Albers School of Business and Economics
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  • Leo Simpson

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/22/2015 05:13:03 PM

    Leo Simpson, our Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, is retiring from Seattle University at the end of this academic year.  Leo is closing out eight years at SU and an amazing 46 years as a university professor at four different institutions - SU, Western Kentucky, Eastern Washington, and North Dakota.

    Leo is a pioneer and legend in entrepreneurship education.  While entrepreneurs have been around for thousands of years, entrepreneurship as an academic discipline is very young, not getting any real traction until the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Do the math and you will see that is when Leo was starting his teaching career!

    As a teacher, Leo has won teaching awards at three different universities and instructed thousands of students in the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, policy, and operations.  He has proven to be successful at the undergraduate and graduate levels and he frequently employs a project based method in this courses.  His students have garnered many awards at national competitions hosted by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), the National Small Business Institute, and ENACTUS (formerly Students in Free Enterprise).  These awards speak to the quality of Leo's work with countless students over the years.  Leo is a very student focused instructor, and students have always appreciated the personal attention they receive and the support he is willing to provide them.

    During his time at SU, Leo has served as faculty advisor for the ENACTUS program, with several of his teams achieving top rankings and awards in regional and national competitions.  He has also spearheaded our effort to establish a minor in entrepreneurship and then to promote that across the SU campus. 

    Among his colleagues in entrepreneurship education, Leo is highly regarded and known for his significant contributions to the field.  He has received numerous awards and has been recognized by professional organizations as a mentor, fellow, and certified business trainer.  For nearly 25 years he served on the National Small Business Institute Board of Directors and he has also served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Small Business Institute.  In recognition of his career long contributions to ENACTUS, he received the Jack Kahl Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in 2014.

    On May 21 st , we hosted a dinner to recognize Leo for his many contributions and accomplishments in higher education and at SU.  Two themes that emerged were that Leo is a supportive colleague  and an inspirational and caring teacher .  Colleagues who were present talked about the support and encouragement they received from Leo in their work, and former students talked about how Leo focused on their success and inspired them to do things they did not know they were capable of doing.  They noted the important role Leo played in their professional formation.

    A few people observed that they thought Leo's "listening skills" had improved while at SU. :}  Perhaps at first he came thinking he had all the answers, but soon learned he could benefit from the input of a few others every once in a while.  It was also suggested that when Leo first arrived at Albers, he did not really see the point or value of advisory boards (We're big on advisory boards at Albers - we have 11 and soon will have 12!).  It did not take him too long to discover the value of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, however, which he has been unabashed in taking advantage of in recent years! :}

    Leo, thank you for everything you have contributed to SU over the last eight years and thank you for your 46 years of service to entrepreneurship education!  You have had an amazing impact on thousands of students, and that is quite a legacy to have established!

     

    Leo Simpson engaged in one of his favorite activities outside of teaching entrepreneurship!

    Leo Fishing

    Fred DeKay

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/20/2015 08:45:03 AM

    Fred DeKay is retiring at the end of this academic year.  Fred is a Professor of Economics and has been a full-time member of our faculty since 1980.  Fred served as Associate Dean and Acting Dean between 1988 and 2000.  Fred was also the faculty advisor for Beta Gamma Sigma from 2002 until this year.  BGS is the academic honorary for business schools with AACSB accreditation.  Every year Fred guided the chapter to Premier status!

    On May 19 th , we had a dinner to recognize Fred's many accomplishments and contributions to Albers and SU.  Those in attendance noted that Fred is unflappable.  They said they had never witnessed Fred get angry at others or himself.  As David Arnesen put it, "20/20 is Fred's blood pressure!"  That is quite a statement considering the twelve years he served in the Dean's Office where he surely fielded plenty of complaints! 

    Fred's time in the dean's office certainly benefitted the current dean.  Having been on both sides of the table and frequently seeing that issues are often not black or white, Fred always remained subtle and understated when telling you that something was a bad idea.  Few in higher education take that approach!

    Fred also has the reputation of being a "good citizen." He has always been willing to do more than his fair share of the extra work we always ask faculty to do.  He's the one who is happy to come in on Saturdays and Sundays for the admissions events!

    A few colleagues expressed their displeasure with Fred's prowess on the basketball court and golf course.  They think he's too good for his own good, although they do look forward to playing more golf with him in retirement.

