Foster Business Magazine Fall 2012

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Michael G. Foster school of business

University of washington

fall 2012

Transforming YOUR UW Business School 5 years of Foster 95 years of excellence Page 10 Also :

The Network effect, Page 16 Talk to Becky, Page 20

Think differently. Make a difference. It’s the Washington Way.

Join us for the 21st Annual UW Foster School

Business Leadership Celebration Featured Leadership Address:

Alan Mulally President & CEO Ford Motor Company

2012 Distinguished Leadership Award Recipients:

Howard Behar

Dorrit Bern

Don Root




Retired President Starbucks International

Former Chairman, CEO & President Charming Shoppes

Chairman & CEO GM Nameplate

2012 Builder of Our Future Award Recipient:

Thursday, November 15, 5:45 - 9:15 p.m. UW Husky Union Building (HUB), Seattle Campus To secure your seats, visit or to learn about sponsorship opportunities contact Steven Hatting at 206.685.3236 or


On the cover

10 Transforming the UW Business School This fall, we are celebrating two significant anniversaries

16 The Network Effect How a UW technology becomes a start-up and its developer an entrepreneur with a little help from a lot of friends

20 Talk to Becky

Case studies come to life—and the professor becomes the client in Elizabeth Stearns’ advertising class

Fall 2012






James Jiambalvo Associate Dean of Advancement

Steven Hatting Managing Director Marketing & Communications

Eric Nobis Managing Editor

Renate Kroll Contributing Writers

Ed Kromer, Andrew Krueger, Jocelyn Milici Ceder, Eric Nobis, L.A. Smith



Matt Hagen (principal), Paul Gibson



a.k.a. design

4 In the News

Business Hall Opens Doors, Urban Harvest, Accounting Aces, Healthcare Revolution?, Innovative Laboratory, AMAzing Opportunity, John Wheatly, Ready, Go!

21 Faculty

Humility Now, Research Briefs, Master Class, Stats Stud

27 Alumni

John White, Events Calendar, Brent Ellis, Lucy Wang, Courtney Thompson, Kyle Suzuki

Foster School of Business Marketing & Communications University of Washington

Box 353200 Seattle, WA 98195-3200 206.543.5102 206.221.7247 (fax) On the Web

Foster Business is published twice a year by the University of Washington Foster School of Business. The publication is made possible by donations from alumni and friends. No state funds are used in its production. Change of Address? Comments? Think differently. Make a difference.

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Looking Ahead



Happy birthday to us! Last month marked the 5th anniversary of the Regents naming of our school for a great friend and Husky, Michael G. Foster. This year also saw us reach what we’ve jokingly referred to as a half-sesquicentennial-plus-a-score…that’s 95 years of business education at the UW. What isn’t a joke is what you’ve helped us build over nearly a century—the best business school in the northwest quarter of America. By the time we celebrate our centennial, I’m confident we’ll be able to expand that claim. So how are things on campus as we begin the new school year? For the first time since 2008, there’s neither a crane nor a chain link fence in sight as students, staff and visitors approach the Foster School of Business. At the shoulder of Denny Hall stands the 135,000 square-foot flagship of our school completed in 2010, PACCAR Hall. This fall, our brand new “Business Hall” replaced dearly departed “Balmer High” with nine more state-of-the-art classrooms, our first undergraduate career center for business students, new degree program offices and even an innovation lab next to our nationally-ranked entrepreneurship center to nurture promising start-ups identified through the annual business plan competition. Since being named for Mike Foster five years ago, our school has gone through the most comprehensive transformation since its 1917 founding. And while the hardhats (and earplugs) have been stowed away for the foreseeable future, construction continues as we build tomorrow’s leaders along with a faculty that can help lift Washington’s economy and the UW’s reputation. Do you remember your favorite professor? Believe it or not, unless you graduated in the last five years, the best classroom experience you had at the University of Washington cannot compete with the education we deliver today. I make this bold statement because I know our best teachers have gotten even better, the teaching technology in our new buildings is infinitely superior, and we’ve worked intensely to attract the next generation of faculty stars. To this end, we’ve replaced 50 percent of our


tenure track professors since I became dean in 2005. (You can read about the latest additions on page 24.) The results are reflected in higher student satisfaction, improved specialty rankings and growing recruiter interest (reflected in near 100 percent placement for 2012 MBAs). Part of what makes our business faculty special is its connection to the community. Elizabeth Stearns is as good a teacher as you could hope to find, and when she brings in friends like Becky Saeger (page 20) her class gets even better. Another way we can bring business into our new buildings is by literally growing our own. I think you’ll enjoy reading how a recent Business Plan Competition team is turning its plan into reality with help from the Foster School and the UW (page 16). Hopefully, you get the sense that I’ve never been more proud of our school. You should feel that way too, and I hope you’ll make a point of connecting with us this year…visit our facilities, recruit our students, make your annual gift (of course!) and show your UW Foster pride in your community. To that end, check out page 15 to see how you can get your own Foster School t-shirt courtesy of your alma mater. After all, you’re an alumni member for life, and we’ll always be here to help you and your companies grow as we develop business leaders who make a difference in Seattle and beyond. Best wishes for an amazing end to 2012. Sincerely,

James Jiambalvo Dean, Michael G. Foster School of Business Kirby L. Cramer Chair in Business Administration

Fall 2012


in the news

The new Business Hall, on the right, connects seamlessly with PACCAR Hall.

Business Hall Opens Doors Foster’s newest building opened for business this fall A walk through the new Business Hall feels like a modern higher-ed experience. Natural light pours into every space, including the dean’s office suite, and the MBA and undergraduate office suites. A bright, two-story-high, 300-person-capacity dining or meeting room—Anthony’s Executive Forum—invites visitors to peer down at grassy-sloped Denny Yard through its wall of windows. Breezeways connect neighboring PACCAR Hall and the Bank of

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America Executive Center building, allowing students, faculty and community visitors to flow seamlessly en route to classrooms, meetings, conferences or events. Technologically enhanced class and team rooms abound. Aside from the aesthetic upgrade to the Foster School, the hall houses two new spaces that open their doors along with the building—the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s new

innovation lab (where students will incubate start-up ideas) and the new Ernst & Young Center for Undergraduate Career Advancement. Dean Jim Jiambalvo is proud of the building for numerous reasons. “It’s a fantastic building with lots of natural light and a ‘high quality’ feel that’s consistent with the quality of our students, faculty and staff,” he says. n

© / Logorilla


Accounting Aces

Clean-tech start-up wins 2012 UW Business Plan Competition

Foster grads honored for top scores on the Uniform CPA Exam

Radishes on the roof? It’s coming, thanks to the winners of this year’s Business Plan Competition. Two Foster School MBA students, under the team name Urban Harvest, won the competition with their plan to grow healthy, tasty and environmentally sustainable produce all on urban rooftops. They collected $25,000 for grand prize, another $2,500 for best clean-tech idea and are already launching a Microsoft rooftop greenhouse on the company’s Redmond campus. Urban Harvest’s plan reduces the fossil fuel burn of transporting produce from elsewhere to consume locally. Their pilot project is underway to build a rooftop, hydroponic greenhouse on one of Microsoft’s garages. “We’re going to be supplying Microsoft food services with their entire lettuce and herb quotient. They currently source it all from Salinas Valley, California,” says co-founder Chris Bajuk. Bajuk (MBA 2011) and Chris Sheppard (MBA/JD 2012) joined forces to shake up the local produce and farming market. “We are two locally raised, UW-educated military veterans creating a green, sustainable business,” says Bajuk, who has a BS in mechanical engineering and served as a US Navy lieutenant before earning his MBA. Sheppard holds a BA in economics and political science, a master’s degree in communications, fought in Iraq and served as a US Marine Corps captain before earning his law and MBA degrees. Record seed funding (no pun intended) and participation at this year’s Business Plan Competition contributed to innovations with more traction than in years past. Other prize-winning start-ups include new business ideas in functional fashion, health care patient-tracking technology and alternative forms of mobile advertising. n

Think of Andrea Betassa (BA 2010, MPAcc 2011) and Kiely Lenore Strohmaier (BA 2010) as national valedictorians of newly minted Certified Public Accountants. The pair of accounting graduates from the Foster School posted two of the top scores in the nation on the Uniform CPA Examination in 2011. This feat earned them the Elijah Watt Sells Award, issued by the American Institute of CPAs. The Sells Award recognizes candidates who achieved a cumulative average score above 95.5 across all four sections of the CPA Exam (on their first attempt). More than 90,000 people took the exam in 2011. Only 37 met the award’s criteria. Betassa, who earned her BA in accounting and a Master of Professional Accounting, now works for Deloitte in Seattle. Strohmaier, who earned her BA in business administration, works for CliftonLarsonAllen in Moses Lake, Washington. Among nearly 500,000 CPA Exam candidates over the past five years, only 92 have earned the Sells Award. Five of this elite group are alumni of the Foster School. Michael Robert Dean (BA 2009, MPAcc 2010) won in 2010. Older brother Bryan Dean (BA 2007) won in 2007. And Maria Goto (BA 2008) won in 2009. Foster graduates “This extraordinary accomplishment is a testament to the extremely high quality of students at the Foster School, and the terrific instruction they receive from our met criteria distinguished faculty,” says Steve Sefcik, associate dean for undergraduate programs. n

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90,000 took exam

fall 2012


IN the news

Healthcare revolution? Influencers convene at a symposium co-hosted by Foster and Premera to examine economic disruption in healthcare What sort of gathering convenes the VP of Goldman Sachs, the CEOs of Premera and the Polyclinic, former executive vice president of research and development at Amgen, not to mention other healthcare leaders and renowned researchers? They will all be assembled, and presenting, on October 26th as the inaugural UW Foster Executive MBA/Premera Symposium on Creating a Sustainable Healthcare System gets underway. Taking the kind of initiative you’d expect from a Foster Executive MBA student, Dr. John Henson (EMBA 2013), neurologist and associate chief medical director at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, saw an opportunity to organize a panel rich in knowledge and experience and sought a co-sponsor for what everyone involved expects to be an annual summit. There is certainly enough material at hand for the group’s consideration, as a quick look at the projected healthcare funding shortfall (see chart) will illustrate. The invitation-only symposium will

commence with a welcome from Dean Jim Jiambalvo, and then fast-forward into the future of healthcare as Gubby Barlow, CEO of Premera, takes the podium. The bulk of the program is devoted to examining

the forces currently at work in the healthcare system—from Medicare to network integration to innovations in healthcare delivery—culminating in a panel focused on how to reconcile the issues. n

Innovative Laboratory The Herbold Innovation Lab gives student teams a home for their nascent start-ups In 2006, former Microsoft COO Robert J. Herbold committed a $1.5 million gift to create the Herbold Innovation Lab within the Foster School’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and an endowment for a professor of entrepreneurship. Naming the professor was the easy part—it took the completion of our newest building this summer to create the location. And what a creation it is! The space, which includes a larger presentation room and three breakout rooms capable of hosting seven teams total, has that hightech yet minimalist feel you’d expect from

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work rooms for start-ups. The presentation area is equipped with the latest A/V gear and can also be used by teams, with whiteboard stands on wheels acting as partitions. “Start-ups have garages, companies have R&D space, but what do our student entrepreneurs have?” asks Connie BourassaShaw, CIE’s director. “The Herbold Innovation Lab is quite literally a place where student entrepreneur teams can set up shop and work on their businesses.” The added benefit of the shared space, she says, is that close proximity will allow the teams to learn from each other, creating norms amid the chaos

you’d expect from the start-up process. In addition to entrepreneur teams, the lab will play host to CIE working sessions, students taking the “Creating a Company” class, Lavin Entrepreneurship Program students, entrepreneur-in-residence office hours and Foster Accelerator Teams pursuing milestones. “Having a dedicated entrepreneurial lab space is a rarity, even among the best business schools,” says Bourassa-Shaw. “But it underscores our commitment to creating the next generation of entrepreneurs.” n

AMAzing Opportunity Foster School hosts prestigious international marketing consortium In June, the Foster School hosted the 47th annual American Marketing Association-Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium. This ultimate meeting of the marketing minds, one of the most prestigious academic events in the discipline, is by invitation only. The 2012 consortium brought over 100 of the world’s most influential marketing scholars to Seattle to interact with the field’s top doctoral students, hailing from 110 universities around the world. Leveraging the Foster School’s motto—think differently, make a difference—the consortium offered expert guidance and issued a healthy challenge to these promising young scholars to make important and sustained contributions to the understanding of marketing throughout their careers. This theme was borne out in sessions exploring the research process and how to make an impact on the field, as well as opportunities to spot or create trends in different marketing areas and to discuss dissertation topics with peers and faculty mentors. The work of this four-day consortium took place in PACCAR Hall, the Foster School’s award-winning facility that opened in 2010. Consortium participants also experienced the verdant UW campus, traveled by boat to a traditional Pacific Northwest feast at Tillicum Village, and dined at Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. Invaluable experience

The AMA-Sheth Consortium at Foster created an unparalleled experience by working a simple win-win equation. The doctoral fellows had the unique opportunity to network with the top minds in the field. And the consortium faculty got the chance to know and collaborate with the next generation’s best and brightest. No one knows this better than Nidhi Agrawal, who was a Consortium faculty fellow representing the Foster School this year and Northwestern’s Kellogg School in 2008, and a student fellow in 2003 while working toward her doctorate at NYU. “It’s a huge honor—and a great networking opportunity— to be named a student or a faculty fellow at the AMA-Sheth Doctoral Consortium,” says Agrawal, now an associate professor of marketing at Foster. “As a faculty member, I focused on interacting with the students. It was so refreshing to see all of these fresh minds and ideas hungry for more. I learned so much from the students.”

“Meeting and learning from the leading professors in our field was a tremendous experience,” says Conor Henderson, a Consortium student fellow from the Foster School’s PhD Program. “They gave us personalized attention, advice, and feedback on our research projects. I loved seeing the friendships among these leading professors; it showed that the fellow doctoral students we met at this consortium will become long-time professional friends as we move forward in our careers.” Adding to rich tradition

The American Marketing Association and the Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Foundation have partnered with major universities across the country to host this doctoral consortium since 1966. This year’s AMA-Sheth Consortium was co-chaired by a trio of professors in the Foster School’s Department of Marketing and International Business: Douglas MacLachlan, the Marion B. Ingersoll Endowed Professor and long-time department chair; Robert W. Palmatier, the John C. Narver Chair of Business Administration and recipient of the Harold Maynard and Lou Stern awards; and Richard Yalch, a professor of marketing whose prolific career at Foster spans nearly four decades. But the entire department—faculty, staff and students— contributed to make the consortium such a success. “I loved showcasing my home institution to the marketing field,” says Agrawal. “Numerous visiting faculty and student fellows told me that we have a gem of a school and department, citing the new PACCAR Hall, our faculty and Dean Jiambalvo’s ambitious vision for both the Marketing Department and the Foster School.” “This was a terrific event,” adds Tom Brown, the Noble Foundation Chair in Marketing Strategy at Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, and president of the AMA’s Academic Council. “The organizers put together an engaging program—and there was a lot of interaction between the faculty and PhD students. “The bar has been set higher for future hosts of this prestigious event.” n

fall 2012


IN the news John Wheatly 1926-2012

John Joseph Wheatley, Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington School of Business, passed away at his home on June 28, 2012. Professor Wheatley was born in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland on May 23, 1926 and grew up in New York City. He served in the US Navy during World War II, and subsequently in the US Naval Reserve, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant in 1986. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, he obtained his MBA and PhD from SUNY-Buffalo, where he was also an assistant dean. He was assistant professor at the University of Rochester from 1959-60 and came to the University of Washington in 1960. He chaired the Marketing and International Business Department from 1986-1990 and retired from the UW in 1999. Professor Wheatley once said that he enjoyed almost every day of his career and found teaching very satisfying. n

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Ready, Go! New Accelerator seed fund helps student start-ups Student-led start-ups are delicate. They require nourishment, encouragement, favorable market conditions, even luck. Seed funding can make or break them. Enter the Foster School’s new Accelerator program. Foster’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is giving student start-ups more seed funding, advisory board mentoring and office space at a time when their early-stage venture could launch or fail. Through the Jones Milestone Achievement Award combined with a new Foster Accelerator Award, students who participated in a recent UW Business Plan Competition, UW Environmental Innovation Challenge or UW entrepreneurship class can qualify for seed funding. In the past three years, nearly $350,000 has been doled out to the most motivated entrepreneurs. “We are guiding start-ups to transition from being student teams to start-up teams. It’s a squirrely time. This is what will help them go forward,” says Connie Bourassa-Shaw, CIE director. This new award is a true start-up engine for the region. While competitions and classes give students skills, experience, guidance and testing opportunities, Accelerator awardees are hand-selected by a committee of powerhouse Seattle VCs and have explicit milestones they must achieve over six months. Cadence Biomedical, a UW student-led biotech company that helps the disabled walk again, is one of the biggest Accelerator success stories. They received seed funding in 2010, achieved their milestone goals and raised an additional $1.1 million. Another success is Stockbox Grocers, a Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA-led company that provides fresh groceries and produce in urban food deserts. They offer a modern, often organic alternative to the neighborhood mini mart. Stockbox won second prize and best service idea in the 2011 Business Plan Competition and advanced their start-up through a crowd-funding campaign and $25,000 Accelerator award. In 2012, they won more awards, received press coverage from the New York Times and the White House blog and are working on more investment sources to scale the business. n

This picture was made possible by generous donors like you. Donors who support the Foster School help make photos like this one possible. Some students in this classroom could not attend college without the scholarships they receive; donations have supported technology upgrades that enhance how a teacher instructs; PACCAR Hall was privately funded and now provides a world-class home to business at the UW; this faculty member is supported by an endowed professorship. You’re helping complete the picture of unsurpassed business education and leadership development in Washington. Make your gift today by visiting

fall 2012


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95 5 Transforming the UW Business School

