Dean’s Blog

Holland America President Counsels Students

Posted by Joseph M. Phillips on February 21, 2019 at 10:02 AM PST

On February 19th, Orlando Ashford, President of Holland America Line (HAL), visited campus for the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  His theme was,The Power of Authenticity in Leadership,” and he used the occasion to share some key insights from a book he is working on.

Ashford was appointed president of HAL in 2014, and while he had a wealth of experience in human resources, he had never been on a cruise ship before.   That changed five days after he started the job, when he took his first cruise! As president, he leads the award-winning cruise line's fleet of 15 ships carrying approximately 850,000 guests annually to all seven continents.

Prior to joining HAL, Ashford was president of the Talent Business Segment for Mercer, the global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Previous to Mercer, he had high level HR responsibilities at Marsh & McLennan, Coca-Cola Company, and Motorola.

Ashford was named to Black Enterprise’s 2017 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America and was also named to Savoy Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America.”   Last month, he was recognized with a 2019 Executive Excellence Award by Seattle Business Magazine.

The first concept that Ashford shared was that one needs a Personal Board of Directors.  These are people who have served as mentors and provided trusted advice.  He said that his mother was the chair of his board – sounds like a board appointment that many of us should make!

Second, he said there should be a clear line between the work you do and its impact on the business.  If that is not clear, change your job or what you do in your job to make sure it is.

Third, work beyond the scope of your job.  Don’t be afraid to go beyond your job description.  Be proactive and take things off the plate of your boss.  That is a way to prepare for promotion and a more influential role in the organization.

Meetings are a platform to demonstrate competence.  Many people view meetings as something to endure and not look forward to.  Ashford said to see them as an opportunity to prove your capabilities to others.

Fifth, rely on the collective intelligence.  Tap into the genius of the group.  A group will always outperform the individual, and a diverse group will outperform a homogeneous group.  This is a theme he returned to several times during the talk.  He told a story of inheriting a very hierarchical culture at HAL, which can be traced to strong ties with the Navy.  When a 22-year company veteran briefed him on a particular issue early in his tenure, he had to push the employee for a recommendation, saying, “I’ve been here for two weeks and you have been doing this for 22 years.  You have more insight on this than I do!” 

Sixth, be an authentic leader and show up as your true self.  People need to see you as being open, honest, and genuine.  Moreover, a leader should work to create an environment where everyone feels they can be their true selves. This will lead to higher functioning organization and ultimately make you more successful.

In the Q&A that followed, Ashford said that the crew is the “secret sauce” of HAL.  They are highly trained with the goal being to make every passenger (all 850,000!) believe that it is all about that passenger!  Since there are 17,000 employees working on the ships, this is an epic challenge, and it only makes sense to have someone with a deep HR background captaining the ship!

Cantu Brothers Continuously Reinvent Redapt

Posted by Joseph M. Phillips on January 22, 2019 at 9:01 AM PST

 

David and Rick Cantu, co-founders of Redapt, visited the Albers Executive Speaker Series on January 15th.  Redapt is a cloud and big data service provider that the Cantu's founded 22 years ago, which has grown to $2 billion in revenues.

This was the first brother act in the 17 years of the speaker series, and they explained how they have continued to re-invent the company as the technology needs of customers change.  What started out as refurbishing and reselling computers, moved to be a solution provider of integrated services, adding engineering, security, access to the cloud, and most recently artificial intelligence and machine learning.  This continuous reinvention comes from listening to customers about what their needs are, then finding a way to respond.

They attribute their ability to scale the business to the Northwest's knack for focusing on the customer experience.  They cite examples such as Costco Wholesale, Nordstrom, and Starbucks that influenced them to listen to the customer and respond to requests for new services.

Company culture is another important ingredient to their success.  Beginning with a "no jerks" rule, they work hard to foster collaboration and teamwork, and a "we are all in this together" attitude.  They also want to see curiosity in their workforce.  You can't identify customer needs if you don't ask questions.

As a tech company, both admitted that finding the right people is difficult, and they have begun to set up several locations outside of the Seattle area to recruit tech savvy workers.  One key that aids their search for talent is the company culture.  It is one that has appeal to many workers.

