Albers School of Business and Economics
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  • Bill Ruckelshaus

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 2/4/2015 01:48:47 PM

    Bill Ruckelshaus, CEO of Blucora, was the speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on February 3 rd, 2015.  The title of his presentation was, "Value Creation and the Internet Economy."  Blucora owns a portfolio of Internet businesses including InfoSpace, TaxACT and Monoprice. 

    Ruckelshaus was appointed President and CEO of Blucora in 2010 after serving as a board member beginning in 2007. Prior to joining Blucora, he served as CFO of Audience Science, Inc., an advertising technology and services company. He has also served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for Expedia, Inc., where he oversaw Expedia's mergers and acquisitions and led strategic planning.  Prior to that, he worked at Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Group, Frito-Lay, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

    Ruckelshaus preached the importance of resilience and perseverance in succeeding as an Internet based company.  The key is to create loyal customers in a rapidly changing environment.  Both customer acquisition and retention are critical.  With the former, it is important not to be overly dependent on one platform (such as Google), and with the latter innovation is critical to satisfying customers and keeping them as your strongest advocates.

    For example, not wanting to be dependent on Google encouraged Blucora to acquire TaxACT and Monoprice, since InfoSpace was 85% dependent on Google for revenues.  Blucora continues to look for acquisitions, but Ruckelshaus emphasized that the right acquisition is very difficult to find in this market given current valuations.

    In the Q&A, Ruckelshaus provided a number of valuable insights.  On what he thinks makes him an effective leader, he mentioned his ability to delegate, to engage with people, to be a good listener, and to articulate a vision were most critical.

    On "work-life balance," (which I like to call "work-life integration"), he noted he thought he did it "imperfectly," but said that it was important and pointed out that diminishing returns do set in as the hours add up.

    As for his advice to students, he encouraged students to "jump in," meaning follow your passions and do not be afraid to be impulsive as long as you are learning.  Students should recognize that most career paths are not linear or well planned, and you can never predict how an experience will contribute to your professional career.

    Another great opportunity for our students to hear from a successful and respected business leader!





    Top Ten Sporting Events

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/22/2015 08:14:31 AM

    Inspired by the Seahawks come from behind win over Green Bay, and talk of it as the greatest Seahawks game of all time, I decide to come up with my Top Ten list of sporting events attended, with an attempt at ranking them.

    10. Notre Dame over DePaul, 76-74 in double overtime on 2-27-80.  DePaul entered the game ranked #1 and undefeated and ND was ranked #14.  ND was loaded with future NBA players -- Kelly Tripuka, Orlando Woolridge, Gil Salinas, Tracy Jackson, Bill Hanzlik, and John Paxson.  Not sure how Digger Phelps ever managed to lose a game with that group!

    9. UW over Stanford on 2-22-04.  Stanford entered the game undefeated and ranked #1.  Eddie Pasatiempo had front row sets under the South basket.  We saw ourselves on the front page of the Seattle Times sport page the next day!

    8. Creighton over Oklahoma State 66-60 in 1998.  Eddie Sutton, former CU coach, brought his #18 Cowboys to town and received an unexpected loss.  Doug Gottlieb played for OSU and was just as cocky then as he is now, so that made the win even more fun.  I did feel for Coach Sutton, though.

    7. Seattle University over Incarnate Word in the 2004 play in game to the NCAA D2 men's soccer final four.  With less the ten seconds to go, Bobby McCallister dug the ball out of the corner and crossed to Ian Chursky who hit a diving header for the game winner.  SU went on to win the national title.  Never quit before the horn sounds!

    6. Creighton over Clemson, 8-4, in the 1991 College World Series.  Creighton's first appearance after serving as host for many years, and it was nationally televised.

    5. SU over Creighton in Omaha in November, 2013 2-1 in SU's first appearance ever in the NCAA D1 men's soccer tournament.  The game was played in 20 degree temperatures with a 20 mile an hour wind out of the North and snow.  Besides a few parents, I was no doubt the only SU fan there, but how could I not go back for that game??

    4.  Seahawks over the Saints in the 2011 NFL playoffs.  Hawks rode a 7-9 record into the playoffs and beat the Saints 41-36.  It was the game with the first Marshawn Lynch Induced earthquake!

    3. Creighton vs. Wichita State in the 1991 CWS (first game -- they played twice).  CU lost 3-2 in 12 innings and it was no doubt the most electric sporting event I ever attended.  Jimmy Hanson pitch ran for Jason Judge in the 12th inning and was out on a spectacular throw to the plate on a single to center field to deny the tying run.  Jimmy and Jason were students in my Money and Banking class that semester.  The uncle and aunt of the Shocker center fielder were sitting right behind us.