    What I will always remember Fred for is that he spent a long time in the Dean's Office (twelve years), where he was not doing much teaching or scholarship.  When he returned to the faculty full-time, he not only had to figure out how to restore his teaching effectiveness, he also went about determining what he needed to do to be promoted to Full Professor in the way of establishing a research agenda.  Both are very hard to do after you stop doing them, but Fred stuck with it and did both and he was promoted to Full Professor in 2012.  That does not happen very often and serves as a great example to his colleagues!

    Speaking of teaching, Fred is frequently the economics professor who  alumni remember from their days at Albers, and Fred has proven he is an effective teacher at all levels - undergraduate, graduate, and executive education.  Marilyn Gist noted that Fred was especially popular with our EMBA students and had a knack for figuring out exactly what they needed to know about the Dismal Science!

    One other thing I will miss about Fred is that Johns Hopkins graduation gown he would wear at BGS award ceremonies and at graduation!  Fred earned his PhD at Johns Hopkins and the robe is a stunning gold in color!  Those ceremonies will now never be the same!

    Having been a member of the SU faculty since 1980, Fred has seen some remarkable changes at SU as the university has progressed to become one of the top comprehensive universities in the West.  That only happened with a lot of Fred Dekay's on campus - good citizens who were good at what they did.  Thank you, Fred, for all you have done for this university!

     

    For more on Fred DeKay, you can check out the article in the latest Albers Brief  (Winter/Spring, 2015; p. 10):  http://www.seattleu.edu/albers/news-events/brief/  

     

    Fred DeKay hiking at Spider Gap in the Cascades:

     Fred at Spider Gap

     

    Jeff Wilke

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/13/2015 11:04:41 AM

    Jeff Wilke, Senior VP of Consumer Business at Amazon.com, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on May 13 th .  The title of his presentation was, "Amazon.com: Our Peculiar Leadership Principles."  It was a great opportunity for our students to learn about the company culture and to discover what lies behind the success of Amazon. Wilke has been with Amazon since 1999 and is widely credited with driving Amazon's successful supply chain operations.  After Jeff Bezos announced in December that he had a leadership succession plan for Amazon (but did not reveal what it was), it was widely speculated that Wilke was next in line (although that is not expected to happen any time soon!).

    The value of Wilke's presentation was not the principles - they can be found on the company website, and I have listed them below.  The real value came with some of the insights he gave behind the principles. 

    For example, in the discussion of DIVE DEEP , he revealed that they spend the first part of meetings silently reading prepared materials, and over the course of a year end up reading thousands of pages.  An interesting fact is that in all those reports the most frequently used word is "will," followed by "customer."

    When discussing the CUSTOMER OBSESSION  principle, as examples he used initial reports on Amazon Smile and Amazon Student to show how the product had evolved from the initial conception to what Amazon does today.  Both were good examples of how customer focus led to a more compelling concept.

    In reviewing the INNOVATE AND SIMPLIFY  principle, he noted that sometimes that meant being misunderstood, and used a 1999 Barron's Magazine  headline to illustrate it - "Amazon.Bomb."  With the benefit of hindsight, I am sure Barron's would like to have that one back!

    When it comes to BIAS FOR ACTION , Wilke emphasized that speed matter.  One should not spend too much time making decisions and must understand that many initiatives are "two way door" decisions.  If it does not work, you can walk it back.

    Finally, for HAVE BACKBONE: DISAGREE AND COMMIT , he recounted his own early opposition to the Kindle.  Of course, he lost that argument, and then needed to commit to the success of the project.  Everything he thought would go wrong did, but Amazon was able to overcome that and create a successful product.

    In the Q&A afterwards, he was asked about the concern of some that Amazon was displacing workers by using lots of automation.  His response was that the company created thousands of jobs last year despite adding in 15,000 new robots. 

    When asked about women in leadership positions at Amazon, he said they need to do a better job there.  He said they do well in category leader programs, but in software and operations positions (such as running plants) they find it very difficult, in part because the availability of women for these positions is a challenge.

    A question was raised about whether the Amazon culture can be appealing to the millennial generation. He felt they were doing well with that segment of the workforce.  If one wants to be successful, it takes hard work over a long period of time.  He thinks millennials are willing to work hard but want more flexibility in doing that, and he thinks that can be worked out.

    When asked what plans Amazon has for mobile and international markets, he said mobile is baked into everything they do - they are hitting all channels.  Regarding plans for international markets, Amazon thinks that is where many potential customers will be, so look for them to be going after them.

