Albers School of Business and Economics
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Dean’s Blog

  • Rex

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/25/2012 10:11:39 PM

    When the title is "Rex," everyone knows what the topic of this posting is about!!.  Professor Rex Toh is retiring from our faculty at the end of this year.  Rex has been a member of our faculty since 1980, so he has been at the university for over 30 years.  Rex has taught primarily courses in marketing research, statistics, and transportation.


    Everyone is going to miss Rex.  Rex has a unique style, which everyone seems to have learned how to navigate.  Basically, Rex can be very "direct."  If it were someone else, you might worry about it.  But it is Rex, so you don't worry about it.  There is a certain charm to it all that only Rex can pull off.


    Rex has been a great champion for the importance of faculty scholarship.  He has been a leader in this regard within Albers, and therefore on the SU campus.  He leads by example - he has nearly 90 journal articles to his credit!


    He has also tried to assist colleagues with their scholarship, either making suggestions to improve their work or inviting them to join him in research projects.  He has co-authored with a number of our faculty and served as a valuable research mentor for them.  Rex has not only had an impact on campus, but he has also impacted the profession.  For example, he recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, recognizing his work as both an author and reviewer for the journal.  It is also important to acknowledge that Rex was a "research pioneer" at SU, throwing himself into his scholarship at a time when research received little support from the university. 


    I discouraged Rex from retiring.  I asked him what he plans to do in retirement.  Surely, he will miss his teaching and research??  No, he says, he will keep busy with his gardening and travelling (Rex just loves a good cruise!).  I'm betting not and he will be back before long begging me to let him teach! :}


    Rex is very devoted to the concept of "efficiency."  He does not like take long to get things accomplished.  My favorite memory of Rex in this regard will be how he orchestrated the elections of Marketing Club officers.  I always imagined it as the way elections worked in the USSR!


    On May 25th we hosted a dinner to honor Rex and recognize his contributions to SU.   His colleagues in attendance noted his dedication to efficiency and scholarship, but also his success in the classroom.  He was very successful as an instructor of statistics, something his colleagues admire since they know what a difficult topic it is to teach.

    At the dinner, Rex was presented the plaque listing him as the 1982-83 MBA Professor of the Year.  It was retrieved from the "Albers Archives" and given to Rex for safekeeping -- until someone else on the plaque retires and we need to present the plaque to her or him! 



    We will miss Rex, and will always admire the legacy he has created at Seattle University.  Thanks, Rex!

    40th Anniversary

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/24/2012 10:41:00 AM

    There are many end-of-the academic year events, but one that I always look forward to is the Accounting Awards Banquet.  This year marked the 40th consecutive year for the event.  Forty years - that is an impressive run for the Department of Accounting!!


    Dave Tinius was on the podium this year as co-moderator of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP -- the accounting honorary).  Since Dave was involved in organizing the first award dinner, he was able to tell us that the first dinner took place in Campion Hall (as did the fortieth) and was organized to commemorate the launch of our Beta Alpha Psi chapter.  Dave noted that Campion looks better now than it did in 1973!


    Twenty-two different awards were bestowed on our accounting students.  Angela Bever, BAP president, received the BAP Leadership Award.  Michael Watson, the incoming BAP president, received the BAP Outstanding member Award.  Alex Mena received the BAP Community Service Award.


    The BAP students involved in the ceremony, such as Angela and Michael, were very poised and professional.  They made their faculty very, very proud!


    Our BAP chapter had a great year in 2011-12.  It was one of seven chapters in the nation to receive the prestigious Gold Chapter Award.  They also received two best practice awards at the BAP regional meeting, and one of them will now be competing for national recognition at the BAP national meeting in August (a financial literacy program done with Girl Scouts of America).


    Mary Carpenter received the Chair's Award, which goes to the staff member who provides exceptional service to the Department of Accounting.  Since Mary is on sick leave, she was not present to receive the award, but the presentation was taped for her viewing pleasure!


    One of the critical success factors for our Department of Accounting is the strong support it receives from the accounting professional community.  Prior to the dinner, the department advisory board had met and everyone was buzzing about what a great meeting it was.  The advisory board is pushing the department to take on a new strategic initiative, and not only that, stepping up to provide support for the project.  Advisory board members were joined by other accounting professionals at the reception and the banquet.  It was all an impressive display of support from the accounting community.


    Despite being on sabbatical this quarter, Department Chair Bruce Koch was there to MC the event.  [I have to admit that we ended up asking Bruce to do a lot even though he was supposed to be on sabbatical - I guess that means we cannot really get along without him.]  With his self-deprecating sense of humor, Bruce was able to keep the audience engaged throughout the ceremony.  Fortunately, he eased up on his normal supply of puns! :}


    Congratulations are in order for the Department of Accounting on the occasion of the 40th year of its awards banquet!  Talk about sustainability!!