    2. Phillies vs. Houston in first game of the 1980 National Division playoffs.  Phillies won 3-1 and went on to take the series and then beat Kansas City in the World Series.  It was the only game in the series that did not go to extra innings.  I was a grad student at Notre Dame at the time, and the only reason I was back in town for the game was that President Carter was making a campaign stop at my parents' house and I was back for that. He was in the process of losing to Ronald Regan.  I asked him a question about monetary policy and the answer did not help the campaign much!

    1. It's hard to pick #1, but I will go with Creighton's first round win over Louisville in the 1999 NCAA men's basketball tournament in Orlando.  I made the trip when almost no one else did, and the Jays prevailed 62-58.  It had been a while since Creighton had been in the tournament and there seemed to be no institution memory on what to do with it!  Would not be the case today, I am sure.
    There you have it, my Top Ten as near as I can remember it.  There may be others more deserving.  I saw a lot of Big Five games growing up.  And how can you be in South Bend for four years and have only one ND game on the list?? (Hint --  it was the Gerry Faust era.). And haven't I been to a lot of Sounders games??  And these are all guy games --  what about the women??

    Ron Armstrong

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/16/2015 05:09:24 PM

    On January 14th, Ron Armstrong, CEO of PACCAR, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  The title of his talk was "Global Success for the Long Haul," addressing both the long standing consistent operating success of the company and how it has positioned itself as a global player over the last decade.

    In case you do not already know, PACCAR is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high-quality light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands, and, of course, PACCAR has always been a strong supporter of SU, as the naming of the PACCAR Atrium suggests! 

    Armstrong was appointed CEO of PACCAR Inc. this past April. Prior to that, he served as President beginning in 2011 and also was appointed Principal Financial Officer that same year.  Previously, he served as Executive Vice President of Financial Services and has held a variety of finance and accounting positions since joining the firm in 1995.

    Armstrong noted that PACCAR has been around for 110 years, beginning as a manufacturer of rail and logging equipment.  It got its start in producing trucks by purchasing Kenworth in 1945, followed by the purchase of Peterbilt in 1958.  In 1996 it purchased DAF and that really launched its move into the global heavy-duty truck market.  To that point, today over 50% of its sales are overseas and that share is continuing to grow.  It is also the world's sixth largest heavy-duty truck producer.

    When asked what will be the biggest developments in the truck market over the next 5 to 10 years, Armstrong mentioned two.  The first is connectivity and second is fuel efficiency.  Connectivity is becoming increasingly important for the efficient operation of truck fleets, so it is highly valued by customers and becoming more sophisticated.  And while fuel prices have dropped recently, the longer run trend is that fuel is expensive and many businesses are anxious to lower their carbon footprint, so fuel efficiency is demanded by the market.

    On the issue of how to build products to minimize environmental impact, Armstrong stressed that the company has to be prepared to meet market demands but cannot lead the market.  In other words, it would not be wise to provide products with lower environmental impact that customers will not buy.  Or, as he put it, "You can't sell a Euro 6 truck in a Euro 4 market."  Nevertheless, they are doing the research now to be ready to meet the environmental specifications that will emerge in the future.

    He was asked what advice he wished he had received when he started his career, and the first thing he said was, "Go for it!" meaning put 110% into what you do, exceed expectations, and take opportunities to learn outside of your specific areas of expertise.

    Some of the things he looks to see in people, beyond their technical competence, include good communication skills, listening skills, a strong work ethic, discipline, respect for others, and engagement.  He also noted that given the increasing globalization of the economy, one needs experience with global markets and to understand some of the differences between the US market and other economies.

    PACCAR does not have a strong brand, as most people outside of Seattle would not know the company controls the Kenworth, Peterbilt, and DAF brands.  There are plans to change that a bit, but when asked about PACCAR's low profile, Armstrong said he was very comfortable with that.  It allows them to focus on the business and achieve the consistent performance they have experienced over many years.

    It was a terrific opportunity for our students to hear and learn from the new PACCAR CEO.  Ron Armstrong is a great role model for them and they were fortunate to be part of one of his first public speaking events as the CEO!

