Saturday, March 31, 2012
On March 25th we held the 10th annual alumni crab feed. The event was started by the Albers Alumni Board and has become an annual traditional. It was the first event organized by the board, and over the years there have been more than 3,000 attendees and nearly $80,000 has been raised for scholarships for Albers students.
Although raising money for student scholarships is the cause, the main reason for launching the event was friend-raising and getting alumni back to campus. In 2002, our connections with our alumni were not where we wanted them to be and the alumni board came up with the idea of the crab feed. Since the university did not have much in the way of alumni staff, in addition to coming up with the idea, the alumni board was required to EXECUTE the event, as well! They stepped up to the plate and the rest is history!
This year's alumni board Crab Feed Committee was chaired by Heather Hutson, and the committee worked closely with Rob Bourke on our staff to put the event together. Several staff from the University Advancement Office also helped with the event, but the work of our alums was critical to its success.
I had a number of people comment that they thought this year's silent auction was the best so far. Unfortunately, I did not have time to peruse the items, as I was too busy talking to people. And my wife managed to come away with only one item! People also said it was the best crab we have ever served, but I hear that every year, which I take to mean we serve good crab every year!
We try not to burden the crowd with long speeches from university administrators. Fr. Sundborg was able to attend and he gave a well received and relatively short greeting to the crowd. I, too, keep it short and just do some of the many "thank you's!" that need to be done. Eddie Pasatiempo, a member of my advisory board, was there, and sent this picture courtesy of his iPhone:
This year we had over 250 people in attendance, including women's basketball coach, Joan Bonvicini, fresh off the team's successful run through the Women's Basketball Invitation Tournament, making it to the semi-final round. We also raised more than $10,000 for scholarships for Albers students! That is a great cause, of course!
Monday, March 26, 2012
Stoking the Common Fire is an event the Center for Leadership Formation puts on for alumni and students completing the Executive Leadership Program. It took place last week and I was asked to give a talk at the dinner. Inspired by my recent meeting with the Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, I drew upon his address, "The Globalization of Superficiality," which he delivered to Jesuit university presidents from around the world in 2010. Here it is:
When I started thinking about what to talk about tonight I looked at the schedule and I noticed that you have had at least half a dozen people speaking about leadership, so of course I realized there is no additional value I can add on that topic, so I can't talk to you about that.
Then I thought about my visit to Omaha last weekend to take in the NCAA basketball tournament action taking place there, but then realized not everyone is a basketball fan, so that is probably not an appropriate topic either. It was sunny and 83 degrees in Omaha by the way, so it was nice not to be in Seattle.
So finally, I wondered if my visit to Rome the week before might provide some material. I was at a board meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools, and one of the things we did was meet withFr. Adolfo Nicolás, who as the Superior General is the head of the Jesuits worldwide. He leads the more than 18,000 Jesuits who work worldwide and is referred to as the "Black Pope." Jesuits have historically dressed in black, the Pope in white.
During our interaction, Father General emphasized the significant role that Jesuit Business Schools could play in today's world, especially in promoting business with conscience and business with responsibility. In commenting on the programs offered at Jesuit Business Schools, he said that he was impressed with their energy to "change the face of business." He noted that business without ethics leads to "disaster," and said that due to recent events the world is now more open than ever to an ethical approach to business. He would like to see the Jesuit business schools lead the way in thinking about business in a different way, one that is more holistic and dedicated to the Common Good.
Of course, what I liked was when he emphasizedthe important role of business schools at Jesuit universities, noting that business "has more attraction" to students than philosophy and theology. That may come as a surprise ot our colleagues in the College of Arts and Science, since the presumption is always made that they are the preeminent feature of a Jesuit education!
In 2010 Fr. Nicolas met with Jesuit university presidents from around the world in Mexico City, including Fr. Steve. He delivered a talk called, "The Globalization of Superficiality." Don't you love that title! He could be a marketing and branding guru. It is seen today as the most prominent articulation of his thinking on Jesuit higher education. In celebrating our Jesuit roots, I thought it would be a good basis for my remarks tonight.
This is what he means by the globalization of superficiality: "When one can access so much information so quickly and so painlessly; when one can express and publish to the world one's reactions so immediately and so unthinkingly in one's blogs …; when … the newest viral video can be spread so quickly to people half a world away, shaping their perceptions and feelings, then the laborious, painstaking work of serious, critical thinking often gets short-circuited."
"When one is overwhelmed with such a dizzying pluralism of choices and values and beliefs and visions of life, then one can so easily slip into the lazy superficiality of relativism or mere tolerance of others and their views, rather than engaging in the hard work of forming communities of dialogue in the search of truth and understanding. It is easier to do as one is told than to study, to pray, to risk, or to discern a choice."
He goes on to say that this poses a significant challenge to Jesuit higher education because of its reliance on depth of thought and imagination. Regarding the graduates of Jesuit universities, he says: "How many of those who leave our institutions do so with both professional competence and the experience of having, in some way during their time with us, a depth of engagement with reality that transforms them at their deepest core? What more do we need to do to ensure that we are not simply populating the world with bright and skilled superficialities?"
Now, as for the ELP, LEMBA, and HLEMBA, programs it is our intent and our hope that you gain both professional competence and when you finish you are different at the core! From my observation, the programs that do that best in Albers are these programs. I hope that has been your experience thus far.
One point that Father Nicolas made to the university presidents is that he would like to see the 110 Jesuit universities around the world (28 in the US) working together and collaborating. After all, one of the positives of globalization is greater ease of communication and travel. He would like to see consortia of Jesuit universities focused on responding to global challenges. He suggested several.
One was "more adequate analyses and more effective and lasting solutions to the world's poverty, inequality, and other forms of injustice." Now, that is an interesting one, and we might ask what would that mean for ELP, LEMBA, and HLEMBA. Who has a suggestion or take on that?
Well, we are doing great work with our social justice projects in collaborating with local partners. Someday, we might be able to say this about global partners.
As an example, a group of Albers faculty and undergraduates have been working in Africa on a project called "Africa Start Up." The project was conceived and developed by one of our alums when she was an undergrad, and involves providing business training to low income small business owners with little formal schooling. Originally, they were in Malawi working with the University of Malawi. As conditions on the ground changed, they moved the project to Ghana and worked with Ashesi University. Neither is Jesuit because the Jesuits have yet to establish business schools in Africa (but it is actually something they have identified that they wish to do and they are working on it). It gives you an example of what could happen someday.
Another issue that Father Nicolás raised is the following: "Globalization has created new inequalities between those who enjoy the power given to them by knowledge, and those who are excluded from its benefits because they have no access to that knowledge. Thus, we need to ask: who benefits from the knowledge produced in our institutions and who does not? Who needs the knowledge we can share, and how can we share it more effectively with those for whom that knowledge can truly make a difference, especially the poor and excluded? We also need to ask some specific questions of faculty and students: How have they become voices for the voiceless, sources of human rights for those denied such rights, resources for protection of the environment, persons of solidarity for the poor?"
So, if he were to ask this group of students to answer these questions, what would you tell him? What would you point to about our program? Or are we coming up short?
There you have it. Some of the thinking of the Black Pope, Father Nicolas, which has interesting connections to our celebration this evening.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who has completed the ELP. We wish you the best and hope that this has been an experience of "change and transformation." We also hope that you will stay connected with us, including participating in alumni events for the CLF and university.
To those of you continuing on in the LEMBA or HLEMBA programs, I encourage you to persevere and keep your head up. Despite what you may think from time to time, the faculty are not out to get you and have your back at all times. Before you know it, it will be June, 2013 and you will be going across the stage at Key Arena.
Finally, I want to thank all our faculty and staff who work in our programs. It is evident to me that they are doing excellent work and represent the university well. Give them a round of applause please.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Last week I traveled to Rome for a board meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS). This was my first visit to Rome, and the meeting took place in the Jesuit Curia, which is very near the Vatican. The Curia is a series of buildings containing offices, residences, and meeting rooms, something like a very crowded college campus (not a lot of open space). Although not in the boundaries of Vatican City, it is considered part of the Vatican from a legal standpoint and not part of Italy.
Most of the IAJBS board consists of business school deans from around the world. In addition to board members from the US like me, board members came from Belgium, Spain, India, the Philippines, and Korea.