© / logoboom

The fall of 2012 marks both the 95th anniversary of our business school at the UW, and the 5th anniversary of the renaming of the school to the Michael G. Foster School of Business. But who was Michael G. Foster? And how has our school changed over the last five years? Born in 1937, the son of Seattle business icon Albert O. Foster and his wife, Evelyn, a leading figure in the cultural life of the city, Michael G. Foster inherited a legacy of generosity and public service from his parents, who were also both UW alumni. Foster took the helm of Foster & Marshall, the investment firm his father founded, becoming president in 1971. Shortly after assuming leadership, Michael had a near-fatal auto accident during a fishing trip to Alaska. The lengthy process of recuperation, which included five operations and months spent in a body cast, gave him plenty of time to reflect on the future of the firm. In later life, Foster described his forced confinement as a “real plus,” that allowed him to map out a new, aggressive strategy for the company by greatly expanding the range of its financial products and services. His vision made Foster & Marshall the biggest and best investment firm in the Northwest. After selling Foster & Marshall to Shearson/American Express in 1982, Michael and his parents established The Foster Foundation in 1984—which gives to a wide array of causes, such as education, the arts, health and human services. One of the first major gifts of The Foster Foundation was $3 million in 1990 to help build a new business library for the UW Business School that would carry his parents’ names. In 2007, The Foster Foundation brought its total contributions to the UW Business School to $50 million with a gift of $36.5 million. To honor this gift and the life of The Foster Foundation’s co-founder, the University of Washington’s Board of Regents renamed the UW Business School the Michael G. Foster School of Business on Sept. 20, 2007. With that gift, the school has been able to grow and evolve, adding new, state-of-the-art facilities in PACCAR Hall and the newly opened Business Hall. The school has added more and better faculty, attracted top-notch students and increased visibility of our impeccable reputation. Join us as we take a look at what has been happening at the Foster School over the last five years.

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Highlights of foster’s first five years

2007 MBA students celebrate the Foster naming gift and the birth of our first slogan: “Foster means business.”

Foster School students break new ground, quite literally, as construction begins on PACCAR Hall on September 26, 2008. The 135,000 squarefoot building was designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects to embody the business school’s focus on leadership development, strategic thinking and collaboration.

2008 Proud alumni gather together to give generously to the Foster School at the 2008 Back To Business School Reunion.

Jaime Weber (TMMBA 2007) nails a shot in the 2009 TMMBA Bettin Cup Golf Tournament.



As Congress wrangles over a massive intervention in the deeply troubled financial sector, the Foster School of Business turns the crisis into a real-time teaching moment via a quickly mobilized public forum, “From Wall Street to Main Street: Anatomy of a Financial Crisis.” Hundreds of students, faculty and alumni jam Kane Hall to hear the remarks of experts Ali Tarhouni, Alan Hess, and John Rindlaub, CEO of Wells Fargo’s Pacific Northwest region and a member of the Foster School Advisory Board. Dean Jim Jiambalvo moderates the panel.

In 2010 the Global Business Center celebrates 20 years of providing tools and opportunities to solve real-world global problems and infusing international experience into the business community.

2010 By the middle of November, Balmer is little more than a pile of rubble. Foster Business Library Supervisor Daniel P. Halligan captures this awesome photo of the destruction.

On September 16, the Foster School says good-bye to “Balmer High” in grand style with a well-attended party.


On October 15, 2010, The Foster School welcomes hundreds of esteemed guests to the dedication of PACCAR Hall.

William Gates, Sr. speaks at the 2010 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition.

CIE director Connie Bourassa-Shaw celebrates 20 years of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship by asking 17 Seattle area entrepreneurs to give their elevator pitch explaining how CIE had helped them get a start.

Beloved and brilliant, Karma Hadjimichalakis demystified macroeconomics for generations of Foster School students and executives, drawing standing-room-only crowds for her annual State of the Economy lectures. After her death in 2011, the Karma Impact Fund was set up to memorialize her and further her great work in providing unsurpassed education at the Foster School.

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2011 PACCAR Hall makes an excellent venue for a very lively 2011 MBA Reunion.

Business and Economic Development Center founder and emeritus professor Thadeus Spratlen and his wife, Lois Price Spratlen, celebrate a lifetime of contributions to UW.


Andre Gill-McVey and Yerusalem Yemane are two standout graduates and mentors for the Young Executives of Color program. They both held presidential positions in Foster student organizations and are starting their careers with YEOC sponsor Ernst and Young this fall.Â

Foster students meet and mingle with faculty and staff at the 2012 Biz-B-Q.

Foster TMMBA students, Team Xylemed claim second place in the 2012 Business Plan Competition, which they described as an exhausting but amazing experience that demystifies the startup world and gives you the opportunity to really push yourself.

Hey UW Foster Grads, It’s our birthday, and the alumni team has a present for everyone. Sign up by November 30 to get your totally free UW Foster t-shirt and spread the word. Help us celebrate five years of FOSTER and 95 years of exceptional business education at the UW! Dean J.

Visit to request one today.

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Network How a UW technology becomes a start-up and its developer an entrepreneur, with a little help from a lot of friends around the Foster School and beyond


© / dtimiraos

It began with a problem. A glaring inefficiency of the modern hospital that is as pervasive as it is puzzling. In this age of digitized everything, the status of virtually every patient in virtually every medical department in America is manually tracked by erasable marker on an overcrowded white board. Still. Such a simple, central organizational hub works great as a framing device for the bustling casts of ER, Grey’s Anatomy and other fictional hospital dramas. But in the real ward, it makes for a shockingly outdated nerve center—error prone, incomplete, and far too taxing of staff time better spent on patient care. Ben Andersen (MBA 2012) understood this completely when he took up the challenge of modernizing the tracking system in the department of surgery at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. Andersen was a perceptive young IT guy working on the informatics team at this branch of the UW Medicine Health System. Fast forward a few years and his one-off solution has become a nascent company called PatientStream with broad ambitions in the $2.5 trillion health care industry. How Andersen made the jump from developer to entrepreneur is a study in technology commercialization at the University of Washington—of an innovator who is educated, mentored, focus-grouped, funded, challenged and championed by a fabric of experts and entrepreneurial organizations around and affiliated with the UW at large and the Foster School in particular. Complementary nodes in an ever-expanding network.

CREATION When Harborview opened a second surgery site four years ago, coordinating patients and medical staff on twin white boards proved unwieldy, to say the least. The job of offering a solution fell to Andersen. He first sought an off-the-shelf fix, but found it didn’t exist. So he offered to custom-build a solution. And his entrepreneurial manager, Peter Ghavami, gave him the green light. Andersen immersed himself in activity around the white boards. “I wanted to capture their language, every mark they made,” he says. His solution was deceptively simple: an electronic patient tracking and operations management system that drew and displayed information from existing hospital systems on a flat-screen television (or any networked computer). A digital white board. It was useful. More importantly, it was usable. “Normally when we roll out a new system, there are groans and moans and no one wants to learn it,” Andersen says. “When we implemented the digital whiteboard, after about five minutes of training they said, ‘That’s it? I can do that.’ Support calls were almost non-existent.”

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develop a technology in a hospital IT department, the skills and confidence that the TMMBA Program gave me to start a company, and the networking that came out of the Business Plan Competition, the past few years have been a perfect storm.”

“Between the incredibly rare opportunity to

The Electronic Whiteboard (EWB), as Andersen named the digital display system, worked from the start. Easy to use. Effective. Efficient. Patient waits fell markedly. Accuracy increased. Medical staff no longer had to cruise the white board all day to track their patients and schedule. And administrators could view instant metrics on operations and performance. Word spread quickly. Other departments began clamoring for the EWB, first at Harborview, then the UW Medical Center. Today, over 50 departments throughout the UW Medicine system are running the EWB. “When I began getting request after request from other departments, I realized that this is a need that’s not being met,” Andersen says. “Maybe this deserved to be in other hospitals as well.”

CONFIDENCE Andersen had founded a company before. It was the right-placewrong-time story of a workflow management firm serving property management/landscaping companies—launched unsuccessfully on the eve of a historic housing crash. Delivering a kindred tech solution to the health care industry, he knew, would be exponentially harder. But Andersen held a few advantages. He had an author’s knowledge of the software and a proven track record of implementations in real hospitals. And he was enrolled in the Foster School’s Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program where he added a full suite of management skills that would be essential for a software developer to make the jump to CEO. Suresh Kotha’s technology entrepreneurship class, in particular, was pivotal to Andersen’s ambitions. The course helped discern whether the opportunity and technology were market-worthy, yielded a working business plan, and, most importantly, demystified the entrepreneurial process for Andersen, equipping him with the requisite confidence to start a business. “I build my course around the premise that there is nothing special about entrepreneurs—they are not some superior beings,” says Kotha, the Foster School’s Olesen/Battelle Excellence Chair in Entrepreneurship. “They simply have the skill set and confidence to do it. And these can be developed.”

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Andersen got one more essential from the TMMBA Program: a team. He assembled an entrepreneurial A-Team of classmates expert in each function that would be critical to developing the business: Marc Brown on sales and custom support, Jason Imani on marketing, Anoop Gupta on technology, and Glen Jenson on finance. They called the venture Xylemed.

