Albers School of Business and Economics

Graduate Programs Blog

  • My emotion rises with graduation

    Posted by Huiqiang Zhao on 3/19/2011 09:27:15 PM

    I cannot believe that this is my last week of my MBA program at Seattle University Albers Business School.  It is good to have a MBA degree on a piece of paper, but more importantly, it is all about the experiences I have had during these two years.

    Albers has given me tons of opportunities to develop my talents.  For example, I met one of the greatest mentors in my life Jerry Huffman (VP of HR at SU) who provided me career advice and leadership building within a company.  He has made me understand much more about myself including my strengths and weaknesses so that I could be very focused on how to improve these.

    Second, I have gained a solid education from the well-structured curriculum.  I was able to take many different electives that related to my future career (Retail Business Development).  I developed very good relationships with the professors.  To mention a few, Peter Raven, David Reid, Madhu Rao and Rubina Mahsud; all of them helped me so much not only on my course work, but also on my networking arena. Through Albers networking events, I was able to join Costco MIT (Manager in Training) program and now I am excited to move to Taiwan for Costco right after my MBA graduation this week.

    Last but not least, I want to thank Albers Graduate Programs for giving me the opportunity to work as an ambassador.  I got to meet so many different talented prospective and current students.  I am glad I could help make their graduate life more colorful and successful.  

    There were just too many amazing memories and fun things that happened at Albers such as climbing the Great Wall in Beijing, visiting the World Expo and cruising the Huangpu River in Shanghai with two faculty members and 20 plus students during the China study tour summer 2010.  Without the support of these people, I could not become who I am today.  So fellows, I hope you can take advantages of all the resources provided by Albers and be proactive for your education and career.  Good luck!

    By (Derek) Huiqiang Zhao, Email:  


    Independent study has enhanced my MBA program experience!

    Posted by Huiqiang Zhao on 3/10/2011 10:52:30 AM

    Dear fellows, did you know that you have the option to do one independent study as one of your electives for your graduate program at Albers?  This quarter I had an opportunity to do an independent study under the guidance from one of our Albers management professor, Rubina Mahsud, who teaches Strategy, Strategic Leadership, and Global Business Integrated.  In my opinion, if you choose to do an independent study in one specific area, you at least should understand why you want to do it and what you want to get out of the study.  Everything is about passion.  For example, my passion and career goals lean toward retail business development, so I decided to study a big U.S. retailer and its future expansion in China.  I also looked into how this retailer can succeed in such a multi-layer retail environment in China.  What kind of strategy should this retailer implement in order to compete well?  First, I sat down with Rubina and tried to come up with different ideas.  In the meantime, I scheduled many phone and face to face interviews with different leaders in different industries.  Once I got this feedback, I organized them and shared with my professor, and then she helped me narrow down to a more specific topic so that I could get better insight into the Chinese retail market.  This back and forth collaboration with my professor was very helpful.  Interviews have played a big role on my study because they allowed me to interact with so many business leaders with questions and answers. 

    Another interesting thing that I learned is how I can turn a concept of learning into something that will be very practical and useful in my career future. 

    Last, I really encourage you to take advantages of the independent study and develop a deep understanding in certain industries that you are passionate about. 

     By (Derek) Huiqiang Zhao, Email:  

    Transform a local brand to a global brand

    Posted by Huiqiang Zhao on 3/7/2011 10:03:46 AM

    This quarter I am taking a very interesting class called Brand Management.  We spend lots of time looking at different giant companies with strong brand equity including Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Red Bull, GE, Intel, Snapple, and many others.  All these companies are able to understand their customers extremely well, and they try every possible way to build unique relationship with their customers.  Of course, their marketing budget is playing a large role there.  I started wondering about how the small local businesses build their brand.  Last week, I attended an event hosted by Puget Sound American Marketing Association.  The speaker was Pierson Bob Clair, President and CEO of Brown & Haley, a confection company famous for buttercrunch toffee since 1923.  It was very interesting to hear him talking about how he added new flavors such as Mocha Roca, Cashew Roca and Macadamia besides the traditional flavor Almond Roca.  His products are now available in more than 30 countries worldwide.  The combination of tradition and innovation is one of the key strategies to make Brown & Haley successful.  Surprisingly, 40% of this local company’s sale is from export and China is the biggest market.  When I asked him about the possibility of opening a plant in China someday, he said that it would be a considerable option in the future.  The concern for him is how Chinese consumers perceive the value of domestically-made Roca comparing to original American made Roca.  Until today, Chinese consumers buy Roca because they associate it with high quality, high status and American tradition and culture. 

     By (Derek) Huiqiang Zhao, Email:  

    “You’re only as good as the people around you”: Costco President last Tuesday at Albers.

    Posted by Natalia Varela Donado on 3/3/2011 07:09:40 PM

    A candid speaker, Craig Jelinek, addressed the audience of students, faculty and staff members in the Pigott Auditorium, yesterday afternoon here at Albers.

    In one of Albers’ Executive Speakers sessions, Jelinek, the Fortune-500 company President shared the company’s future in terms of further global expansion. Costco is already a multinational company, with presence in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia: bringing to each and every one of these places its differentiating factor of major volume sales at competing prices. Jelinek sustains that this has been its main point of difference and success at its various locations around the world.

    Furthermore, the executive points the direction towards which the company will be gravitating for the next few years, both geographically and economically. Costco will continue to grow strong in Asia, where it has had considerable business success since it began, and is currently looking to expand to two other nations of the E.U.: Spain and France. The challenges, as the executive exposes, range from regulation to reaching cost-effectiveness in countries where property and living standards are high. He, nevertheless, assures that the potential that the company has seen in these locations serves to encourage them to find ways to make the business work there.

    One of his continuous focuses throughout his presentation and in his subsequent interaction with a panel of students, alumni, and the audience, is the importance of people within the organization as key actors to achieve its goals. He closes the presentation by enthusiastically declaring that for Costco, their people are their strongest asset. Building trust, helping people succeed, providing them with the best means to attain their goals, is the only way to subsequently contribute to the organization’s attainment of its goals.

    Finally, when asked about some of the challenges that a multinational corporation faces when going into foreign countries, Jelinek argues that communication is always one of the major issues. Furthermore, he makes a strong emphasis on how it is not sufficient to try to go into a new market, namely a new country, by merely sending “ex-pats”, as he calls them, but true success will only come from really connecting with the locals, finding people who “understand the culture and will buy into what you’re doing”.

    Written by Natalia Varela Donado.