The meetings took place the afternoon of March 8thand all day March 9th. The highlight of the meeting was our visit with Superior General Adolfo Nicolas. I was very impressed with the Father General. He has a very deprecating sense of humor and seems very humble. He was amused that everyone wanted a picture with him and maybe even puzzled by it. The purpose of the meeting was to familiarize him with IAJBS and to learn how IAJBS could assist the work of the worldwide Jesuit order. Here is a picture of me meeting the Father General:
The Father General emphasized the important role of business schools at Jesuit universities, noting that business 'has more attraction" than philosophy and theology. He noted that business without ethics leads to "disaster," and said that due to recent events the world is now more open to an ethical approach to business. He would like to see the Jesuit business schools lead the way in thinking about business in a different way, one that is more holistic and dedicated to the Common Good.
The rest of the meeting was taken up with planning for the IAJBS conference in Barcelona in July, reviewing the finances of the organization, and discussing the relationship between IAJBS and Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE). CJBE has historically been a US-centric organization, but the plan is to become an organization to serve business faculty at Jesuit schools around the world.
We also were updated on plans to establish Jesuit business schools in Africa. Projects in Kenya, Rwanda/Burundi, Ivory Coast, the Congo, Burkina Faso, and a new one in Nigeria are all at different stages of planning. The hope is that IAJBS schools in other parts of the world will assist with this initiative. It does not seem like much progress has been made in this effort, and at this point there is not an obvious way that the Albers School can assist. We will continue to monitor how this develops and how we might contribute.
Outside of the meeting, my wife and I were able to squeeze in some tourist activity since we arrived on Wednesday, March7th, and left Sunday, March 11th. While the meeting ended on March 9th, it would have cost more than $600 more to fly home on Saturday, so I reluctantly stayed until Sunday!
The afternoon of the 7th we toured the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. We moved quickly through the museum because there are rapid diminishing returns in viewing statues and medieval art, at least for me! The Sistine Chapel is quite amazing, and therefore crowded!
St. Peter's is also quite striking inside, and we walked the 320 steps to the top of the cupola for an excellent (but very crowded!) view of the city.
On Thursday morning, before the meeting started at noon, we walked over to the Pantheon, and also saw San Ignatio Church, Trevi Fountain, and the Gregorian University, as directed by Fr. Sundborg (he earned three degrees there), as well as several churches containing paintings by Caravaggio (famous artist for those not knowing). That evening, after having dinner near the Pantheon, we walked to the famous Spanish Steps to see what they looked like in the evening.
Saturday we headed to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The interesting thing about Rome is it has so many antiquities that something really has to be stunning to get your attention. Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum have all sorts of Roman structures and statues but in the shadow of the Colosseum they just don't grab your attention. Anywhere else and they would be the center of attention, but nothing compares to that 75,000-seat stadium, more seats than CenturyLink Field!
There is one very important piece of advice I have for Rome, and that has to do with getting into the Colosseum. Don't arrive without a ticket, or you will stand in a very long line! If you don't have a ticket, go to the entrance of the Palatine Hill, which is just south of the Colosseum and buy a combo ticket. You can tour the hill and Roman Forum first, or buy the ticket and go to the Colosseum instead of going through the turnstiles at the Palatine Hill entrance.
We toured Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum first, then went to the Colosseum. As we did, and figured out the long line was for people buying tickets and the line to the left was for ticketholders like us, it seemed as if there was something wrong and we were going to be sent back to get at the end of the long ticket line. How could we be passing so many people?? But it is true. If you have a ticket, stay to the left and get right in, passing a lot of people spending a long time in line. So much for an economist assuming perfect information!
After the Colosseum, we toured Capital Hill that boasts the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the nearby Galleria Doria Pamphilj Museum. The latter is interesting because it is located in a large aristocratic opulent residence and has works by such well known artists as Titian, Caravaggio, and Raphael.
Unfortunately, by the time we got out of the museum the Gesu Church was closed, and it was another place we were instructed to see by Fr. Steve, since it is the Jesuit Church and contains the remains of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We returned later that evening on the way to dinner.