CONNECTION To test its market potential, Xylemed entered the annual UW Business Plan Competition, signature event of the Foster School’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Andersen found the experience exhilarating from the opening investment round, a kind of entrepreneurial trade show where 30 start-up teams fast-pitch to more than 200 roving judges over four crazy hours. “The pitch we started with and the pitch we ended with were radically different,” Andersen says. “We learned to key in on the part of the story that made their eyes light up.” In a word, traction. More than 50 installations across three medical centers, each one on demand. Andersen polished the narrative until it was irresistible. “Ben started with a very real problem, came up with an elegant and efficient solution, and demonstrated a tremendous capacity for making people understand what he was out to do,” says Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director of CIE. “He has a compelling story to tell.” That story took Xylemed to the final four, where it won the $10,000 second prize. “The money was great,” Andersen says. “But much more valuable are the connections that we made.” “That’s a wise assessment for an early entrepreneur to have,” says Aaron Coe (MBA 2003), one of those connections. “There’s great value in connecting with people who add knowledge, add perspective, and challenge assumptions.” Coe, who helped launch 2003 Business Plan Competition champion NanoString and had an even bigger success with a pharma company called Calistoga, coached Xylemed before the semifinal, then later secured them a spot at the Technology Alliance’s Innovation Showcase. There were many others. The team’s semifinal judges included investor Greg Gottesman of Madrona Ventures and serial entrepreneur Terry Drayton of Rainier Software and Both opened their personal networks to Andersen. “I’ve been amazed

Team Xylemed pitches their Electronic Whiteboard at the Business Plan Competition.


at the caliber of people who approached me and offered their help,” he says. It’s no surprise to Bourassa-Shaw. At the end of the day, CIE is in the connection business.

COMMISSION The UW Center for Commercialization (C4C) is in the licensing business. When Andersen’s digital white board first reached the inbox of Angela Loihl, associate director of technology licensing, she shopped it around to a variety of software and health care companies. It’s a common corporate strategy to cherry pick R&D out of university labs, and C4C has negotiated more than 100 licensing agreements of UW intellectual property since 2005. Recently, Loihl says, an increasing number of faculty and staff are expressing interest in launching their own ventures around their innovations and discoveries. So the C4C has evolved into a hybrid transaction/partnership model—a kind of business development team for researchers and innovators. After the digital white board found no initial takers, Andersen—by this time well into the TMMBA Program—began changing the conversation. What if he sold the software himself? As he prepared for the Business Plan Competition, Loihl connected him with the C4C’s Entrepreneurs-In-Residence Program. He rehearsed his pitch in its New Ventures Facility. He sought advice from the Law School’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic. And while Loihl oversaw the negotiation to license Andersen’s software, she also served as advisor, advocate and fan. “It was obvious that Ben had been taught well at the Foster School,” she says. “He came to us prepared, asked the right questions, and knew exactly what he wanted to get out of every meeting—in the nicest possible way.” The kind of entrepreneur you want to root for.

Today, Andersen is a recent Foster grad, a former employee of Harborview, and a full-time entrepreneur. He has rechristened his company PatientStream, a name that sounds less like a pharmaceutical and more like a software company that tracks hospital cases. He’s incorporated the business, finalizing license negotiations, developing a mobile app, seeking investors, and closing in on several key hires. Even on his own—his TMMBA colleagues have returned to their lives and livelihoods—Andersen is still breathing the rich air of the UW’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Success in the Business Plan Competition earned PatientStream a spot in the Foster Accelerator, a resource that provides expert mentoring and advising, work space in the CIE’s new Herbold Innovation Lab, and a chance to earn up to $25,000 in additional seed funding if Andersen can achieve several important milestones over the next few months. He’s pitching for considerably more money from the newly instituted W Fund. The public-private partnership aims to invest nearly $20 million over the next four years in promising start-ups spinning out of the UW and other research institutions across the state. For PatientStream, a business that needs to act fast and first, a small slice of that pie would be a veritable feast. Time will tell whether his company’s promise is proven on the open market, in the notoriously difficult-to-crack health care industry. But Andersen has a viable technology, a running start, an ever-expanding network of powerful allies, and a robust entrepreneurial education, in and out of the classroom. “Between the incredibly rare opportunity to develop a technology in a hospital IT department, the skills and confidence that the TMMBA Program gave me to start a company, and the networking that came out of the Business Plan Competition,” he says, “the past few years have been a perfect storm.” Perhaps the most telling testament to Andersen’s growth was his preview presentation of PatientStream, by all reports outstanding, to the newly formed W Fund investment committee—an intimidating collection of the region’s premier entrepreneurs and investors. “To go in front of these guys as a young IT guy and hold your own is pretty impressive,” says fund investor Dave Marver, the former CEO of Cardiac Science. “Ben wasn’t intimidated in the least.” n

Fall 2012 19

Talk to Becky Case studies come to life—and the professor becomes the client—in Stearns’ MBA advertising class

Most business schools stress the importance of mixing real world experience into the curriculum. Thanks to Foster’s deep ties to a business community that extends well beyond the Northwest, it isn’t uncommon for business luminaries to be on campus: judging case competitions, mentoring students, speaking at larger functions or guest lecturing in the classroom. Take a typical Thursday afternoon in one of the classrooms of PACCAR Hall. Former Charles Schwab CMO Becky Saeger was talking to Foster MBA students about the experience of digging deep to revitalize a major brand. As the architect of the integrated “Talk to Chuck” campaign platform, Saeger had valuable insights to offer the students on this Harvard case study. After all, she is the marketing protagonist at the center of the case study. She began by discussing the importance of the big picture marketing process. From there the focus shifted to decision metrics, advertising strategy and execution, and ultimately how that contributed to Schwab’s overall brand objectives. Saeger was great in her capacity as guest lecturer in Marketing 540, taught by senior lecturer Elizabeth Stearns. She brought to life the lay of the land at Schwab. The year was 2004 and the CEO who hired her was replaced by Charles “Chuck” Schwab himself, reclaiming his role as CEO of the $4.2 billion company he founded in 1971. Saeger reinforced the problem as described in the Harvard case study, on the potential for losses and eroding customer loyalty as the company struggled to fulfill its promise to the individual investor.

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Following Stearns’ lead, Saeger asked as many questions as she answered. One interesting aspect of this class is that Stearns does not play the role of professor—but rather that of a marketing client. Students have formed teams acting as advertising agencies vying for Stearns’ business. There’s very little handholding—and that’s good, because as any marketing agency veteran will attest, clients expect initiative and brilliance. The students demonstrated considerable chutzpah—one memorable moment occurring when a student agency, going by the name Draper’s Disciples, turned down Saeger’s request for an additional $50 million budget with their excellent ROI analysis. In the end Saeger won out with exceptional rationale; but moreover, by proving success. This teaching model brings intense realism into the classroom, as do guests like Becky Saeger. There was an exhilarating quality to the session, and an overwhelming sense that Foster MBAs are getting the best of rigor where it intersects relevance to their futures. As a side note, there was some irony that the ‘agency’ challenging Saeger’s budget request was “Draper’s Disciples.” As it turns out, she began her career at Ogilvy & Mather in NY, where she made a name for herself with global brand campaigns for American Express, among other clients. A real-life Madison Avenue prodigy for our times. n

faculty accurate view of self


appreciation of others’ strengths

Humility Now! Humble people tend to make the most effective leaders, highest performers Humility may be a virtue. It’s also a competitive advantage. According to a Foster School study, humble people are more likely to be high performers in individual and team settings. They also tend to make the most effective leaders. “Humility is an important component of effective leadership in modern organizations,” says co-author Michael Johnson, an associate professor of management and GM Nameplate Faculty Fellow at Foster. “Humble leaders foster learning-oriented teams and engage employees. They also optimize job satisfaction and employee retention.” Johnson collaborated with lead author Bradley Owens, a former doctoral student now at the University of Buffalo, and Terry Mitchell, the Edward E. Carlson Distinguished Professor in Business Administration at the Foster School. The research team defined humility as a three-part personality trait consisting of an accurate view of the self, teachability, and appreciation of others’ strengths. Individual performance

In a first study, teams of students and employees assessed each other’s humility. This produced a high degree of consensus, indicating accuracy. Once a humility benchmark was set for each individual, the researchers were able to measure the affect of humility on various kinds of performance. What emerged was a surprisingly strong indicator of who would excel, and who would improve over time. “Two of

the best predictors of performance—both academic and on the job—are intelligence and conscientiousness,” Johnson says. “We found that humility predicted performance better than both.” This first study revealed one other bonus feature of humility: it can compensate for lower levels of intelligence. Effective leadership

In a second study, employees rated their supervisors on humility and answered questions about their own job engagement and satisfaction. Those who rated their managers as more humble reported feeling more engaged and less likely to leave the organization. “A lot of companies are finding that the best leaders are not necessarily the ones you read about in the media or who have larger-than-life personalities,” Johnson says. “They’re the people who are behind the scenes, guiding their employees and letting them shine. “Our study suggests that a ‘quieter’ leadership approach—listening, being transparent, being aware of limitations, and appreciating follower strengths and contributions—is an effective way to engage employees.” Age of ego

