to play as hard as he works. An avid skier, he managed 27 days on the slopes last winter (“If I’m lucky,” he says, “I’ll get 50 this year”). And while most of his fellow motorcycle-riding “Hell’s Rotarians” have long since retired, he still gets out on his Harley Davidson Softail as often FIRESTONE as he can, touring exotic BUILDING locales with friends each summer. “Martin is a Renaissance man,” says Rodman. “I might start calling him Leonardo.”
What’s next? Selig’s longevity has certainly surpassed the great Italian master, who took his last commission at age 64. “I think Martin is accelerating, in a way,” says Erik Mott, design principal with the architecture firm Perkins + Will. “He keeps moving forward, keeps innovating. He believes in his ability to deliver projects that others might shy away from.” Ask Selig for his favorite, and he’ll inevitably reply: “The one we’re working on now.” There are plenty:
• 15th and Market will be Selig’s first foray into Ballard. • 3031 Western will be his first luxury residential high rise, with commanding views, a green roof and solar shading. • Third and Lenora, a 36-story tower, will be WeWork’s first “WeLive” residential/commercial concept on the West Coast. • 400 Westlake, Selig’s South Lake Union debut, will modernize and expand the 1929 art deco Firestone Building to create the greenest office structure of its size in the world. • The historic 1950 Federal Reserve Building (1015 Second Ave.) will be restored—including its massive vault doors—and repurposed as a modern office building, topped by seven additional floors sheathed in glass. • The Commuter Building (815 Western) will be reborn as an 18-floor mixed-use building—office, residential and retail— fronting the Seattle waterfront once the viaduct comes down. So, Selig has his work cut out for him. And he predicts that Seattle’s current transformation will offer considerable opportunities for some time to come. Not that he’s contemplating retirement. “I haven’t started working yet, so how could I retire?” he says. “This continues to be a challenging, extremely creative outlet—and a lot of fun.”
American doer Selig has led a remarkable life, from escaping Nazi Germany to remaking the skyline of the city that took him in so many years ago. “Martin embodies what I would call the great American story, a rags-to-riches success,” says his friend Jack Rodman. But Selig’s American story is a tale of doing rather than dreaming. “You know, it just happens as life goes on,” he says. “You’re living in the dream.” Besides, he’s too busy to dwell on the past for long. There’s always that next run, next ride, next canvas, next building awaiting. “I look forward. I don’t look back,” he says with a wry smile. “You can’t drive a car looking at the rearview mirror.” n
LEADERSHIP IN THE TIME OF
Fritzky Chair James Whittaker on the inevitability of artificial intelligence: will you profit or perish?
The Foster School has never seen a Fritzky Chair like James Whittaker. The visionary engineer, acclaimed author and irreverent raconteur comes to Foster by way of Google and Microsoft, where he currently serves as distinguished engineer and technical evangelist. As the Edward V. Fritzky Visiting Chair in Leadership for the 2018-19 academic year, Whittaker views himself as a kind of high-tech prophet, come to ready the school for artificial intelligence and its inevitable transformation of lives and livelihoods around the world. Foster Business asked him to elaborate.
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What keeps you up at night? James Whittaker: Knowing that we are the first generation of humans smart enough to build artificial life more intelligent than we are, and the first generation stupid enough to actually do it. I lay awake at night trying to figure out how we can get this right. How do you define artificial intelligence? Traditional software is deterministic. Given data, it does exactly what it is programmed to do. Its code paths and output are predictable. AI is nondeterministic. Given data, it learns what to do based on a model of behavior. The more data it gets, the more it learns. We can program traditional software. AI, we simply supervise. It’s a fundamentally new way to compute. How does AI work? By removing the human user and its decision-making ability and replacing it with machine automation. Let’s take the self-driving car to illustrate. First, think about how you’d teach your kid to drive. The first part is mechanics: how to operate the brakes, the steering wheel, the turn signals, etc. The second stage is awareness: what to look out for when you’re driving and how to avoid breaking any motor laws. Like your kid, a self-driving car is trained to master the mechanics and awareness, using sensors to see and hear the environment around it and to react to what it encounters. But here’s where selfdriving cars really leave humans behind: they can communicate with every other autonomous car through the “Internet of Things.” When one of them learns something, they all learn something. Humans can’t compete. Machines will be much better drivers.
That doesn’t sound so scary. Most AI scenarios aren’t scary. The scary part is once they learn enough to have a mind of their own. If those cars ever tire of driving us… what then? So that is scary. Could that actually happen? Well, we’re conscious, aren’t we? Truth is, we aren’t certain exactly how humans
became conscious. At some point in our evolution, our brains got complicated enough that we evolved a conscious mind. AI brains grow in a similar manner. If it is only complexity that spawns consciousness, then yes, machines could develop their own will and create their own wants and desires. Of course, this is still in the realm of theory. In fact, it’s my area of inquiry right now. But if machines become conscious, it will likely be learned, not programmed, which means we won’t be able to directly control it. Why is AI inevitable? There is so much data in the world—people were generating 10 exabytes (or 1 billion gigabytes) per day in 2015—that there’s no way that humans or even software can handle it all. Only AI. On top of that, AI promises enormous efficiencies in every business and in every facet of life. For instance, a swarm of tiny connected robots could keep your house clean. Micro sensors in your body could monitor your nutrition and health. On the downside, if software was good at killing blue-collar jobs, AI is going to be good at killing both blue- and white-collar jobs. How can businesses survive in the age of AI? By rethinking all our software processes from an artificial intelligence point of view. The currency of AI is data. We need to reduce all our business processes to data and develop sensors and devices that generate this data. And then we need to teach our machines to learn from the data. Think about autonomous cars, which are not programmed to drive themselves, they’re trained. We need to train our businesses to drive themselves. The people who do this best and most thoughtfully are the ones that are going to thrive in the economy of the future. How can individuals survive in the age of AI? Develop creativity. Be innovative. If something can be reduced to data, it’s going to be done by a machine far better than by any human being. Creativity can’t be
so easily reduced to data. It’s the process of turning nothing into something. I’m not saying that machines will never learn creativity, but it’s one of the last things they will learn. Is this transformation going to hurt? In the 1990s, the transition from a world powered by humans to a world powered by software shook the foundations of our society. Companies that got ahead of it succeeded. Companies that fell behind it went to their graves. The same will be true when society shifts from traditional software to AI. Companies are going to rise and others are going to fall. It’s just that the stakes are much higher now. If we don’t think through AI, we’re in trouble. And this isn’t just me warning about the future. This is Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking. It’s a fundamentally new species that we’re going to be dealing with, one that’s smarter and more capable than we are. It changes the game so fundamentally that humans may not even be a part of the equation if we’re not careful. Why is it so important to address the impact of a technology that doesn’t fully exist? We failed to think through the software revolution. We ceded our future to technologists like Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Steve Jobs. These individual humans made a bunch of decisions about how we all live today, for good and bad. They gave us productivity and security vulnerabilities. They gave us search and sold results to the highest bidder. They gave us the power to share… fake news and cyberbullying. This time, business leaders need to help drive us forward and not leave it to the tech industry alone. The more people who understand AI and its legal, ethical and moral ramifications, the more voice we will have in how we live in the future. We’re heading into unexplored territory where there is huge opportunity but also serious risks to humanity. The ship has already sailed, and there’s no bringing it back into harbor. We need to steer it the best we can. n
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STEM CELL PRESERVATION FOR THE THERAPIES OF TOMORROW
• Founded in 2015 (as miPS Labs) by Alex Jiao (PhD 2016, bioengineering), Rob Thomas (MBA 2015), Jenna Strully (MBA 2015) and Edward Whalen (BA 2016) • BPC Best Idea, HIC 2nd place, J+FA • Raised $700K; launched commercial service; expanded to Los Angeles and San Francisco
It’s one thing to start a business and quite another to sustain it. Over the past couple decades, the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship has catalyzed the launch of more than 1,000 student-founded ventures through its competitions, programs, courses, accelerator—and awards of seed funding in excess of $3 million. Many of those companies—a recent survey estimates 21 percent—are still in business today. Here is a small sample of the myriad successful firms founded by enterprising students at the Foster School and around the UW, each the beneficiary of a distinct “Buerk bump.”