    Hong Kong

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/23/2014 05:51:08 PM

    From November 15th to 22nd I traveled to Hong Kong to visit with SU alumni, along with Jim Hembree from SU's University Advancement office.  We were able to connect with alums who graduated in the early 1960's and as recent as 2012!  CJ Tan and Peter Lee graduated from SU in 1963 and 1964 respectively, and both are long time supporters of SU.  CJ told the story of how he arrived in Tacoma in a freighter with $100 in his pocket to attend SU, and with the help of many Jesuits and faculty was an accomplished student who went on to earn his PhD at Columbia.  Peter went on to earn his PhD in chemistry at Michigan State and then worked for Coca Cola for many years and led the introduction of Coke to the Chinese market. 

    On November 18th and 19th Jim and I traveled to Guangzhou, China to visit with the family of current student, John Su, who is a student in our Master of Professional Accounting Program.  John's father, Zhigang Su, is the founder of the Chimelong Group, which operates a series of theme parks, including a safari park, zoo, amusement park, water park, circus, and crocodile park in Guangzhou, and the world's largest aquarium near Macau.  This complex of parks is truly amazing and I think November 18th was one of the most interesting days of my life!  Consider the following:

    • Took the train from HK to Guangzhou -- first time to Guangzhou
    • Toured safari park -- it features white tigers, snow tigers and LOTS of other animals
    • Got to see the world's first surviving panda bear triplets, which were born just a few weeks ago, including a behind the scenes tour
    • Got to feed a baby tiger and pet a panda bear
    • Went on scary rides at the amusement park (in suit and tie)
    • Went to the circus (for the first time in a long time!)
    • Had dinner with the Su family

    If you are ever in Guangzhou, you need to visit these parks, and based on how things are done in Guangzhou, I am sure the aquarium is worth a visit on your next trip to Macau!

    On November 21st we had lunch with Derek Yu (Albers, 2003) and Jai Li, CEO of the Handpicked Group. Jay and Albers alum Kevin Dong (2004) founded the Handpicked Group in 2004 with a mission to import Australian wines to China.  Today the company owns four vineyards in Australia, imports wines from Italy, Spain, France, Chile, and Argentina, and has diversified into financial services.  It has also established a company foundation, the Love Foundation, whose mission is to provide needed heart surgeries to low income children in China.  In fact, Kevin was not available for the lunch because he was out of town on Love Foundation business!  Handpicked Group is strongly committed to the triple bottom line, and it is great to see alumni setting a good example for others and living the mission of the Albers School.

    Other alumni that we met with included Drago Chan (Albers, 1995), Patrick White (Albers, 1986), and Derek Ho (Albers, 2005).  Altogether, we met with 15 SU alumni and 10 others during our trip.  The purpose of the trip was to connect with our alumni in Hong Kong and China as part of the university's initiative to strengthen the global experience of our students.  Measured against that goal, this was certainly a successful trip!  And Jim did all the organizing, so I just went along for the ride.  Thanks, Jim! :}

    Installation Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/23/2014 04:58:01 PM

    On November 14th, we installed two new endowed chairholders in the Albers School -- Bridget Hiedemann as the fifteenth holder of the Robert O'Brien Endowed Chair in Business and Suzanne de Jannaez as the eleventh holder of the Thomas Gleed Endowed Chair in Business Administration.

    The O'Brien Chair is named after a former PACCAR executive who was a strong supporter of Seattle University in the 1960's and 1970's.  It rotates among our current faculty and is held for a two year term.  The chair is awarded to support faculty scholarship and activities that enrich the intellectual life of the campus and raise the reputation of the Albers School.  Bridget received the chair because of her strong record in teaching, scholarship, and service, in addition to her proposal to organize a family policy seminar series that will bring to campus scholars working on issues related to gender, family, and sexual orientation.  Bridget teaches courses in statistics, econometrics, and the economics of gender and family.  Her scholarship focuses on labor and demographic economics, and she has published in such journals as The International Economic Review and the American Journal of Public Health.  She previously served as the Patricia Wismer Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies at SU.

    The Gleed Chair is named after Seattle banker Thomas Gleed, and the chair is a two year visiting position designed to attract an imminent scholar from another institution who will work with Albers faculty members on scholarly projects as well as organize activities that will enhance the reputation of the Albers School.  Suzanne was previously on the faculty of the Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland.  She teaches in the areas of leadership, negotiation, and organizational development.  Her scholarship has appeared in the HarvardBusiness Review, Academy of Management Executive, and Journal of Organizational Behavior, and she has published two textbooks.  Her activities will include an initiative to support victims of female trafficking and research on mentoring received by CEOs.

