Albers School of Business and Economics
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Dean’s Blog

  • Dean's Office Heats Up

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/31/2012 03:49:15 PM

    On October 26th we discovered that the Dean's Office had no heat, as in the thermostat did not work!  It turns out that the thermostat has not worked since the building was remodeled in 1996!  The system was set up so that an adjoining office (Ilona's current office) controlled the heat for all the offices along the corridor!  Now the Dean's Office has its own thermostat, so is no longer a hostage to climate conditions somewhere else.

     

    Now this probably explains many of those instances when you wondered what the Dean was thinking!  It can now be attributed to "brain freeze," at least during the winter months. This does not just include me, but also past luminaries such as Jerry Viscione, Fred DeKay, Jan Duggar, and David Arnesen.

     

    It also has impacted the work of Mary Carpenter, Ilona Legesse, and Jennifer Horne.  Imagine what they have had to overcome to maintain their high level of operational effectiveness!

     

    The challenge for me is I no longer have that excuse and we are entering the winter months!

    Jesuit Business Deans

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/26/2012 09:08:57 AM

    October 21 to 23 I attended the American Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Business School Deans meeting.  Creighton University was the host, so of course it was fun to return to the campus and see so many people that I used to work with!  For example, I saw my first soccer game at Michael G. Morrison, S.J. Stadium, which is one of the best college soccer venues in the nation. [Creighton beat Bradley 1-0 on an early penalty kick, and the Jays were the better team.]

     

    Fr. Morrison was President of Creighton for 18 of my 19 years there.  I recall that when I visited Creighton as a job candidate, my schedule included a meeting with Fr. Morrison.  Can you imagine -- the university President meeting with some last-minute 25 year old job candidate??  It was April, and the only reason I was there is because they had made an offer to someone earlier in the year and he had accepted and then changed his mind, forcing them to scramble back into the market!

     

    This meeting was different in that it included associate deans and marketing directors.  Susan Weihrich also attended the meeting, but Barb Hauke did not (could not find out what the meeting agenda was).  Deans from 13 Jesuit business schools were there, and there were an additional six schools represented by an associate dean.  So, 19 of the 28 Jesuit universities participated (four Jesuit schools do not have business schools, so would not be expected to attend).  Some parts of the meeting included everyone, some broke us up into the three groups.

     

    Much of the meeting was devoted to technology and how higher education is changing.  I am a firm believer that going forward there will be a need for much more collaboration between institutions so that we can leverage what we do best.  Our Jesuit network, both in the US and around the world, gives us an advantage in forging partnerships with other institutions.  The deans talked about ways that our schools might collaborate.  For example, if St. Joe's has a Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing MBA (they do), perhaps some of their online specialty courses could be offered to our students.  Or, perhaps there is a way to partner across several schools to deliver our Health Leadership EMBA program.  Such collaboration would require us to move much deeper into online course delivery than we currently do.

     

    Our group has long wrestled with whether we want to do a joint branding campaign.  We have experimented with this, but no one has ever been satisfied with the effort.  At this meeting, we finally concluded that we don't have the resources or shared goals necessary to make this successful.  Going forward, we will make sure to keep our website, Jesuit Business Schools (http://www.jesuitbusinessschools.net/), up to date, and do some search engine optimization for it, but not much else beyond occasionally sponsoring an AACSB event.  We will also work on developing some common language to explain Jesuit business education and develop a logo that we can use for mutual benefit.

     

    This meeting was in the Midwest, so it is time for the group to come to the West Coast!  In October, 2013, the deans will meet at Seattle University!  Let's pray for a little unseasonably dry October weather!

     

     

     

     

     

    Mark Vadon

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/19/2012 05:14:42 PM

    The Albers Executive Speaker Series kicked off the 2012-13 year with Mark Vadon, co-founder of two successful Internet startups - Blue Nile and zulily.  Mark co-founded Blue Nile in 1999 and zulily in 2009.  Blue Nile sells diamonds and fine jewelry.  Zulily offers daily deals on clothing and accessories for moms and children.  Both companies were inspired by Mark's experience as a consumer - trying to buy an engagement ring sparked the idea for Blue Nile.  Having to gear up for his first child led to applying the flash sale concept to children's clothing.