MIKKI CO.: BOTTLED WHITE COFFEE DIRTY CHAI AND MATCHA DRINKS • Founded in 2017 (as Nastea) by Kathy Tuan (BA 2017, global health, entrepreneurship), Karin Soyama (BA 2017, marketing and entre) and Minnie Yuan (BA 2017, art, communications, entrepreneurship and current MS Entre student) • BPC, CaC, J+FA • Available in 30 retail locations around the NW; sold more than 10,000 bottles
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• Co-founded in 2003 by Amber Ratcliffe (MBA 2003) • BPC 1st place • $54M IPO in 2013; Market cap of $518M (as of November 25)
NANOSTRING: ADVANCED CANCER DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS
POLYDROP: LIGHTWEIGHT ELECTRICITY-CONDUCTING POLYMER ADDITIVES FOR COATINGS AND PLASTICS
• Founded in 2013 by Volha Hrechka (BS 2013, chemical engineering) • EIC 1st place, BPC finalist, J+FA • Awarded $750K NSF Small Business Innovation grant, WA State Matching Grant
KOTIS DESIGN: CUSTOM-BRANDED CORPORATE AND COLLEGIATE SWAG
SUPER-COMFORTABLE GRAPHIC SOCKS
• Founded in 2010 by Riley Goodman and Jake Director • LEP, J+FA
• Founded in 2001 by Jeff Becker (BA 2003) and Nicolay Thomassen (BA 2003)
• Sold more than 5 million pairs; employs 200; licensing deals with the NFL, MLB, MLS, NCAA
• BPC, CaC • Projected $50M in sales in 2019; Promo Marketing “Top 50 Distributor”
BPC – Business Plan Competition, EIC – Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, HIC – Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, J+FA – Jones + Foster Accelerator, CaC – Creating a Company class, LEP – Lavin Entrepreneurship Program
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KROCHET KIDS INTL.: HANDCRAFTED APPAREL SUPPORTING ARTISANS IN UGANDA AND PERU
• Co-Founded in 2007 by Kohl Creculius (BA 2008) • BPC Best Social Idea, CaC • Spun off KNOWN SUPPLY to humanize the global apparel industry and CAPABLE to increase its social impact
EXPERIMENT: CROWDFUNDING PLATFORM FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
• Founded (as Microryza) in 2012 by Cindy Wu (BS 2011, biology) and Denny Luan (BS 2011, econ/biochemistry) • J+FA
MEMBRION: SILICA MOLECULAR FILTERS FOR USE IN BATTERIES, FUEL CELLS AND PURIFICATION
• Developed in Y-Combinator; enabled 851 projects to raise $8.1M from 45K backers (through November) • Founded in 2015 by Greg Newbloom (PhD, chemical engineering) • BPC 1st place, EIC, HIC, J+FA • Recently raised $1.8 million in series B investment
NOSE-TO-BRAIN DRUG DELIVERY TECHNOLOGY
• Founded in 2008 by John Hoekman (PhD 2010, pharmaceutics) and Michael Hite (MBA 2009) • BPC 1st place, Best Innovation Idea • Raised more than $40M in investment
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• 2012 by Max Effgen (MBA 2012) and Chal Davidson (MBA 2012) • BPC Best Innovation Idea, EIC, J+FA • Awarded WA Clean Energy Grant of $283K; issued 4 patents
SUPERCRITICAL TECHNOLOGIES: CO2-FUELED “POWERCUBE” GENERATORS
• Founded in 2013 by Libby Ludlow (JD 2013) and Jilyne Higgins
A-ALPHA BIO: MORE EFFICIENT PRE-CLINICAL DRUG SCREENING TECHNOLOGY
• Founded in 2017 by David Younger (PhD 2018, bioengineering), Randolph Lopez (PhD 2018, bioengineering) and Bob Lamm (PhD 2018, bioengineering) • BPC 1st place, HIC 1st place, J+FA
• BPC 2nd Place, J+FA • Mentors include Olympic and professional athletes such as Lindsey Vonn (skiing), Sue Bird (basketball), Courtney Thompson (volleyball); Worked with 1,000 girls in 2018
Z GIRLS :
PROGRAMS TO EMPOWER AND EDUCATE GIRLS
• Working out of UW CoMotion Labs; secured $225K National Science Foundation grant
VIRTUAL-REALITY ENHANCED REHABILITATION THERAPIES
• Founded in 2015 (as vHab) by Brian Mogen (PhD 2015, bioengineering) and Tyler Libey, (PhD 2016, bioengineering) • BPC 3rd place, HIC, J+FA • Developing tech in UW CoMotion’s AR/VR Lab
BPC – Business Plan Competition, EIC – Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, HIC – Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, J+FA – Jones + Foster Accelerator, CaC – Creating a Company class, LEP – Lavin Entrepreneurship Program WINTER 2019 | 19
MANAGEMENT By ED KROMER AND KYRA TAUBEL-BRUCE
FOSTER’S DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION
BUSINESS SCHOOL RANKINGS are byzantine exercises,
RANKS #1 IN THE WORLD FOR
each employing its own proprietary formula of survey results, reputation grades, test scores, career data and a murky burgoo of other qualitative and quantitative markers. By comparison, b-school research rankings derive from a dead simple calculus: count the papers by each school’s faculty that are published in a set of academic journals, and compare. According to the unequivocal Management Department Productivity Ranking, the Foster School is #1 in North America for research productivity across the eight most-influential peer-reviewed journals in the field of management over the year 2017. It’s a remarkable achievement by Foster’s Department of Management and Organization. But what does it mean to be the best in management research? Let’s consider the impact of this #1 ranking across five dimensions.