    Bonnie Buchanan was installed as the fourth holder of the George Albers Professorship in Business.  The professorships rotate among our current faculty and are held for three year terms.  The Albers Professorships honor the Albers family, which supported Seattle University for many years and in 2001 left a generous endowment to support the activities of the Albers School.  The family fortune was made in the food processing business, and the Albers brand is now held by Continental Mills, which uses it for its cornmeal and grits products.  Bonnie received the professorship for her strong work in teaching, research, and service.  She teaches in the areas of financial markets and institutions, international finance, and history of finance.  Her research interests include securitization, law and finance, and shareholder activism.  She has published in such journals as the American Business Law Journal, Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, and International Review of Financial Analysis, and she is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Risk Finance.

    Endowed chairs and professorships are important tools for attracting and retaining outstanding faculty.  In the Albers School, we are fortunate to have five endowed chairs and five professorships that support our faculty.  We are also fortunate to have Bridget, Suzanne, and Bonnie as the three new chairholders!  Congratulations to Bonnie, Suzanne, and Bridget!

    Leadership Panel

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/14/2014 01:00:47 PM

    On November 13th the Albers Executive Speaker Series hosted a panel discussion on, "Leadership: Building Agile and Adaptive Teams in a Complex Environment."  The panel included Melanie Dressel, President and CEO of Columbia Bank, Harvey Kanter, Chairman, CEO, and President of Blue Nile, and Lieutenant General Stephen Lanza, Commander of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis McCord.  These three bring an impressive amount of successful leadership experience from three very different sectors.  The panel was moderated by Dr. Marilyn Gist, our Associate Dean for Graduate Business Programs and Director of the Center for Leadership Formation.


    Our three panelists illustrated three different leadership styles, all of which have been successful in their sector or industry - General Lanza in the military, Harvey Kanter in retail, and Melanie Dressel in financial services.  At the same time, it was noteworthy how they continually mentioned common themes in building successful organizations.  Competence among employees is expected but not sufficient.  They emphasized the importance of  trust, both in them gaining trust from their colleagues but them also trusting colleagues to make the right decisions and learn from experience.  They also noted the importance of finding people of  character  who would embrace the values of the organization.  They each noted the importance of establishing a culture of  teamwork, who understand it is about the mission of the organization and what the team can accomplish.  It is not about what is in it for the individual employee.  Finally, each panelist emphasized the importance of leading by example.  All of their colleagues watch what they do, and they must always remember to be consistent and faithful to the values and culture of the organization in their own actions.


    The panel discussion was a great opportunity for our students and it was great to see how the panelists reinforced values and lessons that the Albers School conveys to students!  Thank you panelists!

    Stein Kruse

    Posted by Liz Wick on 10/22/2014 04:13:11 PM

    On October 21st, Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group (HAG), kicked off the Albers Executive Speaker Series for 2014-15. As CEO of HAG he heads up Princess, Holland America Line, Seabourn, MANCO, and P&O Cruises Australia. Altogether, Kruse oversees 41 ships and more than 36,000 employees who provide 25 million passenger cruise days annually.

    Kruse has a career in the cruise industry that stretches back to the early 1980’s. At that time the industry served one million passengers. Today, it serves 21 million passengers, so it is an industry that has seen very strong growth. Kruse believes there is now tremendous potential in the Asian market, especially in China where he predicts the number of passengers will grow over the next five years from 200,000 to five million!

    In his remarks, Kruse stressed that there are certain core values that are important to HAG and him as its leader – safety for passengers, environmental stewardship, and acting with honesty and integrity. He also passed on the eight essentials he sees as needed for effective leadership:

    1. Maintain your integrity at all times.
    2. Be well informed about what is happening in the organization.
    3. Declare the vision for the organization.
    4. Show uncommon commitment to the mission and lead by example.
    5. Expect positive results.
    6. Look after your people.
    7. Remember that the organization is bigger than any one person and do not let your ego get in the way.
    8. Stand front and center and be ready to stand on the stage to communicate with all stakeholders.

    Kruse also spoke about the difference between management and leadership. Management is task oriented; leadership is guiding.

    In the Q&A, he talked about the complexity of serving customers from different countries and cultural backgrounds. There are many changes that have to be made on a boat as you move from one group of customers to another. HAG has much experience doing that, and he was confident they would be successful with a new group of guests from new markets such as China.

    Kruse also spoke to the rise of Big Data in the industry. They collect a tremendous amount of information on passengers, and the industry is becoming better and better at using it.

    When asked if leaders are born that way or can they learn it, he thought it was mostly the latter and it is hard work. There may be a few people who are born leaders, and there may be some of us who will never be effective leaders, but most of us are capable of learning how to lead, and you have to make an effort at it if you are to be successful.