As entrepreneurs, they note that a key to entrepreneurship is the ability to tolerate risk.  David said that in his case, when they were bootstrapping the business, it helped that he was living in his mom's basement and felt that he did not have much to lose!  He was not mortgaging his home or putting a family at financial risk!  Entrepreneurs also need imagination.  They need a vision to go out and execute.  The first attempt at execution may not work, but they must be ready to adapt and move in a different direction.

As brothers, one naturally wonders how well they get along (don't brothers always fight?).  The key is to trust the expertise of the other, they said.  David is the Chief Operating Officer, Rick the CEO.  They've divided up the territory to play to their strengths.  And when they do disagree, they know they would "rather be family and brothers than right!"

Is this super successful company an acquisition target?  Absolutely, but there are two big hurdles to overcome.  First, they value being in charge of their own destiny, and they believe they owe it to the other employees to maintain the culture.  They won't ask their employees to work for someone they do not want to work for!

David and Rick Cantu, co-founders of Redapt, visited the Albers Executive Speaker Series on January 15th.  Redapt is a cloud and big data service provider that the Cantu's founded 22 years ago, which has grown to $2 billion in revenues.

This was the first brother act in the 17 years of the speaker series, and they explained how they have continued to re-invent the company as the technology needs of customers change.  What started out as refurbishing and reselling computers, moved to be a solution provider of integrated services, adding engineering, security, access to the cloud, and most recently artificial intelligence and machine learning.  This continuous reinvention comes from listening to customers about what their needs are, then finding a way to respond.

They attribute their ability to scale the business to the Northwest's knack for focusing on the customer experience.  They cite examples such as Costco Wholesale, Nordstrom, and Starbucks that influenced them to listen to the customer and respond to requests for new services.

Company culture is another important ingredient to their success.  Beginning with a "no jerks" rule, they work hard to foster collaboration and teamwork, and a "we are all in this together" attitude.  They also want to see curiosity in their workforce.  You can't identify customer needs if you don't ask questions.

As a tech company, both admitted that finding the right people is difficult, and they have begun to set up several locations outside of the Seattle area to recruit tech savvy workers.  One key that aids their search for talent is the company culture.  It is one that has appeal to many workers.

As entrepreneurs, they note that a key to entrepreneurship is the ability to tolerate risk.  David said that in his case, when they were bootstrapping the business, it helped that he was living in his mom's basement and felt that he did not have much to lose!  He was not mortgaging his home or putting a family at financial risk!  Entrepreneurs also need imagination.  They need a vision to go out and execute.  The first attempt at execution may not work, but they must be ready to adapt and move in a different direction.

As brothers, one naturally wonders how well they get along (don't brothers always fight?).  The key is to trust the expertise of the other, they said.  David is the Chief Operating Officer, Rick the CEO.  They've divided up the territory to play to their strengths.  And when they do disagree, they know they would "rather be family and brothers than right!"

Is this super successful company an acquisition target?  Absolutely, but there are two big hurdles to overcome.  First, they value being in charge of their own destiny, and they believe they owe it to the other employees to maintain the culture.  They won't ask their employees to work for someone they do not want to work for!

This was another great opportunity for out students to hear from two successful business leaders who are also brothers. Fostering a collaborative culture and listening to the customer have allowed them to succeed in the highly disruptive tech environment, and there is more to come from Redapt!

 

Albers Recognizes New Endowed Professor and Chair Holders

Posted by Joseph Phillips on November 20, 2018 at 11:11 AM PST


On November 16th the Albers School held a ceremony to recognize our new endowed professors and chairs for 2018-19.  Endowed chairs and professorships are a particularly important resource for a business school to have.  They are a valuable tool for attracting and retaining outstanding faculty.   If Seattle University and the Albers School are to attain our aspirations for academic excellence, we can only do so with a strong portfolio of endowed chairs and professorships.

We have the good fortune to have five endowed Chairs – the Frank Shrontz Chair in Professional Ethics, the Lawrence Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, the Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance, the Thomas Gleed Chair in Business Administration, and the Robert O’Brien Chair in Business.

We also have five professorships.  They include the Robert Bosanko Endowed Professorship in International Economics and Finance, the David E. Tinius Professorship in Accounting, and the three Albers Professorships named after George, Eva, and Genevieve Albers.