RIGOROUS, RELEVANT RESEARCH
Rarity There are more than 18,000 active management scholars in the world, each vying for coveted space in a handful of top-tier academic journals that publish four or six times per year. The vast majority of those researchers would count a single publication in a top-shelf journal as the pinnacle of their career. Last year alone, 17 of Foster’s M&O faculty co-authored 24 papers that were published in the discipline’s elite eight journals—Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Personnel Psychology and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Second place? That belonged to the Wharton School of Business, with five fewer papers in the same set of journals. Foster’s 2017 publication rate of 1.04 papers per management research faculty was also best in North America, and was nearly double the average per-faculty publication rate of the top 25 schools ranked. And Foster’s tally was four times the average
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generated by the management faculties of the other 95 business schools that made the ranking. The department’s “big year” is no outlier, either. In a cumulative index of Management Department Productivity Rankings over the past five years, Foster stands at #3. Range + Relevance This volume of studies covers a vast array of topics that tend to be more revealing and relevant to real-world management issues than you might think. Among last year’s published papers were investigations of a broad spectrum of managerial considerations—from entrepreneurship to ethics, organizational behavior to corporate governance, teamwork to turnover, strategic management to sleep deprivation. “Not only do we have a top-notch research faculty, but our research should resonate with managers,” says Suresh Kotha, the Oleson/Battelle Excellence Chair in Entrepreneurship and chair of the Department of Management and Organization. “We’re not just sitting up in an ivory tower. A lot of what we’re studying is immediately applicable to management practice.” Rigor A faculty that produces so much high-caliber research impacts the learning environment at Foster in direct and indirect ways. Elijah Wee, an assistant professor of management who has won awards for both research and teaching, says he and his colleagues try to bridge the two disciplines. “I like to bring interesting research into the classroom, and that’s easy to do here because there’s a lot of really interesting research coming out of the department,” he says. “So, if I’m talking about ethics and justice, I can draw on the work of Ryan Fehr or Elizabeth
Seated (L-R): Suresh Kotha, Warren Boeker, Xiao-Ping Chen, Bruce Avolio, Tom Lee, Sorah Seong. Standing (L-R): Crystal Farh, Kira Schabram, Scott Reynolds, Abhinav Gupta, Christina Fong, Chris Barnes, Rick McPherson, Dan Olson, Elizabeth Umphress, David Sirmon, Michael Johnson, Ruth Huwe, Elijah Wee, Kevin Steensma, Ben Hallen, Greg Bigley, David Tan, Tiona Zuzul. Not pictured: Ryan Fehr, Charles Hill, Emily Cox Pahnke.
Umphress or Scott Reynolds. If I’m talking about transformational leadership, Bruce Avolio’s work comes into play. “It’s important for students to realize that the very faculty who are teaching their classes are also making important contributions to really interesting and useful areas of research. Knowing this helps them get excited not only about consuming knowledge, but also about knowledge creation—which is at the heart of what we do.” That ethic runs across the curriculum. “Beyond the specific examples they might use in class,” adds Dan Poston, associate dean for masters programs, “the fact that nearly all our faculty are researchers means they can and do explain the underlying statistical data and rigorous analysis that supports the tools they teach students to use. The concepts we teach are not untested approaches or ideas people tried in past jobs and found to work. We teach carefully tested models and algorithms with evidence that proves they work.”
Reputation Research is a frequent proxy for an institution’s academic reputation, which is not otherwise easily quantified. It’s no coincidence that virtually all the top 25 MBA programs belong to business schools with prolific records of scholarship. What does reputation get you? Interest from exceptional students and faculty, for one thing. Alumni pride. An increasingly valuable degree. A more engaged community. Academic reputation certainly impacts b-school rankings, too, creating a distinct halo effect for the school at large. Financial Times, for instance, considers research productivity prominently among its criteria for ranking MBA programs. The U.S. News & World Report rankings lean on reputation scores that are influenced by individual perceptions of academic quality. “Productive research,” adds Poston, “is a ticket to the upper echelon of respect among deans and directors at other business schools.” WINTER 2019 | 21
That makes it an essential element in Foster’s efforts to become the #1 public business school in the nation. Recruiting (and retention) Kotha points out that Foster’s rise to preeminence in management research can be traced back to a 1950s Ford Foundation study that challenged business school scholars to adopt the rigor of scientific research. Foster took it to heart, replacing experiential case studies with evidence-based findings that would pass the exacting strictures of peer review. A half-century on, the school has become a magnet for surpassing scholars in the fields of management and organizational behavior. They are attracted by Seattle and its many natural wonders and cultural amenities, an endlessly innovative business community to study, a stunning campus and world-class facilities to call home. But it’s Foster’s unmistakable culture of collaboration that keeps them here. “We have a dynamic group of young faculty in the most productive time of their careers and a strong doctoral
program that keeps senior faculty embedded in research,” says Kotha. “They bring ideas, we bring ideas and then we work together.” “We have a great culture of collaboration,” agrees Xiao-Ping Chen, the Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration, professor of management and associate dean for faculty and academic affairs. “And because so many of us have common or at least complimentary interests, we can work together pretty easily.” That collaboration may be the key to keeping these scholars, many of whom could choose to work at any school in the world. But there’s also the application of myriad insider information on the keys to high-functioning organizations. Tom Lee on job embeddedness. Chris Barnes on human sustainability. Bruce Avolio on authentic leadership. Michael Johnson on decision making. Kira Schabram on meaningful work. Elijah Wee on status and power. Crystal Farh on creativity. Xiao-Ping Chen on cultivating passion. “We do try to practice what we preach, so to speak,” offers Chen. “That’s the fun part.” n
HIGH-IMPACT RESEARCH A new Academy of Management study identifies seven current or former faculty of the Foster School’s Department of Management and Organization among the top 100 all-time most-influential scholars in the fields of organizational behavior and strategic management. This index measures the impact of research by the number of times it is cited in management textbooks. In other words, how often its insights are delivered directly to managers-in-training. Bruce Avolio Mark Pigott Chair in Business Strategic Leadership, Professor of Management #3 most-cited in organizational behavior textbooks #30 most-cited in general management textbooks Charles Hill Hughes M. and Katherine G. Blake Endowed Professor in Business Administration, Professor of Management and Organization #6 most-cited in strategic management textbooks David Sirmon Robert Herbold Professor in Entrepreneurship, Professor of Management #18 most-cited in strategic management textbooks Terry Mitchell Professor Emeritus of Management #23 most-cited in organizational behavior textbooks #60 most-cited in human resources textbooks #75 most-cited in general management textbooks
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Fred Fiedler Professor Emeritus of Management and Psychology (deceased) #32 most-cited in general management textbooks #77 most-cited in organizational behavior textbooks Suresh Kotha Olesen/Battelle Excellence Chair in Entrepreneurship, Professor of Management #63 most-cited in strategic management textbooks Kevin Steensma Michael G. Foster Endowed Professor, Professor of Management #63 most-cited in strategic management textbooks In addition, Foster researchers have produced two of the mostinfluential studies in the field of management education. Terry Mitchell’s 1974 Journal of Contemporary Business paper, “Path-goal theory of leadership,” is the #6 most-cited article in general management textbooks. And Thomas Jones’ 1991 Academy of Management Review paper, “Ethical decision making by individuals in organizations: An issue-contingent model,” is the #11 most-cited article in general management textbooks.
M&O may be the highest flyer, but the Foster School’s leading scholarship is distributed across every academic department.
Here is a baker’s dozen of the 24 studies published in the discipline’s top eight journals last year by Foster’s Department of Management and Organization.
Financial Times ranks the entire Foster faculty #3 in the world and #1 among public business schools for research productivity in the leading 48 journals across business disciplines. And the Top 100 Business School Research Rankings, which counts publications in the top 24 journals across all business disciplines, lists all five Foster departments among in the top 22 in the world, including:
Suresh Kotha and Xiao-Ping Chen found that demonstrative passion helps entrepreneurs raise more money on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter (JAP). Scott Reynolds demonstrated that employees who feel compelled to be “good soldiers” at work tend to feel psychologically entitled to misbehave (AMJ).
#4 – Management and Organization
Crystal Farh clarified the reasons why some victims of abusive supervision exact revenge while others work harder or do nothing at all (AMR).
#8 – Finance and Business Economics #11 – Marketing and International Business
Abhinav Gupta showed that firms guided by conservative boards of directors tend to pay their CEOs more than firms with liberal-leaning boards (ASQ).
#11 – Accounting #22 – Information Systems and Operations Management
Michael Johnson and Terry Mitchell mapped out the conditions under which people blame themselves, blame others or blame their relationships with other employees when things go wrong (JAP). Ryan Fehr determined that narcissistic leaders are most likely to act in their own self-interest when they feel unfairly treated by their organizations (JAP).
Bruce Avolio Elizabeth Umphress
Kevin Steensma examined how new ventures acquire knowledge from established competition by hiring away talent (SMJ). Chris Barnes quantified the many virtues of insomnia treatment programs in the workplace—brighter moods, higher satisfaction, better self-control, more helpful and fewer hurtful behaviors (JAP). Bruce Avolio identified three waves of theory on leadership and envisioned a fourth (JAP). Tom Lee distilled a century of employee turnover research into a set of empirical best practices for the modern manager (JAP). Elizabeth Umphress determined that leaders can best recover from an unethical act by fully acknowledging their transgression without minimizing it (JAP).
David Tan found that experience running large, complex organizations in the public sector can be a huge asset to entrepreneurial ventures (OS). Kira Schabram showed how to approach a professional calling without ending in burnout (AMJ). David Tan Suresh Kotha
AMJ – Academy of Management Journal; AMR – Academy of Management Review; ASQ – Administrative Science Quarterly; JAP – Journal of Applied Psychology; OS – Organization Science; SMJ – Strategic Management Journal
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FACULTY RESEARCH BRIEFS
Extracting better product advice from crowd-sourced ratings and reviews
Stock ownership doesn’t always drive consumer behavior
How did we ever make decisions before the Internet and its crowd-sourced recommendations? These myriad online compilations of customer ratings and reviews inform just about every purchase—from movies and music to airplane seats and automobiles to doctors and dental floss. But as Big Data gets bigger, distilling useful information has become increasingly difficult. Yet, when leveraged properly, data can yield a wealth of insights. Take the new work of Jonathan Zhang, an assistant professor of marketing at Foster. Analyzing fan input from an online movie forum, Zhang and his co-authors developed a novel recommendation system that synthesizes both qualitative data (ratings) and quantitative data (reviews and comments) to provide more accurate and customizable advice for filmgoers. The model, he adds, can easily be adapted to create smarter recommendations for any product or service that inspires consumers to rate, rant or rave on the web. “Leveraging unstructured and user-generated content such as reviews can help companies provide more accurate recommendations to their customers, which in turn increases customer satisfaction and trust in the recommended products,” Zhang says. “It also yields insights into how consumers think about their products to inform future product development.” n
It seems perfectly rational to assume that a person who owns stock in a given company would be more likely to purchase its products and support policies that benefit it. But that’s not always the case, according to research by Frank Hodge, the Michael G. Foster Endowed Professor of Accounting at the Foster School. Carefully controlling for “reverse causality”—the tendency to buy what you know—Hodge and co-authors Darren Bernard and Nicole Cade granted study participants a small share of stock in Starbucks and other retail firms, then tracked their subsequent related actions and attitudes. “We found very little evidence,” Hodge says, “that a small investment in a public company’s stock causes the average investor to change her product purchase behavior or adopt views and preferences that benefit the company.” Of course, not every investor is “average.” Supplemental analyses reveal that some investors are more likely to consciously support their investment. For instance, individuals who drink a lot of coffee are more likely do so at Starbucks if they own Starbucks stock. In a similar vein, voters are more likely to support regulation that benefits a company in which they invest. n
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UNDERFINANCED, BUT OVERPERFORMING Minority-owned ventures, despite barriers to capital, deliver superior ROI