To all these places we walked. We never used a cab or public transit. That is a great thing about Rome. You can do a lot of walking and most of the places you are interested in seeing you can walk to (assuming your hotel is somewhere in the area - ours was near the Vatican). Of course, all this walking was facilitated by excellent weather. The sun was out the whole time, and temperatures reached a high of 65F during the day and dipped down to about 40F at night.
One problem I always have with Europe is Jet Lag! In this four-day visit I never adjusted, and I don't think a longer trip would have been much better. It is so much easier to go to meetings in Latin America where the time zone does not change much!
As everyone knows, technology makes it a lot easier to travel to Europe and not fall behind on emails and continue to stay in touch. What I really like now is being able to listen to my voice mail messages in Seattle on my iPhone in Rome!
Leaving Rome early Sunday morning was interesting. We got to the airport just before 4:00 AM for our 6:00 AM flight. Two hours ahead of time is a good rule of thumb for the airport in Rome according to the experts, but that does not factor in that our flight was the first out that morning! How many flights are out of Seattle before 6:00 AM?? Things don't get going early in Italy, I guess. We were literally the first people through security. It was so weird, we were not sure we were in the right place or doing the right thing because there was no one in front of us! The airport was completely empty in the walk to the gate and no stores were open, of course. That has to be a once in a lifetime experience!
Was this trip worth it? Yes, I think so. It's hard to hash out IAJBS issues when you are not face to face and how often have I met the Father General, any Father General, in my 30 years in Jesuit higher education? Once is the answer! Plus, I got to see almost all of Rome that any tourist wants to see!
Monday, March 05, 2012
March 2nd was Leadership Impact Day for the Executive Leadership Program (ELP). Students in the program do significant community service projects as part of the Leadership for a Just and Humane World course they take. Working in teams, students join with community partners to correct a social injustice in a sustainable way.
The projects are a distinctive part of the ELP and, in turn, the Leadership EMBA and the Health Leadership EMBA programs since students in those programs also participate in the ELP. The projects have significant impact because our students use their considerable talents and influence to address the social injustice they take on. The students typically have 15-20 years of work experience and significant managerial responsibility in their organizations. The groups also work with other organizations focusing on the same societal challenge, thereby leveraging their own efforts.
I had the opportunity to attend the presentations for three of this year's six projects.
"Computer Moms," designed by Aaron Posey, Mark Seidl, and Irene Sacristan Sanchez, joined with a community center to set up computer literacy classes for immigrant women who in some cases could not speak English. Several of the women were able to attend the presentations, and their willingness to attend on a Friday morning shows their appreciation for the training!
"Project Oasis," developed by Chris Jonsson, Gregory Kavounas, Tim Onders, Kumil Turczanski, and Tess Wilkins, also partnered with a community center, to provide access to affordable and healthy food. They worked with a group of Hispanic women, and again some could not speak English, to provide information on healthy and affordable foods and to organize a buying group to stretch their purchasing power. Several other partner organizations were mobilized, including some food industry firms.
"E3: End Elderly Exploitation," was a project to raise awareness about the financial exploitation of the elderly, with a "Did You Hear About Margaret?" campaign. It includes billboards, radio ads, brochures, and posters. The group partnered with Crime Stoppers and a number of law enforcement agencies. The group designing the program included Richard Arriola, Kim Baldwin, Jeff Hoevet, and Pete Segall. One of the partner agencies was the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, and Sheriff Paul Pastor attended the presentation, along with Sgt. Ed Troyer. They were excited about the opportunity to partner on the project, and reminded the audience that a previous ELP group had partnered with them on a project raising awareness around physical abuse of the elderly.
In each case, our students identified an important societal challenge to address. They designed a sound response to the problem, and identified organizations in the community to partner with. The result was a sustainable solution. That is the IMPACT in Leadership Impact Day!
Friday, March 02, 2012
On March 1st, Seattle University announced that Jim Sinegal, co-founder and long time CEO at Costco Wholesale, will join the Albers School as Senior Executive in Residence. The announcement was made by Fr. Steve Sundborg at an Albers Executive Speaker Series event where Jim was speaking.