The Albers family was a generous supporter of Seattle University, and to honor that support our school was named the Albers School in the early 1970’s.  In 2001, we received a generous endowment gift from the estate of Genevieve Albers which among other things created the Albers Professorships. It was George Albers who founded a successful food processing business that was sold to Carnation, and then bought by Nestle.  The Albers brand was sold by Nestle to Continental Mills, a Seattle based firm that uses the brand today for corn meal and grits.

At our ceremony, we installed Professor Matt Isaac as the sixth holder of the Genevieve Albers Professorship.  The professorship is a three-year appointment awarded for excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Matt joined our faculty in 2011 and teaches principles of marketing, sales management, brand management, marketing strategy, and even Consumption and Happiness to undergrad and grad students.  His research focuses on consumer judgement and decision-making.  He has published in the top journals of his field, including the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, and the Journal of Marketing – all among the Top Four academic journals in marketing – as well as the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Retailing, and Journal of Advertising Research.  His work has been featured in the popular press, ranging from the New York Times to Fast Company to Forbes and many others.

We also installed Professor Claus Portner as the 17th holder of the Robert D. O’Brien Endowed Chair in Business.  The O’Brien Chair is a two-year appointment that rotates among our full-time faculty.  The appointment is made on the basis of the recipients record in teaching, research, and service, as well as a proposal on how to best use the resources of the endowed chair.

Robert O’Brien served on SU’s Board of Regents from 1963 to 1971 and on the Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1999.  He is given major credit for helping SU through the financial difficulties it experienced in the 1970’s.  He had a lengthy career at Kenworth Motor Truck from 1943 to 1958 and then Paccar beginning in 1958, retiring as Chairman in 1978.

Claus joined our faculty in 2011 and teaches courses in quantitative methods, microeconomics, and development economics.  His research interests include household and population economics, development, and labor economics.  His publications have appeared in such leading journals as the Review of Economics and Statistics, Demography, the Journal of Development Economics, and Economic Development and Cultural Change.  He has also worked as a consultant with the World Bank on development and population issues.

In service, Claus has served on CAPCOM, is on the Office of Sponsored Research Advisory Board, and on Department Faculty Search Committees.

Congratulations to Professors Isaac and Portner on their appointments to these endowed positions!

McKinstry CEO Urges Bucking Conventional Wisdoms

Posted by Joseph M. Phillips on November 2, 2018 at 1:11 PM PDT

 

 

Dean Allen, CEO of McKinstry, joined the Albers Executive Speaker Series on November 2nd to discuss how McKinstry has had success as a purpose-driven firm bucking some conventional wisdoms along the way.  Under Allen’s leadership, McKinstry has evolved from a mechanical contractor into a comprehensive design, build, operate, and maintain (DBOM) enterprise with more than $500 million in annual revenues and nearly 2,700 employees.

“Building on Unconventional Wisdoms” was the theme of the talk and Allen got right to sharing them.  The first was that a positive financial outcome was not a goal, but a consequence of what they do well.  The aim is to take care of employees, add value for customers, contribute to the community and be a business with a purpose.  If you can do all that, you will be profitable.

Second, instead of avoiding risk and shifting it to parties that are the least qualified to manage it, they embrace it as a DBOM business.  They don’t subcontract things out.  They try to do it all and do it well.  There are many risks in building and maintaining a facility.  Their promise is to take care of all of them.

According to Allen, in construction industry they were told to stick to construction.  Servicing is a very different business, so stay out of it and stick with what you know.  But Allen noted that in building a facility you learn so much about it, and so it only makes sense to leverage that knowledge in the service business.  The result is they have 10,000 buildings with preventive maintenance contracts.

A fourth conventional wisdom they have rejected is the idea that in any successful business you need high achieving, entrepreneurial employees who need to be handsomely rewarded.  Yet that runs counter to their focus on building a culture of teamwork and collaboration, so they don’t do that.

Another belief is that you need to be a non-union shop in order to be successful in construction.  But McKinstry likes trade unions because the unions will supply the well-trained tradespeople they need when they need them, and McKinstry will know these workers are well paid, have health insurance, have retirement plans, etc…. which goes with their philosophy of taking care of employees.

Allen also thinks their contrarian view about technology has served them well.  The conventional wisdom is to not be on the bleeding edge and jump on the latest technology.  But based on what they have learned from important clients such as Microsoft, they want to be an early adopter.