     

    In discussing Blue Nile, Mark took us back to the Internet frenzy of the late 1990's.  Jewelry was one of the few verticals that someone was not trying to dominate, but the experts were saying that jewelry would not work on the Internet because price points were high and people needed to touch the product. Despite the Internet crash with the resulting hit to capital access and the steep drop in consumer demand after 9-11, Blue Nile was able to survive and ultimately thrive.

     

    Zulily has been a big success and is growing rapidly.  The company just moved into the British market and has plans to expand to other global markets.   At one point, Mark did a "compare and contrast" of the two businesses.  Blue Nile is focused on male customers, zulily is focused on females.  Blue Nile does not lend itself to impulse shopping, zulily does.  Broad market advertising such as display ads do not make sense for Blue Nile - targeted advertising such as paid search works better for finding the customer about to get engaged.  Zulily can cast a wide net because there are so many more potential customers out there - moms with young children!

     

    What are some lessons Mark has learned in founding Blue Nile and zulily?  Get something out there and up and running.  Don't take three years to plan it.  Start collecting data and see what is working and not working and respond accordingly.  Execution is critical for success, so do not underestimate that.  Surround yourself with good people, and make sure they are not like you.  They need different skills and a different perspective.

     

    Mark recently joined the board of Home Depot and was asked how that fit with his interests and experience.  He responded that Internet sales are increasingly important to Home Depot and he brings his experience and understanding of Internet retail to the board.  He noted that both his businesses and Home Depot are customer focused, and he has spent his time competing against brick and mortar retail, so being on the board allows him to see the market from that side.  He is also amazed at the number of zeros in the financial report - he is used to seeing smaller numbers!

     

    Mark noted that mobile devices are creating a sea change in commerce and how customers shop.  Retailers now must be ready to serve customers across multiple platforms, with desktops, tablets, and phones all requiring something different.  Mobile is a plus for impulse shopping (think zulily), but not so much for more deliberative purchases (think Blue Nile).

     

    Mark Vadon provided a great start to the Speaker Series for 2012-13.  He spoke candidly and gave our students excellent advice, while also providing many keen insights on web-based commerce.  Thanks, Mark!

     

     

    Mentor Program

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/1/2012 11:55:33 AM

    On Friday, September 28th we kicked off the 23rd year of our Mentor Program with the Albers Mentor Fair.  Over 300 students, mentors, faculty, and staff gathered in PACCAR Atrium to start us off.  PACCAR also happens to be this year's sponsor of the Mentor Program!

     

    The Mentor Program allows students to benefit from the insights and wisdom of professionals from the Seattle business community.  Students participating in the program often report it is one of the highlights of their time at Albers.  Groups of 2 to 3 students are paired with a mentor, who works with them throughout the academic year.  Students often stay in touch with their mentor long after the year is over. 

     

    The Mentor Program is available to graduate students as well as undergraduate seniors.  Accounting mentors are available to accounting majors who are juniors.  This year we expect over 160 mentors to be working with 250 to 300 students.

     

    Since the program began in 1990, we estimate that over 4100 students have benefited from the advice and council of over 1000 mentors.  That is quite a legacy!  We have one mentor who has participated every year of the program - Jesse Tam.  Another, Willie Aikens, started in 1990 and has been a mentor in every year of the program but one.  We are very grateful for their long standing support of the program!

     

    The Mentor Fair is a very high energy event.  It is a bit like speed dating.  Mentors are scattered throughout the classrooms in the Pigott Building.  Students scan the list of mentors and then go interview mentors in order to help form their preferences.  Students submit their list of preferred mentors and staff attempt to match students and mentors.

     

    Our staff members do a terrific job of organizing this event and the entire program.  As one mentor told me on Friday night, "They have this on complete lockdown!"  Hats off to Mary Lou Moffat, Megan Spaulding, Hannah Garcia, and Paula Boos Fitzgerald for their excellent work on the program!

     

    For more information on the Mentor Program, go to: http://www.seattleu.edu/albers/mentorprogram/.