    Business Plan Competition

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/18/2012 09:45:14 AM

    The finals of the 14th annual Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition took place on May 17th.  The winner was Populous Legal Services, a team of law students.  Unfortunately, I did not catch their presentation, so I cannot tell you about their concept, but I am sure it is good because their competition was very formidable.  The two final presentations I did see were well done and built around very compelling products.  The law students enrolled in a business plan class jointly sponsored by Albers and the law school.  I would say the class definitely paid off for them, as in receiving the award they made it clear their concept was developed through the class!


    Over 200 students, judges, mentors, coaches, and sponsors participated in the competition this year.  It has become a very powerful event and a significant learning experience for the students who participate, particularly those who make it to the final round.  It is a great benefit for Albers and SU to be able to draw upon so many volunteers from the Seattle community.  These volunteers are integral to the success of the competition.


    Each year the final presentations get better and better.  The students are much further along in their planning than they used to be.  I attribute this to the powerful influence of their mentors.  Each team participating in the competition is assigned a mentor (assuming they want one, which they better be smart enough to accept!).  The mentor is a business professional with an entrepreneurial background, and they advise the students in putting together the plan.  Introducing mentors into the competition was the best thing we have done to raise the quality of the competition.  Our mentors really have an impact!


    For a video on the impact of the competition on student learning, go to:


    The two presentations I saw were In My Grandma's Kitchen and Lockstep Shoes.  They were both strong presentations by Nick Woog and Joe Lancaster, respectively.  Nick plans to bring out a series of organic food products under the (much more manageable) brand, "Joe's," named after his father.  The first product is an organic garlic sauce.  Lockstep Shoes will license a design concept that shoe brands can incorporate to make it easier for the elderly, the injured, and the handicapped to get in and out of their shoes.  Both these products were very compelling (Nick took the runner-up prize), so that is how I know that Populous Law must have made a great presentation of a great concept!


    Scott Oki, well known Seattle entrepreneur and philanthropist, was the keynote speaker for the event.  He revealed that he grew up near Seattle U., at 14th and Yesler.  He made it clear that he did not grow up in a privileged environment, and ended up serving in the military and finishing his studies at the University of Colorado.  Scott also made it clear how hard one has to work to be successful, referencing his 90 hour work weeks and going years without a vacation. 


    Since leaving Microsoft 20 years ago, most of his work has been as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist.  He highlighted two of his most recent ventures.  One is the Parents Union, which is a non-profit dedicated to pursuing school reform on a state by state basis.  It is designed to bring parents together who have an interest in pushing for K-12 school reform. 


    The second recent venture is See Your Impact.  This is a social networking tool for "the bottom of the philanthropic pyramid," as Scott put it.  See Your Impact allows people who are raising smaller amounts of money to leverage social networking.  An important feature is to allow the donors to actually see how their contributions benefit recipients.  See Your Impact posts images and stories of the beneficiaries that donors can view.  A group of our MBA students are currently using See Your Impact in an initiative to raise money for the soon to be built St. Ignatius School in Rwanda. 


    Scott's parting words of advice for students was, "Find your passion and go for it!!"


    The business plan competition is aptly named after Professor Harriet Stephenson, a member of our faculty since 1967 and receiving an award this year for 45 years of service at SU!  Harriet started our activities in entrepreneurship in 1990, and we would not be where we are today without her pioneering activity and foresight.  In 1990, it was hardly clear to academics that entrepreneurship was a worthy area of study!  Now it seems obvious.


    This was the last business plan competition with Steve Brilling as Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center.  Steve has been leading the center since 2004 and done a great job improving the quality of the competition each year.  Steve will be missed, but he is not leaving completely.  He will continue to play a role in our Family Business programs.


    Kim Eshelman has served as Steve's administrative assistant since 2007.  She is stepping down to pursue her passion as an artist full time.  We will miss Steve and Kim and thank them for all their excellent work during their time with us!

    Gary Scott

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/15/2012 11:28:45 AM

    Gary Scott was the final speaker in this year's Albers Executive Speaker Series.  Gary is a graduate of our MBA program and recently retired as President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft after leading the development of the C series, narrow-bodied airplane.  As Gary took pains to say, Bombardier is not trying to compete in the single-aisle airplane market with Boeing and Airbus, as much as fill a gap in smaller size end of the market.


    Gary joined Bombardier in 2004 as President of the New Commercial Aircraft Program and was named President of Commercial Aircraft in 2008.  He began his career with The Boeing Company in 1973, where his roles included Vice President and General Manager for the 737/757 programs and President of Flight Safety Boeing, which is the role he had when he left Boeing in 2002 to take a position with CAE, Inc., a leader in commercial aviation training.  While leading the 737/757 program, Gary oversaw Boeing's single aisle commercial airplane division through the biggest production build-up in the company's history to that point in time.