In the question and answer period, Allen was asked about making the right decision under uncertainty.  How do you figure out whether to launch a new business line, etc….?  He takes a portfolio approach.  Some things that you are doing are low risk and serve as a base line (for preserving company jobs, for example), while others are higher risk.  The lower risk activities serve as a backstop from which to think about doing higher risk initiatives.

Another question was around fostering innovation.  He responded that innovation is more likely to occur in an enterprise where people feel they are making a difference.  It is in that environment that they can feel brave, direct that passion, and sell their idea internally on the basis of the firm’s values.  Purpose-based businesses are likely to foster innovation, in other words.

When asked what career advice he might offer to students, Allen quipped, “Come work with me at McKinstry!”  He then added that students should keep in mind that life is a journey, and they need to find something that is purposeful.  In finding that purpose, there may be moments when one needs to be “mercenary” (do something without a lot of purpose) in order get you to where you ultimately want to be.

When asked what advice he would give to a smaller firm in the construction industry, he noted that it does not get any better than this, and in construction today, “even the blind squirrels are finding nuts.”  Everyone thinks they are really smart now, but what happens when the demand for your services is cut by a third?   Figure out now which customers you have your strongest ties with, and be laser focused on serving those customers well, even if they are not your most profitable customers.  You need to retain these customers through thick and thin, because if you look for new customers in a downturn, you will not find them.  Of course, that is not just good advice for the construction industry!

Dean Allen has some great insights for our students.  He is a smart, inspirational leader who is committed to advancing the Common Good!   He is a great role model for our students!

Boeing CEOs Provide Leadership Insights

Posted by Joseph M. Phillips on October 12, 2018 at 4:10 PM PDT

 

 

Three former Boeing Commercial Airline CEOs kicked off the Albers Executive Speaker Series for 2018-19.  Frank Shrontz, Alan Mulally, and Ray Conner collectively provided the leadership for Boeing’s work in commercial airlines for over two decades, spanning from the mid-1980’s to 2016.  Mulally also went on to serve as President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company from 2006 to 2014.

When moderator, Marilyn Gist, Associate Dean in the Albers School, led off with the question of what challenge they faced that particularly stands out for them, Frank Shrontz recalled the Boeing acquisition of de Havilland Canada.  While they were enthralled with the marketing possibilities of the acquisition, they did not pay sufficient attention to other issues such as relations with the Canadian government, and the move ended up being a failure.

Mulally recalled 9-11 and what that did to the commercial airplane market.  No one had imagined that a commercial airplane could be used as a weapon, and that changed everything about the industry.  The resulting drop in demand made for a rough ride for Boeing.

Connor offered that while most people would expect him to talk about the launch difficulties of the 787, for him it was Boeing’s move to change the retirement plan and linking that move to keeping 777x production in the Puget Sound.  They did not prepare the work force with enough information on why the change was necessary, and Connor realized that he had a major role to play in communicating about the need for change.  He also emphasized that when it comes to change, the executive team must lead by example.  The retirement plan shift should have started with executives, not the unionized work force.

The Albers School is blessed to have the Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in Professional Ethics, currently held by Dr. Jeffery Smith, so when asked about ethics, Shrontz replied that integrity is the most important characteristic a leader can have.  It is more than complying with the law, said this attorney, but one must comply with one’s conscience and know to do the right thing.  Once you go over the line, it is hard to recover, and it takes just one bad decision to lose your reputation and even your career.

Conner was asked about China, and he said there is no way to overstate the importance of China to Boeing, as the demand for airplanes there will be immense.  Boeing is already a globally focused company, with over 80% of deliveries going overseas.  The current turmoil in trade policy must be watched very closely.  It is true that the US needed to change things up, he said, but in Asia the “How” is as important as the “What.”  The US will not achieve its trade agenda with “win-lose,” scenarios, which appears to be the current strategy.

When asked what they looked for to identify talent, a question that should be of interest to every Albers student, Shrontz said he valued integrity over skills.  Mulally said he expected technical excellence, but also the ability to collaborate and lead with humility and a service attitude.  Connor said he wanted to see how someone had overcome adversity and come out the other side better for it.  He wanted to see grit and passion.