As Executive in Residence (EIR), Jim will have a profound effect on the education of our students. He is one of the most admired executives in the world. While he has reshaped retailing, his impact and reputation extend far beyond the retail sector. The Costco way of doing business has valuable lessons for companies in all sectors. As EIR, Jim will be a guest speaker in classes, speak to student clubs, provide seminars for faculty, mentor students, and maybe even teach a class! There are many ways that he will be able to share his talents, insights, and wisdom with our students and faculty. We are very excited to be able to work with him in this capacity!
So, just what is some of that wisdom that Jim can share with Albers students? We got a taste of that March 1st from his presentation, "Costco: The First Thirty Years." When asked what advice he would give to young people just starting out in their career, he stressed the importance of hard work and perseverance. Success never comes without it. He also encouraged students to find something you truly love doing, that way you never feel like you are going to work!
When asked about Wall Street analysts who criticize Costco for not raising prices and paying workers too much, he replied he did not want to complain, because Costco had high stock valuations, so obviously is not being punished by Wall Street. He noted that analysts like to hear themselves talk and therefore have to have something to say, but he was never convinced they could run the business.
He was asked why other companies did not perform as well at Costco. At first, he said he didn't want to comment about other companies because he always had his hands full at Costco. But upon reflection, he noted two things - many companies get caught in a trap of focusing on quarterly earnings and trying to please Wall Street rather than managing for long term success, and second, many companies lose focus and try to do too many things at once. He advised picking a few important initiatives and focusing on those.
One student asked about Sarbanes-Oxley and the need to sign the quarterly financial statements. Jim admitted that although he was an early critic of SOX, he believes that 90% of the legislation was beneficial.
Jim is always asked about China, and this event was no exception. He replied that Costco believes it has many opportunities in its existing footprint and it makes more sense to pursue those rather than launch into a new market. He also opined that China is a very difficult place to do business, and that Costco has real concerns about the rule of law and other aspects of China that affect Costco's ability to be successful there.
Jim was asked about the importance of culture in a business and how the current culture would be maintained at Costco now that he was no longer CEO. He replied that, "culture is not the most important thing, it is the only thing." He said he was not concerned about being able to maintain the culture while current CEO Craig Jelinek is at the helm, since Craig has been at the company since the very early days. After that, it may get more difficult, but it will be something for the company to pay attention to.
Finally, Jim was asked what is most critical to the success of the company going forward. He said that the managers of the Costco warehouses (aka "stores") will be most critical to the success of company. Each of those individuals has a very important job, and how well they perform shapes the performance of the company. Given Costco's "pro-employee" reputation, it is not surprising that Jim boils down the continuing success of Costco to its people!
So, there you have it. A taste of the wisdom Jim Sinegal will be offering to Albers students. We are very grateful to him for his willingness to work with us as Senior EIR! What a resource he will be!
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Are you curious about the characteristics of business school deans?? AACSB International, our accrediting body, just released the results of its survey of deans. The survey is based on 500 responses from deans around the world, 330 from the US. You might be interested to know what they found and how this dean stacks up.
Seventy-two percent of those surveyed were in their first deanship - so am I.
Only 18% of deans are women - I am not helping with that.
Among those in their first deanship, 24% were associate deans prior to becoming a dean and 23% were department chairs - I was an associate dean. In case you are curious, about 8% were in industry before joining academe as a dean - that does not happen often and it is frequently not successful (but I can think of some exceptions).
Among all deans, which would include those who were a dean somewhere else first, 19% arrived after serving as a dean elsewhere, 19% came after serving as associate deans, and 14% were previously a department chair.
The average dean has served 4.6 years. In case you are concerned that people like me pull up the average, the median is 3.3 years. I am in my eleventh year, so people are starting to wonder about that.
Sixty-three percent of deans were at the same institution prior to becoming dean. Not me, I came to SU from Creighton.
Management is the top disciplinary area for deans, with 14.2 % having their degrees in management. Economics used to be the most common discipline for deans, but is now at 13.5%. I am an economist.
Among current deans, 33% were not actively looking to be a dean, but responded to an invitation to apply. Twenty-five percent were actively looking and were either nominated or applied on their own. I was not actively looking and Greg Prussia called me - so the rest is history and you can blame him! :}