Does discrimination exist in financial markets? It’s too big a question to be answered with a single study. But new research by Bill Bradford, the Business and Economic Development Endowed Professor of Finance at Foster, points to an irrational racial bias at work in the equity capital markets. Bradford’s study confirms prior findings on unequal access to capital—specifically that minority-owned businesses have a harder time raising venture capital financing than their white-owned counterparts, reducing their negotiating power and forcing them to sell equity for less. In three empirical studies of the portfolios of minority-oriented VC funds that invested in both minority- and white-owned firms, Bradford and his co-authors find that firms owned by minorities perform better and are more profitable, on average, than firms with white owners. And minority-owned businesses tend to deliver a greater return on investment. “Our results are consistent with but do not prove racial bias in VC markets,” Bradford says. “Bias against financing minority businesses by mainstream VC firms creates a profitable niche. The disparate treatment of minority clients does not result in the loss of profitable opportunities for minority-oriented VC funds but, instead, higher profits.” n
©istock.com/novielysa, Anthony Rosenberg, fstop123, pljama61, plerrera, z_wel, polygraphus
$ HEAVY BREATHING
THE IMITATION GAME
Air pollution exacts a psychological and economic toll in the workplace
Firms tend to imitate competitors led by charismatic—not narcissistic—CEOs
New crowdfunding model shows promise for small businesses and investors
Breathe. Just breathe. Only, it’s not always that simple. When the air is choked with pollutants, it incites a litany of well-documented physical ailments. But the toxic smog that increasingly enshrouds many cities around the world also exacts a deep psychological toll that hits businesses in their bottom lines. According to research by Ryan Fehr, an associate professor of management and Michael G. Foster Endowed Faculty Fellow, the stress of coping with air pollution makes us less likely to help coworkers and more likely to engage in counterproductive behaviors on the job. The ill effects of air pollution anxiety are pervasive, suffered by literally everyone who breathes. So the cumulation of the resulting deficiencies in attitude, attention, energy and performance will be felt on that biggest of bottom lines: gross domestic product. “When air quality is bad, it affects every single employee of every company who is experiencing this same source of depletion,” Fehr says. “If we’re only looking at the physical health effects and not also looking at how it impacts our lives on a psychological level, then we’re underestimating the impact of air pollution.” n
Corporate strategy is rife with imitation, a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality, writ large. But new research by Abhinav Gupta suggests that high-level organizational imitation can have more to do with personality than it does with rationality. Specifically, firms are more likely to emulate competitors led by charismatic CEOs and less likely to emulate competitors led by narcissists, according to the study co-authored by Gupta, an assistant professor of strategic management and Michael G. Foster Endowed Faculty Fellow. This bias toward or against a chief executive’s personality type, Gupta says, can influence strategic decision-making above and beyond the hard data on competitor performance or market opportunity. “Management fashions and fads come about as the result of a great deal of benchmarking. And while you might expect that performance would matter most, the research tells us that people often act on their assumptions about psychological characteristics,” says Gupta. “Our own study finds that organizational decision makers tend to be biased about peer firm CEOs—regardless of whether their internal analysis tells them differently.” These biases, he adds, are even more powerful in strategic leaders who lack experience with a strategy or lead firms in volatile and uncertain industries. n
Crowdfunding is the trending way to raise money. This democratization of financing, enabled by sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, offers small businesses a speedy alternative to cumbersome and often elusive bank loans and small investors an accessible alternative to the stock market. Typically, online crowdfunding sites allow companies to offer rewards, early access to products or firm equity in exchange for investment. But a new kind of crowdfunding, built around revenue-sharing contracts, may serve the interests of both businesses and investors better than the alternatives, according to research by Michael Wagner, an associate professor of operations management and Neal and Jan Dempsey Endowed Faculty Fellow, and Soraya Fatehi, a doctoral student at Foster. Their optimization model demonstrates that revenue-sharing contracts—offered on sites such as Bolstr, Localstake and Startwise—provide a higher net present value and a lower probability of bankruptcy. These benefits are heightened for firms with uncertain cash flows. “In practice, we’ve seen crowdfunding with revenue-sharing contracts to be very fast and successful,” says Fatehi. “Now our analysis shows its superiority to other financing models, including equity crowdfunding and small business loans.” n
Interested in reading more about Foster research? Visit foster.uw.edu/research-briefs
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HONOR ROLL Foster faculty recognized locally and nationally for outstanding achievements in 2018 WHO
WHY IT MATTERS
Xiao-Ping Chen Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration, Professor of Management
Appointed Fellow, Academy of Management
The former department chair and current associate dean was one of only nine scholars worldwide elected to the fellowship of this most-prestigious academic organization in the field of management, recognizing a distinguished career of scholarship and service.
Ed deHaan Associate Professor of Accounting, Michael G. Foster Faculty Fellow
PACCAR Award for Excellence in Teaching, UW Foster School
In only his second year at Foster, a panel of MBAs selected the dynamic deHaan worthy of the school’s top teaching award, and one of the most prestigious in the nation.
Sarah McVay Deloitte and Touche Endowed Professor of Accounting
President-Elect, Financial Accounting and Research Section, American Accounting Association
McVay’s outstanding record of research and leadership has positioned her to lead the financial accounting wing of the premier organization of academic accountants in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Robert Palmatier John C. Narver Endowed Professor in Business Administration, Professor of Marketing
Robert D. Buzzell Best Paper Award, Marketing Science Institute
In a big year for the highly decorated scholar, Palmatier received top honors for two studies, was named co-editor of the prestigious Journal of Marketing and named the 10th most productive marketing scholar in the world by the American Marketing Association.
Phillip Quinn Assistant Professor of Accounting
Accounting Horizons Best Paper Award, American Accounting Association
The premier organization of academic accountants recognized Quinn for his paper identifying who is using corporate financial statements as research for investing, and what they are doing with them.
Raj Rakhra Lecturer of Marketing
Favorite Professor, Poets & Quants
The go-to business school news site selected the charismatic Rakhra among the nation’s finest educators of undergraduate business students for going “above-and-beyond” to inspire.
Amin Sayedi Assistant Professor of Marketing, Michael G. Foster Endowed Fellow
MSI Young Scholar, Marketing Science Institute
Sayedi was named one of the most promising young scholars in the world by the influential research organization that partners marketing academics and executives from around the world.
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Maynard Best Paper Award, Journal of Marketing
WHY IT MATTERS
Sorah Seong Assistant Professor of Management
Outstanding Author Contribution, Emerald Literati Awards
This Foster newcomer was recognized by one of the world’s largest academic publishers for her 2017 study explaining how crowds, emerging and evolving through time and space, shape the emergence of new markets.
Gold “Circle of Excellence” Award, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)
Shulman’s popular Seattle Growth Podcast— an ongoing series exploring the ramifications of the region’s dramatic economic and physical transformation—was deemed the very best higher-ed online series in the world.
Thaddeus Spratlen Professor Emeritus of Marketing
Hall of Fame inductee, The PhD Project
The trailblazing African American scholar and inspiration behind Foster’s Consulting and Business Development Center has been immortalized by the organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the academic and corporate ranks.
Michael Verchot Director, Consulting and Business Development Center
“Dedicated to Excellence” Award, JPMorgan Chase
After investing $2.5 million in the Center’s “Ascend 2020” national expansion, the financial services giant honored Verchot for his life’s work to create equity and opportunity for small and minority-owned businesses in Seattle and beyond.
Elijah Wee Assistant Professor of Management
S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award, Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology
During his rookie season at Foster, Wee received highest honors from the influential professional association for his paper demonstrating that making yourself essential at work can help end a cycle of supervisory abuse.
Hema Yoganarasimhan Associate Professor of Marketing, Michael G. Foster Faculty Fellow
Paul Green Award (finalist), Journal of Marketing Research
Yoganarasimhan’s 2017 paper identifying the presence and cause of fashion cycles in the data was deemed one of the finest of the year by the top-tier journal in the discipline of marketing.
#3 Global Ranking in Research Productivity, Financial Times
Foster was #3 in the world (and #1 among public b-schools) based on the number of research papers published by faculty in the top 48 scholarly journals, representing every business discipline, in 2017.
Marion B. Ingersoll Professor, Professor of Marketing
WINTER 2019 | 27
CLASS OF 2018 Foster School welcomes 11 exceptional new faculty members Momentum is revealed in many ways. One manifestation of the Foster School’s growing international clout is its ability to recruit the best and brightest academics in every business discipline. This year’s infusion of 11 exceptional new scholar/educators brings the school’s tenure-track roster to 94, a high-point of several decades. And each of this exemplary eleven brings enormous expertise and accomplishment—and even greater promise—to Foster. Here is a brief look at the faculty class of 2018.
Sumon Datta, Leela Nageswaran, Uttara Ananthakrishnan, Scott Wallace, Elizabeth Blankespoor, Shan Huang, Chris Parsons, Yang Song, Francesca Valsesia, Sorah Seong and Kevin Boeh.
Uttara Ananthakrishnan Assistant Professor of Information Systems • recently earned her PhD at Carnegie Mellon University • studies digital media platforms, consumer behavior, online trust and safety, and user-generated content • fun fact: a trivia enthusiast who used to set content for the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Elizabeth Blankespoor Associate Professor of Accounting, Marguerite Reimers Endowed Faculty Fellow • joins Foster from the faculty of Stanford Graduate School of Business • established expert in financial reporting, corporate disclosure, information processing and technology • won 2017 AAA FARS Best Paper Award • fun fact: loves data organization and hiking/backpacking. Kevin Boeh Senior Lecturer of Finance • award-winning teacher at Pacific Lutheran University and University of Florida • academic life followed a long executive career • studies the intersection of corporate finance and strategy • fun fact: plays hockey, rugby and does martial arts (yet still has all his teeth). Sumon Datta Senior Lecturer of Marketing and International Business • veteran assistant professor at Purdue • 6-time winner of Purdue’s Outstanding Teacher award • expert in predictive marketing, big data analytics, machine learning, adaptive 28 | FOSTER BUSINESS
computation, social networks • fun fact: a college hip-hop dancer who dreams of being a travel vlogger.
Shan Huang Assistant Professor of Information Systems • recently earned her PhD from MIT • studies digital social interactions and influence, advertising and commerce on social media, user-generated content • fun fact: would be a TV host if not a professor. Leela Nageswaran Assistant Professor of Operations Management • recently earned her PhD from Carnegie Mellon University • earned the school’s top dissertation award • studies service, retail and healthcare operations • fun fact: competitive at any game and an adventurous cook. Chris Parsons Professor of Finance and Business Economics, Michael G. Foster Endowed Professor • joins Foster after distinguished faculty stints at USC, UC San Diego, Harvard, UNC and McGill • renowned scholar in corporate finance, behavioral finance, labor economics, real estate, urban economics and health economics • fun fact: a former high school math teacher who loves surfing and drives “the worst car of anyone you know.” Sorah Seong Assistant Professor of Management and Organization • recently earned her PhD from
INSEAD • studies crowds, market formation, entrepreneurial dynamics, categories and identities, creativity • winner of Emerald Outstanding Author award • an entrepreneur before an academic • fun fact: has experienced several precognitive dreams.
Yang Song Assistant Professor of Finance and Business Economics • recently earned his PhD from Stanford • studies asset pricing, active asset management, financial intermediation, over-thecounter markets • won 2017 WFA-CFAR Best PhD Paper • fun fact: would be a chef if not a professor. Francesca Valsesia Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business • recently earned her PhD from USC • studies signaling and impression management, social influence and word of mouth, experiential consumption, strategic communication • fun fact: an avid artist who grew up in Africa and has lived on four continents. Scott Wallace Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business • recently earned his PhD from Duke University • studies consumer behavior, goals and motivation, judgement and decision-making • fun fact: a cooking, woodworking and trail-running enthusiast who would be an urban planner in another life. n
PATIENTS AS CUSTOMERS Premera CEO Jeff Roe transforms healthcare around the customer experience
If you were the president and CEO of an organization on the receiving end of a $250 million, one-time tax refund brought about by changes in the corporate tax structure, what would you do? If you were Jeff Roe (MBA 1997) at Premera Blue Cross, you would seek out a way to benefit your customers. And so Premera is investing $250 million over five years to help stabilize the individual market, improve access to healthcare in rural areas, and provide more support for addressing behavioral health issues across its coverage area. “We have a unique opportunity, and a significant obligation, to improve the healthcare system. Using these funds, we can improve our customers’ lives by making healthcare work better,” says Roe. “This is what drives me.” Up to the task Roe earned bachelor’s degrees from the UW in political science and economics before joining Premera in 1996 and completing his MBA at the Foster School. He rose to co-president of Safeco Insurance before
returning to Premera, becoming president and CEO in January 2014. Along the way he has been honored as Distinguished Alumnus of the UW Department of Economics, has served on a half-dozen boards (and is currently vice-chair of Foster’s Advisory Board), climbed Mt. Rainier and completed an Ironman. So he’s not afraid of exertion. Which is good, given his industry’s vast need for improvement. Roe points out that the US ranks 37th (between Costa Rica and Slovenia) among developed nations for overall quality of care. It’s not due to lack of spending. “Healthcare has become so expensive for people—averaging $20K per year,” he says. “This makes it hard for businesses to be competitive.” The value gap Employers entered the picture during WWII, when Henry Kaiser found a workaround for wage controls imposed on labor by creating a benefit (healthcare) that’s tax exempt. Today, 155 million Americans access employer-provided healthcare, but it doesn’t function like a normal marketplace. “Consumers don’t have transparency of cost or quality, and there’s less interest in total spend because they’re not funding it,” says Roe. He breaks down the challenges into four parts: 1. Cost – healthcare is too expensive; 2. Quality – people don’t always get the care they need; 3. Waste – people sometimes get care they don’t need; 4. Experience – healthcare interactions are sub-optimal. “The problem is widely recognized, but it’s hard to address because it’s such a
personal issue involving so many stakeholders,” says Roe. “Getting everyone to act in concert is challenging.” Change starts from within Leaders who empower their employees to deliver a great customer experience are an inspiration for Roe, who believes more in people than in organizations. “The people closest to the work will generally have the best answers to the problems we face,” he says. “So if I can empower them, it’s better than what might be prescribed from the top.” Roe set out to transform the Premera culture in significant ways, and so far employee engagement has gone up 80 percent in the last two years, setting the foundation to identify more deeply with the customer. The win/win of problem-solving Here’s an example. When Premera shifted its focus to customer experience, even the claims team—which does not work directly with members—asked themselves: “How can we get closer to the customer?” This customer-service mindset led to a dramatic improvement in the way that member-submitted claims are processed. The team found workarounds that resulted in 50 percent fewer returned claims and a massive drop in member frustration. Roe’s efforts to transform Premera into a customer-focused enterprise—and an exemplar for an industry that needs some solutions—are a work in progress. But, he says, the incremental improvements such as those devised by his claims processers have been good for the team, good for the customer and good for the organization. And the multiplier effect is potentially transformational. “There are hundreds of these examples,” Roe adds. “And I’d count it as a loss for our customers and the company if I weren’t able to encourage that kind of improvement.” n – Eric Nobis
WINTER 2019 | 29
FOLLOW THE MONEY Jessica Gilmore and Mark Calvert form a unique partnership rooted in forensic analysis Some internships begin with an orientation. Jessica Gilmore’s (BA 2016) first day with Cascade Capital Group was more of a disorientation. “Take notes,” was the directive from Mark Calvert (BA 1982), managing director of the financial consulting firm, as they drove to interview a man whom their client suspected of fraud. Wanting to make a good impression, Gilmore dutifully chronicled every word, rat-a-tatting furiously on her laptop to capture the conversation to its last detail. “So,” Calvert asked afterward, “what did you think?” He listened as the earnest 21-year-old rookie regurgitated her notes on the interview, complimenting his probing lines of inquiry. Wrong answer. “If you’re just going to agree with me,” he said, dismissively, “I have no use for you.” “I’ve made him regret that statement for the past two-and-a-half years,” says Gilmore today, earning a snort of confirmation from Calvert. One-two punch Over those eventful months, working closely on the road or in their spartan Seattle office, the two have formed a bond as challenging as it is caring. Gilmore is all fresh perspective and fearless tenacity, with a mind at once analytic and empathetic—a problem-solving people person. And Calvert is the eclectic expert, with a cool, been-there-donethat confidence that’s hard-earned from decades of accounting, finance, operations and consulting experience in a wide swath of industries. He founded Cascade Capital, after many years with EY (and its predecessors), nearly 20 years ago as a boutique advisory and operational firm that provides whatever its wide array of clients needs. That means accounting, writ large, which can take the form of advice on investments or acquisi-
tions, operational or financial restructuring, or even the forensic investigation of potential fraud. It was the latter that initially drew the attention of Gilmore. Crime fighter As a kid growing up in the Tri-Cities, Gilmore watched TV crime procedurals with unnatural attention and intent. “I thought, I’m going to do that someday,” she says. “That’s the way my mind works.” At the Foster School, she studied accounting and was on her way to a conventional career, with two years of small firm tax experience under her belt and designs on a Big Four job. But in her final year, she enrolled in Nancy Pasternack’s elective fraud class and everything changed. Calvert was a guest lecturer one session, speaking about his role in uncovering the state’s biggest Ponzi scheme. As it happens, he was working on another potential fraud case and needed an intern. Gilmore jumped at the opportunity. “We’re fixers” Quickly getting her bearings in Calvert’s world, she became an essential asset on that project and many others. Using her considerable powers of forensic analysis, she has advised clients in real estate, precious metals, higher education, pot, lighting, gaming, auto sales, banking, hotels and healthcare. She has helped save family businesses through restructuring and settled partnership disputes. Her work has been subpoenaed by the FBI and she has testified in federal court.
The variety suits her. “We walk into chaos, clean it up and then move to the next thing. Like a SWAT team,” says Gilmore, who is a CPA, a private investigator and working on her financial forensics certification. “We’re fixers.” Embracing discomfort Calvert is delighted to have found such a worthy protégé. “There’s a difference between delegating and dumping,” he says. “Now, I’m totally comfortable saying to Jessica: go figure it out and tell me what the answer is.” “He knows I’m too stubborn not to figure it out,” says Gilmore. That may be the key to Cascade Capital’s success: addressing any challenge from every possible perspective until they find and implement a solution. “That’s kind of where I am right now, too,” adds Gilmore. “When Mark comes at me with something I’ve never seen before, he’s pushed me enough and given me enough confidence that I’m not afraid I won’t figure it out. I am used to dealing with ambiguity, to being uncomfortable. It’s a lot more fun to be excited about it than it is to be afraid of it.” n
– Ed Kromer 30 | FOSTER BUSINESS
PAYING IT FORWARD Nate Miles extends the financial and inspirational support that helped him succeed Access and success The Porters’ generosity enabled Miles to attend the University of Washington, where he graduated in 1982 with a BA in communications. He worked in journalism before he was drawn to politics, working for state Senator George Flemming for seven years before becoming a lobbyist for the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Throughout, Miles volunteered at numerous community and non-profit organizations. It was in one of those roles that he found himself back in Olympia, testifying before a committee about the importance of Medicaid patients having access to brand-name drugs. Miles brought some of the legislators to tears. When the committee adjourned, a representative of Eli Lilly approached him. “He said, ‘If you can do for us every day what you just did here, we’d like to hire you,” Miles recalls. “The rest is history.”
Nate Miles (BA 1982) grew up in a very low-income family. “We weren’t poor,” says Miles. “There’s a difference between poor—where you have no values—and being broke.” So when a teacher encouraged him to consider college, his father pushed back, telling him to learn a trade or get on at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Lord, today… His mother approached it differently. One day at the Porter family home, where his mother worked, Miles ate lunch in the kitchen when he heard his mom from the next room. “Lord, today,” she said. He went to the door to listen. “I thought, ‘Uh-oh,’ because usually, when my mom said, ‘Lord, today,’ you were in trouble,” says Miles.
“But this was different. She said, ‘Lord, today, I thank you. I thank you for my children. I thank you for my job. I thank you for our home. Lord, today, I have a favor to ask. My son wants to go to college. I don’t know what to tell him. I’ve never been to college. I don’t know how you get into college or what it costs. I don’t know where to send him. But, Lord, today, if you could help him…” A few days later, Mrs. Miles received a call from the Porters. They asked her to come over and bring Nate. “We get there and Miss Porter says, ‘Elise, when you were here on Friday, I heard you praying. You’ve been cleaning for us for over 20 years, and I’ve watched Nate grow up. He’s a good boy, so over the weekend, Fred and I talked about it and decided that if you want him to go to college, we’re going to pay for it.”
Pass it on The Porters did what they could do for a young man without means to access higher education. Miles, now the VP for Strategic Initiatives at Eli Lilly and Company and a member of the Foster School’s Advisory Board, remains motivated by that act of kindness. “I don’t have big money, but I do what I can,” says Miles. “I’ve probably helped seven or eight kids get through college.” It’s a humble statement considering that Miles has kids of his own; one is a graduate of the Foster School and another is currently attending. His son is a junior in high school. It doesn’t stop there. Miles and his family recently established an endowment with the Consulting and Business Development Center to provide stipends to student consultants. “The kids always ask, ‘How can I repay you?’ I say, ‘Do the same for ten more when you’re able.’” n
– Andrew Krueger WINTER 2019 | 31
ONE TO WATCH Kasia Omilian works to become the first woman GM in the NFL Most young children beg their parents for repeated tellings of nursery rhymes, funny stories and fairy tales. Kasia Omilian (BA 2020) craved a different kind of tale: the real-world account of her mother’s improbable ascent from a masculine poultry trading floor to vice president of a commodity import-export business. “I remember being about five years old and asking her to tell me that story again and again,” says Omilian, now a junior at the Foster School of Business. “How she was able to rise above so many challenges. That’s part of where my own dream has come from.” Her dream? Only to become the first female general manager in the NFL. If that sounds a bit far-fetched, then you haven’t met Omilian. Doing the work The determined daughter of enterprising Polish immigrants who left for America at the first crack in the Iron Curtain, Omilian has designed her entire college experience around a future in the sport that has stirred her passions since her childhood in Atlanta. Her path to leadership in the National Football League has been intentional and precisely planned. It began with an exhaustively researched spreadsheet logging the skills and backgrounds of each GM running the 32 league franchises. To build her own distinctive resume, she strategically balances business coursework at Foster with studies in Law, Societies and Justice. She convinced the Husky Football program to hire her even before she received her acceptance letter from the UW. And she has spent the past two summers interning in operations with the Pittsburgh Steelers, helping manage training camp. Her current role with UW Football is in recruiting, scouting prospective tight ends. She has characteristically immersed herself in the job, poring through video, absorbing wisdom from the coaches, developing a keen eye for talent and potential.
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“What I bring is a different way of thinking,” Omilian says. “I can see things that maybe the guys miss. I have a unique perspective as a female in the room.” In football, she’s most often the only female in the room. That means working harder than anyone to prove herself. “Kasia is not only curious, intelligent and friendly, she possesses an admirable amount of courage and grit as well,” says Josh Murphy, assistant director of player personnel with UW Football. “By challenging conventional norms and venturing into a business and a sport predominantly filled with men, she is proving there is no environment she’s intimidated by.” Right place, right time Omilian feels lucky to be launching her improbable career at a school led by a woman president (Ana Mari Cauce) and athletic director (Jennifer Cohen). “If I am going to do this anywhere,” says Omilian, the vice president of Undergraduate Women in Business at Foster, “this is where I want to be.” And she’s making real progress. Last January she was one of just 50 women invited to attend the NFL Women’s Conference during the Pro Bowl weekend. She is building a nationwide network of mentors, partners and champions of her cause. Her contacts include GMs, assistant GMs and scouts. “If all of this is happening to me at 20,” she muses, “I must be doing something right.” It will certainly take a great team behind her to help Omilian achieve her ultimate aspiration. But she has a shot, and she’s taking it. “I have a strong personality and work ethic that came from my parents who came to America with $100 and a suitcase. They were taking a big leap of faith, and it’s kind of the same thing with my dream. There’s no one ahead to show me the way.” If Omilian’s ambition began with her mother’s example, it is sustained by her father’s mantra: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” n
– Ed Kromer
Some outcomes rely heavily on planning ahead Including the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in your estate plans ensures that you leave the legacy and impact you want at a special place dedicated to creating futures. You’re building a bridge to education, generating prosperity, and enhancing quality of life throughout Washington and around the world. Endowment ensures perpetual impact at your alma mater, changing lives for the better for generations to come. To explore options with the Foster School, contact Steven Hatting,
Associate Dean for Advancement: 206-685-3236, firstname.lastname@example.org
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MICHAEL G. FOSTER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
More than 600 attended the Foster School’s 27th Annual Business Leadership Celebration in November.