When asked about the planned joint venture between Boeing and Embraer, Connor noted they had looked at Bombardier, but the match with Embraer is better in terms of culture and the approach to manufacturing.

On the question of innovation, Mulally said innovation is driven by the customer and listening to the market.  Key innovations such as the common cockpit, two engines instead of four, and long-range point-to-point capabilities (instead of speed) were all born in the market place.

Connor noted that one of the lessons learned with 787 was the need to take the same approach across the supply chain.  It does not work when you allow different units to use different tooling, software, etc… keep it similar and keep it simple!

These three men were asked if there will ever be a woman as CEO of BCA?  Connor said he is convinced it will happen sooner rather than later, and no one disagreed with that!

A question was posed about the robust Seattle economy and the presence and allure of tech companies here.  What would attract college graduates to Boeing?  Connor responded that Boeing was very much a high-tech company, and anyone with an interest in technology should be interested in Boeing!  The conversation then turned to the importance of keeping Boeing in Seattle and the Puget Sound region staying competitive in attracting and retaining businesses.  We need to make sure that the tax and regulatory environment does not discourage business activity.  A strong regional economy is not something we want to take for granted, the group said.

There has been a partnership between Seattle University and The Boeing Company for more than 60 years.  We have over 3,200 alumni who have been employed by Boeing, and we have three endowed chairs on campus established by Boeing.  Boeing hires our graduates, Boeing employees serve on advisory boards and as mentors to our students, and Boeing provides projects for our students to gain valuable experience with.  Boeing is a treasured resource for our university, and we were so privileged to have these three Boeing leaders on campus to share their wisdom with our students!

 

 

 

Albers Hosts Jesuit Business Educators from Around the World

Posted by Joseph Phillips on August 8, 2018 at 4:08 PM PDT

The Albers School hosted the 24th Annual International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS) World Forum and the Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE) 20th Annual Meeting.  The joint event took place on the SU campus July 21st to 25th and the conference them was, “Innovation for Sustainability.”  More than 180 participants from 51 schools across five continents and 17 nations were in attendance.

Featured speakers included Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, retired President of Gonzaga University and former holder of the Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in Professional Ethics in Albers, and Alan Mulally, former President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company and Boeing Commercial Airlines and Senior Fellow in the Center for Leadership Formation. 

The first CJBE meeting took place at Seattle University in 1998, so we had the opportunity to welcome CJBE back to our campus for the twentieth anniversary meeting.  Fr. Spitzer, Paul Buller from Gonzaga, and Karen Brown, an Albers faculty member at the time, were instrumental in the launch of CJBE.  While Karen has passed away, we were able to recognize Paul and Fr. Spitzer for their role in creating CJBE, still a robust organization today.

While the IAJBS World Forum and CJBE annual meeting are normally separate, every four years the two organizations meet jointly in the US.  The last joint meeting in the US took place in St. Louis in 2014.

The opening address by Fr. Spitzer was entitled, “Catholic Social Teaching and Pope Francis on Free Markets and Sustainability.”  He noted that the Pope has been criticized unfairly for being anti-capitalist and going off in completely new directions within Catholic Social Teaching (CST).  In fact, as Fr. Spitzer demonstrated, Pope Francis has built upon the writings of previous Popes, particularly Benedict XVI and John Paul II.  He goes on to explain that Francis raises the same concerns about capitalism that CST has often raised, in particular “the seeming lack of ethical resolve to seek social inclusion, lessen the socioeconomic disparity among countries (as well as within countries), and ecological sustainability.”  Furthermore, when it comes to Laudato Si and a concern for the environment, Pope Francis is very much following the lead of Pope Benedict.

When Alan Mulally addressed the audience on the second day, he focused on leadership lessons learned from his Working Together strategies at Boeing and Ford.  Working Together has eleven key principles that create teamwork, transparency, and relentless execution that lead to a high functioning organization.  American Icon, written by Bryce Hoffman, vividly describes how this worked at Ford Motor.

 

Alan Mulally speaking at the conference:

 

Fr. Michael Garanzini, SJ, Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, also spoke to conference participants.  He provided an update of the inaugural International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) meeting in Bilbao, Spain.  He linked IAJBS to that initiative and spoke about how IAJBS could contribute to the priorities of IAJU.

The conference featured workshops, panel discussions, and paper presentations around themes near and dear to Jesuit business education.  There was also an early evening wine tasting featuring six Washington wineries!  We wanted our guests to know about the fine wines now coming out of the state of Washington! 

The closing dinner featured a musical walk down memory lane by KlapaDooWopella.  KlapaDooWopella is Seattle based and one of the world's oldest ongoing musical ensembles devoted exclusively to singing a cappella.  They organized their journey by drawing on music associated with US cities with a Jesuit university – Chicago, New York, Boston, Seattle, etc…  Now that was well received by attendees!

The closing event was a tour to the Boeing factory in Everett.  It was really cool to see four different airplanes (747, 767, 777, and 787) being built in the same building!

 

Some of our conference attendees visited the Boeing Everett plant:

 

 

The 25th Annual IAJBS World Forum will take place at Xavier University in Bhubaneswar, India.  The next CJBE meeting will be at Santa Clara University.  Both events will be in July, 2019.

The Albers School and Seattle University were honored to host this event on our campus.  Our guests told us they had a great experience and we were happy to hear that.  I’m proud of how our faculty, staff, and students came together to put together this important event for Jesuit business educators!

Graduation 2018

Posted by Joseph Phillips on June 20, 2018 at 10:06 AM PDT

This past weekend marked the 99th Commencement for Seattle University.  The Albers School had 309 undergraduate students participating in the morning ceremony on June 17th at Key Arena.  In the afternoon, we had 264 graduate students receiving their degrees.  We congratulate our graduates!  We are proud of your accomplishments to date, and we look forward to your future achievements!  We know you will go out there and make the world a better place!  You have the skills and knowledge to do it and you have the values and integrity that this world needs!  Go make us proud!

Check out what Key Arena looked like this past Sunday:

 

The weekend started for us with our Graduating Student Celebration.  This took place late Saturday afternoon in the PACCAR Atrium.  We had a great turnout of students, family, friends, faculty, and staff.  Fr. Steve Sundborg, SU president, was able to swing by and extend his congratulations to our graduates.  It was also another opportunity for him to observe, "There is no better school at Seattle University than the Albers School..."  It used to be we had him all to ourselves at this time on the Saturday before graduation, but over time other schools have started having their receptions at the same time.  That means Fr. Steve has to speak and run and has no time to linger with our graduates and their families.  Since he did squeeze us in, we have no complaints.  Check out this shot of our celebration:

 

This year graduation fell on Father's Day.  It does not happen every year, but it happens often enough.  It's not a problem for me, since my kids are all out of town anyway, and for those fathers who have to be at graduation, putting the spotlight on the graduate that day should not be difficult!  Having your son or daughter getting their degree is a huge accomplishment -- and should be a big relief!

At the undergraduate ceremony, Albers student Marlon Do Couto received the Provost's Award, which goes to the transfer student with the top academic record.  Marlon transferred to SU from North Seattle College and is a finance major.  He was active in the Redhawk Fund, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center's RAMP program, and has a job lined up at Parametric Portfolio after graduation.

Sally Jewell, former CEO of REI and Secretary of the Interior, was the honorary degree recipient in the morning ceremony.  Besides having her daughter graduate from Albers, Sally has the distinction of having appeared in the Albers Executive Speaker Series twice!  Sam Green, a poet and part-time faculty member at SU who was Washington State Poet Laureate from 2007 to 2009, was the honorary degree recipient in the afternoon ceremony.

Wow, next year will be the 100th Commencement of Seattle University!  I cannot wait to be part of that, however there is a slight problem.  Key Arena will not be available since it will be closed for renovation.  We don't have an alternative location yet, so stay tuned!

 

 

Two Valuable Assets

Posted by Joseph Phillips on June 9, 2018 at 4:06 PM PDT

"Two valuable department assets" -- that is what Dr. Jot Yau, chairman of the Department of Finance, said about Professor David Carrithers and Peggy Allende, Administrative Assistant for the Departments of Economics and Finance. Both are retiring this year and these are big shoes to fill!

David Carrithers joined Seattle University in 1984, starting out as Director of the MBA Program and doing some teaching as well. Several years later he took over as Director of Continuing Education for the university, and then transitioned back to full-time teaching in finance. Besides being an excellent and dedicated teacher, David has been instrumental in the assessment activities of our finance program, which was one of the first programs in Albers and on campus to have a high functioning assessment program. Eventually, as a result of that expertise, he ended up as co-chair of the university Assessment Committee.

David was also instrumental in the founding of the Redhawk Fund, an opportunity for students to manage more that $600,000 of university endowment funds. He also served as the first Program Director of the Bridge MBA and for the last few years has been the faculty moderator for Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honorary for AACSB accredited business schools.

Although these are all significant contributions to our institution, they are not what people remember about David. At a dinner last night to honor Peggy and David, colleagues spoke about David as a person -- he is a really nice guy! He is a good listener and provides good advice! He is a very supportive colleague, willing to go out of his way to help someone with their teaching or other issues they might be wrestling with! He is a former collegiate athlete (in swimming), and set many records, but he has also had his share of injuries and is the perfect patient for any orthopedic surgeon to feature in an advertising campaign (according to Dr. Bill Weis). And according to David, he may be a former athlete, but he is not a good golfer.

David retires at the end of this academic year. In recognition of his many contributions to SU, he has been given Professor Emeritus status by the university, one of the few non-tenure track faculty members to receive this honor.

Peggy Allende started working at SU in 1979, first working in the College of Science and Engineering, and then joining Albers in 1993. She has not given us an exact retirement date, but it is supposed to be soon, according to her husband Octavio, while everyone else tells her to take her time and at least make it to forty years at SU (which would be February)!

Peggy is very efficient and very no-nonsense. The trains run on time in the Departments of Economics and Finance. Department chairs rely on Peggy to make them look good. I'm not making that up -- they all admitted to it last night!   It's probably the case that some of the faculty she takes care of today were not born when she joined SU. Several faculty members said they had been trying to find a question that Peggy did not know the answer to, and they are still searching for that question.

Peggy will eventually pick a retirement date, and then we will face the challenge of carrying on without these two valued colleagues. It's not something we want to dwell on! We wish them the best in retirement and expect them to stay in touch with us!

 

BECU Says Purpose and Passion Drive Success

Posted by Joseph Phillips on May 25, 2018 at 12:05 PM PDT

 

Purpose and passion drive long-term success.  That was the key message from Benson Porter, CEO of BECU, the featured speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on May 22nd.  BECU is the fourth largest credit union in the US and largest Washington based financial institution, with over $18 billion in assets and more than 1.1 million members.

Porter has served as president and CEO of BECU since 2012. Prior to joining BECU, he served as president and CEO of First Tech Credit Union in Palo Alto, California. He also worked at Washington Mutual Bank, departing as executive vice president and chief administrative officer. He currently serves as board chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines and is a former director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.  His law degree is from Seattle University.

Purpose driven organizations outperform other organizations, according to Porter.  For BECU, purpose is built around providing financial health to members.  The organization focuses on this, stays true to its values, and is not focused solely on profitability.

Porter offered REI, Tom’s Shoes, and Patagonia as other examples of purpose driven organizations.  While not singly focused on profitability, he said, these organizations deliver strong financial performance because purpose leads to strong customer and employee loyalty while attracting a group of shareholders focused on developing long-term value.

Porter discussed the importance of being a purposeful leader, one focused on the culture of the organization.  He offered six keys to purposeful leadership:

  • Be brave – to lead, you have to make hard decisions
  • Be grounded in your values – or as he put it, “be the flagpole, not the flag,” flapping with the prevailing winds.
  • Know yourself - make sure your values align with those of the organization
  •  Build a team you can trust – you need people willing to give you the good and bad news
  • Be clear and set expectations – model the values and be prepared to be held accountable for them
  • Be a strong communicator - communicate with your team around all important issues

In the question and answer that followed, Porter was asked what advice he had for students wanting a career in the financial services industry.  He noted that it was important to find a fast growing organization because that would provide more opportunity, and you also need to make sure your values align with the organization’s culture. 

What has been his biggest challenge since taking over at BECU?  Finding the right team.  He said about half of his board and half of his executive team have turned over as they have moved to find the right skill sets and talent.  One of the things he values is a team that will tell him what is working and what is not working and will not hide the bad news from him.