Johnson adds that humility may be less germane to the American ethos, which tends to be more individualistic than the collectivistic societies of Asia, northern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa. “That doesn’t mean that individualistic cultures are necessarily less humble,” he

says. “But if you pair individualism with narcissism and a lack of humility, that’s a dangerous mix.” He warns that narcissism is on the rise in this age Michael Johnson of Facebook and Twitter. The media are rife with self-admiration. Cartoonish shows of me-first bombast (see Donald Trump’s workplace blood sport, “The Apprentice”) threaten to become cultural touchstones. In the real real world, the Foster study demonstrates, genuine humility is, ironically enough, the best way to get ahead. Of course, not everyone is born humble. Nature and—especially in current times— nurture can work against it. But Johnson says that humility, like other virtues, can be developed. “Patience is a virtue. And some people are naturally more patient. But we can all work to become more patient,” Johnson says. “Humility is the same way. If we focus on appreciating the strengths of others, focus on being teachable, having an accurate view of ourselves, we can actually become more humble people.” And that might just make us more effective at school, at play, and in the workplace. “Humility in Organizations: Implications for Performance, Teams, and Leadership,” is forthcoming in Organization Science. n

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faculty RESEARCH BRIEFS Pros & Cons

Moral Shift

CEO Acid Test

Two-sided analysis can compromise credibility of best online product reviews

Morality can vacillate based on different organizational roles, expectations

Introducing the most precise measure of chief executive ability

We tend to think of personal morality— our intrinsic sense of right and wrong—as immutable. Immovable. Rooted in bedrock. In reality, moral judgments can shift dramatically depending on the organizational role we are playing at the moment. This according to a new study by Scott Reynolds, an associate professor of business ethics and Helen Moore Gerhardt Faculty Fellow at Foster. Reynolds and his co-authors examined occupations that encompass starkly contrasting—even competing—roles: engineering project managers and army medics. They found that a variety of subtle, often imperceptible, cues can trigger a person’s identification with one role over another in a given occupation. And that shift can dictate how a person responds to an ethical dilemma. Reynolds says that managers should be aware of the multiple roles their employees may be juggling, and make sure that they understand what is expected of them in different situations. Managers also should understand how even subtle contextual cues can affect employees who may be teetering between one or more professional roles, and foster an environment that promotes open discussion of moral conflicts. “Organizational training can play a role,” Reynolds says. “But even more important is a supportive culture.” n

How good is a CEO? And how can you tell? The existing indicators of chief executive ability—compensation, tenure, media mentions, stock price, firm performance— are unscientific at best. But a new measure produces a vastly more precise picture of CEO worth. The Manager Ability Score, co-created by Sarah McVay, the Glen & Lucille Legoe Professor of Accounting at the Foster School, strips away variables that are specific to a firm or industry to reveal just how efficient a given CEO is, relative to industry peers, at transforming corporate resources into revenues.

In online reviews, when are four stars better than five? When the five-star reviewer dilutes a highest-possible rating by noting a few negatives. That perceived inconsistency is enough to render an “excellent” rating less convincing than a merely “good” rating that is deemed more credible. This according to research by Ann Schlosser, an associate professor of marketing and Evert McCabe Fellow at Foster. In one of the first studies to consider both quantitative (numerical ratings) and qualitative (written arguments) dimensions of peer reviews, Schlosser finds that consumers are suspicious when a highest rating doesn’t jibe with its less-than-perfect written explanation. “In a peer review, consumers want to get a fuller picture of the pros and cons of a product,” Schlosser says. “But, ironically, presenting a product’s pros and cons is not always more helpful, credible and persuasive—specifically when there is a perceived inconsistency between a reviewer’s rating and supporting arguments.” The best strategy, she adds, may be to instruct reviewers to be consistent in their reviews. n

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McVay and colleagues assessed more than 2,200 firms over 20 years to establish the measure. Validity testing revealed that stock market reaction to the announcement of a change at the top is more positive the lower the departing CEO’s ability (and vice-versa). And when CEOs switch jobs, their personal ability makes a significant impact—for good or ill—on their new firm. “Good managers are good wherever they go, and they make their companies better,” McVay says. “Bad managers are bad wherever they go, and make their companies worse.” n

© / BlackJack3D, MHJ, Bliznetsov, Yuri_Arcurs, DNY59, malerapaso

The Right Price

Downside of Dominance

Shoo, Flu

The trick to making a product seem less (or more) expensive

Controlling shareholder incentives affect the cost of corporate borrowing

Incentives to get vaccinated could stop the spread of influenza

Dominant investors who hold “excess control rights” in a company can dramatically increase its cost of credit, according to an award-winning paper by Paul Malatesta, a professor of finance and Norman J. Metcalfe Faculty Fellow at Foster. Malatesta and his co-authors received the Jensen Prize for Corporate Finance and Organizations, recognizing the best corporate finance paper published last year in the Journal of Financial Economics. Their analysis of nearly 3,500 firms in 22 countries over the period from 1996-2008 revealed that the cost of borrowing money is significantly higher for companies that have a wider divergence between the largest owner’s control rights and cash-flow rights. When dominant shareholders’ voting clout outweighs their financial stake in a company, they have an incentive to press for “tunneling” transactions— favoring other firms in which they hold a greater financial stake.

’Tis the season. Flu season, that is. The annual respiratory pestilence costs the economy billions of dollars (and leaves the afflicted with a litany of nasty symptoms). Vaccination is the best prevention. But it costs individuals time and money. Some believe it’s ineffective or will make them sick. Others don’t think they need to be immunized when others around them are. The end result, each year, is an undervaccinated US population. Now a Foster study finds that a modest government subsidy to incentivize people to get vaccinated will prevent a far greater toll on the population and the economy—even in a light flu season. Co-authors Debabrata Dey, the Marion B. Ingersoll Professor of Information Systems, and Hamed Mamani, an assistant professor of operations management, note that this incentive strategy would prove cheaper in the long run (each flu infection costs 40 times each vaccination). And it may also work to prevent outbreaks of other infectious diseases. “When the government takes no action, we simply don’t reach the desirable level of vaccination in the community,” Mamani says. “But if the government subsidizes vaccination, we can reach the optimal level.” n

How can you make a product seem less expensive? Conventional wisdom says group it with higher-priced items. But a study co-authored by Jeffrey Shulman finds just the opposite—under the right conditions. When advertisements or displays prompt consumers to think generally about the product category rather than to discriminate the distinguishing features of a particular product, they tend to perceive a product as more expensive when grouped with higherpriced items and cheaper when grouped with lower-priced items. Shulman says that comparative versus non-comparative advertising and promotion activates opposing mechanisms of processing in consumers. This can lead to very different price judgments and, ultimately, inclinations to buy. Mix the messages of promotion and pricing, and marketing strategies may backfire. “When introducing changes to the product assortment, marketers should recognize the effects of other situational factors on judgments of prices,” says Shulman, an associate professor of marketing at Foster. “In-store displays, advertisements or a sales person may trigger distinct processing goals and influence how consumers reach a price judgment.” n

“Excess control rights cause lenders to anticipate tunneling activities that impair their collateral and borrower creditworthiness,” Malatesta says. “As a consequence, lenders charge higher interest rates to borrowers whose ultimate controlling shareholders possess excess control rights.” n

fall 2012 23


Master Class Foster School amplifies faculty with auspicious additions in every department Accounting

Mark Westerfield Assistant Professor of Finance and Economics

Management & Organization

Sarah McVay Associate Professor of Accounting

PhD (economics), MIT, 2004

David Sirmon Associate Professor of Management

Glen & Lucille Legoe Professor, 2012 PhD (accounting), University of Michigan, 2004 Assistant Professor of Accounting, NYU Stern School of Business, 2004-07 Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Utah Eccles School of Business, 2007-2012 CPA (Washington), 1998 Senior Auditor, Arthur Andersen, 1998-2000 Doctoral Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, 2011 David Eccles Faculty Fellow, 2011 Expertise: earnings quality, management disclosures, and the interactions between market participants

Asher Curtis Assistant Professor of Accounting PhD (accounting), University of New South Wales, 2007 Visiting Scholar, NYU Stern School of Business, 2006 Jerome A. Chazen Institute International Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, 2006-07 Assistant Professor, University of Utah Eccles School of Business, 2007-2012 Expertise: incorporation of accounting information in capital markets, short-selling

Finance & Business Economics Ran Duchin Associate Professor of Finance Marguerite Reimers Fellow, 2012 PhD (finance), USC, 2008 Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Michigan, 2008-11 Sanford R. Robertson Assistant Professor of Business Administration, University of Michigan, 2011-12 NTT Research Award, 2010 Teva Award, 2010 Expertise: corporate finance, corporate governance, political economy

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Assistant Professor, USC, 2005-2012 FAME Research (Swiss Finance Institute) Prize, 2004 Smith-Breeden Prize, 2006 CRA International Prize, Best Corporate Finance Paper, 2007 Roger F. Murray Prize, second place, 2011 Expertise: corporate finance, contract theory, market formation and evolution, behavioral finance, asset pricing

Tracey Seslen Senior Lecturer Assistant Professor of Clinical Finance and Business Economics, USC, 2003-2012

Robert Herbold Professor in Entrepreneurship, 2012 PhD (management), Arizona State University, 2004 Assistant Professor, Clemson University, 2004-06 Assistant/Associate Professor, Texas A&M University, 2006-12 Pamela M. and Barent W. Cater ’77 Faculty Research Fellow, 2009-12 Best Paper finalist, Academy of Management Review, 2010 Best Paper finalist, Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2011 SMS Emerging Scholar Award, 2011

PhD (economics), MIT, 2003

Played football at University of Montana

Homer Hoyt Dissertation Competition, second place, 2003

Brother, Peter Sirmon, is the new UW linebackers coach

Consultant to Torto-Wheaton Research and Moody’s

Expertise: strategic entrepreneurship; family business, boards of directors

Expertise: housing prices, sub-prime mortgage industry, household mobility behavior, commercial mortgage-backed securities

Information Systems & Operations Management Michael Wagner Assistant Professor of Operations Management

Marketing & International Business Natalie Mizik Associate Professor of Marketing J. Gary Shansby Professor in Marketing Strategy, 2012

PhD (operations research), MIT, 2006

PhD (marketing), University of Washington, 2002

Assistant Professor, California State University East Bay, 2006-09

Assistant Professor of Marketing, Columbia University, 2002-07

Chevron Assistant Professor of Operations Management, Saint Mary’s College of California, 2009-2012

Gantcher Associate Professor of Business, Columbia University, 2007-11

Doctoral Colloquium, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, 2004

Visiting Associate Professor of Marketing, MIT, 2010-11

Teaching Colloquium, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, 2007

Associate Professor of Marketing, University of North Carolina, 2011-12

Expertise: decision making under uncertainty, value of information in supply chain management, inventory control, resource allocation, and logistics

Erin Anderson Award for an emerging female scholar and mentor, American Marketing Association Foundation, 2012

Foad Iravani Assistant Professor

Varadaraian Award for Early Career Contributions to Marketing Strategy Research, American Marketing Association, 2011

PhD (decisions, operations and technology management), UCLA, 2012 Expertise: supply chain management, strategic models in the presence of gray markets, counterfeiters and imitators, service operations, practice models in operations management

AMA-Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium Faculty, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 Expertise: branding, financial impacts of marketing, marketing metrics, natural language processing

Meet the ProfS: Learn a little more about a few of the newest faculty members Won’t Get Fooled Again

Heavy Finance

The Accidental Academic

After seeing—or, rather, not seeing—the dark arts of earnings management firsthand while working as a senior auditor at Arthur Andersen in the late 1990s, Sarah McVay dedicated her doctoral work to investigating the practice. “One of my clients was exaggerating restructuring costs to make earnings look better, right under my nose,” she says. “I was too naïve to understand what was happening.” Not any longer. The incident sparked her doctoral dissertation, in which she deconstructed this clever version of earnings management and published it for the world to see in the Accounting Review. The paper capped her PhD work at the University of Michigan. And while serving on the accounting faculties of NYU and the University of Utah, she published frequently in the field’s top journals with papers examining earnings quality, management disclosures, and the interactions between market participants. Now she joins the Foster School as the Glen & Lucille Legoe Professor of Accounting, and will teach financial statement analysis to MBAs and financial accounting to TMMBAs. A native of Portland, she views it as a golden opportunity for her and husband Asher Curtis, a new assistant professor of accounting. “The school’s Accounting Department has been highly ranked for years and is well-respected around the world. And it hasn’t seen much turnover in a long time,” she says. “So, for us, this is a fabulous opportunity.”

Academic research can tend toward the esoteric. But much of Ran Duchin’s finance work is more topical than typical. Take his recent pair of papers examining the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)—studies you may have read about in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Washington Post. The first paper demonstrated that banks exerting more active political influence were most successful at securing bailout money. The second found that recipient banks did not use the TARP funds to spur lending—as was intended—but rather took the government’s backing as a sign that it was safe to engage in even riskier investing behavior. “Finance is actually a very applied discipline,” explains Duchin, the Foster School’s new associate professor of finance and Marguerite Reimers Fellow. “I think we don’t provide enough implications and advice to policy makers. For me, that’s what the study of finance is all about.” Finance isn’t all that Duchin is about. The native of Israel and father of two holds a special interest in Seattle’s particular cultural heritage of grinding electric guitar. Local icons Nirvana and Pearl Jam inspired his playing in a Jerusalem rock band in his younger days. And now that he finds himself living at the source, he’s anxious to be reacquainted with his axe of choice, the Gibson Les Paul. Serious finance scholar with a bias toward grunge. Yeah, sounds like Foster.

Natalie Mizik (PhD 2002) didn’t exactly dream of becoming a scholar. “It was the last thing I wanted to do,” admits the Foster School’s new J. Gary Shansby Professor in Marketing Strategy. But life, and love, got in the way. Born in Ukraine, educated in Moscow, and headed toward a career in management consulting, Mizik’s path diverted when she met her future husband, who worked at Microsoft, while on a student exchange in the US. A few years later, they married. Mizik moved to Seattle and began doctoral studies at Foster. She excelled from the start. After graduating in 2002, Mizik served on the faculties of Columbia, MIT, and North Carolina before rejoining the Foster School this summer. Among her much-heralded scholarship, she has quantified the impact of marketing on a firm’s financial performance, investigated the cost of myopic management, and launched an on-going study on values voters and their brands. Now she’s moving into a new frontier in analytical marketing: natural language processing (or, how to extract useful statistical information from unstructured sources like customer reviews and media articles). She finds that the academic life has grown on her. “I really like what I do now,” she says. “I get to find solutions to problems that are interesting to me. I think I just got very lucky.” n

fall 2012 25


Stats Stud Erich Studer-Ellis wins the 2012 PACCAR Award for Excellence in Teaching the models to situations they will certainly encounter after graduation. If the strategic decisions of business— and life—are increasingly driven by data analysis, Studer-Ellis is determined to send his students into this world expertly equipped. A big impression

His students call him “E-Stud,” a remarkably cool nickname, really, for a teacher of business statistics. But it’s a testament of deep affection and appreciation for the man who unlocks the secrets of a subject as esoteric as it is essential for students at the Foster School. Those students have selected Erich Studer-Ellis, a senior lecturer of quantitative methods, as the winner of the 2012 PACCAR Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Foster School’s highest teaching honor was established in 1998 by PACCAR Inc, the Fortune 200 global technology company based in Bellevue, WA. Studer-Ellis teaches the core statistics course to full-time and evening MBA students, as well as undergrads. His students laud his ability to simplify this highly technical subject. More significantly, perhaps, they describe him as a tireless and energetic advocate for statistical literacy in a world increasingly awash in “Big Data.” He seasons topics with examples that students can get their heads around—from the calculation of real estate values to the assessment of probability in a Megamillions lottery to the intrusion of evidence-based decisions in big-time sports (the Moneyball effect). And, once they’ve got it, he applies

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They seem to appreciate the effort. In nominating Studer-Ellis for the PACCAR Award, MBA students sang his praise repeatedly in lyrics such as passion, clarity and care. “Erich has taken what many see as a dull and dry subject and brought it new life and real world meaning,” wrote one student. “His passion for the subject material is evident and his commitment to delivering it in a way that is both accessible and exciting is really what makes him a great teacher.” Another noted that Studer-Ellis showed “real commitment to his teaching, has an amazing command of his subject matter and, most importantly, has the uniquely ‘E-Stud’ ability to make his subject come alive with his exciting, dynamic and challenging teaching.” “Makes statistics fun,” declared another. “Enough said.” Distinguished career

Studer-Ellis earned BS and MBA degrees in business economics and public policy at Indiana University, and a PhD in sociology at Duke University. He joined the Foster School in 2009 after nine years on faculty at the University of Maryland. There he served as teaching professor of management science and statistics from 2000-06 before being named Distinguished Ralph J. Tyser Teaching Fellow from 2006-09. Among his many teaching honors, Studer-Ellis received Maryland’s Allen J. Krowe Award for General Teaching Excellence in 2003 and 2007, and was recognized as a “Top Terp” in 2005. He

received Teaching Excellence Recognition from the Smith School of Business in 2002, 03, 05, and 09. And in 2006, BusinessWeek named him one of 23 “Favorite Professors” selected from across the nation. Crowning achievement

But the PACCAR Award eclipses them all. Studer-Ellis says he’s humbled by such an honor, and claims that he gets as much as he gives to Foster MBA students. “After teaching undergraduates for many years, coming to the Foster School was a great opportunity to work with MBA students as well,” he says. “They’ve challenged me to develop more and better ways to present the information than I could ever have imagined. And it’s an incredible honor to be recognized by them with the PACCAR Award.” PACCAR and its founding Pigott family are longtime supporters of the Foster School. In addition to the PACCAR Award and three endowed faculty positions, support from the Pigott family and company was instrumental in building PACCAR Hall. n

Previous PACCAR Award Winners Karma Hadjimichalakis (1998) Stephan Sefcik (1999) Elizabeth Stearns (2000) Jennifer Koski (2001) Ali Tarhouni (2002) Robert Higgins (2003) Jane Kennedy (2004) Daniel Turner (2005) Mark Forehand (2006) Mark Hillier (2007) Jennifer Koski (2008) Shailendra Jain (2009) Thomas Gilbert (2010) Lance Young (2011)


Hammering Man John White, inventor of mammoth machines, reinvents himself in the Foster EMBA Program You could call John White (EMBA 2012) many things. Inventor. Entrepreneur. Scholar. Philanthropist. Restorer of rare antiquities. Teller of rousing tales. How about Renaissance man? Let’s not get carried away. We’re talking about a uniquely American icon-in-therough, more rock-and-roll than lute and lyre. A bear of a man who ran off to join the carnival when he was 14, enlisted in the Marines at 17, and made his bones in the heaviest of industries. White is the founder of American Piledriving Equipment (APE), the world’s foremost manufacturer of vibratory hammers that drive the foundations for the massive structures of modern civilization— skyscrapers, statues, stadiums, oil rigs, wind turbines, bridges. Especially bridges. White’s been enthralled by these abiding symbols of human ingenuity ever since he was a kid in West Seattle, when an old neighbor would regale him with tales from his days flying bombing runs in World War II. “He said he could never take out the old Roman bridges in Italy and France,” White recalls. “They were just too solidly built.” Ground up

White’s role in the advancement of transport construction began humbly enough. After his stint in the military and a spell at community college, he was hired as a mechanic by Pacific American Commercial Company, fixing pile drivers from around the world that were surplussed after the construction of the Alaska Pipeline. Eventually, he became a walking encyclopedia on the subject. “I didn’t realize it at the time,” he says, “but I was, perhaps, the only person on the planet who had been exposed to all of these hammers.”

North Carolina-based International Construction Equipment (ICE) sought his expertise to coax its shoddy pile drivers to work on the West Seattle Bridge project in the early 1980s, then hired him to manage its west coast operations. But White eventually wearied of trekking from southern California to northern Alaska to install and service hammers that were always breaking down. “When you’re up in Prudhoe Bay, you don’t care how much you saved if the machine doesn’t work,” he says. “So I set out to make the world’s best pile driver.”

Build a better hammer…

After White left ICE, he founded APE in his White Center garage. His first creation was a small hammer that used vibration rather than concussion and heavy tungsten rather than steel to drive piles in tight spaces, a design perfectly suited for Boeing’s seismic retrofit of the late 1980s. White received his first patent in 1992. And the next day he was introduced to Pat Hughes (BA 1957), owner of several rock and gravel companies in the Northwest. They became partners in APE—White as president and Hughes as CEO.

fall 2012 27

alumni “We were a great team,” White recalls. “Pat was an incredible mentor; working with him was like being enrolled in the Pat Hughes School of Business—an extraordinary learning experience in the real world. He said to keep on inventing. And 20 years later, we were the world’s largest manufacturer of vibratory pile drivers. We revolutionized the industry.” White designed progressively bigger and more efficient impact and vibro hammers. Locally, APE had a hand in constructing Safeco and Century Link Fields, the new waterfront Great Wheel, and is working on the new 520 Bridge. It helped build bridges in Iraq and Afghanistan, and repaired the Haitian port after the 2010 earthquake. APE now dominates the vibratory hammer market in North American and parts of Asia, and is a growing presence in Europe and South America. For China, a nation setting new standards for mega construction, White designed the largest pile driver in history. Today his OctaKong, a 500,000-pound vibro hammer, is driving 72-foot diameter steel piles deep into the South China Sea to support the 31-mile Hong Kong-ZhuhaiMacau Bridge. Reinventing the inventor

Despite being president of APE, White was always more comfortable in his role of inventor. In 2010 he decided it was time to learn the management and financial side of the business. So he enrolled in the Foster School’s Executive MBA Program. Three decades removed from his last classroom experience, White found he was a pretty good student. He soaked up faculty wisdom, polished his interpersonal skills, and grew into the heart-and-soul of a tightknit class. He also learned that he was ready—and able—to navigate his own future. “It didn’t matter if I was CEO of an antique store,” White says. “After 20 years as second in command, I wanted to run my own ship.” He sold his stake in APE toward the close of the program, “the hardest decision of my life,” he admits. “But I was born in the EMBA Program. The Foster School has

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given me the tools and the confidence to do something new.” Somethings new

White has wasted no time. Since graduating in June, he has been testing the waters on an innovation that he worked on in the EMBA’s capstone project. This elegant twist on geothermal energy uses a long, hollow screw of heatconducting steel to deliver the ambient temperature of ground water to an aboveground heat pump—enabling vastly more efficient heating and cooling, and a tidy installation. White also launched Crazy Horse Motorcycles, manufacturing distinctive “V-Plus 100” curvilinear engines—you may have seen them powering the rides of the Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper”— and genuinely all-American-made retro bikes sized to fit the big-and-tall market (of which, at 6-foot-4, White is a member). And he’s bought a house. Well, not just a house. A kind of lost museum, really. White found the historic waterfront residence of Hollister Sprague, Boeing’s first attorney, shrouded in vegetation atop a bluff in Seahurst. Inside was a veritable trove of period furniture, books and music, and a Prohibition-era hidden hooch-running tunnel. In a grand ballroom inspired by the chancel of a Scottish church, he found three grand pianos (a pair of Steinways and a Bösendorfer) and a legendary 1931 pipe organ—the console operated percussion, harp, flute, glockenspiel, voix celeste, and a veritable orchestra of other instruments. White is sparing no expense to restore this unique, historic residence to its original splendor. “It’s going to be incredible,” he muses. The measure of an MBA

Since departing APE, White has made one other significant investment. Midway into a life spent building things to last, it occurred to him that he could help build the school that had unlocked his future to endless possibilities. Just before graduation, he donated $500,000 to Foster—the largest student gift in the school’s 95-year history.

EVENTS CALENDAR November 2012 7-9 Executive Seminar: Leadership that Shapes the Future 15 Business Leadership Celebration, HUB 28-30 Executive Seminar: Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Executives December 2012 6 Minority Business of the Year Awards, Sheraton Seattle February/March 2012 25-March 1 9th Annual Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition April 2012 4 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge Visit for details and more events.

When Neal Dempsey (BA 1965) spoke at this year’s EMBA commencement, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist offered three kernels of advice that struck White— transformed by his days at Foster—as both inspiration and summation. Do something that scares you. Welcome change. Give back. “Now I’ve done them all,” White says. “But it was his last point that resonated most.” n

Allow Him to Demonstrate Brent Ellis sees further opportunities for growth in the business of Costco-based product demos The next time you’re at Costco, take note of all of the product demonstrations happening across the store. If you tend to shop there with children in tow, you’re no doubt familiar with the way in which food samples can quickly become lunch. It would be logical to think that the demonstration hosts are representatives of the product in question, but that’s rarely the case. In fact, the in-store demos held at all Costco warehouses in the Western US are run by one company: Warehouse Demo Services. “In-store sampling creates a level of interaction with customers that no other form of marketing can duplicate,” says Brent Ellis, (MBA 1997) CFO and one-third owner of Warehouse Demo Services (WDS). WDS is the exclusive, in-house product demonstration company for Costco in nine states, with more than 8,000 employees in 172 Costco warehouses. During Ellis’s 12 years as the company’s CFO, WDS has more than doubled in revenue and grown locations by 50 percent. Ellis graduated from the Foster School with his MBA and joined Deloitte & Touche’s Management Consulting practice in the pre-Sarbanes-Oxley days when firms were able to advise companies with much greater access to the finance and accounting models. “It was great,” remembers Ellis. “I had great local clients, the dot-coms were on the rise and I was learning a ton, staying very busy and enjoying the hands-on role I could play across multiple organizations.” Like many people taking stock of their situation on the verge of family planning, Brent began thinking about what may lie ahead in terms of his career. As a native Oregonian who previously left Eugene to study economics as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Brent wasn’t afraid of change. Which is good— because his next opportunity came from

the president of WDS, asking Brent to join the team as the CFO and help with the company’s growth strategy. “Costco-based product demos may not look as sexy as dot-com start-ups on paper,” says Ellis, “but the value that product demonstrations bring to our customers puts us in a very exciting space. When you consider how brand loyalty is formed, it’s hard to beat an in-store experience—something most marketing vehicles can’t offer.” Ellis also takes satisfaction in working with warehouse club pioneer Costco, “WDS’s 23 year partnership with Costco has created the most effective in-store sampling program in retail.” The marketing training in graduate school complements his oversight of back office operations perfectly, making Brent a key contributor on the executive team. “I think back on all the things I learned 15 years ago and a lot of it is blended with my work experience,” says Ellis.

Ask him what part of his MBA experience resonates the most today, and he immediately references his network of contacts. “The Foster community has been a tremendous asset for me. From my internship at PACCAR—how many 28 year olds get to join an elite management training program?—to the business contacts I talk to every day.” In terms of what’s next, Ellis is strategizing ways to increase same-store growth, essentially increasing market share at Costco warehouses by demonstrating the ROI of in-store demos to other brands competing for space at the premier warehouse club of the West. “What better way to convert a Costco shopper to a lifetime customer of a product than an in-store demonstration? “There are a lot of advertising messages out there, so the products we demonstrate at the point of purchase speak very loudly to customers.” n

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Datahead Lucy Wang has made her way in the tech world

Lucy Wang (TMMBA 2007) lives in the fast lane. Now a Microsoft senior product manager, Wang has made her mark working at high-tech dot-com giants,, and At ABCNews, she worked under pressure to provide up-to-the-second accurate data online during the controversial 2000 presidential election outcome, amid a TV network leery of “dot-com rookies.” Her first day on the job at Expedia, she was re-orged into another group. Now at Bing (Microsoft’s search engine), she competes against Google for advertiser dollars and consumer eyes. When she wanted to shift her e-commerce career from engineering to marketing, Wang chose the Foster School’s Technology Management MBA Program to broaden her thinking. “It’s a door-opener—a catalyst. But you have to have the tenacity and drive to make

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that shift,” says Wang. “I wanted to move from a core engineering role to a more marketing-driven role. The program really helped me qualify. When you don’t have 100 percent experience prior to the switch, the degree really speaks loudly for you. Otherwise, how do you prove to a hiring manager you really know how to market a technical product?” Wang loves her job in search engine marketing (SEM). It’s an emerging technology since Google elevated SEM to a whole new level. “Compare it to other media like billboards, TV, radio, print. SEM is only ten years old.” Her engineering background also prepared her for a switch from development to product management. “I need to understand advertisers’ pain points. We need to understand Google. We need to understand Facebook. We need to understand how all these players create the dynamic in the marketplace,” says Wang. “Also, I should be able to talk to our engineering team in a very fluent language. My background in engineering really creates needed trust and foundation.” Career milestone and pride point

Wang is inspired by leaders who build trust and take responsibility, an ethic she herself has modeled since her first significant US job at in 2000. “ABC called us the Internet Group. Very little trust was thrown to the dot-com people. During the 2000 presidential election, I was in charge of making sure the data was right. Talk about pressure. All the network people like Peter Jennings and others, they asked ‘Can you guys really make the right projections?’”

Wang’s tenacity and focus got her through the pressure. Voter data flooded in. Network anchors, statisticians and producers worked around the clock. Her web page showed accurate results within a few seconds of being announced on air. “I was really, really proud.” Bing and dynamics of change

She’s also proud of her role at Bing. Bing’s search engine Ad Center software is where advertisers set up campaigns, keywords, copy, a bid and budget. Wang manages Insights—a section where marketing professionals get campaign optimization tips and refine their campaign, bid and budget strategies. “We come up with suggestions. We scan your performance and sort through data. There’s a lot of secret sauce behind the platform. It’s a lot more than ‘the more money you spend, the better.’ There are about 25 other things we consider.” Wang enjoys both the data and customer elements of her job. She talks to advertisers directly and enjoys being on the cutting edge of product development. A bit of a data geek with heart. Work-life balance

An immigrant from China, Wang not only feels at home in Seattle, but also in the fast-paced world of technology. “I don’t know another life,” Wang says. “There are a lot of opportunities back in China, but I like the lifestyle here. There everybody works at neck-breaking speed. Here at least I can keep a balance,” she says. “I’m a foodie. I love to cook and explore the food scene.” You might spot Wang at her favorite restaurant, Joule, with American-Korean fusion food by a renowned chef. “It’s a funny combo.” Wang herself is a Chinese-American fusion. A good combo in a global economy. n

World Beater Olympic silver medalist Courtney Thompson may be undersized but never underestimated on the volleyball court “I have a chance, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.” So said Courtney Thompson (BA 2008) back in 2007, when she was first training with USA Volleyball in hopes of making the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many assessed that chance as slim. Despite a stellar career at the UW, Thompson was considered too short to compete at the international level. Not fast enough. Technique needed work. She’d heard it all before. And, as before, such sober appraisals became fuel for the fire. “My entire career I’ve felt like the underdog,” she says today, donning her silver medal from the London Olympics. “I’ve always had to prove myself—but that’s a comfortable position for me.” Career overachiever

Thompson wasn’t always a longshot. As a kid she played—and excelled at—every sport that would have her. Baseball. Softball. Hockey. Soccer. Basketball. In middle school, she took up volleyball. Topping out at 5-foot-7 in a sport of giants, Thompson was never going to dominate the game’s martial lexicon of attacks, spikes, cuts and kills. So she became the catalyst, the quarterback, the setter. She graduated from Kentlake High School as student body president, valedictorian and captain of three state championship volleyball teams. The collegiate powers, however, were not interested. Their loss was the UW’s gain. Jim McLaughlin, first-year coach of the perennial also-ran in the mighty Pac-10 Conference, saw in Thompson precisely the kind of overlooked gem that would deliver Husky volleyball to the nation’s elite. After four years of voracious learning and inspiring leadership, she became the most-decorated student-athlete in school history. She rewrote national and confer-

ence assist records, was a three-time All-American and Academic All-American (carrying a 3.55 GPA at Foster), and received the 2005 Honda Award, honoring the best player in college volleyball. More importantly to Thompson, her teams reached three NCAA semifinals and won the 2005 national championship. The Olympic Dream

The international game was different. Difficult. After failing to make the team for Beijing, getting to London was going to take superhuman dedication. Thompson was all in. From fall to spring she played professionally in Switzerland and Puerto Rico, delivering league championships in both (she’s in Poland this fall). Summers were all about making the world’s number one volleyball team. Competition was fierce. But Thompson clawed up the depth chart. She finally cracked the first team at last spring’s FIVB World Grand Prix, sparking a US comeback victory in the gold medal match. A month later, she was named to the 12-woman roster headed to London, a moment that rendered the loquacious Thompson “speechless... I wanted to shout, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t do either or anything in between.” That USA team marched undefeated to the gold-medal match. There, their run was ended by a galvanized Brazilian squad. Thompson was disappointed, but hardly devastated. “You wake up the next morning and say, did that just happen?” she says. “But then there is a huge satisfaction in knowing that we’d done everything possible to prepare. And when you go play, you never know what’s going to happen. That’s what makes sports so fun.” Thompson has off-court aspirations. Coaching or athletics administration, most likely. But first she has some unfinished

business. Another four years lie between her and Olympic gold. But for Thompson, the journey has always been as sweet as the destination. “Some people train for the big moments. But I love playing this game and being with this group of girls every day,” she says. “The past four years were an incredible experience. I’ve grown a lot as an athlete and as a person. But what really motivates me is how much more I have to learn. I just want to do it even better next time—and enjoy every second of it.” n

Sky Walker Brad Walker (BA 2003), one of the world’s best pole vaulters, also competed at the London Games. The American record holder and former world champion won the US Olympic Trials and qualified for the final round in London, but fell short of the medal stand.

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Gaming the System For Kyle Suzuki, a love of video games pays off at work Kyle Suzuki (BA 2006) grew up playing video games. Not all that unusual for someone his age. Among his favorites was Madden NFL (known as John Madden Football before 1993) from EA Sports. “I played for hours on end,” Suzuki admits. “Mostly sports games and Madden, in particular.” Imagine, then, how happy he must be going to work every day as a product marketing manager for Microsoft’s Xbox US third-party games group, where one of his biggest clients is, you guessed it, Madden NFL. “I really enjoy the relationship management aspect of this job,” Suzuki says. He is the primary contact for game publishers, helping to plan and execute launch events for some of the more popular Xbox titles. To do his job well, Suzuki has to understand not just his clients but also their customers, and not surprisingly, he and the rest of his team all have the right stuff when it comes to gamer credibility. “This job requires a deep understanding of my community—gamers—and a genuine excitement about the innovations and tons of new games being developed and released every year.” As much as Suzuki is a perfect fit for the role (and it for him), he found his way to Xbox almost by accident. While he was a student at the Foster School, Suzuki concentrated on marketing, but wandered into the financial industry by way of an internship with WaMu, assisting in the management of the WaMINI mobile marketing tour which sent a branded Mini Cooper across the nation, literally driving awareness for the online application of the WaMu Free Checking product. Suzuki’s internship led to a marketing specialist job at WaMu, where he was first responsible for developing a diversity events plan and long term strategy. Eventually, he found himself managing all

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corporate level, nationwide, multi-cultural event sponsorships. Suzuki attributes his success at that first job to his experience with the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC), where he learned several important lessons about customer engagement, team dynamics, and the hands-on experience of consulting with a growing business. Suzuki describes his BEDC experience as some of the most valuable he got at the Foster School. “Even though the business we consulted with wasn’t directly related to my interests, I learned the skills and got the experience necessary to prepare me to go out and land a great internship and later a job.” Suzuki calls participating in BEDC one of his favorite things about his time at the Foster School. “I honestly believe that experience gave me something to talk about, gave me some real experience that led to my internship and my first job at WaMu.”

So, how did he make the leap from ATMs to RPGs? “Well, when Chase restructured WaMu, I had a chance to join a team at Microsoft that was developing a social media strategy focused on driving awareness and traffic to a Microsoft customer site through microblogging, participating in forums/blogs, along with search engine marketing and pay-per-click tactics.” That job opened an opportunity to work with Wunderman, an advertising and marketing agency that eventually hired Suzuki away to work on its US Xbox Partnerships and Promotions team. After almost two years with Wunderman, Microsoft made an offer, and Suzuki rejoined the software giant in his current role. And for Suzuki, now married to his college sweetheart and the father of an infant daughter, things are working out just fine. “I’m learning a lot about balance these days,” he says. And how does he relax on weekends? You guessed it: gaming. n

There are so many ways to get involved…

Just ask Jeff Adams (MBA 2004). He’s our regional representative for the Bay Area Foster Alumni Network. He volunteered during his 5-year reunion to help raise money for the class gift and increase attendance from his class, and he’s itching for year 10. He’s a donor. He’s a passionate ambassador, encouraging prospective MBA candidates to consider Foster. And, he painted his office purple and gold (we realize this isn’t for every alum, but we love it)! Check out the many ways you can get involved at

足N on profit Organization U.S. Postage

PAID Seattle, WA Permit No. 62 A DVA NCEMENT Box 353200 Seattle , Wa 98195-3200


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