    Finally, when asked about the disappearance of the middle class, he said the answer is education.  We have to be training people to be ready for the jobs that will be available.  We are not doing that now, as thousands of software jobs go unfilled in our region.  We'll need to do better in the future.

    It was a great opportunity for our students to hear from one of Amazon's top leaders and a great way to end the 2014-15 edition of the Speaker Series!  See you in 2015-16!

     

    Amazon's Peculiar Fourteen Leadership Principles:

        Customer Obsession

        Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

        Ownership

        Leaders are owners. They think long term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say "that's not my job."

        Invent and Simplify

        Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by "not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

        Are Right, A Lot

        Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.

        Hire and Develop the Best

        Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.

        Insist on the Highest Standards

        Leaders have relentlessly high standards - many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

        Think Big

        Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.

        Bias for Action

        Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.

        Frugality

        We try not to spend money on things that don't matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.

        Vocally Self Critical

        Leaders do not believe their or their team's body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

        Earn Trust of Others

        Leaders are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and are willing to examine their strongest convictions with humility.

        Dive Deep

        Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.

        Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

        Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

        Deliver Results

        Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

     

     

     

     

    Something New at the Bottom Line

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/12/2015 01:07:14 PM

    Have you noticed a change at the Bottom Line in the PACCAR Atrium?  Something new in the signage, perhaps?  After overlooking it for a number of years, it occurred to me that it was not a good idea to keep the WM stock ticker symbol.  And what does the WM stand for?  Why it is Washington Mutual, of course, not exactly a model organization to call out for our students!

    No one ever complained about the WM, at least to me, so why bother?  My answer - I always sweat the details!

    Or, you might want to argue that the WM should remain as a good example of a business that lost its way. My answer - that is easy enough to do without a daily reminder of this Seattle story with a bad ending.

    Now what to replace the WM with is another story.  It seems most companies these days like to use the full four letters they have available for their stock ticker symbol.  After an exhaustive 30 minute search for Seattle based companies, I could uncover only two options - Zillow (Z) and Zulily (ZU). 

    Both are interesting companies that appear to be benefiting from good leadership at the top.  Both are tech based companies.  How to decide?

    I went with Zulily, mainly because if something ever happens to Zulily (such as they get bought out, which everyone says is not going to happen, at least with respect to Alibaba), then it is easy to drop back to Z by removing the U. 

    It will be easier to do that than to order a U and get it installed, should we have started with only Z!

    If you think I am making this up, check out the photo:

    Bottom Line
     

     

     

    2015 Beta Gamma Sigma Award Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/11/2015 08:36:39 AM

    The forty-ninth annual Induction Ceremony for our Beta Gamma Sigma chapter took place on May 8 th .  We inducted ten juniors, twelve new senior students, and 39 graduate students.  Dr. Brian Kelly was also inducted as a new member of BGS.  BGS is the academic honor society for students majoring in business at AACSB accredited schools.  Only the top 10% of undergraduate students and top 20% of master's level students are eligible for invitation to BGS membership.

    Dr. Madhu Rao received the BGS Professor of the Year award.  He was among 31 Albers professors receiving votes from BGS members.  As Chapter Advisor Fred DeKay has noted, this says a lot about the strong teaching in Albers!

    Madalyn Lynch received the 2015 BGS Scholarship, which is presented to junior student who will help lead the chapter for the coming year.

    Dr. Fred DeKay presided over the ceremony as chapter advisor for the final time.  Fred will be retiring at the end of this academic year and is handing the reigns over to Professor David Carrithers.  Fred has done a terrific job as advisor, leading the chapter to Premier status every year.  Thank you Fred for your excellent leadership of our BGS chapter!

    Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of our BGS chapter!  We will have to make some big plans to celebrate!

    Congratulations to all our BGS inductees and awardees!

    2015 Albers Awards Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/11/2015 08:24:46 AM

    The Albers Awards Ceremony and Reception took place on May 8 th .  A total of 25 awards were distributed.  Cody Smith received the Spirit of Albers Award, which is presented to a student our faculty and staff feel best embodies the Albers mission of developing ethical and socially responsible leaders.  Cody was recognized for the many leadership roles he has taken on with the Resident Hall Association of Washington, the SU Redzone, the lacrosse team, and Alpha Kappa Psi.  He has also pursued three internships, participated in the Redhawk Fund, and has done many community service activities.

    The Undergraduate Service Award went to Zach Siriboon.  Zach has served as a New Student Mentor, taken on a leadership role in Beta Alpha Psi as VP for Community Service, worked as an RA, and served as a front desk worker for Albers.   The Graduate Service Award went to Roman Ryans, who among other things, has been very active in our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. 

    The Paul A. Volpe Award is presented to the graduate with the highest academic performance as an undergraduate student, and this year it was awarded to Kim Pugliese.  Kim is an accounting student.  The Jerry A. Viscione Award, presented to the graduate student graduating with the highest academic performance, went to Crystal Yu.  Crystal will graduate with a Master in Professional Accounting degree.

    We also presented eleven club leadership awards and nine other academic achievement awards.

    Congratulations to all our award winning students!

    Undergraduate Business Education

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/17/2015 04:24:56 PM

    A recent Gallup study looked at what the keys to professional success are for those earning an undergraduate degree.  Six experiences as an undergraduate student were identified.  The six were:

    1. A professor who made them excited to learn;

    2. A professor who cared about them as individuals;

    3. A mentor who pushed students to reach their goals;

    4. Working on a long-term project;

    5. Completing a job or internship related to classroom lessons;

    6. Being engaged in extracurricular activities and groups.

     

    The findings are based on a national survey of nearly 30,000 respondents, which measured engagement with the workplace and community as well as social well-being.

    Another Gallup study, based on the same data, found that business graduates are less likely to find a sense of purpose in their careers.  According to this study, those who majored in business significantly lagged behind their peers in career engagement and other measures of well-being.  It suggests the reasons are (1) lack of emotional support while a student (which seems related to items 1-3 above!) and (2) never having obtained a graduate degree. 

    Naturally, these studies make one want to reflect on the undergraduate experience in Albers.  I'm confident we do very well with the six experiences identified.  Here are some considerations:

    1. We have great teachers in Albers.   Our faculty average 4.2-4.3 on our 5.0 teaching scale.  That is a pretty healthy average.  Our faculty members have won a disproportionate share of campus wide teaching awards, such as the SU Alumni Teaching Award.  When students vote for a school wide teaching award, such as the Beta Gamma Sigma Teaching Award, lots of faculty members get votes, suggesting good teaching is found across a number of faculty.
    2. Professors who care about students.   Whenever I ask students who are about to graduate what was the best part of their experience at Albers, they always talk about the strong ties they developed with faculty members and the support they received.  They say the same about our staff members who work with them on academic advising or career planning.
    3. Mentors who push.   If it is not the faculty pushing our students to be the best they can be, then it might be a staff member, or might be a mentor in the Albers Mentor Program!  Our students have mentors at multiple levels!
    4. Working on a long term project.   We have group projects that frequently take up the whole quarter, including consulting projects for area businesses.  It could also be the more traditional academic research project as part of a class, such as in the History of Economic Thought class and others like it.  It is not always in the classroom.  It could be a service project being pursued by ENACTUS or students participating in the business plan competition. 
    5. Finding a job or internship.   With our own placement center in the business school, finding students internships and jobs is a key priority for us.  The Albers Placement Center does a terrific job of assisting students to pursue these opportunities, as our 95% placement rate would suggest.
    6. Extra-curricular activities.   We have a very large number of clubs in the business school.  By my count, we have at least a dozen specifically for business students, with some of the more active being ENACTUS, Beta Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Psi, and the Marketing Club.  There are lots of opportunities and we do everything we can to encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities to enrich their learning experience!

     

    So, in terms of the issue of business students not receiving sufficient emotional support, I think we have that covered in terms of the care they receive from our faculty and staff while they are with us.  Maybe some slip through the cracks, but I do not think there are many.  As for students going on to attend graduate school, outside of our accounting students going on to pursue our Master of Professional Accounting degree in a 4+1 program, and our relatively new 3-3 program with the law school, where students earn an undergraduate business degree and a JD in six years instead of the normal seven, it is hard to say how we do here. 

    We are in the process of redesigning our MS in Finance degree so that some of our undergraduates can continue on to earn the MS degree, a 4+1 similar to the MPAC program.  In the past, we essentially made that impossible with our work experience requirement, which we are now relaxing.  Historically, we have strongly encouraged our undergraduate students to go out and get a few years of professional experience before pursuing a graduate degree.  The challenge for us is to know whether they ever did that, because we have limited information on the subsequent degrees our undergraduate alumni pursue.  Some of our recent initiatives may result in some improvement here, but no doubt there is more that can be done to assure that Albers undergrads go on to pursue graduate degrees with greater frequency.