What lessons did he learn from his time at WAMU, which ultimately failed in the Great Recession?  He learned the importance of culture.  When he started there, it was still “the old WAMU,” he said.  The culture started changing after converting from a mutual bank to a publicly traded company and that change in culture led to growing problems in the institution.  (Porter left WAMU in March of 2007, and the institution failed in September, 2008.)

What one word does he want used to describe BECU?  Value – bringing value to customers and earning their trust, as well as bringing value to the communities they serve.

How does growth benefit members?  In recent years, BECU has split profits 50/50 between providing new benefits to members (such as establishing a new branch location) and to pursuing growth and finding new members (like starting to serve small business customers).

What does he see for the future of banking?  Fintech is creating many interesting possibilities.  Fintech firms have plenty of ideas, but no customers.  Financial institutions like BECU have customers, so this sets the stage for partnerships between banks and fintech firms. 

He believes block chain has the potential to be very disruptive to the financial sector as it can help solve problems with such things as authentication, fraud, and data breech.  It might prove to be especially disruptive to the title insurance sector, for example.

A student from Brazil noted that he found the US payments system to be antiquated.  In Brazil, he never went to a bank branch and only used his smart phone.  In the US, he has visited bank branches more than he would in a lifetime in Brazil.  Why is the US payments system technology so far behind?  Porter suggested the US would be catching up, as they are seeing new possibilities emerge in the system. 

As for why the US is behind, there are at least two important reasons.  One is that we are in a relatively efficient system with relatively high switching costs to a system like that found in Brazil.  A second, pointed out by Professor Carlos De Mello E Souza afterward, and a Brazilian native, is hyperinflation.  The hyperinflation Brazil experienced in recent years gave them a huge incentive to use a system that reduces float and quickly clears payments to minimize rapidly declining purchasing power!  No such catalyst like this in the US!

For Benson Porter, it is about creating an organizational culture built around purpose and passion.  The cooperative model of a credit union is a strong platform for creating purpose, and an effective leader will inspire passion for the organization on the part of employees and members.  That is getting to Porter’s leadership beyond the balance sheet!

 

 

 

Boeing CEO Kevin McAllister

Posted by Joseph Phillips on April 21, 2018 at 2:04 PM PDT

Kevin McAllister, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on April 19th.   McAllister assumed his current position in 2016, and now oversees more than 60 percent of Boeing’s total revenues and a unit that has produced and services 12,000 commercial jetliners worldwide.  Before joining Boeing, he was president and chief executive officer of GE Aviation, Services, which capped a 27-year career at GE Aviation.

With two parents as college math professors, he felt right at home on the Seattle University campus.  This was his first talk on a college campus as BCA CEO, and he felt right at home talking to our students.

What we learned about Kevin McAllister is he is both a numbers guy and a sales guy.  With both his parents having PhDs in math, his focus on the numbers and data is not surprising!  He is focused especially on the power of analytics.  He believes it his great promise to improve product quality, make the supply chain more efficient, and gain better and faster insight on customer needs.  It’s no surprise to hear that he is putting greater emphasis on that at BCA.

At one point, McAllister was VP and General Manager of Global Sales and Marketing at GE Aviation, so he also knows a thing or two about selling.  His advice to students about sales came in several easy to remember sports analogies.  First, “Win in the off-season,” meaning have a really good product that meets customer needs and then get ready to sell it!  Second, “Hunt in a pack.”  Understand the customer and use that to put together the right team to serve that customer.  Know who the decision makers are, but also know who the influencers are.  Have the people on your team who can answer all the customer’s questions.  Finally, “Study the game film.”  Learn from every sales play.  Whether you win or lose the sale, you can learn something for next time.

Knowing his audience, McAllister offered up to our students some lessons he has learned.  First, covet learning and get ready to be a student the rest of your life.  Second, embrace teamwork and diversity.  Focus on the power of a team.  “I” people do not last long.  Diversity needs to be seen as a strength for the multiple perspectives it brings to a team.  Third, deliver on your commitments.  The ratio of what you say you will do and what you actually do needs to equal one!  Finally, be ready to challenge paradigms, but be able to do that in a respectful and reasonable way.

The Albers School was honored to welcome BCA President and CEO Kevin McAllister to the Seattle University campus.  He shared valuable insights with our students and it was a great opportunity from them to hear from this inspirational leader.  He’s just getting started, and it is clear some really interesting things will be taking place at BCA in the next few years!