    Gary's presentation was on, "Leading a Non-US Global Enterprise," and he highlighted a few advantages that US firms have when doing business in the global market.  These are things that many of us in the US take for granted, but should not!  They include a huge home based market to grow up in.  Second, we don't have to worry about exchange rate volatility in that home market, whereas companies in smaller nations are forced to expand into other currencies much earlier in their development.  When US firms do venture abroad, foreign sales are still sometimes denominated in dollars.  You can bet that Canadian firms are not pricing their exports in Canadian dollars.  Finally, export financing through an entity the size of the US Export-Import Bank is not available in most countries.  This is particularly advantageous to large scale industries such as aviation.


    One advantage that US firms do not have is good people.  "They are everywhere," said Gary.  The trick is to create an organizational culture that leverages that talent.


    One questioner asked how it was that someone with a business background held leadership positions that one would associate with someone from an engineering background.  Gary's response was that you should always understand your product, even if you are the finance guy!  He was not afraid to ask questions about how airplanes worked.  Additionally, he was always willing to take on a new challenge, so in the process was continually learning about the business.


    Several questions were directed at doing business in China, where there are concerns about protecting intellectual property.  Gary acknowledged the challenges, but said that China is such a big market you have to be there if you are in aviation.  The key will be to find a way to establish the right partnership.  The market has confidence in Western aviation companies, and that can be a leverage point in establishing partnerships in China.


    When Gary was an MBA student at SU, we required a thesis for graduation (many an MBA alum has complained to me about that over the years!).  Gary reminisced about his topic, "The Capital Crisis in the Airline Industry."  At the time, people were concerned that there would be insufficient financing for growth in the industry.  Gary argued, correctly, that there would be no capital shortage.  Things have a way of working out, he said.  What you once thought was a stretch in terms of something like production capacity, is easily exceeded a decade later. 


    This perspective is what nearly four decades in the aviation industry will give you!  It was a great opportunity for our students to learn from an aviation leader!


    Gary's presentation was the last chapter in this year's Albers Executive Speaker Series.  We had another good year, with some of the highlights including Howard Schultz from Starbucks, Jim Sinegal from Costco, and wireless industry legend John Stanton.  We hope to do as well in 2012-13!


    2012 Red Winged Leadership Award

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/14/2012 03:08:25 PM

    The Third Annual Red Winged Leadership Award ceremony took place on May 10th.  The award recognizes local leaders who combine leadership and business acumen to make a positive social impact on the community.  The entire process is organized by the students in our Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization (GLFS), who are guided by Professor Jennifer Marrone.  There were 24 students in the 2012 GLFS cohort.


    The three finalists this year were Jocquelyn Duncan (Work it Out Seattle), Killian Noe (Recovery Café), and Dan Wall (Opportunity Knocks).  Jocquelyn is the Founder and Executive Director of Work it Out, which is a non-profit dedicated to getting high school dropouts productively re-engaged with the community.  She became increasingly alarmed at the wasted talents of young people in her community and was called to act.  In her remarks, she noted that there are 6.7 million high school dropouts in our nation, a daunting waste of talent, creativity, and energy.  She advised the audience to consider our legacy - "what will you leave behind?" she asked.


    Killian Noe moved to Seattle in 1999 and surveyed the community to find an unmet need.  She concluded that there was not enough support for those recovering from addiction and mental health challenges.  The result was Recovery Café.  She advised the audience to be ready to take a risk and don't wait until you are 100% sure to launch a new initiative.


    As a top executive at Expeditors International, Dan Wall was when he enrolled in our Leadership EMBA program.  The program requires students to develop a legacy project in the workplace.  Dan developed Opportunity Knocks based on his personal experience with Expeditors, where he started working at the age of 18.  Opportunity Knocks identifies high school students who are not planning to continue their education beyond high school and offers them a part-time job with the opportunity for a full-time job if they meet Expeditors' expectations.  The program began at the Seattle headquarters but has now branched out to offices around the country and, soon, around the world.


    For her work in founding Recovery Café, Killian Noe was selected as the 2012 Red Winged Leadership Award recipient.  Of course, all three finalists are winners and doing wonderful things to advance the Common Good!


    The keynote speaker for the evening was Jim Sinegal, our new Senior Executive in Residence and co-founder and retired CEO of Costco Wholesale.  It was Jim's second event of the day, as earlier he spoke to students in the Marketing Club at their end of the year event.


    In his remarks, Jim chose to focus on the legacy of Sol Price, founder of Price Club, who Jim considers to be his mentor.  Jim learned many things from Price, including that a business has a responsibility to the society it operates in.  The creation of jobs with good working conditions is the highest service that a business can provide to society.  Jim mentioned that the 30th anniversary of the founding of Costco would take place this fall, and that their original business plan called for 12 warehouse locations.  Today, Costco has over 600 locations in eight countries.


    We're very proud of the Red Winged Leadership Award and its effort to recognize an unheralded leader in our community!  Our students in the GLFS do an amazing amount of work to organize this event, and they are to be congratulated for their successful execution of what is becoming a Seattle University tradition!


    For more information on the Red Winged Leadership Award, including videos on the honorees, check out the website: